(Photo © Joel Maus/Studio EMP)
I forgot to mention one of the most memorable experiences from my recent California Adventure: Autopia.
On Monday, my family and I ventured to Disneyland. My mom worked at the “Happiest Place on Earth” for five years back in the ’70s, so it was neat to go back there with her and the rest of my family.
We had a great time, but the one downer of the day was the Autopia ride. And, before you think this is just about me not liking cars (which is not true, but I’m accused of that whenever we write anything less than flattering of cars), I’ll have you know that my entire family agreed.
passing these out.
Autopia is a Disneyland classic that hasn’t really changed for years. You drive a little car around a track and you have control of the steering wheel and the accelerator (you’re on a metal track that prevents you from steering off course). You sputter around an uneventful loop and then idle in traffic as you come back to the end.
As you enter the ride, an attendant passes out an Autopia driver’s license. The kids all got one. They were excited.
The amazing thing about this ride is that the cars are still powered by gasoline. When we got in line, the first thing we all noticed was the exhaust fumes. Families, kids, and employees stood just feet from idling gas engines spewing toxic air.
In line we overheard two women talking: “Are those cars running on gasoline?” one of them asked, to which the other said, “No, they wouldn’t do that. That would be too dangerous.”
Why haven’t these cars been converted to electric power? They’re tiny and only run at a few miles per hour. Surely the technology exists and I don’t think Disneyland is hurting for enough cash to make the switch. Then I noticed a sign for the ride: It read, “brought to you by Chevron”.
Maybe it’s just me (and I admit I’m hyper-sensitive to car culture propaganda and the massive impact the oil/gas and auto industries have on American society), but this entire ride felt like some sort of youth marketing ploy.
For several hours afterward, I was racking my brain trying to think of how Disneyland could replace Autopia with Biketopia. Maybe they could get Lance Armstrong and his Livestrong organization to sponsor it?
Has anyone else been to Autopia lately? I’d love to know if folks agree or disagree with my perspective on this.