The Worldâ€™s Greatest Hobby on Tour Show made its appearance at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, on January 3rd and 4th, 2009.
Though model railroad displays were the order of the day, there was a different reason for which I personally attended the show: The Walt Disney Railroad Story Exhibit and Presentation. The exhibition featured none other than Michael Broggie, son of Roger Broggie, one of Walt Disneyâ€™s first Imagineers.
The Walt Disney Railroad Story exhibit was the first display upon entering the center. The presentation took place in a room with about fifty folding chairs facing a small white movie screen. Easels were placed near the screen, upon which sat pictures Donald Duck riding a model train, a portrait of Walt handling a model train and blown up photographs of Walt riding locomotives. We had just taken our seats when Mr. Broggie took hold of the microphone and began his presentation.
He spoke for the next forty minutes about railroads and their impact on Walt Disney. One of Waltâ€™s first jobs was as a news butcher on the Missouri Pacific rail line, selling newspapers and fruit. The story continued with tales of Waltâ€™s model railroad in his backyard (on which friends and family were treated to rides), his plans for a park near the Disney Studios in Burbank, California and the eventual development of Disneyland. We learned how plans for Disneyland included from the very beginning the railroad that circled the park. Also, did you know that though Waltâ€™s company owned and operated Disneyland, Walt himself was the owner of the trains?
Images of Walt, and often a very lucky young Michael, riding his many railroads through various stages of Disneylandâ€™s development, accompanied the presentation on the screen. The feeling I got was that through all Waltâ€™s great accomplishments in his life, railroading was his primary passion. Disneyland was really only an excuse for Walt to play as a railroad engineer. I spoke with Mr. Broggie afterward and from our conversation can say without a doubt that much of Waltâ€™s enthusiasm for railroading had brushed off onto him.
Michael Broggie founded the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society in 1995 to honor and preserve Walt Disneyâ€™s railroad legacy. His book Walt Disneyâ€™s Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom was for sale following the presentation. This beautiful book was winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Biography.
The Worldâ€™s Greatest Hobby on Tour Show has made its appearance in no less than eighteen cities thus far. Future stops include: Nashville, TN, San Antonio, TX, Cleveland, OH, and Seattle-Tacoma, WA. Information can be found at www.wghshow.com. If you live near in or near any of these cities, I strongly recommend seeing the show and catching Mr. Broggieâ€™s wonderful exhibition and story.
Michael Broggie was a special guest on The WDW Radio Show, show #9, which can be found at www.wdwradio.com.