Yesterland
 
Autopia
 
Presented by
Chevron
Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

At Disneyland, Autopia is the lone attraction remaining from Tomorrowland’s opening day—although the current incarnation bears little resemblance to the 1955 original.


Here at Yesterland, we now have the first 21st century version of Autopia—the one that opened at Disneyland on June 29, 2000. This Autopia is better than ever, thanks to Chevron, the California-based energy company known for all those TV commercials featuring the Chevron Cars.

Autopia now offers its guests three different car models. They’re all convertibles—or, more accurately, open-top cars that can’t be converted to anything else. Dusty is a rugged off-road vehicle. Suzy’s cuteness is derived from the Volkswagen Beetle. And Sparky is a sports car, built for speed—except that the top speed for any of them is 6.5 miles per hour.

They’re not actual Chevron Car characters from the TV commercials, but there’s a family resemblance.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

FASTPASS for Autopia at Innoventions

Autopia is a popular ride, so you might want to get a FASTPASS. The machines are on the balcony outside the lower level of Innoventions. Be sure to admire the retro-futuristic columns and spire base, with mottled brownish, greenish, copperish colors—just like Retro Space Mountain.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Themed queue and pre-show facility

The color palette of the Autopia structure complements the rest of the New Tomorrowland of 1998. This structure is brand new. Compared to the simple ground-level queue of the old Tomorrowland Autopia, it’s huge. It provides more queue space and even contains a pre-show.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

Animated Chevron Cars

In the round part of the structure, look into the display windows. Talking, animated Chevron cars within dimensional sets try to entertain you. But if you’re like most guests, you’ll ignore them. There are too many people talking loudly around you to hear the dialog. You’re not missing much.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2004

Video screen

A stadium-sized video screen offers more entertainment while you wait. Much of what you’re shown is simple comic strip panel dialog. You might see some of these:

Suzy: “When does an Autopia car stop driving?”
Sparky: “When it’s brake time.”
They both laugh.

Suzy: “Why did the car cross the road?”
Sparky: “To give the chicken a ride back.”
They both laugh.

Suzy: “What holds up an engine’s pants?”
Dusty: “I don’t know, what?”
Suzy: “A fan belt!”
They both laugh.

Suzy: “What is your favorite musical?”
Dusty: “Grease!”
They both laugh.

Suzy: “What is a car’s favorite part of an orchestra?”
Sparky: “The horn section.”
They both laugh.

There are also road condition messages, such as, “SPILLED LOAD OF STRAWBERRY PRESERVES,” followed by the flashing warning, “ROAD JAMMED.”

And watch for movie announcements, including this one:

COMING SOON
THE HATCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
The Story of QuasiMOTOR and his CARgoyle friends

It’s a good thing this is only pre-ride entertainment, not the actual attraction.

Need more to keep busy? Read the circular signs above the handrails.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Fun facts while you’re waiting

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Lots of lanes for loading

It’s almost time to get into your Autopia car. If you have a strong preference for a Suzy, Dusty, or Sparky car, now is the time to make your request to a Cast Member.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

“Route 55”—homage to Autopia as an opening day attraction

You’re on your way. Put the pedal to the metal. Your car reaches its top speed of 6.5 miles per hour. That’s almost 10.5 kilometers per hour.

The steering wheel is functional. But in the tradition of all of Disneyland’s Autopia cars since the mid-1960s, a guide rail prevents you from veering out of your lane.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

“Vintage” Chevron billboard

Kids who aren’t old enough for a driver’s license love this ride. But it’s fun even if you’re someone who already spends too much time behind the wheel. It’s like being a kid again.

There’s plenty of scenery along the way, including little signs, big signs, and even a bronzed Midget Autopia car. A Mark V Monorail train sweeps by overhead—going not much faster than your car, as it makes the tight turns of this part of its track.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Off-road section

There’s even a part of the roadway where the smooth pavement gives way to a rough off-road experience. Dusty probably likes this part of the route the best.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

Approaching the end of the ride

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

Traffic jam

The end of the ride simulates another real-world experience—the traffic jam. Your ride is over, but you can’t get out of your Dusty, Suzy, or Sparky yet. Keep inching forward.

But don’t hit the car in front of you. For the baby boom generation, such collisions were the best part of the ride. Now they’re forbidden.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005

Colorful cars waiting for the unloading zone

Your ride is over. But wait. There’s more—your chances to get a commemorative Autopia driver’s license and to buy Autopia merchandise.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2010

Driver’s license photos

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2008

Licenses free. Photos not free.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Gift shop, of course

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2008

Different at night

As with all outdoor attractions, the experience at night is quite different. So be sure to return after dusk.

Chevron thanks you and hopes that when you’re back in your real car, you’ll fill your tank with Chevron with Techron.


As already noted, Autopia was an opening day Disneyland attraction (as Autopia Freeway). It was also sponsored by a gasoline company, Richfield Oil, from 1955 to 1970.

Over the years, Tomorrowland Autopia saw many changes—including a new track when the Submarine Voyage was built, the addition of Fantasyland Autopia (1959 to 1999) nearby, and new fleets of cars several times.

But arguably the biggest change was the one that led to Autopia, presented by Chevron.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Chevron press release image, 1998 © Disney

WDI concept rendering

In late 1998, Chevron Corporation issued a press release announcing that it had entered into a multi-year agreement with Disneyland:

ANAHEIM, Calif., Oct. 29, 1998 — The Disneyland Resort announced today a joint 13-year marketing, promotion and sponsorship agreement with Chevron that will update and improve Disneyland’s Autopia attraction. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The remodeled Autopia, tentatively scheduled to open in mid-2000, will feature new visual show elements, restyled cars, the introduction of an entertaining pre-show area, and the combined use of the Fantasyland Autopia and Tomorrowland Autopia roadways into a single attraction. Guests will enter the attraction through a new boarding area in Tomorrowland.

“We’re very excited to have Chevron join us in refurbishing one of our guests’ all-time favorite attractions,” said Paul Pressler, Disneyland President. “Autopia is a simple and magical experience that allows both children and adults to get behind the wheel of a car, some of them for the very first time, and go for a cruise along the highways of Tomorrowland.”

The press release went on to describe the expected changes.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2004

Eight-cylinder sign with Chevron Logo (2000 – 2012)

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2012

Eight-cylinder sign with checkered flag instead of Chevron logo (2012 – 2015)

When the 13-year agreement ended in 2012, Chevron did not renew. Disney removed the many Chevron logos that had been scattered throughout the attraction. Otherwise the unsponsored Autopia remained essentially the same.

Autopia closed for a major renovation on January 11, 2016. There was no official word what the closure would bring, although word on the Internet was that Honda would become the sponsor.

The Internet was right. A press release from Honda made it official:

TORRANCE, Calif., Mar 29, 2016 — Honda today announced its sponsorship of the classic Disneyland Resort Autopia attraction, which dates back to the opening day of Disneyland Park in 1955, and allows guests to get behind the wheel of a car and cruise on a winding road trip. The company also committed to the continuation of a multiyear strategic alliance with Disneyland Resort.

“Autopia has brought joy to generations of families and has created lasting memories for millions of Disneyland guests,” said Takuji Yamada, president & CEO of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Honda is proud to sponsor this iconic attraction and continue our alliance with Disneyland Resort.”

Honda’s sponsorship of Autopia will include an update to the attraction’s look and storyline that has begun and will continue over the next several months. The attraction is already “Honda powered,” as the cars use Honda engines.

“The updates to Autopia provide a perfect opportunity to showcase our long-standing relationship with Honda, and we look forward to sharing the attraction with our guests later this year,” said Michael Colglazier, president of the Disneyland Resort.

The Autopia sponsorship extended a marketing alliance that began in 2005 with Honda’s sponsorship of Disneyland Park’s fireworks, Grad Nite events, and Honda’s show featuring ASIMO that had been in Innoventions.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2001

Paint scheme matching the 1998 Tomorrowland style

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Paint scheme matching current Tomorrowland style

Autopia quietly reopened April 29, 2016. The 1998 look was finally gone. The queue structure took on Tomorrowland’s palette of silver, grays, and blues.

Autopia Presented by Chevron at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Former Sparky car, repainted and with a Honda hood emblem

The formerly colorful and cartoonish cars from the Chevron era have been repainted in official Honda colors, such as White Diamond Pearl and Kona Coffee Metallic. Who knew that they would “clean up” so well?

The stadium-sized video screen no longer has its original Chevron era programming. As of early May 2016, the Honda changeover is still underway. The changes of 2016 won’t be as major as those of 2000, but Autopia is ready for another generation of future motorists.


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Updated May 6, 2016.