In June 1959, Vice President Richard Nixon was abducted at Disneyland


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On a warm summer Sunday in 1959, the unthinkable transpired. Then-Vice President Richard Nixon was kidnapped at Disneyland, and Solution Company brokers who experienced been by his side only moments prior to were completely blind-sided.

walt disney richard nixon monorail dedication

Credit: D23

It was Sunday, June 14, 1959, and Monorail Red experienced still to cooperate with Imagineers. She was scheduled to be focused that afternoon, and Walt Disney had prepared a own letter of invitation to Mr. Nixon and his family members, welcoming them to take component in the dedication. The Nixons acknowledged, but Imagineers were being not sure about the outlook for the devotion since throughout every solitary take a look at operate in the days major up to that fateful Sunday, Monorail Pink experienced accomplished anything special to show she experienced a thoughts of her personal.

letter to nixon from Disney

Credit history: Nixon Archives

Taming her would be no simple feat–not even for the likes of 28-year-previous genius Imagineer Bob Gurr, whose only position that working day was to make sure Monorail Red remaining the Tomorrowland Station at Disneyland, enabling tv cameras to get photographs of the futuristic new Disney prepare earning its elevated journey higher above Friends and points of interest at Disneyland Vacation resort in California. The day’s occasions would be televised the following day, June 15.

In accordance to, Gurr and a German engineer, Konrad Deller, labored tirelessly with the rogue Monorail, leaving the park and heading to the Disneyland Resort for dinner each and every night time top up to the commitment.

monorail sketches

Credit: YouTube/WED Enterprises

The dynamic duo would then reconvene in Deller’s lodge space afterward and commit hours sketching out substitution components for the educate. All around midnight each and every night, a courier would get there, choose up the sketches, and hurry them to Burbank, wherever groups of engineers at Walt Disney’s Studio Machine Shop would operate as a result of the evening to make the substitute elements centered on Gurr’s sketches.

Disneyland Hotel: Then and Now - D23

Credit history: D23

Every early morning adhering to a resourceful conference of the minds at the Disneyland Resort, Gurr and Deller would get the essential areas and set up them in the hopes of curbing Monorail Red’s mischievous tendencies, only to have her are unsuccessful yet again later on in the working day. Then, miraculously, on the night of June 13, Monorail Pink manufactured her initially effective lap all around Tomorrowland without having faltering, without failing.

On Sunday, June 14, Bob Gurr was ready for the commitment of Monorail Crimson at Disneyland as he experienced parked the practice in the station. Absolutely encouraged by the train’s overall performance the evening prior to, Gurr felt prepared for the events of the day ahead.

“I established it there so we could get a shot for the television cameras,” Gurr spelled out in an interview. “That was the aim. All I had to do was travel it out of the determination shot. It could burn up up [afterward], but the Television set people would’ve experienced their shot.”

Fortunately, despite her earlier behaviors, Monorail Pink was a gem of a practice that working day. She didn’t burn up up. She didn’t waver. She did not stray from the prepare. She didn’t fail. In fact, she done just as predicted, and maybe even much better than anticipated. But the surprising nonetheless occurred, and it took place with Bob Gurr at the wheel.

Monorail red disneyland 1959

Credit history: Orange County Archives

The moment Gurr began to really feel like he could have faith in the gorgeous new Mark I red Monorail, and that the working day may well just go off without a hitch, he suggests that “the entourage” showed up, and we’re not conversing Mickey and the gang.

The visionary himself, Walt Disney, walked up to the monorail, and in his enterprise had been then-Vice President Richard Nixon, Nixon’s daughters, Julie and Tricia Nixon, television’s Art Linkletter, users of the Disneyland Security Workforce, and Mr. Nixon’s Solution Services crew. Most of the “entourage” boarded the monorail–everyone besides Disneyland Safety Cast Associates. Gurr powered up the monorail. It was the middle of June in California, and he wanted to be sure the taxi of the educate was cool for the short journey he and the entourage have been about to make.

Nixon and disney at monorail dedication

Credit rating: Walt Disney Archives

No matter if Gurr was all set for it or not, Walt identified as out to him: “Let’s go.”

Gurr was terrified as he took the helm of the contrary monorail and commenced to information her down the one monitor. The train’s preceding performances that 7 days had developed a feeling of anxiousness in Gurr what if she failed even though Walt and Mr. Nixon had been on board? What if she unsuccessful in entrance of the large television audience the Disney manufacturer had built up to that working day?

But to Gurr’s probable delight and relief, Monorail Red performed just as she had been intended to perform. Gurr’s worries experienced been without cause. Or so he assumed until finally he found Mr. Nixon hunting again to recognize that the Secret Assistance agents who were being assigned to him ended up nowhere to be observed. The terrifying reality was staring down at Gurr like a hawk staring down a subject mouse: the brokers hadn’t been ready to board the educate ahead of Gurr heeded Walt’s command and directed her absent from the loading system.

But what could Gurr do?

He did the only detail he knew to do he just kept driving, but due to the fact of his stress and anxiety above the Nixon-sans-Solution-Service-state of affairs that working day, the Monorail loop will have to have felt like a 40-mile stretch. So when he pulled up to the Tomorrowland Station and the monorail hadn’t failed, and no one particular had tried an assault on Mr. Nixon without having his agents all over to guard him, Gurr breathed a hefty sigh of reduction.

Disney Monorail: What You Need to Know

Credit rating: TripSavvy

But that sigh of aid was the predecessor to a gasp of anxiety. No faster experienced Gurr pulled up to the station, hence fulfilling his position that working day, than Nixon’s daughters cheered, “We want to go once more,” to which Walt responded, “Bobby, give ’em a further ride.”

Gurr’s eyes ought to have been as significant as saucers.

There's a New Film About Disneyland's Original Car Designer Los Angeles Magazine

Imagineer Bob Gurr checks a experience vehicle for Disneyland/Credit history: D23

But when Walt was readying him to give Nixon’s little ones yet another lap about the loop, Gurr grew more and more preoccupied with the graphic of Top secret Services brokers working together with the monorail participating in out just before him as he adopted Walt’s recommendations to pull out of the station in a take-two of the Monorail tour.

“[The agents] have been attempting to run to me as I was coming in,” Gurr claimed. “And then when I sped up to maintain on goin’, they had been working striving to soar [into the Monorail].”

nixon and secret service

Credit history: Top secret Support Archives

What a spectacle it need to have been as Magic formula Service brokers risked it all to capture up to Monorail Red–not for the reason that she experienced gone rogue and bolted out of the station on her possess whims, but since the Vice President of the United States was on board, sans brokers, and Gurr was willingly powering the train. The spectacle grew extra terrifying or hilarious, dependent on the pay quality and title of all those seeing, even so, as the doorways of the train weren’t even open up. It was physically unachievable for the agents to breach the train.

monorail red dedication disneyland

Credit score: YouTube/WED Enterprises

“[The doors] were closed,” Gurr reminisced. “There was no way they were gonna do that.”

Gurr was in a little bit of a panic, but in accordance to his recollection, Mr. Nixon very appreciated the hilarity of the minute.

“Nixon obtained a kick out of it,” Gurr remembered. “[Vice] Presidents usually attempt to escape [the Secret Service]. The actuality that he now realized he got rid of ‘em!”

Gurr also appeared amused by the memory of Nixon escaping his assigned agents: “To my great horror,” he said.

monorail dedication nixon disney

Credit rating: D23

Gurr recollects that Walt himself was getting a great time. “When there’s one thing that he’s acquired, and nobody else has got it, he’s a very very pleased papa,” Gurr spoke about Walt. “He was in an very fantastic mood. The eyebrows had been up, and when he was in all those moods, he was truly unforgettable.”

Most likely the major snafu of the day–aside from a Walt Disney Imagineer abducting the Vice President of the United States–was that someone forgot to make certain that the big scissors with which the shiny ribbon was cut in the course of the perseverance have been sharp adequate for the job. They had been not, so Walt experienced to tear the ribbon with his bare fingers even though cameras documented the scissor shortfall and Nixon and company seemed on.


monorail dedication

Credit rating: D23

Thankfully, no Imagineers were being injured in the dedicating of Monorail Red at Disneyland that working day. It is just lucky for Bob Gurr, Walt, and Mr. Nixon that all those specific brokers experienced a perception of humor and comprehension, and that Monorail Purple behaved herself. Or else, June 14, 1959, may have in the end trumped “Black Sunday” as the darkest day in Disneyland history.

By Harriet