Sad Goodbyes and Exciting New Beginnings

It sounds like things are moving along with the plans for the new Star Wars Land at Disneyland with the Orange County Register reporting that coffer dams are in place to prepare the Rivers of America to be drained for the construction. Screens and fences have been put in place to hide the mess and noise of building from park guests and signs advising of the attraction closures are in place on Main Street. This is a sad time for our family of Disney fans but also an exciting one.
Hubby is a locomotive engineer and our eldest daughter works for the railway so the Disneyland Railroad has always held a special place for us. On our most recent visit to the park, we were able to ride on the Tender before things were shut down and the last time we will ride on that exact route. It was a lot of fun for both of us but especially so for Hubby who had a great conversation with the engineer and fireman about the new layout of the railroad, including percentages of grade (yes, they lost me during this but I was still having fun.)

Riding the Tender on the Disneyland Railroad

We were very happy to hear Disney will have trains parked at both the Main Street and New Orleans Square Stations during the construction so folks will have a chance to see them up close. Having the chance to speak with engineers about the trains will be a treat and not something many guests have had the chance to do in the past. it helps make up for the year-long closure. I remember there used to be a spot on Main Street where you could get your photo taken on a model of the back of the Lily Belle in period costume. That would be fun to bring back even if only as a photo spot.

Disneyland Railroad at the Main Street Station
Our next stop on our visit was to the Rivers of America themselves. I can remember taking our girls on the canoes. I’ve heard rumors they might not bring them back. It would be a shame but things do change. (Ok, I admit it, I still miss the People Mover and Country Bears. Glad we can still enjoy them at WDW!)
Canoes on the Rivers of America

Walking around the rivers we arrived at Big Thunder Ranch just in time for lunch. Our family always has one meal here during our visit…or we did. This is the spot we will miss the most. Where will we get our shareable S’Mores Bake or Hubby’s favorite cornbread now? Seriously, this was a great spot for a family style meal. A bit away from the crowd where the kids could run around and visit the animals in the petting zoo. The entertainment was fun too…in a corny sort of way.

S’mores Bake at Big Thunder Ranch
Hubby’s favorite cornbread at Big Thunder Ranch
Thankfully, although it will be shut down for a year or so, Fantasmic will return next year. It’s a terrific show (we like the one at Disneyland WAY better than the one at Hollywood Studios) and a perfect way to end the day. I think my favorite memory was the AP night when they first had Glow with the Show there. It was magical.

Mickey piloting the Mark Twain during Fantasmic

So here we are. Saying goodbye to Big Thunder Ranch but eagerly anticipating what is to come. The artist’s rendering of the new Rivers of America and the Disneyland Railroad complete with trestle bridge are amazing. And as huge Star Wars fans (I must be, I stayed mostly awake for over 20 hours at the marathon at El Capitan!) we can’t wait to visit the new land in 2017!

Rivers of America and Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland Park
Artist’s rendering of the new Rivers of America waterfront and Disneyland Railroad from the Disney Parks Blog

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