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Disneyland Article
Walt Disney Barn Honors Disneyland Mine Train Thru Nature Wonderland Attraction

ID:TMS-3650
Source:Orange County Register
Author:Mark Eades
Dateline:August 14, 2017
Posted:August 24, 2017
Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland
Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland
 
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One of Disneyland's long-gone attractions was celebrated by Disney fans during a barbecue at Walt's Barn.

The barn, which sits on land at the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum in Griffith Park, used to house the miniature live-steam railroad that Walt Disney built at his home in Holmby Hills. It was moved to this location in 1999, when the Disney family sold the home. It has on display many items related to Disney's railroad and his love affair with trains.

The barbecue was a fundraiser for the Carolwood Foundation which operates and maintains the barn and its associated displays. The foundation also used the event to announce that it now had on permanent display a working model of Disneyland's Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland attraction that ran at the park in various forms from 1956 to 1977.

"It's a wonderful depiction of that attraction," said foundation board member Larry Boone.

Boone said the model was created over several years by Fullerton resident Sam Towler. Towler started on the model while in high school.

"He was a real enthusiast of the Mine Train, even though he never rode it as he's too young," Boone said.

Now an Imagineer, Towler was looking for a way to have it on permanent display somewhere when some foundation members saw it on display at Fullerton Railroad Days. They approached Towler and now it has a permanent home at Walt's Barn.

"We think it's a perfect fit," said Boone adding that the foundation is working on another display related to the same attraction, restoring one of the original mine train engines and cars.

"We want to restore it so it looks like it did in the '60s and '70s," he said.

As part of the fundraiser, two Disney legends were there as part of a panel discussion about the mine train, Tony Baxter, a former Disney Imagineer and one- time ride operator on the attraction, and Ron Dominguez, a former vice president of the park who helped open the original version of the ride in 1956.

"Walt Disney loved trains, so it was one of the first things he added to Disneyland," Dominguez said.

Baxter agreed saying, "Walt was a big train fanatic."

Baxter oversaw the design of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the park, which is now on land where the mine train once chugged. Big Thunder forced the closure of the mine train ride in 1977, but Baxter fondly remembered working the ride.

"I loved working the Mine Train because once you started the train you got to ride through this beautiful scenery for 9 minutes and they paid us for that," he told the 150 patrons of the barn gathered for the event Saturday evening, Aug. 12.

While the theme for the fundraiser barbecue was the Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland, it had another purpose.

"It keeps Walt's legacy alive," said Sheila Taylor, a philanthropist from Las Vegas.

Taylor purchased several pieces of art from the silent auction, but said she's a big train enthusiast and thinks the barn holds a special meaning.

"I see a very loving family here and it pays homage back to a person that changed the world in ways that others can only imagine."
 

 
 
Attractions Referenced

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland
 
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