This month, I shall be comparing the Railroads which circle the two Disneylands closest to my heart (California and Paris).
Both versions were opening day attractions, although in Anaheim it was called the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad until 1974; in Paris, the attraction was known as Eurodisneyland Railroad up to 1994. The name change for the former was due to the end of the ride's sponsorship by The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, whereas the latter was amended due to a change of the name of the resort as a whole. They are now both called Disneyland Railroad, although the initials EDRR still appear on the iron railings of the station for Paris's Main Street, U.S.A.
The locomotives which currently operate in the Anaheim park are: C. K. Holliday, E. P. Ripley, Fred Gurley, Ernest S. Marsh and Ward Kimball.
The stations these stop at (in order) are Main Street, U.S.A, New Orleans Square, Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland. Those currently in operation in Disneyland Paris (DLP) are George Washington, C.K. Holliday, W.F. Cody and Eureka; the stations are in Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland.
In Paris, all stations are wheelchair accessible; in California, this is the case for all except Main Street, U.S.A.
Both Railroads travel solely in a clockwise direction and have 3ft narrow gauge tracks. The length of the onstage portion of the tracks is 6335.3ft in California and 7217.8ft in Paris. Due to the difference in distance travelled, "The Grand Circle Tour" (i.e. getting on at any station, then riding the Railroad past all other stops, then getting off where one boarded) lasts approximately twenty minutes in California and thirty in France.
Whilst the carriages in DLP are individually named (and themed to their engine) none of the ones in California are, which would make them easier to interchange. This means that, whilst all trains on the DLP Railroad seat a maximum of 250 Guests, this amount varies considerably in Anaheim.
The seating of some carriages in California are facing ahead, and others face to the right. Quite often, a train will end up with a mixture of these styles. In Paris, all sets of seats are U-shaped, facing to the right, the front and the back.
Other than when a station is shut for a refurbishment, generally Guests can embark or disembark at any stop of the Disneyland Railroad in California. In Paris, this is not always the case, especially off-season and/or early or late in the day. It has been known for Guests to only be allowed to board or exit at the station in Main Street, U.S.A. A variant on this (which usually occurs when staff is limited) is where Guests can only board at that station but can disembark wherever they wish.
Another time when the DLP Railroad has specific boarding requirements are when the park runs "Good Morning Fantasyland" character breakfasts. This means Guests can get to a restaurant in Fantasyland, without having to go through Main Street, U.S.A., which may not have opened to the public yet, and may still be full of maintenance staff.
The operational procedure of both Railroads is very similar. For example, the bell for each version must be rung as a train approaches a station or crossing. Likewise, it is down to the Conductor as to when a train can depart the station, even though most Guests believe this to be the driver's decision.
In Paris, Guests cannot ride in the tender and there is no equivalent of the Lilly Belle caboose. Paris also has no SOP as to the exact places on the ride where the staff should wave to passers-by.
Both versions pass through the interior of other rides, giving sneak peeks for the travellers; for DLP this is Pirates of The Caribbean and in Anaheim this is Splash Mountain. Both also pass dioramas based on The Grand Canyon (although California is the only one to feature one based on The Primeval World). In 2012, I shall write a follow-up to this article which compares the Grand Canyon Dioramas and looks at the stations in more detail.
Hugh is a former Cast Member, who now lives in London. He is currently writing a Mouse Tales style book about Disneyland Paris for Bonaventure Press.
Hugh Allison Can Be Contacted at:
DISCUSS THIS ARTICLE ON OUR FORUMS