Disney Monorail 50 Years

Monorail Archaeology 2011

Monorail Archaeology 2010

The Alweg Phenomenon

Alweg's Heritage in Las Vegas

Alweg Konzept in LasVegas

Goofy Spoofers

ALWEG Schuco Monorail

Monorail Archaeology

Monorail Archaeology 2009


... that need to be set straight for the sake of Alweg monorail history ...

So manche amerikanische Disney-Fans verbreiten merkwürdige Stories über die Geschichte ihrer geliebten (von Alweg entwickelten) Monorail. Gelegentlich muß gegen die dollsten Geschichten Einspruch eingelegt werden. Darum geht es hier ...


Someone who is not familar with the internet world of Disney fans will be surprised about the numerous fan-sites available on the net. Some are so well done that one cannot easiely discern if they are official or not. A few sites offer excellent historical and up-to-date information, often also about the Disney monorails. Sometimes however the facts presented about monorails are badly researched and simply false. This is irritating because such information is nowadays widely available since search engines guarantee information dissemeniation. False facts that may spread like viruses because many information users and distributors do not check sources. Things get particularly irritating when false facts are packaged like well researched information. Then it is time to object!

Friendly explanations to correct misconceptions are usually ignored, so with this page an attempt is to be made to point out the worst pieces of accidental or intended desinformation.

Jemand, für den die Internet-Welt der Disney-Fans neu ist, wird über die zahllosen Fan-Webseiten staunen, die sich im Net finden lassen. Einige sind so gut gemacht, daß sie kaum von den offiziellen Seiten zu unterscheiden sind. Einige Webseiten bieten ausgezeichnete historische und aktuelle Informationen, oft auch über die Disney-Monorails. Manchmal aber sind die über Monorails präsentierten Fakten schlecht recherchiert und einfach falsch. Das ist ärgerlich, weil heutzutage Informationen mit hilfe von Suchmaschinen immense Verbreitung finden. Falsche Angaben verbreiten sich dadurch wie Viren, denn viele Informationsverbraucher und -verbreiter überprüfen keine Quellen. Besonders ärgerlich wird dies, wenn falsche Angaben wie gut recherchierte Informationen verpackt werden. Dann ist es Zeit, Einspruch zu erheben!

Freundliche Erklärungen, um Mißverständnisse zu beheben, werden meist ignoriert, daher wird mit dieser Seite versucht, auf die schlimmsten versehentlichen oder absichtlichen Desinformationen hinzuweisen.

Some critical comments and questions* concerning the internet article "The Monorail Myth: The Rest of the Story", dated November 5, 2008, to be found on the "Mouse Planet" website:

In the above named article the Disneyland-Alweg system is called "unique" because it is not "suspended by an overhead rail", but "straddles a beam".
Well, Alweg never claimed uniqueness, - the Alweg engineers always pointed toward earlier developments that they closely looked at and finally refined.

There is then mention of a suspended monorail that Mr. and Mrs. Walt Disney had ridden on during an earlier visit to Germany (before the visit that led them to Alweg). Why is this monorail not named? The famous Wuppertal Schwebebahn in the city of Wuppertal, not too far away from the city of Cologne!

The article goes on to say that "as they were driving along this road, Walt rounded the bend into a clearing just as the monorail train passed above the road right in front of him" .
Question: what bend? what clearing?
The road that the Alweg train crossed had and still today has no bend at this spot!
"He followed the train and found the offices of the small research group called 'Alweg' based on its founder, Axel L. Wenner-Gren, who was a Swedish scientist ..."
No one could follow the train. The research site was fenced in. A nearby gate with a sign clearly indicated "Alweg". A guard would have shown the way to the offices. And the entire Alweg team was not really a small outfit. Wenner-Gren was not a scientist, he was a businessman - in those days one of the wealthiest men on earth -  with an honorary doctor's title.

"The German engineers referred to the track as the 'alwegbahn'."
No, the track was called beamway and the entire system - tracks and trains and all - was called "Alweg-Bahn" (or "Alwegbahn").

"However, if you map out the test site and the road for that year, it is clear that the test track never went over any road and the only road nearby was a small old country road so Walt would have had to have been very lost to be on it ... or knew exactly where he was going on and why."
The Alweg test-site lay parallel to the important German two-lane cross-country road designated as B9 (Federal Road #9). At this spot it was and is still called "Neusser Landstrasse" connecting the city of Cologne with its northern suburbs (and for example the Ford Motor Company assembly plant that was there already before WWII), a very busy road leading to Köln-Fühlingen (official address of the test-site). The road goes on along the River Rhine to the cities of Neuss and Düsseldorf. Right behind Fühlingen a short road leads from the B9 to an important cross-Rhine car ferry (still there today). The Alweg test-site was chosen - among other factors - because of this location with the B9 providing connections to the industrial areas of the Rhine-Ruhr area. (The original B9 historically goes back to the Roman road connecting Roman Cologne with the Roman fort at Neuss.)

The article proceeds to speculate that through press articles the existence of the Alweg test-site and Alweg projects were more or less well-known during the 1950s.
This is true.

Toward the end of the article there is a quote from a letter by Mrs. Diane Disney Miller (daughter of Walt Disney) to the author of the internet article being discussed here that indicates that this author has told her that maps show that it was not possible for Walt Disney to just chance upon the monorail the way he had always said he had.

Fact is that the Alweg test-track very prominently crossed the important Neusser Landstrasse (Federal Road B9) and was photographed hundreds of times there. The Alweg Company used the scene for legendary publicity photos, sold even as postcards. The media loved the spot too. Police disliked it because drivers kept looking up at the test-train.
To this day people remember this famous crossing of the Alweg-Bahn of the Neusser Landstrasse just outside of Cologne-Fühlingen.

No matter how the story really happened, by chance or by appointment, - fact is: Walt Disney and his wife can indeed have accidentally encountered the Alweg monorail as it was crossing the busy German B9 cross-country road! (Photos of the Alweg train crossing this road are well-known and well publicized. At least one was and always is to be seen on the Alweg Archives website.)

The author of these Alweg Archives visited the Alweg test-site as a boy himself. Rode the train. Crossed the road with it ... and nowadays regularly takes walks there, where today parallel to the B9 there is Lake Fühlingen where once was till 1967 Alweg's test-site ... and in the course of his research for his German book and for this continuously updated website about the history of Alweg he personally talked with mechanics who still remembered Walt Disney's visit to the test-site and the author personally knew/knows veteran engineers (amongst them his father, who worked on the project in Cologne-Fühlingen) who participated in the Alweg Disney project, working for it both in Cologne and in Anaheim ... 

See also The Alweg Cologne-Fühlingen Test-Site page (formerly part of the German/English "Alweg-Bahn" section of The Alweg Archives created with AOL's discontinued AOL Homepage service).

The well-known aerial view of the Fühlingen test-site as of 1957 (that was once again auctioned off on ebay recently, - as usual without any copyright legitimation) will not reveal the B9 to the uninitiated. The B9 is hidden between the thick line of trees that goes across the width of the photo.

(The above comments and questions were written by the author of The Alweg Archives on November 7, 2008.)

The criticism continues below the following illustration.

Der Alweg 1:1 Zug überquert Ende der 1950er Jahre die Neusser Landstrasse in Köln-Fühlingen. - In the late 1950s Alweg's 1:1 train crosses the Neusser Landstrasse in Cologne-Fühlingen. Photo Sammlung/Collection Reinhard Krischer

Sadly more critical comments about that "Mouse Planet" column are necessary.

With the date of January 21, 2009, the above "assumptive research" continues. Now the assumptions are elucidated a bit by the memories of designer legend Bob Gurr. He is quoted as saying about "The Monorail Myth: The Rest of the Story": "Very thorough story."

What's "thorough" about it?

The quotes go on with speculations about the first Alweg test track being on "the factory side of the road".

What "factory" ?

Alweg did build its first test trains (four in all) in its shop on the test grounds in Fühlingen. Alweg's later four 1:1 trains were built by LHB in Braunschweig/Salzgitter. There never was a "factory" in Fühlingen. (The test track oval for the first test trains lay below the road level, hidden from the road by trees, bushes and undergrowth.)

Next quote: " ... was built with steeply banked turns, which turned out to be impractical."

Alweg, in its official press statements and its early brochures, specifically explained that the highly superelevated curves of the test track oval were for test purposes only and that such curves would not be part of regular Alweg lines! (Anyone who seriously researches Alweg can find this fact on The Alweg Archives "Alweg-Cologne" page, available on the internet since the year 2000.)

Next quote: " ... probably the source of publicity originating in 1952." (Meaning: the test train caused attention.)

Why "probably" ?

In 1952 the first Alweg test train made world news! Life Magazine reported about it too (the photos from October 1952 can be seen in Google-Life).

The author of this "Mouse Planet" column then grandly goes on to say: "There were indeed two Alweg test tracks as I discovered through further research."

Well, Sir, it's all there on the internet since the year 2000 and any person using a search engine and looking for "Alweg" can instantly find that information ...

And there's no need to speculate if Alweg "finally finished the full-sized commuter monorail that Walt eventually saw" in 1957 or "even as late as" 1958.
It was 1957 and that is also well documented, - Alweg's public introduction of its first 1:1 train in summer 1957.

The really interesting thing is that now this column talks about " ... that Walt eventually saw" !
In fact, before the columnist writes this, he quotes Bob Gurr: "Walt brought the Alweg photos ... "

So much for "investigative internet journalism by Disney fans" ...

The above comments were written by the author of The Alweg Archives on January 22, 2009.

Warning on a different matter: Some "entrepreneurs" out there issue DVDs about Disney history, including monorails. Some of these folks have no respect for copyright issues as long as they can make a profit. The author of these Alweg Archives also once ordered such a seemingly trustworthy set of DVDs about Disney history after they had been described as a good product. It took a long time to receive anything at all and only after several complaints the stuff arrived and it was not of very good quality. And important portions of text about the Disney monorails were taken verbatim from the Alweg Archives pages without the author's knowledge and so naturally without his permission. Correct sources were also not given. That is most definitely a very cheap way to make a fast buck with the intellectual property of others and the heritage and legacy of the Disney Magic Kingdom. After such an experience one at least knows who in this Disney-fan-scene lacks the creativity to compose own text, but has the energy to pass on someoneone elses well researched (non-profit) text as his own for profit ...

Warnung in anderer Sache: Es gibt da draussen einige "Unternehmer", die DVDs über Disney-Geschichte, auch über die Disney-Monorails, herausbringen. Einige dieser Leute haben des Profits wegen keinen Respekt vor der Bedeutung des Wortes Copyright. Der Autor dieser Alweg Archives bestellte (Vorauskasse) auch einmal einen Satz solcher angeblich seriöser DVDs über Disney-Geschichte, da sie als ein gutes Produkt beschrieben worden waren. Es dauerte lange Zeit und brauchte mehrere Reklamationen, bis überhaupt etwas ankam, - und dann stellte es sich als nicht sehr qualitätvoll heraus. Und wichtige Teile des Textes über die Disney-Monorails waren wortwörtlich aus den Seiten der Alweg Archives übernommen worden, - ohne das Wissen des Autors und natürlich ohne dessen Genehmigung. Korrekte Quellenangaben gab es nicht. Was für eine billige Art und Weise, einen schnellen Dollar mit dem geistigen Eigentum anderer und dem Erbe und dem Vermächtnis des Disney "Magic Kingdom" zu machen. Nach solch einer Erfahrung weiß man zumindest, wem es in dieser Disney-Fan-Scene an eigener Kreativität zum Verfassen eigener Texte mangelt, aber die Energie hat, gründlich recherchierte (nicht-kommerzielle) Texte anderer Leute zwecks Geldmacherei als seine eigenen auszugeben ...


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