Attractions Review: Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour

After years of having annual passes to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, we finally availed ourselves of one of the extended attractions offered. Apart from enjoying Greenfield Village one can also take a walking tour of the Ford Rouge Factory.

The tour started for us with the payment of a member discounted ticket for just $14.50 US ($17.00 for non-members). Seniors and child tickets are cheaper. We boarded the free shuttle bus and were taken quickly from The Henry Ford Museum to the Ford Rouge Factory.

Up front I’ll say that the staff for this attraction are top notch! Friendly and knowledgeable and obviously in love with their jobs. We were greeted at the door and given a brief overview of what we were to experience and then shown into the first of two theaters. Let’s begin your vicarious tour with the attractions:

Legacy Theater

Archival Footage of the Rogue – Featuring rarely-seen historic footage from The Henry Ford archives, you’ll learn about the triumphs and tragedies that took place at the Rouge and how Henry Ford’s soaring ideas became actualities and helped define American manufacturing and industry. The music you’ll hear was written and performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

I personally liked this presentation, but those who aren’t big on sitting in a seat for 15 minutes or so watching instead of doing… maybe not so much! But you will learn things you never knew about Ford.

Approximate time: 13 minutes

Manufacturing Innovation Theater

Manufacturing Process Up Close – Celebrating the engineering ingenuity behind the production of the award-winning Ford F-150 truck, this multisensory film experience comes complete with vibrating seats, gusts of wind, and winking robots. With jaw-dropping special effects, from “floating” 3D laser projection mapping and high-energy audio to a breathtaking behind-the-wheel finale, you’ll see the manufacturing process up close, from concept to highway.

This was much more entertaining than the first visual presentation. As far as attractions go, this one had some very cool features! Especially interesting was the use of the F-150 model as it was modified from basic shape to full-fledged running vehicle.

Approximate time: 10 minutes

Observation Deck

Bird’s Eye View of the Rouge – You’ll also get a bird’s-eye view of Ford’s famous “Living Roof.” This eco-industrial wonder – the largest living roof in the world – blankets the top of the final assembly building. Two interactive exhibits help explain the environment features in view.

Not much to see here really. You look out the windows and see buildings. If you’re into reading though, this is the place for you!

Approximate time: 5-15 minutes
Assembly Plant Walking Tour

View F-150 Assembly – The elevated walkway, a 1/3 mile journey, provides you with a unique bird’s-eye view of the plant’s final assembly line. You’ll see firsthand the complex web of equipment, robotics, parts delivery and skilled workers that come together to build one truck per minute at full line speeds.

The tour gives you glimpses of the trim lines for cab, box, and door as well as final testing. You’ll see the F-150 come into the plant as an empty shell and leave as a fully tested F-150 ready for you and me. I’ll take mine in red, please!

FUN FACT: We were told that it was rare to see a Raptor pick-up go by on the line. Why? It may have something to do with this trim lines price tag being upwards of $75,000 US!

The only thing I could nit-pick about this part of the tour is that you start near the end of the process and finish near the beginning as you walk the main plant area. You do then go out to see the finished vehicles being checked and driven away. I thought it might have been better to bring you in from the other side of the building.

Approximate time: 30-45 minutes

Legacy Gallery

Historic Rouge-made Vehicles – Take a journey through time and see some of the most famous Ford vehicles made at the Rouge. The cars on display inside the Legacy Gallery include:

  • 1929 Model A
  • 1932 Ford V8
  • 1949 Coupe
  • 1955 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1965 Ford Mustang
  • 2015 Ford F-150

Explore the stories and engineering behind this vehicle in the Truth About Trucks kiosk. Go deeper into The Henry Ford’s collections with the Collections Explorer kiosks that include interactive educational games, Expert Insight videos, curated collection highlights, and complete access to thousands of digitized artifacts.

Basically, you look at six vehicles and read some more.

    

Of course, no trip to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour would be complete without a visit to the Factory Store located next to the Legacy Gallery.

We picked up this commemorative pin for just $5.99 US at the Factory Store on our way out.

Approximate time: As long as it takes!

Buses leave for The Henry Ford Museum every 20 minutes or so. We finished our tour and boarded the bus for the trip back. One hitch came when we were dropped off at the final tour stop. The doors into the museum were closed because we came back close to closing time. So we had to walk to the front entrance. If it had been raining this would not have been good! The bus could have pulled forward and let us off closer to the front entrance as it had to exit the property via that route anyway.

Cool Rating: 4.5/5

I would highly recommend the Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour along with the other attractions offered at The Henry Ford Museum! That said, it is basically a one-time experience, as things won’t likely change quickly unless Ford radically redesigns the F-150 or updates the manufacturing process.


For full details, check out the Official Website here.

Book Review: Flying Cars – The True Story

When you first heard the lyrics “Off we go, into the wild, blue, yonder! Off we go…” you probably weren’t thinking of doing so in flying cars. Standard airplanes are the vehicles of choice for the sky! But that was not always the plan.

Publisher: Clarion Books

ISBN: 978-0-618-98482-4

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 118

Price: $17.99 US

Andrew Glass has put together an interesting chronological listing of flying cars starting from 1901 to the present. He accompanies the facts with little asides about the inventors and the times they lived in, their successes and oft-times spectacular failures.

How could you not want one of these?

Famous people like the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and famous classical conductor Leopold Stokowski (of Fantasia fame) all followed the progress of the technology with the last two names actually ordering their own flying cars! Unfortunately, the models they ordered were never put into production. In fact, no flying car has ever been put into production.

But that hasn’t stopped inventors from continuing to design and build prototypes right down to our day.

If you can drive, why not fly?

The thing that stood out for me in this book is just how close North America came to having flying cars in every garage. Plans were made to position runways next to major highways so commuters could take off and land right next to their freeway exit. One visionary even claimed that rush hour traffic would be eliminated as more and more motorists took to the skies!

I guess no one envisioned traffic jams in the clouds.

Claims were made that flying one of these babies was as easy as driving your family car. After you learned how to attach and detach the wings and flying controls of course!

I first became aware of flying cars while watching the Disney/Pixar movie Planes which featured a German flying car named Franz Fliegenhosen. He is rendered to be a German 1954 Taylor Aerocar:

Real or ‘invented’ by Pixar?

Below is a picture of an actual Aerocar from 1949 designed by Moulton B. Taylor:

Real. But Pixar gussied it up a bit for the movie

What is the same between this real flying car and the one Pixar ‘invented’ is that the Aerocar was the only flying car to carry its plane components behind it on a trailer, like Franz does in the movie. All other models were designed to leave the fuselage behind at an airstrip.

So there you go. For over 100 years inventors have been working on a way to get your Hyundai airborne. The book is chock full of freaky-tiki examples, including my favorite idea, the flying Ford Pinto (it crashed. The idea was abandoned.)

Review: I would give this book a 5 out of 5 Stars but perhaps only 4 Stars for the average reader. It is basically just a chronological look at flying cars, so if you are not interested in the subject matter, you won’t likely be entertained. However, Glass does find the humor in flying cars, if you can imagine that.

My conclusion after reading the book? I. Want. A. Flying. Car.

The Three Caballeros Road Trip in a Volkswagen

These three amigos first traveled together in 1944 although Donald and José Carioca met two years earlier in 1942. But it wasn’t until 1957 that along with Panchito Pistoles the three friends were ready for their first Canadian road trip:

1957 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Being birds-of-a-feather they agreed to buy a classic open-top car. How appropriate! This way they would feel the wind in their feathers even though they were driving and not flying. Above and below we see them trying out their choice in the showroom:

         

Looking ready for fun!

So after sealing the deal and packing the trunk with all the luggage and bird seed they needed, they piled into their new ride:

Preparing to leave the car port

Panchito called shotgun so that left Donald to sit in the back seat, but that’s OK, as that’s where he liked to do most of his driving anyway!

With their maps marked for adventure the three were finally under way! But would they turn left or right at the end of the driveway?

Right it was = East!

Here’s hoping they had lots of good driving weather! I remember getting a postcard from them which I have kept to this day:

S A L U D O S    A M I G O !

H E L L O     F R I E N D !

Magical Blogorail: Secret Disney Obsessions – Transportation

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing some of our secret Disney obsessions.


So what is it with men and transportation? If it has wheels and moves, we’re all over it! I never miss a chance to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway/Autopia cars, even though I can’t breathe while doing so.

Me and Autopia

DL Hotel: I’ll even drive indoors!

I use snuggling with my wife as an excuse to ride the PeopleMover, although technically it doesn’t have wheels, but it does move! For more on my obsession with this form of Disney transportation, and many other Disney ride vehicles, just click the link.

I also love the vintage vehicles on Main Street.

Disneyland Vehicles

DL: Up or down?

I even prefer to drive to Walt Disney World instead of flying! Let’s face it, I’m hooked on Disney transportation!

But I think I come by this obsession honestly as I share it, not only with every other man on the planet, but also with Walt Disney himself. After all, who do you think put all of those wheeled wonders in the parks?

Disneyland Tram

DL: I even love riding the trams!

But my top two transportation-related Disney obsessions are the trains and monorails, both at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Train at Frontierland Station

WDW: Frontierland Station, as seen from Splash Mountain queue

Casey Jr.

DL: Casey Jr. chugging around the track

There’s nothing like the sound of a real steam locomotive! And when it travels along a scenic route such as in a Disney park, one can’t help but love the trip.

In contrast, there is also nothing quite like gliding silently along the cement beam of the monorial!

WDW Monorial Purple

WDW: Monorail Purple in Epcot

Disneyland Monorail Red

DL: Monorail Red traveling over Finding Nemo subs

Maybe it’s the extreme difference in technologies between the steam engine and the monorail that makes riding these forms of transportation so special for me. Leave it to Walt Disney to include the nostalgic right alongside the modern!

Before I conclude this post, I should confess one final transportation-related obsession:

Disney bus

WDW: I even like riding the buses!

For more secret Disney obsessions, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Secret Disney Obsessions Loop:

Top Five Cheap Things to Do at Disney Parks

To start, obviously there are a lot more than five things to do at a Disney park or resort. Duh! So why this list?

I’m going to share five CHEAP things to do that don’t involve waiting in long lines, and in most cases, don’t require a theme park admission. Interested? Then let’s begin:

Number Five

Sit & Relax

WDW & DL

Sit & Relax

Yup, I’m starting with this. No matter where you are at Disney, there is always something of interest going on. So while you rest your tired feet, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, people watch or interact with Cast Members, or… eat a Mickey Bar!

OK, now let’s get more serious:

Number Four

Take a Boat Ride

WDW only

Boat Ride

This is only possible at Walt Disney World as it has many waterways to offer. The main system is the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of The Magic Kingdom. You can get from the parking areas to The Magic Kingdom using the Ferry, or board a smaller craft and access many of the resorts that dot the shores.

World Showcase Lagoon in Epcot is also a good place to ply the waters. You can get to Downtown Disney (Disney Springs) using the Friendship Taxis found there.

For detailed explanations and maps showing all available routes, please visit the post entitled Disney World Boat Transportation System at exploringwdw.com

Number Three

Rent a Bicycle

WDW only

Bike Ride

Two wheels or four, you can’t go wrong with a little exercise and fun with friends. You can rent the above bikes in two, four or six-passenger versions. These can take you along the banks of the Sassagoula River to Disney’s Boardwalk area and more!

Two-wheeled versions can be rented at many resorts including Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort. For details about this option, visit Disney’s official page entitled, appropriately, Bike Rentals.

And while we have mentioned Fort Wilderness, you can also enjoy a ride in one of these horse-drawn numbers:

Horse & Carriage Ride

Just in case you’d rather trade pedal-power for horsepower! But if you’d rather park your keister in a more modern conveyance, let’s get back to our official list:

Number Two

Ride the Monorail

WDW & DL

Monorail Inside

There are two main monorail lines. Both leave from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). The Epcot Monorail and the Express Monorail originate at the TTC and offer express round-trip service to Epcot and Magic Kingdom park.

At Walt Disney World, you can travel around Epcot and see the sights before you get off, thus getting a preview of the park and your bearings. The Express Monorail will take you around the resorts closest to The Magic Kingdom.

Again, for a fuller explanation, and a map showing all of the routes, visit Disney’s official page entitled Resort Monorail.

You can also ride the original monorail at Disneyland, which again takes you around the park for an eye-in-the-sky peek at the park. And you can still ride in the front with the Pilot, which you can no longer do at Walt Disney World. Another difference is that you don’t need to pay theme park admission to ride at the World, but you do to ride in the Land.

Number One

Enjoy some Streetmosphere

WDW & DL

Streetmosphere 1

In both parks it’s everywhere! From performance troupes, to bands, to buskers and more, Disney supplies many a distraction to entertain you when you’re on your way from here to there!

What I have pictured above and below is a Dating Game set-up from Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Streetmosphere 2          Streetmosphere 3

So there you have it my Disney friends. Five things you can do at Disney without waiting in a long line-up, and mostly without paying theme park admission.

Did I miss something you like to do on the cheap? Let us all know in the comments section below!