The Backyard Disneyland Railroad

Your editor (pictured left) was recently invited to spend a few hours in the backyard of Disney fan David Sheegog (pictured right) where he has, over the years, created a magical outdoor, garden railroad – based on Disneyland.

He calls his garden railroad the “Castle Peak & Thunder Railroad,” and it is a delight to see.

This waterfall and rockwork is a replica of Grizzly Peak at Disney California Adventure, and is by the gate to his backyard.

A trolley car runs on tracks alongside the fence and the sidewalk leading to the backyard.

A skyway also runs alongside, above the trolley tracks.

Right away, a visitor can spot the model of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad train station, and the train you see runs off into a tunnel then returns to the station, though not on a rollercoaster type of track.

David welcomes visitors to his backyard a few weekends once a year. Families with kids get to come and enjoy what he has created, along with his wife and children (all of whom are now fully grown).

Besides the Big Thunder Railroad, he also has The Disneyland Railroad and Casey Jr. running around the large backyard layout.

Here, Disneyland Railroad Engine #2, the E. P. Ripley, emerges from a tunnel pulling passenger cars based on the original cars that ran at Disneyland on opening day with Walt Disney at the throttle. Passengers are treated to views of dinosaurs as seen in the Primeval World diorama.

The model work and the layout is quite extensive, with many Disneyland and Disney movie scenes interspersed throughout.

Visitors can even find Olaf from the Disney animated film “Frozen” sunning on a beach.

Here we see Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” dancing and singing in a courtyard while other characters from the Disney animated film watch.

Splash Mountain has guests poised to zip down the big splash near the end of the classic Disneyland attraction.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a model based on Disneyland without the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad, or Sleeping Beauty Castle. The Disneyland Railroad trains do make a stop at the station, and notice the detail of the handcar that sits out in front of the station.

Look familiar?

Some of the Disney Princesses greet Guests, and even the Disneyland Band plays in the castle forecourt.

Near the castle is the Snow White Wishing Well.

In the “hub” of the Central Plaza, is a model of the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, similar to how it is found at the park in front of the castle. The flowers, though not in scale, are meant to be similar to the flowers found around the statue.

We can see Captain Jack Sparrow on the dock, but we’re also on the lookout for Peter Pan – and Captain Hook.

Skull Rock and that crocodile sit nearby.

Tinkerbell and other fairies have a magical place to hangout too. The figures of all the characters are stored in a waterproof cabinet when the backyard is not open to guests. According to David it takes his family about 20 minutes to put them out on the layout where they belong.

… when strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls…

The balloons and house from the movie “Up” flies up a wall, while some of the dogs from the movie keep a watchful eye “Squirrel” below.

Even “Fantasia” is worked into the painted landscape backdrop.

Elsa’s ice castle from “Frozen” sits on a rocky crag.

The entrance to Indiana Jones is nestled amongst some tropical bamboo.

The cottage for the Seven Dwarfs sits peacefully in its forest setting. Snow White watches them from the doorway, while nearby, the evil witch nears with her poisoned apple.

We told you Casey Jr. runs around a lot of the garden, notice the patchwork behind the bridge reminiscent of the Storybook Canal.

Anyone seen a young girl with really long hair running around? We think she escaped from this tower.

A scene from “Moana” is one of the new additions.

The town of Rainbow Ridge is nearly complete, but construction of it and the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland has a bit more work before it is complete. Another area under construction will eventually be a model of Galaxy’s Edge. But just like Disney, David won’t commit to an actual opening date.

One of the special things David and his family do is hand out this “activity sheet” to kids of all ages. Inside are lists of things to find on the layout, including “hidden Mickeys.”

David’s layout is really special and we hope to get invited back year after year to see all the new things he has planned to add in the future.

Learn more about David’s Castle Peak & Thunder Railroad on his webpage at this link, which includes a place to sign up for invites to a future “Open House.”

October 26th, 2021