LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s no coincidence that the first attraction to greet guests of the Magic Kingdom is the railroad. After all, trains played such an important role in Walt Disney’s life – even Mickey Mouse was created on a train.
Disney’s first foray into live steam locomotives came about in 1950 – five years before Disneyland opened. In July of that year, Disney completed The Carolwood Pacific Railroad, a 1/8 size live steam train layout he built in his backyard.
When he decided to build Disneyland, Disney, with the help of fellow railfans Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston, created The Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad, a 5/8 scale railroad. The line opened with two locomotives; a third was added to the roster in 1958 and a fourth entered service the following year. While the first two locomotives in Disneyland were built at the Walt Disney Studio, the next two steam engines were refurbished historic locomotives.