I originally posted this on my old website as a FEATURE on July 23, 2009. I have updated it with some new information.
(NOTE: This website is NOT affiliated with Disney's "A Christmas Carol" Train Tour)
In order to promote their 2009 film adaption of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Disney created a touring train that would travel the country with promotional materials, in conjunction with a short preview of the film. The film is computer-animated performance capture film, similar to 2004's The Polar Express but far more sophisticated, and will be released in 3-D. The film stars Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts that visit him and also features Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins and Robin Wright Penn, most of whom play multiple roles. The film's debut was scheduled for November 6, 2009 with a world premiere in London.
The train's tour schedule was as follows:
|May 22-25, 2009||Los Angeles, California||Los Angeles Union Station|
|May 29-31, 2009||Grand Canyon, Arizona||Williams Depot|
|June 2, 2009||Santa Fe, New Mexico||Santa Fe Depot|
|June 5-7, 2009||Albuquerque, New Mexico||Albuquerque Amtrak Station|
|June 12-14, 2009||Denver, Colorado||Denver Union Station|
|June 16, 2009||Salt Lake City, Utah||Ogden Union Station|
|June 19-21, 2009||Sacramento, California||California State Railroad Museum|
|June 26-28, 2009||San Francisco, California||Port of Redwood City|
|July 1, 2009||Portland, Oregon||Portland Union Station|
|July 3-5, 2009||Seattle, Washington||King Street Station|
|July 7, 2009||Spokane, Washington||Spokane Amtrak Station|
|July 10-11, 2009||Whitefish, Montana||Whitefish Amtrak Station|
|July 15, 2009||Fargo, North Dakota||North Dakota State University|
|July 17-19, 2009||St. Paul, Minnesota||Amtrak Midway Station|
|July 24-26, 2009||Chicago, Illinois||Chicago Union Station|
|August 4, 2009||Memphis, Tennessee||Memphis Central Station|
|August 7-9, 2009||New Orleans, Louisiana||Riverview Amtrak Station|
|August 11, 2009||Houston, Texas||Houston Amtrak Station|
|August 14-16, 2009||San Antonio, Texas||San Antonio Amtrak Station|
|August 18-19, 2009||Dallas, Texas||Dallas Union Station|
|August 21-23, 2009||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||Oklahoma City Santa Fe Depot|
|August 25, 2009||Kansas City, Missouri||Kansas City Union Station|
|August 28-30, 2009||Omaha, Nebraska||Durham Museum|
|September 4-6, 2009||Detroit, Michigan||Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village|
|September 9, 2009||Indianapolis, Indiana||Downtown Bargersville|
|September 11-13, 2009||Louisville, Kentucky||Louisville Union Station|
|September 18-19, 2009||Cleveland, Ohio||Cleveland Browns Lot|
|September 22, 2009||Albany, New York||Albany-Rensselaer Rail Station|
|September 25-27, 2009||Boston, Massachusetts||South Station|
|September 30, 2009||Baltimore, Maryland||B&O Railroad Museum|
|October 2-4, 2009||Washington, D.C.||Union Station|
|October 6, 2009||Atlanta, Georgia||Southeastern Railway Museum|
|October 9-11, 2009||Spencer, North Carolina||North Carolina Transportation Museum|
|October 13, 2009||Savannah, Georgia||Savannah Amtrak Station|
|October 16-18, 2009||Miami, Florida||Gold Coast Railroad Museum|
|October 20, 2009||Jacksonville, Florida||Jacksonville Amtrak Station|
|October 24-25, 2009||Charleston, South Carolina||Ansonborough Field|
|October 27, 2009||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||30th Street Station|
|October 30-November 1, 2009||New York City, New York||Grand Central Terminal|
I toured the train during its stop at Union Station in Portland, Oregon on July 1, 2009. This large advertisement for the train was next to the ticket counter in Union Station. There were also tables with Amtrak merchandise for sale.
The Dickens Carolers, dressed in Victorian-era winter clothes, entertained visitors as they waited in line. This was a warm, sunny day, so the costumes must have been uncomfortable.
Here are some closeups of the train cars and locomotives taken from near the front of the line.
The locomotives and cars are wrapped with graphics printed by Hewlett-Packard Scitex printers.
Here is the interior of the first car in the train. This car featured costumes worn in production, portraits of the actors as their characters and display cases with Dickens artifacts, including handwritten pages, from the Charles Dickens Museum in London.
Further along on the tour were other impressive items used in the making of the movie. These clay design models were made to assist the computer artists in the creation of the digital version of the characters.
This large and impressive model of Big Ben under construction was used in the production of the film, presumably as a starting point for the computer artists.
Models of a horse-drawn hearse, the home of Scrooge's nephew Fred and the Scrooge & Marley office were displayed as well.
This mockup (which involves mirrors to make the space seem larger than it actually is) illustrates the studio where the actors' performances were filmed.
The tour then led to an area where visitors could have their photo manipulated into one of the characters in a technique similar to that used to create the movie. This technology worked ok, though it was based entirely on eye and nose location. A way to select the bottom of the chin as well would have made it work better. There also could have been a warning to remove eyeglasses for the photo, as the system didn't handle them well.
Alter touring the train, visitors were treated to a preview of the movie, presented in 3D. The preview consisted of some footage from cast & crew interviews and a little behind-the-scenes footage, two completed scenes from the movie (the scene where Fred invites Scrooge to Christmas dinner, and the scene where Marley's ghost appears to Scrooge) and the movie trailer. The film appears to be quite faithful to the original Dickens story, and the performance capture technology is greatly improved over that of 2004's The Polar Express.
In the next post, I will go over the consist of the train and the history of the cars.
Continue to Disney's "A Christmas Carol" Train Consist…