Not long after Disneyland opened in 1955, the legendary A thru E ticket system was introduced to help spread guests throughout the park’s many attractions. Guests would buy a booklet of tickets, and, upon entering an attraction, would present a ticket to the cast member at the turnstile. The ticket system was replaced by the all-day passport in the early 1980’s, but at Disneyland there are a handful of attractions that actually GIVE TICKETS TO THE GUESTS who get to experience them! These keepsakes are not always available, but they offer great collectibles that commemorate special rides not experienced by most guests at the park!
The first transportation system every guest sees as they enter Disneyland is, of course, the Disneyland Railroad. In the mid 1970’s, the observation car “Grand Canyon” had been retired from daily service on the route and was in storage in the Disneyland roundhouse. It was decided by Disneyland and Retlaw (Walt’s personal company that actually owned the railroad and rolling stock at that time) that the Grand Canyon would make a great VIP guest experience car. So, with the personal help of Lillian Disney, the Grand Canyon was transformed into the parlor car that we know today as the Lilly Belle (named in honor of Lillian). It is a beautiful and elegant setting with lots of ambiance and a little bit of Disney Family memorabilia (ask about Lillian’s coat!). The car is adorned with deep mahogany wood, stained glass, antiques, and beautiful Victorian era details… although there is no air conditioning, so it can get quite warm during the hot Southern California summer!
The Lilly Belle is currently sitting at the Main Street Station while the railroad is closed for Star Wars Land construction.
The interior of the Lilly Belle is ornate and very beautiful
The Lilly Belle is not on the tracks every day. Poor weather will keep it in the roundhouse. Now, riding her is NEVER guaranteed. Club 33 members are given preference when she is available, and a cast member MUST accompany any guests in the car. The BEST way to ride in her (although not cheap), is to go on a private tour. The Guest Relations Tour Guide can usually get their guests a ride. Sometimes the Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps Tour gets the chance. Right now though, NO ONE gets the chance to ride the Lilly Belle. But, as a consolation, she is usually parked at the Main Street station where anyone can go up and look inside! When she is running, and if you get the chance to ride, make sure to ask for a collectible ticket. This is a great (and FREE!) keepsake that is sometimes available.
Commemorative ticket given out when riding the Lilly Belle
The Monorail is also synonymous with Disneyland Transportation. Since its introduction by Walt Disney himself in 1959, it’s futuristic look and almost silent ride (minus the horn) has beckoned guests to take a trip over to the Disneyland Hotel and back. Unlike its sister system in Walt Disney World, up to four Disneyland guests can still request to ride in the nose cone! When boarding at the Tomorrowland station, just ask a cast member. It is available on a first come basis, but is just plain cool if you get to do it. The monorail pilots are usually very friendly and eagerly engage in conversation , and at the end of the ride back in Tomorrowland, be sure to get your (again FREE!) boarding pass!
The interior nosecone, open to lucky guests, glows purple at night
Monorail Orange nosecone boarding pass
The Mark Twain riverboat also offers a unique (although presently unavailable) trip around the Rivers of America. When the boat is in operation, simply ask one of the cast members if the “Wheelhouse” is available. If it is, you will be asked to wait to the side. Once boarding begins, you will be taken to the top deck and let into the pilot’s quarters. After walking through the cramped sleeping area, it’s up the narrow ladder to the wheel house. The height offers a beautiful view of Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country, and the Rivers of America. During the trip, the cast member usually allows the guests (up to 4) to steer the boat, ring the bell, and blow the whistle! It’s funny to watch the cast member have to push the button to activate the narration at the correct moment (no computers here!). And upon completion of the trip, all of the guests will receive a (FREE!) Pilot’s Certificate.
Lucky guests “pilot” the Mark Twain and get to pull the whistle and ring the bell
Mark Twain Pilot Certificate given out upon completion of the journey… don’t forget to sign the guest book too!
Now while 2 of these trips are unavailable during the Disneyland Star Wars Land expansion, they are all worthy of the wait to try them once they return in 2017. Remember that these are also VERY limited experiences. Be kind when requesting them from the cast members, and do not take it badly if they are not able to accommodate your request at that time.
Have you ever done either of these three unique experiences at Disneyland? Share your stories in the comments section.