The Disneyland Railroad Guided Tour: A Ride in the Lilly Belle and a (Very Slight) “Glimpse” at the Roundhouse

The Disneyland Railroad Guided Tour offers a deeper look at many moments of the park’s history that circle back to Walt Disney’s passion for trains. While I knew it was foundational to the park’s design, I hadn’t pieced together just how many anecdotes of the park’s history had his love of trains at their core.

Our excursion began with some light morning snacks – a delicious warmed cinnamon apple pastry and chilled orange juice served in the exit of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (currently closed for refurbishment).

Our tour guide Sean was a delightful storyteller and sprinkled numerous railroad puns throughout the two-hours walk around Disneyland. The tour began on Main Street USA where we learned about Walt’s early days in the Midwest. As Sean recounted the familiar tale of Walt’s railroad ride that birthed Mickey Mouse it dawned on me that Walt’s love of trains and his optimism were deeply entwined. So it makes even more sense to me now why his opening day entrance was aboard a steam locomotive, the EP Ripley, named after the first president of Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad.

Among the anecdotes on our tour Sean talked about

  • Walt Disney’s backyard railroad – Carolwood Pacific
  • Why two track lines are found at the Main Street USA station
  • The history of each of the four steam locomotives
  • How the Disneyland Railroad impacted the design of several classic attractions
  • The stories behind the names found on Main Street’s windows – Roger Broggie, Harper Goff, Bob Gurr
  • Which Disney Legends also had backyard railroads

But the highlight of the tour is a chance to ride the rails in the special Presidential Car, the Lilly Belle. This beautifully restored railroad car features vintage decor selected by Walt Disney’s wife Lillian for whom the car is named. If you’ve seen images of Walt Disney’s Main Street apartment, you’ll see similarities in the decor. I was surprised by how different I found the familiar sights of Disneyland framed by the Lilly Belle windows’ fringed curtains. It made me think back to classic images of the park’s early days that I’ve seen as I enjoyed the muted sounds along the route due to being inside a closed car.

After our grand circle trip from the Toontown Depot, it was time for another moment specified in the tour description as “Catch a Rare Glimpse of the Disneyland Park Roundhouse” — and I must admit to being a bit underwhelmed by this moment of the tour. As a frequent Disneyland guest, I have many, many times snuck a peek at the roundhouse as we pass by on the railroad, so I was surprised when we simply walked backstage to the spot adjacent to the Agrifuture billboard and looked off into the distance at the roundhouse. By the way, it isn’t round, and if you’re not sure how it got its name, you’ll find out during the tour along with a brief recounting of the activities that occur nightly there to maintain the steam engines.

Back on stage, our tour reached its conclusion as we stood by “it’s a small world” where we were presented with a very special lithograph. It is a recreation of the map that is on display in the Main Street USA station, the one with lights to indicate where the locomotives can be found along the route.

And then Sean brought it all full circle with Walt Disney’s quote – “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

Throughout the Disneyland Railroad Tour I was reminded of all the creative people who came together to make the Disneyland dream a reality and the many who still carry on that vision.

For more information or to book your tour, visit

Laughing Place recommends for all your Disneyland Resort travel planning
Fill out the form below for a free,
no obligation quote from
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Rebekah Moseley
Rebekah grew up frequently going to Disneyland and met her husband there as annual passholders. Together they co-founded to share their love and fun experiencing all things Disney with other fans. Rebekah's favorite Disney princess is Cinderella and if she could snap her fingers and be anywhere within the created Disney worlds, it's Typhoon Lagoon's lazy river which she considers Imagineering perfection.