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The Mouse-O-Rail: Disney’s Street-Legal Monorail Super Car

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Imagine this, but cruising down the the highway like a normal, train-shaped car…
Photo: WillMcC via CC

When most people think of the Disney theme parks, they think of costumed characters and overpriced bottled water. However, beyond the visual spender and veneer of “Disney magic” is a fascinating history of innovation, imagination, and recycling old things into newer, shinier things. Disney is no stranger to reusing iconic elements of their theme parks in creative and often crazy ways. Such is the case with Mickey’s Mouse-O-Rail, a monorail train that was transformed into an honest-to-goodness street-legal super car.

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The history behind the Mouse-O-Rail

The story of the Disney theme parks extends all the way back to Disneyland’s opening in 1955. However, the story of the Mouse-O-Rail begins in 1959, when the Tomorrowland section of the park was given an overhaul. Part of the refurbishment included adding two monorail trains, codenamed Red and Blue. These trains carried guests across the park, and in 1961, a third monorail was added that connected the park to the Disneyland Hotel. In 1969, four new “Mark III” monorails were added to the park, nicknamed Blue, Yellow, Green, and Red. These trains ran for nearly two more decades until 1988, when only Red was left.

When Disney announced its plans to scrap the iconic vehicle, a fan campaign to save it began in earnest. Eventually, Disney was swayed, and the train was removed from its tracks and put into storage. There, a most unusual transformation began…

The train returns

In 1990, Disneyland launched a massive celebration of its 35th anniversary. As part of the festivities, they made an unexpected reveal: the front car of the salvaged Mark III monorail train had been transformed into a car.

Now dubbed Mickey’s Mouse-O-Rail, the train had been fully retrofitted with wheels, the appropriate lights and safety features, and other equipment to make it street legal. One of these alterations was a vanity plate on its front that read “35 EARS.” It was an impressive transformation, and thrilled park attendees when it debuted during Disneyland’s Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

Following this event, the Mouse-O-Rail spent the majority of 1990 touring America. It then returned to Disneyland where it could be seen regularly cruising down Main St. It was then put on display for the remainder of the year.

A sad fate

Unfortunately, Disney saw little use for the Mouse-O-Rail beyond the 35th anniversary. In 1991, the vehicle came to rest in Disneyland’s backstage area, where it remained abandoned for ten years. Although there were plans to include it in an ambitious vehicle-themed restaurant in a refurbished Tomorrowland, these plans fell through.

In 2000, the Mouse-O-Rail got a brief second chance when it appeared repainted in the que for Tomorrowland’s Rocket Rods ride. Unfortunately, the infamously awful ride didn’t last very long, and when its vehicles were destroyed and scrapped for parts, so was the Mouse-O-Rail.

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Did you ever get a chance to see the Mouse-O-Rail on tour or at a Disney park back in the day? Let us know below!