On Saturday, January 19, 2013, I was treated to a tour I’ve long wanted to experience. One of my birthday presents from my good friend and Disney partner in crime was the Magic Behind our Steam Trains tour! This tour starts ABSURDLY early in the morning – I was told to be at the gates at 7:00am. I parked at the Contemporary and was luckily having a good day on my bionic ankle for my pre-dawn stroll to the Kingdom. I cannot recommend this tour enough, even for casual train fans! Take a look through the pics, as many of them have captions explaining what’s happening. Many, MANY of the pics appear to be repeats, and there’s a reason for that: before taking this tour myself, I was only able to find a handful of pictures online. I wanted to share the magic of this tour with all of you, even if you don’t take the tour yourself.
I hope you enjoy the pics, and I encourage any questions!!!
It’s VERY early at the Magic Kingdom… I just passed through security and was told to hang out and wait for my group.
Rare chance for this picture.
My group is forming…
The train stops halfway in front of the station SOLELY for this tour – a great photo op!
I love trains! Duh.
Nametag and listening device.
Train has pulled forward for loading…
Matt gets us started on how to use our listening devices.
Our ride awaits…
Playing with iPhoto…
Crisp blue sky.
Good morning, monorail! I guess I COULD have saved the walk from the Contemporary, but I didn’t want to risk it.
Main Street still gets metal emblems on their cans.
Empty Main Street…. from MANY angles.
Nobody but us.
Monorails are coming online…
Red doesn’t mean stop…
Matt telling us various facts as we travel the rails.
Back of Pirates.
Where parades start or end.
Splash Mountain refurb.
Green! I understand this one!
Approaching a bridge that doesn’t make sense…
…it’s totally out of place. It’s not themed, not painted… nothing!
To your left, as you approach Fantasyland, you’ll see a spur track. That’s for us!
We stopped in Fantasyland Station and this guy hopped out and switched us to the spur track… we backed up all the way to the roundhouse backstage. We were asked not to take pics in this part of the journey…
….and here we are at the roundhouse!
We stay on the train while Matt tells us some things…
I’ve never seen that many monorail beams in one spot!
We’re getting off our train and heading over to explore Engine No. 1 – the Walter E. Disney!
Thanks for the ride!
Off to perform the opening show…
The Walter E. Disney was pulled half-way out of the roundhouse for us to inspect.
These are the cars of No. 2 engine Lilly Belle.
Matt told us that Lilly won’t pull any other cars – she ALWAYS breaks down when they try to get her to! Weird…
Also, 18 months ago, Lilly went out for a rebuild. The rebuild was to last six months… Also, the company will NOT say who is doing the refurb due to fanboy mobs descending upon her restorers.
The rest of No. 1 in the roundhouse.
The tow rig.
No. 4 Roy O. Disney is awaiting boiler inspection. It’s a full tear-down process. Most of January, I guess, they ran only two trains. Low season…
Monorail Orange is pulling out of the monorail shed above the roundhouse… off to work!
An empty bay in the roundhouse. Notice the grid? That’s a pit area underneath the locomotives – they’re all connected so that engineers can go from locomotive to locomotive without coming up.
Above the locomotives, you’ll find a gigantic version of the fume hood you’d find in the kitchen at your local Chili’s (plug for my old employer!). This evacuates all the heat and smoke from starting the locomotives. Also, the trains are started, then turned off, then rolled out using retained heat, and finally fired back up for the day. They do this to keep the intense heat from melting the fiberglass monorails “living” above.
Matt is the man. Truly loves his job and you can tell.
The Walter E. Disney is serial number 58444. The Roger E. Broggie is 58445. These brothers were born together, worked together in Mexico, and now work side by side at Magic Kingdom. I love that little bit of history.
Someone out there will know what this is. I do not.
The fire happens in here.
By focusing on a distant spot, you can see the ground…
Getting ready to get fired up…
Purging the steam…
Grab the Aim-n-Flame!
An offering to the gods of fire and railroads.
Fresh steam – getting up to temp!
This is why it’s SO HOT in the cabin!
I can’t imagine sitting inches from this in the August heat. Engineers get two circles around the Kingdom, then one circle off. If I remember correctly.
Matt tells us they’re going to perform a “pop off test.” This is to see at what temperature the steam pressure becomes too great and the safety systems kick in. This point will vary by humidity, barometric pressure, etc. Matt also explains that a several-hundred-foot-tall pillar of steam will scream LOUDLY into the sky and this is why it’s done backstage.
Look at how high that steam goes!
It was SO LOUD! AWESOME!!
One of these clouds is not like the other…
We’re underway back to on-stage!
Even the driver of the garbage truck is friendly and waved!
This is another test they perform. It’s called a blowdown test and is used to clear sediment from the boiler. Matt said they do this over the water because it’d excavate a giant hole in the ground if it was done in a place other than here or over concrete.
Almost back from backstage…
One of my favorite WDW logos, EVER.
Now it’s time to complete the ride we started earlier.
The only place on the track where water can be added…
It’s still earlier than my usual time in the parks…
We’re back to Main Street!
…and it’s a whole lot busier!
So long! Thanks for the tour!!!
It’s break time, Matt has to set up some stuff inside the station, so we mill about and enjoy coffee and water… taking pics. There was no line for Snow White, so our group went over for pics.
Pluto goes walking by…
Do you see what I see? It’s almost show time….
Main Street Trolley Show!!
Alright, now that the Trolley Show is over, Matt resumes. He’s showing us all the train-related things in the lower level of the station.
I don’t know why I take pictures like this. I just feel like I should.
The Dapper Dans roll by on the back of a Trolley.
Matt goes into the history of Walt and trains.
He answers any questions we may have.
It’s not all blocked off, but it IS all ours!
Some art I’ve never noticed…
The park is in full swing at this point.
The Roger E. Broggie pulls into the station as our tour ends. Imagine for a moment how many times this has happened over forty plus years… mind-boggling.
The park is filling up as I head off to my first meal at Tony’s Town Square… No one in the parks knows the awesome tour I just experienced. I just blend right in… but I know.