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Walt Disney World Railroad

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Walt Disney World Railroad
Walt Disney World Railroad Main Street USA Station 01.jpg
A WDWRR train stopped at Main Street, U.S.A. Station in Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom
Status Operating
Opening date October 1, 1971
General statistics
Attraction type Railroad attraction
Manufacturer Baldwin Locomotive Works
Designer WED Enterprises
Length 7,920 ft (2,410 m)
Riders per vehicle 375 per train
Duration About 20:00
No. of Tracks Single
Track gauge 3 ft (914 mm)
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible
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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3][4] 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.[5]

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.[6] Since then the WDWRR has become one of the world's busiest steam-powered railroads, with 3.7 million passengers served each year.[2]


Discovery in Mexico

A typical locomotive on the Ferrocarriles Unidos de Yucatán in Mexico, where the locomotives for the WDWRR were found.

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.[3][7] 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.[3] 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.[8]

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).[9] 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.[9]

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).[9][10] 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.[11]

Restoration in Florida

Walt Disney World Railroad
(open to public during special tours only)
Horse-drawn streetcar transfer
(via short walk inside park; restricted access)
Main Street, U.S.A.
Monorail, ferry, and bus transfers
(via short walks outside park)

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.[11] 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.[12]

The four locomotives built by Baldwin Locomotive Works were given brand-new, smaller boilers built by Dixon Boiler Works.[13] They were also given new fiberglass cabs as well as new tenders, which utilized the bogies from the original tenders.[10][13] 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.[10][13] The locomotive's fireboxes were also reconfigured to burn diesel oil for fuel to generate steam.[13]

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.[13] 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.[13]

Attraction opening

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.[5] The first of the completed locomotives arrived at the Magic Kingdom park on May 15, 1971, several months before the park's opening.[14] 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.[6]

George Britton, who was the railroad's foreman upon its opening, continued to be its foreman until he retired on June 6, 2006.[15]

Ride experience

The WDWRR's water tower at Fantasyland Station.

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.[16] 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.[17] After going through a tunnel through the Splash Mountain log flume attraction, the train's next stop is at Frontierland Station.[18] 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).[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

Rolling stock

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.[6] In the past, all four steam locomotives have received overhauls at the Tweetsie Railroad workshop in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.[22]

The table below lists the details of the Walt Disney World Railroad's locomotives and their passenger cars.[4][23]

Number Name Namesake Image Wheel arrangement Date built Builder Builder number Passenger cars Date entered service Status Notes
1 Walter E. Disney Walt Disney Walter E Disney on track.jpg 4-6-0 May 1925 Baldwin Locomotive Works 58444 Five red passenger cars October 1, 1971 In service
2 Lilly Belle Lillian Disney Lilly Belle on track.jpg 2-6-0 September 1928 Baldwin Locomotive Works 60598 Five green passenger cars October 1, 1971 Not in service Presently being rebuilt at the Strasburg Rail Road in Strasburg, Pennsylvania[1]
3 Roger E. Broggie Roger E. Broggie Roger E Broggie on track.jpg 4-6-0 May 1925 Baldwin Locomotive Works 58445 Five yellow passenger cars October 1, 1971 In service 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.[23]
4 Roy O. Disney Roy O. Disney Roy O Disney on track.jpg 4-4-0 February 1916 Baldwin Locomotive Works 42915 Five blue passenger cars December 1, 1971 In service 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.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Surviving Steam Locomotives in Florida". June 17, 2016. Archived from the original on June 17, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "How Walt Disney's Love of Trains Changed the World". The Huffington Post. March 18, 2015. Archived from the original on March 18, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Broggie 2014, p. 317.
  4. ^ a b Broggie 2014, pp. 393–394.
  5. ^ a b Broggie 2014, p. 331.
  6. ^ a b c Broggie 2014, p. 333.
  7. ^ Broggie 2014, p. 216.
  8. ^ Broggie 2014, p. 318.
  9. ^ a b c Broggie 2014, pp. 320–323.
  10. ^ a b c Amendola 2015, p. 148.
  11. ^ a b Broggie 2014, p. 324.
  12. ^ Broggie 2014, p. 328.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Broggie 2014, p. 329.
  14. ^ "May 15, 1971: Walt Disney World Railroad". Orlando Sentinel. May 15, 1971. Archived from the original on June 22, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  15. ^ "This is a Mickey Mouse railroad!, page two". Kalmbach Publishing Co. November 20, 2009. Archived from the original on July 21, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Magic Kingdom and Fun Facts". WDWRadio. September 14, 2007. Archived from the original on January 9, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 
  17. ^ "The Quick 10: 10 Magic Kingdom Attractions and Their Secrets". Mental Floss. October 1, 2008. Archived from the original on November 1, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 
  18. ^ Bradshaw et al. 2013, p. 233.
  19. ^ "Celebrate 40th birthday of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom (and check out these 'secret' spots)". Tampa Bay Times. September 28, 2011. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Walt Disney World Railroad". Theme Park Insider. February 10, 2006. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour – official website". Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. January 17, 2013. Archived from the original on March 22, 2016. Retrieved June 25, 2016. 
  22. ^ "This is a Mickey Mouse railroad!, page four". Kalmbach Publishing Co. November 20, 2009. Archived from the original on July 21, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  23. ^ a b Amendola 2015, pp. 150–157.
  24. ^ "Prince Charming Regal Carrousel – official website". Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. January 17, 2013. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 


External links