Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World Railroad

 

History and photos of the Walt Disney World Railroad system in the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World.

Circling the Magic Kingdom theme park is a 1.5-mile long, narrow-gauge railroad track for the Walt Disney World Railroad system.  Along the way you'll have alternate views of the theme park and a relaxing mode of transportation.  When rolling through the forests of Frontierland, you'll pass by two Indian settlements, one of which can also be viewed from the Liberty Square Riverboat.

The story behind the Walt Disney World Railroad begins with the construction of five steam locomotives between 1916 and 1928 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works company in Pennsylvania.  The locomotives were originally built for the Ferrocarriles Unidos de Yucatán railroad in Mexico.  The Walt Disney Company later purchased five of those steam engines in 1969 and transported them to the Tampa Shipyards in Tampa, Florida.

Once in Tampa, the five steam engines were given a complete restoration and overhaul process for their transition into the Magic Kingdom theme park.  One of the engines was deemed unfit for service and later sold, but the other four engines made it to the theme park.

The four steam engines that operate in the Magic Kingdom are:

No. 1 "Walter E. Disney" - a 4-6-0 "Ten-Wheeler" wheel configuration engine originally built in 1925

No. 2 "Lilly Belle" - a 2-6-0 "Mogul" wheel configuration engine originally built in 1928

No. 3 "Roger E. Broggie" - a 4-6-0 "Ten-Wheeler" wheel configuration engine originally built in 1925

No. 4 "Roy O. Disney" - a 4-4-0 "American" wheel configuration engine originally built in 1916

The steam engines operate every day at the Magic Kingdom, starting at 9 am when the park opens until dusk.  The trains do not operate during the fireworks or other special events such as Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  A single trip around the Magic Kingdom takes about twenty minutes.

The Walt Disney World Railroad system uses three train stations around the Magic Kingdom:  Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland and Fantasyland.  When the Magic Kingdom first opened, the park only had the Main Street and Frontierland stations.  1989 saw the addition of a third train station for Mickey's Birthdayland, a new section added between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.  Mickey's Birthdayland would later become Mickey's Starland and then Mickey's ToonTown Fair.

1990-1991 saw another change with the Walt Disney World Railroad system as the Frontierland train station was closed and relocated down the track to make way for Splash Mountain.  During this time period, the railroad only operated with one train on the tracks as it shuttled visitors between Main Street, U.S.A. and Mickey's Starland.  The train would leave the Main Street station in reverse and travel backwards to the station at Mickey's Starland.  It would then ride forward back to the Main Street station and continue repeating the pattern.  It was an interesting sight seeing the trains run in reverse during that time period.

The next major change to the Walt Disney World Railroad occurred when Mickey's Toontown Fair closed on February 11, 2011 to make way for the new expansion to Fantasyland.  Unlike the closing of the Frontierland train station, this time around the trains continued with the clockwise pattern around the Magic Kingdom and stopping at the Fantasyland station as it was under construction.  This station was temporarily named the Watering Outpost as the trains still needed to stop and fill the tender with water.  Stopping at the station also helped keep the trains on schedule around the park.

On March 12, 2012, the new Fantasyland train station opened, bringing the Walt Disney World Railroad system back up to three train stations.

Guests are allowed to board and disembark from the trains at any of the three stations.  They're also allowed to stay on the train and make as many laps around the park as they desire.

TIP The best views of the Magic Kingdom are when sitting on the RIGHT side of the train.

 

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Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World Railroad:

Walt Disney World Railroad - on-ride: