I was a little slow in hearing the news about Disneyland getting an updated and newly designed Monorail Mark VII, having just read about it on various websites a few weeks ago. The new Monorail designs are great and they really preserve the retro styling of some of the original versions from the fifties and sixties.
But here is some Monorail news I'd really like to hear... "We've connected the Monorail to the parking structure so people can use it for actual transportation!"
Ever since the off-site Mickey and friends parking structure went up, Disneyland has been faced with the task of getting guests to the park gates. It's absolutely crazy that they haven't connected the Monorail to the second level of the parking structure yet. You could have a security check area as you enter the line, board and then get whisked right into the park. No escalator to the tram, tram to the security check area, security check area to the butt of the line to get tickets (whether you need them or not) and finally to a line at the gates that's over 150 feet long. If you have ever tried to go to Disneyland in the summer months you know what I mean, it can take 2 hours to get from your car to Main Street. I'd rather spend a morning at the DMV.
When the Monorail was first introduced it was seriously considered and intended for transportation. There was no walk-way through Downtown Disney that went over Disneyland Drive, so people took the Monorail to get to the hotel. Today access to the hotel is walkable via Downtown Disney, (and likely even desired given the gauntlet of money spending opportunities) while access to the parking structure is anything but. So why not connect the Monorail to the parking structure?
Walt was thinking practically with things like the People Mover and the Monorail. Case in point is the Monorail system in Florida. A working and highly effective mode of transportation that is fun, unlike the cattle drive that is the tram system of Disneyland. "I said please stay behind the yellow line... PLEASE STAY BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE...STAY BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE!!!!... Driver you tram is all cle... PLEASE STAND....." And if you look at the original concept for EPCOT, ("the city" not the park) the People Mover was to be an actual means of getting people out of the urban working center to the residential outskirts of the city. So why not a people mover from the parking structure to the gates of Disneyland?
While I think it's great we're getting a new Monorail, I can't help but feel that it's just one more sign that whomever is making these decisions is very out of touch with the basic ideas Walt had in making Disneyland fun and functional. If the revamp of California Adventure boosts the resorts' attendance to the kind of numbers Disney hopes it will, the problem is only going to get worse.
The Monorail and the People Mover are ideas that have been around the park for some twenty or thirty years plus, it's amazing no has thought of using them to address one of the largest logistical problems facing Disneyland today.
Update 1-29-08: "Mayor of Anaheim Proposes Monorail Funding" this is Disney's chance if there ever was one!