Steam Locomotives at Disney Parks Around the World

Walt Disney loved steam locomotives so much that he wanted to incorporate them into his theme park in California. The Disneyland Railroad, which offers passengers the ability to ride behind real steam powered locomotives, proved to be a hit among park visitors. Even after Disney passed away, the company continues to incorporate trains into theme parks to honor their founder. While it is understandable that the company’s park in Orlando, Florida, has a steam powered locomotive ride, visitors are also able to experience steam locomotives at the company’s theme parks in Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong.

Western River Railroad (WRRR) – Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Disney has two rail attractions: the Western River Railroad and the DisneySea Electric Railway, both using the same rail gauge by different fuel/power sources. The WRRR uses a 30″ (or 762 mm) narrow gauge rail transport and is smaller compared to that of other Disney theme parks with steam locomotives.

It sets itself apart from the rest by not circling the whole park. The rail runs for 5,283 feet (ft) or 1,610 meters (m), and as four steam locomotives operating on it. It was opened as a Tokyo Disneyland attraction in 1983 and was under the sponsorship of Takara Tomy.

The Western River Railroad at Walt Disney World Tokyo features steam locomotives named after rivers in the United States.
‘Colorado’ running on the WRRR in Tokyo. (Photo: Othree via CC by 2.0)

Kyosan Kogyo Company built the four 2-4-0 configuration steam locomotives for the WRRR. The locomotives were named after rivers in the Western US that have fame. The design of the locomotives targeted a similar appearance to the Denver & Rio Grande Montezuma, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works.

Each locomotive has three passenger cars assigned, making it a total fleet of twelve for the railroad. The passenger car design resembles the Narragansett-style excursion cars on the Disney World and Disneyland railroads.

The ‘Colorado’, named after the Colorado River, is a 2-4-0 Porter built in 1982 and its passenger cars have a reddish-brown color. The locomotives have the same build, hence the only differentiating characteristic is the car color. Therefore, the ‘Missouri’ has green passenger cars, the ‘Rio Grande’ consists of red cars, and the ‘Mississippi’ is assigned red/blue colored cars. The locomotives are all named after rivers in the United States.

Disneyland Railroad (DRR) – Paris, France

Originally named the “Euro Disneyland Railroad”, the Disneyland Railroad at the theme park in Paris is a three-foot (914 mm) narrow gauge traditional railroad that opened with the Paris Disneyland Park in 1992 in Marne-la-Vallée – France. It runs for 7,150 ft or 2,180 m under ‘The Grand Circle Tour’, where guests get transported to different park areas.

DRR Paris has Four 4-4-0 configuration steam locomotives, three built by the H.P. Phillips Company in 1992 and the fourth by Severn Lamb in 1993. The locomotives are built to similar specifications as the “C.K. Holliday”, the #1 locomotive at the Disneyland Railroad in California, but feature color variations. Each locomotive is allocated five-passenger cars totaling a fleet of twenty.

"C.K. Holiday" is just one of the locomotives part of the Disneyland Railroad at the Paris theme park.
“C.K. Holiday” is part of the Disneyland Railroad at the Paris theme park. (Photo: Raisin Morben via CC by 2.0)

The ‘W.F. Cody’, named after William Frederick Cody (also known as Buffalo Bill), has yellow/green cars. The ‘C. K. Holliday’, named after American politician and Railroad President Cyrus K. Holliday, features cars that are tan/red. The ‘G. Washington’ (US president George Washington) has blue/red passenger cars, and the ‘Eureka’ has beige/red cars.

Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad (HKDRR) – China

The HKDRR is also a rail transport attraction using the 3 ft or 914 mm narrow gauge, which opened the same day as the Hon Kong Disneyland where it is situated in 2005. The line is 5,000 ft or 1,524 m, encircling a majority of the park through stations with the full tour taking twenty minutes.

Severn Lamb in 2004 built the three 4-4-0 steam outline engines operating on the railroad, which get their names from past Disney Company presidents. The steam outline locomotives have the outward appearance of steam engines but use diesel for fuel. The locomotives were constructed in the form of original steam engines for Disneyland Park in Anaheim – California.

The locomotives include the ‘Walt E. Disney’, ‘Roy O. Disney’, and ‘Frank G. Wells’. In mimicking an actual steam locomotive, steam engine sounds are produced from hidden speakers on each locomotive.

"Frank G. Wells" at Hong Kong Disneyland leads visitors around the park and offers scenic views.
“Frank G. Wells” at Hong Kong Disneyland. (Photo: Swyhy9694 via CC by 4.0)

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