Mine Train

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LOCATION

Frontierland – Guests could board the Mine Train from central Frontierland, roughly where Big Thunder Mountain Railroad stands today.

RIDE BACKGROUND

Though Frontierland had no major rides or attractions in the first year of Disneyland’s operation, this area of the park needed its own adventure to draw guests in. So in 1956, Frontierland welcomed the “Rainbow Caverns Mine Train”: a leisurely train ride through the “living desert” section of Frontierland. The ride took guests on a tour of an unusual desert, with balancing rock piles and cartoonish cactuses. But the new train ride failed to draw in large crowds, so in 1960, the Mine Train underwent a large renovation and expansion, reopening as the “Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland”, a faster version of the train with added scenery and caves to explore.

RIDE EXPERIENCE

Riders boarded the Mine Train in the tiny mining town of Rainbow Ridge. An unseen old miner provided narration for the duration of the trip, describing the sights and sounds of Nature’s Wonderland. The train began its journey by passing over Big Thunder falls, which then opened up to Bear Country, where guests could see a family of black bears scratching up against a tree close to the train. Other sights along the ride included the cactus forest, the “devil’s paint pots” geysers, and the glowing waterfalls inside Rainbow Caverns. Finally, the train completed the circuit around Nature’s Wonderland and returning guests offloaded back in Rainbow Ridge.

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CLOSURE – January 31, 1977

Although there were no inherent problems with the Mine Train, the ride closed in January 1977 in favor of a new headliner coaster. For two years, the majority of Frontierland remained under construction, before Big Thunder Mountain Railroad finally opened in 1979.

TRIVIA

You can find several tributes to the Mine Train within Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: its name (reference to Big Thunder falls), the line area (which is the exact town of Rainbow Ridge), the train’s first hill (which begins inside Rainbow Caverns), and a few balancing rocks scattered around Thunder Mountain.

The only remaining structural piece of the Mine Train can be found on the trail from Frontierland to Fantasyland. You’ll see the cave across the pond, surrounded by brush and trees.

One of the waterfalls from the original Mine Train, Cascade Peak, remained open for years after the Mine Train closed, and poured into the Rivers of America. However, structural damage from years of water flow forced Imagineers to demolish the waterfall in 1998.

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Adventure Thru Inner Space

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LOCATION

Tomorrowland – When entering from Main Street USA, guests could find Adventure Thru Inner Space on the right, in the building that now houses Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.

RIDE BACKGROUND

Plans for a molecule-themed attraction in Tomorrowland had been in discussion since 1957. Originally, Walt envisioned a walk-through exhibit, called “Our Friend The Atom”. But plans for the exhibit were all but scrapped when Disney’s focus shifted to the 1964 New York World’s Fair and the brand new It’s A Small World ride. After the success of It’s A Small World and the conclusion of the fair, Disney began construction on a molecule dark ride. Adventure Thru Inner Space finally opened in August 1967, and quickly became a headliner in Tomorrowland.

RIDE EXPERIENCE

Riders began the trek into space by walking through a high-tech laboratory. While waiting in line, guests could watch monitors showing other guests climbing into microscopes. Once riders loaded into their “atommobiles”, an unseen scientist welcomed his subjects as they began to shrink. The scientist shows images of snowflakes growing larger and larger, showing how the audience has become microscopic in size.

As the atommobile continued to shrink, the audience saw atoms swirling around them. The atommobile led riders inside one of the atoms, swirling through the electron cloud before arriving at the nucleus.

Finally, the atommobiles left the atom, and slowly grew the audience back to human size. Along the way, the scientist informs his subjects that the snowflakes have melted, and riders could peer up into his microscope, seeing his giant eye looking down on them. After returning to normal size, riders departed the atommobile and walked through a series of displays showing the scientist’s molecular studies.

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CLOSURE – September 2, 1985

Though Adventure Thru Inner Space had no major problems and stayed consistently popular during its run, the ride closed in favor of a much-anticipated Star Wars attraction. The atommobiles made their last ride in 1985, and the first version of Star Tours opened in 1987.

TRIVIA

Adventure Thru Inner Space was the first Disneyland ride to use the Omnimover loading system (the platform and ride move at a constant speed without stopping for boarding, like in the Haunted Mansion or Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters).

The voice for the scientist was that of actor Paul Frees (Boris on The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show).

The Sherman Brothers wrote an original song for the ride, called “Miracles From Molecules”. A synthesized/digitalized version of the song is on rotation as Tomorrowland background music.

Biotech company Monsato served as the official sponsor of Adventure Thru Inner Space until 1977.

You can find a tribute to Adventure Thru Inner Space in Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Pay close attention when your StarSpeeder moves into the maintenance bay; you can see the Mighty Microscope in the bottom left corner of the screen.

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Two/Three Day Hopper

Most visitors to the Disneyland Resort purchase a two or three day hopper ticket. I’ve found that when I visit the park for a few days in a row, it can be tricky to mix it up each day while still hitting my favorite rides. With that in mind, this touring plan provides a suggested itinerary for a two-day park visit, with an optional third day.

Note: Fast pass rides are not listed in the bulleted itinerary because it’s near impossible to predict return times. Obtain fast passes when suggested, and stop the plan to ride during your time window.

DAY 1

Start your first day in the park in Tomorrowland. If you beat the crowds and get to Space Mountain early enough, ride once and then grab a fast pass; otherwise just get a fast pass to skip the line.

Tomorrowland

Fantasyland

Lunchtime! Try one of the restaurants in Tomorrowland or Main Street USA; most restaurants have great outdoor patios. After lunch, hop over to California Adventure for the next part of your day. Start by grabbing a fast pass for Soarin’ Over California, and then pass through Grizzly Peak to Paradise Pier.

Paradise Pier

Cars Land

When you’ve finished this section of the itinerary, head into Downtown Disney for dinner. (But grab a fast pass for Space Mountain on your way out!) Take some time to check out all the shops (especially World of Disney) and enjoy the live music. If you want to head back into the park, take the Monorail into Tomorrowland.

Note: heading back into the park from roughly 8-9 means you will have to navigate major crowds for the fireworks, Fantasmic!, and/or World of Color. If you want to see these shows, grab a spot and enjoy; otherwise you may want to stay in Downtown Disney until after 9:30.

DAY 2

Begin your day by heading to Frontierland and grabbing a fast pass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Have breakfast at the River Belle Terrace if you’re hungry, or just pass through to New Orleans Square if you’re not having breakfast in the park.

New Orleans Square

Critter Country

New Orleans Square (part 2)

Fantasyland

Lunchtime! Try one of the restaurants in Frontierland when you’re ready to eat. Then it’s time to hop over to Hollywood Land in California Adventure. Note: Start your visit to Hollywood Land with a trip to the fast pass booth for the Tower of Terror.

Hollywood Land

A Bug’s Land

  • It’s Tough To Be A Bug!

The rest of A Bug’s Land is geared specifically for young children. If you don’t have kids in your party, check out the wait times for Grizzly River Run.

A Bug’s Land (part 2)

  • Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train
  • Flik’s Flyers
  • Francis’ Ladybug Boogie
  • Tuck And Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies

When you’re finished with this section of the itinerary, head over to Adventureland in Disneyland. Remember to start your visit by grabbing a fast pass for Indiana Jones!

Adventureland

When you’re ready for dinner, try one of the restaurants in New Orleans Square. Like with the Day 1 itinerary, avoid Main Street USA and Frontierland from 8-9:30-ish, as the shows cause serious crowd congestion (unless of course you’re watching!). I recommend hopping on the Disneyland Railroad during this period and completing the circuit around Disneyland. If you want a second ride, grab another fast pass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad before you board the train, and once the crowds lighten up, use the rest of your night to revisit your favorite rides in either park.

OPTIONAL – DAY 3

If you’re visiting the park for a third day, start your morning in California Adventure. Grab breakfast at Flo’s V8 Café in Cars Land, and take a seat on the back patio overlooking Ornament Valley and Radiator Springs Racers.

Cars Land

Hollywood Land

  • Muppet Vision 3D

When you’ve finished this section of the itinerary, hop over to Disneyland.

Fantasyland

Mickey’s Toontown

Ready for lunch? Grab some food in Tomorrowland or on Main Street USA.

Tomorrowland

Frontierland

  • Mark Twain Riverboat & Sailing Ship Columbia
  • Pirate’s Lair On Tom Sawyer Island

Main Street USA

When you’re ready for dinner, head back into California Adventure and try one of the restaurants overlooking Paradise Pier. Use the rest of your last night in the park to revisit your favorite rides, or try any that didn’t make this list.

Rocket To The Moon/Mission To Mars

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LOCATION

Tomorrowland – When guests arrived from Main Street USA, they could find the Rocket at the end of the main path, roughly where Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port sits now.

RIDE BACKGROUND

Rocket To The Moon, which debuted on Opening Day in 1955, offered guests an unprecedented trip into outer space, in an era before space travel became reality. So in 1967, when the Apollo program was in full swing, the ride became “Flight To The Moon”, in anticipation of astronauts making a similar journey into outer space. But by 1969, when astronauts made the first moon landing, simply seeing the moon from a distance was no longer revolutionary or exciting for visitors, and the ride closed in 1974.

One year later, the rocket reopened with an update premise, and became Mission To Mars. While the theater and premise were identical to the original ride, the rocket now had a new exciting destination: the red planet. With a new mission and the possibility of new exploration, Mission To Mars celebrated space travel and the Apollo program.

RIDE EXPERIENCE

Guests loaded into the theatre, much like the current setup for Star Tours. The theatre was a circle, with large screens in the floor and on the ceiling. With a giant rumble, the rocket took off toward the moon (later Mars), with the upper screen showing their destination and the lower screen showing where the rocket had been. Riders lifted above Disneyland, saw Anaheim disappear into the clouds, and soon found themselves in outer space. As the rocket made a loop around the rear of the moon (later Mars), a film played over the floor screen, teaching facts about space. Finally, the rocket made a return trip, touching down safely back in the heart of Tomorrowland.

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CLOSURE – November 2, 1992

Although Mission To Mars had been a Tomorrowland icon since Opening Day, the ride never drew massive crowds. The theater was small, and didn’t seat many guests at a time, so wait times stayed consistently long. Furthermore, with more interactive and high-tech rides arriving in Tomorrowland, Mission To Mars struggled to stay current and exciting. So in 1992, the rocket shut its doors for good.

TRIVIA

Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port features a scaled-down model of the original rocket, to pay tribute to the ride’s 37-year presence in Tomorrowland.

Rocket To The Moon/Mission To Mars had three sponsors during its lifetime: Trans World Airlines (1955-1961), Douglas Aircraft Company (1962-1966), and McDonell Douglas (1967-1975).

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Luigi’s Flying Tires

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LOCATION

Cars Land – Follow the main path in Cars Land and you’ll see Luigi’s Flying Tires on your left, across from Ramone’s House of Body Art. You can also reach Luigi’s by cutting through A Bug’s Land; the side road leading to Cars Land passes right by the ride and will lead you to the entrance.

RIDE BACKGROUND

When Disney first announced plans for Cars Land in 2007, one of the proposed rides was “Luigi’s Roamin’ Tires”. This ride was to be an update of the Flying Saucers, a beloved Tomorrowland ride that closed in the 1960’s. Like with the Flying Saucers, the ride vehicles move across the track thanks to air blasting from the ground, much like an air hockey puck and table. When Cars Land finally opened in 2012, Luigi’s Flying Tires welcomed visitors as one of the headliners in the new land.

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RIDE EXPERIENCE

Guests load into 2-3 person tire vehicles and lift a few inches off the ground. By leaning and turning, riders steer their vehicles and can bump other cars or slide across the track. For two minutes, the cars travel around the Italian gardens, before coming to a stop beside Luigi’s shop.

MY RATING: ★★☆☆☆

I’ve been really disappointed with the Flying Tires, especially compared to the other rides in Cars Land. The premise is so cool…flying bumper cars?! But this ride just doesn’t deliver. I have two big issues with the Flying Tires. First, the cars are pretty difficult to steer; you have to lean, but if you lean too much, nothing happens. Instead of flying around the arena, most of the tires stick to one small area and don’t really move. My other issue is that the edges of the tires are incredibly soft, so when you do bump another car, nothing happens. There’s no bounce back or impact like with standard bumper cars, so when two tires hit, they both just come to a stop. So to me, hitting other tires is pretty pointless, and with the difficulty of actually moving the tires, the ride is fairly boring for older visitors.

That being said, this is a great ride for families with little kids. The ride’s décor is really cute and little ones love steering the tires! If you’re looking for a fast-paced bumper car experience, Luigi’s Flying Tires is not for you, but if you want a low-key fun spin around the gardens, you’ll enjoy this ride.

LuigisFlyingTires3 VISITING TIPS

The wait times for the tires are somewhat inconsistent. Most days the line stays fairly long throughout the day, but at times there are waves where you can hop on in twenty minutes or less. My advice would be to periodically check the wait times when you’re near Cars Land, and see if you can get lucky with a shorter wait. Unfortunately, there is no fast pass for this ride, so if the line never dies down, you’ll have to bite the bullet and wait.

TRIVIA

When Luigi’s Flying Tires opened, the ride featured giant beach balls bouncing around the track. But the giant balls kept hitting visitors, so they were removed after about two months.

The floor uses 6,714 air vents to lift the tires.

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Mickey’s Fun Wheel

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LOCATION

Paradise Pier – You can see the Fun Wheel from anywhere in Paradise Pier, but the entrance can be tricky to find. The easiest path to follow is the one on the right hand side; head toward the Silly Symphony Swings, and keep going. You’ll see the sunken waiting area to the wheel on your left, before Toy Story Midway Mania.

RIDE BACKGROUND

When California Adventure first opened in 2001, the wheel was known as the “Sunshine Wheel” and towered over the boardwalk in the same location as it does today. But during the park’s major renovation and expansion, Mickey became the focal point of the wheel, and its name officially changed to Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

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RIDE EXPERIENCE

Visitors can choose between two dramatically different ride experiences on the Fun Wheel. Adventurous visitors can brave the swinging cars, which slide on tracks as the wheel rotates, and rock when the wheel is still. Then there are the tamer cars, which provide a standard ferris wheel experience. Either way, Fun Wheel Riders get a birds-eye view of Paradise Bay and much of California Adventure, whether in the sunshine or the park’s evening glow.

MY RATING: ★★★☆☆

I am more afraid of ferris wheels than any roller coaster (maybe it’s the suspension combined with major height?), so I may not be a fair judge of the Fun Wheel. However, I find myself somewhat frustrated when I do brave this ride. Since the wheel is so massive, it takes a while to load all of the cars, and riders spend a lot of time sitting still in the cars. That wouldn’t bother me if the wheel actually rotated a few times before offloading begins, but Mickey’s Fun Wheel only does one rotation before offloading. So for all the time you spend waiting in line and waiting for the wheel to finally move, the payoff seems disappointing. If the wheel spun two or three times – as opposed to the one – I would give this ride five stars.

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VISITING TIPS

In my experience, the Fun Wheel is the least predictable wait in Paradise Pier. The crowds seem to come in waves, so the lines can be quite long on relatively slow days, or short on very crowded days. With that in mind, my advice is to periodically check the wait time as you make your way through the rear of California Adventure (Paradise Pier, Cars Land, Grizzly Peak). Unfortunately, the wheel does not have fast pass, so if the line never dies down you’ll have to wait. If you find yourself in that position, visit the wheel after dark. California Adventure is absolutely beautiful at night, so the view is worth the wait.

TRIVIA

Imagineers took inspiration from Coney Island’s 1927 Wonder Wheel.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel is 160 feet tall at its highest point.

All of the swinging cars come equipped with sick bags; those cars really whip you around!

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1983 Fantasyland Renovation And Expansion

OVERVIEW

Fantasyland has always been the most popular and well-known land within Disneyland. But since its debut in 1955, Fantasyland has changed dramatically, and is virtually unrecognizable from its original design. Walt Disney and the Imagineers were never completely happy with Fantasyland’s layout or theme, but with limited time and money, they set up Fantasyland with the idea that it would later undergo major changes.

As Disneyland expanded and gained popularity over the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, Fantasyland struggled to compete with the continuously updated and fresh façades of the other lands in the park. Though it did see several ride and attraction changes, Fantasyland’s Renaissance fair décor and overall infrastructure stayed largely the same. However, the rides in the land were too close together, congesting traffic and limiting space for parades or temporary attractions. So by the early 80’s, Imagineers planned a complete overhaul of the land, which would be known as the “New Fantasyland.”

SURFACE CHANGES

The Renaissance fair tents and decorations transformed into a quaint Bavarian-style village, complete with stone towers and houses with stain glass windows. While the castle was unaffected by this new architectural style, the rest of Fantasyland now looked like it hopped right out of the pages of the classic fairytales that inspired the land in the first place. Here is a photo of the original Fantasyland theme:

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For a comparison, check out some photos of Fantasyland today here.

LOGISTICAL CHANGES

Before the 1983 expansion/renovation of Fantasyland, traffic flowed into one main area: the plaza right behind the castle. With so many rides in one concentrated area, the massive crowds surrounding each ride did not make for such a charming environment. This photo from 1959 shows how horribly congested Fantasyland was during peak visiting times:

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To remedy this problem, Imagineers opened up central Fantasyland. The Mad Tea Party moved to its current location, alongside Alice in Wonderland, and the King Arthur Carrousel moved to the Tea Party’s former circle. With this change alone, Fantasyland became much more spacious and less overwhelming for guests.

This graphic from ImagineeringDisney.com shows the original locations of the Fantasyland rides in pink:

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As you can see on the graphic, the Tea Party and the Carrousel were not the only rides that changed locations. Skull Rock, the Pirate Ship, and its surrounding moat were removed, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant took their place. Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Snow White’s Scary Adventures still reside in the same locations as pictured in pink, and the Fantasyland Theatre is now Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. (Note: this map also shows the Skyway, which closed in 1994).

With Fantasyland’s new layout, guests could freely access the center plaza from Frontierland, Tomorrowland, or Main Street USA without having to navigate lines for popular rides. Fantasyland opened up, providing room for future rides, attractions, and character meet and greets.

RIDE CHANGES

While the primary focus of the 1983 expansion and renovation was to “reimagine” Fantasyland’s overall theme, several rides within this land experienced facelifts themselves:

Alice In Wonderland – Though Alice was the only Fantasyland ride built between the park’s opening and the 1983 renovation, it still experienced its share of changes. Originally, Alice was nowhere to be found inside the ride, and guests were meant to experience Wonderland themselves, mimicking the journey of Alice in the film. But not many guests understood this concept, and instead wondered why Alice wasn’t featured in the ride named after her. So during the renovation, Imagineers added Alice, so that she would accompany riders as they navigate Wonderland.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – Mr. Toad and friends experienced their share of upgrades as part of the renovation. The entire track was replaced, enabling Imagineers to expand the ride and create additional scenes. On the outside, the façade became Toad Hall, with an adjoining garden for the waiting area, complete with busts of the main characters.

Peter Pan’s Flight – This ride underwent few interior changes during the 1983 project, but its exterior was completely redone along with the rest of the façades. Imagineers created a London-inspired home with a tall clock tower, reminiscent of the scenery in the film.

Snow White’s Scary Adventures – Before 1983, this ride was called “Snow White’s Adventures”, and did not feature the heroine inside. Instead, guests were supposed to experience the ride from her vantage point, as if they were escaping the Evil Queen. Like with Alice in Wonderland, this concept never really resonated with guests, so Imagineers added the princess in a few places during the renovation. When Snow White arrived in the ride, she came with updated special affects and additional scenes from the film, extending the ride’s length and storyline. Additionally, the carousel’s new location provided space for a more detailed façade, which now features a tall window where the Queen likes to peer out at guests.

NEW FANTASYLAND

On May 26th, 1983, the drawbridge to the Sleeping Beauty Castle finally opened, signifying a new era for Fantasyland. Disneyland hosted a grand opening ceremony, welcoming guests to the new and improved land. Today, Fantasyland still maintains the same layout and style that debuted in 1983, and has captivated imaginative park guests ever since.

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Disneyland Railroad

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LOCATION

Main Street USA – The main station for the railroad stands at the opposite end from the castle. It’s the first thing you see from the main gate, and can be accessed from the stairs or ramp beside the center garden.

New Orleans Square – You can find the New Orleans Square station behind the plaza. Walk toward the square gardens (between the French Market and Haunted Mansion) and you’ll see the station in the back.

Mickey’s Toontown – The station for the rear of Disneyland can be found between Toontown and Fantasyland. Head to the back of Fantasyland, near It’s A Small World, and you’ll see the train station on the left, next to the Fantasyland Theatre.

Tomorrowland – And finally, the last station on the Disneyland Railroad can be found by the back of Autopia. Follow the main path through Tomorrowland, and then continue on the smaller path to the left of the Innoventions building. You will see the station at the end of path, on a raised platform.

RIDE BACKGROUND

From the beginning, Walt Disney envisioned a railroad that would encircle the park. Walt commissioned a 1/8 scale miniature locomotive in order to test the vehicle’s performance on the track, and then Imagineers went to work building the full-scale model. On Opening Day, Disneyland had two fully functional steam engine trains, but the two trains operated independently with different stops. Locomotive #1 stopped at the Frontierland Depot, and was a freight train with cattle cars and a caboose, and Locomotive #2 serviced the Main Street USA station and had coach and observation seating. Though the trains operated independently, they shared a track, and rail sidings at the two stations allowed the vehicles to pass one another if one was loading passengers.

In 1958, the circuit around the park became an attraction itself with the addition of the Grand Canyon/Primeval World Diorama. The diorama, which is still the largest in the world, depicts scenes of the present-day Grand Canyon. And in 1966, the diorama expanded with the Primeval World scene, which features animatronic dinosaurs and ancient scenery.

As the park grew, the two trains were not sufficient for the number of passengers. The locomotives stopped operating independently, and no longer passed each other on the rails. Imagineers constructed additional trains, and with the new vehicles came new stations. The Toontown station (then called the Fantasyland station) arrived first, followed by the Tomorrowland station. During this construction, the Frontierland station had been moved several times, but eventually closed in favor of the New Orleans Square station, which opened in 1966.

Today, the park runs a minimum of two trains per day, with more running on busier days. Some guests use the train to save energy when crossing the park, while others enjoy the view of the complete circuit. Since Opening Day, an estimated 650 million guests have traveled on the Disneyland Railroad.

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RIDE EXPERIENCE

Although you can hop on and off freely at any railroad station, the circuit technically starts at the Main Street USA stop. Guests hear a narrated tour highlighting some of the attractions visible from the railroad, and suggestions regarding which stops are convenient for which rides. The tour begins with a journey through the jungles of Adventureland, before the train arrives at the New Orleans Square station.

From this stop, guests travel through Splash Mountain, and can catch a glimpse of the room guests travel through after making the drop (my brother and I call this the “celebration” room). Next, the train passes the Rivers of America, offering views of an American Indian chief, and a pioneer camp along the water’s edge. The second stop is the Toontown station, which passes along the border of Toontown and Fantasyland.

The third leg of the train circuit takes guests through It’s A Small World’s exterior, before circling around to the Tomorrowland station. Next, guests pass the massive Grand Canyon/Primeval World Diorama, which offers a window into the world as it looked millions of years ago. And finally, the train completes the circuit and arrives at the Main Street USA station once again.

MY RATING: ★★★★☆

The Disneyland Railroad is a relaxing ride around the park. While it’s not as thrilling as the park’s other railroad (Big Thunder Mountain), the circuit offers plenty of unique views, great for taking some photos. And because the train runs constantly throughout the day, it’s a convenient way to travel around Disneyland and give your legs a break. Some of the cars have front facing seats, while others face inward toward the park, but both options offer the same views. My only complaint with the railroad is that the seats are very uncomfortable (hardwood), so by the end of the circuit I’m definitely ready to get off.

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VISITING TIPS

Since the train runs regularly all day, there isn’t a specific time that is better or worse to ride. I like to travel the circuit in the evening, when my legs could use a break and I want to take some photos of the scenery. But no matter what time you head to the train station, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for another train to come by.

TRIVIA

The railroad was called the “Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad” from Opening Day until 1974, thanks to an official sponsorship from the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.

The narration during the railroad circuit originally featured the voice of Jack Wagner, later replaced by Thurl Ravenscroft.

The diorama is the only place in the park featuring taxidermy animals.

The Grand Canyon portion of the diorama measures 306 feet long, and the backdrop used 300 gallons of paint.

Riders that complete the circuit around the park travel 1.5 miles, taking about 20 minutes with the stops.

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Pirates of the Caribbean

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LOCATION

New Orleans Square – Whether you arrive from Adventureland or Frontierland, you’ll find Pirates of the Caribbean on your left. The entrance is beneath the bridge, and the line winds into the building.

RIDE BACKGROUND

Original designs for Pirates of the Caribbean called for a walk-through wax museum set in the 18th century Caribbean. But after seeing the success of It’s A Small World and its unique boat ride setup, Imagineers decided to incorporate a similar ride experience in New Orleans Square. Pirates of the Caribbean finally opened to the public in 1967, three months after Walt Disney’s death.

After the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Imagineers incorporated characters from the film into the ride, most notably Captain Jack Sparrow as an animatronic troublemaker, and Captain Barbossa’s portrait by the front doors.

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RIDE EXPERIENCE

Sailors braving the Caribbean waters begin their journey on an evening ride along the quiet coastline. The boats pass a scenic waterfront restaurant before turning a corner into the darkness. A skull and crossbones marks the beginning of an imminent run-in with pirates, and then the boats suddenly drop into the depths of the pirate’s cavern. Inside the caves, riders see several skeletal pirates, some drinking heavily, others admiring treasure, and one appearing in a ghostly fog. The boats then leave the caves pass through cannon fire to arrive in a Caribbean village. The village scenes depict the chaos and revelry of pirate life, and observant riders will find Captain Jack Sparrow sneaking around and hiding from other characters. Finally, the boats depart the village and climb out of the cave, with one final glimpse of Captain Jack Sparrow enjoying his treasure. A distant voice invites riders to return, but warns that the next visit may not have such a pleasant ending.

MY RATING – ★★★★★

Pirates of the Caribbean is my absolute favorite ride at the Disneyland Resort. Every room has incredible detail, dramatic sound effects and scores, and lots of hidden gags within each scene. This ride is also the longest in the park, at 16 minutes, so sometimes the boat ride is actually longer than the wait!

I could go on and on about why I love Pirates, but honestly a description does not do this ride justice. When you get the chance to venture into the Caribbean waters, you’ll immediately understand why Pirates is a Disneyland classic.

PiratesOfTheCaribbean3 VISITING TIPS

With the exception of the holiday season and summer weekends, there is no bad time to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. This ride loads at an incredibly fast pace, and I’ve never waited more than half an hour to get on (and that was the Saturday before Christmas, which is a nightmare weekend for the park). Visit Pirates whenever convenient, and you shouldn’t have a very difficult time getting on quickly.

If you have easily frightened kids in your party, you might want to steer clear of this ride. The drop in the beginning isn’t big, but it’s in the pitch black. Most of the ride is very dark, loud, and some of the scenes with skeletons can be a little spooky. Most kids don’t have a problem with Pirates, but some little ones do find it intimidating.

TRIVIA

The Disneyland version of Pirates of the Caribbean is the longest of any in the Disney Parks, at roughly 16 minutes. For a comparison, the Disney World version in Florida runs roughly 9 minutes long.

This was the last ride Walt Disney participated in designing before his death.

Despite the drop at the beginning of the ride, Pirates of the Caribbean never goes underground. Instead, the ride loads on the second story of the building, and the boats descend into a show building not visible from inside the park.

There is a hidden LEGO Captain Jack Sparrow in the first treasure room. Look closely at the treasure chest in the center of the scene, specifically the top left corner of the chest. It can take a few rides to finally spot him, but once you see him he always stands out!

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Test Brick Wall

If you ask me, Main Street USA is the most underappreciated land in Disneyland; there are just so many cool details, tons of park history, and some really interesting hidden gems. Everything in this land is so polished and perfect, it’s hard to spot anything that isn’t carefully manicured. But did you ever notice that one brick wall on Main Street has mismatched and uneven bricks?

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The wall adjacent to the Main Street USA lockers is known as the “Test Brick Wall”. When Imagineers were choosing bricks for Main Street USA’s façades, they built the wall with different types of brick to see how the finished product would look. No one is sure why the wall with the test bricks remains; some speculate the park didn’t have enough money to replace it before Opening Day, and others think Imagineers kept it up to as a memento of the park’s construction.

Today, the Test Brick Wall is a piece of park history that guests stream past without much fanfare. Next time you’re nearby the Main Street USA lockers, stop for a second to check out the wall; you can appreciate the Imagineers’ dedication to detail and imagine Main Street USA before it was finished to perfection!