REVIEW: ‘The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky’ is a beautifully-crafted look at a unique part of Disney history

by Brittani Tuttle

On June 14, 1959, the ribbon was cut on Disneyland’s first major expansion: a special elevated railway known as the Monorail. Since then, it has become a Disney icon in its own right – one that warranted its own coffee table book, “The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky.”

disney monorail

In the book, readers will be immersed in not only the history of the monorail itself, but get their hands on gorgeous, rare concept art from Disney legends like Herb Ryman and Claude Coats and see photos from Walt’s time working on Disneyland that they may not have seen before.

It’s no secret that Walt had a passion for passenger transportation. He always kept an eye on the horizon, ever looking toward the future. With Disneyland, Walt had hoped to utilize it to present new, futuristic ideas and technology. While the monorail didn’t exactly turn into the practical and widely-used mode of transportation as Walt had envisioned, “The Disney Monorail” shows just how much work and imagination went into crafting this unique experience that guests enjoy today.

Putting it plainly, “The Disney Monorail” is a must-have for Disney fans. Whether you have a specific love for Disney history, Disneyland, or you’re a railway enthusiast as Walt was, there’s something for everyone. The rare and occasionally never-before-published concept and development art is incredible; the collection included is truly a treasure trove that I found myself pouring over to find every single detail. There’s even a section dedicated to the monorail at Walt Disney World Resort, one I am much more familiar with than its Disneyland predecessor.

I was blown away by just how many historical materials and images had been preserved over the years of the Disney monorail, and it made me wonder just how much Disney history is left to be shared with fans like me, be it through books, Disney+ documentaries like “The Imagineering Story,” or other mediums.

Authors Jeff Kurtti, Paul Wolski and Vanessa Hunt have pulled together a compelling and visually pleasing celebration of one of the most recognizable icons in Disney history, all while informing readers of all the hard work and design that went on behind the scenes to make it a reality. At 208 pages, it isn’t what I would call a quick read, but even just flipping through to look at the photos and concept art is an enjoyable experience in itself.

In addition, on the very last page of the book, there is a tiny wink to a future monorail experience set to appear at Epcot in the future: the “Monorail Mark X,” a new attraction or experience planned for the Play! Pavilion coming to Epcot. There’s no better way to close out a book about Walt’s vision of transportation than by looking toward the future.

You can pick up “The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky” wherever books are sold.


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