If this column were a college class, today's column would build upon a lot we had talked about in the semester and wrap a lot of it up. When you walk down Sunset Boulevard, you'll see above you cables that run the entire length of the street (on the left side if you're facing the Tower of Terror). So what are they and why are they there?
These cables are part of the fictional street car line that is part of the backstory to Sunset Boulevard. To better understand this, let's start at the beginning....of Sunset Boulevard, that is.
When you first turn onto Sunset Boulevard from Hollywood Boulevard, you'll see the tip board area that is referred to as "Hollywood Junction at Sunset Boulevard". In previous columns, we established that across the street is the L.A. Prop Cinema Storage store, which is a Pacific Electric railway station that, in the backstory of Sunset Boulevard, is the railway station for the area.
The tip board is meant to look like a board where passengers on the rail line could see when the next train serving various destinations will be arriving as well as future departure times. This is also the embarkation point for Sunset Boulevard to board a Pacific Electric car.
At this junction is where passengers would board the street car or get off. But where are these street cars? Well, as you probably know, there aren't any in operation but that didn't stop Disney's Imagineers from sneaking one into the park.
As we move down Sunset Boulevard, we follow the street car line extends down the street past the various stores on Sunset Boulevard.
When we get about two-thirds of the way down Sunset Boulevard, we find the street car. If you're not sure what I mean, most likely you've passed it many times on your trips to and from the Tower of Terror or Fantasmic!. The pin store kiosk on the street has been dressed up to look like a street car on the Pacific Railway line, and is even attached to the line.
If you look at the tip of the kiosk, you'll see the line it serves, "Sunset - Gower Echo Pk. Melrose Ave". Well, Sunset obviously refers to Sunset Boulevard, and Gower is the name of the fictional street that intersects Sunset Boulevard in front of the Tower of Terror.
The street car line concludes on Gower Street, right in front of the Rock 'n Roller Coaster. Now you can see the whole story of the street car line.
But wait, why is it there?
The cable line, tip board, L.A. Cinema Prop Shop, trolley kiosk and everything else aren't there for no reason. While they help sell the story of Sunset Boulevard, their roots go back to the planning of the Disney-MGM Studios and something Disney's Imagineers really wanted to do.
Imagineers wanted a real trolley car line, similar to the horsepulled trolley you can find in operation at the Magic Kingdom. During the planning of the park, Imagineers drew up plans for the line including a functional trolley.
Unfortunately, the idea for a functional streetcar never materialized but no good idea from Imagineering ever goes away. Imagineers still managed to work in the concept with what we see today.