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.
- $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.
- 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’.
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.
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.
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.
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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