Sunday, May 27, 2012

Disneyland Railroad Tinder Ride

Disneyland Railroad Tinder Ride

My husband is a train nut. He loves to watch the trains go by at Disneyland and enjoys riding them even more. We have made our visit to Walt’s Carolwood Barn in Griffith Park at the Los Angeles Live Steamers Museum and plan on going more. We had ridden in the Lilly Bell but there was one thing at DLR that we had never done. We had never ridden the Tinder Car! I decided his birthday is next month and the park will be busy then so I got him a Tinder Ride on our last visit as an early birthday present!

Ok, you may ask what a Tinder Car is. The Tinder Car on a train is the car that carries the Tinder or fuel for the fire that powers the steam engine. It is right behind the engineer. All five of the Disneyland trains have Tinder Cars but only two have seats that guests can ride on. Only two guests can ride the Tinder Car at a time and you start your ride at the Main Street Station and go the full trip around the park.

When Walt built the park he had WED build two trains from scratch. The C.K. Holiday and the E.P. Ripley were built in 1954-55 by WED and Walt had them design them with seats on the Tinder Car behind the engineer so he could take his friends for a ride up front with him.

Today you can catch a ride on the Tinder Car of the Holiday (Engine 1) or the Ripley (Engine 2) by asking the conductor at the Main Street Station for a Tinder Ride. You will have most likely have to wait a while for the train to come around. If they are refueling, adding water or letting off steam you will have to wait until they have a complete run without any stops to service the engine. For your safety they cannot have you on the Tinder when they are doing any of these things. You also can’t ride if they are training a new engineer. There is no charge for the Tinder Tour.

I walked up to the conductor on Main Street and asked if we could have a Tinder ride. After checking with the engineers on both the Holiday and the Ripley they found out that we would have to wait for the Ripley and we would have to wait for several trips around as there was already one person on the Tinder and when they go off the Train would have to take on water. They told us it would be about forty minutes. As it turned out we waited over two hours or about six or eight full trips around the park. After they added water the next trip they needed to add fuel. Each full trip around the park takes twenty minutes. We could not leave the station because we would have lost our place in line for taking the next Tinder. Was it worth the wait? For us it truly was!

Just think we were sitting directly behind where Walt Disney himself sat to drive the train! We were sitting where friends and family of Walt would have sat! It was exciting! Add the fact that the engineer told us the history of the trains of Disneyland and we were ecstatic.

Here are some of the interesting things we learned.

Disneyland has five working steam engines.

A maximum of four trains can run at any one time because they only have four sets of cars.

The Tinder Car is 1/3 filled with fuel (bio diesel, partly made from the used cooking oil from the parks fryers) and 2/3 fill with water to create the steam that powers the engine.

There is a “Roundhouse” (really a square building) that can house all five trains and the Monorail trains at night or when not in use.

The first two engines of the Disneyland Railroad were built for Disneyland by WED the other three were old trains that were purchased and refurbished.

The oldest of the trains was made in 1896 and was refurbished by WED for use at Disneyland.

All five trains work the same way.

The newest of the trains was built in 1954/55 by WED.

The first four trains were named after executives of the Santa Fe Railroad, who sponsored the train the first few years and many were friends of Walt’s.

The fifth train was name after Disney Legend, Animator and train enthusiast Ward Kimball.

One of the trains is out of the park for a complete refurbishment. It has already been gone for two years and should be back by August when another of the trains will be taken out of service for refurbishment.

Disney has a full time staff to do daily maintenance and routine repair on the trains.

Many of the engineers are retired from other jobs and do this for the fun of driving the trains.

We learned a lot of other fun things such as how the controls work and how the engineers feel about their job. Feel free to watch the following video to hear the entire Tinder Ride Tour.


  1. Do you know if they do this at Disney World as well? Thanks!

  2. From what I've been told WDW does NOT have Tinder Rides. WDW does have a special Train Tour you can purchase.

  3. It's tender, spelled with an "e," not an "i." It's called a that because the car "tends" to the needs of the locomotive. Only engines 1, 2 and 4 have separate tenders. The other two engines have their fuel and water bunkers attached directly to the locomotive frame (making it all one unit).

    1. Thank you for the spelling correction. Simple error. I know that it carries the fuel. The fact that 1, 2, and 4 have the separate tenders is why they are the only ones that give tender rides. :-)


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