One of the quintessential experiences of the Disneyland parks is a railroad attraction. Many times they are at the entrance of the park, greeting guests as they come in. They may seem exactly the same, but there are differences that set them apart. I’m going to critique them a little differently than I normally do. The reason is that they are both attraction and transportation. There are stories, but that’s not always the main feature of them. I’ll use criteria of train car style – how comfortable and unique are they, theme – the uniqueness of stations and decor, and route – what is there to see along the way and is the route interesting. Here are the Disneyland Railroads ranked.
5. Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad
Train Cars: 3
These cars have an almost whimsical appeal to them. Bright colors are painted on, compared to the other railroad attractions around the world. They are side facing, which gives only one type of view for the attraction. The cars feel like the largest out of all the railroads around the world. It ends up not feeling as intimate of a trip is far from the outside. For that, I don’t give it a high score.
The trip is roughly an average trip around the park. There are various things to look at. What really stands out are the unique engines and cars. It brings a more fantasy-like theme to the railroad attraction. But, the stations don’t have a very distinct or detailed theme to them. The closest is not even a station you stop at. It’s a Mystic Point station that the train passes by. If that were an actual station the theme would jump a point.
Hong Kong Disneyland has two stations – Main Street and Fantasyland. Along the way, there are some great decorations and animatronics. But, there isn’t a whole lot to see. There are no inside attraction or diorama scenes. Still, I give it an “average” score because there are some interesting features like animals that move and little green men from toy story that make the route feel different from other Disney railroads.
It’s not a bad railroad experience. There are some fun elements to see, good narration, and a fairly long route. But, it doesn’t quite have the panache that the others have in scenery and only having two stops when there’s a chance for more sets it lower.
4. Tokyo Disneyland – Western River Railroad
Train Cars: 3
Excursion style train cars are the seats aboard this ride. It does allow for looking on either side of the train, which is always a nice feature. They are nicely set up and decorated, and harken to the original Disneyland trains. But, not much else sets them apart from the other trains.
This has an actual theme and story that fits within the overall context of its location. It’s called the Western River Railroad because it only circles Westernland and its river. It also boards at Adventureland, which gives the feel of a trip from one place to another. But, it’s just Western themed. There’s no full park venture for it, and that means lack of stations. Because of that, I give it an average point.
Western River Railroad is the only Disneyland railroad to have one station. It’s purely an attraction, not transportation. The reason is that if it had another stop it would be considered transportation under Japanese law and would require a schedule and charged tickets. Going around Westernland and part of Adventureland gives some great vantage points that other parks don’t get. It really covers the western themed land well! There are some gorgeous sights along the river, some up close views of Big Thunder Mountain, and even a primeval world diorama with original New York World’s Fair music. Even though I knock it down in the Theme category for there being a one station route, there are many things to keep your eyes on along the route.
Western River Railroad is a solid attraction with beautiful Westernland sights. But, it’s one station route sets it lower than some of the others.
Magic Kingdom – Walt Disney World Railroad
Train Cars: 4
Excursion style cars are with every engine in this park. For it being a large park it’s nice to be able to see either side of the train. And they’re actually comfortable too.
There are a couple of stations that stick out for theme. The first is the Main Street station, which feels like a real transportation hub because of its size. The other is the Fantasyland station which is themed to be a midwest town having a circus coming in. It gives a little story to having the train pull up there. But, the other stations have an averageness to them which doesn’t give the full amount of points.
There is a lot to see along the route of this train. There’s the “classic” Splash Mountain inner look. It has the great Frontierland Indian village and river animal scenes too. But, over towards Tomorrowland there is a lot of nothing to stare at. At least for now. The part that is very open will be where the Tron coaster is being built. For now, it gets this score for having a big open land area along the route.
A great railroad that gives an open train ride, but with one stale open land part to it.
Train Cars: 5
The Disneyland Railroad has two types of cars to ride in. One is the excursion style that is in a couple of the other parks. The other is the sidecar style. Having the different types makes it really feel like different lines.
Main Street station and New Orleans Square station are the two most themed and unique. The New Orleans Square station is one of the most known because of the telegraphed opening day speech heard there. The Main Street station is, I’d guess, the most photographed out of all of them around the world. But, the Mickey’s Toontown and Tomorrowland stations are a little lacking. Also, the Toontown station isn’t quite in Toontown.
With the recent update to accommodate Galaxy’s Edge it is even more beautiful than ever. There’s even more to see along the route with some updated rock work and waterfalls. Plus a few more animals have taken up residence. The way the Rivers of America look from the train side it really feels like we go back in time to the wild west days. Disneyland is the only one to have both the Grand Canyon diorama and primeval world scenes together. It’s also the only one that has the turn left.
You would think this would be the top because of being the first, but it’s the smallest out of the full park attractions. And with a couple of stations not greatly themed it doesn’t quite get to the top.
1. Disneyland Paris Railroad
Train Cars: 5
These are the most different out of all the cars around the world. They feel like real cross-country passenger cars, though theme park style. Seats are front, back, and side facing. And some nice elements within the cars makes it great.
The Main Street station alone gives the theme point the top number. It is fashioned to be a lot like an early 20th-century station. There’s a calliope, several advertisements that help tell a story of Main Street, and audio announcements that really make you feel like you’re boarding real American transportation. Frontierland’s station has the rustic, western theme and feel to it that is one of the better out of all the Disneylands. And this has, in my opinion, the only futuristic train station that fits the fact that there’s an old steam train at it. Discoveryland is a Jules Verne inspired almost steampunk land, so having a steam locomotive works well to stop in it.
Like the others, this route has beautiful scenery in each of the lands. The addition is that it has some great vantage points of already beautiful lands. You’re able to see a lot of Fantasyland and Discoveryland just pulling up to the stations. The route also has a Grand Canyon diorama which is always fun. But, what also helps set the route at the top is that its the only railroad to give a glimpse of Pirates of the Caribbean. Much like the Splash Mountain views of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, this does the same but as a different attraction.
The best railroad attraction in the Disney parks with its beautiful route, unique scenery, and detailed themed stations.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below!