59 Cool Facts About Disneyland You Probably Didn’t Know

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Today is Disneyland’s 59th anniversary! YAAAAY *throws confetti*

59 Cool Facts About Disneyland You Probably Didn't Know

To celebrate I’ve compiled a list of 59 cool facts about Disneyland you probably didn’t know (and a couple about Disney California Adventure, too). Now if you’re a die hard Disneyland Resort fan then you probably are already familiar with most of these. But some might surprise and even shock the casual Disney lover, and even I, the Disneyland guru that I am, learned a thing or two during my research! On the subject of research, I obtained all of these tidbits from books I own, straight from Cast Members, and seemingly reliable sources on the Internet. I sourced each fact (in parenthesis) because it drives me crazy when I read articles that are all like “A GAZILLION AMAZING THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW” and there’s no sourcing! How do I know they didn’t just make all of it up? I would never do that to you, friends. So I hope you can use some of these facts to impress your friends the next time you’re visiting The Disneyland Resort, or maybe just when you’re hanging out in general. I know my friends, and especially Mr. BFT, just LOVE when I spout random Disney trivia over lunch.

    1. Disneyland was originally envisioned for Burbank, CA, across the street from the Walt Disney Studios. However, Walt’s imagination grew too big for the space, so Walt and his team set out to find a larger plot of land. (1)
    2. Walt Disney made a deal with ABC for his television show Disneyland because ABC needed viewers and Walt needed money to fund the creation of the Park! It also was a great promotional tool, reaching millions of Americans across the country. Disneyland the show premiered October 27, 1954 and was an immediate success. (2)
    3. Disneyland, the theme park, was not an immediate success. On opening day (July 17, 1955), the weather was very hot, there were traffic jams around the Park, and invitations were counterfeited so the guest count was much higher than anticipated! Rides broke down and the live TV broadcast had many technical glitches. While that first day was rough and critics voiced their complains, it didn’t stop the crowds. In its first year the park welcomed approximately 3.6 million visitors. (2; This Day in Disney History)
    4. From groundbreaking on July 16, 1954 to opening day on July 17, 1955, Disneyland was built in just one year. (Designing Disney)


      59 Cool Facts About Disneyland You Probably Didn't Know
      Image Source: Designing Disney

    5. Due to money restraints, Walt Disney had to choose between restrooms and drinking fountains when building the park. Critics accused Walt of omitting drinking fountains on purpose to force people to spend money on drinks. Walt was quoted as saying, “People can buy Pepsi-Cola, but they can’t pee in the street!” (MousePlanet)
    6. There is a members-only club above New Orleans Square called Club 33. The entrance is a plain door marked with the address: 33 Royal Street. (Personal knowledge)
    7. When he was young, Steve Martin worked at Disneyland selling park guide books and then later at the Magic Shop. (Disneyland and More)
    8. Do you know about Single Rider passes? A lot of attractions will over you a Single Rider pass, which has a shorter wait but means you aren’t guaranteed to sit with the rest of your party (in fact, you most likely will not sit with the rest of your party). Some of the attractions offering Single Rider passes are Space Mountain, Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin’ Over California, and Tower of Terror. (Personal knowledge)
    9. There is a golden spike in the ground right as you walk through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It is often thought this is the center of Disneyland, but this is not true. Simply by looking at a map you can tell the original center of Disneyland was the Hub, where the Partner’s Statue is now. With the addition of Toontown, the center has moved north but is still not exactly at the spot of the spike. The spike is actually a marker placed in the ground to make sure Sleeping Beauty’s Castle lined up with Main Street U.S.A. (Disney Dose)
    10. The Partner’s Statue has not always been at The Hub! It was added in 1993. Although many people believe Walt is pointing to Main Street U.S.A., or the train station, or simply towards the future, sculptor Blaine Gibson has said Walt is pointing out to the crowd and saying to Mickey, “Look at all the happy people who have come to visit us today.” (Source: MousePlanet)
    11. The mushroom outside of Alice in Wonderland was the original ticket booth, from when Disneyland used to be on a ticket-per-attraction payment basis. (Source: Finding Mickey)


      59 Cool Facts About Disneyland You Probably Didn't Know
      Image Source: Finding Mickey

    12. Disneyland used to have ticket books! Guests paid a small General Admission fee to enter the Park, then purchased books with tickets to enjoy the attractions. Tickets were labeled “A” through “E” and corresponded to set attractions. “E” tickets corresponded to the most popular and thrilling rides, which is why you might sometimes hear an attraction like Space Mountain referred to as an “E ticket attraction.” (Source: Jan’s World)
    13. The water features are tinted green or brown to hide the vehicle tracks, filtration systems, and the fact that the water is generally very shallow! (Disneyland Cast Member)
    14. There is a basketball hoop at the very top of the Matterhorn, where attraction Cast Members can shoot play a little b-ball while on their breaks. Get your head in the game! (Source: YouTube)

    15. When Pirates of the Caribbean first opened, Imagineers used real human skeletons as props, obtained from UCLA Medical Center. They were later replaced with fake skeletons and the real remains were given a proper burial.  The skull above the Captain’s bed in one of the opening dioramas is said to be an actual human skull. (SF Gate/Disney Dose)
    16. Disneyland purposefully does not sell chewing gum or shelled peanuts, to help keep the grounds clean from litter. (Anaheim.net)
    17. Disneyland has been recycling its trash for years before, but had to install specific “recycle” refuse bins after the public complained about it. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    18. The quaint little faux shop with the little patio on Main Street U.S.A. actually used to be a “intimate apparel” shop. Yes, you could buy bras and lingerie inside Disneyland! The shop only lasted six months. (The Disney Project)


      59 Cool Facts About Disneyland You Probably Didn't Know
      Image Source: The Disney Project

    19. Disneyland is home to a small army of feral cats – approximately 200 of them! They mostly hide during the day but at night they roam and assist in keeping the rodent population at bay. Even though they are feral they are well cared for – adult cats are spayed and neutered, and clean food and water is made available (in addition to the occasional dropped scrap of Turkey Leg.) (Aunt Peaches)
    20. The Disneyland horses on Main Street as well as the animals at the Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo all have names and their own Cast Member name tags. (Disney Parks Blog)
    21. The Main Street Opera House (Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln) is the oldest building on Disneyland property. It was originally called the Mill House and it’s where construction operations were based. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    22. Matterhorn mountain is an exact 1/100th scale of the real Matterhorn in Switzerland. (1)
    23. Whenever a body of water is drained and cleaned, the coins tossed inside are collected and donated to charities. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    24. Mary Blair created her first sketch of the clock tower for the facade of It’s a Small World on a plane flying from Los Angeles to New York. The design is pretty much what you see today. (1)
    25. There are 68 horses on King Arthur’s Carrousel. All of the horses are unique and have their own names; you can request a list of names at City Hall. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    26. You can request a lot of things at City Hall, including but not limited to free “celebration” pins, park  maps, food allergy and dietary guides, and a list of all the pressed penny machine locations. (Personal knowledge)
    27. There was a time capsule buried at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in 1995. It will be unearthed on July 17, 2035, the 80th anniversary of Disneyland. (Oglethorpe University)


      59 Cool Facts About Disneyland You Probably Didn't Know
      Image Source: Oglethorpe.edu

    28. The Hitchhiking Ghosts at the end of the Haunted Mansion have names: Ezra, Phineas, and Gus. (Doctor Disney)
    29. The Morse Code you hear tapping at the New Orleans train station is actually a “transmission” of the first two lines of Walt’s speech on the opening day of Disneyland: “To all who come to Disneyland, Welcome. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.” In 1997, a guest familiar with Morse Code discovered the transmission was incorrect. The guest worked with Disney officials to correct the recording.  (Hidden Mickeys)
    30. The Enchanted Tiki Room was originally envisioned as a restaurant with the birds and flowers performing an after-dinner show. (Disneyland News)
    31. Trash cans are strategically placed so guests are never more than 30 steps from one. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    32. There is a flight restriction above Disneyland. No flights are allowed within a three-mile radius around the parks. (CNN)
    33. There is a secret “pet cemetery” off to the side of Haunted Mansion. It is not visible from the queue; you have to be escorted around the side of the attraction to see it. (YouTube)

    34. A lot of people think there is an expansive tunnel system underneath Disneyland like there is at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This is not true. There is an underground pathway and facilities under Tomorrowland (where the Tomorrowland Terrace stage lowers), and an underground pathway connecting offices to the right of Main Street U.S.A. and an administrative building on the other side of the Disneyland Railroad tracks.  This second path is referred to as “The Time Tunnel” and has old artifacts and photos from Disneyland’s history on a wall.  (Disneyland Cast Member)
    35. All the doors on the Storybookland houses actually open and close, so Cast Members can change the tiny lights and do general maintenance and cleaning. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    36. The harpsichord in the Haunted Mansion Grand Hall scene is a prop from the Disney movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (Doom Buggies)


      59 Cool Facts About Disneyland You Probably Didn't Know
      Image Source: Doom Buggies

    37. One of the artists who worked on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride painted a replica of her wedding invitation onto the wall in the Mr. Winky scene. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    38. Each popcorn cart has a different character “turner,” themed to its location in the Park. My personal favorite is the Matterhorn abominable snowman. (Personal knowledge)
    39. The Matterhorn abominable snowman has a name … it’s Harold! (Oh My Disney)
    40. Many of the Audio-Animatronics featured on Splash Mountain were taken from the America Sings attraction that used to play in the Innovations building, from 1974 to 1988. Splash Mountain opened in 1989 (on July 17!). (1)
    41. If you see a Cast Member with a blue name tag (instead of the usual white), it means they are the recipient of a Legacy Award, a very special award bestowed to certain Cast Members who give exemplary service. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    42. “Tilly,” the mannequin who stands at the ticket booth at the Main Street Cinema, wears a name tag listing her hometown as Marceline, Missouri. This was Walt’s hometown. Main Street U.S.A. was largely modeled after Walt’s memories of growing up in Marceline. (Yesterland)

      59 Cool Facts About Disneyland You Probably Didn't Know
      Image Source: Yesterland

    43. A lot of the show and parade performers are also Broadway and touring-production stars, who perform at Disneyland when they have breaks between show runs. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    44. In Mickey’s Toontown, in the yard of Goofy’s Playhouse, there is a Jack-O-Lantern that has the face of Jack Lindquist, the president of Disneyland from 1990 to 1993, the period during which Mickey’s Toontown opened. (Finding Mickey)
    45. You might notice Disneyland Cast Members never point with one finger. If they are gesturing in a direction, they will either use an open palm or two fingers to point. This is because in some cultures it is considered very rude to point with one finger. (Disneyland Cast Member)
    46. Most Disneyland Cast Members (excluding performers) have their shirts tucked in. The only exception is the Enchanted Tiki Room, because the Enchanted Tiki Room reminds guests of a more relaxed, island-casual atmosphere! (Disneyland Cast Member)
    47. Max, Buff and Melvin, the animal trophy heads that graced the walls of Country Bear Jamboree for many years, can still be seen in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction. As you’re leaving the Heffalump & Woozles scene, look backwards and up and you’ll spot these familiar friends. Pooh replaced the Country Bear Jamboree in 2003. (Personal knowledge)
    48. The shower in Walt’s apartment has three nozzles at varying heights, which hit different parts of the body. Sounds luxurious! (Disneyland Cast Member)
    49. The drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle actually works. It hasn’t been raised/lowered since 1983 after Fantasyland was remodeled. (Disneyland.com)
    50. The Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through was closed between 2001 and 2008. It is speculated this happened due to 9/11, because it is a space that is not easily monitored, but it also could have been because of low attendance and/or the attraction was not handicap accessible. This was remedied in 2008 with the addition of a “virtual walk-through” on the main level. (Yesterland)
    51. As most of my regular readers already know, you can get married in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings offers wedding ceremonies before or after the park closes to regular guests. The price is steep, but those I’ve talked to who have done it say it’s oh-so-worth it! (Disney Weddings)

      disneyland-castle-wedding
      Image Source: Budget Fairy Tale

    52. You may see the occasional Disneyland Security Guard in their white and blue uniforms, but there are actually many, many more Disneyland Security Guards working undercover! (Disneyland Cast Member)
    53. There are five Disneyland Railroad trains.  There is a special caboose called the Lilly Belle Presidential Train Car. It was originally the Grand Canyon viewing car and was renamed and dedicated to Walt’s wife, Lillian Disney, in 1974. Guests can inquire to Cast Members working at the Disneyland Railroad if the Lilly Belle is running and if they can ride; however I have heard and read conflicting information regarding guest access to the Lilly Belle. Several recent reports state rides have been limited to Club 33 members, special events, and VIP visitors only, but I have not been able to confirm this with a Cast Member. (MousePlanet)
    54. There are no “corner” curbs on Main Street U.S.A. – everything is rounded! (Personal knowledge)
    55. Guests can ride in the wheel house of the Mark Twain Riverboat. Just inquire about it to a Cast Member working the attraction. (Personal knowledge)
    56. California Screamin’ did not always have a countdown at the beginning of the ride. It had some suspenseful music, and you were never certain when the coaster would accelerate! The countdown was added in 2003. (Personal knowledge)
    57. The current countdown voice on California Screamin’ is Neil Patrick Harris. It was added in 2010. (Disney Parks Blog)
    58. The Mr. Potato Head Audio-Animatronic figure outside of Toy Story Mania! is the most complex Audio-Animatronic figure even created by Walt Disney Imagineering. It has the most lines of dialogue, highly expressive and animated eyes, and a mouth that appears to form words and vowel sounds. It is the first Audio-Animatronic that can remove and re-attach a body part (his ear). (Disneyland News)
    59. The Hollywood Tower Hotel (Tower of Terror) is 183 feet tall, making it currently the tallest building in Anaheim. (Disneyland News)

Remember to follow along on the Disneyland Twitter account (@Disneyland) using the hashtag #Disneyland60 to learn all about the exciting things planned for next year, which will be Disneyland’s diamond anniversary! The big announcement will be at 10am Pacific.

How are you celebrating Disneyland’s 59th anniversary today?

Book sources (affiliate links):
(1) Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic
(2) Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination