Florida Guide > Disney General
Walt Disney World Railroad………….All Aboard!
If like me you are an interested observer of steam trains, you may wish to learn more about the Walt Disney World Railroad at the Magic Kingdom.
On certain days of the week, the Magic Kingdom offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the Walt Disney World Railroad.
The tour takes guests to the engine sheds and explains and demonstrates many of the operating procedures used in the everyday operation of a steam railroad.
Walt Disney started his passion for trains at an early age. When he was a bit older, he built a half-mile scale model railway in his own backyard and named it the "Carolwood Pacific Railroad."
For this very reason, since 1971 when the Magic Kingdom first opened, there have been vintage, steam-powered trains in the park. One of the first things you will see as you approach the Magic Kingdom, is the Main Street Railroad Station and one of the first sounds you will probably hear will be the train's steam whistle.
On the tour, which begins at Main Street, guests are introduced to hand and voice signals used on the WDW railroad. The first trip of the day is for safety purposes as it not only tests the performance of the locomotive, but also allows the track to be inspected for problems (such as downed trees) before the first passengers are loaded.
The park currently has four engines. I always assumed that the engines were built specially for the Magic Kingdom. It turns out that this is not the case! These are real locomotives built about 70 years ago and completely restored for the Disney Company. It is said that a fifth locomotive was purchased and may still be sitting in a Disney warehouse somewhere - members of the Disney organization are not sure if this locomotive was sold. They see it in the same way that I lose my keys from time to time!
The locomotives are named Walter E. Disney, Lilly Belle (named after Walt’s wife), Roy O. Disney (named after Walt’s brother) and Roger E. Broggie (a Disney Imagineer).
As we rode the train our tour guide told stories about Walt, his trains and the park. Halfway round the track we disembarked at Toon Town where we watched them ‘throw the switch’ to enable the train to back into the Round House. The Round House is also where the buses and monorails are parked. We were then able to look around at the other engines and were allowed to sit in them.
After about 15 minutes we boarded the train again and completed the circuit back to Main Street Station whilst the engineer tested the automatic braking system. By the time we reached the station the park was about ready to open to the general public.
It was a wonderful tour that probably not enough people know about. If you have any interest in Walt Disney or trains, this is the tour for you. It lasts about 2 hours, theme park admission is required and guests must be at least 10 years old to attend. You will need to book in advice by calling (407) WDW-TOUR (407) 939-8687).
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Page added on: 4 September 2005
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