02 April 2008

Please hold onto the handrails

There is more than one way to get from Point A to Attraction E, and George McGinnis found plenty of ways to move people. McGinnis spent time working on the logs of Splash Mountain for both Tokyo Disneyland as well as Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the troop transport vehicles for the Indiana Jones Adventure, which were subsequently modified to become the Time Rovers for Animal Kingdom’s Countdown to Extinction/Dinosaur (more on Animal Kingdom in an upcoming article), the vehicles for Snow White in Disneyland, the Disney-MGM Studio Backlot Tour trams, and even the Net Climbers for the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area.

Yet, two of his most enduring creations, which move thousands of guest per day, are the parking lot tram cars and the monorails. McGinnis’ tram cars were built by Arrow Development. The tractors, which would pull the tram cars, were a whole other story. For the entire story, featuring Bob Gurr, Dick Nunis, and United Tractor, I recommend reading David Koenig’s Realityland (pp 82 – 83).

The Mark V (Disneyland) and Mark VI (Walt Disney World) monorails were the work of George McGinnis, this after Bob Gurr retired from the company 1981. And while I could tell you the story of how he came to be involved with the projects, and how he designed both models, I think it would be much better if he could tell you himself. In 2004 George McGinnis did an article on each of the monorails for Mouse Planet, and I so defer you to his stories, since he was closer to the process than I was. On January 14, 2004 he wrote about the Disneyland Mark V Monorails, and on January 20, 2004 he recounted the creation of Walt Disney World’s Mark VI Monorails.

Walt Disney’s first attempt at a monorail was Disneyland’s short-lived Viewliner. While on a trip in Germany, Walt found the ALWEG Monorails, and Disneyland found its newest attraction. These days, it is tough think of the parks without the monorails. While the current versions owe much to Bob Gurr’s original designs, George McGinnis is the man who has given us what we have come to know as a monorail today. The monorail is an icon of the park. In Walt Disney World, there are buses, ferryboats, and monorails that all carry guests to the Magic Kingdom, but the monorail is the ever present thought guests have when thinking of Disney transportation. Again, I am speaking on how deserving a man like George McGinnis is to be called a Disney Legend. With all the memories he has given us, and continues to give us, how can he still be overlooked.

Bibliography: Beyond Today Bibliography

Next time we are going to be talking about George McGinnis' profound impact on EPCOT Center. Which means we are fast approaching the article on Horizons. As I have said before, I want to make this segment as much about all of you as it is about Horizons and George McGinnis’ work on it. If you have a story you would be willing to allow me to share with the Main Strret Gazette’s readers, by all means, please email me. I have some fantastic things readers have already shared, but there is room for you too.

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