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Why I Love the Tomorrowland Transit Authority

What in the World?
A weekly peek at Walt Disney World

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This past Friday, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority reopened after being offline for five months for various light and sound improvements (as well as the Space Mountain rehab).  What I found most interesting about the Tomorrowland Transit’s Authority’s return was my eagerness to ride the attraction immediately after rope drop.  During one of my many ride throughs, I tried to figure out why the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) holds such a special place in my Disney heart.

As a Disney fan, my likes and dislikes have changed and evolved since my first visit to Walt Disney World.  The Magic Kingdom is no longer my favorite park, I usually don’t enjoy daytime parades, and I can’t see myself going on Dumbo any time soon.  Now, unlike when I was a kid, I can fully appreciate Epcot as a theme park, I enjoy hitting the links on Disney property, and I can find the enjoyment of simply finding a bench and enjoy my surroundings.  Tastes and preferences change and evolve.

Of course, as a Disney fan, there are some things that never change.  Splash Mountain will always (at least for the foreseeable future) be my favorite ride, I will always pick the monorail over a boat, and whenever I’m in the Magic Kingdom, I have to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, even more so than Space Mountain.

The TTA is the kind of ride I can always enjoy.  There is something to be said for a 10-15 minute long attraction where you can sit down, people watch, and move throughout an entire land all at once.  It is a relaxing ride with hardly any wait and provides a nice rest period for weary guests tired from a day full of backtracking, line waiting, and park crossing.  Moreover, the TTA provides some significant historical and practical significance.

The TTA was a key component of Disney’s “land on the move.”  Walt Disney believed that the future would be a vibrant time, with innovations just around the corner, each holding the promise of bettering our lives.  Transportation was a big part of this thinking, as he looked for ways to solve the problems of our cities.  A system with the capability to move large numbers of people around a crowded city without interfering with existing traffic patterns or generation additional pollution would be of tremendous benefit.

The first concept came at Disneyland in 1967 during the second major overhaul of Tomorrowland.  It differed originally from the one currently at WDW, as it was named the WEDway in recognition of Walt’s fondness for innovations.  Disneyland’s featured a series of tires set into the track, continuously driven by electric motors, upon which the trains were carried, with no moving parts of their own.  By the time the second iteration was installed at the Magic Kingdom in 1975, there were new technologies available which allowed Disney to “plus” the system.  The tires were replaced by hundreds of electromagnets generating an effect called linear induction.  These magnets are able to push and pull the train around the almost a mile long circuit without any onboard moving parts. 

The TTA blends seamlessly with Tomorrowland.  The system was integrated with all the other venues in the land to heighten the interaction between the attractions.  You are able to get previews of Stitch’s Great Escape, Mickey’s Startraders, the Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain, the Carousel of Progress, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and the Astro Orbiter.  The “futuristic” TTA can be seen from all over Tomorrowland moving guests along the track and is a great way to get a look at all there is to see and do in Tomorrowland. 

Put another way, the TTA has become somewhat of a security blanket for me.  No matter what wacky thing Disney decides to do with Tomorrowland (i.e., debut High School Musical there, debut Stitch’s Supersonic Party, open the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, and build a track for lawnmower-powered cars that use gas), the TTA is always the land’s redeeming quality.  I can always justify walking through Tomorrowland, because, hey, I can hop on the TTA for a quick trip, can’t I?  Need a rest? Perfect, the TTA is the way to go.  Whatever my justification, the TTA is a must do for me.  And all it took for me to realize that was having it taken away for me for five whole months…

Thank you Disney for bringing the TTA back online!