As we advance ever nearer to the opening of Disney California Adventure’s two brand-new lands—Buena Vista Street and Cars Land—on June 15, we offer another tantalizing portion of our exclusive chat with Disney Imagineers Lisa Girolami, Coulter Winn, and Ray Spencer. We had the chance to ask them about their completely redesigned Disney California Adventure entrance plaza, Buena Vista Street, and couldn’t wait to pass along their insights.
Check out what they had to say about the new Red Car Trolley attraction located along their version of a 1920s Los Angeles boulevard.
Where does the new Red Car Trolley system take Disney California Adventure guests?
Coulter Winn: We have a Red Car stop at the front [entrance to the park], and [it] runs between the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the entry to Buena Vista Street—with a total of four stops.
What went into your research on the new trolley system?
Ray Spencer: Initially, part of the story was understanding that at one time, more than 1,000 miles of track crisscrossed the Southern California basin with [an] electric railroad, the Pacific Electric—and that’s how people got around back in the day. In Southern California, it was on the Pacific Electric that people used to go from one place to the other, from the mountains to the desert and to the ocean. The final train ran in 1961, and there are a few people around that are very nostalgic about it. It seemed like a natural thing to do to give some animation and some texture and some grounding to Buena Vista Street [with] something you would have found back then, much like the steam trains do for Disneyland.
Did you see some of the old trolley cars up close during your groundwork?
RS: There are still quite a few railroad museums around; there’s one not too far from us that specializes in old Red Cars. So we were able to go and find out where they went and what they looked like. We picked a couple that seemed to be a good model for us to base our version on. Ours is… much smaller than the original, but at the same time, it still has the DNA of the original cars.
Can you talk about the look of the trolley system?
Lisa Girolami: We’ve also included the “catenary” lines, which are the wires up above that the Red Cars hook onto—not unlike what you’d see in San Francisco with [their] trolleys. It takes us to that level where it feels real. You’ve got the lines overhead—which we’re not used to today—[and] it will give you a sense of time and really complete the street and bring it to life. We’ve included the pale green municipal transportation color in the interior of the Red Car Trolley. There are some people who have actually seen our trolley—and one gentleman commented to me that he remembers the Red Cars well, and he remembers those colors and the way the exit sign was painted on it… and it really brought him back to many, many years ago, when Los Angeles had those as a major form of transportation.
Is there a conductor on board?
LG: Yes, we have a conductor—in a fantastic outfit that… evokes the ’20s and ’30s. We’ll also have another conductor. One will be driving and you’ll hear the bell and the whistle of the Red Car, which is really wonderful and beautiful (and different from a train’s whistle; this whistle has its own sound). The second conductor will be talking about the stops along the way, and giving a little bit of Los Angeles history.
When will the Red Car Trolley run?
LG: It will run every day. As a matter of fact, there are two that traverse back and forth, and there’s a place on Hollywood Boulevard [which intersects Buena Vista Street] where the tracks actually separate and they’ll be able to pass each other.
Wondering about the inspiration behind Buena Vista Street’s overall look and feel? Stay tuned—because next week, we’ll bring you the final installment of our Imagineers Q&A series!
By D23′s Courtney Potter