After a 4 year hiatus, Disney World Railroad is back this holiday

For Disney fans whose hearts are filled with nostalgia and a love of history, a ride on the Walt Disney World Railway is special.

The steam locomotive that ran through the Magic Kingdom was there from the very beginning: on October 1, 1971. While some Disney rides have changed over the years, this iconic attraction was one of the few originals left.

But for the past four years things have stood still on the tracks. No steam engine blows. The railroad closed in late 2018 to make way for the construction of the new Tron Lightcycle Run roller coaster, which is scheduled to open at Tomorrowland in spring 2023.

On Thursday, Disney gave fans an early Christmas present.

The railroad will reopen this holiday season, Disney announced in its blog post, which didn’t give a specific date for the railroad’s return but did hint that it’s imminent. Previews for performers begin Thursday.

“We are thrilled to once again share Walt Disney’s love of trains with the world and to take guests on the legendary Magic Kingdom Grand Tour this holiday season,” reads Disney’s blog post.

The train ride is also getting a new look, as Disney revealed.

“This opening-day attraction returns with a completely refreshed circuit that circles the park and another new surprise for fans and first-time visitors alike,” reads Disney’s blog post. “Not only has this historic train undergone track updates and maintenance – as is the case with 100-year-old vintage steam trains – the creative minds at Walt Disney Imagineering also took this moment to revisit the narrative and introduce an entirely new voice to to bring guests into the beloved stories they encounter as they travel from one magical land to the next.”

Walt Disneythe man himself, loved trains.

Disney went to great lengths to find the right type of train before the Magic Kingdom opened in Orlando 50 years ago.

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According to Lakeland Ledger, Imagineer Roger Broggie was the one charged with setting up the Disney World railroad, which was intended to stand alone as an attraction but also served the practical purpose of ferrying thousands to different areas of the park.

“The search led Roger into the jungles of Mexico, where he found the company that had built Baldwin’s American 3-foot narrow-gauge steam engines. They were in poor condition and rusting in a railroad junkyard in Merida, Mexico,” the Ledger story said in 2007. “Arrangements were made to bring the locomotives back to the States, where they underwent various repairs and custom work, to help build the fleet of four engines.”

Some of the Magic Kingdom’s original attractions that are still open today include the Haunted Mansion, the Jungle Cruise, the Swiss Family Treehouse, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Hall of Presidents.

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Callan Tansill

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