Ward Walrath Kimball was born on March 14, 1914 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1934, he joined the Disney Studios staff as an in-betweener and quickly rose in the ranks to become a full-fledged animator.
Ward Kimball visited Walt Disney World property in April 1996 with Michael Broggie (author of Walt Disney’s Railroad Story) to make arrangements for the abandoned trains of the no longer operating Fort Wilderness Railroad to go to private collections where they could be restored.
Unknown to Ward, the real reason for his arranged visit was the dedication of a Walt Disney World Railroad train to be named after him. On April 24, 1996 several select Disney cast members including myself gathered at the roundhouse behind The Magic Kingdom. Kimball temporarily exchanged his Opening Crew EPCOT baseball cap for a railroad cap and climbed into the cab of the engine for some publicity photos. Then we boarded the train and Michael Broggie and Ward switched off as engineer for an inaugural run around the Magic Kingdom.
That night, [Jim] had the opportunity to sit down with Ward at Seasons restaurant at the Disney Institute in Florida and ask him to share a few stories that despite his many interviews he had never before revealed. Despite the years, Ward still resembled a prankish pixie and retained his mischievous attitude with no hesitation to speak his mind. Only the lateness of the hour prevented him from sharing even more stories over drinks and dessert.