After 4-year pause, Disney World Railroad is back this holiday
Image via Disney.

Disney World Railroad
Disney gave fans an early Christmas present.

For Disney fans whose hearts run deep with nostalgia and a love of history, a ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad is special.

The steam engine that ran around the Magic Kingdom had been there since the beginning: Oct. 1, 1971. While some Disney rides changed over the years, this iconic attraction was one of the few originals remaining.

But for the past four years, the train tracks stood quiet. No steam engine blowing. The railroad closed in late 2018 to make way for construction of the new Tron Lightcycle Run coaster set to open in spring 2023 in Tomorrowland.

On Thursday, Disney gave fans an early Christmas present.

The railroad is re-opening this holiday season, Disney announced in its blog post which didn’t give a specific date for the railroad’s return but hinted it’s imminent. Cast member previews start Thursday.

“We are delighted to share Walt Disney’s love of trains with the world once again, taking guests for the iconic grand circle tour of Magic Kingdom this holiday season,” Disney’s blog post said.

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

“This opening-day attraction returns with a completely refreshed track looping the park, and another new surprise for fans and first-comers alike,” Disney’s blog post said. “Not only did this historic train undergo track updates and maintenance — as 100-year-old vintage steam trains do — the creative minds at Walt Disney Imagineering also seized this moment to revisit the narration and introduce an all-new voice to bring guests into the beloved stories they encounter as they travel from one magical land to the next.”

Walt Disney, the man himself, adored trains.

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

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

“The search led Roger to the jungles of Mexico, where he found the company American had built 3-foot, narrow-gauge Baldwin steam engines. They were in disrepair and rusting away in a railroad junkyard in Merida, Mexico,” the Ledger story said in 2007. “Arrangements were made to get the locomotives back to the States, where they went through different amounts of repair and custom work to help build the fleet of four engines.”

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

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .

One comment

  • TJC

    December 25, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    DeSantis better look into this use of steam engine technology that is outdated and apparently being used because it is quaint, and you know, different from what most trains use. Sounds suspiciously like another “woke” effort by Disney to re-engineer our society. Get on it, Ronnie, spend some taxpayer bucks to investigate!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn