Over the past several years, there has been a move towards utilizing the eye-catching ability of the monorails to promote various films and celebrations within Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Stitch ran amok on the nose of the trains and Mickey-eared balloons float along the panels and windows for years, however, with the coming of TRON – Legacy, a whole new world of monorail advertisements entered into the game.
TRON – Legacy completely transformed the recognizable body of a monorail into a scene taken straight off of The Grid. Both sides featured lightcycles and their color-coded tails, one lightcycle belonged to Sam Flynn and the other to Clu. Many a guest, myself included, would spend untold amounts of time attempting to capture the perfect picture of both sides as the Tronorail made its way to and through Epcot. I’m not going to lie, I thought this was an amazing plug for the film, and loved every second of it. Perhaps it did stick around a bit too long, but I was willing to let that slide.
More recently, we’ve seen an Avengorail, a monorail coated in black and featuring the collective might of the Avengers. S.H.I.E.L.D. logo and lightning bolts are great, and this was one of three 2012 movies I had been waiting years for (the others being The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus), but even to me this feels forced. It’s not a sleek helicarrier-monorail hybrid, it’s simply a larger than life ad, an oversized poster that seems better suited to a bus. As much as I was intrigued by the idea of leveraging monorails for publicity, the Avengorail just doesn’t ring true to me.
Meanwhile, out in Disneyland, their fleet of three monorails received Cars inspired makeovers in anticipation of the opening of Carsland. At first glance, these modifications don’t appear to have taken over the entire monorail from nose to tail, but a closer inspection reveals more. The big-eyed, smiling monorails, known as Mandy Monorail, Mona Monorail and Manny Monorail also narrate the monorail announcements, giving each monorail its own personality and making each a unique experience. While it is true that the monorails don’t stop at Disney California Adventure, they do pass through, making this a great temporary tie-in.
So, in the end, my feelings on monorail overlays are mixed. A portion of me is a purist and wants to see the monorails in all their striped glory, quietly running around the Seven Seas Lagoon or through Epcot. On the other hand, a smartly applied story can sway me to run around like a dog chasing his tail to catch a glimpse of the modified monorails. In the end, I suppose that is the catch. I don’t mind a temporary, well-designed transformation of a monorail or two (or three), but it has to be done in a way that doesn’t detract or belittle the monorails, their history, and their innately cool design!