The fan-favorite attraction has been closed for three years now as it receives a refurbishment while a portion of the track is blocked by construction at the new roller coaster, TRON: Lightcycle Run. And, while it could be a while before guests get to board the train once again, it will be running today!
According to a tweet from Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin), Disney will be testing the Walt Disney World Railroad beginning TODAY! Though, Gustin does clarify that this testing is part of the “overall refurbishment” and the attraction will not reopen until TRON construction has progressed.
NEW: Testing of the Walt Disney World Railroad will begin TODAY.
This testing is just part of the overall refurbishment – the train will reopen to guests when TRON construction allows. pic.twitter.com/PSrzAleYA2
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) December 8, 2021
Update: The Orlando Sentinel has also shared an update on the Walt Disney World Railroad. According to Disney officials The Orlando Sentinel spoke to, they do plan to start using a train along select parts of the new railroad track in Magic Kingdom.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, during this downtime for the railroad, Cast Members have been doing some repairs and maintenance on the attraction. Greg Kelsaris is a project planner with the facility asset management department in Disney World. Kelsaris shared that the team has been doing “a lot of things that either haven’t been done since Walt Disney World opened, or just kind of really revolutionary things.”
From the roofs to the rails, the team has been working hard. Kelsaris said that this was the first time they actually took everything apart for the railroad, really down to the bare bones. According to Kelsaris, the team has looked at what they can do to improve the guest experience with the attraction or sort-of bring things back to where they were in the ’70s.
Some of the updates made to the Railroad involve the railroad ties. The wooden railroad ties for the attraction are being replaced with composite ties. While the wooden ties had a life span of about 3-5 years, the composite ones will last for 25 years.
The path of the Railroad’s track has also undergone some minor changes. According to Kelsaris, “Here and there, it’s moved a few inches up and down, left and right.” With the testing, Kelsaris notes that they’re looking to test the elevation of the track to make sure the grading is right, and then do any adjustments necessary before opening up to guests again.
The Walter E. Disney locomotive is the one that is set to be used for the testing. This engine was actually recently refurbished, as Disney had previously shared. The Roy O. Disney locomotive will be the next one up for refurbishment. It will then be followed by the Roger E. Broggie.
Kelsaris shared, “That kind of rebuild process hasn’t really been done since park opening…It’s really incredible to return them to their glory and, honestly, improve some things on them.”
Kelsaris said the team really “took the time to go through each part and say, ‘Hey, should we improve this? Is it good where it is? Should we replace it?’” The Orlando Sentinel notes that “major changes aren’t expected from the testing.” But Kelsaris has shared that it will allow them to get some “run time” on the trains, as they’ve really only been able to use them in the roundhouse in the backstage areas.
When could the railroad resume its trips around Magic Kingdom once again? Well, according to Disney World’s refurbishment calendar, it will be closed until at least February 17th, 2022 (as this is how far out Disney has published their park hours currently).
So, it looks like we’ve still got a long wait until we can hop aboard the railroad, but if you’re visiting Disney World soon you might get to see it testing and hear that familiar train whistle. Of course, we’ll continue to keep an eye out for updates, so be sure to stay tuned to AllEars for the latest!
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