Wildlife Express Train

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Wildlife Express Train
Animal Kingdom Wildlife Express Train 01.jpg
Wildlife Express Locomotive No. 02594 R Baba Harpoor arriving at Conservation Station
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Rafiki's Planet Watch
Coordinates28°21′35″N 81°35′28″W / 28.35972°N 81.59111°W / 28.35972; -81.59111Coordinates: 28°21′35″N 81°35′28″W / 28.35972°N 81.59111°W / 28.35972; -81.59111
Soft opening dateApril 21, 1998
Opening dateApril 22, 1998
July 11, 2019 (reopening)[1]
Closing dateOctober 21, 2018 (Original)[2]
General statistics
Attraction typeTrain
ManufacturerSevern Lamb
DesignerWalt Disney Imagineering
Track gauge3 ft (914 mm)
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible

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 38 in) metre gauge currently used on East African railways.[3][4] 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.[5]

Attraction History[edit]

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."[3]

The locomotives and rail cars themselves were built in 1997 by Severn Lamb, Ltd. in Alcester, England.[6] Production of the locomotives was overseen by Imagineers Bob Harpur and Joel Fritsche.[3] On April 22, 1998, the Wildlife Express Train opened with the rest of Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The Wildlife Express Train and Rafiki's Planet Watch were both temporarily closed on October 21, 2018 and reopened on July 11, 2019.[1][7]

Rolling stock[edit]

Wildlife Express Train
Rafiki's Planet Watch
(not open to public)
Bus transfer
(via short walk outside park)

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.[3][4] 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.[8] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Terrell, Scott (June 10, 2019). "The Animation Experience at Conservation Station begins July 11". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on June 19, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "BREAKING: Rafiki's Planet Watch to Close Permanently Next Month". Blog Mickey. September 21, 2018. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d 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, p. 385, ISBN 978-1-57864-914-3
  4. ^ a b "Surviving Steam Locomotives in Florida". Steamlocomotive.com. February 14, 2017. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  5. ^ Amendola, Dana (2015). All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains (1st ed.). Disney Editions. pp. 158–159. ISBN 978-1-4231-1714-8.
  6. ^ Smith, Thomas (November 1, 2010). "Where at Disney Parks Can You Find…". Disney Parks Blog. Archived from the original on October 25, 2018. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  7. ^ Tuttle, Brittani (September 29, 2018). "Rafiki's Planet Watch to reopen in spring 2019 at Disney's Animal Kingdom". Attractions Magazine. Archived from the original on November 12, 2018. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  8. ^ "Historic British Trains Live Again on Wildlife Express". Walt Disney World News. December 11, 2006. Archived from the original on February 2, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2019.

External links[edit]