July 10, 2013

How Casey Jr. Sums Up the Disney Difference

Disneyland, Casey, Jr., Storybook, Fantasyland, circus, train, ride
An afternoon in Fantasyland wouldn't be complete without the sight of Casey Jr. chugging by on his way to the chain lift that'll help him up the "I Think I Can" hill.

This miniature railroad, one of the park's oldest rides, beautifully represents a key design philosophy that sets Disneyland apart from other theme parks: It's so much better than "good enough."

Back when Disneyland was first being constructed, it would have been far less draining to the park's tight budget to create Casey Jr. as a basic little railroad ride with a simple oval course. Fortunately, Walt had a grander vision for his little train.

Casey follows a winding, ingeniously laid out multi-level course that includes rocky passes, bridges you travel across and under, and a long, thrillingly dark climactic tunnel. You can almost picture Walt scribbling a checklist of every element he wanted included in the layout. The above-mentioned chain lift pulls the train to the track's highest point as Casey (of course) chugs "I think I can, I think I can," and the entire adventure gives you an elevated view of Storybook Land that complements the water-level vantage point of the Canal Boats.

What a fantastic little masterpiece. If, by chance, you've never taken a ride on Casey Jr., please don't miss it on your next trip to the park. It's not just a great old ride. It's a great ride, period.

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