by Scott Lopes
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger
On December 6, I had the opportunity to go on The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains tour. This was a fun tour and probably one of the few that allow you to take pictures in a backstage area.
The tour starts much earlier than any of the others — the official start time is 7:30 a.m. with a meet time of 7:15. (Be sure to double-check the meet location.Unfortunately, I missed part of the beginning of the tour because I was in the wrong spot. I was told later by the tour department that the correct meet location is just outside the turnstiles.)
For me, the tour started in the train station. Our tour guide Gary began by explaining some of the photos that were in the lower level of the train station, as well as some of the facts and history of the trains used at Walt Disney World.
After the official park opening we went up to the upper level of the train station and boarded the show train. The show train has cars similar to the ones normally used for guest transportation, however they do not have the safety panels installed.
We then proceeded toward the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland, and then backed up onto a spur line that goes back to the train and monorail barn. While we were traveling, our guide explained some of the safety procedures and signals used.
Once we were near the barn we stepped off of the train and were able to watch it back up the rest of the way.
Gary then explained a few more facts and details regarding the trains, and also told a few stories, such as the origin of some common phrases like “the Real McCoy.” (Elijah McCoy invented a device to lubricate moving parts on a train, so when engineers would have their trains serviced they would ask for “The Real McCoy”.)
Next, in small groups we were brought up into the cab of the locomotive so that Gary could explain some of the controls and safety devices that are on the train.
After a tour of the cab, they fired up the boiler.
And, although not normally part of the tour, they demonstrated the use of a fire extinguisher as well:
We then boarded the train and departed the maintenance area and headed back to the Main Street station. Once there, we were able to take pictures with the engineer, and concluded the tour with a further discussion of Walt Disney and his love of trains.
At the conclusion of the tour we received this exclusive pin.
Overall, this was a great tour that was well worth the cost. The cast member was cheerful and informative, and even spent some additional time talking with us after the tour ended. I definitely look forward to taking this tour again!
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