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Looking back at Disney-MGM's old Christmas Train Set

Looking back at Disney-MGM's old Christmas Train Set

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It seems that this past Wednesday's photo essay really struck a chord with a lot of JHM readers. For I got a number of e-mails from people who said that they were still upset that Disney had booted MGM's big Christmas tree out to the studio theme park's entrance plaza.


Photo by Jeff Lange

These folks obviously have some very fond memories of the times when MGM's Christmas tree used to be set up in front of the Chinese Theater.


Photo by Jeff Lange

But you know what people really seem to miss the most about Disney-MGM's old holiday set-up? That Hollywood-themed train layout that used to run under the tree.

Man, I used to love to watch that thing. How the trains would first roll past a miniature version of Union Station ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

Before rolling past the Hollywood hills (complete with an under-szied version of the Hollywood sign)


Photo by Jeff Lange

... and the Hollywood Bowl ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... as well as a 1940s version of Walt Disney Studios (That's a miniature version of the old Feature Animation building that you see toward the center of this shot).


Photo by Jeff Lange

Of course, my favorite touch of this train set-up was the miniature version of the Chinese Theater. Which -- given that it was positioned right in front of a full-sized recreation of this famed movie palace -- just seemed all too surreal. At least to me.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Speaking of surreal ... All of the care & thought that Imagineer Bob Weis and his design team put into the creation of Disney-MGM, making sure that this "Hollywood that never was, but always will be" was just large enough to impress, but not so large that it would actually over-whelm theme park visitors ... was pretty much blown out of the water when that 120-foot-tall hat was dropped at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, blocking everyone's view of MGM's "castle," the Chinese Theater.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Me? I keep hoping that someday that execs at the Walt Disney Company will eventually come to their senses and pull down the Sorcerer Mickey hat. So that -- once again -- MGM can erect a Christmas tree right in the middle of that studio theme park. Which means that this tiny Tinsel Town train could finally come out of storage and start chugging around that tree again. 

Jeff Lange is the staff photographer / archivist here at JHM. He recently launched his own series of unofficial Disney theme park DVDs. Which now includes "Jeff Lange's Holiday Treat." Which offers full coverage of last year's "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" at WDW's Magic Kingdom. If you'd like to learn more about this or any other of the entertaining recordings that Mr. Lange has produced, we suggest that you follow this link.

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