Dates: ?1975 – ?1985
“The Runaway Train is Universal’s own nine-ton version of ‘Casey Jones.’ You experience the menacing terror of a huge locomotive as it bears down on each tram which dares to cross its path.”
From “Inside Universal Studios”, 1976
The Runaway Train (along with the “animated train engineer”) played out it’s fearful spectacle in the Denver Street area. For a particularly terrifying period, the train conductor was dressed as Mr T from The A Team during a park-wide promotion.
Press Release from 1976
The runaway train haunts what was once a peaceful western town on Universal’s back lot. Visitors experience the menacing terror of a huge locomotive as it bears down on each tram daring to cross its path.
Sound effects such as warning bells, steam whistles, and locomotion add to the realism of the train as it heads towards the tram at its “breakneck” speed of seven miles per hour.
Of course, true to the old Hollywood tradition, the train stops just in the nick of time, the passengers are saved, and the tram continues unharmed.
The locomotive took four months to complete and was constructed by the electronic magicians in Universal Studios Special Effects Department.
The train is powered by air motors and features two braking systems. Once the tram is safely across the tracks, the train reverses itself automatically, and can be ready to repeat its attack in just two minutes.
Excerpt from ‘Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom’ Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mystery:
After the Train Stopped
The train stopped running finally around 1985. Although it no longer actively attacks the Studio Tour tram, the locomotive is still clearly seen on the Studio Tour – it’s currently parked at the Freight Train Station on Denver Street. Before it’s move to Denver Street it remained in position opposite Denver Street in it’s final ‘attack’ position for many years (the second photo below shows it still there in 1998).
The train tracks it sits on run all the way past the Train Station opposite the Court of Miracles, onwards to the rear of the Square of Warriors (or they did until the Square of Warriors was removed).
Back in the 1950s the tracks continued through Denver Street all the way to the New York Street sets.