The Red Car Rides Again


It’s been quite a while since the Red Cars of the Pacific Electric rolled through the streets of Los Angeles.

I was really glad to hear that the PE would play a role in Buena Vista Street. And even though I have driven a real Hollywood car out at the Orange Empire Railway Museum a few years ago, I admit to having some doubts when I first heard of the cars here. Especially the choice of a center entrance car! I would have thought something like the Red Cars in San Pedro would have worked well here.

The interior of the recreated PE 500 with walkover seats and high platform loading at San Pedro’s Red Car.

The two cars at California Adventure, numbered 717 and 623, seem very much at home here. Now, just to get people to notice them and get out of the way when they pass! It shouldn’t take a conductor to walk ahead of the car along it’s route from the park entrance on Buena Vista St all the way to the Tower of Terror. People should be able to get out of the way on their own.


(The real car 717 still lives out at Orange Empire, although in the red scheme worn by the faux 623. It even inspired the film makers of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” as they created a rubber tired version of the car, now living in Florida on the Studios backlot tour in Orlando.

The rubber tired faux 717 during the filming of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”

Photo credit – Orange Empire Railway Museum

The real Pacific Electric car 717, now restored at the Orange Empire Railway Museum.

Photo Credit – John Smatlak

While I understand that full sized cars might have not have fit into this setting, I give Imagineering full marks for working within the constraints given. Although I’m still betting that the overhead wire doesn’t last. Another nice touch, even if the lawyers wouldn’t permit it to be used for power. These cars use batteries, charged via an induction system, cleverly hidden at each end of the line.

I did not get the chance to ride either of the cars during my recent visit to the California Adventure park, but hope to do so soon! It’s grand to see this part of Southern Calif0rnia’s transportation past brought to life for new generations.



Posted in Disneyland | 4 Comments

4 Responses to The Red Car Rides Again

  1. ray spencer says:

    Good notes on the Red Cars Roger. Interestingly enough, the center doors were the only option as these cars needed to be ADA accessible and the if the doors were to be in the front and rear of the cars, the space needed to “cantilever” over the trucks with 4′ wide doors would have looked wrong and taken up too much space when chording around curves. Interesting how so many functional issues can dictate design solutions! Also, the “Hollywood” car just seem “right” on Hollywood Blvd.

  2. Roger Colton says:

    Thanks for sharing that Ray! I know the PE had other street car types that might have worked well in the park. There were some PE center entrance cars that came from Oakland on the SP’s Interburban Electric that are very similar to the California Adventure cars. Vernon Sappers has good photo’s of one of them in front the Southern Pacifics’ 16th St station. OERM has the body of one in storage – the 179.

  3. Dave says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! I have been on the DCA Trolleys a number of times. The spiels by the conductor really add to the experience. As for guests not moving out of the way…it blows me away over at Disneyland that they do the same thing for all the vehicles there…seems that people are thoroughly unaware or just don’t care.

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