Disneyland to Electrify Autopia: Are Tomorrowland Speedway's gas cars next?

18 days ago in "Tomorrowland Speedway"

Posted: Tuesday April 2, 2024 9:33am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney has confirmed that The Autopia at Disneyland will say farewell to old combustion engine gas-powered cars and introduce new electric vehicles in the next few years.

A Disney spokesperson confirmed to the LA Times that the changes are coming, saying "Since opening with Disneyland park in 1955, Autopia has remained a guest-favorite most popular with young kids experiencing driving for the first time. As the industry moves toward alternative fuel sources, we have developed a roadmap to electrify this attraction and are evaluating technology that will enable us to convert from gas engines in the next few years."

 

Although Disney specifically refers to the driving attraction at Disneyland, it would seem to make sense for Disney to develop new vehicles that can be used at both Autopia in Disneyland and the Tomorrowland Speedway at Walt Disney World.

Tomorrowland Speedway is one of the original Walt Disney World attractions, dating back to the opening of the Magic Kingdom theme park on October 1, 1971. The attraction features 146 authentic Autopia Mark VII race cars that travel around a 4/10 mile track. The cars reach a top speed of 7 ½ miles per hour. The engines are built by Briggs and Stratton, but are very loud, generate a lot of emissions, and significantly impact the Tomorrowland environment.

It was previously hoped that new electric vehicles would join the Tomorrowland Speedway as part of the TRON Lightcycle Run addition to Magic Kingdom, but Disney chose to leave the Speedway in its original form, at least for now.

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mkt6 hours ago

Between parade floats and trackless ride vehicles, Disney has decades of experience with vehicle electrification. I trust them to do this safely.

celluloid6 hours ago

Nice armchair pitch, but not something that is going to happen with current cost effectiveness.

pdude811 day ago

Now I didn't know their plans, but who lets off the gas in the speedway or autopia before the end? This is a red herring

Brian1 day ago

DisneyCane10 days ago

If they are driven so little where is the ROI (financial and emission reduction) to change them over? It might make sense to purchase electric when they buy new UTVs and slowly end up swapping out the fleet but I don't see how it would make sense to do a huge CAPEX and do it all at once. Regarding speedway, how much gas is actually used on average per day? I wouldn't be surprised if many other attractions use significantly more energy on a daily bases. Even though the other attractions are electric, it's not created by pixie dust so it isn't all "clean" energy even if you can't see or smell the emissions. How much more efficient are electric go-karts? We're not talking about advanced EVs with regenerative breaking and other optimizations for efficiency (which they do mostly to increase range per $ spent on the battery pack and get the efficiency benefit as a side effect).

Disstevefan110 days ago

This would be a perfect application for removable battery packs. Battery packs can be charged off to the side and dropped in, JUST LIKE mobility scooters.

MisterPenguin10 days ago

Uhh... A quick internet search shows ranges of 20-50 miles. But let's say it's only 10 miles. That's completely sufficient. It's not like Pop has just one utility vehicle and they drive it non-stop all day long. They don't leave it 'running.' They go from utility depot to a complex. And load/unload/do some work while the UTV is off. Then move on to the next. They're not circling the complex continuously. And on the 'backside' of a resort where the utilities are, they can install recharging stations so that when the driver gets out to do whatever they came to do, it can be recharging -- if it needs it.

celluloid10 days ago

Unfortuantely that is not happening.(nothing impossible but not anytime soon)They run too often for too much distance for what they are. PARGOS are fun though.

doctornick10 days ago

They previously implemented electric cars in this attraction in Hong Kong. It’s not new for them.

Brian10 days ago

Ordinarily I'd agree with you on the PR front, but this is a special circumstance since it touches on a social issue which is very important to many. They could get better "bang for their buck" by announcing that all the speedways around the world are going electric by (year), and they would win a lot of plaudits and gain a lot more coverage than just announcing each attraction's makeover one by one.

Tony the Tigger10 days ago

You’re not thinking like a business. They shouldn’t have the same attraction down at every park at the same time for refurbishments or renovations. You get more bang for your buck when you can announce a refresh several separate times instead of once. And obviously, you spread out the costs over time. Plus, I stand by what I said before. There are always unexpected things that come up in any project every time. I guarantee it. You will always implement it better the next time. That means potentially shorter downtime for the second park, fewer bugs, etc.

Brian10 days ago

Please, it's an electric go kart. Not exactly cutting edge stuff. 🤷‍♂️ I'm certain the geniuses at WDI can get that right on the first try.

MisterPenguin10 days ago

More important than the Speedway gas engines... All the utility/golf carts at the resorts. Ugh. They're worse than Speedway or a smoking area when it comes to fumes. And they're loud. If Disney wants to brag about zero carbon footprint, these gotta go electric.

PizzaPlanet10 days ago

They’re in an interesting spot here. Can’t brag too much about the upgrade if you can’t commit to implementing it everywhere