Here we are again, back on Disneyland Paris at 25 and this time I want to jump into one of the horse-drawn carriages, sit back and enjoy the ride up towards the Disneyland Paris Railroad.
Like Main Street USA, the Disneyland Railroad is a staple attraction and experience in a Disney park. And just like Main Street USA, the Victorian/Turn of the century architecture fits right in with the realistic yet fantastical environment of Disneyland. I think this is one aspect that I appreciate and love the most because the background story that ties both the railroad and Main Street USA together is respectful and congruent with Walt’s own ideas about what this area of the park should emulate.
Built behind the Disneyland Hotel and at the top of Main Street USA, its location is significant not just as walk-through access to the park, or its use as an attraction, but for how it sets the entire scene. We go from an imaginary reality to complete fantasy, adventure, and discovery via one train and in this aspect it holds exactly the same provision as the Main Street Hub, whilst asserting the same dominance and importance as the castle.
It’s the access to the magic and from this I can see the fascination and love that Walt Disney himself had for the railroad in general. From wherever you embark on this journey, we’re always one stop away from a different life, a change of pace, and I reckon it’s trying to emulate everything Walt felt when he stepped off that train in 1920s California with Mickey Mouse as his new companion. This is perfectly enhanced with the small stained glass windows in each of the four arches because they all depict a different land and adventure – The Mark Twain riverboat passing Big Thunder Mountain for Frontierland, Captain Hook’s galleon for Adventureland, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle for Fantasyland and Orbitron for Discoveryland.
Speaking of the 20s, mainly in relation to the above photograph, what I often like compared to most people is the addition of these celebration icons on the Main Street station whenever there is a significant themed year or season.
I’ll admit that most of them do look a little tacky and over the top, especially if the decorations completely take over the station but they’re fun and they give us the hint that there’s something special happening. I think my favourite logo and design, not just from these photos but from all the designs I’ve seen across the Internet, is the 20th Anniversary one because it is the only one that retains the class and sophistication of the Main Street Railroad station. It also doesn’t have the posters of the original gang that distort the lovely stained glass windows. Thirdly, who doesn’t love Tinkerbell sprinkling a bit of pixie dust over each guest as they enter the park?
Returning to the Disneyland Railroad as a whole, what I truly love the most is the relaxing journey. With trains running at regular intervals you’re never waiting too long, and it’s the perfect way to take in scenery whilst giving ones feet a rest. For me, it is one train ride I have to take and I’ll never tire of it.
1. If you look closely along the railings of the Main Street Station, you might spot the letters EDRR standing for Euro Disneyland Rail Road. These initials posed a problem for DLP Imagineer Eddie Sotto as people thought he named it after himself – ‘Ed’s Railroad.’ Of course the matching initials were just a coincidence.
2. There are four steam trains that run the railroad:
- The George Washington – decorated in red, white and blue, associated with both USA and France.
- C.K. Holliday – named after the founder of the Santa Fe Railroad.
- W.F.Cody – the real name of Buffalo Bill. The train has antlers adorning the front of the locomotive, as well as a painted moose on its lantern.
- Eureka – added some months after the park’s opening due to the popularity of the railroad.
3. There are serial numbers on the side of the trains, indicating the engine number and the carriage number. Some of these are the birth dates of several Imagineers.
4. The Main Street Station could not be built too tall, making sure to not block the view of anyone looking out of the Disneyland Hotel over Main Street USA.
5. The staircases and cast iron structure of the Main Street Station are inspired by New York’s Elevated train stations.
(More interesting information and facts can be found here at Designing Disney!)
Thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!