The "Lost" MTH Walt Disney World Railroad Walter E. Disney Locomotive

Exploring The Story of the MTH O Gauge Walt Disney World "Walter E. Disney"

A Highly Anticipated O Gauge Model of the Legendary 4-6-0 Magic Kingdom Locomotive That Never Left the Station

MTH Disney World Park Locomotive model train Lionel
A side-by-side comparison of the WDW RR #1 "Walter E. Disney" and the MTH 4-6-0 "George Washington"
The prototype - Walt Disney World Resort's 4-6-0 Walter E. Disney. Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, PA in 1925. Used on Mexico's United Railways of the Yucatan. Purchased by Disney Parks in 1969.


The connection between Walt Disney and his affection for railroads has been well document. From an early age growing up in a small midwestern town where trains raced off to destinations that ignited his imagination to the building of a backyard railroad that lead to the creation of a theme park empire, Disney WAS a “train buff” for his entire life. Even Mickey Mouse was “born” during Walt’s infamous 1928 cross-country train trip. When envisioning Disneyland in the early 1950s, it was a railroad, not a castle, that was the first attraction that greeted visitors.

 

Millions of passionate Disney fans continue to share Walt’s love of trains at resorts around the world. It is only natural that Disney trains have spawned successful lines of park souvenirs and licensed merchandise. For decades, one Disney keepsake was absent… an o-gauge replica of an “actual” Disney Resort steam locomotive. (In 1990, Lionel Trains sold a 4-4-0 “American” locomotive to celebrate Disneyland’s 35th anniversary but using existing tooling.)

 

Around 2010, sensing an untapped market of both toy train collectors and Disney fans, MTH Electric Trains of Columbia, Maryland entered into a partnership with Disney Parks to produce an o-gauge version of a resort engine. The famous Walter E. Disney locomotive, found at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, was chosen as the first model. The Walter E. Disney is classic 4-6-0-wheel configuration locomotive originally built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925 for the United Railways of the Yucatan in Mexico. It was one of five engines purchased by Disney Parks in 1969 for WDW (only four were eventually restored for park service).

 

Tooling was developed and the model locomotive was put into production with an anticipated 2012 release. The units would feature a die-cast boiler and chassis metal wheels and axles precision flywheel equipped Motor Metal Handrails and Decorative Bell Decorative Metal Whistle Constant Voltage Headlight Die-Cast Truck Sides Remote Controlled Proto-Coupler® Synchronized Puffing ProtoSmoke® System Colorful Paint Scheme Locomotive Speed Control In Scale MPH Increments Die-Cast Tender Body Proto-Sound 2.0 With The Digital Command System Featuring: Passenger Station Proto-Effects Unit Measures:17 1/2” x 2 7/8” x 3 1/2” Operates On O-31 Curves

 

Samples of the locomotive appeared on display the York Train Show and at an exhibit of Disney train at the Disney Museum in San Diego.

 

So what happened? Why are there not thousands of Disney locomotive making the “Grand Circle Route” around Christmas trees and home layouts?

 

During a 2017 podcast produced by Notch 6 (episode 109), Andy Edelman, Vice President of Marketing for MTH provided some background what happened to the project:

 

“When we developed the tooling, it was developed around that Disney engine that runs down in Florida. What happened with the project is that we could not get the sign off on the (miniaturing) facilities inspection. Disney is very cognizant of the regulations that the product be built in an environment where people are playing by the rules; like they are not hiring children to do assembly. And we (MTH) certainly subscribe to that. You have to get everything passed by auditing; and every time they seem to have another regulation, they’d throw on there and we got frustrated. So we said, we are just going to paint these a different paint scheme and be done with it. That’s what happened to the deal. I’m sure if we were a little more diligent we could have worked through it but every time we do those inspections, it cost a lot of money and it was proving not to be a worthwhile effort. And I get where Disney comes from and why they do that. But it was a lot of hoops to jump through.”

 

Following the collapse of the MTH/Disney partnership, the pieces in the WDW RR paint schemes had their graphics painted over into one of three styles. Two were made into a new “President Series” honoring George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and one was painted to represent the “Great American Circus.”

 

On December 1, 2012, the two “President Series” locomotives were offered as an exclusive MTH Railroader Club premium. These attractively decorated die-cast steam engines were sold in a very limited production - with just 125 of each scheme produced. Units cost just $299.95. This special offering was only sold directly through MTH and was not available through any M.T.H. Authorized Retailer locations.


Do you have any research, pictures or information to add? Email me at Rocketship7@aol.com. NOTE - This article is a work in progress.

 



I'm a lifelong railroad history enthusiast and "late in life" fan of Disney Parks. (image Jan 2020 with WDW RR's #4, the Roy O. Disney 2-4-2
Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Additions? Corrections? 

Please email me at Rocketship7@aol.com

What to own a “Walter E. Disney” Walt Disney World Railroad locomotive? Look for the following MTH products:


4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 3.0 - President Series

 

George Washington - Cab No. 1

Product Item Number: 30-1590-1

Catalog: Uncatalogued Items

Product Line: RailKing

Delivered Mar. 2013

 

Abraham Lincoln - Cab No. 16

Product Item Number: 30-1591-1

Catalog: Uncatalogued Items

Product Line: RailKing

Delivered Mar. 2013

 

4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 3.0 - Great American Circus

 

Great American Circus – Cab No. 3

Product Item Number: 30-1585-1

Catalog: DU 2013 Volume 2

Product Line: RailKing

Delivered Mar. 2013

Evidence about the Disney Parks history behind "President Series" 4-6-0 loco can be found in the pages of the product's MTH owner manual.
Close up inspection of the President Series locomotives revels the outline of the painted over Walt Disney World Railroad crest under the portrait of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln
MTH 4-6-0 Walter E. Disney
Using decals purchased from Stan Cedarleaf, this MTH 4-6-0 was "returned" to its Disney roots by a private collector
These two sets of custom decals were prepared by Stan Cedarleaf. Learn more at www.CedarleafCustomDecals.com
Great American Circus 4-6-0 featured in MTH's 2013 Vol. 2 Rail King Catalog
Great American Circus 4-6-0 featured in MTH's 2013 Vol. 2 Rail King Catalog
Great American Circus 4-6-0 featured in MTH's 2013 Vol. 2 Rail King Catalog