While visiting Walt Disney World this week I was able to steam on over to the Carolwood Pacific Railway Room inside the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Located on the ground floor just off of the lobby, the room is dedicated to Walt Disney’s first railroad which was located in the backyard of his home on Carolwood Drive. As explained in this earlier post, the Carolwood Pacific Railway fired the coals inside Walt and laid the tracks (sorry, I’ll pull the brake on the train puns) that led him to build amusement attractions and theme parks for families to enjoy.
Many of the photos and exhibits around the room, which feels like a mini-museum, have been provided by the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society and Walt Disney Family Foundation. The coolest exhibit in the room features two original freight cars from Walt’s Carolwood Pacific Railway.
One of the various photos adorning the walls was taken a month before Disneyland opened showing Walt and Mickey Mouse in front of a Disneyland Railroad locomotive. The photo was taken by Roger Broggie, who built the Carolwood Pacific locomotive (the Lilly Belle) and train cars at the Disney Studio machine shop.
Broggie, who is considered to be the first Disney Imagineer, also appears in a framed photo titled “The Engineer and the Imagineer” along with Walt and the Lilly Belle locomotive.
There’s also a framed 35mm negative print from a video filmed by Broggie of Walt riding the Carolwood Pacific along with some guests he’s entertaining.
A copy of Broggie’s book, Walt Disney’s Railroad Story, is enclosed inside a glass case.
Ward Kimball was another railroad enthusiast who had a major influence on Walt’s fascination with trains. Kimball can be seen a few photos around the room, including one from the “steam up” party Walt attended at Kimball’s home which featured his own Grizzly Flats Railroad.
There is also a photo of Walt hearing the whistle on the Lilly Belle locomotive for the first time alongside Kimball and Eddie Sergeant, a studio mechanic who drafted the engineering plans for the train.
The cozy room includes chairs and a fireplace adorned with an extraordinary steel screen featuring a train that reminds me of Casey Jr.
If you are interested in Disney history be sure to check out the Carolwood Pacific Railway Room during your next trip to Walt Disney World. So long as you’re visiting during the day before door access is restricted to only resort guests in the evening you should have no problem getting in even if you’re not staying at the resort. The simplest way to make this excursion is to jump on a boat from the Magic Kingdom to the Wilderness Lodge. Before or after you visit the Carolwood Pacific Railway Room be sure to also stop at the train exhibit below the Main Street station at the Magic Kingdom.