Monorails at Five Surprising Amusement Parks

After writing about the best steam trains in American theme parks, I started thinking about another favorite mode of transportation of mine: monorails. A monorail is a type of railway system where the track consists of a single elevated beam in which the vehicles ride either below or above it. Disney operates the most famous monorails in the world at Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts.  “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas.”

While Walt Disney may have thought they were the way of the future, monorails have failed to become a widespread mode of transportation. There are more parks that fall on the “used to have a monorail” list versus the “still operating” one. Parks which once had a monorail include Kings Island (1974-1993), Kings Dominion(1993), Busch Gardens Tampa(1999), Busch Gardens Williamsburg(1990s), Carowinds (1973-1994), Geauga Lake (1969-2006), Six Flags Magic Mountain (1971-2001), and even Cedar Point (1959-1965). In fact, according to Rolling Through the Years, Cedar Point’s monorail actually predates Disney’s as it was tested at Akron Summit Beach in 1957 and 1958 to become the first commercial monorail to operate in the United States. Disneyland’s monorail opened in 1959.

I recently wondered, outside of Disney, what other amusement parks in America still operate a monorail? I found five surprising amusement parks in the United States that still have a monorail you can ride.

Note: all lengths are my own estimate using Google maps.


Monorail at Little Amerricka Amusement Park

Marshall, Wisconsin
Stations: 1
Length: 1,420ft
Opened: 1990slittle amerricka monorail

Take the monorail around the park to get a great view of the scenery and rides. Unlike the other monorails on this list, passengers ride in individual four-seat vehicles rather than a train of multiple cars. The park is owned by Lee Merrick and this is the reason for the unusual spelling of the park’s name.

Monorail at HersheyPark

Hershey, Pennsylvania
Stations: 1
Length: 4.600 ft
Opened: 1969
Manufacturer: Universal Mobility

hersheypark monorail

Take a tour of HersheyPark, Zoo America, and  portion of historic Hershey outside the park.

Update: Thanks to @paintervision on Twitter for pointing out that our image from Google maps is now outdated. The track was actually shortened a little in 2017.


Monorail at Dutch Wonderland

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Stations: 1
Length: 3,368 ft
Opened: 1966
Manufacturer: Universal Design

dutch wonderland monorail

Originally opened with three trains: red, white, and blue. A fire in August 1989 destroyed the red and white trains which prompted the park to buy newer trains and the blue one was sold.

 

MonoRail at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier

Ocean City, New Jersey
Stations: 1
Length: 1,040 ft
Opened: 1965
gillian's wonderland pier monorail

Originally named  “Red Raider”, the first half of the ride takes place inside and the second half outside. The original layout was expanded in 1986.

SkyTrail Monorail at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Gilroy, California
Stations: 1
Length: 1,000 ft
Opened: 2001
Manufacturer: Morgan

gilroy gardens monorail

View the Monarch Garden and Mission Plaza from above as this monorail cruises through a greenhouse.


As you can see, none of these monorails are used for transportation (getting from one point to another) as they all only have one station and function as a ride within the amusement park. Interestingly, four out of five of these parks also have a train ride. Elsewhere in the US, there are three zoos with monorails: Zoo Miami, Bronx Zoo, Dallas Zoo.

Earlier I mentioned Kings Island no longer has a monorail, which is true, but you can still ride their monorail at Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield, Ohio. With single rail coasters becoming more popular, maybe there’ll be a renewed interest in monorails at amusement parks too.

Learn about more theme park monorails here.

Are you a fan of monorails? Which on this list have you ridden? Which parks would you like to see build a new monorail system? Let us know in the comments below.

Share

You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. James says:

    As someone who drives a real Monorail for a living, the -thing- at Little Amerricka… is *not* a Monorail. It’s clearly on 2 rails and is just an elevated train/car whatever you wanna call it…..but I still rode it.

    Real Monorails that could have been listed as a better choice would be The Skyway Sleigh at Santas Village (NH) or Sky Rider at Wonderland Amusement Park (TX)

  2. Tim says:

    I wouldn’t get too caught up in “strict” definitions of the term monorail. Looking at images of the Sky Rider in Texas there are three distinct rails. Most suspended monorails – except the Wupperthal and Dresden Schwebebahns – have two horizontal and two vertical running surfaces even though they are made from the interiors walls of the same slotted square tube.

    The Monorail Society’s definition is narrow singular guideway with trains wide than the guideway. That’s the least worst definition I think there is. I think we could add that railroads have conical railheads and conical wheels

  3. Tim says:

    I’ve found another one you should have: Flying Galleons at Morey’s Piers.
    As a suspended monorail it is particularly rare.

    There are also four versions of “Snoopy’s Rocket Express” around the US (Valley Fair, Worlds of Fun, Kings Dominion, Dorney Park) which are just as much monorails as the one at Little Amerrika.

    • Nick says:

      Thanks Tim! Yeah, the question is really becoming where is the line between what is considered a monorail versus an elevated railway. I also saw Morey’s has the Seagull Cycles ride – do you count that as a monorail? What about Disney’s Peter Pan Rides? According to Coasterpedia, Kings Island’s “Woodstock Whirlybirds is a Monorail built by Dutch manufacturer Caripro” but it’s more of an elevated scenic ride to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.