Featured Attractions

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: The DISNEYLAND Railroad

When planning began for DISNEYLAND, Walt Disney was open to most any idea his staff could dream up, but one thing was non-negotiable- it should be surrounded by a train. More precisely, it would be surrounded by two trains. Walt enlisted studio machinist Roger Broggie to fabricate two steam trains from scratch. After signing a sponsorship deal with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, the engines would be named after two past railroad presidents- the CK Holliday and the EP Ripley. After much expense and time, the engines went into service on July 17, 1955.


The attraction was hugely successful. Since Walt's brother Roy had balked at the expense of building the trains, Walt Disney paid for them himself; in fact, his Retlaw Enterprises owned the trains, the Mark Twain, the DISNEYLAND Monorail and the Fire Station until 1982. His two trains could not keep up with the demand, but the cost and effort of building new trains from scratch would be prohibitive. Mr. Broggie and Walt had learned a lot from the initial fabrication and determined that they could cheaply and easily restore retired engines for use on the DISNEYLAND Railroad. Soon two new engines- the Fred Gurley and the Ernest Marsh would join the fleet. The Walt Disney Company would never build trains from scratch again, preferring to simply fix up older trains. The trains at Florida's Magic Kingdom park, for example, are all older trains that were fixed up for use in the park.


The latest train to make its way into the DISNEYLAND fleet is the Ward Kimball, the only train at the park not named for an AT&SF executive. Named after the animator who inspired Walt Disney to follow his passion for trains, it features Mr. Kimball's most famous character- Jiminy Cricket- emblazoned on its front light.