I've been thinking of building a small Walt Disney World® layout since I was young, but I was too inexperienced and too poor to do it right. My inspiration came from my last trip (2014) to Walt Disney World (WDW). I was very inspired by the Imagineer models of the different parks on display at "One Man's Dream" in Hollywood Studios®. My mind was in overdrive as I thought of how I could build something close to the real thing.
One of my favorite places to go when visiting WDW are the Art Stores scattered around the parks. At the EPCOT™ art store, I noticed the Z scale Olszewski Cinderella's Castle™ and was very impressed. At the time, I never heard of Olszewski, but after some research, I found he designed all the main street pieces and a few attractions for both Disneyland® and Disney World. His work is impeccable.
After returning home, I proudly placed my Castle on the Fireplace mantle. This would not last long since I started sketching and writing down my ideas for a Miniature Main Street.
The project started Jan 2015...The winters in upstate NY are long and cold, so I typically have a project to get me through the winter.
I started with a 4'x8' sheet of plywood and put my Castle in position, and the Imagineering began.
The layout would consist of: 2 "N" scale Disney Railroad Steam engines (that would automatically stop at the train station for offloading guests, then return for another lap), a working monorail, 20 Olszewski pieces, over 300 LED's, a working Main Street Electrical Parade™, a scratch built 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea™, character topiaries, the Haunted Mansion with grave yard scenes, Fantasyland® flying dragon with fire, sound from the parks, Walt's plane "Mickey 1" from Hollywood Studios, and the full projection Castle show.
The whole layout then had to be portable. I was building this in my basement but was planning on moving it to the dining room. My wife said no, so the layout would reside in my office.
Some of the details, buildings, and scenes were just not available. I spent weekends designing and building what I needed...this was challenging and fun. I had to scratch build many items to fill in some area spaces, for example Tomorrowland Terrace™ and The Jungle Cruise™ scenes...
I spent countless hours on the internet gathering photos and reading about details. Also Lou Mongello's Radio show helped with great information.
The beginning of the build was during the same time I was reading Michael Broggie's, Walt Disney Railroad (recommended by Lou)....and learned how Walt also loved to build miniatures. This was very inspiring to me.
The first problem I had was most of the WDW Olszewski pieces were discontinued by Disney, and Olszewski was not selling them.
I was forced to find the pieces I needed on EBAY®. The prices were very high, but once in a while I found a good deal.
After some time, I had collected most of the Olszewski pieces I needed to start the layout. I began to position everything on the 4'x8' sheet for spacing. I really needed to make sure everything was in the correct spot and found Google Earth to be a great tool.
Using Google Earth™, I could zoom into WDW and see the entire park. I was able to print out (to scale) and have the entire blue prints of WDW, with exact spacing based on the real WDW buildings.
I can say, my Main Street USA™ is an exact replica to the real thing. Right down to the Castle engraved in stone at the entrance, to the positions of the umbrellas. All the gardens are made right from Google Earth pictures used as templates.
As of today, the Layout is 80% complete...
It's been about 6 month's total, into the project.
I still have a list of things to build and complete. But its spring time in NY, so I will transition to outdoor projects and get back to the World in the winter.
With the help of my wife, I was able to move the whole layout in my office. For the first time, I can start to enjoy it with friends and family. The look on everyone's face is similar to watching someone walking into the parks for the first time.