According to Walt Disney, the founder of “the happiest place on earth,” Disneyland all started by a mouse. The iconic symbol of Mickey Mouse is one of the beloved animated characters, and most recognizable figures which has launched countless movies and merchandise for 60 years now and counting. Disneyland has been the source of endless inspiration that attracts millions of visitors each year. From Main Street to Fantasyland, New Orleans Square to Tomorrowland, Frontierland to Toontown, Disneyland is filled with enticing features dreamed up by its founder and explored by its lovers.
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Walt Disney’s lasting legacy is enjoyed by individuals of all ages including celebrities, some of who had worked there during the early years of their careers. The park is full of magical sights and many known facts, but there are some lesser known truths that people don’t take note of no matter the number of times they visit. This article summarizes some surprising things about this wonderland that you probably haven’t heard about.
17. Black Sunday
Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955 and it had a bad first day, thus referred to as “Black Sunday”. The cement wasn’t dry yet so women’s high heels were sinking into it, rides were breaking down, and there were no bathrooms for people to pee, neither were there drinking fountains at the time.
16. The Fire Department
Walt’s apartment was located at the fire department in Disneyland. He used to turn on the little light in the window right above the entrance whenever he was there so that everyone would know that the boss was in. It was kept on after Walt’s death in remembrance of his presence which is believed to still oversee Disneyland.
15. The Rejected Elephant
In 1957, Former US President, Harry Truman visited Disneyland, but he refused to ride on Dumbo the flying elephant. This was because the elephant is the Republican symbol and Truman was a Democrat.
14. Steve Martin Worked In The Magic Shop
At the age of 10, Steve Martin started working at Disneyland selling guidebooks. The famous comedian, writer, and actor later performed magic tricks and sold gag merchandise to guests. In his autobiography, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life, Martin describes his boyhood years in Disneyland as “Seemed so glorious that I believed it should be in some faraway, impossible to visit Shangri-la, not two miles from where I grew up.” Martin recalls watching comedian Wally Boag perform at Disneyland’s Pepsi-Cola Golden Horseshoe Revenue in Frontierland. He observed the comedian’s timing and influence over the crowd, often mouthing the words along with Boag.
13. Club 33
Club 33, located in New Orleans Square, is the only place in Disneyland where alcohol is served. Walt Disney intended the exclusive club to be a secret club to entertain high-profile guests. The Platinum Disney Membership is excluded to only 500 members who pay a steep initiation fee of $20,000 along with a yearly membership fee of around $10,000.
12. Disneyland’s Address
Many who have visited Disneyland may not remember or even know the address. It is located at 1313 Disneyland Drive in Anaheim, California. The number 13 which some people believe to be bad omen means something else for Disney fanatics. It may only be a coincidence, but the 13th letter of the alphabet is “M.” When you string 13 and 13 together, it creates “MM,” the initials of Mickey Mouse, the inspiration behind Disneyland.
11. Only Three Unscheduled Closed Days
Disneyland is open to its customers 365 days a year, so everyone can visit at anytime. However, the park has shut its gate to people for three separate unscheduled days. The first day was the national day of mourning after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The park was also closed after the Northridge Earthquake occurred in 1994 in order for the grounds to be inspected for damages. The final day the park was closed was after September 11th attack.
10. The Mermaids
There used to be real mermaids sitting on rock in the water by the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. They had to get rid of the “mermaids” because young men used to jump into the water and try to swim over to meet them. Also, the girls who wore the mermaid swimsuits didn’t really like the chemicals in the water and so had to quit the job.
9. Real Human Skull
The skull on the head-board of Pirates of the Caribbean is a real human skull. When they were building the ride, they found human bones in the ground and used them. Over the years, most of them have been replaced with fake bones but the skull still remains – weird!
8. Smellitzers Along Main Street
The sights of colorful characters and charming buildings, the sounds of cheerful music and chattering guests, and the smells of delicious baked goods. While strolling along Main Street, you may catch a whiff of vanilla, or touches of peppermint during the holidays. That is because smellitizers were deliberately placed along Main Street in order to lure guests to the bakeries and stores that line the bustling street. Walt Disney coined the idea, adding to the overall experience of entering the park.
7. George Lucas Among First Visitors
At 11-years-old, George Lucas was among the first guests to visit the park on opening day in 1955. Years later, in 1987, the attraction Star Tours opened, which was based on Lucas’s movie franchise Star Wars. Since then, Disney has bought Lucas’ film for $4 billion.
6. The Golden Apple
Outside Snow White’s Scary Adventure, there is a spellbook with a golden apple perched above it. If you rub the apple, you will hear thrashes of thunder and the Evil Queen’s menacing laugh. Snow White’s Scary Adventure ride was one of the 18 attractions operating on opening day in 1955. Located in the fantastical Fantasyland, the exteriors of the ride was designed to resemble the Evil Queen’s castle.
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5. Gold Marks the Spot
Just past Main Street, resting behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle, a gold-colored stake is pierced through the ground. The copper stake is believed to be a marker used during construction of Disneyland in order to mark the alignment of Main Street and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Others believe that the marker is the spot where Walt Disney was famously photographed walking through the castle.
4. Peering Evil Queen
Do you ever feel someone’s glare itching at the back of your neck while outside Snow White’s attraction? It may be because every 30 seconds or so the Evil Queen of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pulls back the curtain to peer out the cottage window. The peering figure can be found just above Snow Whites Scary Adventure.
3. Michelle Pfeiffer as Alice
One of Michelle Pfeiffer’s first performing gigs was working at Disneyland portraying Alice from Alice in Wonderland. She performed in the Main Street Electrical Parade in the mid-seventies. With her blonde hair and charming smile, it isn’t hard to imagine her as the wide-eyed dreamer traveling through Wonderland.
2. The Dictionary of the Haunted Mansion
In the lively streets of New Orleans Square sits the Haunted Mansion, which appears pristine, but ghosts and ghouls wail and dance for eternity inside. Once you pass through the iron gates, past the stone marked graves, and enter the French Quarter manor, you will come across the lobby. Resting on the lobby desk of the Haunted Mansion lays a dictionary that is turned to the page with the definition of “death.” The subtle detail adds to the eeriness that lurks within the gates of the Haunted Mansion.
1. The Famous Bench
Walt Disney was first inspired to build a Park theme sitting bench while sitting on a park bench in Los Angeles and watching his daughters on a merry-go-round at Griffith Park. The humble pale blue bench was installed and put on display in the Opera House lobby. Directly above the display is the famous black and white picture of Walt Disney walking through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, taken the day before Disneyland first opened its gates to the public.