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.
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
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.