The new Mark VII Monorail — known as “Monorail Red” to those of us who are tired of Disney naming all of their monorails “Mark” — is finally running at Disneyland.
The monorail was plagued by design problems from the start. The first monorail delivered by German manufacturer Der Wonderkin Monorailverks was underpowered, hard to control, low capacity, and H0 scale — not at all what Disney had in mind. Specifications were completely revised, fleshed out from a single sentence (“A cool new red one”) to more than 500 pages and an entirely new vehicle was fabricated.
When the new model was delivered, it looked great but proved to be almost as problematic as its predecessor. Said Disneyland monorail roundhouse supervisor Monorail Supervisor Fred, “We just couldn’t understand why so many poor design decisions were made by the vendor. Why was the steering wheel so big? Why was it oblong? And why did a monorail have a steering wheel in the first place? It was a mess. The cabins had no air conditioning and the windows barely opened so the cabins got suffocatingly stuffy almost immediately, and that’s when we found out that the designers had done all their research on west-coast American weather by visiting Seattle. Not very diligent if you ask me, but I will say that the Mark VII has excellent rain protection.”
The pluses of the new design — such as a top speed of more than 600 MPH and sleeping berths for long journeys — were not enough to convince Disney that Monorail Red would be show ready without significant modifications. The problems became such a joke at Disney that Pixar even included a passing scene of a broken red monorail near the beginning of their hit movie WALL*E.
So how did Disney finally get Monorail Red up and running? By taking matters in their own hands, that’s how. Said Disneyland’s chief railstock engineer Chief Railstock Engineer Brunhilda, “It was nothing you couldn’t fix with a chainsaw, duct tape, and a little paint.”