When it comes to Disney souvenirs, the less mainstream the better I always say. My husband and I have collected many things over the years from our vacations. We greatly enjoy each of our “finds” and relish in collecting if there is opportunity for similar treasures in each park or resort. Usually our souvenirs are not items that cost any or a lot of money. Most recently we took to collecting the Disney Transportation collector cards. It was more of an undertaking than I imagined it would be, but we are quite determined in our searches.
First off, how did this whole collecting Transportation cards business start? Simply put, we love Disney transportation as much as any ride in the park. Each mode of transport is unique in its own way. And for us country folk, buses, boats and monorails are not something we get to experience in any other place than Disney.
Let’s start with the monorail. Who doesn’t love the monorail? It is a Disney institution itself. We love the red, the green, and especially the wrapped ones. We normally make sure to ride it at least once during every trip; whether it is the Magic Kingdom to Epcot loop or the resort loop, it doesn’t matter so long as we are on it. We love to hear the announcements and watch the palm trees zip by. “Por favor mantengan se alejado de las puertas.” We love it so much that we actually strategically planned our seats and videotaped both loops last time we were there so we could experience it at home between trips. I deeply miss the days of being able to ride up front with the driver. The full front window gave for an amazing view! **This luxury was stopped in 2009 after the fatal accident involving the pink and purple monorails.
As much as we love the monorail, we also love the boats to various destinations around Disney property. You can take boats from Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, and Wilderness Lodge. You can take boats between Epcot, Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club, Swan and Dolphin, and Hollywood Studios. You can take night time cruises to watch the fireworks in Magic Kingdom or Epcot. Finally, my personal favorite: You can take a boat from the Port Orleans resorts to Downtown Disney. Boats are leisurely and romantic. Sometimes the pace at Disney can tire me out, and taking a boat ride along that lazy Sassagoula River reminds me to slow down and enjoy the day because we are on vacation. In the hot Florida summer I can easily fall asleep, head on my husband’s shoulder, while listening to the lap of the waves against the boat.
To round out my love for Disney transportation we must discuss the buses. Yes, they can be crowded at times. You can end up like sardines with what feels like hundreds of other passengers. Screaming, crying, overly tired kids can pierce your ears and strollers and scooters can nick your ankles. But on those days when the bus is commandeered by a great bus driver, it makes it all worthwhile. The rest can melt away. I also enjoy every nighttime ride when we have to stand. In the darkness, standing ever so close to my husband as we cling to overhead handrails and straps, we sway into each other. Inevitably I lose my balance and he catches me.
Because we love all the modes of Disney transportation, we often talk to the drivers/captains if time allows. This is how we first became aware of the Transportation cards. During one of our chats with a friendly bus driver he handed us a collector card of a bus. When we asked what it was, he told us there were more to be had, and all we had to do was ask the bus drivers and boat and monorail captains for them. We were instantly hooked on this new mission of collecting these free souvenirs that not everyone knew about.
The Transportation Cards first appeared in 2006. It is up to the transportation drivers/captains whether they carry them or not. In order to collect a whole set, you have to do a lot of asking. Each mode of transportation only carries that kind of card; for example bus drivers only carry bus cards and boat captains only carry boat cards. You can also ask for the cards from the Ticket and Transportation Center, other transportation buildings, and the cast members who work at your resort’s transportation loading areas. Again, not everyone chooses to carry them. Some drivers just pass them out freely, some look for that special guest to offer them to, and others you have to ask.
Presently there have been 3 series of these cards. Each card is color coordinated, has a picture on the front of the specific transportation vessel, has a small character icon, is numbered, and contains some information or trivia on the back. When referring to a specific card the Series number, card number, character, and transportation name is given. Example: Series 2, card #12 2nd edition, Ariel, Grand Yacht One.
Series one had eighteen cards, which were available from 2006 through 2010. The set consisted of 3 bus, 3 boat, and 12 monorail cards. There were two different printings of this series, with the only difference being the colors at the top of the cards.
In 2009, Series two came out. It consisted of 25 cards: 3 bus, 10 boat, and 12 monorail. This is a very hard set to collect. Card #12 (Grand Yacht One; Ariel) was pulled due to a typographical error on the back before it was released. Although I have never seen one personally, some people insist they have one of these original cards, which are now referred to as 1st edition. The Grand Yacht One card was re-released in late 2012 with a fixed statement on the back which is referred to as 2nd edition. First edition cards state “available for private charters booked through A LA CARTE”, while 2nd edition cards state “available for private charters booked by calling 407-WDW-PLAY”. I suspect if anyone has a card #12, it is the 2nd edition.
Also pulled due to an error was card #25 (Mark VI Monorail; Sebastian), but not before a few cards made it into circulation. The 1st edition contained a picture of all eleven monorails and a typographical error on the back, stating there are 12 monorails. This was true at one point in Disney history. However, after the aforementioned fatal crash, Disney combined parts from the pink and purple monorails to create a new monorail, which is peach. The 2nd edition #25 card, also released in late 2012, contained a picture of the peach monorail on the front and the typographical correction of 11 monorails on the back.
Sometime in late 2013, Series three began distribution. This set contains 26 cards: 3 bus, 11 boat, and 12 monorail. There have been two printings of card #14, which is the new card to the set, but the only difference has been color darkness. Card #14 is a Friendship boat; Merida. Series three is still being distributed by some drivers/captains.
Series 4 is due out soon, but has not been received by the drivers/captains I have spoken with. No word on any changes or additions to this set. I suspect that it will include the new slinky resembling articulated buses. In the meanwhile, bus drivers are passing out Bus Safety Cards. I have not received any indication that boat or monorail captains have safety cards for their fleet.
So far we have only managed to collect a complete set of Series 3 cards. Older series can be found on Ebay, on forums, or at non-sports card collector shows. Somehow, that just doesn’t seem as fun as being able to ride the monorail and ask the driver for a card. We will keep riding and asking, hopefully completing our Bus Safety collection in time for the new Series 4 to come out. Happy collecting my friends!