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Take The Train To Disneyland?

Take The Train To Disneyland?

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Seems like every time we turn around today, another company is offering a deal on travel. Even supermarket chains offer shoppers discounts on vacation packages or airline fares. And even Disneyland multiple day passports can be purchased at the same time as the family's weekly groceries.

It hasn't always been the case. Looking back before the days of jet airliners and automobiles on the Interstate highway system, the chance to grab the disposable income of consumers was just as important. And the competition for that dollar was every bit as fierce as then it is now.

The period after the Second World War is often referred to as the "Golden Age" of rail travel. In efforts to lure the traveling public back aboard their trains, the railroads began programs to modernize their railroad operations. Some had taken steps to start this process before the war. As the nation was coming out of the Depression, people were looking to enjoy themselves and had the cash to do so again. Bright colors and modern design attracted travelers in those short years before the war. New trains such as the Southern Pacific's "Daylight" (in orange, red and black), the Union Pacific's "City of Los Angeles" (in armour yellow and harbor mist grey) and the Santa Fe's "Super Chief" (in gleaming stainless steel) all brought passengers to sunny Southern California in record numbers.

But in the mid-Fifties, some of that allure had worn off. With the rise of faster airline service across the state and the nation, accompanied by an all-time high in ownership of automobiles and improving highways nation wide, people were not riding those long distance passenger trains at the rate they had in those first years after the War. It was only natural that the railroads look for ways to attract travelers that went beyond simply transporting passengers. Most of them had experience in offering vacation packages. For examples, the Union Pacific took travelers to National Parks across the states it served in the West. The Santa Fe owned hotels at the Grand Canyon that were, of course, served daily by passenger trains from both the East and the West Coasts.

Disneyland was the answer to the problem faced by the railroads. A destination that families all across the nation would want to visit was the perfect solution for them. The Santa Fe (that's short for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe) may have had the best jump on the competition. As a Disneyland sponsor, they took the lead and promoted the Park to passengers, shippers and employees even before Opening Day. One very early example was a pocket-sized folded brochure complete with a map of what potential travelers might expect.

A map of Disneyland tempts potential passengers.

This little black and white brochure offered a very early glimpse into what they might expect. It also has views of Santa Fe passenger and freight trains along with a map showing all of the possible routes available to reach Disneyland.

Another larger brochure produced by the Santa Fe right before Disneyland's Opening Day has more to tempt those undecided travelers. The cover offers views of the brand new "Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad, while the interior has the scoop on what awaited them at the Park.

How could we resist? Steam trains and Disneyland!

LOCATED: 1313 Harbor Boulevard, bordering Santa Ana Freeway, in Anaheim, California
OPENING: Monday, July 18, 1955 at 10 a.m.
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week during the summer. Open six days a week - closed Mondays - starting in the Fall.
Size: Total area 160 acres. 60 acres in park.
PARKING: 12, 175 car capacity in 100-acre parking lot. An "elephant train" transports guest from the parking lot to Main Gate.
FOOD: Twenty restaurants in the different lands, including snack bars and stands, will serve approximately 8,000 persons hourly.
LANDS: Disneyland consists of four "lands" plus Main Street. The lands are Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland and Fantasyland.
DISTANCE: A minimum walking distance of 1.4 miles to visit every land.
RIDES: Peter Pan, Snow White, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, King Arthur Carousel, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo, Casey Jr., Canal Boats of the World, Disneyland Street Railway, Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad; Disneyland Fire Dept., Disneyland Autopia,; TWA Rocket to the Moon; Space Station X-1; Conestoga wagons; surreys, buggies, buckboards; explorer's boat ride through tropical rivers of the world, Speed boats, the "Mark Twain," a 105-foot river boat; mule pack rides; and the Disneyland Stage line.
VISITORS: 5,000,000 visitors expected the first year. Disneyland is designed to handle a maximum of 60,000 daily.
ADMISSION: $1.00, including tax, for adults and 50c, including tax, for children under 12.

The tri-fold brochure further describes the rides and amusements by land including more details on the rides. It also describes how to reach Disneyland including the passenger trains and connections from downtown Los Angeles including Tanner Gray Line Motor Tours (that's tour busses to us), Metro-Lines (public transit busses) and Rent-A-Car Service from Tanner Tours including limousine service with liveried chauffeurs. It also mentions the Disneyland Hotel scheduled to open "about" August 15.

Finally, the Santa Fe's marketing, er... passenger sales staff, really lays it on thick:

"Every child should see Disneyland - Santa Fe has special Family Fares to make it cost less for your family trips."

Not to be outdone, the other railroads serving Southern California added Disneyland as a favored destination later that year. The Southern Pacific offered packages including hotels and transportation (including from your hotel to Disneyland and back again). A friend of mine took one of these for his first Park visit along with his mother and still has all of the documents from the railroad (including the Greyhound bus ride from home to San Francisco for the trip on the train to Los Angeles).
The Union Pacific also offered passengers the opportunity to visit the Park with it's own dramatic flair. It used some wonderful images of Disneyland on various items including calendars, post cards and dining car menus.

An early view of Disneyland's Town Square.
Dining Car Menu from the Domeliner City of St. Louis, June 1965.

Not far by Freeway from Los Angeles, at Anaheim, is never to be forgotten Disneyland, where you'll find a new experience in wonderful entertainment. Each segment of this sixty-five acre wonderland is an adventure in itself... on MAIN STREET take an omnibus rise past early-century stores and shops... in ADVENTURELAND explore the mysterious world of the tropics... visit FRONTIERLAND and transport yourself back into pioneer times... relive childhood's happy hours of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan in FANTASYLAND and last but not least, in TOMORROWLAND view the future in a rocket ship, travel aboard the streamlined trains of the Disneyland-Alweg monorail System, sail beneath the seven seas in an Atomic-Submarine or race in a bobsled down the "snow-capped" slopes of the Matterhorn Mountain replica.
All this, and much more, is DISNEYLAND... hours or days of wonderful family entertainment.
From East Los Angeles station, Union Pacific bus, for cities on the Anaheim branch, will deliver patrons direct to Disneyland Hotel, a regular stop. Other nearby resort motels can be reached by taxi from the Disneyland Hotel. Likewise on the return trip the bus for East Los Angeles will pick up at the Disneyland Hotel. Patrons using the Domeliners "City of Los Angeles" or the "City of St. Louis" may avail themselves of this service.

A view from the menu shows the Union Pacific Bus
and Monrail Blue both serving the Travelport
at the Disneyland Hotel

The bus connection and the use of the Disneyland images continued right up until the end of passenger service by the railroad in 1971. And one of the busses survives today as part of the collection of the California State Railroad Museum. It even makes occasional trips to special events around the state. Now that would be interesting to see back to Disneyland for a visit! Don't know about that long ride from Sacramento...

Although Amtrak did not continue to provide service on all of the routes that had brought passengers to Los Angeles and Disneyland, it did continue the use of Disneyland in it's own promotional literature. Somewhere buried in storage, I have Amtrak postcards for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Today, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner trains stop at Fullerton and Anaheim with transportation available to and from Disneyland.

Fantasy in the Sky fireworks blossom over Disneyland's
"Sleeping Beauty Castle" -- as seen on the cover of
a Dinner menu aboard the Union Pacific's
"City of Los Angeles" in January 1971.

Hope that you enjoyed seeing these items as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you. I'm always on the look out for more of this kind of thing, so feel free to drop me a note if you find some.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the victims of Katrina and Rita. It does make a difference. The American Red Cross does good work every time they are called upon. Every bit helps, all the time. Any donation is greatly appreciated.

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