Disneyland turns 66 on July 17 and here is an updated list of 66 things you didn’t know about Disney’s original theme park from its opening day celebration to the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and from the longest-running hit attractions to the ones the park no longer likes to talk about. So, sit back, relax and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times as we travel through “the happiest place on earth.” (Main image: Disneyland Resort)
1. Disneyland was First a TV Show Before it was a Park
The building of Disneyland was an expensive venture of $17 million. Sure, it could have been done for cheaper, but it wouldn’t have been big enough to hold all of Walt Disney’s ideas. In addition to borrowing from his life insurance, selling his vacation home and making a few deals with several companies, Disney made a deal with the ABC television network to create the TV series, Disneyland which premiered on Wednesday, October 27, 1954. In addition to showing cartoons and short stories, Mr. Disney would also share about the new theme park that he was building. It won an Emmy for Best Variety Series during its first season
2. Opening Day was a Disaster
The official opening day for Disneyland was held on Sunday, July 17, 1955 and was broadcast live on ABC. The live broadcast was hosted by Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings and Ronald Reagan. It was also an “international press preview” meaning that only those in the media and special guests were invited. However, instead of the reasonable amount of 14,000 or so guests coming that day, more than 28,000 people showed up, many who had purchased counterfeit tickets. Things did not go as planned and was later known internally as “Black Sunday.”
The special guests were to arrive at the park at different times of the day, but many showed up at the same time. Those guests tripped over TV camera cords while the on-air hosts tried to make the best of things with faulty equipment. Temperatures reached 101 degrees that day and the asphalt for Main Street USA had just been poured that morning!
The asphalt was so was so soft, some women’s high-heeled shoes got stuck in it. (Why women would wear heels to an amusement park is another mystery.)
Due to a local plumber’s strike, Disney was faced with either having toilets that flushed or working drinking fountains, but not both. People were forced to drink Pepsi just to stay hydrated and the vendors ran out of food. To make matters worse, there was a gas leak that closed down three of the park’s “lands” for the afternoon causing even more congestion in the other areas of the park that were still operating. Not surprisingly, the initial press reviews were not good.
3. Lots to Do
Disneyland opened with just 18 attractions. Today, it boasts of 50 rides, shows and exhibits.
4. Ticket Prices Then and Now
Admission was initially just $1 person when Disneyland first opened. However, this didn’t include the cost of the attractions. Single tickets in 2019 range from $104-$149.
5. The Park’s Oldest Attractions
The following is a list of attractions that have been in operation at Disneyland since its opening: King Arthur Carousel, Peter Pan Flight, Mad Tea Party, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Canal Boats of the Word (Now known as Storybook Land Canal Boats), Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Autopia, Disneyland Railroad, Horse-drawn Streetcars, Main Street Cinema, Jungle Cruise, Mark Twain Steamboat, Penny Arcade
6. The First Attraction to Close
Not every Disney attraction has been a hit. Tomorrowland Boats were sort of an Autopia on water. They opened on July 30, 1955 but the gas-powered engines were unreliable and often riders would get stranded and needed to have an employee come rescue them. They closed for a short time before coming back as the Phantom Boats in 1956. (No one seems to know where the name came from.) This time around, an employee had to ride with the guests which raised up the cost of running the attraction significantly. It was soon closed permanently giving the boats the distinction of the first attraction permanently closed at the park.
7. The Strangest Store Ever at the Park
Why Disney or anyone else thought that this was a good idea is beyond me. The Wizard of Bras shop was one of the first stores to open on Main Street, USA. According to a local newspaper, the shop was a creation of the Hollywood-Maxwell Brassiere Company that featured a revolving stage recreating fashions of the 1890s on one side and more modern fashions styles on the other. Guests were welcomed by the “wizard” himself with a wave of his magic wand to show them “how it was and how it is” – in bras. It closed six months later.
8. A Brief History of the “E” Ticket
Attraction tickets at Disney varied in price in 1955 with an A-C rating system. “A” rides were the simplest and least popular while the “C” tickets were the most popular. After three months of operation, the park began to offer “value books” which contained several tickets of each letter. The next year, Disney upgraded some “C” rides to the newly designated “D” category. Then in 1959, after an extensive remodel, “E” tickets were included in the book and were considered the best of the best. An “A” ticket’s price would be just 10 cents while the “E” ticket would be 85 cents. By 1982, the ticket system was eliminated.
9. The Longest Stage Show in U.S. History
The longest stage show in US history debuted on Disneyland’s opening day in Frontierland. The Golden Horseshoe Revue (an accidental misspelling that stuck), was an old west vaudeville-type of show that ran from 1955 to 1986. Though the actors changed over the years, the show and the characters did not. The show featured saloon owner Slue Foot Sue, her dance hall girls, Pecos Bill and a traveling salesmen. The Guinness Book of World Records state that the show was presented 39,000 times over 30 years.
10. Lots of Dolls
It’s a Small World originated as a 1964 World’s Fair Attraction before it was moved into Disneyland. The ride featured various dolls and other audio-animatronics representing children from all over the world … except America. It wasn’t until 2008 that a new America section was added to the ride along with many Disney characters added to the different lands. Today the ride features over 300 dolls and characters.
11. Recycling at its Best
Disneyland has always found a way to reuse old material when needed. The original organ featured in the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea can be seen in The Haunted Mansion. Goats and the wild life critters that were part of the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland were re-used when Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened. The Swiss Family Treehouse later became Tarzan’s Treehouse and many of the creatures featured in America Sings continue to do so in Splash Mountain. Even many of the original attraction ticket booths are still around and used as decorations including the giant mushroom that holds the book of Alice’s adventures in front of Alice in Wonderland and the lighthouse posted in front of Storybook Land Canal Boats.
12. Signs of Things to Come
Despite the fact that the facade for The Haunted Mansion was completed in 1963, the ride itself did not open its doors until 1969.
13. One Mountain, Different Rides
Space Mountain has operated under different titles over the years including Hyperspace Mountain (themed with animation and music from the Star Wars movies), Rockin’ Space Mountain and the Halloween-themed Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy.
14. In the Movies
Only five movies have been filmed at Disneyland. Two were filmed by Walt Disney Pictures: Saving Mr. Banks in 2013 and Tomorrowland in 2015. Two other movies received permission to film there: Forty Pounds of Trouble in 1962 and That Thing You Do in 1996. But the creator of the small indie movie, Escape from Tomorrow in 2013, shot footage of the park illegally.
15. Famous People Who Worked for the Mouse
A number of celebrities got their start in showbiz while working at the “happiest place on earth.” Steve Martin actually worked with John McEuen (from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) at the Magic Shop on Main Street. (Apparently, it was McEuen who taught Martin how to play the banjo.) Richard Carpenter of The Carpenters could have been found on Main Street as well as a street performer. Kevin Costner worked as a tour guide and met his first wife there too. She played Snow White. Terri Garr danced her way to fame in parades at the park. Both Michelle Pfeiffer and Joanna Kerns were characters in the Main Street Electrical Parade. Pfeiffer played Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) while Kerns played the Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio). Finally, both Ron Ziegler and animation director John Lasseter served as Jungle Cruise skippers.
16. No Gum Allowed
You will find just about every treat you and imagine within the many shops and stands in Disneyland, but the one item you won’t find is gum. Walt Disney hated the stuff and didn’t want guests spitting it on his grounds. You may have noticed some specks embedded into the pavement on Main Street thinking that it was chewing gum that got snuck in, but more than likely, they are sensors that are used to help guide the floats during the many parades.
17. The “Other” Train
From June 1957 to September 1958, the park featured The Viewliner, “the fastest miniature train in the world.” Measuring just two and half feet across, the futuristic train once traveled alongside the traditional steam-powered trains through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland in a short loop. The point was to contrast the look of the past with the look of the future. The attraction went away in September of 1958 when construction began on the Matterhorn and the Submarine Voyage and never came back. It has the distinction of being the Disneyland attraction with the shortest life ever.
18. The Matterhorn is King
Things in Disneyland are not always what they seem. Thanks to forced perspective, many of the buildings and features at the park are actually shorter than you would think. Here are park’s tallest features from shortest to tallest:
– Sleeping Beauty’s Castle: 75.5 feet tall
– Space Mountain: 76 feet tall
– Splash Mountain: 76 feet tall
– Big Thunder Mountain: 104 feet tall
– The Matterhorn: 147 feet tall
19. Cats Roam Freely Here
Although Mickey is considered Walt’s best friend, it is rumored that Disney had a fear of mice, but fortunately, the park has never had a problem with rodents. A number feral cats have made their home in the park and roam freely at nighttime and hide during the day.
20. The Circus You Never Heard Of
One of the park’s earliest flops had the best intentions. In November on 1955, Disney raised up a circus tent and dubbed it the Mickey Mouse Club Circus. Walt loved circuses and thought by having the show star a few of the TV Mouseketeers it would be a hit. Unfortunately, it cost an additional fee, was set outside of the park and guests showed little desire to see circus acts at Disneyland when they could see similar shows at home. The circus closed in January the next year.
21. Ears to You
Mickey Mouse Ears is of course a very popular souvenir. It is estimated that over 90 million “ears” have been sold here since 1955. Many are embroidered with names or phrases. However, guests are not allowed to use profanity, names of famous people, sports teams, personal businesses and corporations in their personalizations. However, there is a story about one guest who requested that his hat say “Vincent” and then he later tore off one of the ears.
22. The First Audio-Animatronics
Audio-Animatronics are common place in Disneyland and expected. But the very first character was not Abraham Lincoln or a Country Bear. The first were the birds cooped up The Enchanted Tiki Room which opened for the first time on June 23, 1963.
23. Doritos Were Invented in Disneyland
When the Disneyland restaurant, Casea de Fritos in Adventureland, discovered that they had a surplus of tortillas, the cooks cut them up, deep fried them and tossed them around with a few spices. The end result became a hit. They were made and sold outside of Disneyland regionally for a time before flooded with requests for more.
24. Alice, is That (Still) You?
Actress Kathryn Beaumont voiced the character of Alice in Wonderland. When Disneyland planned to include an Alice in Wonderland ride, Beaumont was asked to lend her voice. When the ride was closed in 1982 for a major refurbishment, Imagineers once again requested that Beumont voice the role one more time. The recording was sped up a smidge to help Beaumont sound like the child Alice we all know and love.
Disney theme parks are known for their different “lands” but not every idea came to fruition. Among the “lands” that never came to Disneyland include Edison Square and Liberty Street (side streets to Main Street, U.S.A.), Lilliputian Land (where everything would have been built very tiny making the guests feel like giants) a “Wizard of Oz” land, Big Rock Candy Mountain, Mickey Mouse Island, International Land (EPCOT was built with the same concept), Mythia Unknown (based on Greek and Roman myths), Hollywoodland (a similar concept opened in Disney’s California Adventure), Big City U.S.A. (A New York themed area), World Holiday Land (an European-themed area built around holidays) and Discovery Bay (A Jules Verne inspired land that was later developed for Disneyland Paris).
26. When One of the Ghosts Was Real
While all of the 999 ghosts in residence at the Haunted Mansion are audio-animatronic, there once was a live one portrayed by a real flesh-and-blood human being. During one summer, Disneyland created a knight who would roam the halls of the mansion. They were able to jump out at guests to scare them but they were not supposed to actually touch them. However, that didn’t stop the guests from punching the knight. Although it is not exactly clear why the ride discontinued the character, rumors suggest that this special character generated more complaints than compliments.
27. Not Such a Small World After All
In 2008, It’s a Small World went under a major refurbishment from January to November which included a new water flume and new boats. Though Disney hasn’t admitted this, there were reports at the time that main reason for the overhaul had to do with America’s waistline. According to some, the original boats were designed with the assumption that male riders would weigh an average of 175 pounds and women around 135 which they did in 1963. However, in the 2000s more and more boats began to bottom out stalling the ride and causing the offenders to abandon ship.
28. Lights Out
Disneyland is known for its wonderful parades, most notably, the Main Street Electrical Parade. So in 1997 when the park unveiled its new night-time presentation, people got excited. However, the new Light Magic production wasn’t a parade at all. Instead, Disney called it a “streetacular” where four large floats would move and set up along the traditional parade route in darkness. Then, suddenly lights would come on, animated images would appear on the large screens, cheerful music would play and groups of fairies would jump out to dance. A few Disney characters showed up for the fun too but the $20 million dollar stunt was not a hit with fans. Instead of becoming the next generation of the famed Electrical Parade, Light Magic only ran for one summer only.
29. Disneyland’s First Swim Meet
One of the park’s oddest promotions was held on October 5, 2004 when Michael Phelps, Lenny Krayzelburg, Ian Crocker and others showed up for a swim meet held literally on Main Street U.S.A. The event was celebrating the men’s victories at the Athens Olympic Games. A giant pool was constructed for the occasion that stretched 50 meters down the street. It held about 103,944 gallons of water and was about 3.5 feet deep. By the next day, it was gone.
30. [Not So] Hidden Rooms in Disneyland
Walt Disney had his own apartment in Disneyland where he would stay occasionally during the park’s early years. The 600-foot apartment sits over the Main Street Fire Station where a candle stays lit in the window all year round in his honor. Disney had also planned for a special “Royal Suite” to be used for VIPS to be built above the entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, but it never was. However, in 2008, Disney unveiled the “Dream Suite” that has been used for special promotions. Each room in the suite is based on a different area of the park. The master bedroom is based on Adventureland while that bathroom is based on Fantasyland. Another bedroom is based on Frontierland and the sitting room is based on New Orleans Square. Another hidden space in the park is located within the Matterhorn where a basketball court can be found to be used by Disney employees.
31. Julie Andrew’s Horse
Julie Andrews, forever known as Mary Poppins, had a horse on the King Arthur’s Carousel dedicated to her in 2005. You can spot “Jingles” since it has a drawing of her boots on it and a Mary Poppins’ silhouette. The horse was Walt Disney’s favorite and it is the very horse that Emma Thompson rides in the movie, Saving Mr. Banks.
32. Speed in Space is Slower
Space Mountain is an ingenious ride for many reasons including the fact that despite what you feel while riding, it has a top speed of only 35 MPH. Fans blowing air in your face and the darkness add to the thrill making you think that you are traveling faster than you really are.
33. Return Visits to Disneyland to an Extreme
It nearly impossible to see everything in Disneyland in one day and for that reason, many families plan for two or more days when visiting the park. However, on July 6, 2017, Jeff Reitz celebrated his 2,000th visit to the park. In 2012, he began visiting Disneyland with a friend each day as a pick-me-up since he was unemployed at the time. Reitz said that his first visit to the park was when he was two years old and remembers riding the Matterhorn Bobsleds with his mother. It is still his favorite attraction.
34. A Smelly Place
Believe it or not, even the scents throughout Disneyland are larger than life. The park actually pumps out various scents at various sections of the park to heighten the experience. For instance, on Main Street U.S.A., you might smell whiffs of vanilla or peppermint depending on the time of the year, honey near Pooh’s Adventure, seawater at the Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.
35. The PeopleMover Remover
In 1998, Disneyland removed the much-loved yet slow PeopleMover in favor or a new thrill ride called Rocket Rods. With vehicles that resembled hot rod race cars, the new ride would blast riders down the old PeopleMover tracks and throw in a few “wheelies” here and there. Unfortunately, the vehicles had to slow way down in order to make the curves around the various Tomorrowland buildings. The constant start-and-stop motion caused the vehicles much wear and tear not to mention notoriously long wait times as the ride broke down often. After numerous restarts, the theme park finally gave up on the attraction altogether.
36. The Haunted Mansion is G-r-e-a-t-!
You might recognize the voice of one of the singing busts in The Haunted Mansion. Thurl Ravenscroft not only sang about “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” but he also sang the theme song to the animated TV special, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and he was the voice of the Frosted Flakes lover, Tony the Tiger, for many years.
37. Not Always Gone for Good
As Disneyland is never “finished,” different attractions, shops and restaurants have come and gone. These include the Flying Saucers, The Skyway, Phantom Boats, Flight to the Moon, Circarama, the Monsanto House of the Future etc. However, every once in a while, something truly magical happens. The popular Submarine Voyage ride closed in 1998 which left a huge, albeit beautiful, “hole” in the park for years. The lagoon was still there left intact, but it was a shame to see such a large space not used for anything. Imagineers couldn’t come up with a suitable replacement for the ride and in a way, gave up on creating something new and brought the submarines back, but in a new way. The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage opened in 2007 pleasing fans both young and old alike. The Disneyland Resort hoped to have lightning strike twice by bringing back the old Flying Saucer attraction in the form of Luigi’s Flying Tires in Cars Land over at California Adventure. Although, it suffered from the same technological glitches that the original one did.
38. One Building, Many Attractions
The original rotating theatre building located in Tomorrowland once housed the Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress attraction from 1967 to 1973. It was later moved to its current location at the Magic Kingdom in Florida so that Disneyland could create the musical extravaganza, America Sings to open in time for America’s bicentennial in 1976 despite that fact that the attraction had nothing to do with the Tomorrowland theme. That attraction closed in 1988. The top part of the building was then used for the Tron SuperSpeed Tunnel section of the PeopleMover attraction until that closed in 1995. In 1998, both floors of the theatre became the West Coast version of Epcot’s Innovations attraction. This stayed in place until 2015, when the building became the Tomorrowland Expo Center. The first floor became the Star Wars Launch Bay and the second floor became Super Hero HQ that served as a meet and greet area for Marvel superheroes including Thor, Iron-Man and Spider-Man. While the superheroes left in April 2016, the Star Wars section remains.
39. Odd Attractions
When Disneyland first opened, Tomorrowland had few attractions, so Disney filled up the space with short-term attractions that surprisingly stayed in place longer than expected. Among the offerings were the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea exhibit which included props from the blockbuster movie. It was the most relevant to the area and stayed in place to 1966. However, the Aluminum Hall of Fame (1955-1960), the Dutch Boy Color Gallery (1955-1963), the Monsanto Hall of Chemistry (1955-1966), Monsanto’s Fashions and Fabrics Through the Ages (1965-1966) and the Crane Company Bathroom of Tomorrow (1956-1960) didn’t exactly conjure up excitement.
40. That’s a Lot of Graves
Although creepy to think about, Disneyland is home to seven graveyards. Four are located in and around the Haunted Mansion (naturally), one is located in Frontierland, one is on Tom Sawyer Island and one is featured along the route of the Storybook Land Canal.
41. A Pirate’s Life
It is estimated that guests have ridden the Pirates of the Caribbean ride more than any other attraction in the park. Despite its popularity, it is also one of the most controversial rides. For one, the theme song features antics of the pirates including plundering, pillaging, rifling, looting, kidnapping, ravaging, extorting, embezzling, hijacking, kindling, charring, inflaming, igniting, burning up the city, begging and drinking. Not exactly family-friendly. But the park has also been criticized for making changes to the ride as well. In the late 1990s, the scene where the pirates were chasing women was changed to pirates chasing food carried by the women! Recently, Disney altered another scene where auctioneers auctioned off “wenches” enticing the pirates with a beautiful redhead but were actually selling homely women. The new scene involves pirates auctioning off the villagers’ possessions and led by the redhead. Disney has even made her a walk-around character as well.
42. The Mickey Mouse Club for Adults
In what was initially a secret for most park guests, most are now familiar with Club 33 located in New Orleans Square. In the mid-1960s, Walt Disney began to make plans to attract new sponsors for his park by creating an executive lounge to entertain these sponsors with a luxurious setting, fine dining and a unique Disney atmosphere. The club actually opened on June 15, 1967 six months after Disney had passed away. Today, the club is exclusive and very popular and has inspired other locations in Tokyo Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland with other new locations coming to Walt Disney World’s four parks. It is said that there is a 14-year waiting list and new members need to pay a hefty $25,000 initiation fee and annual dues of about $10,000.
43. Attractions You Won’t See Anywhere Else
Over the years, many of Disney attractions have become mass-produced with versions of the same attraction at different Disney theme parks. However, here is a list of attractions that you won’t see anywhere else. At least, not yet: Matterhorn Bobsleds, Sailing Ship Columbia, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk through, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Tarzan’s Treehouse, Main Street Cinema and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
44. Alice’s Upside Down Adventure
Alice in Wonderland was originally going to be a walk-through adventure and was expected to open during the park’s opening, but it opened three years later as a dark ride. For the ride’s first 25 years, it featured a unique and popular scene dubbed “The Upside Down Room” where the ride vehicle would travel on the “ceiling” while guest looked up to the floor. When the ride went through an extensive remodel in 1983, the room was removed, but the reason for the room to begin with remains a mystery since it was not featured in the Disney movie.
45. Frontierland Used to Be More of a Wild West
Today’s Frontierland looks a lot different than it did during the park’s early days. This section once included the Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules (where guests would get guided tours while riding mules through the “dessert”), the Davy Crockett Museum (which featured some props from the TV series), stage coach rides with real horses, the Rainbow Cavers Mine Train and Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, a Mineral Hall exhibit and the Indian Village (which featured native American dances and the Indian War Canoes). The Indian Village later became Bear Country and even later, Critter Country but the canoes remain and are now called Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes. The Mine Train turned into Big Thunder Mountain.
46. The Tiki (Bath) Room
In the tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki room, the attraction was originally meant to be a themed restaurant. In fact, the project got as far as building the main dining room with working restrooms before the plans changed. It is the only attraction within the park with public restrooms.
47. Where Did the Dinosaurs Come From?
Along the route of the Disneyland Railroad, visitors can view the great Grand Canyon Diorama with was installed in 1958. Another diorama was installed next door in 1966 which features audio-animatronic dinosaurs. The placement of the dinos may seem questionable and some may wonder what they are doing there in the first place. The dinos were part of the Ford Magic Skyway attraction that was created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair and once the fair was over, they needed to go somewhere…
48. The Newest “Land”
On May 31st of this year, Disneyland opened its newest “land” – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It’s the park’s eighth (and largest) themed area dedicated to one film franchise, albeit a very big and popular one. The new section will features a space-age remote trading post, guests will be able to “fly” the Millennium Falcon and witness tense relations between Stormtroopers and resistance fighters. The last land built in the park was Mickey’s Toontown which opened its gates in 1993.
49. The First Fireworks
In 1958, Walt Disney wanted to create a fireworks show against the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle in an effort to keep guests in his park longer. Not surprisingly, the Fantasy in the Sky show became very popular and now is considered part of the Disneyland experience.
50. Inside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
Some may be surprised that guests are actually allowed inside Sleeping Beauty Castle and have been since 1957. Walt Disney was a stickler for wasted space and when the castle was finally built, it had a corridor of “wasted space” that Disney asked his Imagineers to find some way to fill it up. Several dioramas based on the Sleeping Beauty story were created and put up for display in the corridor. They were originally designed in the style of production designer Eyvind Earle, but were redone in 1977 to resemble the window shops on Main Street, U.S.A. The walk-through was closed on October 7, 2001 but the reason why is sort of murky. It was later reopened on November 27, 2008 with the original Earle dioramas, but they now feature new technology.
51. Making a Splash
The original title for what became known as Splash Mountain was Zip-a-Dee-River-Run. Then Michael Eisner, the CEO at the time, wanted to use the attraction to promote the new Touchstone movie, Splash, which was an odd choice since the ride has absolutely nothing in common with the movie. And although a brilliant addition to the re-named Critter Country (from Bear Country), Disney was hesitant to feature an attraction based on the characters from the 1946 movie Song of the South. The dated film’s live action sequences featured African Americans in stereotypical fashion and the company was afraid that the ride might be offensive to some people. To find out for sure, Disney re-issued Song of the South in theaters for a short run to see if they would receive any backlash for doing so. Virtually no complaints came, so Brer Bear, Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit were deemed still suitable for the park. However, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Disney has agreed to re-theme the mountain around The Princess Frog movie.
52. A Tribute to the Country Bears
The Country Bears Jamboree were some of the first residents in Disneyland’s Bear County and they welcomed guests to come and watch them play beginning in 1972. Though the bears are doing well in Orlando, the California bears moved out in 2001. In the spot of the old Country Bear Playhouse, the newer Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was built. As a tribute to the old attraction, the three mounted animal heads were brought over, but you have to look hard to find them.
53. Go Fish
Once upon a time, the “Rivers of America” that flow around Tom Sawyer Island used to be stocked with real cat fish allowing guests to go fishing.
54. I Do
Many marriage proposals take place at the park and every year about 300 weddings take place here.
55. Mr. Toad Goes to Hell
While Mr. Toad’s wild ride is not only one of Disneyland’s oldest rides, it is also amazingly popular with many riders not even aware of the original Wind in the Willows cartoon from which the ride is based upon. Those who are familiar often scratch their heads near the end of the ride when they are brought into a room that resembles hell. Complete with demons, the room is heated extra warm and little demons jump up and down gleefully. However, this scene is not featured in the original book nor is it featured in Disney’s short film. It remains unclear why it was included it in the attraction.
56. First of Its Kind
Disneyland created the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere. It opened June 14, 1959, and the attraction also celebrated its 60th anniversary this year.
57. Eat Up
It is said that all of the plants in Tomorrowland are edible. So, if you get stuck in a long line and your stomach starts to rumble, make a salad.
58. McDonalds and Starbucks are Truly Everywhere
In 1996, Disney and McDonald’s began a ten-year partnership that included a McDonald’s presence in the Disney theme parks. Though Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in Orlando had its own full-size McDonald’s restaurant right in the park, Disneyland only had two French fry stands. One was called Conestoga Fries located in Frontierland and the other, The Harbour Galley, opened in 2001. By 2007, the ten years were up and the fry stands were gone. Today, Starbucks goes undercover by the name of Market House Bakery located on Main Street, U.S.A. Although it is a full-fledged Starbucks coffee shop, it blends in with the look of the street seamlessly.
59. Older Than it Looks
Many of the attractions in Disneyland are made to look older than they really are, but in the Case of the King Arthur Carousel, the opposite is true. It was actually built in 1922 for the Sunnyside Beach Park in Toronto.
60. Can’t Wait Until 2035
While it seems a little late, a time capsule was buried in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle on July 17, 1995, which was the park’s 40th Anniversary. The park plans to dig it out once again in 2035 for the 80th anniversary.
61. Open Door Policy
Of all the Disney castles, only Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle has a real functioning drawbridge and it has only been used twice ever: Once during the opening day celebration and again in 1983 when the newly remodeled Fantasyland re-opened.
62. Hitching a Ride
No small detail gets past the Disney crew. Even the three hitchhiking ghosts featured at the end of the Haunted Mansion ride have names: Ezra, Phineas and Gus.
63. Before Ariel
While the current Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage features a group of seagulls shouting, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” among the rocks, this spot used to be the place were real, live mermaids used to sunbathe between 1959 and 1967. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 were fitted with mermaid fins and were expected to swim underwater and wave to guests riding the subs. Since the water was about 55 degrees, the mermaids were often seen warming up in the sun on the rocks. They would often perform for two hours and then take a 45 minute break before splashing in the water again. At the time, the mermaids were instructed to not actually speak to any of the park guests. However, one day a few young men jumped into the lagoon in hopes of having a conversation with them anyway. Disney’s security team were able to stop them before they got to the rocks. Due to the high concentration of chlorinated water and risk of injury to the women, the mermaids were removed in 1967.
64. Say What?
More than 32 different languages are spoken among Disneyland Resort cast members.
65. Sorry, We’re Closed
In addition to this 2020’s COVID-19 breakout, Disneyland has only been closed three other times due to an emergency. Those times were in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, 1970 when a bunch of “Yippies” took over and protested around Tom Sawyer’s Island and 2001 on September 11th when the country was attacked by terrorists.
66. Jungle Cruise Redo
The Jungle Cruise opened when the park did and it has seen a few changes made to it over years. However, the ride re-opened on July 17, 2021 with an updated storyline that took out the misrepresentation of Indigenous people and put in new funny scenes that brought more smiles and less cringes.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.