No visit to The Happiest Place on Earth is complete without a trip on the Disneyland Monorail. Since its opening in 1959, this Highway in the Sky has been ferrying guests to and from the theme park, making for a truly magical way to start and end your day.
Before you climb aboard, there are a few things you’ll need to know, like how much it costs to ride, where the Disneyland Monorail stops and what you can bring along with you. So, read along as we dig into all that and more, including the Disney Monorail’s fascinating beginning.
History of Disney’s Original Highway in the Sky
The Monorail has been a true Disney legend ever since its debut on June 14, 1959, at Disneyland Park. (The oversized scissors were stubborn at the Monorail’s ribbon-cutting ceremony – attended by President Nixon and his family, no less – so Walt Disney ended up ripping the ribbon with his hands.)
The now-iconic single-rail transportation system was inspired by a family trip to Germany. While touring through the countryside around Cologne, he serendipitously happened to drive through the grounds (and under a monorail) of the Alweg Research Corporation, the company that would eventually give Disney the plans to create his very own Highway in the Sky.
The sight lit a lightbulb in Disney’s brain, and the rest, as they say, is history. Upon its opening, the Disneyland Monorail was the first of its kind to ever operate in America. Today, it cruises 41 feet above Disneyland at a speed of up to 30 miles per hour, zooming over the Anaheim resort in all its retro-futuristic glory.
Each Mark VII train blends the space-age styling of the 1959 original with updated technologies and some understated design tweaks. Named for their Red, Blue or Orange color, you’ll often find the monorails sporting temporary makeovers themed after Disney’s latest film, such as expressive faces in honor of the opening of Cars Land, or other Disney or Pixar characters.
All Aboard the Disneyland Monorail: Stops, Hours, Cost and More
Ready to cruise Disneyland’s Highway in the Sky? Here are some things to consider when planning out your ride on the Monorail:
Disneyland Monorail Cost
For most folks heading to The Happiest Place on Earth, budget is often one of the biggest concerns. After all, a Disney vacation doesn’t come cheap. So, where does a ride on the Monorail at Disneyland fit into overall trip costs? Let’s take a look.
Can you ride the Disneyland Monorail for free?
Unlike its east-coast counterpart at Walt Disney World, which is a complimentary transportation offering, the Disneyland Monorail is actually a theme park attraction. In other words, while you can use the Monorail at Disneyland to get from Point A to Point B, you won’t be able to do it for free.
Whether you plan on taking the Monorail from Downtown Disney to Disneyland Park, or you simply want to get a bird’s-eye view of the resort and rest your feet for a bit, valid theme park admission is required to ride. This includes One Park Per Day tickets, Park Hoppers and Magic Key Annual Passes.
Just keep in mind that if you are boarding at the Downtown Disney Monorail Station, you will need to flash your admission or annual pass and have a theme park reservation for Disneyland Park in order to get on. Aside from a park ticket, however, it won’t cost you anything extra to ride the Monorail at Disneyland.
Does my baby need a ticket to ride the Disneyland Monorail?
While adults and kids 3 years of age and up need a park ticket to ride the Monorail at Disneyland, theme park admission isn’t required to ride for children ages 2 and below. This is because admission to the Disneyland Resort overall is free for guests younger than age 3.
Disneyland Monorail Stops & Route
Want to take the Monorail from the theme park back to your Disneyland hotel? Hoping to skip the main entrance lines and ride the Highway in the Sky into Disney California Adventure Park? We’re sorry to say that you’re going to be in for a shock. Keep reading for where you can – and can’t – go on the Monorail at Disneyland.
How many Disneyland Monorail stations are there?
While folks visiting Disney’s Central Florida resort are spoiled for choice when it comes to Monorail stops, Disneyland guests must board at one of two stations in Downtown Disney District and Disneyland Park.
The Downtown Disney Monorail Station sits opposite The LEGO Store between Star Wars Trading Post and Disney’s Pin Traders. Over at Disneyland Park, meanwhile, guests get on and off at the Tomorrowland Monorail Station, which neighbors the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage next to Autopia.
In the past, guests also had the option to board the Highway at the Sky at the Disneyland Hotel, which received its very own stop back in 1961. Unfortunately, the Disneyland Hotel Monorail Station was demolished in 1999 to make way for the construction of the Downtown Disney station in its place.
Can you enter Disneyland using the Monorail?
Yes! From walking right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. to that first glimpse of Sleeping Beauty Castle, there’s no doubt that entering Disneyland through the main entrance can be downright magical. However, to make an entrance you won’t soon forget, consider flying into The Happiest Place on Earth on the Monorail instead.
Since the route for the Disneyland Monorail loops around a good chunk of the park, entering this way helps to give you the lay of the land before you set foot in the theme park. And, not to mention, it’s also a whole lot of fun! Even better, you might even save some time in the process by avoiding those massive main entrance crowds.
To use the Monorail to enter Disneyland, you’ll need to board at the Downtown Disney Monorail Station. As with the main entrance, a security checkpoint is in place. So, be sure to have your bags, ticket and theme park reservation ready.
Where does the Monorail at Disneyland go?
Although there are only two Disneyland Monorail stops, the route itself actually passes through much of the Anaheim resort. As a result, it’s an excellent way to scope out everything that Disneyland has to offer in a short amount of time.
Clocking in at 2.5 miles long, it takes approximately 15 minutes to complete a full roundtrip voyage of the Disneyland Monorail route. Once onboard, this retro-futuristic transport jets off, flying guests over the highways of Autopia in Tomorrowland and past Fantasyland’s towering Matterhorn mountain and “it’s a small world.”
Although the Monorail doesn’t stop in California Adventure Park, you can still take in some of the sights during your ride, with this Highway in the Sky cruising above Hollywood Land, Buena Vista Street and Grizzly Peak before zipping through Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and on to Downtown Disney.
Do you need to get off at a Disneyland Monorail Station?
While you could just use the Monorail at Disneyland to travel between the park and Downtown Disney, you don’t need to disembark at the next station if you don’t want to. You can still ride the Monorail as it was originally intended when it opened: as a relaxing way to soak up the scenery.
In fact, once onboard, you’re free to loop around as much as you want. Just remember that unlike back in the day, there isn’t a cheaper ticket available that allows you to ride the Monorail exclusively without actual park access.
Riding the Disneyland Monorail
Ready to cruise this Highway in the Sky? Before you buckle up for this bird’s-eye adventure, find out when the Monorail at Disneyland normally operates, how long you can expect your journey to take, what the wait time typically is to ride and if you can bring anything with you.
What time does the Disneyland Monorail start and stop running?
Monorail operating hours typically mirror those at Disneyland Park, including the 30-minute head start for Early Entry. For example, if the park is open to regular guests from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM, then the Monorail will start running at 7:30 AM (for those staying at one of the Disneyland hotels, 8:00 AM for everyone else) and stop running at 11:00 PM.
Additionally, be aware that the Monorail may temporarily cease operations leading to and during the Disneyland fireworks, usually from around one hour before the show until roughly 20 to 30 minutes after it finishes. It also suspends service into the theme park starting a half hour prior to closing.
Although the Monorail is the epitome of going green – its 600-volt DC power source produces zero emissions – it also has zero air-conditioning. So, be prepared for temporary closures for extended periods of time when it’s hot outside. (We’re talking high 90s. Trust us, it’s a blessing in disguise.)
How often does the Disneyland Monorail run?
Disney estimates that monorails arrive approximately every 10 minutes. However, this can vary if fewer trains are running (three is the max) or if it’s rainy.
How long will you usually have to wait to get on the Monorail at Disneyland?
The wait time to get on the Disneyland Monorail varies quite a bit depending on what time of day you’re riding, how many monorails are operating and current weather conditions. (The monorails don’t run as well when it’s raining.)
It is possible to wait as much as 30 to 45 minutes to get on the Monorail. That said, the Monorail tends to load and unload pretty quickly. So, you should generally expect to wait between 12 to 28 minutes on average until it’s your turn. For current wait times, refer to the Disneyland app.
How long does the Disneyland Monorail take?
It depends on where you’re going. A roundtrip “road trip” on Disney’s original Highway in the Sky typically takes around 15 minutes. If you’re cruising from Downtown Disney to Tomorrowland, plan on roughly five minutes one-way. A joyride from Tomorrowland to Downtown Disney District, meanwhile, takes approximately three minutes.
Can you take a stroller, wheelchair or ECV on the Disney Monorail?
The Disneyland Monorail is accessible to everyone, even if you’re riding with a set of wheels. Since a ramp is available, guests are able to stay in their wheelchairs or ECVs during the loading and unloading process. All they need to do is drive on in or back out, no transferring required.
As for families traveling with small children, strollers must be folded up prior to boarding. Fortunately, although the Monorail doesn’t have any seatbelts, there is ample bench seating available.
Make Your Disney Monorail Ride Magical with Our Top Tips
Riding the Monorail at Disneyland is a staple experience. Make your journey even better with these helpful hints:
- Take a joyride over to Downtown Disney for a quick and quiet lunch.
As much as we like getting some quick-service Cajun-Creole cuisine over in New Orleans Square, the lunchtime crowds can be brutal over at Disneyland. To escape the craziness for a while, hop on a monorail bound for Downtown Disney for a more relaxing meal.
- Avoid roundtrip journeys later in the night.
With everyone heading home for the night, the last two hours before the park closes are some of the busiest. So, save some time (and sanity) and save your scenic trip down the Highway in the Sky for earlier in the day.
- Volunteer to be co-captain.
Although this perk is no longer offered at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Cast Members will occasionally let select guests ride up in the cockpit with the Monorail Captain. Talk about an amazing view! For a chance at this exclusive experience, ask one of the Monorail Cast Members and cross your fingers.
- Don’t tune out the spiel.
Although it can be tempting to just gaze out the window in awe, be sure pay some attention to the announcements throughout the ride. You’ll get valuable information on all sorts of things, from must-see rides and shows to park hours and fireworks times.
Have you taken the Highway in the Sky around the Happiest Place on Earth? What is your favorite time for a joyride? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how you can make your vacation more affordable with our Disneyland discount tickets.