Disneyland’s Lilly Belle Car: How to Ride and Why You Should

Updated 7/21/18. The Lily Belle train car, named after Walt’s wife and designed by her, is a must see Disneyland Secret. This secret train car has become less of a secret in recent years so it’s key to be on top of your game to score a ride on this historic piece of Disney history.

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How to Ride for Free

Arrive to the Parks Early

And we mean, early! Plan to arrive at the gates an hour prior to park opening so you are inside the gates for Rope Drop.

Head Straight to the Train Station

Once you are in the park, make a beeline right for the train station. Don’t get distracted. Don’t take pictures. Don’t, as hard as it may be, hug Dale on your way. Keep your eyes on the prize. It is rumored that to be one of the lucky people to get a reservation on the Lily Belle that you need to be one of the first 14 people in line in the morning.

Once you get to the front of the line, the conductor manning the station will be able to tell you whether the Disneyland Lilly Belle will be available or not.

The car will not run on days with heavy rain, high heat, or incredibly high crowds. Also, a Cast Member must accompany all park guests who take a ride in the Lilly Belle, so if the railroad is understaffed the day you ask, the answer will probably be no.

If You’re One of Those Lucky First in Line…

Then you may receive a spot on the Lily Belle! The train car holds 14 people so if it’s only making one run that day then only 14 people will get that spot. You will find out from the conductor when the park officially opens.

If your luck proves true and you’re one of those lucky few chosen to ride: you will be given a return time and will be asked to sign the conductor’s list.

If you’re not so lucky that morning: try, try, try again! A lot of luck and waking up early goes into getting a spot on this train car. Don’t give up!

Prepare for Your Ride

Plan to arrive about 15 minutes early for your reservation time. During your train ride a cast member will share the history of the car and fun facts with you and the other riders.

When the train is moving, you must remain seated. But when the train comes to a stop, you’re welcome to get up and take as many pictures as you like. This beautiful train car is full of small details and Disney history. Enjoy the ride!

How to Ride: The Grand Circle Tour

Disney now offers a chance to see this beautiful train car as part of one of their park tours.

The Grand Circle Tour is a train themed tour beginning with a walking portion where you will learn about Walt Disney’s love for trains and how that history is incorporated into the parks. After the walking tour, you will climb aboard the Lily Belle for your full circle ride around Disneyland. During the ride a cast member will share the history of the Lily Belle with the tour group.

During the tour you will receive a hot beverage, a themed donut, and the opportunity to buy tour specific merchandise including a Disneyland Railroad Map.

Cost

  • $85 per person.
  • Annual Passholder discount of 15% applies to this tour.
  • Disney Rewards® Visa® card holders and Disney Vacation Club® members also receive a 15% discount on this tour.
  • Full payment is due at time of booking and is nonrefundable.

Reservation Details

  • Please call (714) 781-TOUR or (714) 781-8687 to make reservations.
  • Registering Guests must be 18 years of age or older and have a valid photo ID.
  • Guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult (18 or older) during the entire tour.
  • Same-day bookings may be available on a walk-up basis only.
  • Theme park admission is required.
  • You may book a tour 30 days prior to your visit.
  • Tours in languages other than English may be available with advance notice.

Confirmation and Check In

  • When calling to make reservations, you will be given a confirmation number.
  • Write this number down and bring it to the tour along with your photo ID—you will not receive a confirmation email.
  • Enter through the Disneyland Park Main Entrance and go to the Disneyland Tour Gardens kiosk (left of City Hall) for check-in.
  • Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of your tour—late arrivals will not be accommodated.
  • Present your confirmation number and photo ID at the tour kiosk. If you do not have your confirmation number, you may use your last name and the credit card number used to purchase the tickets.

The Grand Circle Tour is really only a must if you’re interested in seeing the Lily Belle train car. There are plenty of other tours that offer much more for the price. If you have limited time in the park and want a guaranteed ride on the Lily Belle- this is the tour for you!

Lilly Belle Car Disneyland History

The Lilly Belle car is the last remaining train car from the opening day of Disneyland. Previously the Grand Canyon viewing car, the Lilly Belle was converted when the Disneyland Transportation Superintendent decided that Disneyland needed a special VIP car. Lilian Disney was influential in designing the car, adding family photos and early memorabilia. Because of her invovlement, the car was named the ‘Lilly Belle’.

Photo from TIME.

Photo from TIME.

Fun fact: Japanese Emperor Hirohito and his wife, Empress Nagako were the Lilly Belle’s first notable VIP guests.

For more about the Lilly Belle and the history of the Disney railroads, checkout: Walt Disney’s Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom

Lilly Belle Car: Past Closures

In 2014, the Lily Belle car was closed to the public before reopening again for limited ride availability.

A Disneyland Cast Member at the time confirmed that the Lilly Belle would no longer be open for regular park guests and that no requests for rides would be fielded at the main Disneyland Main Street station any longer.

While the Cast Member wouldn’t confirm that it was specifically for Club 33 use, they did confirm that it would be used for special groups and events.

My hunch and the most likely situation is that the public had become very aware of the car, and the demand has dramatically increased.

Disneyland lilly belle car closed

Disneyland Lilly Belle ticket. Image source.

The Lilly Belle is one of the listed benefits of being a Club 33 member. In the past I have heard of Club 33 members not being able to use the car because it was full for the day with regular park visitors.

Bob Iger briefly mentioned the car and the Court of Angels in the 2014 Disney Stockholder’s Meeting saying that, “In some cases the only way to bring something back is to do it for an exclusive number,” and that there is so much to do in the parks that the exclusive stuff makes up a very small amount.

This past closure just shows how easily one of Disneyland’s coveted secrets can disappear before you have the chance to experience it. Don’t wait and experience the Lily Belle on your next trip!

Other Secret Disneyland Experiences

While riding the Lily Belle is one of the most highly coveted experiences available to the general public at Disneyland, there are also two other great experiences.

Disneyland Steam Engine. Photo by Disney.

Disneyland Steam Engine. Photo by Disney.

In each of the Disneyland Railroad engines there are tender seats that fit two people. These seats are available to guests if they check in at the Disneyland train station in the morning right when the park opens. The schedule for these tender rides varies, so your best bet is to check right when you go into the park.

disneyland mark twain

Disneyland Mark Twain. Image from My Dessert.

The Mark Twain Riverboat lets a lucky group of guests “drive” during each trip around the river. To enjoy this amazing experience, find a Cast Member right before you board and ask to visit the wheelhouse and if you could be captain this time around. If you are lucky, they will escort you up to the wheelhouse where the captain will teach you how to steer. You can sign the guest book that dates back to 1955 when Walt Disney and his wife christened the boat on their wedding anniversary.

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30 comments add yours

  1. We did ride it and actually had a guided experience with lots of information on the train’s history, design and overall meanings. I loved this little gem….sad to see it go!

    Now, I’m off to frame my ticket!

    • Those tickets make great souvenirs. I have been planning to put all of my Disneyland paper: FastPass, tickets, Club 33 napkins all into a big collage.

  2. I rode it on my first date with my boyfriend. It was so romantic and wonderful. Sad to hear we won’t be able to do it again.

  3. Thanks for the confirmation. I was fortunate enough to ride a few times (the first time was with my parents for their 40th anniversary). I’m sad it’s no longer as accessible as it was, but I understand the need for it.

    (BTW, the tender rides are only available on Engines 1 & 2, as they are the only ones that have a tender seat.)

  4. The reason it was closed is because articles that tell people about the “secret” experiences at Disneyland (like this one) made it far too popular and impossible to accommodate demand. It was also causing enormous wear and tear on a piece of Disney history.

    Your information about tender rides is also inaccurate. The worst time to ask for a tender ride is first thing in the morning, The engineers are still setting up the engines for the day and will not take passengers. Also, only three of the five engines have tender seats, and one of them is out for a major refurbishment right now. There is no schedule for tender rides, and they all depend on the condition of the engine at the time the guest asks for the ride.

  5. “The Lilly Belle car is the last remaining train car from the opening day of Disneyland.”

    What about the red train? While now much changed, the freight train was present at opening day, making a full circle trip from Frontierland Station, and it can still be ridden on a near-daily basis by hundred of passengers. In addition, it still includes its original enclosed caboose.

  6. Had the honor of riding a few times. Sometimes with a CM that barely said two words, a few times with great ones that shared all sorts of history and stories! It was a favorite treat to take that ride.

  7. Side note. Even though we got to ride it on several occasions we never did acquire a ticket 🙁

    • Too bad. I am sure that you could find one on eBay. But, I am sure that a purchased ticket wouldn’t have the same sentimental value and that the prices that the tickets are going for is outrageous.

  8. We were just at Disneyland the week before Memorial Day 2014 and rode the Lilly Belle. I don’t know where you’re information is coming from, but our experience seems to indicate that either Disneyland execs changed their minds or your source was misinformed.

  9. I was lucky enough to propose to my girlfriend on the Lilly Belle and it was a wonderful experience.
    We still share those great memories with all our friends and family.
    Although it was already a special occasion the cast members on that day made it even more special !

  10. I noticed that the photo of the Lilly Belle ticket that you used in this article is one of mine. You are more than welcome to use any of my photos on your site, but if you do I would appreciate it if you could use my Flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/harshlight) or the actual photo page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/harshlight/7492724638) as the source link. The link you are currently using is just the static image and isn’t meant to be used as a credit link since it gives no information on where the photo is from. Since the story is being picked up by other news sources such as touringplans.com, they are assuming the photo is yours since the only link provided is just to a static image. Thank you for your help!

  11. I was discouraged to read this before our trip in July 2014. However, while talking with a railroad cast member he encouraged us to ask for a ride the next day. We were there when the park opened, told to come back in an hour, and then given a time to ride. This was late July after the 33 renovation. Later that same day we did the “Walk in Walt’s footsteps tour” My parents were still wearing their name tags and a cast member approached them and asked if they would like to ride!

    • Thanks for coming back and reporting on what you found. I’m very happy to hear that the Lilly Belle is still offering rides to the public, even if it is on a secret limited basis. So glad that you got to enjoy this.

      • We visited Memorial Day weekend 2014. Unfortunately did not get to ride. This would have been very memorial especially since my daughter is named LILY BELLE! Disappointed.

  12. My husband told our story to a cat member in may this year. We ended up pregnant and married (in that order) @17 years old. No proposal, just a shot gun wedding. My husband proposed to me on the lilly belle with the help of some wonderful cast members! We will be renewing our vows 2015 on our 25th wedding anniversary. Followed by a honey moon including our kids back to Disneyland!

  13. I have a Lilly Belle Guestbook. It has Shirley Temple, Emperor Hirohito, and others in it. For sale $999

    • Is there an eBay listing for it? Please authenticate.

      There was only ever one guest book and it was stolen.

  14. My family of 5 all got to ride in the Lilly Belle last Saturday, Aug 9th. So it must be back open for the public. Our conductor, who was wonderful, indicated that there have been a LOT of people sure they could get a ride in the car because they had read it on the internet. He told us what a privilege it was to be one of 30 people per day that gets to ride in it. I guess they accept people to the Lilly Belle for two trips daily. The car holds 15 people. He told us of the history of the car and answered lots of questions. It really was magical! (We each got the punched tickets as well) 🙂

  15. False reporting.
    General public can still board the Lilly Belle, though the guest book is no longer inside the caboose car.

  16. Many years ago, while awaiting the arrival of the Disneyland Railroad train in Tomorrowland I had the opportunity to ride aboard the Lilly Belle. It was early evening and the same train had passed as we entered the station, a white haired woman and others were aboard, when the train returned the car was empty. A good friend and I stepped up and into the car. This is when Walt’s caboose, baby pictures, guest signature book and more were in the car. We sat in awe riding around the park which was so magical. We do think the previous rider was Lillian and members of the family.

  17. I tried to walk up this morning and just ride the Lilly Belle. I was told you can’t Currently Unless you’ve booked one of the tours.

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