The iconic Walt Disney World Railroad recently returned to service after being closed for more than four years, and we’re kicking off 2023 by taking a grand-circle tour of the Magic Kingdom on the beautifully refurbished trains!
The Walt Disney World Railroad, which has transported guests around the Magic Kingdom since opening day in 1971, shut down in December 2018 for construction on the yet-unopened TRON roller coaster. Just before Christmas 2022, the railroad finally reopened for peak holiday crowds and is now running daily once again.
We visited the Magic Kingdom on a busy afternoon in early January and were confronted with a full queue at the Main Street U.S.A. station. Ordinarily, you can freely explore the antique arcade machines in the waiting area, but on this day the space was full of switchbacks.
With three trains running, in the past you could typically board within 15-20 minutes even on busier days, but we waited nearly 40 minutes for our ride. It appears there’s plenty of pent-up demand for the Walt Disney World Railroad, plus the boarding process took significantly longer than before; the Cast Members may simply need more practice to dispatch trains in a timely manner.
All aboard! Take a virtual round-trip tour with us on the Walt Disney World Railroad through this 4K POV video:
Once on board, you’ll instantly notice the new narration, delivered by a folksy male train engineer who drops tidbits about the lands you’re passing through. There isn’t much to seen as you travel behind Adventureland, and the window into Splash Mountain will soon be covered over as that ride is converted into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
But there’s plenty to see as the tracks pass through Frontierland, from a unique angle on Big Thunder Mountain’s doomed mining town, to faux fauna and the backside of the Native American village visible from the Liberty Square riverboat.
The forests of Fantasyland feature an audio interlude with Peter Pan, who appears to be walking on the roof of your train. However, the highlight of the tour comes just after Fantasyland’s Storybook Circus stop, as the train enters the newly built tunnel past Tomorrowland’s E-Tickets.
Time it right, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the glowing TRON lightcycle trains (which are currently testing on a regular basis) as it zips by. The tunnel also features a sci-fi sound clip referencing the new ride, but it doesn’t yet feature any appropriate lighting effects.
Even if it lacks the animatronic dinosaurs of its superior Disneyland sibling, the Walt Disney World Railroad has always been an essential element in the Magic Kingdom’s attractions lineup. Not only does it alleviate exhausted legs while providing scenic views, but it also provides a huge boost to the park’s overall hourly capacity and adds kinetic visual interest to all the areas it passes through. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see the railroad return, and we’ll be even happier once the wait times are back to normal.
What’s your favorite thing about the Walt Disney World Railroad? Let us know in the comments below!
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids.