The Wilderness Lodge Villas are a nice addition to the Wilderness Lodge Resort. This Disney Vacation Club property is quiet and very inviting with its cozy fireplaces, quiet pool area, and relaxing rocking chairs. Like the Wilderness Lodge, the theme here is Pacific Northwest nature. But the Villas are unique because their story is really about train travel and the railroad hotels that sprung up during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.
You’ll see nods to this train culture throughout the lobby, but nowhere is it more prominent than in the room just to the right of the main entrance. This is the Carolwood Pacific room and it pays homage to Walt Disney and his love of trains. The walls are decorated with photos, sketches, and memorabilia. You’ll see historical shots of Walt, his model trains, and fellow train enthusiasts.
You can see a model of Walt’s famous Lilly Belle scale steam engine. This is the train his friend Roger Broggie built for him and that Walt conducted in his own backyard. Two original Lilly Belle freight cars are also on display here. When compared with the scale drawing and photos, you can really get a sense of how scale measurements and math played a big part in getting the design of the Lilly Belle just right.
Books, maps, conductors’ hats, lanterns, and medallions round out the collection on display. You can definitely see how much trains played a part in Walt Disney’s life and why they are prominent at the Villas.
STEM Topic: Engineering, Mathematics
FL Sunshine State Social Studies Standards:
SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.5.A.6.3
It’s the first thing you see when you step up to the Magic Kingdom, even before you see the iconic castle. The Main Street Train Station acts as the “curtain” to Magic Kingdom’s “show.” And it’s full of neat things that shed light on the history of railway travel in the U.S.
The Main Street Train Station offers two stories and lots to explore.
On the ground level, you’ll see lots of maps depicting early train routes. (We can’t help humming “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe” whenever we peruse the maps!) See if you can find which railways ran through your town or state.
Throughout the ground level, you’ll also see framed locks and keys, miniature train engines, brochures and timetables, and framed pins and patches from many railways across the country.
The locks were used by most railroads as a measure of security, often locking railway switches.
Badges and pins were worn to identify which railway an employee worked for, or their rank. See how many you can identify in the frame on the East side of the station.
The Walt Disney World Railroad itself boasts 4 authentic steam engines restored from the early 20th century. You can find descriptions of each throughout the ground level.
Make your way upstairs to the balcony overlooking Main Street, U.S.A. You can peek into the ticket and telegraph office for a look at some of the old equipment that was used to send messages across the country – before telephones.
Head into the waiting room to find a collection of old arcade games and two great murals hanging on each end of the room.
One mural shows the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, and a plaque features President U.S. Grant’s words on the grand occasion.
The other mural depicts the process of building America’s railroads and the resources it took. From felling trees to building the trestles, America’s forests are honored here.
Hop on the train for a “grand circle tour” of Magic Kingdom. You’ll be treated to a relaxing ride through various landscapes and catch a glimpse of Native American life along the way.
For even more in-depth information on the Walt Disney World Railroad, take Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour. For an extra fee, you can go behind the scenes to see where the trains are housed, learn how the engines work, and get more history on Walt Disney and his love of trains. This is a great choice for adult train enthusiasts.
FL Next Gen Social Studies Standards:
SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.2.G.1.1, SS.2.G.1.2, SS.5.A.6.3, SS.6–12.G.1, SS.6–12.G.5