It was a somewhat haunting experience, to say the least.
My son and I arrived in Marceline, Missouri early on a Tuesday morning in the midst of an unrelenting thunderstorm. It served to make this very small and quiet Midwest town even quieter. We had some time to kill before the Walt Disney Hometown Museum opened, so we decided to drive to the south end of town and see the Walt Disney Municipal Park. There we would find the remains of an early Disneyland attraction: the Midget Autopia.
|A postcard of the Midget Autopia at Disneyland|
The park seemed a quiet place, regardless of the poor weather. It appeared as an almost forgotten area. The nearby swimming pool was drained and apparently retired. Playground equipment looked old and unmaintained. I wondered if the park was more the destination of visiting Disney enthusiasts than Marceline residents.
The Midget Autopia was donated to Marceline during the summer of 1966. The attraction had been removed from Disneyland when Tomorrowland received its famous makeover in the late 1960s. It opened for the younger residents of Marceline following a dedication ceremony on July 3, 1966. A faded and weather-stained dedication plaque remains:
What is left of the Midget Autopia lies now in stark contrast to the flash and flair we have come to associate with Disney entertainment. Forgive the cliche, but it was indeed part of a much simpler time, especially in relation to the Disney Company and the corporate behemoth it has now evolved into. A simple queue, cement tracks, a tunnel and overpass, and very sincere words on a small standing monument are what remains to remind us of this once bright moment in both Disney history and the chronicles of Marceline.
It presents a mystery for the uninitiated; no sign remains of the former attraction, and it is not identified by name on the plaque.Relocated from the Magic Kingdom of Disneyland as a gift to the children of this community from Marceline's favorite sons Walt and Roy Disney. Accepted in appreciation July 1966 Mayor C. A. Young