drives the Marie E around Disneyland
On May 10th, 2005,
the Carolwood organization and John Lasseter had
planned a special treat for the beloved Ollie Johnston. They
wanted to give Ollie an opportunity to once again ride his treasured
full sized locomotive the “Marie E”, lovingly named
for his wife Marie.
E” in his driveway in La Canada-Flintridge and moved it to a
track on his property in Julian, Ca. that he and his sons had
constructed for it.
Ollie sold the train to John, around 2002, when he was no longer able
to operate it. John had the train expertly rejuvenated, and
moved it to his own track in Northern California, where he gives it the
same care as Ollie.
John had gone to the Disneyland people, who at first denied the idea of
putting the “Marie on the Disney track in the park. (The
trains were the same gauge). Being someone who was not willing to take
“no” for an answer, John put his legal team on the
problem. They came up with an insurance loop hole, which said
props from a movie could be displayed, but only employees of the that
company could touch or ride the prop.
At his own expense, John had the train
trucked from northern California
to Disneyland. Friends of Ollie's, along with the executive team at
Disney such as Michael Eisner, and soon to be chairman, Bob Iger, as
well as Howard Green signed a contract making them Pixar employees for
the day at $1 each.
John Lasseter and second-generation railroad buff Michael Broggie flank
legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston
The premise of the ruse was that the
Carolwood group was going to honor
Ollie for his contribution to the organization. The train was
secluded in the tunnel by the New Orleans Square station.
Ollie, who was 93 at the time, was really surprised as the
“Marie E” pulled into the Frontierland Station.
Even though it had been years since he had
seen the train, he took the
throttle and ran the engine around the park three times. As you can see
in the video, he even stopped the train precisely in front of cameraman
Bruce Gordon’s hew HD camera. (The late, great,
Imagineer Bruce Gordon shot and edited this footage)
Friends gathered, including the wife and
family of his dear friend and
collaborator, Jeanette and Ted Thomas. Missing was
own wife, Marie, who sadly passed away less that a week after this