The Disneyland Railroad has had many changes throughout it’s existence, but the same concept that Walt Disney had in mind remains today. Let’s take a look at the different version of the Disneyland Railroad right of way and how the future of Star Wars Land is changing the track again.
One thing all the original concept art shows has in common is the railroad circling the park and a berm located beside it. The original concept art from 1954 by Herb Ryman shows the railroad making a similar layout to what was originally built. One difference to note is that the original painting depicts the train running counter clockwise, the current day railroad runs clockwise.
In 1958 the railroad had its first major change when the Grand Canyon diorama was added. The gorgeous mural was painted by artist Delmer J. Yoakum. The tracks were pushed back a bit and a slight curve was added, this section of track maintains the shape to this day.
In 1962 the tracks on the west side of the railroad were also pushed out, and the station was moved to the other side. This station is modeled after the one used in the film “So Dear To My Heart.” The original set from the film was given to animator and friend of Walt Disney, Ward Kimball. Walt asked for the station back to use in the park but Ward refused, so Walt had to recreate the depot.
A small side switch was used until 1958 when only two trains ran and stopped at their own respective stations. The outer siding was used as a bypass for Retlaw 1 from Main Street while the Frontierland station could load the cattle cars, Retlaw 2. When the tracks were relocated in 1962, the bypass was also relocated, but with no purpose anymore, it was eventually removed in 1966 when New Orleans Square was added.
That takes us to today. The Disneyland Railroad and the Rivers of America closed in January 2016 so they can be rerouted for the Star Wars expansion. The river is being slightly shorted and the train is now going to follow and curve around the new river bank. There will be three new bridges for the railroad to pass over, these new pathways will lead into the Star Wars land. Many new trestles will be built with waterfalls cascading underneath along the new north edge of the river. According to the rumored plans, a partially rerouted Toontown Tunnel will be also built. Perhaps some element for the long gone Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland will be added? Would be a nice touch.
Overview of all the track changes to Disneyland Railroad.
As you can see, none of the other changes to the Disneyland Railroad have been this massive before. We’ll have to wait and see how the new section of the railroad and river are when these classic elements of Disneyland reopen in the summer of 2017.