Disneyland Resort Press Release
15 February 2006
DISNEYLAND RAILROAD GETS FIRST NEW ENGINE IN NEARLY 50 YEARS, HONORS FAMED DISNEY ANIMATOR
Grand Lady of the Rails Returns to “The Happiest place on earth”
ANAHEIM, Calif. (February 15, 2006) - - In an exclusive ceremony today at Disneyland in southern California, hundreds of Disney “Cast Members” came together to show their love for one of the park’s original attractions - - the Disneyland Railroad - - and to join in the dedication of two additions to the famed railway - - the new Ward Kimball steam engine and the returning Lilly Belle VIP parlor car.
The early morning event at the Frontierland Train Station, hosted by Disneyland Resort president Matt Ouimet, honored the namesakes of the engine (legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball) and the restored parlor car (Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian Disney), plus all the Disney Cast Members and Imagineers who made these new additions to the beloved railroad possible. Members of the Kimball family were in attendance during the dedication which also happened to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of Lillian Disney herself.
“The Disneyland Railroad is an integral part of our 50-year heritage and I’m very proud of all of our Cast Members and Imaginers who have helped to make these new additions a reality,” said Ouimet. “The Ward Kimball engine and Lilly Belle car are wonderful salutes to two individuals whose impact on Disneyland is everlasting.”
The Ward Kimball is the first steam engine added to the Disneyland Railroad in 47 years. It is a salute to legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball (1914 – 2002) whose credits include such film classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, The Three Caballeros, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Kimball was an avid train enthusiast who helped get Walt Disney actively interested in backyard steam railroading, beginning with a visit to the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948. Kimball’s passion extended all the way to having a full-size steam train layout in his backyard dubbed the Grizzly Flats Railroad.
The new engine (over 103 years old!) on the Disneyland Railroad was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and went into service in 1902. The little train was initially owned by Frank Barker and J. Wilson Lepine, proprietors and operators of the LaurelValley and Melodia sugarcane plantations, and the Laurel Valley Sugar Refinery in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. The train was originally known as the Maud L., named after the young daughter of J. Wilson LePine. The little iron horse traversed the 15-mile railroad of the plantation, hauling cars of sugar cane from outlying fields, through mosquito-infested swamps to the mill.
The Maud L. was retired in 1946 and seemingly headed towards the scrap heap. In 1999, after years of alternate owners, the little steamer found her way into Disney’s hands. The engine has since been lovingly and meticulously restored. It has been rechristened as the Ward Kimball, steam engine No. 5 on the Disneyland Railroad. Featuring a red cab with red wheels, the engine also sports genuine gold-leaf stenciling and lettering, plus a unique Jiminy Cricket silhouette on the headlamp (Kimball created the character for Walt Disney’s animated film Pinocchio). The engine features more pin striping than any other engine on the Disneyland Railroad while the boiler itself is coated in metallic midnight blue paint that cost nearly $900 per gallon!
Part of today’s festivities included the re-dedication of the grand lady of the Disneyland Railroad, its VIP parlor car - - the Lilly Belle. This special car has been off the Disneyland rails since 1998 due to the effects of the elements on its wood construction. However during the past seven months the car has been undergoing a painstaking refurbishment to restore it to its former glory
Now the Lilly Belle once again proudly welcomes guests to its Victorian splendor. The 37.75-foot-long car comfortably seats about 12 people with six sets of large double windows on each side for convenient viewing of the passing scenery. The décor of the plush parlor car is complete with gorgeous new interior elements such as a Victorian settee and chairs, velvet drapes, walls paneled with Himalayan mahogany, beveled mirrors, Disney family pictures and, rimming the top of the car, twelve stained glass panels.
Formerly the railroad’s signature observation car known as No. 106 Grand Canyon (dating back to 1955), the Lilly Belle sprang to life in 1974 after all of the railroad’s original, enclosed passenger cars had been retired. A proposal was put forth to transform No. 106 Grand Canyon into a “Bicentennial Car,” replete with red, white and blue finery. Eventually the concept evolved into rebuilding No. 106 as an elegant private railcar for visiting dignitaries and distinguished guests.
Created with interior design inspiration from Lillian Disney herself, the car welcomed its first VIP guests in 1975. During the first-ever visit to the United States by Japanese royalty, their Majesties Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako of Japan enjoyed a grand circle tour of Disneyland aboard the Lilly Belle during the park’s celebration of the American Bicentennial.
Over the past 50 years the authentic steam trains of the Disneyland Railroad have covered enough track to circle the globe more than 200 times while carrying nearly 300 million passengers.