Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Disney Railroads

“Yes, in one way or another I have always loved trains.”
          —Walt Disney

Rail transport can be found in every theme park resort property owned or licensed by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the theme park and vacation resort segment of the larger Walt Disney Company. The origins of Disney theme park rail transport can be traced back to Walt Disney himself and his personal fondness for railroads, who insisted that they be included in the first Disney park, the original Disneyland (a key component of the Disneyland Resort) in California in the United States, which opened on July 17, 1955. The Disney tradition of including transport by rail in its parks has since been extended to other Disney properties with the opening of Walt Disney World in Florida in the United States, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, Disneyland Paris in France, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort in China, and Shanghai Disney Resort in China.

Each Disney theme park resort has a rail transport system serving its general resort area, whether it's a monorail system located inside the Disney resort properties in the United States and Japan, or a conventional rail system connecting external rail networks to the Disney resorts in France and China. The Disneyland Monorail System in California is notable for being the first monorail system to operate in the United States, while the Walt Disney World Monorail System in Florida, with an estimated 150,000 passengers each day, is one of the busiest monorail systems in the world. Both Disney park resort properties in the United States, as well as those in Japan and France, contain theme parks that feature genuine steam-powered railroads. The Disney park chain has one of the world's largest private collections of operational steam locomotives, with seventeen in total spread across the globe. Additional rail systems within the theme parks in both United States resorts and the Hong Kong resort resemble steam-powered railroads, but their locomotives are powered by internal combustion engines. Other rail transport modes found in Disney parks include horse-drawn streetcar rail lines in the parks within both resorts in the United States and the resort in France, as well as replica vintage electric rail lines in the parks in California and Japan.

The Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chain of theme parks is the largest on the planet by annual attendance with over 140.4 million visitors in 2016, and the rail systems located inside its properties play key roles as modes of transportation and as attractions for its visitors.

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