It’s fitting that trains are featured, in one way or another, all across Disney World – since trains were one of Walt Disney’s lifelong passions. If you love trains, you may want to make your way to a Disney park near you to get your fill. Check out our Disney for train lovers options.
The Walt Disney World Railroad is the ultimate stop for train lovers, and the evocative sound of its whistle says “Disney” to many guests. If you arrive in time for the welcome show, just before the Magic Kingdom opens, you can see Mickey and friends arrive, amidst billows of steam, on the train. The narrow-gauge train, with four sets of vintage passenger cars, is pulled by one of four restored, steam-powered locomotives, nearly one hundred years old: the Walter E. Disney, the Lilly Belle, the Roy O. Disney, and the Roger E. Broggie (named after Walt’s original railroad project Imagineer). The WDWRR circles the Magic Kingdom, giving riders brief glimpses of Adventureland, Frontierland, new Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland along its one and a half mile loop. Some guests hop onboard at Main Street USA at park opening and beat the foot traffic to Big Thunder and Splash Mountain by getting off at the Frontierland station. There is also a Storybook Circus station. The Main Street station is a railroad destination in itself, with exhibits, paintings, and miniature locomotives to view both upstairs in the waiting room and downstairs on ground level. For a (substantial) extra cost, train enthusiasts can sign up for the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour, a three hour immersion in WDWRR, which begins before park opening time.
When you step off the Walt Disney World Railroad in Storybook Circus, follow the rails in the ground which will lead you to a circus train – Casey Jr. from the film DUMBO. A watery version of the Casey Jr. Circus Train ride at Disneyland, the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station is best visited in a swimsuit! The camels, monkeys, and elephants spray streams of water from their animal cars. (If your kids like Casey Jr., be sure to point him out in the Main Street Electrical Parade.)
Also in Fantasyland, you’ll find one of the Magic Kingdom’s two mine trains – this one hosted by the Seven Dwarfs. Heigh ho! (Heigh-ho!) You’ll want a FP before it’s off to this train you’ll go! Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FP disappear quickly at 60 days out – though guests are constantly canceling one FP to make another, so keep checking your My Disney Experience account while you’re in the park. The Mine Train has no locomotive but the wooden mine carts are unique because their suspended design allows them to and sway side to side in a rocking motion as the train winds up through the Enchanted Forest and inside the gem-filled mine. (Guests can set the carts rocking even before the train pulls away from the platform.)
The original mine train in the Magic Kingdom is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, of course. These mine cars are pulled by one of six trusty (and dusty) locomotives: U.R. Bold, U.R. Daring, U.R. Courageous, I.M. Brave, I.B. Hearty, or I.M. Fearless. This here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness – careening through a series of highly themed Old West scenes.
Fancy a locomotive adventure with a far east flare? Climb aboard the Flying Yak Travel Agency’s tea train on Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom park. Modeled after the Himalayan tea trains of the 19th century, originally built to carry tea leaves from the foot hills of the Himalayas to port, the Expedition Everest locomotive is sure to give you a thrilling ride through the jagged, snowy peaks of one of the world’s most famous and myth-filled mountain ranges. Beware though, the tracks are old, and you might not be as alone on those frozen Nepalese peaks as you first thought.
Also at the Animal Kingdom, the Wildlife Express Train makes the seven-mile trip between the village of Harambe and Raifiki’s Planet Watch. It’s unique sideward facing construction presents the rider with views of the savannah and animal housing areas. The Wildlife Express takes you to Conservation Station. If your group is interested in either animals or trains, it’s a must ride (and if they like both, it’s a double win!).
If these trains are too (relatively) modern for you, visit Chester and Hester’s gift shop at Dino Land U.S.A. Look up to see a sprawling model train set hanging above you, complete with all the trappings of the Mesozoic Era. Volcanoes, ancient palms, and dinosaurs surround the train’s route. You’ll have to move all around the gift shop to catch every detail of this intricate elevated set up.
Trains are the theme off the entrance of the Wilderness Lodge Villas, with artifacts from Walt Disney’s personal collection. In 1950, Walt created a custom-built one-eighth scale layout, the steam powered Carolwood Pacific Railroad, to encircle his backyard in California. A cozy wood-paneled, stone-walled retreat off the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge Villas is named the Carolwood Pacific Room or the Iron Spike Room. In addition to the locomotive, cattle car, and gondola, the room features a fireplace grill with a locomotive design, paintings, and other displays.
Germany’s model railroad is Epcot’s contribution to Disney World’s train collection. The Garden Railroad features brightly colored G-scale trains chugging through a German village and landscape. Keep an eye out for tiny Disney topiaries in the layout. Check out YouTube videos of Epcot’s model railroad to whet your child’s appetite for the trip.
At Hollywood Studios, the Trolley Car Cafe is themed as a car barn and switching station for the Pacific Electric “Big Red Car” trolleys. The superintendent of electric lines has an office here, and you’ll see lots of machinery and a switchboard with lights and switches (go ahead and throw the switches!). Look for the matching billboard nearby which features a Big Red Car and the claim “World’s Largest Interurban Electric Railway System.” Unfortunately, the only thing missing is a Big Red Car itself!
Disney World’s Monorail System is a futuristic sort of train with a high profile, circling through the three resorts of the Magic Kingdom around the Seven Seas Lagoon and transporting more than 150,000 riders a day. At the Transportation and Ticket Center, guests can transfer to the Epcot line. There are twelve trains in the Monorail fleet: Red, Coral, Peach, Orange, Gold, Yellow, Teal, Blue, Lime, Green, Silver, and Black. Note that you can tell the difference between the similar color pairs coral/peach, lime/green, and teal/blue by looking for the triangular or chevron shaped break in the colored stripe on each car.
When Walt was designing Disneyland, he commented that it ought to “look like nothing else in the world, and it should all be surrounded by a train.” Between the monorail and the other railroads across the parks, his dream came true at Disney World, too!