Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth, opened in 1955. Since its opening day, the park has seen thousands come through its gates, and has remained one of the world’s most popular family destinations. The story of Disneyland began as a planned 8 acres next to Disney’s studios, but grew into much more! Here are 20 facts that you may not know about this beloved theme park.
20. Disneyland once had a bra shop.
Yes, really! The shop was known as Hollywood-Maxwell’s Intimate Apparel Shop and was on Disneyland’s Main Street. The store also featured “the Wizard of Bras,” a robotic figure with a taped recording speaking about bras. A Disneyland News article from September 1955 commented on the “hesitation of men to enter the shop.” The shop closed in 1956, only a half year after it originally opened. The China and Glass Shop now has that space.
19. Dave McPherson, a 22-year-old college student, bought the first public Disneyland ticket.
McPherson decided he wanted to be the first guest into the park on the very first day Disneyland was open to the public. He got in line at 2 A.M., and at the park’s opening, nearly 6,000 people were behind him! For his accomplishment, Disney sends him a Lifetime Pass good for admission for McPherson and three guests every year. Unfortunately, he didn’t think to hold on to his first-ever Disneyland ticket for memory’s sake. The pass is known as a “Golden Pass.”
18. Walt Disney wanted to construct a “Lilliputian Land” inspired by the novel Gulliver’s Travels miniatures of two historical properties.
Walt Disney was fascinated with miniatures and with history, so he wanted to combine his interests in the Disneyland park. He planned to erect miniatures of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and George Washington’s Mt. Vernon. According to Disney historian Jim Korkis, some early Disneyland memorabilia even features these details in the artwork. You’ll also see it here on this prospectus. The rest of the planned land would have miniatures of animatronic people, tiny shops and more. The Canal Boats, which later become Storybook Land Canal Boats, are the only thing that survived the original plans.
17. Julie Andrews has her own horse on King Arthur’s Carousel.
The horse is called “Jingles,” and has her initials, a picture of her boots and Mary Poppins’ silhouette. The horse has been dedicated to Julie Andrews as well in 2005, as a celebration of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. It was Walt’s favorite horse, and it’s the horse that Emma Thompson rides in the movie about the making of the Mary Poppins, Finding Mr. Banks.
16. The opening day of Disneyland was a nightmare of infrastructure failure.
The park wasn’t 100% ready when Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, a day designed for only invited guests and not general admission buyers, but the staff went through with it anyhow. The cement sidewalks were still wet, and there weren’t enough trashcans to dispose of trash properly. Some rides stopped working or were out of commission for hours. All of these problems were largely due to the extra amount of people who managed to get into the gates of Disneyland, despite not having an invitation – many counterfeited the invite instead!
15. Tomorrowland wasn’t complete on the day Disneyland was open to invited guests.
The construction and progress was simply hidden with balloons and other objects. Rocket to the Moon was displayed but not fully operational. Autopia is the only ride from the opening day that still stands in Tomorrowland. The attraction has undergone refurbishment, and as of 2016, has Honda as its sponsor.
14. Certain things in the park are interactive.
If you touch the brass poison apple near Snow White’s Scary Adventures, you’ll hear the evil witch give you a laugh. If you pick up a hat to try on in the Mad Hatter Shop, look up at the mirror to see if you can catch the image of The Cheshire Cat. Go to Snow White’s Wishing Well, throw in a coin (the money goes to charity) and see if you can hear her singing. In Toontown, you can jump on the manhole covers to hear various pieces of music.
13. Contrary to popular belief and internet legend, you can not get a death certificate at the Haunted Mansion.
This rumor has run rampant for years, and many people report that when they ask cast members about it, they’re told it’s just an urban legend. You will find a fake “pet cemetery” at the attraction, and if you ask nicely, you might just get a private tour. If not, there are plenty of photos and videos online of it.
12. You can get free buttons from street sweepers and the Town Hall.
These buttons are free, and sometimes come with a place to put your name. The buttons are for anniversaries, birthdays, family reunions, graduations and just because. Some street sweepers carry them (and stickers), but if you aren’t able to get one, just visit Town Hall.
11. Space Mountain only goes 35 MPH per hour, but it feels much faster.
Here’s why! As you go through the ride, fans blow air into your face to give you the feeling like you’re rocketing at a fast speed, and since it’s a dark ride, you get the sensation of traveling at much higher speed! Check out what the ride looks like when fully-lit.
10. Disneyland’s original ride ticket booths can still be found in the park.
When Disneyland first opened, it operated on a system where you bought tickets for each ride, in addition to purchasing admittance to the park. These booths are still preserved in the park. You’ll found them near It’s a Small World (Kodak Film and Photo Information booth), Casey Jr. Circus Train (pink shack), and Alice in Wonderland (giant mushroom). There’s also one near Storybook Land Canal Boats that is a lighthouse building. Tickets were sold in letters. A tickets were the most inexpensive tickets in the park, and E was the most expensive.
9. You can enjoy a variety of smells throughout the park. These are pumped out through vents.
You’ll smell vanilla and candy in Main Street, but at Christmas, you’ll smell peppermint. The salty breeze smell near Pirates of the Caribbean also comes from vents, as does the honey smell near Pooh’s Adventure. This process is called the Smellitizer. You’ll see the vents underneath the shop windows in the picture below.
8. Be glad the original concept of It’s a Small World wasn’t completed, or else you’d have a headache.
Walt Disney originally wanted the dolls to sing their national anthems in their native tongue, but all of those different singing voices may have been an aural nightmare for hearing-sensitive guests. The tune we’re all familiar with today was instead created by the Sherman Brothers. Look for a figure holding a balloon – she is meant to represent Mary Blair, the artist who designed the look of the ride.
7. Walt Disney’s spirit is honored with a light that never goes out.
Look up when you’re at the firehouse, and you’ll see a lamp lit. That lamp is located in Walt Disney’s secret apartment, and is kept lit always to honor the creator of Disneyland.
6. There are 68 horses on King Arthur’s Carousel.
The horses have a known list of 85 names. Their names include Bruce, Celeste, Checkers and more. The carousel has a special meaning to Walt Disney, as he was at a carousel with his children when he first dreamed up Disneyland. Finding Mickey has a full list of the horse names. The carousel was built in 1875 and moved to Disneyland in 1954, one year before the park opened.
5. You can hear Jessica Rabbit sing near the queue for Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin Toontown.
4. “Popcorn people” are little figures inside random popcorn carts that turn the crank of the popcorn machine. They’re also referred to as “popcorn personalities.”
There are 7 located through the park. These are the Rocketeer (Tomorrowland), Main Street Popcorn Man (Main Street), a clown (Fantasyland), a popcorn engineer (Toontown), a Saloon Pianist (Frontierland), and Haunted Mansion Popcorn Ghost (New Orleans Square). After you find them, enjoy some of that delicious popcorn!
3. Nearly 200 feral cats live in Disneyland, and hunt to keep the rodent population down.
When Disneyland was first built, Walt Disney and his team discovered a pack of cats living in Sleeping Beauty Castle. While those cats were adopted to cast members, soon, Disneyland became home to more cats who found it a nice rodent hunting ground. Now staff and volunteers trap to spay/neuter the animals, then release them back into the park, and maintain several feeding stations to keep their mouse hunters well-fed. The cat names include Francisco, Ned, Giovanni, and more. You may know about the cats, do you know where to find them? You’re most likely to find the Disneyland cats at Grizzly River River, The Hungry Bear, The Jungle Cruise and The Blue Sky. Occasionally you’ll see a cat at the Disneyland Hotel and often, if you pay attention, you’ll spot one along the tram route.
2. Disneyland was partly funded by ABC network.
ABC had wanted to work with Walt Disney, and he agreed on the partnership, signing on to do the show “Disneyland.” You may know it more as the “The Wonderful World of Walt Disney.” The show was created to get money to complete the park, and was also an amazing marketing tool, as it gave viewers a look at the magical park. It was the first show to be on Nielsen’s Top Twenty list. The series, though it switched networks, ran 29 seasons. The first episode aired October 27, 1954.
1. Disneyland has its own special paint color called “Noseeum.”
Noseeum (get it?) is a color they use for things the park doesn’t want you to notice, like doors for cast members, or the top of buildings peeking out from another buildings. If you’ve ever heard of the exclusive Club 33 restaurant in News Orleans Square, you’ll know that the door to the club is painted in this color. They also have a color known as “Go Away Grey” used for the same purpose. Next time you’re in the park, see what you can notice what’s painted these colors!