Saturday, July 29th saw the official return of four Disneyland Classics. On Friday, July 28th there was a ceremony and special surprises to welcome them back. Returning were the Disneyland Railroad, the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Sailing Ship Columbia, and the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, following an extensive refurbishment and remodeling to accommodate work on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
The ceremony was held in the morning on the Frontierland dock. Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier addressed the assembled media. The pilot of the Mark Twain offered a capsule history of the attraction before welcoming everyone aboard for the inaugural cruise around the Rivers of America.
There was great interest in the newly remodeled north end of the river, and the cruise did not disappoint. Three new trestles and five waterfalls wind through towering rockwork and new landscape. Four American rivers are represented: the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Missouri and the Rio Grande. Familiar sites were recreated in new locations, and even a few new scenes have been added.
A surprise was the inauguration of the Disneyland Railroad as the Mark Twain paused on the north end of the river. The pilot explained that Walt Disney’s childhood love of railroading was rekindled by two of his top animators, Ollie Johnston and Ward Kimball. On cue, a once-in-a-lifetime sight appeared: Ollie Johnston’s Marie E engine, pulling Ward Kimball’s Chloe. The engineer was a special guest for the day, John Lasseter, whose own love of trains led him to purchase Ollie’s engine.
Following the “backyard” railroads was the first appearance of the Disneyland Railroad. Engine #1 steamed across the long trestle, cars filled with Disney characters. As it made its way along the new track, daytime fireworks filled the air in tribute.
New Orleans Square station was the next stop on this special day. Imagineers were on hand to discuss the work that had been done to bring back the Disneyland Classics. In addition, John Lasseter was there to share about his special appearance, and what railroading meant to him. A grand circle tour of the Disneyland Railroad followed. Along the way, the trains followed a new route along the north end that found the trains making a left-hand turn for the first time in DLRR history. Of special note were restoration work and enhancements to the Grand Canyon diorama and the Primeval World.
Guests at Disneyland Park were rewarded for their patience that morning as each attraction remained open to the public. In no time, lines formed at the train stations, guests were paddling canoes around Tom Sawyer Island, and the Rivers of America once again resounded with the sound of clanging bells, steam whistles, and lively sailor’s tunes. The Disneyland Classics had returned!
Lastly, with work now completed on the Rivers of America and along Big Thunder Trail, guests can now get a sneak peek at where the entrances to the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge expansion will reside.