Wildlife Express Train
|Wildlife Express Train|
Wildlife Express Locomotive No. 02594 R Baba Harpoor arriving at Conservation Station
|Disney's Animal Kingdom|
Rafiki's Planet Watch
|Soft opening date||April 21, 1998|
|Opening date||April 22, 1998|
July 11, 2019 (reopening)
|Closing date||October 21, 2018 (Original)|
|Designer||Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Track gauge||3 ft (914 mm)|
The Wildlife Express Train is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge rail transport attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Its route is 1.2 miles (1.9 km) long and takes guests from Harambe Station in the Africa section to Conservation Station in the Rafiki's Planet Watch section. During the ride, portions of the Animal Kingdom backlot can be seen, including animal holding buildings for rhinos and elephants, among other animals, as well as the roundhouse where the trains are stored. It takes about twelve minutes for each train to complete a round trip on the line: seven minutes from Harambe Station to Conservation Station, and five minutes from Conservation Station to Harambe Station. The railway is built to a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge, which is smaller than the 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge currently used on East African railways. The full journey is a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) round trip.
The railway is part of the fictitious Eastern Star Railway, running from Lusaka to Nairobi and Kisangani. Despite the dated and weathered appearance of the trains, they are actually brand-new models built by Severn Lamb in Alcester, England.
Early plans for Disney's Animal Kingdom called for a railway that would have taken guests through the Savannah plains. This idea was modified, however, when concerns about the safety of the animals was raised. Instead, Disney decided to create a railway that would take guests from the Village of Harambe in the Africa section of the park to Conservation Station in the Rafiki’s Planet Watch section of the park. Imagineer George McGinnis came out of retirement to design the locomotives for the attraction. They were designed to give guests the impression that the trains had been traveling through Africa for a hundred years, collecting grime and rust along the way. Imagineer Joe Rohde stated that the team was "creating a look for vehicles that would be seen today in Africa and Asia, long after their original use in Europe in the late 1800s."
The locomotives and rail cars themselves were built in 1997 by Severn Lamb, Ltd. in Alcester, England. Production of the locomotives was overseen by Imagineers Bob Harpur and Joel Fritsche. On April 22, 1998, the Wildlife Express Train opened with the rest of Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Wildlife Express Train
The Wildlife Express Train operates three 2-4-2T diesel-hydraulic steam outline locomotives built by Severn Lamb of Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom in 1997 before the park's opening the following year. The locomotives are all a different color: one red, one black, and one green. These locomotives are based on the L&YR Class 5 and Class 6 locomotives, designed by John Aspinall, and built in 1898 at Horwich Works in Horwich for the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in England, which share the same 2-4-2T wheel arrangement and body design. The builder's plates of the locomotives, however, state that they were built in 1926 by Beyer, Peacock and Company of Gorton Foundry in Manchester. Their numbers are 02594 (red), 04982 (black), and 00174 (green), with the former carrying the name R. Baba Harpoor, in honor of Imagineer Bob Harpur.
The rail line also uses two sets of train cars, each consisting of five coaches with a total seating capacity of 250 people on contoured benches facing sideways per train. The two trains are colored red and green. Both sets contain various bins and items on the roof, representing the luggage that passengers have brought aboard the train.
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