In 1974, the Retlaw 1 (Walter spelled backwards) consist was retired from active duty on the Disneyland Railroad and placed in storage within the Disneyland roundhouse. Disneyland Transportation Superintendent Ken Kohler realized the need to have a special train car where VIP guests and associates could be given tours of the park in a private, secure setting. Within two years, the observation car Grand Canyon was carefully transformed into the Disneyland Railroad Parlor Car. Lillian Disney was highly influential with the design of the interior and thus the coach was named for her, Lilly Belle. Numerous family photos and select memorabilia were placed within the car and little has changed from that day. One of the Lilly Belle's first guest was Japanese Emperor Hirohito and his wife, Empress Nagako.
The G Scale representation of the Disneyland Railroad Lilly Belle started out with an LGB #3080 passenger coach car. Two windows were cut out of both ends of the car, as well as an extra window added to each side of the coach. After the windows were framed, each corner had a piece of plastic “L” strip cut and fit which would later become the green and gold decorative trim pieces on the corners of the parlor car. On the side of the car that faces the “perimeter” of Disneyland, two center windows were removed and plastic strips added to replicate the car body siding. Finally, a strip of plastic trim was glued to the top edge of the car and the placards for the Lilly Belle name were created from styrene.
Rustoleum gloss Burgundy and Dark Hunter Green were used to paint the Lilly Belle. The bright red trim pieces were painted with craft store True Red paint and then gloss coated after the decals were applied. Stan Cedarleaf created the decals after measurements were provided of the car. The rear platform and drumhead were built out of styrene sheet and strips. The round circles in the handrail were cut from plastic tubing in order to replicate the prototype. Chains are stretched across the steps to prohibit access by eager fans.
The interior was furnished with quarter scale doll house furniture. In order to hide the electronics that run along the floor of the car, and the bridge rectifier and capacitor, a false floor and table were created to conceal the electronics. The curtains were made by cutting out the curtain pattern on red corrugated paper. On the ends and “perimeter” side of the car, red and white stripes were added to the top of the window to replicate the prototype. The paper was layered so that the corrugated paper curtain effect would be seen on both sides of the windows. Once the electronics and windows were in place, the interior details were added.
LED lighting and lanterns were added to the car. In order to convert the DC track power (2-24V) to the correct polarity for the LEDs, a bridge rectifier and capacitor were added between the track power and the LEDs. (200V/4A RS403L Bridge Rectifier, 50V 1000microF capacitor, 1.2kohm resistors) In addition, a custom sound system that plays the Mainstreet Station Arrival/Departure recording, and the entire Grand Circle Tour recording were added to the car. This sound card is made by Adafruit and contains a 16MB memory to be able to play the entire 15 minute recording with room to spare. The sound card is powered by a 5.5 Volt source, so a voltage regulator circuit was added between the bridge rectifier and the sound card. The Mainstreet Station Arrival/Departure recording is triggered by a momentary push button located under the rear platform. The Grand Circle Tour recording is activated by an On/Off switch and will play in a continuous loop. The sound card has numerous ways that you can trigger a sound file (up to 10 different triggers), and you can also have multiple sound files that can play in loops, at random, or by multiple triggers.
The roof of the car has a strip of glass where the stained glass on the prototype was replicated by using thinned water-based paints and dabbing on multiple layers of color. Once the LED lighting harness was installed in the roof, the power supply to the harness connects to the body of the car via a quick disconnect so that the roof can be removed to view the detailed interior.