DISNEYLAND RAILROAD HISTORY
“By The Numbers”
by Paul F. Anderson
In the Disney History Institute video “The Frontier Train” posted earlier this week, it is noted that the elegant Coach (First Class Passage) Train was by far “the more popular train at Disneyland” over the Frontier (Freight & Cattle Passage) Train. At this morning’s DHI staff meeting (with all two of us) in the DHI Conference Room we were wondering exactly how much “more popular” the First Class Passage was, and is this accepted fact actually true. After all, our childlike side wondered if we might actually prefer the Cattle Cars or Gondola Cars? Sadly, we are lacking a DHI Mathematician, but the numbers were simple enough that a couple of historians (DHI historians no less) could actually prove the fact. I got the assignment (Todd is working on vastly more important things!).
To do so, I’ll use the numbers from Disneyland’s opening week, July 18 to July 24, 1955 (the 18th was actually the first day the real public could go to Disneyland, so for the purposes of this essay July 17th does not count). For the first ever, actual operating day at Disneyland, July 18th, the Main Street Passenger Train (First Class) had 8327 passengers. The last day of the operating week, Sunday July 24th the Passenger Train had 5596 passengers. The smallest number of passengers for a day was 4957; oddly this happened on Saturday the 23rd, which was the lowest attendance day of the entire week (a fact which I am sure sent Walt’s money conscious brother Roy reaching for the Rolaids). The number of passengers for the entire opening week for the Main Street Passenger Train came in at an impressive 47,897.
Now in this corner (Frontierland), our contender, the Cattle and Freight Train. The July 18th figure for number of passengers accommodated (drum roll please) was 2452 (just 29.4% of the Main Street Train). The last day of the week, Sunday the 24th, saw 1541 passengers (27.5%). And our Saturday “nobody came to Disneyland” day, was just a mere 761 passengers (15.3%). The number of passengers wishing to take Cattle and Freight accommodations for the entire week was 9442. This amounts to just 19.3% of the Main Street Coach Train’s attendance figures.
An interesting historical note can be found when looking at the Trains and comparing them with the attendance figures for all Disneyland attractions. In doing so, the Main Street Coach Train comes in number one (a fact which I am sure sent Walt into fits of euphoria). Close on the rails (so to speak) of the Main Street Train, was the number two attended attraction: Mark Twain Riverboat (47,055). The Frontierland Train was ranked number eleven, with just four attractions coming in with lower attendance numbers. However if you put the trains into one category, which I am sure in Walt Disney’s mind they were, you have a total attendance of 57,339 … very impressive.
So once again, here at DHI where we tackle the hard historical questions and you our beloved reader get the story that you can not find anywhere else (and I’m sure there is a reason for that … but we won’t discuss that). Enjoy!