Disneyland's plans for non-gas powered cars at Autopia is a long overdue move

Disneyland has announced plans to stop using gas-powered cars for Autopia. This is why this move is a great one for the park's future!

Autopia
Autopia / Mervyn Penrose Rands/GettyImages
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Disneyland's Autopia is about to take a massive step into the future with a new style of gas-free cars at Autopia. It's a move that is perhaps long overdue, although there might be drawbacks.

One of the few Disneyland attractions that has remained since opening day in 1955, the Autopia has long been a popular ride. Guests, especially younger ones, love riding these cars on a long trip around Tomorrowland. Disneyland has updated it over the years with better cars and some other decorations.

However, while kids love it, the Autopia has its serious drawbacks. When my family rode it on a Disneyland trip in 2023, we felt it even rougher than any of the roller coasters, constantly bumping against the center rail and pretty loud. There's also how it's a gas-powered car, and the smell of it can be traced all across Tomorrowland along with the loud noises. It's at the point where you feel sorry for the Disneyland workers who have to put up with it all day long.

Over the last couple of decades, Disney has been criticized by environmental groups for continuing to push this. It's not alone as there are versions in Florida, Tokyo and Paris with Hong Kong's version closed down for a future attraction. 

The issue is that with climate change a huge concern, Disney continuing to promote an attraction based entirely on gas-powered cars in a place called Tomorrowland isn't exactly great optics. But it appears that's going to be changing.

In an exclusive from The Los Angeles Times, Disney spokesperson Jessica Good confirmed that plans are underway to transform Autopia from gas-powered cars to something more eco-friendly. 

"Since opening with Disneyland park in 1955, Autopia has remained a guest-favorite most popular with young kids experiencing driving for the first time. As the industry moves toward alternative fuel sources, we have developed a roadmap to electrify this attraction and are evaluating technology that will enable us to convert from gas engines in the next few years."

This comes after Disney announced plans to remake Epcot's Test Track by using EV cars and a different storyline. Obviously, like any change to a long-standing Disney attraction, some park purists may not be happy about any change, not to mention how some folks still like gas-powered cars. 

There’s also the logistics of having to change an attraction that is literally ingrained in Tomorrowland. One bit riding the Autopia is seeing the still unused tracks of the Rocket Rods ride that closed twenty years ago but was too large to be removed. It’s likely that the tracks and layout of Autopia will have to be changed for EV cars, which means a tricky refurbishment.

However, it's hard not to argue that this isn't a move that is long overdue. First of all, as fun as Autopia is and as much as it's a mainstay in Disneyland, it's also taking up a lot of space and buzz for years Disney might want to reuse it for something else in Tomorrowland.

There's also how the area can use some streamlining to stop it from being such a rough ride. Compared to the easygoing attractions and the way things like Radiator Springs use cars better, it's past time the attraction had a smoother ride with cars that don't bang hard against the rail every minute. 

There's also the fact that Tomorrowland is always about looking to the future and (sorry gas-powered car owners), the future is about hybrids, electric vehicles and fuel-efficient cars that don't create as much environmental damage. Crafting a sleek attraction with EV or hybrids for a smoother ride can make Autopia all the better.

This is only for Disneyland for now although it's logical it'll make its way to the other Speedways of other Disney parks. However, announcing that Autopia is making a long-overdue step into the future is a good way for Disney to help Tomorrowland live up to its name and that Disney recognizes changing for the dangerous future is a hopeful sign for tomorrow.