Fantasyland/junior/Midget Autopia

(1956—1999) BACKSTORY: The popularity of the Tomorrowland Autopia led to Junior Autopia in 1956 on an unused piece of land across from Storybook Land. Although the vehicles looked the same as those at the Tomorrowland Autopia, extension blocks were placed on the foot pedals and booster seats added to accommodate smaller drivers. The third (and smallest) Autopia track, The Midget Autopia, designed for the youngest drivers, featured a ride system that was more similar to the Fantasyland dark rides than the other Autopias. The child-size cars ran along a center bus bar through tunnels, along straightaways, and through a barn. Located next to Storybook Land, the Midget Autopia ran from April 23, 1957 to 1966. It was closed in April 1966 to make way for the wide path up to It’s a Small World.Walt Disney donated the ride to his boyhood hometown of Marceline, Missouri, where it was installed in a park named in his honor. For several years, it operated as a ride for the children of Marceline. Unfortunately, the cars were too difficult and expensive to maintain. You can still see a Midget Autopia car in Marceline. A lemon-yellow car is on display in the town’s Walt Disney Hometown Museum. The museum is open from April through October in the town’s former Santa Fe railroad depot—an appropriate place to honor lifelong train buff Walt Disney

The Junior Autopia closed in 1958 to make way for the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Monorail, and reopened on January 1, 1959 as the expanded Fantasyland Autopia, located across from the Matterhorn and sponsored by Richfield. Both Autopias featured similar triangle-shaped, double-sided boarding areas (two tracks at each attraction), scenic straightaways, bridges, and cloverleafs. At one point, all four ride tracks converged, creating Tomorrowland's own four-lane superhighway. In 1991, during the Disney’s Afternoon Avenue makeover of Fantasyland, the ride was transformed into the Rescue Rangers Raceway. The theming was kept until 1992, when the promotion ended. The Junior Autopia remained open on an interim basis until 1999, when both the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland Autopias were closed. In 2000, the Junior Autopia and regular Autopia were combined and redesigned as “Autopia, presented by Chevron,” with a new fleet of cars. Today, you can see a bronzed Midget Autopia car on a pedestal at the side of the Autopia track. This “statue” is an actual car that once operated in Fantasyland and Marceline.