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  1. #1

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    I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    For those of you who may not be aware, there are several tours you can take at WDW, one of which being the "Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour." (here's a link to the tour page on disneyworld.com: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw...TrainsTourPage) For those of you with an affection for railroading, this is a particularly interesting tour, and even if you aren't a "railfan," it's still quite interesting to get to know a part of the park's operations that was perhaps nearest and dearest to Walt's own heart. I attended this tour in June, 2007 while on our family vacation (this was my one DAD thing I got to do alone without the girls... lol). I will stick mostly to the photos with just a touch of narration here and there, so do enjoy.

    To set the stage, the day started early as I had to report to the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom at 7:15 am. Needless to say, I was tiptoe-ing around the our hotel room at Wilderness Lodge so as not to disturb the females. Now, here's the embarrassing thing. For the LIFE of me, I cannot recall the gentleman's full name that conducted our tour... I want to say it was Ed Molina, so for this article, I will refer to him as Engineer Ed (if someone in FL recognizes this fellow's photo, please get someone on the WDWRR crew to get me his name... thanks!). I got there just as Engineer Ed was getting started on his discussion; the other tour patrons were already present.



    I have to comment that Ed was an amazing wealth of railroad, Disney, and Walt Disney knowledge; I was duly impressed. He was fun, matter-of-fact, and a joy to spend the morning with. I definitely left a very positive note about his tour at Guest Services.

    Moving on... Here's the station early in the morning...


    ... and here's Walt's window on the front.


    Ed continued with his narration... I wish I had used a video camera to capture the tour; so many details he had committed to memory...


    We had a few minutes to ourselves before our train arrived to check out the park freshly power-washed and without guests... Cool!












    Here's something you don't see every day... The backside of a train station!


    Walt's radiant wife, the Lovely Lillian...


    Seeing the MK devoid of guests is just the most bizarre thing...


    But, moments later, a familiar chugging sound filled the air, and so it was that our "personal" train pulled into the station. We were to ride the "Lilly Belle", WDWRR Engine No. 2.


    Time to hit the rails! More to come on the next post... Stay tuned!
    Last edited by tonyrr1; 04-28-2008 at 11:13 AM.
    -Tony

  2. #2

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Looks like a fun tour! I'll have to check it out sometime. I agree about seeing the parks empty. That's one of my favorite things about morning "tours". I have similar pictures of Epcot when we went for our Segway tour in the morning.

    When was this tour? Recently? This means the clock tower is back! Yay!! It was absent last weekend when we were there.
    -Tim

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Quote Originally Posted by tonyrr1 View Post
    it's still quite interesting to get to know a part of the park's operations that was perhaps nearest and dearest to Walt's own heart.

    What do they say exactly to tie this in to Walt's love for miniature trains? The man wasn't even alive anymorewhen WDW's Railroad began operation.

    Nice pictures.

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Tim... June 2007 was the trip.

    Grizzly... It wasn't necessarily miniature trains that Walt loved but trains in general and their operation in particular, miniature or otherwise. It was a park element that he insisted was included in Disneyland from its inception, and of course, this was carried over to each Disneyland-style park that came afterward (MK, DLP, TDL, HKD). If memory serves, the railroad in Disneyland is actually a narrow guage road while the WDWRR is a standard guage system (if Steve DeGaetano drops in, he can correct me).

    UPDATE: Just read that the WDWRR is also a narrow guage (3 ft) system. You learn something new every day!
    Last edited by tonyrr1; 04-28-2008 at 08:08 AM.
    -Tony

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Quote Originally Posted by tonyrr1 View Post

    Grizzly... It wasn't necessarily miniature trains that Walt loved but trains in general and their operation in particular, miniature or otherwise. It was a park element that he insisted was included in Disneyland from its inception,
    Miniature or not, the question still stands. Yes, he insisted on it being included at Disneyland that is common knowledge. But we are talking about MK's, which he never saw, so that's why I asked the question.

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Post #2... Heading to the Roundhouse (Which Isn't Quite So Round...)

    We boarded our "private" train for the trip from Main Street Station to the backstage roundhouse (how cool is it to have a train at MK all to yourself? Way cool...). Engineer Ed continued to regale us with stories and facts while briefing us on actual train operation in the park. As with all the Disney park railroads, the WDWRR is a real "working" railroad, not just an attraction. Therefore, all the CM's, engineers, conductors (who have the final say in train operation), and station staff have to be on the ball at all times to ensure timely running of the trains and efficient, safe transportation of park guests. Of course, I found the hand, voice, and whistle signals to be most interesting (how the conductor communicates with the engineers during operation). So remember, when you hear two "toots" on the train whistle, that's the engineer giving the "Two-to-Go" signal (ready for forward motion), and it'll be leaving the station shortly!


    We weren't allowed to take photographs of the area where the trains switch and move backstage for security reasons. The trains actually run past the switch on the mainline, then are backed down the lead tracks to the roundhouse. However, when we arrived backstage, we were greeted by more live steam. What fun!

    Here's the Roy O. Disney (Engine No. 4) waiting for us on static display, but another engine is peeping out off to the left...


    Ah ha! There's the Roger E. Broggie (Engine No. 3) creeping out of her stall into the humid Florida morning air...


    Engine No. 3 getting ready to stretch her legs and head to the mainline for guest transportation.




    It always amazes me how meticulously clean they keep these engines and rolling stock. Absolutely gorgeous equipment... and there's a lot of pride these railroad CM's take in their work and equipment, and justifiably so.






    Engineer Ed briefs us on safety before allowing us to climb up into the cab of Engine No. 4. The tender behind Ed doesn't contain coal; these engines generate their steam using diesel fuel oil.


    ... and up we go!


    Here are the boiler controls in the cab area. No digital readouts or pushbuttons here. An engineer really has to know his or her equipment and have a good "feel" for these mammoths to make them do the work that's required of them. Engineer Ed talked about the test a prospectvie engineer CM has to pass to be certified to operate one of the locomotives... Very detailed indeed.


    Here's a look out the front of the cab (fireman's side) down the service tracks that lead to the mainline, and here comes Madam Conductor!


    Here's a look inside one of the roundhouse stalls for the steam engines....


    ... and a look from the stall down the service tracks that head to the park and the mainline. Notice something above our heads..?


    That's right; it's the Monorail! It too has a roundhouse, right on top of the one used for the steam trains!


    Alrighty, I'll finish up the tour and head back into the park on the next and final post.
    Last edited by tonyrr1; 04-28-2008 at 12:21 PM.
    -Tony

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    I think I just decided on my next tour, Thanks Tony!
    Hi I'm Jerren and I'm a Disneyholic...

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Great pictures, I'd love to do the train tour one day. Looking forward to the rest of your report!

    Where is the portrait of Lillian Disney, I have never noticed it before? Also how many engines does the WDWRR have?

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Post #3... Firing Up the Roy O. Disney and Heading Back to the Park

    This will be our ride back into the park after the engineer CM's get her fired up for the day's work...


    Engineer Ed had so much to tell us about the trains, their operation and history that to this moment I lament not have had a video camera. In any event, let's press on, shall we?

    Here's Engineer Ed telling us about the oil pump, of all things. So many things have a history, even the seemingly small things.




    Here's the shiny manufacturer's plate on the boiler... Note the year of manufacture... This engine's been at work for many a year...


    We move around to the engineer's side of the loco as an engineering CM starts a visual inspection of the engine in preparation for getting it started and under way.


    A close-up of the engine number.


    Here's the smokestack and headlight.


    Note the lovely artwork on the side of the headlight box...


    And a shot down the engineer's side of the engine... That's a lot of brass to keep shiny!


    Now the engineer CM's get busy with their preparations for bringing the Roy O. Disney to life, and we get under way.




    Again, we have to shutter the cameras as we leave the backstage area and move onto the mainline. We stop at Toontown Station to allow for a "blowing-out" of steam for the engine. As I understand things, this process uses the boiler's steam to blow out sediments in the piping system and keep things clear. If the steam pipes were blocked and steam couldn't escape when needed, a very nasty explosion could result, so this is a very important procedure.






    Finally, we make it back around to Main Street Station where our tour concludes. Of course, Engine No. 4 and her engineers are now on-duty and ready to work.


    The engineer greets some of the tour guests as we leave the station.


    Finally, I get to get into a picture... lol.


    The engineer enjoys a brief moment of peace in the warm sun before his operating day gets started in earnest.


    Engineer Ed finishes up his stories and facts, gives us all a gift (a pin you can only get on this tour... very cool), and bids us a pleasant day. He really made this tour very interesting and engaging, and I am very grateful to him for his time, knowledge, and wit.


    By the time our tour is over with, the park is open to the public, so here are a few of the shots I had in the first post to give you an idea of what things look like with actual guests running about the park.

    There's Pluto and Chip-n-Dale! Cool!


    Main Street is having a bustling morning...


    ... and Minnie Mouse continues her chat with a very dear friend.


    Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time, and I hope you've enjoyed the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Have a magic day!

    :: TOOT TOOT:: Well, there's the 2-to-go signal, so I'm outta here!
    Last edited by tonyrr1; 04-28-2008 at 10:21 AM.
    -Tony

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Quote Originally Posted by Disney Magic View Post
    Great pictures, I'd love to do the train tour one day. Looking forward to the rest of your report!

    Where is the portrait of Lillian Disney, I have never noticed it before? Also how many engines does the WDWRR have?
    It was really a great tour, and I think the cost was $40, and you get a discount if you have a Disney Rewards Visa (WOO HOO!).

    If you look at the photo from my first post where I make the "backside of a train station" joke (too many Jungle Cruise rides), you'll see a staircase in the center of the shot past the gathering of gentlemen. Off to either side of that staircase, you can see several frames along the walls, and her photo is there. There's also lots of other interesting photos and information about Walt and his affection for railroads, so it's worth a few minutes to stroll through and take it in. It's just like a Disney park to have little out-of-the-way details everywhere you look; I just love that.

    Now, as to the WDWRR fleet, here are the details...
    • Engine No. 1, The "Walter E. Disney", a 4-6-0 built in 1925.
    • Engine No. 2, The "Lilly Belle", a 2-6-0 built in 1928 (when Mickey Mouse was born!).
    • Engine No. 3, The "Roger E. Broggie", a 4-6-0 built in 1925.
    • Engine No. 4, The "Roy O. Disney", a 4-4-0 built in 1916.
    • All the engines were built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA.
    There's plenty of information on the Internet of course, but Wikipedia has a very comprehensive article on the subject that I would recommend to you. Search using "Walt Disney World Railroad," and you'll find it.
    Last edited by tonyrr1; 04-28-2008 at 08:13 AM.
    -Tony

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerren View Post
    I think I just decided on my next tour, Thanks Tony!
    Brad... Definitely take the tour my friend. It's a grand time.
    -Tony

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly View Post
    Miniature or not, the question still stands. Yes, he insisted on it being included at Disneyland that is common knowledge. But we are talking about MK's, which he never saw, so that's why I asked the question.
    Grizzly... I'm not sure how else to respond to your question other than to say that Walt's love of trains has been an element of each Disneyland-style theme park that Disney has built. I'm sure this was done to preserve the feel of Disneyland through out each of these parks as well as to honor not only Walt but his other "train nuts" that he worked with such as Roger Broggie (who located the engines used on the WDWRR) and Ward Kimball (who now has a namesake engine at Disneyland).
    Last edited by tonyrr1; 04-28-2008 at 07:02 PM.
    -Tony

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    That is so cool! I knew that there are different tours but I hadn't heard of this one. I'll have to look into it!

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    During your tour, did they happen to mention any plans to convert the locomotives over to biodiesel like they have at Disneyland?
    -Tim

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    Re: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad... The WDW Steam Trains Tour!

    AW... Not sure about Disneyland, but I know that MK in WDW has four standard tours plus what they call a "VIP Tour." From the description, the VIP tour looks like something that you can work with the MK folks and kind of make your own tour. It's pricey though... $125+ per hour with a 6-hour minimum. Yikes!

    halltd... Engineer Ed didn't make mention of that as I recall. Now, had I brought along my video camera, I would have known for sure since this tour was almost a year ago and my memory is sometimes rather selective (it's already JUNE again..?!? Sheesh...).
    -Tony

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