Starling Travel

August 28, 2013

Why The Disneyland Skyway Ride Was Closed

Filed under: Amusement Parks — Laura Moncur @ 8:59 am

I always wondered why the Disneyland Skyway ride was closed. Here is the explanation from Disneyland Guru. (via: WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR)

Defunct Disneyland Skyway Ride from Starling Travel

The Skyway was closed because it was expensive to maintain, had higher costs than many other attractions, required a minimum of four castmembers at each end, and had very limited passenger per hour numbers. Access issues were also considered, as there was no real alternative for making this attraction ADA compliant.

I’m not buying it. The reason why the Skyway was closed is because it wasn’t USEFUL. It was a tad ironic that Tomorrowland had so many rides devoted to transportation that didn’t actually TRANSPORT you anywhere. It was ALWAYS faster to walk to Fantasyland than to take the Skyway to it. You’ll see why when you look at this map from Disney Stuff.

Magic Kingdom Map Skyway Highlighted from Starling Travel

It takes you a long distance. It LOOKS like it’s a useful ride, but when you just finished riding Mission to Mars and want to go on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, it’s actually EASIER and FASTER to just walk there. The Skyway ride entrance was tucked into the back corner of Tomorrowland that took you as long to walk to as it did to walk around the Matterhorn into Fantasyland.

I find it interesting that the things that didn’t work at Disneyland actually WORK at other amusement parks. Take for instance, the Skyride at Lagoon in Utah.

Lagoon Skyride from becre8tv at Flickr

The Skyride is obviously styled after the Disneyland ride, but it is insanely useful. Tired parents can suggest the Skyride to their excited kids and get all the way across the park and REST while doing it. I’ve highlighted the route of the Skyride on the Lagoon map.

Lagoon Park Map Skyride Highlighted from Starling Travel

As you can see, the utility of the Skyride is indisputable and that’s why it still runs today, outliving its inspiration by decades.

The lack of utility is also what killed the People Movers at Disneyland. They never actually MOVED PEOPLE. They took you on a slow crawl through Tomorrowland, where you were to marvel at OTHER rides.

People Mover Route from Starling Travel

When Disneyland tried to put an exciting ride on the People Mover tracks with Rocket Rods, it was actually a fun ride. Unfortunately, the tracks couldn’t handle the physical stresses and they had to shut it down within a year.

Walt Disney was trying to showcase the methods of transportation for the future, but sadly, didn’t actually use them to TRANSPORT people, which is something the tired families visiting Disneyland NEED. The only vestige of this part of Tomorrowland is the Monorail, which is incredibly useful. At present, it takes you from Disneyland to Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Hotel.

Ironically, he did use the methods of transportation of the PAST to transport people in his original design for the park. The Disneyland Railroad provides the same utility as the Lagoon Skyride does. When parents are tired, but the kids want to run to the next section of the park, they can load the kids on the train and get from Frontierland to Fantasyland, Toontown, or Main Street, all while resting. Nostalgia aside, the Disneyland Railroad is a highly useful ride, which is why it’s still in operation today.

In the end, the Skyway ride was retired because of it’s lack of utility. It wasn’t about cast members. It wasn’t about ADA compliance. It wasn’t about low passenger per hour rates. It was about the fact that it was further to WALK to the Skyway entrance than it was to just walk to Fantasyland. Even so, I still miss being able to slowly ride through the Matterhorn and hover over the Teacups.

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1 Comment »

  1. Disneyland’s attractions were never about being USEFUL. They were always about being FUN. I very much doubt that the Skyway was closed because you could get to Fantasyland faster if you walked.

    I do believe that “expensive to maintain” is closer to the truth, but it’s misleading. The expense involved probably wasn’t mechanical maintenance. It was liability.

    When the Skyway was built, hardly anyone would have seriously considered dropping something lethal on someone fifty feet below. By the ’90s, that was the way to bet. The potential for a lawsuit was astronomical and the chance of even Disney’s legal team succesfully defending against it was virtually nil. A corporate lawyer would faint if you suggested it today. When he came to, he’d sue you for making him faint.

    Too bad. It was fun.

    Comment by Uppity Prole — January 12, 2014 @ 11:39 pm

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