While the railroad at Disneyland in Anaheim, California is out of service for a year and a half while the route is being changed and "The Star Wars Experience" is being built, I thought it might be fun to take you for a ride on The Western River Railroad at Tokyo Disneyland, which remains exactly the same as it was on park opening in 1983.

While the railroads at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris run around the perimeter of the parks and are a both a method of transportation as well as an attraction (the latter at some parks more than others), the railroad at Tokyo Disneyland is something else entirely.

Because of burdensome government regulations regarding railroad operation which would have prevented a typical Disney-style railroad that circled the park with multiple stations, the executives at The Oriental Land Company (a consortium of well-known Japanese corporations formed specifically to build and operate the Tokyo Disney park) and Walt Disney Imagineering cleverly decided to do something different.


Called "The Western River Railroad," the attraction has four steam powered trains: The Colorado, The Mississippi, The Missouri, and The Rio Grande. There is only one station, which sits atop the entrance to The Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. It functions solely as an attraction, and so there's a lot more to see (particularly after the subsequent construction of some major attractions after the park opened).

From the station, the train runs around the perimeter of the Jungle Cruise and then past a small scenic station called Stillwater Junction. The tracks then curve around and begin to follow the bank of the Rivers of America in Westernland (known as Frontierland at all other Disney parks). Along the way, various animals, the burning settler's cabin, Indian braves, and Indian villages can be seen. There is also a nest of bald eagle chicks with their parents, and a tribe of prairie dogs. Often the train runs parallel to the Mark Twain steamboat. It's all cleverly done so that there are gaps in the flora which allow you to see to the far side of the riverbank.

Continuing into Critter Country, the train passes The Beaver Brothers Canoes (the Davy Crockett Explorer or Indian War Canoes as they used to be known at Disneyland) and Splash Mountain. The train literally runs beside these attractions, providing great views.

Continuing to circle around the banks of The Rivers of America, the trains reenter Westernland, passing directly beside Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (trains from that attraction frequently zip by), before it heads into a tunnel for Primeval World – a duplicate of the attraction at Disneyland, which consists of many of the dinosaurs and scenes from the New York World's Fair of 1964/65.

The Western River Railroad is unique in combining both tranquility with the kinetic energy provided by multiple moving vehicles from the many attractions it closely passes. And with every one its four trains running all the time, you rarely have to wait.

Now take your own trip! (I must admit it was a bit chilly at 35 degrees, but in Tokyo the parks are packed year round.)