For some of us riding the railroad at the Magic Kingdom is something we do every trip. This is the first attraction you see walking into the Magic Kingdom and was part of the opening show since the park opened in 1971 until January 7, 2017. Since this is such an icon in the Disney Parks I want to share with you some unknown facts about the railroad and the story of it’s history. Before Disneyland: Walt Disney loved locomotives and as a little boy he wanted to become an engineer. As a teenager, he obtained a job on the Missouri Pacific Railway , selling products to train passengers including newspapers. (Walt was a paperboy when he was a little kid as well) This love for trains continued to grow and Walt started to collect train models. The small trains were not good enough for Walt and he decided to buy a 5 acre lot in California. This lot would soon become home to the site to his new house and his own miniature railroad. Disney named his railroad Carolwood Pacific Railroad (CPRR) referencing his address at 355 Carolwood Drive. The railroad featured the Lilly Belle , a 1:8-scale live steam locomotive named after his wife and built by the Walt Disney Studios’ machine shop team led by imagineer Roger E. Broggie. The Lilly Belle ran on the CPRR for the first time on May 20th, 1950
Disneyland: Walt knew straight from the beginning that a railroad had to be in his first theme park. While designing the railroad with the rest of the imagineering team Walt looked to the CPRR for inspiration. He first started looking at making a miniature railroad but when a seller would not accept his offer Walt knew he had to do a full size handmade railroad. Through WED Enterprises Walt Disney was allowed to have personal ownership of the DRR and financed two trains to make sure it was done on time for Disneyland’s opening day. The names of both trains contained the word Retlaw , which is Walter spelled backwards. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland and the Disneyland Railroad opened, and kicked off with Walt Disney driving the Disneyland Railroad No. 2 locomotive into Main Street, U.S.A. Station with California Governor Goodwin J. Knight on board. Today the Disneyland Railroad has 5 locomotives with 4 stations. It received a complete renovation due to Star Wars:Galaxy Edge construction. The railroad recently reopened on July 29th, 2017 with a new route along the northern edge of the Rivers of America which features rock formations, five waterfalls, a trestle bridge , and the line’s only left-hand turn.
Walt Disney World: Since the Disneyland Railroad was doing so well Walt knew he needed to make one in Florida. The Walt Disney World Railroad was once again managed by imagineer Roger E. Broggie. Since he has experience with the Disneyland Railroad he knew exactly what to do for Walt Disney World. Roger determined that the best and cost effective way to make the railroad was to use already built locomotives, as opposed to building them entirely from scratch like the Disneyland Railroad’s first two locomotives. Broggie and a team of imagineers traveled to a railroad boneyard in Mexico. They found four locomotives built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in the boneyard and a fifth built by Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works that could potentially be transformed. The imagineering team wanted the locomotives to look like they were used in the 1880s to go along with Main Street U.S.A. Three of the Baldwin locomotives were at WDW opening day and the 4th went into service on December 1st, 1971. The Pittsburgh locomotive could not be salvaged. For the first few months of Walt Disney World the Main Street, U.S.A. Station at the park’s entrance was the only stop. On May 1, 1972, they opened another station near Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café in Frontierland. It was taken down in November 1990 to make way for Splash Mountain and was replaced by the current Frontierland Station, which opened in late 1991. During construction of Splash Mountain and the Frontierland Station, the Walt Disney World Railroad was temporarily renamed Backtrack Express and operated a single train, which only traveled back and forth along the section of track between the Main Street, U.S.A. section and the Mickey’s Starland section. Today the railroad has 3 stations and circles the entire park. The railroad could be affected by the new Tron Lightcycle Power Run attraction coming to Tomorrowland.
I hope you all enjoyed this Disney Geek’s look into the Walt Disney Railroad’s and if you did please share! If there is an attraction or resort that you would like to suggest for my next article let us know below!