“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse,” said Walt Disney. The iconic symbol of Mickey Mouse is one of the most recognizable figures that has launched countless movies, merchandise, and of course, Disneyland. The famous mouse is one of the most beloved animated characters, started by a man with a dream. For 60 years, Disneyland has been the source of endless inspiration and wonder, attracting millions of visitors each year. Disneyland is paved with layered history and subtle details that rest in tiny nooks and crevices throughout the park. New discoveries can be found around every corner, each detail possessing a story or unsolved mystery.
From Main Street to Fantasyland, New Orleans Square to Tomorrowland, Frontierland to Toontown, Disneyland is filled with features dreamed up by Walt Disney himself or others involved in the creation of the park. Walt Disney’s lasting legacy is enjoyed by countless individuals of all ages. Even well-known celebrities got their start in show business by working at the park in the early years of their careers. No matter how many times you have visited the park and took in the magical sights, there are some little known facts and history that many over look.
Here are some surprising facts you didn’t know about the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
12. Steve Martin Worked In The Magic Shop
At the age of 10, Steve Martin started working at Disneyland selling guidebooks. In his autobiography, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life, Martin describes his boyhood years roaming the grounds of the park, recalling that Disneyland “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 explains, “Here is where I had my first lesson in performing though I never was on the stage.” He observed the comedian’s timing and influence over the crowd, often mouthing the words along with Boag. Martin also took interest in Merlin’s Magic Shop in Fantasyland, where he landed a job at the age of 15. The famous comedian, writer, and actor performed magic tricks and sold gag merchandise to guests.
11. Club 33
Club 33 is the only place in Disneyland that serves alcohol. Located in New Orleans Square, this members-only dining club includes original Disney sketches and artwork, a Trophy Room, and an elegant dining room inspired by French designs. 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.
10. Disneyland’s Address
1313 Disneyland Drive in Anaheim, California marks the address to the “Happiest Place on Earth.” The number 13 is believed by many to be a bad omen for some, but for Disney fanatics, the number 13 holds a very different meaning. There is a secret message behind the famous address that may not be a simple coincidence. The 13th letter of the alphabet is “M.” When you string 13 and 13 together, it creates “MM,” the initials of Mickey Mouse, the beloved mouse that started it all.
9. Only Three Unscheduled Closed Days
The park remains open 365 days a year, so you can visit the magical world of Disney anytime of the year, including holidays. While the park has been closed for scheduled events, the park kept the gates locked and closed to the public for three separate unscheduled days. The first day was the national day of mourning after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The park also remained 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 for 9/11.
8. Smellitzers Along Main Street
Entering the grounds of Disneyland is a full body experience. 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 allure 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 Lucasfilm for $4 billion, to which Lucas stated, “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
6. The Golden Apple
Outside Snow White’s Scary Adventure, there is a spell book 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.
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
“Curiouser and Curiouser!” 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
On a park bench in the heart of Los Angeles, Walt Disney sat watching his daughters on a merry-go-round at Griffith Park. In the frenzy-whizzing sight of the attraction, the first spark of inspiration emerged, and the rest is Disney history. Walt Disney was first inspired to build a theme park sitting on that park bench. The humble pale blue bench has been 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 open its gates to the public.
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