Walt Disney World Railroad
|Walt Disney World Railroad|
The No. 2 Lilly Belle locomotive stopped at Fantasyland Station in Magic Kingdom.
|Opening date||October 1, 1971|
|Attraction type||Railroad attraction|
|Manufacturer||Baldwin Locomotive Works|
|Riders per vehicle||375 per train|
|No. of tracks||Single|
|Track gauge||3 ft (914 mm)|
|Track length||1.5 miles (2.4 km)|
Closed captioning available
The Walt Disney World Railroad (WDWRR) is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge heritage railroad and attraction in the Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom theme park in Bay Lake, Florida in the United States. Its route is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length and encircles the vast majority of the park, with stations in the Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, and Fantasyland sections. The rail line, which was built by Retlaw Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering), is operated with four historic steam locomotives originally built by Baldwin Locomotive Works. Each of the four locomotives pulls a set of five passenger cars with seating capacity for 75 passengers per car, for a total of 375 passengers per train.
The Walt Disney World Railroad opened to the public for the first time on October 1, 1971, the same day that the Magic Kingdom park first opened. Since then the WDWRR has become one of the world's most popular steam-powered railroads, with 3.7 million passengers served each year.
Discovery in Mexico
The development of the Walt Disney World Railroad from the late 1960s to its opening in 1971 was overseen by Mapo, Inc. (the Retlaw Enterprises research and manufacturing branch) Vice President and General Manager Roger E. Broggie, who previously supervised the building of the Disneyland Railroad in Disneyland in Anaheim, California, the sister park of the Magic Kingdom. From his experience with the railroad at Disneyland, Broggie determined that the best option in terms of what type of steam locomotives to use would be already-existing ones, as opposed to building them entirely from scratch like the Disneyland Railroad's first two locomotives. To this end, he contacted rail historian Gerald M. Best who informed him of a possible location where these types of locomotives could be obtained.
The location was a railroad boneyard in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico owned by the Ferrocarriles Unidos de Yucatán, a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge system (the same gauge as the Disneyland Railroad). Broggie, along with fellow Disney employee and railroad-building expert Earl Vilmer, ventured down to Mérida in 1969 to investigate and determined that four locomotives (all built by Baldwin Locomotive Works) in the boneyard, along with a fifth locomotive (built by Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works) in a park in front of the railroad company's headquarters across the street, could potentially be salvaged.
Broggie paid a total of US$32,750 for all five locomotives (US$8,000 for each of the four locomotives in the boneyard plus an additional US$750 for the fifth locomotive in the park). The locomotives, along with an assortment of brass fittings and other spare parts given away for free, were immediately shipped by rail around the Gulf of Mexico back to the United States.
Restoration in Florida
Walt Disney World Railroad
The five locomotives and spare parts acquired by Roger Broggie, in order to receive the aesthetic and mechanical restorations necessary to run on the planned Walt Disney World Railroad, were sent to the Tampa Ship Repair & Dry Dock Company in Tampa, Florida, the closest facility to the Walt Disney World site at the time with the space and equipment needed to accommodate full-size railroad equipment. Here, Transportation Superintendent Earl Vilmer, who had accompanied Broggie on his trip to Mexico, along with Project Engineer Bob Harpur and the facility's Machinist Supervisor George Britton, were tasked with the project's completion.
The four locomotives built by Baldwin Locomotive Works were given brand-new, smaller boilers built by Dixon Boiler Works. They were also given new fiberglass cabs as well as new tenders, which utilized the bogies from the original tenders. Many of the smaller original parts on the locomotives such as the domes and brass bells on top of the boilers, as well as the wheels and side rods, were successfully refurbished and included in the finished products. The locomotives' fireboxes were also reconfigured to burn diesel oil for fuel to generate steam.
Despite the successful restorations of the four Baldwin locomotives, they were not able to restore the Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works locomotive acquired along with them. It was the oldest of the five locomotives purchased and, deemed to have too many problems to be rebuilt, was stored out of use in California for a period before being sold to a locomotive broker.
Opening day to present day
The four newly restored locomotives for the Walt Disney World Railroad, as well as a set of five open-air passenger cars for each of them (twenty in total) made entirely from scratch, were completed in less than two years. The first of the completed locomotives arrived at the Magic Kingdom park on May 15, 1971, several months before the park's opening. Like the steam trains running on the Disneyland Railroad during Disneyland's opening day on July 17, 1955, the steam trains for the WDWRR were the first attraction in the Magic Kingdom park to be finished, and they have been operating in the park ever since it first opened on October 1, 1971. George Britton, who was instrumental in getting the WDWRR's locomotives refurbished, became the railroad's foreman, and he held that occupation from the time the railroad opened until his retirement on June 6, 2006.
During the first few months after the WDWRR opened to the public, Main Street, U.S.A. Station was the only stop for passengers along its route, making only complete round trips possible. That changed on May 1, 1972 when the first Frontierland Station opened. It was removed in November 1990 to make way for the new Splash Mountain attraction and was replaced by the current Frontierland Station, which opened in December 1991 just north of where the original station stood. The WDWRR's third station, Mickey's Birthdayland Station, opened on June 18, 1988 in the Magic Kingdom park's brand-new Mickey's Birthdayland section east of Fantasyland, and the railroad was briefly renamed Mickey’s Birthdayland Express to promote it. On February 11, 2011, after getting its name changed to Mickey's Starland in 1990, Mickey's Toyland in 1995, and Mickey's Toontown Fair in 1996, the section and its WDWRR station closed to make way for the new Storybook Circus area, which would be part of a new expansion of the Fantasyland section. The current Fantasyland Station, built on the site of the former Mickey's Toontown Fair Station, opened in March 2012.
Beginning at Main Street, U.S.A. Station adjacent to the Magic Kingdom park's entrance, the trains of the Walt Disney World Railroad travel along its single track in a clockwise direction on its circular route. Each train is operated by an engineer and fireman in the locomotive, as well as a conductor in the back of the train who supervises the passengers. After going through a tunnel through the Splash Mountain log flume attraction, the train's next stop is at Frontierland Station. Continuing down the line, passengers will be able to see numerous static and animatronic displays of Native Americans and wild animals on their way to the train's next stop at Fantasyland Station. In the final phase of the train's journey around the park, it passes the Space Mountain roller coaster attraction before arriving back at Main Street, U.S.A. Station, completing what the park refers to as The Grand Circle Tour.
A separately-priced tour of the WDWRR named Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour is available once daily, and includes access to the railroad's otherwise-restricted roundhouse where the trains are stored and maintained.
Each Walt Disney World Railroad locomotive when working on the line consumes 25 US gallons (95 l) of fuel and 200 US gallons (760 l) of water per hour. In the past, all four steam locomotives have received overhauls at the Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
|Number||Name||Namesake||Image||Wheel arrangement||Date built||Baldwin Locomotive Works serial number||Passenger cars||Date entered service||Notes|
|1||Walter E. Disney||Walt Disney||4-6-0 (Ten-wheeler)||May 1925||58444||Five red passenger cars||October 1, 1971||This is the tallest locomotive in the WDWRR fleet at 11 feet 11 inches (3.63 m), giving it 1 inch (0.025 m) of clearance between the top of its smokestack and the top of the roundhouse doors.|
|2||Lilly Belle||Lillian Disney||2-6-0 (Mogul)||September 1928||60598||Five green passenger cars||October 1, 1971||Returned to service in 2016 after being rebuilt at the Strasburg Rail Road in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.|
|3||Roger E. Broggie||Roger E. Broggie||4-6-0 (Ten-wheeler)||May 1925||58445||Five yellow passenger cars||October 1, 1971||Originally planned to be named after Roy O. Disney, but given that he did not want his name attached to the locomotive nearly identical to the No. 1 named after Walt Disney, the No. 4 was named after him instead.|
|4||Roy O. Disney||Roy O. Disney||4-4-0 (American)||February 1916||42915||Five blue passenger cars||December 1, 1971||Built in 1916, this is the WDWRR's oldest locomotive and predates the Magic Kingdom's oldest purpose-built amusement attraction: the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, originally built in 1917.|
- Hogwarts Express (Universal Orlando Resort)
- Rail transport in Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
- TECO Line Streetcar System
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