Disney Theme Park Railroads
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff
unless otherwise credited

It is easy for a railway enthusiast to discount theme park railways as mere fairground rides. It does not help that some use diesel mechanical drives dressed up as steam locomotives. However, Walt Disney was not only a railway enthusiast, but was one with considerable means! Walt had his own "backyard" 7¼ inch gauge live steam line - The Carolwood Pacific Railroad. One of Walt's friends, and senior animator, Ward Kimball, was also a railway enthusiast. Ward had his own 3ft gauge Grizzly Flats Railroad (rolling stock now donated to the Orange Empire Railway Museum at Perris, California). Ward also assisted Walt with the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Note that railways regularly featured in Walt Disney films and even today the animated opening sequence of all Walt Disney Pictures commences with a steam locomotive. Come the construction of Disneyland at Anaheim California, Walt and Ward conspired to make a railroad an implicit part of the theme part from the outset. Originally called the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad, it featured on live TV preview during Disneyland's opening on July 17th 1955. The Disneyland Railroad is a 3ft gauge live steam railroad and has always been operated as a real railroad. Indeed, the Santa Fe was the Disneyland Railroad's corporate sponsor from its inception until 1974 and assisted in many ways.

Walt Disney was also a visionary and this extended to introduction of the futuristic Disneyland Monorail on June 14th 1959. This has always operated to railway principles, though it has to be said that Walt was ahead of the game here as it was the first monorail in daily operation in the Western Hemisphere and the USA! Walt hoped this would inspire construction of monorails for public transport systems, however by this time America's love affair with the car was all-embracing.

A live steam railroad and monorail were from the outset implicit parts of Walt Disney World in Florida, which opened on October 1st. In Florida the monorail system is far more extensive than in California, as indeed is the entire Walt Disney World complex. (In fact, take it from me, it's huge!)

Railroads also exist at Disneyland Paris and Disneyland Hong Kong, though in the case of the latter it is not live steam. A monorail runs at Disneyland Tokyo.

Walt Disney World Florida locomoive #1 Walter E Disney

Pictured at Walt Disney World, Florida, in June 1988, is WDW Railroad 4-6-0 locomotive #1 named after the great man himself - "Walter E. Disney". It was built in 1925 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, so is three years older than Mickey Mouse !

The WDW Railroad has three other locos, all Baldwins:
#2 "Lilly Belle" 2-6-0 (BLW 1928)
#3 "Roger. E. Broggie" 4-6-0 (BLW 1925)
#4 "Roy. O. Disney" 4-4-0 (BLW 1916)

Disneyland California locomotive #2 E.P. Ripley

We now move to Disneyland, California, some 22 year later.

#2 E.P. Ripley is a 4-4-0 built by the Walt Disney Studio in 1954 and was used on the opening day. It is a 4-4-0 and is named after an early President of the Santa Fe (ATSF). It is seen at Main Street Station on 2oth August 2010

Disneyland California locomotive #3 Fred Gurley

Also at Main Street Station, but the day before, is 2-4-4T #3 Fred Gurley. Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1894 it first entered service at Disneyland in 1958 and is the oldest piece of railroad equipment in any Disney theme park. It was originally used in Louisiana to haul trains transporting sugar cane.

photograph by Fiona Duff

Disneyland California locomotive #5 Ward Kimball

Back to Friday 20th August 2010, entering Main Street Station, and I am about to board, is 2-4-4 #5 Ward Kimball. It was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1902 for the Laurel Valley Plantation, Louisiana. It was originally a 0-4-4 and the pony truck was added by the Cedar Point Amusement Park. Disney took ownership of it as an inoperative loco called Maud L in 1999. It was restored in 2004 and entered service on June 25th 2005.

There at two other steam locomotives at Disneyland:
#1 C.K. Holliday 4-4-0 (Walt Disney Studio 1954)
#4 Ernest S. Marsh 2-4-0 (originally 0-4-0ST BLW 1925)

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