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Disneyland Article
California vs. Paris: The Railroads (Part Two)
Hugh Allison
In November 2011, I wrote an article comparing the Railroads found in the two Disneylands parks closest to my heart (California and Paris). This month, I shall be comparing the stations at which they stop and the Dioramas which they pass.

The Railroads were opening day attractions at their respective parks and go clockwise at each. Main Street Station was also an opening day attraction at both resorts. Taking this stop as a starting/ending point, the trains in California call at the following stations: Main Street Station; New Orleans Square Station (which was an opening day attraction called Frontierland Station, changing its name in 1996 due to the realisation that it was physically closer to New Orleans Square than to Frontierland); Mickey's Toontown Station (which opened in 1956 as Fantasyland Station, changed location slightly in 1985 to become Videopolis Station, and has held its current moniker since 1993); Tomorrowland Station (which opened in 1958); Main Street Station.

The route at Disneyland Paris is as follows: Main Street Station; Frontierland Depot (which opened with the park in 1992); Fantasyland Station (which opened with the park); Discoveryland Station (which opened in July 1993 to coincide with a new post-show to Star Tours); Main Street Station.

The Main Street Stations are the only ones not to use the title of their land in their nomenclature, seeing as neither feature "U.S.A." in their official name. In terms of theming and location, there are many ways in which both versions of this stop are similar. For example, both are located above the entrance to the park, both are themed to a small town station from the turn of the twentieth century, both feature prop fire buckets which many Guests believe to be there in case of a genuine emergency and both feature announcements solely made in English.

Three other details which set Main Street Station in Paris apart are: the viewing area for the parade (although this is often shut), the maroon band organ in the centre of the platform and stained glass windows representing landmarks which can be found in the other lands of the park. From left to right, these windows show the Orbitron (Discoveryland), Sleeping Beauty Castle (Fantasyland), Captain Hook's Galley (Adventureland) and the Mark Twain passing Big Thunder Mountain (Frontierland).

In Disneyland Paris, the stop in Frontierland is the only one in the park to not feature the word "Station" in its title; it is officially named Frontierland Depot. Its look is based on the original design for the Frontierland Station in California (still visible the other side of the tracks from New Orleans Square Station), which in turn was based on the one which appeared in the 1948 Disney film So Dear to My Heart.

Both Frontierland Depot in Disneyland Paris and New Orleans Square Station in California feature a telegraph key which taps out part of Walt Disney's 1955 dedication to Disneyland; both also have water towers for replenishing the tenders of the Railroad trains, which means generally causes longer waits at these stations (for the on-board passengers) than for any of the others.

In many ways, the stations for Fantasyland Station in Disneyland Paris and Mickey's Toontown in Anaheim are the least alike, with the former being genteel and pretty looking, and the latter being a lot more cartoon-like.

Tomorrowland Station and Discoveryland Station were both built around existing parts of the Railroad track at the same time as extra locomotives being added to the park (the Fred Gurley in California; the Eureka in Paris). They feature futuristic decor (Googie in Anaheim; Steampunk in France) and have similar signage, although Discoveryland Station also features posters for attractions found within the land.

In Anaheim, after Tomorrowland Station, the Railroad passes the Grand Canyon Diorama (added in 1958) and the Primeval World Diorama (added in 1966). Paris has no equivalent for the latter, but has a version of the former (an opening day attraction) located between Main Street Station and Frontierland Depot.

The Paris Grand Canyon Diorama was pretty much a replica of the one in Anaheim, although with certain scenic variations. According to Jeff Burke, Show Producer for Disneyland Paris' Frontierland, these changes included expanding the first scene (with the Mesa Indian ruins) and amending the rockwork in the final scene to make it match Monument Valley's soaring buttes. Some of the bird breeds were also changed to those indigenous to Arizona, and the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep were replaced with desert antelopes.

Both Grand Canyon Dioramas include taxidermy, a single seamless canvas along the back (measuring 306ft in California, but only 262ft in Paris) and on-board audio taken from the On the Trail movement of Ferde Grofe's 1931 Grand Canyon Suite.

[With thanks to Sylvia Allison, Jeff Burke, Steve DeGaetano, Melissa Donato and Eva Maler].

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