Back in May I was sitting on a plane, jetting off to Houston for the annual Microsoft TechEd conference. My mind wasn’t on TechEd, however, but rather on a curious photo I had obtained, and by the time I landed in Houston my blog post about the photo and what it might mean was published. If you missed that post — Midget Autopia: Disneyland, Marceline… and Indiana? — start there, then come back for the rest of the story.
The short version of the post (for those of you who didn’t click the link) is I received a photo of a friend riding in a children’s car ride at a small amusement park in Indiana. I recognized the car in the photo as the same kind that was operated at Disneyland in the 1950’s and 1960’s as Midget Autopia. The picture was taken in the 1990’s though, so it posed a bit of a mystery. Where did the cars come from? How did they get to Indiana? You can see the photo of my friend Matt Griffin, riding in the mystery car here.
As part of my research into the photo, I contacted Werner Weiss, the curator of Yesterland. Yesterland is a website devoted to Disneyland and its history and especially those parts of the park that are no more. Werner had some great articles online about Midget Autopia, so who better to consult. He expressed interest in finding out more about the photo, and I started composing a reply. By the time the email hit the 3rd paragraph, I realized I had a blog post here, and switched gears, intending to email the link to Werner when it was up. TechEd completely distracted me, however, and I never sent that email.
Fast forward to July 26. I was cleaning out my mailbox and found that half-finished draft. I ditched it and then sent him the link to the post. What started there was an amazing display of research skills. Werner ran with this, digging and searching to find out how the ride in the photo made it to Indiana, where it originated, and where it might be today. It was a real treat to get frequent updates with the latest nugget of info he had turned up. I’m glad that I was able to be the starting point for all of this. A big thank you to Matt Griffin too for sharing his photo and letting Werner and I use it.
If you’re interested in amusement and theme park history, Disneyland history, or just like a good detective story, don’t miss Midget Autopia Mystery at Yesterland.