Main Street Horseless Carriage

Attraction of the Week

Main Street Vehicles

or, What Goes Up Must Come Down

Music for Recreational Motoring:

Iago: Oh man, Zazu, the holiday traffic on Main Street is unbelievable!

Zazu: Ah, good, I love to see all the happy, glowing Christmas faces, as merry guests stroll along the avenue.

Iago: Who's talkin' about strolling? I said the traffic. I almost got killed on my way home from the barber shop.

Zazu: You went to the barber shop again?

Iago: Zazu, I told you I was follicly enhanced. If I don't go in for regular trims, my feathers clog up the weird plumbing in that Swiss Treehouse, and those Disney maintenance guys aren't very happy about it. I keep telling them, "Install regular copper pipes for pity's sake!" but they just don't listen.

Zazu: Iago, the Robinsons were on a deserted -- oh, never mind. Tell me what happened on Main Street.

Iago: Well, there I was, looking really great after my trim, and I step into the street, and all of a sudden some French tourist yells out, "Iago! Lee Horsley's carriage!" So I stop to look around, thinking, "What has Lee Horsley been doin' lately to support a kid?" and all of a sudden this CAR goes whizzin' right by my beak at like 65 miles per hour. I swear, Zazu, I think he was practicing for that Indy race next month. And after all that, I never did get to see Lee Horsley or his baby. I bet he's married to some babe, too. Those ruggedly handsome former TV stars always get the babes.

Zazu: Let me get this straight. The French tourist said, "Lee Horsley's carriage?"

Iago: Yup. I heard him clear as a bell. You know how sharp my hearing is.

Zazu: Iago, I think what he actually said was, "Le horseless carriage!"

Iago: I'm sorry, I wasn't listening. What?

Zazu: The French tourist. He said, "Le horseless carriage!" He was warning you about the car! You really need to trade in that Edsel brain of yours for a newer model.

Iago: Well, why didn't he just say, "Iago! The car?"

Zazu: Because he was using the proper term for the vehicle. When cars were first invented, somewhere around the time period represented by Main Street, they were referred to as horseless carriages, because they didn't need a horse to pull them. Now they had engines!

Iago: I see ... engines.

Zazu: Exactly.

Iago: Engines with horsepower.

Zazu: Now you're catching on! Those little hamsters are finally turning the wheel. Anyway, the horseless carriage has been a part of the Disney parks right from the beginning. Disneyland had a nice shiny red one on opening day, along with an Omnibus. These were the creations of Imagineer Bob Gurr, "Director of Vehicle Design," so insiders sometimes call them GurrMobiles as a result.

Iago: Well, in my case, it was almost a GOREmobile! One more step, and I would've been road pizza. I bet ol' Wolfgang Puck would've named a dish after me. "Tonight, we have a stunning new entree: Pressed Parrot Pizza, with Vinegar & Motor Oil Dressing."

Zazu: Iago, the Gurrmobiles' average speed is 3 mph. Round trips (if you could take one) would thus take about 7.5 minutes for a trip of 1,987 feet. I hardly think you would have been pressed. Pushed, perhaps, but not pressed.

Iago: Yeah, well, it sure looked like it was speeding to me. And I thought there were no more Wild Rides in this park! I was shaking like a leaf after that thing whizzed by.

Zazu: Interesting you should mention "shaking." The engines are two-cylinder Hercules water pump engines, selected for reliability and that "funky chicken" vibration they impart.

Iago: Wow. I knew Herc was good at pumping up, but I didn't realize he could dance, too. What a guy! Speaking of body-building, did Disney model the rest of the horseless carriage after a greek god, too?

Zazu: No, actually, the rest of the vehicle was modelled more like Frankenstein's monster. Built by Disney from mostly off-the-shelf parts, the yellow Horseless Carriage, introduced at Disneyland in 1957, had a Jeep rear end, a Ford Model A front end, steering gear from a 1950 Imperial, and brakes from a 1952 Mercury.

Iago: Ick! Not my choices at all. If I was choosing parts, I'd want a Mel Gibson rear end, a Brendan Fraser front end, steering gear from Tom Cruise, and no brakes at all.

Zazu: <pause> Er, Iago, I'm afraid I have to bow out of that all-night Schwarzenegger moviefest thingy on Saturday night at your place.

Iago: Really? <sniffle> And I bought cheese popcorn and everything. It's your favorite!

Zazu: <Cough!> Getting back to our macho topic <Tim Allen grunt>, Bob Gurr also designed the Autopia cars, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Motorboats, Haunted Mansion "Doombuggies", the "Atommobiles" from Adventure Thru Inner Space, and the Flying Saucers. He also worked on the Viewliner, early Monorails, Submarines, even the parking lot trams.

Iago: Tramzilla? Now that's what I call macho.

Zazu: Did you know that there used to be a Carnation truck and a Global Van Lines truck on Disneyland's Main Street? Neither had seats for passengers, and I don't believe anyone but VIP guests of those companies ever rode in them. They were basically motorized billboards that provided some period flavor to Main Street. Now that's what I call advertising!

Iago: Hey, what about the Fire Engine?

Zazu: The Fire Engine was added in 1958. And in 1969, Gurr began a redesign program for the Disneyland fleet and added four new vehicles for Walt Disney World. When he finished, not only did Disneyland have a renovated fleet, the Florida park sported two Horseless Carriages, two Jitneys, a Fire Engine, and an Omnibus.

Iago: Didn't they send the Omnibus over to World Showcase when that opened? Or was it Mickey Avenue at the Disney/MGM Studios....

Zazu: It was neither. Both those other parks have distinctive double-decker busses that cannot be confused with the Main Street models -- except by some ignorant parrots.

Iago: Do the overseas Disney parks have these vehicles, too?

Zazu: A Fire Truck and Omnibus are in service at all four of the Magic Kingdom parks. Horseless Carriages are at three parks, Disneyland Paris being left out.

Iago: Well, no wonder Mr. "Jean-Claude Kill Me" was excited when he saw one! I guess I should be thankful he wasn't a mime, or I'd be pushin' up daisies right now.

Zazu: Iago, I think you may want to rethink that Paris trip.

Iago: Why? At least it'll be safe to walk down Main Street without "Lee Horsley's carriage" running me down.

Zazu: No, I'm saving that privilege for myself!

The music selected to accompany this page is "Little Old Lady from Pasadena" by the Beach Boys.

This page last updated 25 June 2000.
Copyright © 1999 by Bruce A. Metcalf and Ronnie O'Rourke (JIROMI). The characters, attractions, and photographs here belong to the Walt Disney Company, and we swear that Lee Horsley had nothing to do with this.