Located in the heart of Anaheim, the Disneyland Resort offers over 60 incredible attractions, magical parades, and world-renowned treats. It’s no wonder Disneyland Park holds the title, “The Happiest Place on Earth”.
The history of the Disneyland Resort is an inspiring journey of Walt Disney’s innovative ideas becoming a reality. The park has become an iconic part of American history and there are some many surprising and unique Disneyland facts to uncover.
Let’s take a magical journey through the Disneyland Resort and learn interesting and surprising facts.
Disneyland was almost built in Burbank, California
As early as 1932, Walt Disney had thoughts about building a theme park. He wanted a theme park where he could take his children to that was family friendly. The idea for “Riverside Drive Park” (located across the street from Walt’s studios on Riverside Drive in Burbank) was born.
After World War II, Walt was busy planning for construction of a park that was going to be called the ‘Mickey Mouse Park’ on the 16 acres in Burbank across the street from his studios. When Walt presented his plans to Burbank’s city council, the plans were rejected because local politicians didn’t want to downgrade the area and create a “carny” atmosphere. The following year, in 1953, Walt and team settled on the 160 acre Ball Road subdivision in Anaheim for the new location for Disneyland.
Disneyland originally opened on Sunday, July 17th, 1955 with a total of 18 attractions. Of those 18 attractions that were open on July 17, 1955, 12 are still available to guests. Although, all these attractions have changed to some degree.
The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California. To make up for the lose in orange trees, park landscapers Jack and Bill Evans planted more than 40 species of flowers and 700 exotic trees along the Jungle Cruise alone, and the iconic Mickey-head topiary out front contains 10,000 flowers—replanted six times a year.
Roy Disney bought Disneyland’s first ticket
On July 18, 1955, Roy O. Disney, Walt’s brother, purchased the park’s very first ticket for only one dollar on July 18, 1955. The park sold its one-millionth ticket less than two months later on September 8. Disneyland went on to attract nearly 3.6 million people in its first year.
Most plants in Tomorrowland are edible
Look closely the next time you’re walking around Tomorrowland and you might notice some familiar fruits, herbs and vegetables. In fact, at one point, all the plants in Tomorrowland were edible. Now, Disneyland guides say about 80% of plants in Tomorrowland are edible and harvestable.
There is a fake pet cemetery hidden behind the Haunted Mansion
The Pet Cemetery was first installed at the Disneyland Haunted Mansion in the 1980s on the west side of the Mansion. This pet cemetery proved popular enough for an expanded version to open in 1993 at the front of the Mansion closer to the queue. The epitaphs were written by imagineer Chris Goosman and the area was designed by imagineer Kim Irvine.
In the secret cemetery, there are memorials to peculiar pets, like a skunk named Stripey. “In loving memory of our pet Stripey,” the epitaph reads, “You may be departed but your scent will linger on,” and many other curious animals, like Penny the Elephant. “Where Pachyderms reside with worms within a tomb most elegant,” her grave says, “You’ll find long gone our mastodon Beloved Penny, the elephant.”
The most popular attraction at Disneyland
Since its 1967 debut, Pirates of the Caribbean has entertained close to a third of a billion passengers. Originally, the ride was first imagined as a walk through wax museum underneath New Orleans Square. But with the popularity of ‘it’s a small world’, the ride was redesigned into a boat ride.
Pirates of the Caribbean takes you on a boat through a beautiful and comical recreation of Hollywood-style pirate scenes with over 120 audio-animatronics. Pirates blew the dark ride concept up to an epic scale, and remains a triumph of fantasy-building.
Real Gold outside of the It’s a Small World
The gold trimmings on the outside of the It’s a Small World ride are made of real 22 karat gold. For weather durability and unexcelled beauty, 22 karat gold leaf was used for trim throughout the facade. When domestic supplies of gold leaf ran low, Disney engineers secured a European shipment to finish the job… thus adding another “international” touch while creating a striking contrast of gold textures.
You can call him Harold. Since 1978, this large white-furred primate with dark blue skin, menacing red eyes, and a foul temper has lurked in the caves of Disneyland‘s Matterhorn. As for his name, cast members working the attraction called him Harold for no reason and the name has stuck since.
Secret apartment hidden in Disneyland’s fire station.
Walt had a secret apartment above the fire station on Main Street USA where he and his family used to hide out. The Victorian apartment remains almost exactly as it did nearly 60 years ago.
Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, recently spoke about the memories she shared with her father at the family’s Disneyland home.
‘It was their refuge, it was their little place. The décor, it was all little things that they picked up when they were travelling around the country various times… It was really a very cozy, family place.’
When it opened in 1959, the Disneyland Monorail was the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere.
The Disneyland Monorail System (originally named the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail System) began operating on June 14, 1959, making it the first operational monorail system in the western hemisphere and United States.
The original monorail cars were built by transportation company Alweg. The trains are powered by more than 600VDC, drawn from a small rail running along the right side of the beam. Although the trains can run up to 70 MPH, Disneyland requires the trains to maintain speeds of 40 MPH or less for safety reasons on the 2.5 miles of track currently in use.
In 1986, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers named the Disneyland monorail system a historical engineering landmark.