Walt Disney’s favorite train returns to Disneyland after 5-year restoration

A steam engine that Walt Disney rode on opening day of Disneyland in 1955 has returned to the rails after a five-year restoration to once again make the grand circle tour of the Anaheim theme park.

The E.P. Ripley returned to the Disneyland Railroad on Monday, March 6 after an extensive restoration that replicated the five-eighth scale locomotive’s boiler, headlamp and bell.

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The 22,500-pound steam engine was taken off the Disneyland track five years ago for repairs with a full restoration beginning in summer 2021. Hillcrest Railway handled repairs of the E.P. Ripley that included issues with the in-cab signaling system, according to Steam Giants.

The E.P. Ripley and C.K. Holliday were featured in the opening ceremonies of Disneyland with Walt himself taking the throttle of both trains for excursions around his theme park.

Disneyland Railroad lead and trainer Katie Wildrick with the restored E.P. Ripley steam engine. (Disney)

While the original Disneyland steam engines were mechanically identical, the E.P. Ripley was Walt’s favorite, according to Daps Magic, a Disneyland annual passholder blog.

“I suppose I’ve always been in love with trains,” Walt wrote in the October 1965 issue of Railroad Magazine.

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The E.P. Ripley and C.K. Holliday — built by the precursor to Walt Disney Imagineering — were based on plans used for the Carolwood Pacific midget train that ran around the Holmby Hills backyard of Walt and Lillian Disney.

The E.P. Ripley was named in honor of Edward Payson Ripley, the first president of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.

Since 1955, Disneyland has added the Ernest Marsh, Fred Gurley and Ward Kimball steam engines to the park’s rolling stock. Disneyland converted the rail fleet from diesel to biofuel in 2007.

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