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The Magic Behind our Steam Trains

This is a 3 hour tour explaining the history and operation of the WDW railroad. I was talked into first going on this tour with the Lazygeek because he is a train buff, but I really enjoyed it. Enjoyed it so much I took my family on it this in December 2000, you do not have to be a railroad buff to enjoy this tour. We also went again in May 2009.

This tour is extremely well planned out. It has a great flow to it. They go through the story of Walt Disney and Walt Disney World's Railroad. As the tour winds its way through the history it intermixes a lot about how steam trains operate and how the WDW Railroad works.

The highlight of the tour is going to the roundhouse. Which is an incredible facility. On the first floor it houses the trains, on the second is the monorail roundhouse, and next to the trains is a huge bus depot. While back at the roundhouse you have the opportunity to explore a cold engine, and watch them pull out one and go through the safety checks on it.

The two times I took this tour we were given spikes as a gift at the end of the tour. Since 9/11 and increased airline security the tour has stopped doing this and now gives out a pin like all the other tours do.

Tour Log (12/2000)
  • Met outside the Magic Kingdom gate at 7:15am (took first bus from resort)
  • After the group assembled we entered the Magic Kingdom (before everyone else that was waiting for the early morning to open)
  • Walked in front of the train station (right by the floral Mickey) and had a great photo op with the train engine stopped right over the Mickey (never see this during the day)
  • After sending the train off on its test run, we were introduced to the story of Walt Disney and Trains
  • We proceeded to the train depot and up to wait for our train
  • We boarded the train and headed off
  • Once at the Toontown Station the train stopped and we were able to disembark and walk to the back to watch them turn the switch to take the train backstage
  • We re-boarded the rear of the train this time and the train slowly backed up going backstage and toward the roundhouse
  • Once we reached the roundhouse the train backed a little into it so we could see what it looked like
  • Then the train pulled out and we disembarked. This train then departed to start its day.
  • We were able to walk around outside the roundhouse and climb on (and take pictures with) a train they had pulled out.
  • After talking a bit more another train that was already warmed up was pulled out and we were able to watch them re-light it.
  • We boarded and road back to the ToonTown Station
  • There they conducted a few more safety tests, got to see it blow down , etc…
  • After completing the tests we re-boarded for the ride back to Main Street.
  • On the way we did one last safety check, the engineer ran a red light to test the emergency brakes, they worked off course
  • Back at the Main Street Train Station our guide concluded the Walt Disney and WDW Train Stories.
  • Next it was over to the tour garden to hear the wrap up, grab a snack, and get our railroad spike

Tour Thoughts (5/2009)
  • I have been on this tour a couple of times over the years and it is always interesting to me. I am not a huge train buff, but just seeing these great machines up close and learning a little about them is fun. Two other great aspects of this tour are you get to the Magic Kingdom well ahead of opening and get to see the park in a peaceful state. And secondly you spend some time backstage at the round house. The only real change in the tour is you now get a pin instead of a railroad spike.

  • The tour itself was nearly identical to the previous times I went on it, in terms of the stops. You meet right in front of the Magic Kingdom. You get a great photo op of a train stopped dead center in front of the Main Street Station then the train goes for a round trip journey of the park and you enter and walk up to the platform. You board and are taken around to the Toontown Station. There the track is switched and your train backs into the Round House. After a brief stop in the round house the train pulls forward a bit and you get to disembark and get up close with another engine. The train we were on headed out for the park as it was to be used for the opening celebration with the characters. After learning about the various components of the steam train, spending some time in the cab, etc.. the train is fired up as we watched. Then we boarded and headed for the park. After a brief stop at Toontown the train rolls into Main Street where we get off and the train begins its normal operation for the day. Our tour continues at the Main Street station with some history of Disney, the trains, and the trains namesakes.



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