When Buena Vista Street opens at Disney California Adventure park next summer, the Red Car Trolleys will be a major focal point of the area. The electric street cars will run from the front of the park to the back side of the Hollywood area near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, making four stops along the way. Buena Vista Street will be set in 1920′s and 30′s Los Angeles, the time in which Walt Disney first arrived in California to start his career as an animator.
It is very evident that Walt Disney Imagineering has spent some time researching the history of Los Angeles during this time and the Red Car Trolleys are no exception. During the 20′s & 30′s the Pacific Electric Railway was in it’s prime. The Pacific Electric “Red Cars” were the mass transportation of the era and covered thousands of miles in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange Counties.
If you know were to look, you can find historical markers, museums and even real working Red Cars! I recently took a trip out to San Pedro to ride a replica of a real Pacific Electric Trolley from the Buena Vista Street time period. When the actual working trolley is compared to the Walt Disney Imagineering concept art, you end up with a really good look at what to expect on Buena Vista Street next summer!
The Red Car Trolley concept art from the Blue Sky Cellar
The 501 car is one of two replicas that currently run on the San Pedro line. The 500 & 501 cars were built for the San Pedro Red Car Line in the Port of Los Angeles from an actual restored red car, the 1058. The two cars are accurate replicas of the Pacific Electric’s 500-class suburban cars that were used on the system between 1902 and 1934.
The interior is very detailed (excuse the Halloween decorations). The seats are flipped and the driver switches sides depending on which direction the trolley car is traveling.
The wood work is very detailed.
The concept art for Buena Vista Street shows a very different seating configuration. The seats will be facing inward and there will be a section for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance.
The tracks that are already visible at California Adventure are very similar to the ones at Disneyland, however they don’t go in a loop. The trolley car will switch directions, just like the Red Car line in San Pedro. When the trolley changes directions, the driver will switch sides, and the seating configuration that Disney will have on their cars will prevent the need to move the seats each time the car changes direction.
The controls can be seen in the top picture; note the control arm.
The control arm on the left is used to control the speed of the trolley car.
Just as it is suggested in the WDI concept art, the operator stands at the controls.
One of the four stops on the San Pedro line.
One of the four stops on the Disney California Adventure Red Car Trolley line, as seen on the Blue Sky Cellar study model.
The trolley line for Buena Vista Street.
The Pacific Electric symbol was even lifted for the Red Car Trolley symbol.
The electric bolt, the slogan “Comfort, Safety, Speed” and the layout are identical. Only the name “Pacific Electric” has been changed.
Here’s a quick video of a ride on the Pacific Electric Railway!
Walt Disney Imagineering really did their ‘homework’ on this one. The level of detail is very exciting and not yet seen at Disney California Adventure. When Buena Vista Street opens in the summer of 2012 it will signal a very new direction for the 10 year old park!
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