This question just recently crossed my mind while viewing some footage of the different Disney Park Railroads across the globe. If the Disneyland Railroad were to go under a heavy refurbishment, what would you like to see implemented into the railroad? I compiled a simple list of different ideas I had in mind.
- Retrofitting the coaches with a brand new sound system. As of now, the speakers really need some dire upgrading. They are a bit weak and at times it's hard to hear what the conductor or daily spiel is saying. Also, maybe it's just me, but does the audio coming from the speakers sound a bit mono? And then there's the problem during the Grand Canyon and Primeval World diorama. The coaches in the back, and even in the front, keep on having a problem on having the audio sync up with the visuals. Up front, the audio comes too fast, in the back, the audio is lagging behind, and neither the front, middle, or end can have perfectly synced audio without the other two being desynced. What I would really want to see if each coach retrofitted with a self contained surround sound system. Each coach would have speakers attached to different places under the awning ceiling and under the seats, that way the audio is heard crystal clear from nearly all directions. It isn't so loud that it is ear drum numbing, but loud enough that it will drown out the neighboring coach's audio as well. Why would you need to drown out the other coach's audio? Each coach's audio would be self independent, so the spiel won't be consistent throughout but instead sync up with the corresponding visuals. That way the narrator won't be talking about the Rivers of America while the back is viewing Splash Mountain or the narrator just beginning to talk about the Primeval World when the front just passed by the end of the Grand canyon. (Took inspiration from the Finding Nemo subs and how the front and back of the subs play their audio at different times so the visuals correspond with all the views from the portholes.)
- New possible narrator recordings? This I am sort of half-n-half on, but let me explain my gist. There are four trains on the Railroad, right? Holiday 2 Red, Excursion 3, Holiday 4 Green, and Holiday 5 Blue. Well each train would have it's own narration spiel, mostly centered around different facts, stories, and history . The narrator would be the same as the current one throughout all the spiels, but a particular spiel will be tied with a particular train. Like for example, Holiday 2 will tell the history of the Disneyland Railroad (Seeing that the coaches are the freight train coaches that ran the Frontierland Station in the original Disneyland). Excursion 3 would tell facts about what you are seeing, like when departing Mickey's Toontown it will note how the Matterhorn was the first steel tube coaster or how It's a Small World originally came from the 1964 New York World's Fair, and so on and so forth. You know, something to tell those first timers or those who don't know a little more about the place they are visiting, and to add a little something extra that can easily be implemented or reverted back to the original one-spiel deal. The only thing that would have to stay the same, however, would be the music for the dioramas. That cannot just change. I got this idea from the Carsland makeover of the Monorails to promote Carsland. I know, the strangest of all places, right? Each monorail had a different voice and personality but still retained the same spiel. So I thought 'Why not switch that?' The same narrator but a different spiel attached to each train of cars.
- A redesign/recolor of some of the coaches. This one I can live with or without, but after seeing a few photographs of the other railroads in the other parks, I want to lay down what I have observed. Now these are just generalizations of just one or two photos and do not in any way reflect any of the other coaches found in the other parks.
This set of Walt Disney World Railroad coaches employs a yellow and green color scheme, very reminiscent of the original 1955 Disneyland Coaches. I wouldn't mind seeing at least one of the trains painted that way, especially if it's Excursion 3 and most of the time is to be hooked up to the Lilly Belle. Seems a bit fitting, to me at least, to hook up the Lilly Belle to a train that harkens back to her original sisters. It would also seem more fitting that the train most of the time be hooked up to Engine No. 1, the C.K. Holiday since that was the original engine that pulled the Passenger Train and, in turn, pulled the Lilly Belle, a.k.a. the then known Grand Canyon Observation Car.
The Disneyland Paris Railroad Coaches are quite lovely, if you ask me. They provide an easy load and unload, still are open air, and yet retain a sort of antique-ness to them that looks nice when coupled to a steam locomotive. Combining that design with the above mentioned yellow color scheme with a red roof and green highlights whilst being hooked with the C.K. Holiday and the Lilly Belle would probably be the closest one could get to riding the original 1955 Disneyland Passenger Train as one could get without having to haul in the original coaches from the Santa Margarita Ranch, where they are currently being stored and occasionally run.
The Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad coaches are like the Disneyland Paris Railroad coaches, except the cool design was carried over to the Holiday set. I quit like the back of the train, seeing that it provides protection from the elements like sun, rain, and sometimes bugs.
Nothing much can be said about the Tokyo Disneyland's Western River Railroad coaches. They are basically like the WDW and Disneyland coaches. Who knew that the resort touted with the most stelar scenery would have very basic coaches. I mean, they do their function, but isn't the Western River Railroad supposed to be an outpost of sorts in the dense jungle? It would of been perfect to have boxcars and gondolas and what not, as if the train was originally supposed to be hauling supplies to farious depots in the jungle.
- Improving the four stations. Maybe it's just me, but Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland stations are a bit lacking when compared to Main Street and New Orleans Square stations. Think about it...Main Street has a bunch of pictures and photographs relating to the Disneyland Railroad's history, as well as three coin operated machines to pass the time and a map of the park showing the locations of the trains being run on the track. New Orleans Square Station is visually interesting in it's design, as well as having a telegraph giving the original 1955 Disneyland Dedication, the working semaphore signal that tells when a train is approaching, the station where the locomotives water up and blow down, and seeing engineers pop in and out of the building where they wait for their shifts and breaks to start and end. Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland stations are quite bare and offer little to nothing to pass the time and are pretty much nothing more than a sparsely decorated roofs. At least at Mickey's Toontown the station is a bit visually interesting, and the It's a Small World music tends to bleed into the station (Whether thats a pro or a con is up to your decision). Tomorrowland has it the worst. The architecture is the least stunning, the gas smell from Autopia can shift into the station if the wind permits, and at night, 1980's rock music can be heard clearly from the station from the Tomorrowland Terrace (Once again, it's all up to personal preference.) I want to see Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland stations redone. Both stations become nothing more than rows of fencing with little places to sit and being absolutely boring to wait in. All I know is that I want the area more visually pleasing to help stave off boredom, more seats to rest your tired legs, and maybe even a map of the railroad with the train's locations at every station so you are not left in the blue of when your train is going to arrive or not.
- Adding and improving more visuals to the Railroad. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love that long stretch of track between New orleans Square and Mickey's Toontown, and the Grand Canyon and Primeval World diorama is still an amazing sight. But I have a feeling there can be more added. Maybe some exotic animals, temple ruins, or an explorer's camp in the Adventureland segment. Along the edge of the Rivers of America, some more animals and audio animatronics would add a lot to the area. The tunnel between the end of the Rivers of America and the theater housing Mickey and the Magic Map really needs to be made of wood to match the theme of the previous western cattle station and not that cheap and ugly looking corrugated metal and concrete. I can't really think of anything to add in between Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland stations. The only thing I would like to add is to probably clean up all the stuffed animals of the Grand Canyon and clean up both dioramas, tweaking the lights and visuals a bit to freshen things up.
- Fighting the safety board to let the engineers climb on top of the tenders to properly water their engines instead of having to use an out of place steel ladder and a normal garden hose to water up. Who in the right mind thought it would be such a dangerous job to climb up a relatively low tender an- Must not get too carried away with that...
So I already gave what I wanted to see be done by the Disney Co. If the Disneyland Railroad were to go into refurbishment, what would you want to see done? I would love to hear the different answers everyone has.