Disneyland, not to be confused with Walt Disney World in Florida, is a favorite place of many people. Die-hard Disney fans think they know everything there is to know about “the happiest place on earth”, but we’re here to enlighten you even more. Maybe you know some of these secrets or maybe some of them are exciting news.
Well-known as one of the grandest theme parks ever built, Disneyland has been an undeniable draw for tourists for decades. Built in July of 1955, this year marks the park’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration! Over the years, the park has undergone many renovations and expansions – New Orlean’s Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Mickey’s Toontown just to name a few – since the time Walt Disney envisioned the park.
There are still plenty of secrets that this park holds, even after 60 years, but we’ll share a few of the ones we know with you here.
1. Disneyland was supposed to be in Burbank, CA.
Disney’s original dream was to have the park across the street from Walt Disney Studios in Burbank California. However after talking with park planners, they realized that the location would be too small for Disney’s grand plans.
2. The Edible Plants of Tomorrowland
Amidst the shiny finishes, metallic shine, and kinetic sculptures, Tomorrowland doubles as a potential farm. Disney envisioned an ecologically astute future where humanity made the most of its resources. That means any plant in the Tomorrowland area of the park is edible! Maybe not the most ideal snack, but in a pinch you could munch on a leaf.
3. The Haunted Mansion’s Pet Cemetery
One of the spookiest buildings in the park wouldn’t be complete without a pet cemetery – or two! Said to have been added in the 1980s, the original cemetery was only visible to park goers who used the wheelchair ramp along the side of the building.
When they built the new wheelchair ramp, they decided to add another pet cemetery to the front of the building, so people waiting in line for the ride could enjoy the sight. The first cemetery still remains but is mostly only viewed by Disney cast members now.
4. Disneyland Had Only 18 Attractions
When the park first opened in 1955, it only had 18 attractions for visitors to enjoy. This is peanuts compared to the 58 attractions that the park boasts today. That’s the most of any of the 5 Disney theme parks running worldwide. Even better, 14 of these original 18 rides are still running today.
5. Mickey Mouse Ear Hats Are The Best Souvenir!
Nearly everyone who goes to Disneyland comes home with an extra pair of ears – making ear hats the number one seller amoung visitors. You can even get them personalized so as not to confused them with the rest of the family.
6. Mad Tea Party Tips for Speed Junkies
Do you live for speed? Snag a purple or orange teacup when you head to the Mad Tea Party and you’ll spin faster than everyone else!
7. Disneyland sells nearly 2.8 million churros
Who doesn’t love a crispy, sugared stick of fried dough? Churros remain one of the most popular treats at Disneyland, selling almost 2.8 million every year!
8. It’s A Small World Is Made Of Real Gold
According to rumor, the turrets and gold ornaments on the exterior of the building are real 22k gold! While the original plan was simply to use gold paint, developers quickly realized that the cost of upkeep to keep the paint from fading and oxidizing would be more expensive than just using real gold.
9. Matterhorn Hides An Secret Basketball Court
Somewhere inside the mountain, in a cast member break room, is a small basketball court for the mountain climbers to use in between climbs and during bad weather to pass the time. Not the full sized court rumor claims is inside, but a fun inclusion nonetheless!
10. Meet Harold
Maybe the abominable snowman that stalks the slope of the Matterhorn could be tamed with a name. Harold seems fitting. He looks like a Harold, doesn’t he?
11. Disney Wasn’t Built In A Day
Disneyland’s initial park was built in only a year! It has undergone numerous renovations and transformations since that time, but to build a theme park like Disneyland in only a year shows how dedicated Disney was to making his vision come to life.
12. Michelle Pfeiffer used to be Alice
Many famous actors and actresses have their humble beginnings as cast members at Disney during some point in their lives. Back in the 70’s, Michelle Pfeifer was one of the cast members! She played the role of Alice in the Alice in Wonderland production at Disneyland.
13. The Fire Station’s Secret Apartment
Hidden in the upper floor of the Disneyland Fire Department is a secret apartment, constructed for Walt Disney. During the construction of the park, he wanted a place to stay and watch the activity. The apartment is fully functional but much of the original furniture has been replaced. Now cast members keep a lamp in the upper windows to symbolism Walt’s presence and as a tribute to his creation.
14. Disney = Cat Paradise
Around 200 feral cats live in and around the park to help keep the rodent population in check. The cats have been around for as long as anyone can remember and were/are allowed to stay because of the rodents. All the cats have been captured, spayed/neutered to keep their population under control, and then released back out into the park. Feeding stations are set up around the park for then when hunting isn’t enough. What a great place to be a cat!
15. First Working Monorail in the Western Hemisphere
Disneyland’s monorail system opened in 1959 and was the first functional monorail system in the Western Hemisphere.
16. There’s Something In The Water
Disneyland isn’t the only place to do it, but the water in attractions is always tinted turquoise or brown. Ever wonder why? It’s to obscure the ride tracks and filtration systems and keep the park looking beautiful.
17. House Full of Ghosts
The Haunted Mansions could be considered one of the most haunted houses ever. It boasts a whopping 999 ghostly inhabitants within its walls. See if you can count them all next time you’re brave enough to visit!
18. No ‘Staches in The Park
Up until the 2000’s, male cast members were not allowed to grow mustaches. This is just one of many strict rules Disney expects cast members to adhere to. When you have a public reputation like that, who can blame them?
19. Walking With Pirates
Originally, the hugely popular Pirates of the Caribbean ride was supposed to be a walkthrough attraction, as was the Haunted Mansion. Aren’t you glad they made that change?
20. Are Those Bones Real?
For authenticities sake, when the ride first opened real human skeletons were used as props in Pirates of the Caribbean. Today only one real human skull remains, the one attached to the headboard of the bed.
21. Announcers Stick Together
The park announcer for Disneyland, Bill Rodgers, is married to the announcer for Disney’s California Adventure Park, Camille Dixon.
22. Steve Martin Was A Cast Member
Even Steve Martin can trace his roots back to Disneyland. He worked as a guidebook salesman in the Disney Magic Shop in the 1950’s.
23. Disney Is A Dry Park
To maintain the park’s image as “the happiest place on Earth” the only place where alcoholic beverages are able to be purchased is in Club 33, open only to adults.
24. Man Of The People
Walt Disney enjoyed walking the park and talking to visitors so much that occasionally he would wait in line with them for attractions.
25. “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.”
One of the talking busts in the Haunted Mansion is voiced by Mr. Thurl Ravenscroft, the same man who sang the all too familiar song from “The Grinch” animated movie.
26. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle Holds A Secret
Somewhere in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is a time capsule buried on opening day of the park. No one knows what is hidden inside but the capsule is set to be opened on July 17, 2035, Disneyland’s 80th Anniversary.
27. Down Time
In the early days, Disney wasn’t the destination that is it today. To cut the cost of operations, management decided to close the park on Mondays and Tuesdays during the off season. These days the park is open year round.
28. $3.50 Used To Get You In
When the park first open, tickets were only $3.50 for a day pass! Can you believe that? At $79 a day for one park that was a great deal. It’s nice to know that Disney came from humble beginnings at least.
29. The Inspiration Behind The Park
Walt Disney conceived the idea of Disneyland after taking his daughters to an amusement park and watching them play. He noticed how run down the park was and that the parents had nothing to do while the kids played. He dreamed up a place where families could go and everyone would enjoy the excitement and magic. He definitely succeeded.
30. The Tobacco Shop
One of the original shops on Main Street, The Tobacco Shop closed its doors in 1991. These days it’s a music store that sells Disney music and videos, including music from attractions only found in the park.
31. The Wizard of Bras
The title isn’t a joke. When the park opened the was an intimate apparel shop right on Main Street that featured the Wizard of Bras, a mechanical wizard on a revolving stage. The shop closed it’s doors in 1956 and was absorbed by the China Closet located next to it.
32. In case of siege…
More than just a stunning addition to the park, Sleeping Beaty’s Castle even features a functional drawbridge!
33. Open 365 Days of The Year
Since the park’s opening, Disneyland has only had three unplanned closings; the day of mourning after President John F. Kennedy was killed, during the Northridge earthquake, and during the 9/11 attack.
34. George Lucas Is A Disney Fan
George Lucas, famed creator of the Star Wars universe, attended the grand opening of the park in 1955 when he was just 11 years old.
35.”Egroeg Sacul, please come to the front of the line.”
Next time you’re waiting in line at Star Tours, pay close attention to the overhead announcements. The announcer will page “Egroeg Sacul” which is “George Lucas” spelled backwards. This neat feature is to pay homage to the Star Wars creator.
36. Are They Real?
While waiting in line for Indiana Jones Adventure, there are plenty of things to look at. The office display near the entrance is filled with actual props used in the first movie!
37. Disney Babies
Three babies have been born in Disneyland. Isn’t that a cool story to be able to tell your friends when you’re older?
38. Gum Ban
In order to keep the park clean, gum is not allowed to be sold by any of the vendors. Along the same lines, they also don’t sell unshelled peanuts.
39. “Code V”
With all the stomach lurching rides around, vomit cannot be avoided. “Code V” is the code used to enact the right protocols to deal with this situation.
40. A Sticky Situation
On opening day, Disneyland cast members and guests found themselves stuck to the ground. Much of the asphalt in the park hadn’t had time to set properly and made walking a little bit difficult.
41. Take Home A Piece of Disneyland
In the past, visitors to the park could bring home a piece of Disneyland by purchasing a brick for $150. Unfortunately, this practice has been discontinued but there are still plenty of other souvenirs to pick up in the park.
You may have visited the park years ago when you were young and dream of the day you get to go back, or you are the proud owner of a Disney Season Pass. Either way, next time you’re in the park pay attention to the details and maybe you’ll find a secret that no one knows about – there are still plenty to discover! Play “tour guide” next time you’re in the park and share these little known facts with your group.