Walt Disney World Railroad
|Walt Disney World Railroad|
A WDWRR train stopped at Main Street, U.S.A. Station in Magic Kingdom.
|Opening date||October 1, 1971|
|Attraction type||Railroad attraction|
|Manufacturer||Baldwin Locomotive Works|
|Length||7,920 ft (2,410 m)|
|Riders per vehicle||375 per train|
|No. of Tracks||Single|
|Track gauge||3 ft (914 mm)|
Closed captioning available
The Walt Disney World Railroad (reporting mark 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 WED 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 busiest 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 WED 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 locomotive's 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.
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.
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 (previously known as Mickey's Toontown Fair 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.
|Number||Name||Namesake||Image||Wheel arrangement||Date built||Builder||Builder number||Passenger cars||Date entered service||Status|
|1||Walter E. Disney||Walt Disney||4-6-0||May 1925||Baldwin Locomotive Works||58444||Five red passenger cars||October 1, 1971||In service|
|2||Lilly Belle||Lillian Disney||2-6-0||September 1928||Baldwin Locomotive Works||60598||Five green passenger cars||October 1, 1971||Out of service
(presently being rebuilt at the Strasburg Rail Road in Strasburg, Pennsylvania)
|3||Roger E. Broggie||Roger E. Broggie||4-6-0||May 1925||Baldwin Locomotive Works||58445||Five yellow passenger cars||October 1, 1971||In service|
|4||Roy O. Disney||Roy O. Disney||4-4-0||February 1916||Baldwin Locomotive Works||42915||Five blue passenger cars||December 1, 1971||In service|
- 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.
- The No. 3 locomotive was planned to be named after Roy Disney, but given that he did not want his name attached to the locomotive nearly identical to the No. 1 named after his late brother Walt Disney, the No. 4 was named after him instead.
- The No. 4 locomotive, having been built in 1916, 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.
- 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.
- In recent years, all four steam locomotives have received overhauls at the Tweetsie Railroad workshop in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
- Hogwarts Express (Universal Orlando Resort)
- Orange Blossom Cannonball
- Rail transport in Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
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- Broggie, Michael (2014), Walt Disney's Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom (4th ed.), The Donning Company Publishers, ISBN 978-1-57864-914-3
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Walt Disney World Railroad.|
- Official website
- The Carolwood Society
- Geographic data related to Walt Disney World Railroad at OpenStreetMap