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12 Finest Theme Park Steam Trains in America

All-aboard! What’s a go to to a theme park and not using a experience on a traditional steam locomotive? Right here’s our picks for the perfect theme park steam trains in America. To provide you with this non-scientific record, we checked out many components like how spectacular, distinctive, or historic the locomotive is, how lengthy and attention-grabbing the route is, and what there’s to take a look at alongside the best way.

Prepare Terminology

Earlier than we get into the record, let’s overview a bit steam prepare terminology. Locomotives have completely different wheel configurations that are labeled utilizing the notation X-Y-Z, the place X is the variety of wheels on the main truck (or bogie), Y are the variety of linked drive wheels, and Z is the trailing truck. Main wheels are used to assist the locomotive negotiate curves and to assist the entrance portion of the boiler. If a number one or trailing bogie is just not current it’s denoted as a 0. The drive wheels are powered by the pistons and are coupled along with facet rods.

Let’s take 4-4-2 for instance. In case you’re trying immediately in conjunction with the prepare you’d see two small wheels, two giant wheels linked collectively, and one small wheel. Make sense?

Proven beneath are the wheel configurations for all of the engines operating on the theme park railroads on this record. As you may see, 4-4-0 is the most well-liked kind of locomotive used on amusement park trains.

Not Really Trains

  • The Hogwarts Categorical at Common Orlando is absent from this record as a result of it’s not a functioning steam prepare – it’s truly extra like a cable automobile, referred to as a funicular. You may study extra about how the Hogwarts Categorical works right here.
  • Huge Thunder Mountain Railway at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland are curler coasters themed to appear like little trains.
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a trackless darkish experience which begins and ends feeling and looking like an actual prepare regardless that it’s not.
  • Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can also be a curler coaster designed to appear like a prepare, full with steam results and all.

We didn’t think about individually operated railroads with no theme parks hooked up or zoo trains. This record additionally doesn’t embrace small amusement parks the place the first attraction is the prepare experience, corresponding to Tweetsie Railroad. To make this record, the prepare needs to be certainly one of many marquee sights inside a theme or amusement park.

Now, let’s countdown the perfect theme park steam trains in America!

12. World’s of Enjoyable Railroad

Location: Kansas Metropolis, Missouri
Opened: 1973
Size: 1.01 miles
Stations: 1
Gauge: 36 inch
Wheel configuration: 4-4-0
Gasoline:  Propane
Engine: #33 “Eli”

worlds of fun train

Through the scenic experience across the park, passengers on World’s of Enjoyable Railroad are afforded views of the Prowler wood coaster that may’t be seen from anyplace else within the park. Engine Eli has been out of fee because the finish of the 2018 season for boiler work, however final we heard the park hopes to have it operating once more for the 2021 season. The park can also be anticipated to introduce engine Levi in 2021 as nicely. After Knott’s Berry Farm’s prepare, World’s of Enjoyable Railroad has the second shortest monitor on our record.

11. Tommy G. Robertson Railroad at Six Flags St. Louis

Location: Eureka, Missouri
Opened: 1971
Size: 1.2 miles
Stations: 2
Gauge: 36 inch
Wheel Configuration: 4-4-0
Gasoline: Propane
Engine: Tommy G. Robertson

six flags st louis railroad aerial

The Tommy G. Robertson Railroad at Six Flags St. Louis used to have two engines however one was offered to Busch Gardens Tampa within the Nineteen Nineties. The 2 stations are a mere 400 toes from one another so it doesn’t actually do a lot by way of transportation however does supply a pleasant enjoyable experience across the park.

10. Kings Island & Miami Valley Railroad

Location: Mason, Ohio
Opened: 1972
Size: 1.04 miles
Stations: 2
Gauge: 36 inch
Wheel Configuration: 4-4-0
Gasoline: Propane
#12 (Blue) Kenny Van Meter
#19 (Inexperienced) Lew Brown

best theme park steam trains

The Kings Island & Miami Valley Railroad truly serves a function apart from only a scenic experience by means of wooded valleys: transportation to and from the water park. Sure, you may keep away from 2,400 toes of strolling by taking the prepare each methods. With each trains stuffed to capability, 960 company may be “on rail” at one time. The principally wooded journey gives up shut views of Diamondback and Mystic Timbers for coaster followers.

9. Walt Disney World Railroad at Magic Kingdom

Location: Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Opened: 1971
Size: 1.5 miles
Stations: 3
Gauge: 36 inch
Gasoline: Oil
#1 Walter E. Disney, 4-6-0, constructed 1925
#2 Lilly Belle, 2-6-0, constructed 1928
#3 Roger E. Broggie, 4-6-0, constructed 1928
#4 Roy O. Disney, 4-4-0, constructed 1925

walt disney world railroad map

Walt Disney World static prepare show

The Walt Disney World Railroad takes a grand circle tour of the Magic Kingdom, giving passengers a glimpse inside Splash Mountain and present scenes of animals and Native American villages. Every locomotive consumes 25 US gallons of gasoline and 200 gallons of water per hour.

The Walt Disney World Railroad has been closed since December 2018 and is at present not working as a consequence of development on the brand new TRON curler coaster attraction, set to open in 2022. The steam engines can nonetheless be seen in static shows at every station. Test the standing of the Disney World prepare right here.

8. Busch Gardens Railway at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Opened: 1975
Size: 1.5 miles
Stations: 3
Gauge: 36 inch
Gasoline: Propane
Wheel configuration: 4-4-0
#17 Alpen Categorical, 1972
#661 Balmoral Citadel, 1974
#238 Der Hochbeinige, 1974

Three steam-powered locomotives whisk company by means of 134 acres of lush landscaping with stops in Scotland, New France and Festa Italia for a panoramic tour of the park. The spotlight of the roughly 20 minute experience is the 400 foot trestle bridge over the Rhine River.

7. Cedar Level and Lake Erie Railroad

Location: Sandusky, Ohio
Opened: 1963
Size: 1.24 miles
Stations: 2
Gauge: 36 inch
Gasoline: Coal
#1 G.A. Boeckling, 2-4-0, 1927
#4 George R., 2-4-0, 1942
#22 Myron H., 2-4-0, 1922
#44 Judy Okay., 2-4-0, 1923

Beginning on the Major Halfway station, the primary half of the Cedar Level and Lake Erie Railroad runs parallel to Perimeter Street, giving company nice views of Millennium Drive, Thunder Canyon, Maverick, and Lake Erie. The place the prepare actually shines is the route between Frontier City and the Major Halfway station. The prepare passes by means of a fictional, western-themed city populated by round fifty skeletons. The animated ghost city was added in late 1963 and later renamed to Boneville within the Nineteen Seventies.

6. Ghost City and Calico Railway at Knott’s Berry Farm

Location: Buena Park, California
Opened: 1952
Size: 3,215 toes
Stations: 1
Gauge: 36 inch
Gasoline: Oil
#340, 2-8-0, 1881
#41 Walter Okay, 2-8-0. 1881

The Ghost City and Calico Railway at Knott’s Berry Farm opened three years earlier than close by neighbor Disneyland and is kind of probably probably the most historic of all theme park trains. Ghost City bandits nonetheless maintain up each departure to at the present time. Whereas Ghost City and Calico Railway boasts the second largest locomotives on our record, the monitor size is by far the shortest and the format is probably the most unoriginal (a plain oval), two causes for not rating it greater, plus it lacks the pure surroundings most of the different trains have.

5. Frisco Silver Greenback Line Steam Prepare at Silver Greenback Metropolis

Location: Branson, Missouri
Opened: 1962
Size: 1.52 miles
Stations: 1
Gauge: 2 ft
Gasoline: Diesel
#43, 0-4-0, in-built 1934
#76, 0-4-0, in-built 1940
#14, 0-4-0, in-built 1938

Take a leisurely and humorous 20-minute steam prepare experience by means of the attractive Ozark countryside surrounding Silver Greenback Metropolis on the Frisco Silver Greenback Line Steam Prepare. The one 24 inch monitor gauge on our record however certainly one of three railroads that also make the most of a present ingredient with actors. The prepare stops in the course of the course for a present the place “prepare robbers” try to rob the prepare. In 2022, the railroad will likely be celebrating its sixtieth anniversary in operation.

4. Serengeti Categorical at Busch Gardens Tampa

Location: Tampa, Florida
Opened: 1971
Size: 2.2 miles
Stations: 3
Gauge: 3 ft
#5, 4-4-0, 1970
#9, 4-4-0,  1971
#601, 4-4-0, 1974 (initially constructed for Kings Dominion)

serengeti express train map

Previously often called the Trans Veldt Railway, the Serengeti Categorical is one of the simplest ways to absorb the great thing about Busch Backyard’s sprawling 335-acres. It’s the third longest prepare on our record by way of monitor size. Fortunately, three separate stations in Congo, Nairobi and Stanleyville enable you traverse this large park. However what actually units this enjoyable prepare experience aside is the excellent views of the Serengeti Plains, the house of huge free-roaming herds of African animals, together with giraffe, zebra, antelope, rhino, ostrich and rather more. No two rides are alike. Tip: sit on the left facet for the perfect view of the Serengeti Plains animals. Coaster lovers ought to sit on the fitting facet to see the twisting components of large coasters Montu and Kumba up shut.

3. Disneyland Railroad

Location: Anaheim, California
Opened: 1955
Size: 1.23 miles
Stations: 4
Gauge: 3 ft
Gasoline: Biodiesel
#1 C.Okay. Vacation, 4-4-0, 1955
#2 E.P. Ripley, 4-4-0, 1955
#3 Fred Gurley, 2-4-4, 1894
#4 Ernest S. March, 2-4-0, 1925
#5 Ward Kimball, 2-4-4, 1902

Fairly probably probably the most well-known railroad on this planet, Disneyland’s railroad set the pattern of encircling a brand new theme park with a prepare. Not solely does it create a berm, or barrier, to the surface world, it’s additionally a useful approach to navigate the park. Hop on or off at certainly one of 4 handy stations (probably the most stations of any railroad on our record): Major Avenue, U.S.A., New Orleans Sq., Mickey’s Toontown, and Tomorrowland. Trains arrive each 5 to 10 minutes at most occasions all through the day and journey clockwise in a grand circle tour across the park.

best theme park trains in united states

You’ll steam alongside the banks of the Rivers of America and see rock formations, wildlife and picturesque waterfalls. Between the Tomorrowland and Major Avenue, U.S.A. stations the prepare travels by means of Walt Disney’s legendary dioramas of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World – Land of the Dinosaurs. Whereas passengers in most trains sit going through the course of journey, Disneyland’s prepare has you sitting perpendicular to the rails so that you’re going through in direction of the middle of the park always, touring sideways down the tracks. The format of the second oldest theme park prepare on our record has been modified a number of occasions through the years, most just lately for the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

2. Silverwood Steam Engine Prepare at Silverwood Theme Park

Location: Athol, Idaho
Opened: 1988
Size: 3.2 miles
Stations: 1
Gauge: 3 ft
Gasoline: Oil
Prime Velocity: 10 mph
Engine: #7, 2-6-2, in-built 1915

Silverwood’s prepare is surprisingly like a “best hits” of all the opposite nice trains on our record: scenic experience by means of forests with mountain views, corny jokes, roaming animals (bison herd), static Western city scenes, and a “prepare theft” half approach by means of. Of the three trains on our record that also contain actors, Silverwood’s is probably the most entertaining and choreographed present. The robbers truly will take your cash – to donate to charity. There’s a narration by an onboard actor all through the greater than 3 mile lengthy journey, by far the longest prepare on our record, greater than double the size of all however two different theme park railroads. The #7 engine has a singular 2-6-2 wheel configuration and whereas it was in-built 1915, the railroad as an entire is the youngest on our record, opening in 1988. Whereas not as well-known, it’s lengthy experience that gives a bit little bit of the whole lot you may want from a prepare experience.


1. Dollywood Categorical at Dollywood

Location: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Opened: 1961
Size: 2.96 miles traversed
Stations: 1
Gauge: 3 ft
Gasoline: Coal
#192 Klondike Katie, 2-8-2, in-built 1943
#70 Cinderella, 2-8-2, in-built 1938

The highest of our record of greatest theme park steam trains in America is none apart from the well-known Dollywood Categorical. It’s the largest, loudest, and dirtiest of the bunch. Whenever you see the black smoke begin belching out of the smokestack, you’ll know you’re on an genuine, quaint steam prepare. It burns actual coal so sure, you may get actual cinders in your eyes. The monitor proper out of the station is at a 5 diploma uphill grade and at one level within the journey reaches a six diploma incline. One might say the Dollywood Categorical is the toughest working prepare within the theme park trade immediately, safely pulling cinnamon bread stuffed company up and down the mountain on a regular basis.

As a way to pull the seven passenger automobiles, Dollywood boasts the 2 greatest engines of any theme park prepare, with spectacular twelve wheel 2-8-2 configurations. When the whistle blows, it’s so loud it’s virtually offensive, and may be heard from exterior the park. The full distance traversed on the out-and-back format makes it the second longest prepare on our record. The lengthy experience provides you further time to soak within the majestic views of the Smoky Mountains.

I’ve all the time puzzled, once you purchase a ticket to Dollywood, what share goes immediately in direction of the Dollywood Categorical? I’d think about it is rather costly to function. However oh so value it. No go to to Dollywood is full and not using a experience on the Dollywood Categorical.

In Fall of 2020 visitor had been required to get a return time ticket as a result of decreased capability for COVID-19 prevention procedures.

Finest Theme Park Steam Trains Comparability

longest amusement park railroad

Notable Mentions

Steam trains on the following parks had been thought of however simply missed being added to our record of greatest theme park steam trains for one motive or one other:

Six Flags Nice America, Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Over Georgia, Animal Kingdom, Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad, Edaville Household Theme Park, Dorney Park, Lagoon Park, Knoebels, & HersheyPark

Closing Ideas

I hope you loved studying about the perfect theme park steam trains in america. We’re fortunate so many steam trains nonetheless exist for us to get pleasure from immediately. Which one is your favourite? If we forgot your favourite prepare, tell us within the feedback beneath and why it must be on this record!

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