Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Disney's Magic Behind our Steam Trains Tour

I am going to start this year by following in the steps of a very admirable man, Walt Disney.  My first blog of the year begins by stepping back into the past.  It has been said by many that Walt Disney held one foot in the past and the other in the future.  He had an amazing way of preserving as well as innovating.
I believe that this year has so many wonderful things in store!  And one way of learning and growing is by looking back as we build our future.

I recently participated in "Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour" with Gary, a wonderful Tour Guide.  I would recommend this tour to anyone interested in Disney or Train history.  The 3-hour tour does start at 7:30am, so be prepared to get up early & is not recommended for children under the age of 6, due to the amount of historic information that won't hold the attention of the average young child.
Find out how the four trains at Walt Disney World were found and the steps it took to bring them to the Magic Kingdom.  The trains transported 3 1/2 million people in 2011.  The next time you enter the Magic Kingdom, take a look very closely at the window over the Train Station, where you will still see a beautiful tribute to Walt Disney and his love of trains.  
His dedication window reads:
Railroad Office
Keeping Dreams on Track
Walter E. Disney
Chief Engineer

The names of the four trains in the Magic Kingdom are:  Lilly Belle, Roy O. Disney, Roger E. Broggie, and Walter E. Disney.  They were all built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA.  The four trains once hauled sugarcane for the United Railways of Yukaton in Mexico before they were spotted by Walter E. Disney & Roger Broddie in 1969, as they were planning "The Florida Project."

One interesting fact is that the "Show Train" cars that help open the Magic Kingdom every morning do not have the normal safety rails in the passenger cars, so that Cast Members can jump out the front as a part of the Opening Show.  This train is typically taken directly back to the Round House and traded out for Train Cars established for guests during the rest of the day. Only Cast Members are allowed on that train.  But you can look out for the differences if you are at Magic Kingdom during the Opening Show.

 Lilly Belle was named after Walt Disney's wife.  It is the "youngest" train, built in 1928 (and you may recognize that year as being the same year that Mickey Mouse was "born").  Every train has it's own personality, and the Lilly Belle is truly a lady with her own...at the time of our tour, she was having some issues being taken care of...as all of us ladies need to do on occasion.  The Lilly Belle Train was build to be a yard-switcher locomotive...wow, she's come a long way!  The Walt Disney Company is the only company in the world that owns "Twin Steam Trains" - as the Walter E. Disney & Roger Broggie trains were built side-by-side.  These two trains were built for pulling.
One interesting fact is that Wald Disney, himself wanted to be a part of the magic, so Roger Broggie taught him how to use the machines and for one hour a day, Walt learned how to use them and built his own caboose - which he opened everyday and locked in a closet each night because it was so special to him.  Some of the train cars from Walt's personal backyard "Carolwood Pacific Railroad" are currently on loan from the Walt Disney family and on display at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.
This room is open for anyone to view Walt's own personal toys.  Then if you take the tour, view a map of the layout of the track that was in his backyard.

This tour teaches you many interesting things and wonderful stories including:
- Learning about MAPO - the safety system which was developed around the time that Mary Poppins came out, hence the first two letters of each name.
- Find out the visual and audible signals used by the Engineers, Conductors in the Magic Kingdom
- Ride the train to the Roundhouse where the trains are stored at night.
- Watch some of the tests and checks done each morning hours before the park is opened to ensure safety.

 The Roy O. Disney locomotive was built in 1916.  It is the 2nd oldest thing in the Magic Kingdom,(next to the Carousel, which was built in 1917).  This type of train is an American Standard 440 and also known as "the train that won the west" because it was the train in most of the wild west movies from the early television days.  Roy Disney was Walt's older brother.  He promised Walt on his death bed that he would see his dream of this magical park where families can come together to laugh and play, no matter the age.

Interesting fact:
Walt Disney did not want the park named after him,  He thought of names like "Mickey Mouse Park" among others.  After Walt's death on December 15, 1966, Roy O. Disney decided that he would name the park after his brother because it was Walt's dream and he should get the recognition.  
Roy O. Disney was at the Magic Kingdom on opening day (October 1, 1971) and shared with a Disney Cast Member that it was his happiest day of life to see his brother's dream come true, as well as his saddest day that Walt could not experience this sight for himself.

Roy did not approve naming a train after himself, but after Roy's passing in December of 1971, Cast Members wanted to pay tribute for his hard work in seeing through his brother's dream.
The Roger E. Broggie was named after the Imagineer and first Engineer who built the first two Engines at Disneyland, which are still running as o 2012. 

Train Conductors have 2 1/2 minutes to load the train.  Please do not take it personally if you don't make the train, another comes very soon and they do need to stay on schedule to keep the 3-4 train spacing appropriate.  They have 3 stations and take a 20 minute to go around the 1.5 mile loop at 10 mph.  They do give whistle signals to close the gate and the "all clear" to move forward. 

Also, stop and watch as the Steam Trains stop at the NEW Fantasyland Carolwood Pacific Railroad, they add water to the steam train each time they stop at this location.  The trains don't require water that often, but it's all part of the show and Disney's tribute to the past, for it's guests.   

So, let's all learn from our past and build a wonderful future...starting right now!  
It's the perfect time to "GET ON TRACK."
I look forward to the wonderful things that this year holds.  


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