Disney renewed his interest in trains after injuries forced him to stop playing polo.Seeking a calmer recreational activity, he purchased several Lionel train sets in late 1947. By 1948, his interest in model trains was evolving into an interest in larger, ridable miniature trains after observing the trains and backyard railroad layouts of several hobbyists. These hobbyists included Disney animator Ollie Johnston, who had a ridable miniature railroad, as well as Disney animator Ward Kimball, who owned the full-size, 3 ft(914 mm) narrow-gaugeGrizzly Flats Railroad.
On June 1, 1949, Disney purchased 5 acres (2.0 ha) of vacant land in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles. The property consisted of a bluff, which was 2 acres (0.8 ha) in size, and a level shelf of land behind it, which Disney named Yensid Valley. The word Yensid is Disneyspelled backwards. Disney purchased this land to build a new family home with an elaborate backyard railroad behind it. Plans for the railroad's layout included 2,615 feet (797 m) of 71⁄4-inch (184 mm) gauge track with eleven switches, as well as gradients, overpasses, a trestle, and an elevated dirt berm. The layout would completely surround the house. Disney's wife, Lillian Disney, objected to the plan that part of the layout be built in an area where she intended to plant a flower garden. As a compromise, Disney had an S-curvetunnel built underneath the spot where the garden was eventually planted. Aided by a Walt Disney Studios attorney, Disney had a tongue-in-cheek legal contract written to establish his right to own and operate the railroad's right of
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