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  1. #1

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    Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    The Disneyland Railroad is the most important Disneyland attraction for a whole host of reasons. But, the Grand Circle Tour is not as impressive as it should be.

    What improvements need to be made to the D.R.R. to make it worthy of its unique position at Disneyland?

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    I think I would relocate the Grand Canyon diorama and the Dinosaurs to the Fronteirland part of the track.

    I would also allow visiting locomotives on the track, i.e. those that are owned by private owners such as Dan Markoff's Eureka & Palisades #4 4-4-4, and possibly have mini railfairs like the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Disneyland should definitely host some sort of annual Railway Days event. I think Walt would approve.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    There are quite a few places on the main line that do not do a very good job of concealing backstage areas.

    Those places include: the backside of the bridge behind City Hall; the lights that are visible in the jungles of Adventureland; the show-boxes housing Pirates of the Caribbean; the work lights of the dry docks for Fantasmic!; the work lights for Festival Arena and the Fantasyland Theatre; the "Mickey & Friends" parking terrace; the exterior floodlights and show equipment of "it's a small world"; the parade staging area; the roundhouse area; Harbor Boulevard; the Rocket Rods maintenance bay; and, the old administration building.
    Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 01-16-2006 at 02:21 PM.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    i don't mind too much seeing the backstage area (i always like to get a peek at the roundhouse & it's always a treat to go by as the parade is lining up), but there's definitely a lot of "dead air" (for lack of a better term) on the RR. i don't think one has to be constantly bombarded, as the grand circle tour is a nice little getaway. i like how there are a few little vignettes here & there and a few more wouldn't hurt.

    for example, with the removal of the panther, the area between main st. & NOS has nothing until you get to the station. i think some animals in the trees & bushes would work there. now when it comes to, "best be on the lookout..." nothing is there!!
    <o>

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    Main Street Station would benefit from having, in its outdoor areas, travel posters that are illustrated in a turn-of-the-19th-Century style and that tout the realms through which the trains travel. Additionally, a railroad map of the United States, emphasizing middle America and California, would help tell the story of Main Street, U.S.A. better, as well.

    All the Disneyland Railroad stations could use railroad maps of Disneyland, itself. In that way, guests could get a better sense of orientation and decide on their destinations before they even board the trains. Schedules of Disneyland events and other happenings might be written on chalkboards to help guests even more, and, on busy days, wait times for attractions could be posted.

    The Disneyland Railroad has never had its own wait-time signage, but a chalkboard-style sign giving guests some indication of how frequently trains are arriving might be very useful.

    In Main Street Station, period-appropriate exhibits related to the locomotives, the rolling stock, and the line, itself, would enhance guests' appreciation of the institution that the D.R.R. is. Giving interested guests a complimentary sheet of the D.R.R.'s technical specifications might also be a nice touch.

    Toontown Depot is the only station of the D.R.R. that is lacking benches, although all the stations could use more seats and better seating configurations. Outdoor ceiling fans in some stations might further help.

    Finally, most of the safety announcements and other policy notifications should be handled inside the stations, instead of while the trains are in progress.
    Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 01-16-2006 at 04:09 AM.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    i agree that the stations need a better bench/queue set-up. it's always a weird mishmash as people try to decide if they should try to sit & if they sit, people always cut in front, etc.
    <o>

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    Quote Originally Posted by pixie chick
    ... there's definitely a lot of "dead air" (for lack of a better term) on the RR. i don't think one has to be constantly bombarded, as the grand circle tour is a nice little getaway. i like how there are a few little vignettes here & there and a few more wouldn't hurt.

    for example, with the removal of the panther, the area between main st. & NOS has nothing until you get to the station. i think some animals in the trees & bushes would work there. now when it comes to, "best be on the lookout..." nothing is there!!
    I agree, totally. One of the reasons the panther was added is because one of the conductors noticed the need a long time ago and pushed to get one of the old mountain lions from the Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland painted black and placed in Adventureland. The only problem with that particular show element was that it was too close to the tracks and it was not hidden by any surrounding vegetation, so the effect was unnatural and unbelievable.

    Conceivably, the purpose of the Grand Circle Tour is, first and foremost, to communicate to a guest who has never visited Disneyland before what the concept for each realm is. So, in the case of Adventureland, for example, Disney needs show elements that instantly convey the foreign and the exotic. I would not even mind showing some of the Jungle Cruise or relocating certain Jungle Cruise animals to the train tracks, in order to save money, if Disney is not willing to invest in the D.R.R.

    The Disneyland Railroad should be treated like a real attraction, though, and it deserves to have visual show elements that are all its own.
    Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 01-16-2006 at 03:41 AM.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    Any sound effects, like elephant calls, should only be produced by off-board speakers, though.

    The new narration, and the performance that the new narrator gives, leave much to be desired. Again, the focus of the narration should be on conveying, with an economy of words, the concept for each realm.

    To aid in this effort, an orchestral musical score, created just for the Disneyland Railroad, has the potential to work beautifully. A medley of evocative musical styles could describe the realms and create a whirlwind in which guests are transported to vastly different locales within the space of twenty minutes or so.

    Inside each of the stations, more music should also be heard.

    If a turn-of-the-19th-Century instrumentation of the "Baroque Hoedown" is ever to play in the Inner Lobby of Disneyland, that piece of music should surely also be heard from Main Street Station, as well. Frontierland Station needs an instrumental, Dixieland rendition of "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" to coordinate with the song, as it is heard when the trains pass Splash Mountain. Toontown Depot, or Fantasyland Station, could use Paul Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". And, John Williams' finale to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", which features "When You Wish upon a Star", would be ideal for Tomorrowland Station.
    Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 01-16-2006 at 04:12 AM.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    Great ideas, as usual, Pragmatic. I don't mind a few glimpses backstage, such as the roundhouse or the parades lining up; and Small World's lights and such actually fits with the visual style of the ride itself in a way. But most of what you list is indeed unsightly and distracting.

    I think I'll write my own version of the DLRR narration.

    TDA, are you reading this post? You should be!

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    Couldn't they dig out a few "windows" into the berm so you could view the action inside Jungle Cruise? Also, why not have cowboys on horseback along the Rivers of America. And rip out the Grand Canyon and put something besides taxidermy in there. It's hideous.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    I would retheme the Country Bear restaurant as a train station or railroad stop like the Wilderness Lodge Villas at Disney World (one the train would not stop at). I would cut back the vegetation between the track and the deck at the back of the restaurant and possibly expand the deck. The restaurant would be a place to come eat and have an unobstructed view of the trains as they fly past into the wilderness. A big problem with the railroad is too much of it is concealed from view.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    Quote Originally Posted by PragmaticIdealist
    The Disneyland Railroad is the most important Disneyland attraction for a whole host of reasons. But, the Grand Circle Tour is not as impressive as it should be.

    What improvements need to be made to the D.R.R. to make it worthy of its unique position at Disneyland?
    Most of the suggestions--including yours--do not touch on the very reason why, as you state, "The Disneyland Railroad is the most important Disneyland attraction for a whole host of reasons."

    Maybe part of the narration, or displays in each of the stations with pictures and description, could tell folks why the DRR is as important as it is.

    But now that I think about it, I'm not sure Walt would have wanted the railroad to be a tribute to him. He wanted it, above all, to be evocative of rail travel behind steam locomotion, not a museum piece.

    I'm less inclined to be adverse to lighting, such as at Small World. In a way, the lights glinting off the shiny locomotive surfaces can be quite nice.

    Some folks on the Burnsland Disney train board have suggested having the roundhouse be accessible, so that work on the locomotives could be observed.

    How about bringing back the historic and romantic green-and-red blocklight system that served the park for so many years, and was prototypical to boot?

    I personally wouldn't have a problem if many or all of the animals in the Grand canyon were animated.

    A big problem with the railroad is too much of it is concealed from view.
    Alas, we have met the enemy, and he is us.

    Once upon a time, before the need to get on rides as fast as possible, a wonderful observation platform, designed just for those who wanted to look at the trains--and particularly the locomotives--existed where the Haunted Mansion Fastpass area is now. There was an equally-nice viewing spot in Tomorrowland.

    Walt wanted to highlight his trains as they rolled around his park. The fact that the trains are less and less conspicuous is sad indeed. And while some would never deign to ask "What would Walt have done," I have zero problem thinking that shoving the trains into the background is something Walt would definitley not have wanted.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    There definitely needs to be a better narration speil, particularly pointing out which top attractions to see in each land as you go round.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    The Disneyland Railroad needs to seem touched with magic. The D.R.R. is the only attraction that leaves the reality of Main Street, U.S.A. to travel into the Four Cardinal Realms of the Imagination, so the fact that the "Disneyland Limited" is able to cross these boundaries must mean that the trains and their crews have some special powers.

    When thinking about creating better transitions between each of the realms, I hit upon the perfect way to suggest this magic: .... steam.

    There is a certain figurative "magic" to steam power, so potentially using steam to create magical transitions between each of the realms would be visually-interesting and, even, spectacular.

    Steam locomotives do need to "blow-down" sometimes, but not very often. So, if an engineer were to let steam escape more often, he would reduce the overall efficiency of the engine.

    A little inefficiency may be alright, but the major part of these steam effects would probably need to originate from stationary equipment situated on the ground. The passengers should become completely enveloped in the steam so that they are not able to see a thing.

    The romance of train travel is best expressed, though, at those times when the guests are able to actually see the steam.

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    Re: Reimagining the Disneyland Railroad

    Sounds sticky and dirty... Pragmatic what are you getting us into now?

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