ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 28, 2017) – Fascinated by everything from steam-powered locomotives to Walt Disney’s love of trains, fans of the Disneyland Railroad are eager to hop aboard once again for a narrated tour of Disneyland Park. They have eagerly anticipated the July 29 re-opening of this iconic attraction, almost as much as another group of fans who admire the Disneyland Railroad: the engineers and cast members who care for the trains year-round.
Robert Rodriguez, Norm Arakaki, John Scott and Craig Ludwick are part of the knowledgeable crew who work on the Disneyland Railroad. Their primary job is preserve the trains, keep them running smoothly and carry on the legacy of steam-powered transportation. Some of them have spent nearly 30 years maintaining, operating and even polishing these trains for their 365-day-a-year operation.
The engineers’ most recent task has been preparing the Disneyland Railroad for its new adventures through Frontierland, where guests will discover a breathtaking new view of stunning rockwork and waterfalls along both sides of the train. The trains will now travel over a trestle that closely hugs a dramatic new shoreline along the Rivers of America, and for the first time engineers will make a left-hand turn as part of the park tour.
Representing their team, these Disneyland Railroad experts signaled to guests what they can expect the next time they hop aboard, and also shared some thoughts about working on this unique attraction.
- “Once our guests see those new waterfalls and the lighting and the amazing rock work … you’re going to hear them say, ‘Oh Wow! Look at that!” – Craig Ludwick
- “The train passes really close to the back of Big Thunder Mountain, and you can actually see the reactions of guests on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as they come up over the climb.” – John Scott
- “It takes well-trained people who care about what they’re doing to keep these trains running smoothly every day of the year.” – John Scott
- “The trains are an icon of Disneyland. When you think of Disneyland, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Disneyland Railroad.” – Norm Arakaki
- “Any way that we, as cast members, can inspire the guests to have a passion for these trains like Walt Disney did – that’s fantastic.” – Robert Rodriguez
- “When you fire the locomotive, you need two components to make steam. You need a fuel source to fuel the fire and you need water. We actually burn bio-diesel and it’s environmentally friendly.” – Robert Rodriguez
These engineers also shared some of their favorite historical trivia and fun facts about the Disneyland Railroad:
- The Disneyland Railroad features five steam engines along with four open-air cars easily identified by their red steel frames and striped awnings. The cars seat passengers in two different styles. In one style, guests face forward, toward the engine. In the other style, guests face the park. The second style was designed by Walt Disney to allow guests a full view of the sights on the Disneyland tour.
- Engine 1, C.K. Holliday, and Engine 2, E.P. Ripley, were both built especially for Disneyland by WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) in Burbank, California, U.S.A.. The other engines, Fred Gurley, Ernest S. Marsh, and Ward Kimball, were later additions to the Disneyland Railroad.
- Along with the C.K. Holliday, the E.P. Ripley was present at the opening ceremonies of Disneyland in July 1955. Walt Disney occasionally took the throttle of both trains for excursions around his park.
- The Fred Gurley, the oldest of any engine on a Disney Park railroad, celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2014.
- Whistles on a steam locomotive have a unique sound depending on the whistle’s shape, size, and pressure. At Disneyland, engineers have a tradition of blowing the whistle while pulling into the Main Street Station, alerting the crew to which train is arriving. Some of the engineers have even created a signature whistle.
- Also popular on the Disneyland Railroad are two diorama scenes. The 306‐foot‐long Grand Canyon Diorama has been updated and guests will notice some fun surprises. They’ll also continue to enjoy the large background painting of the Grand Canyon created by Delmer J. Yoakum in 1958. It took more than 300 gallons of paint to create. Guests will notice exciting, new elements in the Primeval World Diorama, too.
- Walt Disney’s love of trains was inspired by two of his animators, Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston, railfans who had backyard railroads of their own. Walt visited their homes to take a turn in the cab and this left quite an impression; so much so that Walt started a train collection of his own.
- Ward Kimball added a unique piece to his train-related collection: the Grizzly Flats Depot from a set piece built for the 1949 Disney film, So Dear to My Heart. The Grizzly Flats Depot was the model for New Orleans Square Station in Disneyland Park and it was acquired in 2007 by John Lasseter, now chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation and principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering.
- Disney animator Ollie Johnston was the owner of the Marie E. engine, which is credited with inspiring Walt Disney’s Carolwood Pacific and Disneyland Park.