Thanks for the report Steve D, nice to hear that folks lined up to see this! Also it's great to hear that there is such a large group of caretakers of the Disneyland Railroad.
I wasn't too far from the Disneyland experience as I went to the Exhibit in Oakland and they had a few picture shots (most have seen before) of Walt in 1940 with some Train engineers.
Thanks again to those who shared this.
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Wow, I had no idea they would let people get into the cab and actually blow the whistle and ring the bell...now I am wishing I had gone. I figured it would be a velvet rope-surrounded view of the engine in a new surrounding. It's interesting how the scale of the engine really reveals itself outside the berm. Without Disneyland's fixed scale, the engine looks really small compared to a big SUV or building. That fixed scale is a testament to the brilliance, showmanship and genius to Walt and his amazing crew...80 acres is not that big for a world-class theme park, but thanks to Walt's scaling down and forced perspectives, he managed to fit about 5 or 6 different theme parks into it. For instance, when you go from Frontierland to Tomorrowland, it doesn't even feel like the same park.
That was amusing, and actually quite sad, how people were so used to being gouged by Disney that they wondered how much it cost. And I would almost agree that the Disneyland Railroad is the best ride in the park, but it really depends in which regard. It's not the most exciting for thrills, but I would say it definitely has the most mystic and unique ride experience. I am a major car enthusiast, but I find that locomotives seem to have even more personality and mystique than a car...perhaps us guys have an attraction to big powerful transportation machines in general, rather than just cars. Anyway, the way those things move, how they puff out of the station, the sight and smell of hundreds of tons of iron pulling into the station, and the sound of the whistle and bell send shivers up my spine every single time. It's not a longing for the past, because I never lived in the 1800's obviously, and it's not a love for trains in general because model and diesel trains don't do anything for me...but *steam* trains, those are just about the most amazing and magical machines ever devised.
Anyway, thanks everyone for the kind words. It was a really fun event, and I relly do hope Disneyland participates again in the future.
Oh yeah, I am kicking myself for not reading that article now, but believe me I didn't think much of the event so I wasn't that interested in reading about it....it's a vicious circle . I did, however, read your book and I found that absolutely fascinating. When I was looking at the pictures in this column, I couldn't but help think about the removable brass top, longer boiler (since it's a relatively newer design and doesn't need the balloon stack that traps embers), and different chime of whistle than the Holidy...all of which I learned in your book.
I really liked the American flags on the engine and I kind of wish they'd keep them, but I remember reading how you said green flags represent something, I think it was right-of-way, so that's why the Disneyland Railroad trains have green flags. Thankfully, there's still plenty of American flags on the Mark Twain, in Main Street, in Frontierland and banners on the Main Street station. One of the many great things about the current management is that they realize the importance and significance of American ingenuity and innovation that provided the framework for building Disneyland in the first place. Not to mention Walt tended to have a particular fascination with America's past and future.
Anyway, thanks for the book...it makes seeing the Ripley SO much more interesting knowing all the background information and history behind it. It really gives you a much stronger appreciation.
Thanks for the article! I was there on Sunday (sorry we missed you Steve) but it was quite fun to sit inside and ring the bell and toot the horn, as well as pretend you're Walt and get your picture taken from there. I didn't realize this was quite the event! (Did you see that Lego train exhibit, oh... my... god) It was funny to leave the Park with Morrigoon to see a train from the park in a different location.
I am grateful... grapefruit! ~ Bjork (upon winning Best International Female Artist at the BRIT Awards)
I went to this Railroad Fair for the first time on Saturday, and I'm glad I did it!
They had all sorts of locomotives and railroad cars to tour and sit in, with even a big Santa Fe diesel freight engine you could climb into and ring the bell. But the line to sit in the Disneyland engine was the longest line of the entire fair! The great pics in this story barely do it justice. It was clearly the hit of the event.
One thing that really impressed me.... The showmanship of the Disneyland CM's attending the engine was evident in their freshly starched engineers outfits and a couple of operations CM's in their snazzy conductors uniforms helping with crowd control. Compared to the other employees from Amtrak or Metrolink or Santa Fe just wearing boring untucked polo shirts or their own jeans and sweatshirts, the Disneyland crew shined like a bright star amongst the lowered expectations of the rest of the organizations present. It really makes you realize how profesional and squared away Disney CM's are when you put them in an event like this literally right next to other employees of other companies. The other employees didn't stand a chance trying to live up to the spit and polish the Disneyland CM's were displaying at this fair. There was plenty of Cast Member pride on display with that Disneyland locomotive!
That's not to say the rest of the fair wasn't fun... Lots of booths and exhibits by model railroad clubs. There was a giant model railroad setup made entirely of Lego bricks that was just as impressive as the displays they have at Legoland. Some very interesting displays of railroad art, clothing, hobbies and paraphenalia. Lots of freebies handed out by the railroads. Plus the usual fair food and Boy Scout troops serving pancakes, etc.
All in all, it was a very nice event. I'd probably go again next year. But the Disneyland locomotive clearly stole the show! Bravo Disneyland, and bravo to the excellent CM's acting as goodwill ambassadors and outshining the other attendants and employees at the same fair!
Disneyland has VERY distinct and unique sounds...like a few years ago they had a radio commercial with the trains' whistle and bell in the background and it felt just like being at Disneyland. It seems no matter where you are in the park, you are almost always a few steps away from hearing the train in the background and those sounds really become a part of the whole Disneyland experience.
One complaint I have about the Disneyland Railroad though: ditch the "Toontown Depot" and theme it back to Fantasyland. I think it's cheesy with all the authenticity the Imagineers put into the train to have it come into a corny cartoony station. Main Street and New Orleans station are perfect for the theme, I've always thought Tomorrowland is a bit of a stretch (a 1800's train pulling into a futuristic land) but it works...Toontown Depot on the other hand just doesn't sit well with me. It almost cheapens the grandeur of the railroad and makes it kid-oriented.
It was an great day! I was excited about the opportunity to see the Ripley up close. I never dreamed I would get to sit in the engineers seat (the same place as Uncle Walt) blow the whistle and sound the bell! As I was walking up to the place I could hear the bell and whistle, my wife and I recognized the sound immediately! Only Disney could make this 30 year old sound like a kid again and make me stand in a 30 minute line.
Thanks to the Roundhouse Crew and TDA for making this happen! Hope to see you next year. My vote is for the Ward Kimball pulling the Lilly Belle!
Last edited by disneylanddad; 05-08-2006 at 10:08 PM.