The Main Street USA Station serves as the anchor to the park and is a wonderful recreation of an early twentieth century station.
The inside of the station is just as beautiful as the exterior and guests are treated to a good idea of what someone would encounter inside a rail station of that period. We've discussed the interior before and still feel the murals on the walls are one of the best underlying storytelling techniques in the park.
Though not included in today's photos and 2-for-1 movie special are the items found on the ground level of the station. Take some time to explore the maps and paraphernalia located beneath the loading platform.
Once you've boarded, be sure to take a seat on the right-hand side of the train if you want an unobstructed view of the interior perimeter of the park. As you depart the Main Street Station, you'll see the continuation of some of the City Hall building on Main Street USA, the attention to detail regarding how and when the facade begins and ends is fantastic.
Soon you're swallowed up by trees on each side and the wonderful sounds of Adventureland fill the air. This is an interesting part of the trip as there's nothing to 'see' as you pass by the far end of the Jungle Cruise attraction; as such, Imagineering fills this visual gap with a detailed narrative describing the attraction. About a minute and a half into the tour the train crossing signal will sound as you cross over an access road located in the west side of the park, Caribbean Way (aptly named for the attraction it skirts by). It is here you see Desperation Outpost, one of the more interesting pieces of staging on the tour. Almost immediately after you pass the outpost you cross over the same access road and head towards the Pirates of the Caribbean tunnel.
It is here the narration changes to highlight the attractions located within Frontierland. As you draw closer to the next station the train crosses the Frontierland parade route; this is where parades in the Magic Kingdom either begin or end their trip. In this picture, we see cast members part of the Woody's Cowboy Camp street party exiting Frontierland.
Next is the Splash Mountain tunnel which features a live look inside the attraction, a la the Tomorrowland Transit Authority's look into Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain. The Frontierland Station has an interesting history in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. In order to accommodate Splash Mountain, the original station was razed and relocated to where it stands today.
This station is quite a contrast to the old one, Widen Your World has an excellent page devoted to the original. If you have some time to spare, be sure to check out the details inside the ticket offices located on both the north and south sides of the station.
It is just as you depart the Frontierland Station that you can look over and into Big Thunder Mountain and the dry gulch. Keep your cameras at the ready as you leave the station as there's almost always a Big Thunder train that will pass you by.
As you cross the Rivers of America you're treated to a view of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad not provided to those who choose not to ride the rails.
The bridge was purchased and not designed by the Imagineers and is called the swing bridge as it can rotate on its center point to allow the Liberty Belle access to her maintenance area. It is also here that the Rivers of America connect via a causeway to the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Before you know it the narration changes over to Pocahontas; who knew Big Thunder Mountain was located right next door to Jamestown? If you're able to suspend your geographical disbelief as you pass through the Indian Village keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and critters who dot the landscape from here to Mickey's Toontown Station.
This long stretch provides ample time for the narration to provide details regarding the four steam trains that currently operate in the Magic Kingdom. Eagle eyed guests might take the 2 minutes it takes to reach the next station to look in towards the park across the scrub brush and pines to peer towards the backside of Fantasyland. At one point, you pass less than 100ft. from a parking area inside the park otherwise invisible. Soon you pass under the appropriately named service road, Magic Kingdom Drive, and before you arrive at Mickey's Toontown Station take a second to look to the right, where you'll see another set of tracks that lead to the Walt Disney World Railroad Roundhouse. The Roundhouse is in the same facility as the central bay for the WDW Monorail. Guests who purchase tickets to the Magic Behind the Steam Trains tour are treated to a once in a lifetime view of this area and also receive a chance to sit inside one of the engines.
Mickey's Toontown Fair Station opened in 1988 and was the first additional station following the original 1971 Main Street USA and Frontierland stations. At its opening, it was called Mickey's Birthdayland Station, became Mickey's Starland Station in 1990, and obtained its current name in 1996. When the construction of Splash Mountain necessitated the demolition of the original Frontierland Station, the water tower from Frontierland was moved here and the trains ran from Main Street USA to this location, forward and reverse, until the new Frontierland Station opened.
This station was refurbished/rebuilt in 2004 with the new station very much like the previous in appearance. As many authors have noted, guests who depart the train here and take the walkway to Tomorrowland have an excellent location to take pictures of the train itself; this is a highly recommended walk that also provides great views of the TTA, Space Mountain, and areas beyond.
Guests who remain on board at the Toontown Station are provided a blast from the past: Andreas Vollenweider's 'Night Fire Dance', one of the older Tomorrowland background music pieces, still plays on the train helping to set the stage for Tomorrowland. (Check out PFTP's 'Old Tomorrowland' playlist at right, after the list of labels, in the blue section to listen to this track.) Guests are also provided excellent views of the Tomorrowland Speedway. (Note: the park recently changed the name from Tomorrowland Indy Speedway to Tomorrowland Indy Speedway when its 1999 agreement with IRL ended. Sadly, the Indy Car shell which sat in front of the attraction queue is also gone.) Be glad you're sitting inside the train and not the cars. If you're lucky, you might hear the dulcet tones of Tom Carnegie calling the race from across the track. Can anyone confirm if the WDW Railroad narration has been updated to remove the Tomorrowland *Indy* Speedway reference?
Just past the 7 1/2mph cars you can look upwards to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and just past that is the Tomorrowland Light & Power Company and Space Mountain.
Most do not realize the WDW Railroad passes directly over the internal queue for Space Mountain and as you pass by the Light & Power Company you're treated to an unusual reflected view of the train to the right.
After two minutes, one bad pun, an abrupt shift in music, and long/short whistle pull later, you return to the Main Street USA station and can either disembark or remain on board. Many times the PFTP staff have been caught taking a quick nap on this attraction and we hope you might, too, one day soon. (Just watch out for the strollers.)
These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.
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