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A Different look at Disney...

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As you pass through the Disneyland turnstiles on this crisp autumn day, one of the first things you do (well, not just you; nearly everyone) is pose for a photo in front of the Floral Mickey on the hill below Main Street Station. When you look at the digital image on your camera, everyone seems to have had their eyes open. That's a keeper. Near the top of the photo, hardly anyone but you notices the little contraption on the train tracks above.


Few families can resist a photo of the floral Mickey as one of their first shots of the Magic Kingdom. Invariably, the handcar makes a cameo appearance in these pictures.

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Bucking the popular sentiment to make a mad dash towards Indy, you manage to convince everyone that a trip on the Disneyland Railroad might be a good first ride, since Walt wanted everyone to take "the Grand Circle Tour" to become familiar with the layout of the Park. It might also heighten anticipation, sort of like a preview of coming attractions. So, you make your way up the steps and into the imposing brick station. From there, you head to one of the platforms (what CMs know as "bull pens"). You can smell the diesel exhaust and hot oil from the last train, and as you look down the tracks, you again notice the little yellow car on the tracks in front of the station. The rest of the folks on the platform hardly give it a thought.


This yellow handcar has been a fixture in front of Main Street Station for many years. While completely operable, it has been chained to the rail to prevent any unauthorized CM extracurricular activities. Photo courtesy Matt Walker.

You know what it is--it's a handcar, a hand-operated vehicle used as a gag in countless Saturday morning cartoons where it's usually pumped into a dark tunnel, only to re-emerge a moment later, its frantic passengers pumping with all their might to avoid a speeding on-coming train.

As your train chugs out of Main Street Station, you look forward to an exciting day at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. But for some reason, that little yellow handcar sticks in your mind. You wish you knew a little more about it. Well, here at MiceAge, we're here to help! Let's take a closer look at handcars, and in particular, Disney's.


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2008 Steve DeGaetano

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