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Autopia


Let's continue touring the attractions of Tomorrowland and visit one which I have to admit to never having ridden - Autopia or the Tomorrowland Speedway.

This, like Space Mountain, is a staple attraction of the various Disney parks: Autopia appears at Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.  Disney World has an iteration called Tomorrowland Speedway and Tokyo Disneyland has Grand Circuit Raceway.

Autopia as a ride has been through many changes and versions.  At one point in the early days of Disneyland, there were different versions in different areas - a Tomorrowland Autopia, a Fantasyland Autopia and even a Midget Autopia for children to small to ride the main attraction.  Over time these others have disappeared and the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland tracks were merged to become the attraction we currently have.  For a long while the Disneyland Autopia was sponsored by Chevron with theming to match but, in the last year, has been renewed by sponsorship from Honda, complete with the presence of Asibo the robot.  Honda also sponsor the iteration of this ride at Hong Kong Disneyland.

The Chevron sponsorship saw the presence of three characters - Dusty, Sparky and Suzy.  These were featured in Chevron advertisements and were available as toys.  Pre-show films were enjoyed by guests as they enter the queue for Autopia, so let's spend a bit of time looking at these.





  
The second clip there includes a surprising 'poo' joke for a Disney property.  Not often Disney strays into toilet humour.  

It's difficult to ignore the similarities to a certain Pixar franchise here - Cars and, to be honest, I'm surprised at least one of the Autopia/Speedway attractions hasn't had a Cars makeover seeing how popular that series of films is (even if, critically, they aren't considered to be the best of the Disney/Pixar output) and that there is a third film on the horizon.  The red car, Dusty, in these strikes me as quite similar to Doc and Suzy isn't disimilar in voice or design to Sally.

On the way to the cars there is also a large billboard which displays a series of terrible car-related jokes and puns.

 

The billboard has been updated since the Honda refurbishment.

 
After the pre-show (which most guests walk past without paying much attention it seems from the various Youtube walkthroughs) guests eventually arrive at loading platforms where individuals or pairs climb into the small, multi-coloured cars.


What follows is, to me, a fairly uninspiring trundle around a concrete road.  The previous Chevron version included some signs featuring the aforementioned characters and there are a couple of nice views of the Matterhorn from the track, but on the whole not a lot else of interest.  The current presence of Asibo has introduced some 'scenes' as riders travel round, but again these are static and no particularly inspiring.  One issue I can see with the ride is that there is no way of overtaking cars in front.  Each car is limited to following a track in the centre of their lane (there are two lanes) and aside from an ability to swerve slightly left or right you are stuck on the designated path.  However, if a rider in front of you slows down or stops (I imagine younger children may well do this if they have trouble controlling the car) you are stuck behind them.  This, to me, would make the ride very frustrating as it's only appeal that I can see is the ability to speed (up to 7 miles per hour!) around the track.  If this is taken away by riders in front, I can see the ride becoming something of a bore.

As I understand it, though, the original versions of the ride did allow for freer movement, but this only lead to the destruction of the ride vehicles resulting in the current, track-led, bumper-fitted cars.

Autopia, intriguingly, was designed to reflect the emergence of highways in America.  Car travel, I suppose, was relatively new in this era and an aspiration for many.  To me, this inspiration would probably fit better at somewhere like Epcot, but as it is, Tomorrowland is obviously the next best fit.  


The Tomorrowland Speedway in the Tomorrowland area of Disney World, though, was initially based around the theme of a Grand Prix, but has now become themed more on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and famous events such as the Indy 500 (which even I, as a lowly Brit, has heard of!).



The Grand Circuit Raceway at Tokyo Disneyland is sponsored by Bridgestone, a tyre firm.  



Autopia at Disneyland Paris has a 1950s retro theming which actually clashes somewhat with the Jules Verne steampunk theming of Discoveryland where it is located (this being Paris's version of Tomorrowland).



At Hong Kong Disneyland, the theming includes far more vegetation and some of it with a bit more of a fantastical feel but all the various iterations are more or less identical rides.

Autopia is, as I said at the beginning, not a ride I have ridden in any of my visits to the parks and it isn't one I'm in a rush to partake in.  It always seems to have a massive queue and it's uninspiring theming and ride experience do nothing to encourage me to join that long wait time.

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