Disneyland is the happiest place on earth where you can experience true magic for however long you decide to visit the magic kingdom. When Disneyland opened on July 17th, 1955, there was no telling what was going through Walt Disney’s mind as the day went much less than he had hoped for with breakdowns and the weather being so hot that supplies ran out. Perhaps he was thinking it was the end of Disneyland before it had a chance to begin? Who knows? But what we do know is that Uncle Walt’s dream of Disneyland didn’t fade into oblivion after the disastrous opening, and in fact, Disneyland is now one of the most popular theme parks in the world.
Disney has created an empire that keeps people coming back even after they’ve grown up. If you live outside of California, you still have the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, or there’s also Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disney, and Tokyo Disney. Truly, almost anywhere you go around major populated areas in the world, there’s a Disney theme park nearby. With a legacy that began in 1955, there are some pretty shocking stories and secrets that are kept under wraps from park attendees that are only privy to park employees and execs. But in recent years, those secrets have gotten out, and people are learning more and more about the original Disney Park that started it all.
Here are the ten most shocking facts about Disneyland in Anaheim, CA USA. The regular Disney buff might already know some of the items of the list, but when you put some of these facts together with a name synonymous with good family fun, it can be quite surprising. These secrets show us that not even Mickey Mouse is all that innocent, and not that great at keeping his lips sealed either.
10. Underground Tunnels
Ever wonder how Belle was able to get from Main Street to Fantasyland in just a matter of minutes without having to battle through the crowds? She got there through one of Disneyland’s numerous underground tunnels that stretch throughout the park. In order for characters and employees to get to their stations swiftly, as well as haul equipment and goods without tarnishing the image of Disneyland, underground tunnels were built. So as you’re walking around the park, there’s a completely different world buzzing around under your feet.
9. Flash Mountain
Ah, yes…the infamous Splash Mountain. When you descend upon the highly anticipated drop, a camera is there to shoot a picture of your faces as you fall. Over the years, people have been quite creative with these timed photos from themes to poses. But having the camera there also allows room for people to do other things. The reason why Splash Mountain has the nickname of “Flash” Mountain is because there is a rich (and we mean RICH) history of women who show their boobs for the camera. The problem got so bad that Disneyland had to create a special position just to filter through the photos.
8. Buried at Disneyland
This one is a bit disturbing because it happens more often than you’d think. There has been a trend of Disney fans that have requested to have their ashes spread on Disneyland rides, and if you ask the park for permission, they will say no. The problem first began on Pirates of the Caribbean when a woman was seen spilling an unknown substance into the water, and the ride had to be shut down. After cleanup was done, it was discovered that it was human ashes that were dropped into the water.
7. Cat Kingdom
When Disneyland closes at night, crews flock both parks and thoroughly clean every inch so that it remains pristine and clean for the next day. When it comes to pest control, Disney takes an unconventional route. If you have seen a stray cat during one of your visits to Disneyland or California Adventure, it is no accident. Stray cats are very common at the park, and Disney takes advantage of it to help control the rat and mice population. Disney figured it would be less shocking to see a cat as opposed to a mouse. Disney spays and neuters each cat and brings kittens to the shelter every year.
6. Walt’s Everlasting Presence
When Disneyland was first being built, Walt wanted to be able to stay at the park as much as possible to oversee the work, and eventually be able to stay overnight at Disneyland after it’s completion to watch the activity from his apartment. The cozy place had a consistent theme with the firehouse that it sits above, and Walt never allowed photos to be taken of him or his family inside the place. The apartment still remains at Disneyland, and if you look closely at the center window above the firehouse, you will see an illuminated candle that represents Walt always watching over Disneyland, which originally was a sign to employees that Walt was at the park.
5. Forced Perspective
Due to the limitations of space in Disneyland as well as building codes, Imagineers had to come up with creative ideas to make things look bigger than what they really are. The ground floor buildings are at a 9/10ths scale, the second floors of the buildings are at a 7/8th scale, and the third floors are at 5/8ths. The gas lamps on Main Street are also over 160 years old and were purchased as junk from the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Also, Sleeping Beauty’s castle is only 77 feet tall, but designers built it with an illusion to look bigger using forced perspective, the same design concept for Main Street.
4. Working at Disneyland
Disneyland has quite the reputation for being one of the stricter employers in the world. When you become an employee at Disneyland, there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed. For example, employees arrive to work in street clothes and change into their costumes at the park. There has also been rumors of employee underwear that must be worn because the park doesn’t want to take the chance of modern day underwear being seen. Another fun little tidbit: Walt Disney always wanted to be called by his first name amongst his employees, which is why you only see first names on the employee nametags.
3. Disney VIP
Club 33 is Walt Disney’s answer to a VIP lounge. It is the only place in the park where you can buy alcohol. The waiting list to join Club 33 is about 10 years long, with an initiation fee of $25,000 and annual dues of $10,000 per year.
2. Hippie Invasion
Tom Sawyer Island has been many things, but now it sits dormant besides the boat tours that allow kids to walk through every now and then. The island is now being converted to something more interactive for park guests, but during the seventies, it was actually held hostage by hippies on August 6th, 1970. About 300 members of the Young International Party descended on Disneyland, hoisting up the Viet Cong flag, yelling at the marching bands, etc. and Disneyland called the riot police. The fight escalated to the point where the park was forced to close early.
1. The “Basketball Court” Inside The Matterhorn
According to the Disney Channel show, “Inside Out”, there is a small attic-like space at the top of the Matterhorn that houses a basketball court. Most people know this, but there’s something more to it. There have been numerous rumors as to why there was this space. One theory was that Disney wanted to skirt the building height restrictions and add a sports facility to the mountain so it could be taller, which has turned out not to be true. In reality, the space is not really a basketball court, but instead just a space where the costumed workers go to wait, rest, relax, etc. while they’re working on the ride and an employee added a basketball hoop to the space, hence to why the space got its title.
Pretty crazy Disney facts.. love the CA Disney park though and hope to be a VIP one day! 😀