Johnson Industries (often simply known as Johnson) is an American corporation operating in the mass media, transportation, and aerospace industries. The company was founded in 1862 as Johnson Brothers Holdings to fund the construction of the Central Valley Railroad between San Francisco and Fresno via Pacheco Pass, a railroad that opened in 1870. The railroad has grown to be the largest Class I railroad in North America, under the name Continental Rail (a name adopted in 1890 when the railroad's scope broadened). Shortly after the initial segment of the Central Valley Railroad was completed, a steamship company known as Continental Shipping Lines was formed in 1875, gaining an early headstart on the Pacific and soon expanding to the Atlantic in 1886, operating scheduled transatlantic services between New York and Southampton.
The 1900s was an era of immense growth for the company, and saw the formation of Johnson Publishing (1908), Johnson Studios (1912), Johnson Radio (1926; parent station KJON), Johnson Toys (1945), Johnson Comics (1957-1991), Western Broadcasting Company (1968; parent station KSJ), Johnson Games (1982), and Johnson Aerospace (1986).
The period between 1981-1991 was marked by a dark age when the company was bought out by Stacker & Associates. Infamous CEO Phil Stacker brought the company to near-ruin until members of the Johnson Family, as well as fired Johnson TV personalities and irate stockholders, staged a coup on October 9, 1991, which saw Stacker ousted and arrested when it was discovered he had committed fraud to reduce the company's value in hopes of selling off the various subsidiaries to the highest bidder, as well as conspiring to divide Continental Rail evenly amongst Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Union Pacific, CSX, Conrail, and other Class I railroads, while the passenger services would be handed over to Amtrak (Continental Rail remains the last Class I railroad to operate its own passenger services, which serve as a major source of revenue for not only the railroad, but the company as a whole).
Following the ousting of Stacker, Johnson climbed back to the top, capturing the public's imagination with its never-retired steam locomotives and ocean liners, releasing new movies (most notably the 1997 blockbuster EarthBound) and television shows (most notably the famed and beloved Monster World), and launching its own spacecraft to service the International Space Station (under NASA, ESA, JAXA and RSA contracts), as well as providing a reliable fleet of launch vehicles for any customer's needs.
The 2000s and 2010s have been marked by multiple high-profile acquisitions. In 2009, the company acquired the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), and set to work making a turnaround (mainly involving the development of new cars to replace the unpopular Car of Tomorrow, bringing old favorites such as Rockingham and North Wilkesborough back to the schedule, and by 2014, ousting Brian France and Mike Helton). The 2010s saw the acquisition of Cartoon Network from Time Warner (adding multiple channels and web platforms), but by far, the most shocking and high-profile acquisition was of the Walt Disney Company in 2013, which added a plethora of television networks (both broadcast, cable. and satellite), production studios (Johnson was mainly eyeing Lucasfilm), theme parks, cruise ships, and websites under the Johnson banner. These acquisitions have only bolstered the company's profits, and Johnson Industries remains one of the most profitable companies in the world.
2012 was also the start of what is called the Johnson Renaissance (also known as "The Japanese Love Affair", since 75% of the output is Japanese anime and properties). This consisted of high-profile movies, TV series, and video games, all of which have been massive successes.
Johnson Industries began life as Johnson Brothers Holdings in 1862, when the eponymous brothers, Daniel and Johnathan, founded the company to fund the construction of the Central Valley Railroad (now Continental Rail) between San Francisco and Fresno, California, via Pacheco Pass. The growing port in San Francisco was rife with opportunity, and the growing agriculture industry in the Central Valley was a prime target for moving exports to Asia. Due to the Civil War, the railroad wasn't completed until 1870, when the first train departed San Francisco, made a stop in the railroad's hometown of San Jose, and arrived at Fresno five hours later, on time, where the train was greeted by schoolchildren.
Five years later, Johnson Brothers Holdings was reorganized as Johnson Industries, now eyeing rapidly-expanding markets in the Pacific and Asia. Continental Shipping Lines was established in 1875. With few Pacific-based steamship companies in existence at the time, CSL had a virtual monopoly on the Pacific and Asian markets. CSL then began steamboat operations on the Sacramento River, which saw the growth of inland seaports in Sacramento and Stockton. Starting mainly with freighters and riverboats, the influx of immigrants from China saw the addition of transpacific ocean liners. CSL expanded to the Atlantic in 1886, entering into direct competition with Cunard and White Star.
The Central Valley Railroad was renamed the Central Valley and Lake Tahoe Railroad in 1875 following the completion of the Sierra Line from Sacramento to Carson City via the Lake Tahoe Basin, and again to Continental Rail in 1880 as its scope expanded. The railroad had already expanded to Sacramento via Oakland to connect with the First Transcontinental Railroad, as well another line from Fresno to Sacramento, creating the "California Circle Route", plus the aforementioned Sierra Line. The first major expansion project was from Gilroy to Los Angeles, the Coastal Route, as well as a northern route from Sacramento to Portland, Oregon. In 1887, the West Coast route was further expanded to Seattle. A northern route between Seattle and Chicago was briefly considered, but James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway put pay to those thoughts. Continental Rail also began feeling pressure from the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific, both of whom built parallel lines in an attempt to sap the railroad's business. Southern Pacific was granted trackage rights on the Coast Line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, via its own line built west of Continental Rail's trackage between San Bruno and San Francisco (Continental Rail's route was the more direct, and was referred to as the Bayshore Cutoff by SP). Several smaller California railroads were folded into Continental Rail and were established as branchlines, all of which are still in operation today.
Era of Expansion, 1900-1914
Johnson Industries began rapid expansion in the early 1900s, obtaining trackage rights via the Central Pacific from Sacramento-North Platte, Union Pacific from North Platte-Chicago, and New York Central via the Water Level Route to Grand Central Terminal. Shortly afterwards, Continental Rail's flagship passenger train, the Transcontinental Zephyr, was created. Considered one of the most elegant passenger trains in the United States, it still runs today. Continental Rail also expanded its Pacific Northwest services, establishing regular services between Los Angeles and Seattle, later expanding to San Diego via ATSF trackage rights. These ventures proved fruitful, and soon, Continental Rail bought controlling interest of the New York Central in 1904, a move that was not revealed until 2014.
CSL expanded its Pacific and Atlantic services. By now, they had left the freight business to focus on the ocean liner industry, mainly competing with Cunard and White Star in the Atlantic and Canadian Pacific in the Pacific (this was a two-front war, being fought both at sea and on the rails). CSL ran a smear campaign in 1912 following the sinking of the Titanic, blaming the disaster on the incompetent helmsman who decided it would be a good idea to reverse speed while going hard to starboard, when simply maintaining speed, as investigations using their own ships had revealed. They also ran a smear campaign against Leyland Lines over the non-response of the SS Californian, who had believed that Titanic's emergency flares were fireworks, when in fact, no passenger ships were, at the time, certified to launch any fireworks of any form.
The early 1900s also saw the formation of a third subsidiary, Johnson Publishing. The publishing arm was the first company to publish Victor Hugo's novels in translated and unabridged format.
The fourth subsidiary, Johnson Studios, was formed in 1912 to chronicle operations of Continental Rail and CSL.
World War I, 1914-1918
Johnson Industries was hit hard by World War I, with CSL losing roughly 45% of its fleet to submarine warfare. When the United States entered the war, Continental Rail was affected. Operating in all three divisions of the USRA, the railroad was provided with the new standardized locomotive and freight car designs, also taking the opportunity to replace their aging passenger equipment with new Pullman cars.
CSL was a key player in ending the war. One liner, the USMS Canaveral (USMS standing for United States Mail Ship, in vein of Royal Mail Service, or RMS), had a record of sinking five U-Boats, the most of any liner.
Following the end of World War I, Continental Rail retained its USRA equipment, and gave the Canaveral a well-earned retirement, eventually being converted into a hotel/museum in 1974 and moored in Stockton.
The Roaring Twenties, 1918-1929
Johnson Industries entered into its first Golden Age in the 1920s, expanding rail operations into Canada and Mexico. The operations in Mexico proved especially fruitful following the Mexican Revolution, as the railroad contributed to reconstruction efforts in hard-hit areas. The railroad also began electrifying the coastal line from San Diego to Seattle, later extending to Vancouver and Tijuana, forming the "Northwest Corridor". Using electric locomotive designs made for the Milwaukee Road and New York Central, the first electric-powered train ran on July 4, 1925.
CSL expanded its operations in the Atlantic and Pacific, establishing new routes, most notably the Vancouver-Vladivostok, Hamburg-New York, and Valencia-Boston routes. CSL also entered into an agreement with Cunard, by which any ocean liners they retired would be sold to CSL instead of the scrappers or any other line. This was in the interest of preservation, rather than competition. CSL also established a dedicated fleet of tugboats, initially operating in their homeport of San Francisco, before expanding to harbors and ports worldwide. The tugboat division is still operational.
Johnson Studios began producing its own movies, while a new subsidiary, Johnson Radio, was established in 1926. The first station, KJON, serves the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Great Depression, 1929-1941
When the Stock Market crashed in 1929, Johnson Industries surprisingly weathered the Great Depression quite well. In addition to acquiring multiple failed shortline railroads, Cunard-White Star upheld its agreement to sell ships to CSL. The initial set of ships were:
- RMS Olympic
- RMS Mauretania
- RMS Adriatic
- SS Ceramic
- RMS Homeric
- SS Doric
All ships of the original class remain in service, except the Ceramic, which was lost during World War II as one of only two ships lost by CSL during the war.
Johnson Studios co-produced King Kong with Universal Studios in 1933, and in 1938, Johnson Radio broadcast messages stating that there was no Martian invasion in progress.
Johnson Studio's main output in the 1930s were the Little Orphan Annie shorts, starring Shirley Temple as Annie and Lon Chaney Jr. as Daddy Warbucks. The shorts were produced from 1934-1940, when Temple became too old for the role and Chaney Jr. was moving on to horror films such as The Wolf Man.
Continental Rail had a fling with diesels in 1938, acquiring five NW1 switcher locomotives. These locomotives, while cheaper to maintain and easier to operate, were not seen as a replacement for steam traction, as Johnson Industries had a policy stating "if it isn't broke, don't replace it", a philosophy that has seen steam locomotives and steam-powered ocean liners survive into the present day.
In 1935, Continental Rail entered into an agreement with Southern Pacific. SP, unsatisfied with the Market Street Depot in San Jose, CA that it had shared with CR for some time, built a brand-new depot at Cahill Street. Continental Rail was allowed to move its long-distance trains to the new station in exchange for CR taking full control of the Market Street Depot and the entire 4th Street Line. Shortly after the deal was completed, CR was given permission to electrify SP's new bypass to allow its electric locomotives to run into Cahill Street as needed. Today, Cahill Street Depot (now Diridon Station) is the primary terminus for the Transcontinental Zephyr, as well as the mid-way point for the Western Star and Pacific Bullet. Most regional trains stop at Market Street Station to avoid crowding the finite track space at Diridon Station, though roughly 25% of them stop at Diridon.
In 1937, Johnson Studios introduced its first cartoon character, Chocodile. The cartoon shorts revolve around Chocodile spreading joy to the children of the world, while dodging his rival Larry, who thinks he should be eating humans, not fraternizing with them, and Solomon, an Australian hunter who wants his skin because its pigmentation is one-of-a-kind. As his name suggests, Chocodile is a huge fan of chocolate, but he remains thin and surprisingly athletic. Chocodile was originally voiced by Mel Blanc from 1937 until his death in 1989, then by Gregg Berger from 1989-1995, and currently by Dana Snyder from 1995-present.
World War II, 1941-1945
At the outbreak of World War II, Johnson Industries shifted into war mode. Johnson Radio created pre-recorded attack warnings, specifically against Japanese invasions on the West Coast. Johnson Studios created their signature miniatures effects to create propaganda films, utilizing vehicles with individual motors that had to be turned on and off by hand (there was talk of using radio-control, but the technology was rudimentary at best at the time), boats pulled on strings, aircraft held aloft on wires and then inserted into scenes using the then-new chroma key technique, or sent down a wire, and live pyrotechnics. Over the years, the techniques have been refined and improved, and are still used today, a far cry from the CGI-filled films of the modern era.
Continental Rail and CSL were instrumental in the American war effort. GIs were moved by both companies to both the Pacific and European theatres, and also affixed anti-air guns and depth charge launchers to their liners. Large, rail-based artillery guns were also constructed to defend against foreign invasion, but ultimately, were never used.
RMS Majestic Sinking
On June 14, 1941, U-438 launched two torpedoes at what the crew believed was the RMS Queen Mary. They would later learn that the ship was actually the RMS Majestic, another three-funnel liner that, in a cruel twist of irony, was itself a German-built liner (SS Bismarck) handed over to White Star as war reparation following World War I. The Majestic suffered a chain reaction of explosions of the fuel and ammunition it was carrying, as well as the boilers. During the sinking, the #2 funnel exploded when boilers below decks detonated, while the #3 funnel toppled over and crashed through the superstructure; the #1 funnel remained standing during the entire sinking, but was noted by a survivor to be rather scorched.
An SOS signal was sent twice before the radio room was engulfed in flame; the bridge was also engulfed in flame, killing all staff on the bridge including the captain; it was because of the captain's death that no abandon ship order was ever given. Despite no order being given, passengers and crew still scrambled for the lifeboats, but many were unable to evacuate because they were either below decks and trapped by fires, killed in the explosions, or were unable to find a lifeboat (CSL did not have the "women and children first" policy), as explosions had hurled half of the lifeboats into the Atlantic waters.
U-438 managed to get a closer look, but were disappointed to find the ship was not the Queen Mary. One of the crew members of the U-Boat, though, later testified to being horrified when he realized the liner was the former SS Bismarck.
Another CSL ship, the Mauretania (which, like the Majestic, is an ex-Cunarder), was nearby going in the opposite direction, and responded to the SOS signal. Survivors clinging to driftwood and metal chunks from the #2 funnel and superstructure were plucked from the water using Mauretania's own lifeboats, while the Majestic's lifeboats were reeled up one-by-one. News cameras were aboard the Mauretania, and caught the final minutes of the Majestic.
Ten minutes after the initial torpedo hit, the Majestic suffered a massive explosion when its fuel oil reserves detonated, as did fuel and ammunition that were placed nearby (a move that later brought the surviving crew under investigation). The explosion buckled the hull, and tore it apart, causing the ship to break its back and splash back down, crushing a lifeboat that had blundered under it. The remaining passengers and crew aboard the liner perished when the last of the fuel and ammunition aboard the ship exploded and destroyed the stern, debris flying at the Mauretania (fortunately, none hit the ship). Seconds after the last of the flaming hulk that was the stern sank below the water, several explosions came from underwater, indicating ammunition that hadn't exploded during the initial chain reaction on the bow.
U-438 was caught by the news cameras, and retreated. The U-Boat was later found by British destroyers and forced to surrender.
Survivors plucked by the Mauretania were brought back to New York, and salvage ships were sent to collect debris and bodies. The search revealed that the sinking had happened 30 miles southeast of Halifax, and was resting in unusually shallow waters, aiding salvage teams. The bow had severe scorching, and the bridge was blasted out. Several barrels of fuel that remained undetonated were recovered and delivered to Britain, having not suffered any leakage. The stern was in even worse shape. 95% of the superstructure and 60% of the hull had been destroyed, and was scattered around the debris field. Very few bodies were recovered from the area around the stern, as most of the fatalities of the stern explosion were most likely vaporized or blasted apart (eyewitnesses did report seeing a few flying body parts after the explosion, and a blasted-apart ribcage landed on the Mauretania). There was talk of possibly raising the bow so it could be sold for scrap, but this was considered cost-prohibitive, especially due to the threat of further U-Boat attacks.
The sinking marked the largest loss of civilian life at sea in World War II, and remains a major footnote in maritime history. Following the sinking, it was decided that carrying fuel and ammunition aboard a liner with civilian passengers was too dangerous, as a majority of the fatalities were passengers. Thus, ocean liners stopped carrying war materiale, and stuck to being exclusively passenger liners and troop transports.
Post-War Era (1945-1960)
Following the war, the surviving CSL ships re-entered service on their normal routes, while the fleet grew as Cunard retired ships. Continental Rail benefitted from new electric locomotive designs for the Northwest Corridor, while Johnson Studios began refining the use of scale models in their productions. Continental Rail also began funding the preservation movement in the United Kingdom, as well as buying up steam locomotives from scrapyards and British Railways itself, and storing them at various secluded sites around the United States and Canada.
The 1950s were an era of prosperity for the compay. Continental Rail began reaping the fruits of suburbanization, mainly through commuter rail traffic. All the same, though, even with diesels becoming prevelant on other Class I railroads, Continental Rail resisted full-dieselization and continued operating steam locomotives in large numbers, even buying steam locomotives from other railroads, due to their "if it ain't broke, don't replace it" philosophy. Indeed, Continental Rail had perfected the art of steam locomotive maintenance to the point where maintenance and labor costs were the lowest they had ever been, and easily outweighed by profits. The travelling public could not comprehend why Continental Rail was still using such "outdated machines", but children and railfans were enamoured. By 1959, Continental Rail proved that steam, diesel, and electric locomotives could co-exist in harmony and be profitable, a combination that survives to this day.
Continental Rail had a brief fling with bus feeders, but the experiment was considered a failure due to the amount of traffic in suburban areas. Instead, the railroad added passenger trains to previously freight-only branchlines. And to areas with no branchlines, Continental Rail constructed interurban lines using cars from recently-defunct streetcar systems in other systems. Continental Rail was also heavily involved in the General Motors streetcar conspiracy, actively opposing National City Lines at every step of the way and saving many streetcar lines from demolition; National City Lines eventually sued Continental Rail under the frivolous charge of "conspiracy to commit corporate espionage", a case that was quickly dismissed and caused the case against General Motors dismissed in 1949 to reopen, eventually uncovering a conspiracy to demolish America's streetcar networks and replace them with buses to create a monopoly, eventually resulting in the Supreme Court finding General Motors guilty of attempting to monopolize mass transit with what was described as "inferior bus substitutes". Continental Rail proceeded to purchase National City Lines and reconstruct all streetcar systems that had fallen victim to the conspiracy, rescuing any remaining streetcars from the scrapyards, ordering new ones from PCC, and using any means necessary to get the systems rebuilt, even getting court orders to have businesses built atop street car ROWs relocated.
The Second Golden Age (1960-1981)
The period between 1960 and 1981 is often considered to be the compayn's second golden age (the first being during the 1920s). It was a time of growth and success, as well as of experimentation. Between 1963-1965, Johnson briefly operated a small airline, Continental Airlines, using DC-3 aircraft, but shut it down after two years due to flagging ridership numbers, often attributed to Continental Rail's superior legroom and CSLs amenities. Nevertheless, the company spun off into an independent company under the same name, and became a successful airline until merging with United Airlines on March 3, 2012.
Throughout the 1960s, Continental Rail passenger services, both long-distance, regional, and commuter, remained profitable mainly due to an advertising campaign promoting advantages over cars, buses, and planes; CR also managed to rescue many passenger trains that other Class I railroads were discontinuing. The same type of advertising campaign kept Continental Shipping Lines in the ocean liner industry, and remained as such even after Cunard began focusing on cruises. The last of the old Cunard ocean liners, the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth, both came under CSL ownership. The QM was not put into service by CSL due to its historical significance, and instead became a hotel/museum ship in Long Beach, CA, where it remains to this day. There is a provision in the bill of sale, though, that the ship can and will be rebuilt back into an ocean liner at any point, something that often puts employees on edge, knowing that CSL could requisition the ship any day. The QE, meanwhile, was put into service and remains on the Southampton-New York route to this day.
1968 was a banner year for Johnson Industries, marking the launch of the Western Broadcasting Company (WBC) on October 11, 1968, as a viable fourth network alongside ABC, NBC, and CBS. Johnson Radio personality Don George anchored the network's news broadcasts from its inception until his death in 1995, at which point Tom Stephenson, the "Roving Reporter", took over and remains in the post to this day. WBCs first broadcast was of the launch of Apollo 7. Throughout the Apollo program, WBC provided its own brand of coverage, using models to illustrate the missions.
1968 also marked the release of Hot Cuba, a film exploring a scenario of what could have happened had the Cuban Missile Crisis gone hot. The film starred Kirk Douglas, Charlton Hesston, and future US president Ronald Reagan, and was a critical and commercial success. Among the film's merits were its pioneering special effects (which would later be perfected in the original Star Wars film in 1977), powerful imagery, and realistic depiction of nuclear war.
1969 brought a film along the same lines as Hot Cuba called 1957: Civil War. Using the Little Rock stand-off as a jumping-off point, the film's alternate universe is created when the governor of Alabama orders the Little Rock National Guard to kill the Little Rock Nine, leading the reformation of the Confederate States and the start of a second civil war. 1969 also had WBC broadcasting a NASCAR race from Darlington flag-to-flag (though it is often overshadowed by CBS' broadcast of the 1979 Daytona 500).
Another major blockbuster, known as Invasion of the Empire, depicts the Japanese invading San Francisco in 1942 during the Second World War, the subsequent American pushback, and the Battle of Los Angeles being an actual battle, culminating in Japan being defeated in early 1943, and as a result, the atomic bomb being dropped on Berlin instead, killing Adolf Hitler and causing the Soviet Union to back off, which in turn sees Germany remain unified under a democratic government (and a NATO member); other than that, the epilogue states that the Cold War has gone pretty much the same as our timeline (as the film was released in 1970).
When Amtrak was formed in 1971, Continental Rail was one of seven railroads who opted not to join. This led to Amtrak and Continental Rail often butting heads throughout the 1970s, as Amtrak eyed Continental Rail's vast passenger network as a potential money-maker. But Continental Rail said no, mainly because Amtrak was underfunded and could be shuttered at any time. Despite Amtrak's survival, Continental Rail held firm and refused to hand over its passenger rail operations, knowing that many of their trains would be discontinued and others rerouted and/or reduced in frequency (as most of Continental Rail's long-distance trains have eight departures daily, four in each direction). Plus, Continental Rail still had a large amount of steam-powered passenger trains with heavyweight coaches, which they knew Amtrak would sell off to make a massive amount of money. Eventually, though, by 1977, Amtrak was content with Continental Rail's existence, as most of the routes it discontinued were picked up by the latter, and remain in service to this day.
The Dark Times (1981-1991)
On June 1, 1981, the unthinkable happened. A company known as Stacker and Associates bought out Johnson Industries. S&A CEO Phil Stacker, henceforth, became CEO of Johnson Industries, deposing Sheldon Johnson and the entire Johnson Family. Immediately, sweeping revisions were made. Stacker was clearly interested more in money than catering to the masses, and this showed during his tenure.
Surprisingly, Continental Rail and Continental Shipping Lines were allowed to remain autonomous, as Stacker had a fondness for trains and ocean liners. Besides, they were the company's main moneymakers, and any drastic alterations could cause them to go under. As a result, both companies suffered the least during the Dark Times, and with the advent of the Staggers Act in 1980 that deregulated the railroads, Continental Rail shifted into maximum overdrive, actively competing with roads in both the West and the East, snapping up rail lines abandoned by other railroads and successfully opposing the SPSF merger (as it would have booted CR from many of the joint railways established between 1892 and 1912). Continental Shipping Lines, meanwhile, entered the cruising industry with the launch of two cruise ships (the MS Mauna Loa and MS Kilauea) on itineraries out of San Francisco to Hawaii.
WBC began to suffer under Phil Stacker's regime. Many beloved shows were cancelled because Stacker thought they were "old-school" and "not hip or cool". He replaced them with shows that are clearly products of the 80s, mainly using gaudy graphics, cheap production values, synth music rather than the Johnson Philharmonic Orchestra (though in hindsight, much of the synth music was rather good), poor writing, cringe-inducing 80s slang, and bad acting. Only Tales from the Rails, a TV series from the network's inception in 1968 about a driver and fireman and their locomotive, Baldwin 2-8-0 #1471, remained on the air, but also with synth music. One of the most infamous series in this timeframe was The Cool Adventures of Chocodile, in which Chocodile was not only depicted by a man in a suit with an animatronic head (but still voiced by Mel Blanc), he was joined by two sidekicks: Vanillagator and Caracaimin, both of whom were extremely annoying; conversely, Chocodile was the best-received part of the series, as he was used by the writers as an avatar to make their displeasure with the state of the company as a whole known. To make matters worse, a badly-dressed rock band became the network's mascots, and the network itself was renamed Johnson TV (JTV), as Stacker didn't want to be associated with the other WBC (the Westboro Baptist Church).
Johnson Studios suffered greatly, with new blood brought. The resulting movies were a string of flops, with the only bright spot being some animated films that provided serious competition for Disney (films such as The Wizards of Elderitch, American Eagles, Dinosaur Rising, and the Toei co-production Future War 198X) and were mature in both content, tone, and production values, as well as the ongoing alternate history movies. In addition, while several movies experimented with CGI, practical effects such as models, pyrotechnics, chroma key, stop motion, and the new go motion techniques developed by LucasFilm remained the rule, and if anything, improved during this era, and the effects were often the best part of even the worst of the movies.
All these changes, as well as Phil Stacker publicly calling his employees "drones" by accident, caused Johnson Industries to decline. Viewership, movie receipts, and even advertisers declined. Continental Rail was the division keeping the company afloat with passenger and freight revenues, mainly due to retaining their high service values stemming from Stacker's hands-off approach towards the railroad.
In 1987, during a progress report meeting, Phil Stacker was informed of the decline of the company. Rather than brushing off these concerns, Phil was reported to have buried his face in his hands, muttering various obscenities and saying "oh god" over and over again. He soon began seeking ways to reverse the trend, and started by making a public apology for calling his employees "drones". He also began restructuring JTV, and most notably, had production of The Transformers moved from Sunbow to JTV, and began making a full fourth season, as well as eight more seasons from 1988-1989, and then 1993-1999 (1990-1992 were marked by three primetime specials: Zone, The Decepticons Strike Back, and Operation Combination; seasons seven through nine carried the subtitle Generation 2, while the remaining seasons carried the subtitle Machine Wars, the series remains one of the longest-running American cartoons in history). He also reportedly became physically sick when he saw the primitive CGI being used in a sci-fi movie in production at the time and ordered it to be completely remade using more practical effects (the film in question, Star Pirates, ended up being the company's first non-animated blockbuster hit since 1980), and even created Johnson Aerospace, a division promising to create its own spacecraft and launch vehicles. The division was created after JTV planned to start satellite service, and initially planned to use the Space Shuttle. This changed after Challenger.
Things seemed to be improving, but in 1991, things began going sour again. During a news broadcast during Desert Storm, Tom Stephenson (filling in for Don George) referred to the network as WBC instead of JTV. This led to him being fired and all of his retirement benefits being refused. Stacker was becoming paranoid that he was losing his grip on the company, as the Johnson Family was buying up large amounts of its undervalued stock.
It all came to a head when Stacker sold the comics division to Marvel. Done without their permission, and with Marvel refusing to sell it back, the board of directors voted to oust Stacker. He saw it coming, though, and was already packing his desk when the board was meeting. On October 10, he announced his resignation, stating he "screwed up" and should have never bought out a company that was doing fine on its own. As a gesture of goodwill, though, the Johnson Family named a brand-new GP60 after him.
Picking up the Pieces and Return to Prominence (1991-2010)
Full control of the company by the Johnson Family was restored on October 11, 1991, JTVs 23rd anniversery. JTV was rebranded back to WBC, and the Johnson Philharmonic Orchestra was fully restored after operating on a skeletal basis throughout the 80s, the rock band mascots were removed from WBC, all shows produced under the Stacker regime were cancelled (the The Transformers was allowed to finish out, and the franchise has remained a part of Johnson up until the present day), and all synth music was excised from network bumpers. In fact, in a live event shortly after the network had signed on for the day, Chocodile brutally and unceremoniously killed Vanillagator and Caracaimin, much to the relief of longtime viewers.
Throughout the 90s, Johnson productions experienced a massive increase in production values, writing, acting quality, and popularity. But it all came to a head in 1997, when a movie adaptation of the SNES game EarthBound was released. The film shattered box office records and, at the time, was the second highest-grossing film of all time, and was followed up by sequels in 2002, 2006, and 2011, as well as a TV series that ran from 1997 to 2015, all of which have been hits; an anime reboot is set for release in November 2018. The following year, WBC premiered Monster World, a TV series combining Japanese anime and suitmation. The series, a crossover between the infamous anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, the works of HP Lovecraft (mainly the Cthulhu Mythos), and the long-running Godzilla franchise, and combining hand-drawn animation with practical effects such as model sets, suits, pyrotechnics, stop motion, go motion, and compositing animated characters onto physical setpieces, was a massive hit, introducing Evangelion to a wide audience and putting Godzilla into the American mainstream, running until 2004, yet still having movies and television specials. The television series was revived in Autumn 2015 to much fanfare, and continues to this day, with no end in sight and with movies coming out annually, starting with the revival movie in June 2015, and followed by Shin Godzilla in 2016, The Ultra Kaiju in 2017, and Godzilla: Civil War set for July 2018.
2000 was another banner year for the company, as it launched its first manned spacecraft, Antares, a six-man spacecraft loosely derived from Apollo that primarily serves the International Space Station, but has also carried out long-term orbital missions with a crew module, and several lunar flights. Johnson Aerospace also developed three launch vehicle, these being Neptune-1 (a rocket using a solid-fueled first stage that later inspired the cancelled Ares-I rocket) Jarvis (a heavy-lift family available in a wide range of configurations to fit any mission profile), and Quasar (a super-heavy rocket available in several configurations), a resupply craft called Verrezzano, and two space shutles named Eridanus and Esperia (these shuttles are a third of the size of the NASA Space Shuttle, and have less payload capacity, but they are much safer due to using a more conventional launch escape system and being launched on the Quasar 220, which lacks any external foam or solid rocket boosters; in addition, both shuttles have a more clearly-defined role of space station resupply and crew rotation), with plans for a lunar lander called Arcturus and a space station called Gaia.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, WBC immediately cancelled all programming indefinitely shortly after the first plane hit, as Tom Stephenson believed the crash to be an act of terrorism, a belief that was proven correct. WBC did not resume normal programming for four days, as all operations had been moved to the War Room, an armored underground bunker used by WBC News during major emergencies, featuring numerous features that allow Stephenson to effectively demonstrate to the audience what is happening. Afterwards, major revisions to its shows and movies were made, such as an ad-hoc change to Monster World (which was in the midst of its famous German Civil War arc) to bring the action back to the outskirts of Tokyo, as well as an episode depicting German rebels hijacking a fully-loaded American KC-135 and crashing it into TV Tower followed by Shinji and Asuka brutally massacring a village in rebel territory being cancelled (the episode itself, though, was complete, and would later be released on home video in 2005, airing on television in 2007). Other changes included the cancellation of multiple Jarvis launches contracted by the Department of Defense (these payloads were later launched by the Delta IV) over security concerns, the Transcontinental Zephyr was briefly truncated to Syracuse due to the closure of Grand Central Terminal, as the train runs nearly non-stop between Chicago and New York (the Miami-bound Orange Star was outright suspended) and large, pneumatic barriers capable of stopping large trucks carrying explosives being erected at all road entrances to Johnson HQ, essentially turning it into a fortress.
In 2005, Continental Rail announced Project: Zoom, a five-year project to upgrade the Northwest Corridor to handle 150 MPH high-speed trains. This included strengthening all trackage, expanding San Jose Diridon station with new platforms, increasing speeds on local trains (the max speed for local trains is currently 110 MPH), and adding equipment for in-cab signalling; the quad track sections dating back to the Northwest Corridor's construction play a key role in operations. The project was completed in 2010 with the inauguration of the Pacific Bullet service, using TGV-derived trains The project aimed to create a blended system, not eliminating any grade crossings (almost all crossings along the Northwest Corridor now have lineside electronic horns that activate for the Pacific Bullet; they are not present at crossings where the train is going slow enough for the horn to be heard well enough). Project: Zoom actually dates back to 1979, directly inspired by the British InterCity 125. The project was slated to begin in 1981, with a projected completion date of 1986, but Phil Stacker cancelled it days before construction was to start, reasoning that it was "too expensive" (in a 2013 interview, though, he admitted that the real reason was to protect his interests in the airline industry; had he known how successful it was going to be, he said, he'd have let it go forward). The original project called for diesel-powered high speed trains, mainly Rohr Turboliners (CR still uses Turboliners and LRCs in express service on non-electrified routes).
Johnson Industries added another string to its bow with the acquisition of NASCAR in 2009. Initially, the company was allowed to operate autonomously, but poor decision-making by Brian France and Mike Helton saw Johnson slowly take control, first in 2010 by developing a new car, before taking complete control in 2014 when France and Helton were fired. NASCAR, under Johnson, has experienced a major turnaround. One of the major changes was the replacement of the unpopular Car of Tomorrow (or Gen-5 car) with a brand-new car known as the Strictly Stock Car (also known as the SSC or Gen-7 car; a transitionary car simply known as the Gen-6 car was used in the 2013 season).
The Gen-7 car combines the best elements of the previous six generations of cars, such as the safety features of the fifth and sixth generation, the speed of the fourth generation, and the brand identity of the first three generations. In reality, the SSC isn't much of a new car, rather that all models (the Chevrolet Camaro and Impala, Ford Mustang and Fusion, Dodge Charger, Challenger, and Avenger, Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord and Civic) are just race-modified versions of showroom models, with modifications to the engine, chassis, body, and interior, but with no alterations to the overall appearance of the vehicle or its aerodynamics (the SSC sounds identical to the Gen-4 car). This resulted in the proliferation of small, single-car teams under NASCAR's Lend-Lease program, who would often show up at a race with nothing more than a car straight from the showroom and equipment leased from NASCAR, who expanded the maximum Sprint Cup field to 46 cars in response; some part-time teams, including Beard Motorsports, RAB Racing, and Swan Racing, continued using the transitionary sixth-generation car to cut costs, and in the 2017 season, BK Racing, which fields a full-time team, still uses 2013-era Gen-6 cars, and Chris Buescher won a rain-shortened race at Pocono in a Gen-6 car in 2016, though it has been noted that the Gen-6 cars are aerodynamically inferior to the Gen-7 car, and often run at the back of the pack on non-restrictor-plate tracks. BMW and Nissan began fielding M3 and Sentra in 2016, alongside Buick, which last appeared in 1991, fielding the Regal, with 2017 seeing the entry of Cadillac with the CTS-V, and 2018 seeing Lincoln enter the Continental, replacing the Ford Fusion after it only managed to get two wins (both coming in 2016, and the second and last being the aforementioned Chris Buescher win in the 2013-vintage Gen-6 car) compared to the success being enjoyed by the Mustang.
The SSC was introduced during Winter Testing at Daytona, but was just one of many changes for the 2014. Other changes included a major schedule realignment that reintroduced Rockingham and North Wilkesborough to the schedule (with Rockingham replacing the Spring Texas race and North Wilkesboro replacing the Spring Kansas race), added a race at Road America in January (reminiscent of the days when the first race of the season was at Riverside in January), and introduced a new aero package allowing pack racing at the 1.25 mile tracks such as Charlotte, Atlanta, and Texas (the biggest change being the banning of coil-binding). The result was close, exciting, edge-of-your-seat action that the sport had come be known for in the 1990s, and fans who had turned their backs on NASCAR came back in droves, with Johnson making it very clear they cared more about the fans than the money, due to the Johnson family being longtime NASCAR fans themselves. In 2016, major realignment took place, eliminating the June races for Michigan and Pocono and replacing them with Tokyo Speedweek at the newly-built Tokyo Superspeedway in Tokyo, Japan, which includes the Tokyo Late Model Classic (a 60-lap event featuring the Gen-4 car and many retired drivers), the Indy Tokyo 300 (the first-ever race at a plate track in the IndyCar series, which IndyCar solved by limiting the cars to four gears rather than six, which succeeded in slowing the cars down greatly; despite fears that a massive multi-car wreck would break out at high speeds and kill multiple drivers and spectators, the largest wreck of the day, while still the worst wreck since the 2011 crash at Las Vegas that claimed Dan Wheldon's life, resulted in no injuries due to the enhanced safety of the DW12 chassis, especially in the wake of Justin Wilson's death), as well as races for ARCA, the Camping World Truck Series, the Xfinity Series, ending with main Sprint Cup Series event, which was broadcast on WBC as the "first broadcast run by Johnson characters" (really, the characters' voice actors stood off-camera and broadcast the race in-character; Johnson characters had actually first "run" a race at the 2014 Coke Zero 400, though only the booth and one pit reporter position were manned by them, everything else manned by the normal broadcast team). New Hampshire and Martinsville also had their Chase dates replaced by Iowa Speedway and Walt Disney World Speedway (a plan to close the track to expand the Magic Kingdom's parking lot by Walt Disney World Resort management was found out and swiftly torpedoed). Tokyo also replaced the Fall Phoenix date, once again "run" by Johnson characters, and under the lights. For 2017, the Tokyo Late Model Classic was eliminated and replaced by a points-paying race at Twin Ring Motegi, with the Daytona Late Model Classic being introduced on the Thursday before the Coke Zero 400. To accomplish NASCAR's return to Rockingham and North Wilkesboro, Johnson bought, restored, and modernized both tracks.
The Nationwide/Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series were also affected, with Cup drivers being outright banned from competition in the lower -series, bringing an end to the Buschwhackers/Tailgaters, to the fanbase's collective relief. The Nationwide Series CoT was replaced by the SSC in 2015, while the Camping World Trucks received the Strictly Stock Truck (SST) in 2016, which, like the SSC, are slightly modified showroom models with the truck beds covered to improve aerodynamics. The models for the SST are the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram, Toyota Tundra, and Honda Ridgeline. The SSC started being run in the K&N Pro Series in 2016, and eventually found its way to ARCA in 2017, supplanting the steel-bodied (Gen-4) and composite-bodied (Gen-6) cars. The NASCAR Pinty's Series started the SSC full-time in 2018 (utilizing the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Mustang, and Dodge Challenger), as did the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (utilizing all-European models, including the BMW M3, Porsche 991, Volkswagen Passat, Renault Latitude, Jaguar XE, Skoda Superb, and MG 6), and is set to debut in NASCAR Peak Mexico Series in 2019, being the last series still using a car with a Gen-6 bodystyle and Gen-5 chassis. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series introduced a new category for the SSC known as "Strictly Stock", and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, due to using unique cars, has remained unchanged, though two races were added at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which necessitated the use of restrictor-plates (essentially turning Charlotte into a miniature Daytona for the modified cars). The SSC template has also been adopted by many local and regional stock car leagues for its affordability.
In addition to the many changes to the racing, the television broadcasts were also affected. WBC itself began broadcasting select races with its own broadcast team, consisting of Tom Stephenson hosting from WBC Race Control (the WBC version of FOX's Hollywood Hotel), Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snyder, Jamie Little, and Bill Weber on pit road, and Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett, and Buddy Baker in the broadcast booth (Baker was replaced by Wally Dallenbach Jr. after his death in July 2015). At the 2014 Coke Zero 400, to promote the release of Sgt. Frog: The Great Rescue, as mentioned above, the normal broadcasters were relieved of their duties by Tim Johnson, Chloe Johnson, and Belle Armstrong, in-character as their Sgt. Frog characters (Fuyuki Hinata, Natsumi Hinata, and Momoka Nishizawa, respectively), with Jenny Smith serving in the pits in-character as Koyuki Azumiya (Sheheen, Snyder, and Weber remained in their positions); this team was used again in the Tokyo races, but with an all-Johnson cast, leaving Stephenson as the only non-cartoon member of the team. The Johnson twins and Armstrong also broadcast the Xfinity and Truck Series Tokyo races as themselves. WBCs retinue for 2014 consisted of all restrictor-plate races (except the Daytona 500, which stayed on FOX), both Charlotte, Michigan, all road course races, and the Brickyard 400. In 2015, both Kansas races and the Southern 500 were added to WBCs schedule, and in 2016, added the two Tokyo Superspeedway races, and the races at Le Mans and WDW, as well as select Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series races; for these races, Ken Squier and Eli Gold alternate Xfinity Series races, while Paul Page and Bob Jenkins alternate Truck Series races. The network's coverage has received critical acclaim.
Johnson's ownership of NASCAR has not been without incident. With three laps to go in the 2014 Coke Zero 400, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were battling for the lead in a rematch of that year's Daytona 500 (which Stewart had won in his fifteenth attempt, a win that is often credited with jumpstarting NASCAR's resurgance in popularity, coupled with Danica Patrick winning three races at Las Vegas, Rockingham, and Sonoma), when Kyle Busch, running mid-pack, got loose, starting a massive crash that saw Kasey Kahne fly into the catchfence rear-end first. Bizarrely, the fuel cell ruptured, causing an explosion that could be heard up to four miles away, and sending flaming debris into the grandstands and tearing Kahne's #5 Chevrolet Camaro to shreds. Kahne himself was miraculously unharmed, considering he was thrown from his car when his seat detached from the chassis, but 8 fans were killed by flaming debris and 72 injured. The season continued despite this tragedy (with Tony Stewart winning his fourth championship, winning one more in his final season in 2016), and Kyle Busch was immediately absolved of any wrongdoing, though Chevrolet came under scrutiny for the fuel cell design used on the Camaro (the Impala did not have this issue). As a result, any team using Camaros had to temporarily use Impalas until the fuel cell could be redesigned, with Camaros returning to competition in the Bank of America 500 that October. A similar incident at the 2015 Coke Zero 400 saw Austin Dillon also fly into the catchfence, though in this instance, only a few fans were injured and Dillon's Impala was less damaged, though still totalled.
Johnson Renaissance (2010-present)
Current Johnson CEO, Timothy "Tim" Jonhson, took the helm of the company at the age of 15 in 2010, as the youngest corporate CEO in history. Immediately, change started coming to the entire company.
Tim can be described as a 21st-Century Walt Disney, mainly due to his creativity, shrewdness, and perfectionism. If something isn't to his liking, he makes it known. Tim mainly focuses on the creative and operational side of the company, leaving an accounting subsidiary to handle the financial side so his plans can go forward.
In 2012, a massive addition was made the company. On New Year's Day, Johnson introduced the Johnson Aligned Universe, a new, unified body-of-work mainly featuring anime series (two elements of the JAU, which are the Johnson remake of the Godzilla franchise unifying all three eras into one coherent timeline, and a live-action series called Sodor High School, which is, in a nutshell, a humanized version of Thomas & Friends, were pre-existing and incorporated into the JAU). Among the series were a Vocaloid anime, as well as Johnson-ized versions of Sgt. Frog, Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Azumanga Daioh (subbed), all of which intertwine with each other to create one big universe. Later additions included Attack on Titan, Nichijou, K-On!, and CLANNAD. The Johnson-ized anime were either remade from the ground up (as was the case with Sgt. Frog, which was even renamed WBCs Sgt. Frog to distance it from the original anime), redubbed (Lucky Star was completely redubbed to eliminate all Japanese honorifics as well as fix the "issue" of Patricia Martin's voice, and episodes were lengthened by removing the "Lucky Channel" segment, as well as producing over 60 brand-new episodes), or given minor edits (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya received minor edits to tie it in with the rest of the JAU, but was mainly left intact).
Azumanga Daioh was aired with subtitles and the original audio, due to the amount of disdain for the ADV dub. This was in addition to Kiyohiko Azuma writing new stories, which when put together, create 80 additional episodes beyond the original 26. This was at the behest of Tim Johnson, who even managed to get the original Japanese voice cast back together for the new episodes.
The first piece of JAU material was a theatrical movie, Vocaloid & Godzilla, released in June 2012. The movie stars Tim Johnson himself as Len, as well as his twin sister, Chloe, as Rin, his girlfriend Belle Armstrong as Meiko, and Jenny Smith (the fourth member of Johnson Industries' "Golden Four") as Luka. Other actors include Kristin Schaal as Miku, Seth Green as Kaito, Olivia Olson as Neru, Kelly Hu as Teto, Tara Strong as Haku, and Tim Curry as main antagonist Dr. Shinji Mustafa. As the title suggests, the movie brings together the Vocaloid and Godzilla franchises. Though Miku appears in the movie, and was the one who brought the Vocaloids to prominence, she is a secondary character, with the Kagamine twins taking center stage, along with Godzilla himself. Many, many Vocaloid characters make cameo appearances as high schoolers, and there are also references to the many Vocaloid songs. On the Godzilla front, the movie can be considered a Destroy All Monsters-type feature, as in addition to Godzilla, the movie also features many of his allies and enemies, including Anguirus, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Gigan, Megalon, Mothra, Battra, MOGUERA, Kiryu, MechaGodzilla, Mecha-King Ghidorah, Zilla, and Krystalak, as well as two new monsters who are, respectively, a clone of Godzilla, and an "evil" Godzilla controlled by Dr. Mustafa. The film was a massive hit, ushering in a new era for Johnson Industries.
A sequel to the film, Vocaloid & Godzilla 2: Mustafa Strikes Back, was released the same year in November. The film was considered better than the first, and featured the death of Luka, as well as the beginning of a romantic relationship between Len and Meiko. Between the two films, a TV series had premiered on Labor Day.
The third Vocaloid & Godzilla film, titled The Last Stand, was released in June 2013, and was also a big hit. Earlier in April 2013, several of the other SAU series had premiered on WBC (these were WBCs Sgt. Frog, Lucky Star, Haruhi Suzumiya, and Azumanga Daioh). This came at the same time as WBCs continuity announcer was replaced. Previously, Corey Burton had done announcing duties since 1992, but he left for the El Rey Network. In his place, Frank Welker took over as network announcer, a post he holds to this day.
On July 1, 2013, Johnson Industries made an announcement that took the world by surprise. At 12:00 noon PDT, the company formally announced its acquisition of the Walt Disney Company. Everyone, from the internet to the general public and even world leaders, were shocked, and needless to say, the world remained shellshocked for several days. The company became a subsidiary of Johnson Industries, bringing with it ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm, Touchstone Pictures, The Muppet Studios, and of course, Walt Disney Pictures and and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. All parts of Disney were allowed to retain their autonomy, and release media under the Disney banner.
The sole exception was the theme parks and cruise ships, which Tim Johnson took personal control of. Immediately, he set out making sweeping changes to the parks, mainly focusing on Disneyland. Having a large amount of respect for Walt Disney and harboring contempt for Michael Eisner and Paul Pressler, he rolled back many Eisner-era business practices, such as focus on merchandise. The focus went back to attractions over all else, with a mission statement to "bring back the magic" and "restore Walt's legacy".
The biggest changes came to Disneyland Park, which included reopening the PeopleMover, Skyway, Mike Finke Keel Boats, Carousel of Progress, and the Motor Boat Cruise. The Autopia was split back up into Tomorrowland and Fantasyland tracks, and Tomorrowland as a whole received a massive overhaul. The new theming sets Tomorrowland as a futuristic city called "Progress City", and is presented as a working prototype of a future community, very much like the original vision for EPCOT. This ideology extends to the land's features, which include hydroponics, solar power, mass transit, ride-sharing, and environmentalism. Guests can even view demonstrations of future technologies on the second floor of the Starcade (the first floor once again became a dedicated arcade, having had all retail space removed). The Submarine Voyage was stripped of its Finding Nemo theming, and rethemed as the research facility of the Tomorrowland Marine Biology Institute, featuring actual fish and a new, underwater aquarium in the main lagoon.
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters was removed and replaced by an expanded attraction also using the Omnimover system, but now going underground under Fantasyland, themed around the Mega Man series (to tie-in with the Mega Man anime that had premiered on WBC in July 2013).
Mickey's Toontown was almost competely demolished and replaced by a brand-new land called Tokyo Plaza. This included a Sgt. Frog simulator, replacing Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin with a new, Test Track-type attraction that is much larger in scale and entirely underground, except for the queue, a Western version of Taiyo Ro serving Japanese food as well as the standard fare, and various meet-and-greet and walkthrough attractions, including the SOS Brigade Recruitment Offices (replacing Mickey's House), the anti-kaiju Howitzer manned by the main cast Lucky Star, a NERV watchtower (replacing Chip n' Dale's Treehouse), the Hinata household (replacing Minnie's house), and Tokyo Civil Defense offices (replacing Donald's Boat). Gadget's Go-Coaster was completely demolished and replaced by a Japanese garden with koi and cherry blossoms. Toontown station was rethemed as a typical Japanese rural railway station, and the Jolly Trolley was brought back into operation, though rethemed as a streetcar line with live overhead wires, expanded to serve the entire land, and featuring a pair of actual Osaka streetcars acquired from the San Francisco Municipal Railway.
Other changes around the park included Adventureland, where the Jungle Cruise was refurbished with new animatronics and a new script reflecting the 1938 setting of the attraction, Frontierland, where the Mike Finke Keel Boats were brought back into operation and the Pirate's Lair overlay was removed from Tom Sawyer Island, restoring the island to its original appearance, Sailing Ship Columbia was retired and replaced by a sidewheeler called the Joe Fowler, and Big Thunder Ranch and the surrounding backstage area were razed and replaced by Discovery Bay (a concept created by Tony Baxter in the 1970s), New Orleans Square, where all of the movie tie-ins were removed from Pirates of the Carribean, and the Hatbox Ghost returned to the Haunted Mansion, Critter Country, where The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was removed and sat dormant for several years until reopening as the Critter Country Pizzeria restaurant in 2016, Fantasyland, where all of the dark rides were enhanced, the Skyway and Motor Boat Cruise reopened, and the Matterhorn given a major overhaul, and Main Street USA, where Residential Street was finally opened, easing traffic congestion on Main Street, and featuring a streetcar branchline, a model railroad club and shop, and a restaurant. The Disneyland Railroad received three brand-new steam locomotives built by Continental Rail (a 2-6-2, a 2-8-2, and a 4-6-0, respectively named Mary Blair, Marc Davis,and Les Clark), as well as a pair of diesel switchers to serve as both switchers and back-up locomotives and a new station at Discovery Bay, permitting five-train operation, while the Disneyland Monorail underwent a major extension with new lines serving GardenWalk, the Harbor Blvd hotels and Anaheim Convention Center, John Wayne Airport, LAX, and Downtown Los Angeles. All construction for the monorail was done by Continental Rail.
Disney California Adventure also received some revisions, such as a log flume ride in Paradise Pier, grizzly bear animatronics in the Grizzly Peak area, retheming Condor Flats to Grizzly Peak Airfield, and expanding the Red Car to serve the entirety of the park, as well as the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland Pacific Hotel. All other parks around the world similarly received major changes.
In 2015, Johnson Industries acquired Cartoon Network from Turner. Immediately, Teen Titans Go! was cancelled (and all knowledge of the show's existence disavowed) and replaced with reruns of fan-favorite Ed Edd n Eddy. Tim, a longtime fan of Adventure Time, took personal control of the show. The resulting sixth season is often considered the best, due to fixing many of the issues of previous seasons (Tim was mainly out to reverse the widely-reviled break-up of Finn and Flame Princess), as well as better utilizing the cast of characters it had built over five seasons, vast improvements in the comedy and action (not to mention an uptick in the violence), and introducing several well-written characters; the seventh season made international headlines when a lesbian couple (Princess Bubblegum and Marceline) was depicted in full; this resulted in the show being banned in Russia and various WBC shows making overt anti-Russian messages.
Other changes made to CN included giving Adult Swim its own channel, bringing back the weekday Toonami block, and filling Adult Swim's timeslot with vintage cartoons from the Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros., and MGM libraries (as a result, Boomerang was shut down).
2013 also saw Continental Rail take full control of the British rail network, resurrecting the British Railways name. Overnight, DMUs, EMUs, and some high-speed trains were taken out of service. When the British public awoke on June 1, 2013 (some overnight trains departed late at night on May 31, such as fast goods and sleeper trains), they were greeted with trains looking very much like 1960s passenger trains, complete with steam locomotives, thousands of which were thought to be scrapped. All of the retired DMUs and EMUs were converted into the Mark 5 coaching stock (which, cosmetically, are identical to the Mark 1 stock), or were dressed up to resemble 50s-60s DMUs and EMUs. British goods trains also "went back in time", with the return of wagonload freight primarily in 2-axle wagons. Some feared that railway progress was "regressing", but the new system proved to be very, very successful, thanks in no small part to the fact that steam locomotives power 60% of all passenger trains, reducing environmental impact and capturing the public's imagination; those who had grown up with steam could now share it with their children and grandchildren in an environment other than a heritage railway or the odd railtour. The wagonload freight system also proved successful, now that the benefits of trains vs trucks were known, allowing BR to run door-to-door pick-up goods services along the majority of its network; it also helped that the 2-axle wagons are cheaper to maintain than the larger stock thanks to their size. Using lessons learned from the North American system, steam locomotive maintenance is now quick, painless, and cheap. Older diesel classes were also brought back into service. Though much of the 1970s-2000s-era multiple unit stock was retired and converted into unpowered coaching stock, the InterCity 125 trains remained in service, repainted in their original 1976 paint schemes and with reproductions of their original Paxman Valenta engines. Also retained were the Driving Van Trailers for use on express commuter trains.
All passenger trains are now color-coded: long-distance and crack express services are maroon, regional and local services are crimson and cream, commuter trains are Rail Blue, and express commuter trains are in the InterCity "Swallow" livery.
In addition to passenger services being widely restored, most of the lines closed under the Beeching Axe were reopened (by any means necessary, it should be said, as the new BR had to resort to underhanded tactics to have developments on the closed lines relocated), most notably the Great Central Mainline, Oxford-Cambridge route, numerous joint railways (such as the Somerset & Dorset), and many branchlines. Not all British railway lines were affected, though. Although the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways came under BR control (mainly as a passenger carrier and with more frequent services), all other heritage railways were allowed to remain independent (though many were reconnected to the national network, and regular goods services are run on them). The Sudrian rail network also retained its independence, as Tim Johnson "had been raised on the Thomas the Tank Engine brand" (incidentally, WBC had acquired the Thomas franchise from HiT, and set about making two distinct series: Thomas the Tank Engine, aimed at a general audience and styled around the earlier seasons, and The Railway Series, aimed at older fans and railway enthusiasts and featuring much more dark and mature content, including regular mentions of people being killed in the on-screen crashes and liberal use of pyrotechnics; both series reverted to using models).
Continental Rail has also taken to acquring tourist lines in the United States starting in 2012. Thus far, the railroad has acquired the Valley Railroad in Connecticut (renaming it the Connecticut Valley Railroad and sending the Becky Thatcher riverboat to Walt Disney World), California Western Railroad (AKA Skunk Train), Virginia and Truckee Railroad, Roaring Camp Railroads (Continental Rail had rebuilt the South Pacific Coast line from Felton to Los Gatos between 2002-2008), and the Sandy River and Rangely Lakes Railroad (rebuilding the entire network). The railroad also rebuilt the former Milwaukee Road St. Paul's Pass rail line from Avery to Drexel, Idaho, complete with electrification to operate the railroad's EP-4 Little Joe.
Another major Continental Rail-related event took place in 2015, when Barack Obama announced that, effective immediately, Amtrak would be folded into Continental Rail. The latter ended up inheriting a myriad of routes and aging equipment. Almost all of the Genesis locomotives were transferred to Mexican passenger services, retired AEM-7 and HHP-8 locomotives were transferred to the Northwest Corridor, NPCUs were re-engined and put back into service as F40PHs with Continental Rail colors and numbers, any other F40s still on Amtrak property were reactivated and put back into service, Superliners were retained for intermediate and boat train services, Amfleets and Horizons became staples for Mexican services, and Heritage Fleet cars still on Amtrak property were repainted into either Continental Rail colors, or historic colors. As Amtrak routes tended to duplicate Continental Rail routes, many Amtrak routes were either re-routed (the California Zephyr returned to its historical routing over Altamont Pass and through the Feather River Canyon to avoid duplicating the Transcontinental Zephyr), eliminated (the Pacific Surfliner, and Cascades were eliminated as Continental Rail's Northwest Regional running from Tijuana to Vancouver rendered them redundant; the Capitol Corridor was on the chopping block, before it was decided to instead extend the train to Reno and have it serve as a local feeder for the Transcontinental Zephyr, which only stops at Sacramento and Oakland between Reno and San Jose), reassigned (the Coast Starlight was turned into the Coast Daylight, now running from Los Angeles to San Francisco; the Coast Starlight completely duplicated the route of the Western Star with lower service levels and frequencies and terminating at Los Angeles instead of San Diego), restored (the Desert Wind, Pioneer, and North Coast Hiawatha were among the notable names to return), or renamed (the Southwest Chief was renamed back to the Super Chief). Trains such as the California Zephyr, Super Chief, and City of New Orleans were fully re-equipped with equipment in historic lettering/paint; as an added touch, locomotives swaps for the CZ take place at Salt Lake City and Denver, pulled by Western Pacific-painted F-units from Oakland to Salt Lake City, D&RGW-painted F-units from Salt Lake City to Denver, and CB&Q E-units the rest of the way to Chicago.
The next year, the State of California delegated passenger services on the San Francisco Pensinsula to Continental Rail, bringing an end to Caltrain and restoring the Peninsula Commute name. All Caltrain equipment was inherited by Continental Rail, who repainted all equipment (some cars still bear Caltrain colors, though), and upgraded all of the P2 horns to P3s (cab cars) and P5s (locomotives). To help alleviate crowding on trains, starting in June 2016, Continental Rail began running rush-hour trains in sections, usually with the normal five-car bilevel set as the first section, and an up to four-car set made up of ex-Amtrak Horizon cars (some of the Horizon cars in this pool still bear Amtrak's Phase IVb colors). Electrification will still be carried out, and Caltrain's F40s will be reassigned to other parts of the CR network, but the EMU orders were cancelled, and trains on the Peninsula will instead be loco-hauled using AEM-7 and ACS-64 locomotives, and refurbished Nippon Sharyo gallery cars, though diesels will still be prevalent on the Peninsula Commute. This is not the first major commuter railroad Continental Rail has acquired, having gained control of Metro-North in 2012 and Metra in 2014.
2016 also saw the acquisition of CEC Entertainment Inc., the owners of Chuck E. Cheese's. Sweeping revisions came to the company, including the return of ShowBiz Pizza Place and the Rock-Afire Explosion, a broadened age appeal, and severe changes to company business practices, including better pizza and reorganization of Department 18. ShowBiz locations were also opened in Japan, utilizing the main cast of K-On! on center stage (with the side stages unchanged).
For the future, Tim Johnson has set Johnson Industries on a course of prosperity. With the JAU proving an unparalleled success, and Monster World returning to the airwaves, the company's future has been secured.