Today’s post is a journey in time, amid the wonderful plans, hidden secrets, and urban legends that all make up one of the most beloved places on earth. Disneyland, opened in 1955 and situated in Anaheim, California, was Walt Disney’s pet project and it attracts millions of visitors to this day. The trivia facts about Disneyland and its history tell a fascinating tale of imagination and ambitious designs.
10. Walt gets inspired
Do you know how it all started? With a trip Walt Disney took to L.A.’s Griffith Park, together with his daughters. They rode the merry-go-round, then Disney sat on a bench and got the idea to open an amusement park of his own. That actual bench is now on display by the entrance to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
9. The grand Opening Day
It took Disney years to make his dream come true, but it did happen on July 17, 1955. There were no more than 18 attractions on the premises that day, but the turnout was spectacular. Aside from several TV crews, Ronald Reagan himself was there – as were Disney’s trusty Mouseketeers. The huge crowd, of more than 28,000 guests, made Disney realize he was right about going ahead with his wild plans.
8. King Arthur’s history
The oldest attraction on location is, fittingly enough, a merry-go-round: King Arthur’s Carousel actually predates the fact, which makes it one of the weirdest trivia facts about Disneyland. It was built in 1922, for the Sunnyside Beach Park in Toronto, Canada. On opening day, the 18 year-old employee in charge of it saw dozens of kids rushing toward the carousel excitedly.
7. Before they were famous
You wouldn’t believe how many immensely famous stars once worked as Disneyland characters. The list includes Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys (Aladdin, Prince Eric, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle), Michelle Pfeiffer (Alice in Wonderland), Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett (Ariel), and Steve Martin who started out selling guidebooks as a kid and then worked at the Magic Shop. Pfeiffer worked there during the 1970s, in the Main Street
6. The castle of Sleeping Beauty and its lore
It may not be the tallest castle on the premises at the park, but one of the most interesting trivia facts about Disneyland is directly connected with it. The castle of Sleeping Beauty, which is a mere 77 feet (paltry, compared to Cinderella’s Castle, which stands 189 feet tall) features the Disney family crest. Look at it closely and you’ll be able to spot it right above the drawbridge. Actually, that’s the only working drawbridge on the premises, though it was only used twice.
5. Are urban legends true trivia facts about Disneyland?
One such legend says the golden spike right past the Sleeping Beauty Castle is the exact geometric center of the park, but it’s not. It just centers the castle to Main Street, U.S.A. On the other hand, have you heard the one about the basketball court inside the Matterhorn roller coaster? That one is absolutely true – as is the fact that the Matterhorn was the world’s first tubular steel roller coaster.
4. A voyage into the future
On July 17, 1995, the park’s 40th anniversary, a time capsule was buried in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. There are 62 items inside it, with presents from former Disney stars and executives, including a “Mickey” name tag from “40 Years of Adventures”, some early photos of the park, and an aerial photo of the resort, plus lots of merch and a press kit from the year 1995. Want to be around when they open it? Then save the date for July 17, 2035, the park’s 80th anniversary.
3. Sailing with the Pirates
The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which is 47 years old this year, was the last one whose conception Disney personally oversaw. Initially, it was supposed to house a wax museum of pirates, but, in the meantime, that space turned into the pirates’ grotto. The realistic Burning Town fire effects were considered hazardous by the Anaheim Fire Chief, who asked that they be turned off in the case of an actual fire. There’s an actual human skull in the ride, right above the bed in the treasure room.
2. The secrets that haunt the Mansion
The Haunted Mansion was also supposed to be a walk-through attraction. Madame Leota’s voice is the same person who voiced Lady Tremaine and Maleficent – Eleanor Audley. Professor Ludwig Von Drake, the Pirates of the Caribbean skull that ominously announces “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, plus the ghost narrator on the Haunted House are also the same person: Paul Frees. And the hitchhiking ghosts have names: Ezra, Phineas, and Gus.
1. Welcome to the Jungle
Walt Disney is well-known for his ambitious plans, but one of the lesser known trivia facts about Disneyland is that he was dead-set on having live animals on the Jungle Cruise. Luckily, a zoologist told him most animals sleep during park hours and only come out at night, so Disney gave up on his initial idea.