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Encyclopedia SAMLANDICA Volume 2 - Popcorn, New Orleans Surprise, Disneyland Trains

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 07-27-2011 at 08:20 PM

It is time for another installment of the Encyclopedia SAMLANDICA.
These are random bits of Disneyland trivia that tickle my fancy and I hope yours too. We will explore a world of tiny mechanical men on Disneyland's popcorn wagons, Look above New Orleans Square, and take a ride on a tender car. Let's crack open the latest volume and see where it takes us . . .


As you probably have guessed by now, I really love the little details that often get overlooked but make Disneyland and Walt Disney World so special. This is the sort of stuff the Imagineers did not have to do but would certainly be missed if it were removed. One of those special touches is a group of mechanical men called Roastie-Toasties, so named in the book Imagineering: A Behind the Scenes Look at Making MORE Magic Real (what a title). I just love these little guys. Within each land that features a popcorn cart, there is a little person who assists the Cast Members.

Here is a quick video to show you the team at work.

Sonny Bono here is spinning the machine on Main Street USA in Town Square.

At the other end of Main Street, at the edge of the Plaza Hub, is this colorful happy clown. On a completely different topic, I understand there are people who will not stay at the Boardwalk in Walt Disney World because they are afraid of the clown featured in the slide at the pool. Is this true?

Spinning around like the paddle powering the Mark Twain is this guy.
He is between the boat dock and the petrified tree. This little fellow may be related to the one on Main Street USA.

The littlest conductor is working in Toontown. This is the least obvious of the carts, located all the way at the exit of Mickey's house.

Our furry little friend is over by the Matterhorn naturally.

This evil clown is across from it's a small world. I guess the song has taken its toll.

One of my favorites. This fellow works just outside of the Haunted Mansion. Bet we have all felt this same way after a long day at work. He get's a break from Halloween through Christmas as a tiny Oogie Boogie takes his place.

Finally, Tomorrowland gets into the act and has recruited the Rocketeer.

Speaking of popcorn, next time you are in Disneyland's New Orleans Square, take a look around at the balconies. You will notice that there is an entire community living upstairs with each person expressing their talents by what is on the balcony. For example, the lady over by the exit of Pirates has a thing for birds, while another is the home of a fortuneteller. There is even a band that lives in one building.

One day I sat staring at the painter's nest up above the entrance to the French Market. Looks like the painter is an impressionist who paints what they know. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the content also looked familiar. Of course, it is one of the famous Disneyland popcorn carts that is within site of this balcony that is the inspiration for the painting.

Ever wonder what it would be like to run a live steam locomotive like the ones that power the Disneyland Railroad? A relatively unknown Disney perk (subject to change at anytime) can get you very close to that experience when you see Engine 1 or Engine 2 running. If the conditions are right, you and one guest might be able to score a ride on the tender car. This special seat puts your right there in the cab with the folks running the train.

A confession. I am a train freak. Love 'em. You can say I have “high iron” in my blood. If you don't own Steve DeGaetano's Welcome aboard the Disneyland Railroad and Michael Broggie's Walt Disney's Railroad Story then what are you waiting for? You said you were a Disney fan.

The C.K. Holliday (Engine 1) and the E.P. Ripley (Engine 2) are the two original steam locomotives built specifically for Disneyland. For many years, Disneyland didn't even own the trains. Instead, they were owned and operated by a separate company owned by Walt Disney himself, called Reltaw. Retlaw was Walter spelled backwards. One benefit for Walt by this arrangement, according to Michael Broggie, was his ability to “put on his bib overalls and kerchief, and go wait for the next train. When the train arrived, [Walt] would climb into the cab and tell the engineer that he was on break.” Since everybody at Retlaw was on Walt’s own payroll they did as the boss told them.

The steam locomotives are one of the defining features of the Magic Kingdom parks. I would argue that Disneyland wouldn't exist if it were not for these two trains. Walt owned a 1/8-scale live steam locomotive called the Lilly Belle and ran it in his backyard in Holmby Hills. According to Broggie, Walt learned a couple of lessons with his backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific. First, there is just something about steam trains that fascinates children and adults.

Have a seat, take a ride

Second, Walt learned how an earthen berm around his property could screen visual intrusions. A berm is a narrow ledge or shelf generally made of dirt with the top or bottom of a slope planted with trees and plants to control a view. Along the top edge is a dense layer of plant materials. As Walt told his daughter Diane, “I built that bank up on the canyon so when I was down there playing with my trains, my neighbors wouldn’t be annoyed.” An earthen berm, preventing the real world from intruding, is a defining feature of Disneyland park.

Engine 1, the C.K. Holliday (4-4-0 America - 5/8ths scale) is somewhat based on the Lilly Belle, Walt's backyard 1/8th scale locomotive. That locomotive is based on a famous Central Pacific Steam Locomotive that you can see in Sacramento, California. Since this would be a rural train, it was fueled by wood. The wide smokestack was able to catch embers. Engine 2, the E.P. Ripley is a replica of a coal-burning 4-4-0 American with its narrow smokestack. Here is some guilt free news. Today all of the Disneyland trains run on bio-diesel (including French-fry oil).

Both locomotives are named after former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad presidents. Originally, the C.K. Holliday only stopped at the Frontierland station and the rolling stock was cattle cars. The E.P. Ripley only stopped at the Main Street Station.

For me, my favorite may have to be E.P. Ripley because this was the locomotive that Walt guided into the Main Street station on the opening day broadcast. The expression on his face reveals a man having the time of his life.

The tender car holds the fuel and water for the locomotive and is usually not an attractive place to be. But the C.K. Holliday and the E.P. Ripley were purpose built as pleasure trains and there is a place for guests. The other three Disneyland Baldwin locomotives were built for business and do not have such a perk.

The little bench seat fits two guests. You do not get to hear the spiel but who cares. Due to the diminutive scale of the locomotives, you feel like you are inside the cab. This is one of my favorite things to do and I save it for very special occasions.

How do you get to ride the tender car? Keep in mind, Disneyland can turn the program on and off and has done so in the past. The best way is to very politely ask the Cast Member working the Main Street station and have a lot of patience. You may have to wait for a long period of time. There are four reasons they will not allow you ride:

1) They need to refill the water tank to feed the boiler.
2) They need to blow down the boiler. This is a process whereby they remove the sediments that build up in the boiler. You can watch this process happen frequently at the New Orleans Square station. Sometimes they will do this at the Tomorrowland station as well.
3) They are changing crews.
4) The Cast Member just doesn't want to deal with it at that time.

If you get the green light, and it may take a few passes. This gives you a good chance to soak up the exhibits in the train station. Once your train has arrived, you will bypass the regular line and push past the little gate leading to the locomotive. Watch your head, as the roof is very low. Step up on the metal plates and take a seat. They have one of those little plastic seatbelts you must wear.

This perk is for a round trip only. You cannot exit early. Soon you will note how cozy the space is and how close you are to the Engineer, Fireman, and the boiler. You are just behind the locomotive and the floor plates of the tender and locomotive move independently beneath your feet. It can get very hot in here. You are right up against the firebox. The fireman can teach you about the water meter and proper water levels. You get a real sense of the power of steam.

It is a very different experience because you are sitting with no cover over your head. The Grand Canyon and Primeval World dioramas take on a whole new meaning as you feel the shed surrounding you.

The Cast Members operating the train are some of the friendliest in the park. They are always glad to answer questions and help you to understand how this machine lives and breathes. The amount of tweaking done by the fireman is always a surprise. You will learn that a steam engine is a very complex machine each position requires a lot of training. I understand a minimum of 200 hours is required just to be fireman.

The crews have told me that locomotives are very finicky and have personalities. It is fun to hear the debate between crew members as to the positive and negative traits of each engine.

If you get the chance to take a ride on the tender car you will be glad you did. I know what job I want when I retire....

And so closes this volume of the Encyclopedia SAMLANDICA. If you ask for it, we may just have another volume for you soon.

Thank you all for reading, I look forward to your comments and discussions below.

PS. Don't miss any of our updates, follow SAMLAND on Twitter @ SamlandDisney

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Updated 08-02-2011 at 07:25 PM by SAMLAND



  1. bamato's Avatar
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    I'll have to try this next time I visit! Thanks for the wonderful pictures and peek into an area we rarely get to see!
  2. NASAMan's Avatar
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    I was given a chance to ride the cab, but was cut short from the round trip. Michael Broggie asked for a ride, and I gladly deferred with only the request if a picture. We chatted while the train loaded, and he invited me to a Carrolwood event in Orlando. My wife did not know why I was so excited!
  3. hadesthecat's Avatar
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    My Uncle was one of the Engineers and I was fortunate to ride on the engine numerous times. It is an experience I will never forget. Thanks Uncle David!!!!!
  4. DOMINGUESS's Avatar
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    I LOOOOVE this trivia stuff, THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking the time & putting this together!
  5. Hildy's Avatar
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    Love, love, love all the little popcorn guys. When I was at Disneyland last Feb. I had my son get pictures of all the different ones. It was quite fun. The whole family got in on it and tried to guess what they would have in each land. I believe my favorite is the little yetti by the Matterhorn.

    Just another example of what makes Disneyland my absolute favorite place on planet earth.

    When I go this Sept. I plan on getting pictures of all the signs on the restroom doors. I noticed that they were all different last time.

    I sound like a total nerd.
  6. 10/6's Avatar
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    As we boarded the train last week we saw someone climbing into the cab for the grand circle tour. This was the first I knew of that option. everyone in the car with me was gauking at them. LOL! I admit I was a little jealous, but happy to see the mom/boy so happy! Good show!
  7. camanddani's Avatar
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    My Dad would love this! He is always wanting to ride the train as is, so this is a good excuse for him to get to try!

    Thanks for the great insights!
  8. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    Nothing like getting a bag of Orville Popcorn and riding the Disneyland train around the whole park. Love the Roasters update. First time I saw and touched the Lillie Belle was during the WED Disneyland Walt Disney Story design and installation. Latter on Sharon Disney gave out some track sections from Walt's Carolwood Pacific, which is a great treasure with the years of patina on the rails, ties and trestle beams. PD
  9. JungleCruiseGirl94's Avatar
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    I've been fortunate enough to get a few chances to ride in the tender car during some of my frequent visits to the park. Every single time, the cast members working as the engineers have been so nice and were very happy to share little bits of knowledge on the trains and what not.

    It's a great experience if you happen to come at a time they're offering it. However, I wouldn't recommend waiting in a line that seems to form for this particular seat during busier seasons, or when many AP's come to try it out. But if you can, by all means go for it. It's amazing.
  10. Princess Victoria's Avatar
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    Thanks for a great article. These are things that are seldom mentioned, but definitely small touches that make the park feel more lived-in and immersive.
  11. Circa1966's Avatar
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    Thanks Sam! Brilliant article. I always get a kick out of Walt's arrival at Main Street when re-watching the opening day ceremonies. He was excited like a little kid! Thanks for the tips on how to get on the tender - I will be trying that out next time I'm in the Park!
  12. Steve DeGaetano's Avatar
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    Thanks for the shout-out, Sam, and an excellent description of what it feels like to ride on one of the engines (while technically not correct, I always refer to them as "cab rides," since the close proximity does make it feel like you're in the cab, as you noted).

    I've often wanted to do an article on what the heck all those controls and valves and gauges in the cab do. Your photos have inspired me to get working on that!

    One thing to note: The Central Pacific engine the Lilly Belle was based on (C.P. 173) has long been scrapped. There's a very famous photo that appears to show Walt standing in front of the real engine--but that is just a bit of marvelous "photoshopping" that was done before there was such a thing, using Walt's Lilly Belle model! Even Randy Bright got fooled by it in "Disneyland Inside Story."

    Anyway, thanks for the writeup. Definitely reminds me of my time "riding the rails" on the DRR.
  13. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    I remember reading that the rostie toastie in Tomorrowland was also a stormtrooper too!

  14. WildForMrToad's Avatar
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    wheres the oogie boogie toastie?
  15. Mousecat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildForMrToad
    wheres the oogie boogie toastie?
    Thanks for the great comments everyone. That is the fuel that fires this little blog.

    I do not have a photo of oogie boogie. Waiting for the holiday season to complete the collection.

    SamLand's Disney Adventures
  16. Big D's Avatar
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    I was lucky enough to work in ODV for three years (96 - 99) and I worked on every popcorn wagon many, many times. It never ceased to amaze me how excited little kids (and adults too) would get watching the little guys spinning the popcorn. I think some of them have been moved around to the wrong places though, the train conductor guy that you said was in Toontown goes on Main Street, and the clown goes in Toontown. Here is what I remember:

    Popcorn 1 (Town Square): Train Conductor?
    Popcorn 2 (Tomorrowland): Rocketeer
    Popcorn 3 (Golden Horseshoe): River Raft Man?
    Popcorn 4 (Hub): Barbershop Quartet Man
    Popcorn 5 (Matterhorn): Snowman
    Popcorn 6 (French Market): Zombie
    Popcorn 7 (Hungry Bear): Big Al
    Popcorn 10 (Toontown): Clown?

    Don't ask me why there is no Popcorn 8 or 9. My personal favorite was the zombie of course, and I think I probably worked on that wagon more than any other. I hope they do a better job of keeping the popcorn in the rotating glass jar fresh now, because it would get pretty old and moldy when I was there...
  17. ralfrick's Avatar
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    When my sis wit with me last spring, I wanted to start the day with something special, and with a railroading grandfather, it was an obvious choice. There is one other reason we've encountered for refusal, though. Once they had a trainee up there so we were unable to ride. They stopped these rides for a while, and the RR CMs were instrumental in having them restored. One of the things that makes DL so special.
  18. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildForMrToad
    wheres the oogie boogie toastie?
    Sam just sent me this image to share of the elusive Oogie Boogie Roastie Toastie

  19. DizMiiLand's Avatar
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    Awesome as always. The roastie toastie video is excellent. I too favor the HM character.

    It seems over the years the characters have changed a little? I have videos of them from the early 90s I will have to go back and check out.

    Thanks for the article.
  20. POTC matee's Avatar
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    I have been a fan of "all things Disney" my entire life. DLR was only 4 years old when I was born. OK do the math. Yes, old guy. But I did get to visit when I was a young child in the early days and have continued to be fascinated still. We have taken our kids and now our gkids many times. I'm the one that loves to look at the "hidden" stuff, read the details and learn more about the history. Amazing stories !
    Thank you for your time, I will be sure and link to this blog.