In honor of Canadian Spring Break beginning in the next few weeks and the countless searches we’re seeing for Canada to Disneyland road trip, we present one of the hidden secrets of Disneyland you might not know about: Riding the Lilly Belle Caboose. (And if you do know about it, I like you already. Let’s be friends.)
The charm and wonder of Disneyland starts when you stand in front of Main Street Station, admiring the huge Mickey floral display and wondering which entrance tunnel to take. And when you do finally pick a side (I’m not fussy, but some people swear they have to enter a certain way), you can literally feel the stress lifting off your shoulders.
There’s a lot to take in when you first walk into Disneyland, but the one thing you can’t miss is the Disneyland Railroad. For the casual visitor, the Disneyland Railroad might seem like just another method of transportation. With stops in New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown, and Tomorrowland, the Railroad is a great way to rest your feet and get from point A to point B. But for the person interested in Disney history, you know the Railroad is the cornerstone of the entire park.
Just watch the opening footage of Disneyland on July 17th, 1955 and you’ll see the Railroad front and center. Originally called RETLAW 1 (Walter spelled backwards), the train seating faced forward. When they decided on side facing seats in order for guests to get a better view of the Grand Canyon Diorama, they retired and sold off all the RETLAW-1 cars except one.
The Lilly Belle, a bright red caboose, is the last RETLAW car in existence at the park. Named for Walt Disney’s wife Lillian Disney, it is outfitted in beautiful, plush red Victorian decor. Originally restored for Disneyland’s Bicentennial, only VIP guests were permitted to ride the car. Luckily for us non-VIP folks, they’ve lightened the restrictions and you can now request seating in the pretty little caboose.
How do you get a ride on the coveted Lilly Belle? When you enter the park in the morning, head straight to Main Street Station. Inquire with a conductor as to whether the Lilly Belle is running that day. Keep in mind that politeness is key here (as it is everywhere in Disneyland), and they don’t have to give you a spot to ride. It also doesn’t run when its raining or looks like it might rain.
If you get a coveted spot on the Lilly Belle, be sure to ask for a souvenir ticket and sign the guest book. Once onboard, you can see frame photos of Walt and Lillian as well as other artifacts. A conductor rides with you, answering questions and giving you the history of the car.
There are so many hidden gems located in Disneyland, and the Lilly Belle is definitely one of the best.
Be sure to check out tips for getting the best price on Disney tickets here and see the three part series on ‘Vancouver to California: Disneyland Road Trip” and watch for more of Survive Parenthood Magazine’s – A Canadian Guide to Disneyland