10 Cool Secrets About Disneyland

Regardless of where you believe to be the true “Happiest Place On Earth” is, you have to admit, Disneyland is at least pretty magical. It's so magical, in fact, that even after 50 years and over 500 million of visitors, there are still tons of secrets hidden in and about the Magical Kingdom.

1. Disneyland was expected to fail.

Opening day was such a disaster that pretty much every press organization that attended the celebration had predicted the park's failure within one year.

It opened on a day that was 101 degrees and the street asphalt still wasn't dry, leading to it sticking to shoes. By the end of the first day, all but 2 of the 48 Autopia cars were crashed and about half the rides were broken.

Despite all that, park visitors loved it and attendance continued to grow day by day.

Source (Photo: ThomasFredrick [Flickr])

2. Need a real drink?

While many Disney fanatics may already know this one, others may find it surprising to know there is exactly one place in the entire park that serves alcoholic beverages.

The place is called Club 33 and it is a very exclusive club to get in. To gain entry, there is a ten year waiting list and admission is at least a thousand dollars. Supposedly, the food is good though.

Source (Photo: emmyboop [Flickr])


3. Tomorrow Land is so outdated.

Or at least, the first version is by now. The only Tomorrow Land ride that still exists in its original state from the opening is Autopia, and even it was changed to fit with Cars the movie. Actually though, there is one major change in Autopia from how it was on opening day -there were originally no guide rail to keep people on track. Sometimes Disney was a little too trusting of the good of humans.

Source (Photo: Frikitiki [Flickr])


4. There's a Disney Underground.

Photo: lwr [Flickr]

It's not quite as exciting as it sounds though. Despite rumors, the area under the park isn't a massive underground city. There are many underground basements though, where cast can relax, change in and out of costumes and eat lunch in peace. Think of it like a few really big break rooms.

Disney World on the other hand, was built late enough that they have a full city underground.


5. Olympic sports anyone?

Photo: Frikitiki [Flickr]

Just walking around the park over and over again is exercise enough for most people, but employees have the option of working out in the Matterhorn. Surely you didn't think that huge mountain was only used for one little ride did you? No, the Matterhorn is officially classified as a gym and has a full basketball court inside. In 1984, it was even certified as an official Olympic Stadium.


6. It's safe, but not 100% safe.

Photo: videocrab [Flickr]

Despite persisting urban legends that claim no one ever died in the park, people have. At least 12 people have died there, reports vary as to whether some additional death tales are true or not. All things considered though, 12 deaths in over 50 years isn't that bad. Keep in mind, aside from dangerous rides, there is also a notable amount of gang violence at other Southern California amusement parks that doesn't occur as frequently at Disneyland.


7. Ever feel like you're being watched?

You might be. There are cameras everywhere. Aside from average security brigades, they even have special tasks forces with only a handful of things to focus on.

There are at least two special forces at the park, one dedicated to catching people using drugs at the park, and another dedicated to catching people who flash or flip off the cameras during the photo parts of the rides. If you've ever gotten a message saying your photo isn't available when you got off the ride, there's a good chance someone either flashed some breast or flipped the bird to the camera.


8. A ghostly Hazmat problem.

Photo: major_clanger [Flickr]

There are many reports of people trying to spill the ashes of loved ones in the Haunted Mansion. As nice of a thought as it is, there are plenty of ghosts in the Mansion already and if everyone dumped their ashes here, then the whole thing would be covered in dust. So, every time it happens, the Mansion needs to be closed and a hazmat team cleans it.


9. A pirate's life for Jack.

We all know that Johnny Depp is dang sexy, but just the character of Jack Sparrow? Apparently, a lot of women still think he's just as good as Depp. In Pirate's Booty, an ex-actor at Disneyland confessed how many women would try to hump him just for playing the character. The stories range from flirting to receiving napkins with naughty offers.

(Photo: Locket479 [Flickr])

10. Words from beyond.

Ever notice the telegraph clicking at the New Orleans' train station? It's ticking out the speech Disney gave out on the park's opening day. Traces of Disney are all over the park, my favorite one though is his old apartment over the fire house on Main Street. They always leave the light on in his memory. Not only is it cute, but it's also rad that he got to live in the park.

Source (Photo: Mysteryofmaps [Flickr])


A few other fun tidbits:

  • Steve Martin used to work in the magic shop here.

  • There used to be live girls dressed like mermaids in the 2000 Leagues Under the Sea pool.

  • Did your balloon pop? Just show any balloon seller your popped balloon and they'll give you a new one.

  • The Imagineers put special touches everywhere. The Haunted Mansion features faces of a few of the early Imagineers and has tombstones written with inside joke references.

  • Coke gives the park free soda to eliminate competition in the park and for the advertising.

  • Hidden Mickeys are spread all over the park and there's at least one in every ride.

Source and Source

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I remember the mine train rides. They were outside, and went through an area that looked like the desert, and the grand canyon. They were right next to the mule train rides(all of which is now the Big Thunder Mountain). I remember dancing with the indians where Bear Country now is. And being a little afraid of them lol Also, I do believe I met Daniel Boone there;)

I also remember some sort of hover craft type ride in tomorrowland. Round bumper car sort of things that lifted off I think from air jets coming out of the floor. I don't think they were there for long! I do remember "real" mermaids in the 20000 leagues under the sea ride. I also remember some boat rides that were near the autopia.

I also remember stealing the apple from the witch in the snow white ride-it was a high schoolers pasttime. We got away with it several times. The last time, many years ago, the second someone stepped foot out of the car, a bright light came on and we were told by a great voice from the air to return to the car IMMEDIATELY, which was done. We didn't get in trouble, nothing was said, but we got some hard looks from the operators when we exited... Last time I was there I believe it had finally been replaced with a hologram lol

We were in a canoe once that tipped over when someone decided to stand up in it. We ended up about hip deep in the water, it was pretty funny actually! We all got back in, and were given a handful of free E tickets as compensation for getting wet.

I also remember the "dead" bodies at the burning log cabin on Tom Sawyers island. I remember the cabin originally had a real (gas) fire, but then it changed to some flapping red colored tin foil or something like that.

I do remember they used to make someone walk the plank and jump into the river off the pirate ship. I haven't seen the pirate ship active in years, does it still run?

I remember once they had horses in the stalls in the firehouse, but I only remember that once... The stalls are small, and have ever since been pristine clean.

My friend's brother and a friend of his got caught smoking pot on tom sawyers island. They were escorted through a door in the fort, down stairs, and into a small holding area below the fort. They were then escorted via tunnels out of the park.

A former customer of mine was the first female glassblower at Disneyland park.

There used to be lots of antique cars and fire trucks and things that they used to give rides up and down main street when it was busy. Haven't seen those in many years, wish they still used them.

I was one of the many kids priveledged to sing at the Christmas show at Disneyland park. Michael Landon was the person reading the story of Christmas, and there were probably 1000 kids who did the candlelit(battery operated candles) parade and then made up the huge choir that stood on stands in front of the main street train station. I remember when we were practicing backstage, the AMAZING sound that came out when 1000 kids started singing the hallaluja chorus, and all of us stopping, looking at each other, and thinking WOW, was that us? And then loads of us teenagers with tears streaming out of our eyes when we did that particular song in front of thousands of people in the park...it was an incredible experience. Oh, and we did get to go in the park free and ride the rides as compensation:)

The backstage area was more like a car park, with lots of warehouses and things. We were practicing outside under a large covered area. I remember when we were standing in the back getting ready for the parade, we were in a fairly large holding area by the Small World. We saw lots of cast characters come and go, all with their heads on (guess the Queen of Hearts hadn't been around lately lol). Also saw all the floats lined up waiting their turn to go, and they also came back in that way, but through a passage way from behind the buildings.

I remember after we sang and had removed our choir robes, they walked us all the way from the backstage area near small world through passage ways between buildings, that had gates here and there they'd close so people didn't see us passing. They walked us all the way through fantasy land, frontierland, all the way to main street through that passage before they let us through a gate somewhere near the fire station. That's how they get vehicles and ambulances and so on around through the parks without being seen as well.

I remember when the parades used to have lots of carriages and were actually drawn by horses and ponies. There used to be the "Disney Pony Farm", and they had lots of welsh ponies to pull snow white's carriage, along with the main street horses and the mules living there. I guess once upon a time Frontierland used to have stagecoach rides, like Knotts Berry Farm, but they had lots of problems with runaways, and they didn't last long. Those were before my time though. I do recall seeing some of the roads from them that were left over through the mine train ride-I think the train was built to replace the stagecoaches. I remember the mine train used to go past the "old faithful geyser", or were they calling it old unfaithful? Don't recall. I just remember the train slowing and stopping so we could see it erupt... I think the goat that is eating dynamite used to be on the mine train ride. I also remember there was a saloon with all kinds of singing and fighting noises coming out of it, also a dentists office with a guy screaming in pain...

I loved the shooting galleries that used real bb guns to hit the targets. Those were more fun than the current laser ones.

There is still the sound of a telegraph at the New Orleans train station stop. It's about 8 years since I was last there, but I heard it that last time, as I have for years and years.

I remember the first time I went into Country Bear Jamboree, and being utterly fascinated by the talking animal heads on the wall above me. I can't believe they took out the Jamboree and put in that horrid children's ride...And bear country has gotten so boring, there really isn't anything there once you walk past Splash Mountain anymore. I was surprised at Splash mountain, seeing it full of all the old America Sings animatronics. I sure do wish they'd re-release "Song of the South", but they are too concerned with being PC these days...

The wishing well next to the castle used to echo...don't think it does anymore. And the house of tomorrow used to sit where there is a garden now not far from the castle, by tomorrowland. I remember it being a Jetson type house.

I remember having a season pass, so that we could go dancing at Disneyopolis every weekend. I think that's now used for stage shows.

I still like going upstairs above the pirates of the carribean, to what used to be apartments and private gardens for the Disneys. There are lots of old maps and designs for rides and things up there that are fascinating if you are into all things Disney.

I could go on and on. Lots of memories!
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Cul info, awesome article! If anyone's interested, the website oitc.com has a TON of disney secrets for every ride in their "Fun Facts" section.

Also, people HAVE died, as in, have stopped functioning/breathing in DL, they just aren't declared dead until they arrive at the hospital. This way, Disney can "truthfully" say that noone's ever died in Disneyland. Kinda sick.
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Thanks for the great information about Disneyland. It is a place that I really aspire to. I work at a haunted house and we try every year to make it that much cooler, and that much better so that we can somehow be as good as Disneyland. Maybe someday we will be as good.
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I moved to Cali in 74 from the midwest. My father always told me that someday he would take me, and sure enough, true to his word, he did. Even tho I was a teen, the magic it held was amazing.

I also went there on grad night; the one thing they didn't sell there at that time was cigaretts. But all in all it was pretty cool to be there when not a lot of people were, and at night.

I saw the Electric Light Parade when I was 34 and it was cool.

It was enjoyable to hear all the stories and event though lots of secrets let out, it's still magical for me to this day. Thanks Walt - You did a great job..
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