The WEDWay PeopleMover, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, TTA, and Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover are a few names you may have heard when referencing one of the most simple and beloved rides in the Magic Kingdom. The PeopleMover takes riders on a tour of Tomorrowland at the leisurely speed of 6 mph. This 10 minute stroll in and out of the futuristic land’s buildings may not sound like much to first time riders, but as we will discover today, the charm of the TTA keeps return visitors coming back again and again.
The current version of the ride is titled the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. With such a long title you can see why the nickname TTA or PeopleMover is a popular choice when referencing the ride. However, to call this ride just the TTA or just the PeopleMover is to leave out a part of its long history. Let’s go back to the beginning and see how the WEDWay PeopleMover got its start!
You might remember hearing the term WED. This acronym stands for Walter Elias Disney, and was the name given to Walt’s team before the company name was changed to Walt Disney Imagineering. Well, WED Enterprises brought the WEDWay PeopleMover to life at Walt Disney World in 1975. Like many early Magic Kingdom rides, the WEDWay PeopleMover had an older cousin in Disneyland, simply named PeopleMover. Just like the Disneyland version, this ride took guests on a tour of Tomorrowland. Of course there were differences, most notably the California version used Goodyear tires to propel the cars along the track, where the newer Florida version used linear induction motors. This newer technology made the use of tires obsolete and strangely enough Goodyear decided not to sponsor the new ride at Walt Disney World. Even so, the WEDWay PeopleMover had no problem propelling itself into the hearts of riders from 1975-1994.
As a ride that tours Tomorrowland, it became necessary to make changes whenever the surrounding rides changed. To list off all those changes here would be to list the entire history of Tomorrowland. For the sake of time, and not losing your interest, I’m not going to do that to you today. What is important to note is that the ride received a major refurbishment in 1994. When it reopened it had a new name: the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. The vehicles were called metro liners and the hub was the TTA. With this new version of the ride came a whole new backstory, including mention of the 3 different lines running on the TTA. The line used in Tomorrowland was the Blue Line, while the imaginary Green Line took guests to the suburbs of Tomorrowland and the imaginary Red Line took travelers across the galaxy. Remember the Red Line as I will come back to it in just a bit. This version of the ride is still loved today by many Disney nostalgics. There were a good number of corny one-liners sprinkled in throughout the narration. Without a doubt, the most famous of these was the following page, “Paging Mr. Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow, your party from Saturn has arrived.” Well, all good things must come to an end and this version of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority was no different.
In 2009 the ride was closed and renovated again. When it reopened the narration had been changed to a less imaginative and more informative style. This narration, by Mike Brassell, was more reflective of the ride’s original spirit. Along with the narration change came the new name, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. The ride now reflected both its PeopleMover roots and the TTA portion of its history. I for one, like the addition of PeopleMover back into the title because Walt’s hopes for this ride are reflected in these words. You see, Walt wasn’t just dreaming up another ride to go into Disneyland. No, he was dreaming up a whole new way of transporting people in the future. Walt hoped that this method of transportation would be further developed in his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and then someday become a viable method of moving people in real life cities. Well, as of today, PeopleMovers have not taken off to that extent. Perhaps someday the population growth and need for mass transit will reveal that Walt was once again just way, way, ahead of his time. For now we will just have to enjoy the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover in the Magic Kingdom.
Enjoy is probably just the right word for this ride. It is certainly not a high thrill ride, nor does it have the elaborate detail of another slow ride like It’s A Small World. However, the second story ride takes you in and out of Tomorrowland’s buildings, providing a rather enjoyable perspective of this corner of the Magic Kingdom.
The entrance to the ride is located at the center of Tomorrowland. If you listened to Episode 017- Astro Orbiter, you will remember this ride entrance is just below that of the colorful Astro rockets high above Tomorrowland. There is a convenient escalator located across from Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. When you reach the second floor you will see the moving platform that riders must walk to enter the ever moving PeopleMover vehicles. These vehicles do slow from their break neck speed of 6 mph to a turtle like crawl of about 2 mph while boarding, so no need to panic. There is plenty of time to get the whole family aboard. Once aboard you will be warned to remain seated and to keep everything inside the vehicle. While you don’t move quickly, Disney is very serious about this warning as evidenced by the infrared cameras placed throughout the ride. With all the pleasantries covered you can literally sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. In fact, many riders use this opportunity to kick off their shoes, stretch their legs, and wiggle their toes for a few minutes. See, I told you this was an enjoyable ride.
Once you leave the station you first come to Stitch’s Great Escape. If you have never been on that ride before, this may be as close as you want to get. Seriously. This is probably the most universally disliked ride in existence today. I’m secretly hoping that it gets replaced with something better before there is time to talk about Stitch. Moving on, you get to see a very cool blast from the past. Here a model called “Progress City” is on display. This is a small piece of what was once a much larger prototype for EPCOT. I really wish I could pause the PeopleMover at this point so I could admire the detail of this model. It is said, Walt wanted every detail perfect, no matter how small. Each of these futuristic little homes is complete with teeny tiny furniture! Well, before you can find a couch through the window your PeopleMover has moved on. Before you know it you are back outside and overlooking the Tomorrowland Speedway.
The next real highlight of the ride is entering Space Mountain! The TTA PeopleMover actually takes you inside the mountain and right in between the two tracks. If the timing is right you will see riders from the Alpha line making their climb to the top of the mountain. After that you can hear the screams piercing the pitch black of space. If you have any reservations about riding Space Mountain for the first time, this is a fantastic sneak peek which should answer any questions about riding. While you are in Space Mountain pay close attention to the narration to hear a shout out to Mr. Tom Morrow from the 1994-2009 version of the ride.
After exiting Space Mountain you can catch a wonderful view of Astro Orbiter and then around the corner there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow. That’s a reference to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress as the PeopleMover passes by the show’s exterior. After some fresh air outside you are once again moved indoors as you look down on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Pay close attention to those targets down below if you plan on joining the Space Ranger ranks to take on the evil Zurg. Or better yet, pay close attention to the faces of others on that ride as they concentrate on hitting their target. Once the neon lights of Buzz’s laser playground are behind you, the ride is winding down. You will pass by the exterior of the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor and then make the turn back to the hub of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.
As you unload your moving PeopleMover you should leave relaxed, refreshed, and ready to tackle some of the rides you just saw. Now, there are several thoughts on when to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. First, some believe the best time to ride is when you first enter Tomorrowland. By doing this you keep with the ride’s original intent and get a guided tour of what awaits you. If you are new to Walt Disney World, this may be the best approach as you can get a peek into several rides and hear about the others. The second school of thought is to use the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover as a way to break up the action in the middle of Tomorrowland. If you enter from Main Street, you can do Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Range Spin, and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover would then be next in geographical order and be a way to break up the action before tackling Astro Orbiter, Space Mountain, and the Tomorrowland Speedway. Let’s see did a leave something out? No, I think that is all the rides. (Sorry Stitch!) Finally, you could use the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover as a recap of your time in Tomorrowland. It is kinda cool to slowly move through Space Mountain as you recount the thrilling time you had on the ride a short time ago. Plus, if you waited long enough, you get to experience the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover at night. The colorful lights of Tomorrowland bring the futuristic landscape to life in a whole new way.
Whether you choose to ride this first thing, in the middle of the action, or as a way to cap off the day, you can’t go wrong. Regardless of time of day there is almost never a wait for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Because of its slow gliding movement and relaxing atmosphere, this ride is a great addition to any part of your day at the Magic Kingdom.
For me, this is a ride I do each time I’m in the park. I just love looking down on Tomorrowland from this quiet highway in the sky! It is like taking a leisurely stroll in the park with an added dash of Disney magic and hint of excitement. In addition to actually being on the ride, I love the movement it provides for Tomorrowland. Seeing the continuous stream of PeopleMover vehicles above as you walk around below gives this area a real sense of energy.
Now, if you want to get the littles ones in your group excited about the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover before even arriving at the park, there is a great new show on Disney Jr. called Miles from Tomorrowland. This show premiered earlier this year and features a family of 4 that travels through space. Take a guess what the name of their space travel corporation is called. Yep, the TTA! If you watch the show you will see a giant red TTA logo on the bridge of the family’s spaceship. If you remember from earlier, the Red Line on the TTA is the line that transports guests across the galaxy. It seems this imaginary line from the 1994 version of the ride has made its way into the year 2015 with this new show. I love that the backstory of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority now lives on for a new generation. If your kids love Miles from Tomorrowland, let them know you will all be boarding the Blue Line of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover when you arrive at the Magic Kingdom!
Well, that will brings our journey along the TTA PeopleMover to an end. I want to thank you for joining me today. It really is so much fun for me to share my love for Disney with you each week. I have had a great time talking about the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and I look forward bringing you another ride next week. I hope you will come back and join me for that. Until then go make each day a ride worth taking!