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Celebrating Disneyland’s 66th Birthday-101 Facts You May Not Know

Today we are celebrating Disneyland’s 66th Birthday by sharing  101 Facts you may not know in honor of the Happiest Place on Earth.  66 years ago on July 17, 1955, a father, wanting a place for his children and family to go to be able to spend time together designed a magical place where you would be able to leave the world of today and enter a world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy. The man, of course, was Walt Disney and since that fateful day 64 years ago, millions of people have read Walt’s words as they entered the Happiest Place On Earth, the Disneyland Resort.

Disneyland Resort Partner Statue Sleeping Beauty Castle

In talking about the beginnings of Disneyland Resort, Walt would recount, “I first saw the site for Disneyland back in 1953. In those days it was all flat- no rivers, no mountains, no castles or rocket ships-just orange groves and a few acres of walnut trees….We believed in our idea-a a family park where parents and children could have fun together.  Disneyland is a show…the star, everything else is the supporting role. Disneyland will never be completed.  It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”  In honor of Disneyland’s 66th birthday, we have 101 facts you may not know about the Happiest Place on Earth. where you “leave the world of today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” 

Disneyland Resort Partner Statue Sleeping Beauty Castle


  • Over the years, Disneyland has celebrated two different opening days, for understandable reasons. On July 17, 1955, the park opened to the press and invited guests, and ABC devoted 90 minutes of live coverage to the event. Announcer Hank Weaver sat behind a typewriter in the press room to introduce master of ceremonies Art Linkletter, who introduced colleagues Bob Cummings and Ronald Reagan and pointed out the arrival of Danny Thomas and his family. The next day, the park opened to the public; adult admission, $1, children 50 cents.
  • The very first ticket to Disneyland was sold to Walt’s brother Roy for $1.00

Archives Opening Day Passes Disneyland

  • The initials of Walt’s ranch, ‘STR,’ appear on Walt’s tie of the Partner’s Statue.  He had to sell the ranch to complete construction of Disneyland, but was able to later repurchase it.
  • From groundbreaking to opening day, Disneyland was completed in just 365 days.
  • In 1952, before Anaheim emerged as the location for Disneyland, Walt Disney went to the Burbank City Council with a proposal for a park. The council members turned him away, and one said, “We don’t want the carny atmosphere in Burbank.”
  • Disney studio executives didn’t share Walt’s interest in creating Disneyland, so he set up a separate company, WED Enterprises, to do advance work. To cover costs, he borrowed $100,000 against his life insurance policy.
  • Walt Disney was inspired to build Disneyland after taking his daughters to ride the merry-go-round at L.A.’s Griffith Park.
  • The actual Griffith Park bench where Walt sat when he came up with the idea for Disneyland is on display near the entrance of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
  • In its first year, Disneyland had revenue of $10 million — one-third of the total gross of the Disney studio. In today’s dollars, that would be $88.7 million.
  • A few days prior to Disneyland’s official opening, Walt went to visit some of the local area churches in search of the best-behaved children in Sunday School. He invited a handful of these children to come to the Park for Opening Day.

Disneyland Resort Welcome Sign

  • One of the earliest patrons of Disneyland was a then 11-year-old boy by the name of George Lucas.
  • The official address of Disneyland® is 1313 South Harbor Blvd.  The 13th letter of the alphabet is “M”.   The address was picked by Walt Disney himself because at the time Disneyland® was built, all that was in the area were orange groves. The explanations for the address are either that ‘M’ is the thirteenth letter in the alphabet, making the address MM for Mickey Mouse, or that the thirteens, being unlucky, were Walt’s way of thumbing his nose at those who thought Disneyland would fail.
  • On opening day, Disneyland contained 800 species of plants from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, China, and Japan. Many of the largest trees in Disneyland once dotted the routes of the Santa Monica, Pomona and Santa Ana freeways. Disneyland arborists paid $25 for each of the 5- to 10-foot trees, which were moved to Anaheim before the park opened. Today, about 18,000 trees can be found throughout the Disneyland Resort.
  • More than 12,000 orange trees were removed from the 160-acre plot that became Disneyland. Some of the discarded trees were replanted upside-down along the banks of the Jungle Cruise to look like mangrove roots.
  • The sky over Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World in Orlando is considered “national defense airspace.”

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  • Much of Disneyland is built to scale to create the illusion of a full-scale experience. The trains circling the park and the Mark Twain Riverboat are built to 5/8 scale. Sleeping Beauty Castle and the storefronts on Main Street, U.S.A., use forced perspective to make the buildings appear taller. Disneyland® was designed to make guests feel as though it takes them longer to walk into the Park than to leave. It is that same forced perspective on Main Street that gives you the feeling that the road going toward Sleeping Beauty’s castle seems to take longer to walk than when you’re on your way out. The windows on the second floor of the buildings are smaller than the first, the curve of the building is slightly, and other subtle tricks make the excitement of entering Disneyland seem to last longer.

Disneyland Resort Walt's Window Main Street

  • Walt Disney never owned Disneyland.  He was the creative genius behind the concept and had stock in the company, but he never owned a controlling share.
  • As a reminder to the construction workers that built Disneyland he was working as hard as they were when the park was being built, Walt Disney kept the light on in the window of the apartment he had built for himself over the Fire Station on Main Street, U.S,A.  Since his death in 1966, that light has been kept on 24/7 as a reminder of Walt Disney’s hard work and dedication.

Disneyland Resort Fire Dept. Walt's Apartment

  • The apartment above the firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A., includes a dressing area, a kitchenette and a bathroom with a shower. The couches fold out to make additional beds.
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle is 77 feet tall. Neuschwanstein, the 19th-century Bavarian castle that’s widely credited as its inspiration, is 213 feet high.
  • Main Street is supposed to be set in the year 1910 and Tomorrowland was originally supposed to be 1986.  These years were picked because they are the years of Hailey’s Comet.

Disneyland Resort Partner Statue Sleeping Beauty Castle


  • The Disney family crest is on Sleeping Beauty Castle; it’s located above the drawbridge.
  • Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is the only Disney park castle with a real functioning drawbridge. The drawbridge has been used twice: once on opening day and the second for the opening of the remodeled Fantasyland.
  • The golden spike that is located on the ground just after walking through Sleeping Beauty Castle is not the exact center of the park. Rather, it was used to center the castle to Main Street, U.S.A.
  • A time capsule was buried on July 17, 1995, in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. It will be unearthed on July 17, 2035, which is the 80th anniversary of Disneyland.
  • A firefighter’s pole connected Disney’s private apartment to the bottom floor of the firehouse.  Walt was usually eager to start his workday and often would slide down the pole.  The hole at the top of the pole was sealed up after a guest climbed up the pole one day and introduced himself to the Disney family.
  • Disneyland used to have its own postmark so when you mailed a postcard on Main Street, your recipient knew it had been mailed from Disneyland.  Main Street also used to have a bank where you could actually open an account in and a printing press that published an actual newspaper.

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  • The original 19th-century gaslight lampposts along Main Street, U.S.A., came from Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia.
  • The names on the second-story windows on Main Street, as well as on crates floating in the river of The Jungle Cruise, on boxes on the Mark Twain dock, and on kegs at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are all to honor people who contributed to the design, implementation and running of Disneyland.

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  • The wooden figure of an American Indian on Main Street, U.S.A., stood in front of a fine tobacco shop next door to Disneyland’s cinema until 1991. Other independent retail shops have included a pharmacy, a shoe store, and a lock-and-key shop. There was once an intimate apparel boutique at Disneyland known as the Wizard of Bras. When the park opened, it had both pay and free toilets. Soon after, all bathrooms became free.

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  • Most gold trim in the park is done with real gold leaf rather than gold paint. This is partially because the gold leaf looks spectacular, and partially because the gold leaf may actually be cheaper because it doesn’t need to be replaced as often.
  • The ornate base of the Town Square flag pole was discovered in 1955 on Wilshire Blvd. at the scene of a traffic accident when a car ran into a lamp post and the base was bought for $5.00 and the cannons in Town Square are actual cannons used by the French Army in the 19th Century and the original street lamps were over 100 years old.
  • Walt refused to allow sharp 90 degree corners on Main Street sidewalks. He felt they would be too rigid and threatening, and therefore all curbs have gentle, rounded corners.
  • Gum is not, and never has been, sold inside Disneyland®. Any gum found on the ground is scraped up immediately. Walt didn’t want his guests to have to pick gum off their shoes.
  • Until the recent opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, alcohol was not available in any public area of Disneyland

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Disneyland Walt Disney World Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • The train engines were named after the founders of the Santa Fe Railroad: C.K. Holiday, E.P. Ripley, Ernest S. Marsh, and Fred Gurley. The engine of the first train in the park was a larger scale reproduction of Walt’s toy engine the “Lilly Belle”, named after his wife, Lillian.
  • Abe Lincoln’s speech in “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” is actually a composite of various speeches delivered by our 16th president. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter  Reagan, George H. Bush, and Obama have all visited Disneyland®. Then Vice-President Nixon was actually the first to ride on the Monorail with Walt Disney. When it opened in June 1959, Disneyland’s monorail was the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere.
  • In September 1959, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made a historic visit to Los Angeles and asked to see Disneyland. His security team first said yes, and then no, after Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker said he couldn’t guarantee Khrushchev’s safety.
  • Ronald L. Ziegler, who was Richard Nixon’s presidential press secretary, worked during college as a wise-cracking pilot on the Jungle Cruise. Later, in the 1970s, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter had the same job.

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  • On opening day, the beloved Jungle Cruise was known as Explorer Boat Ride Through the Rivers of Mexico, Africa, Central, and South America, and Australia. Walt originally wanted to have live animals on The Jungle Cruise. He changed his mind after a zoologist told him that most of the animals are nocturnal and would be asleep during park hours.
  • The route of the Jungle Cruise was laid out with a Jeep outfitted to simulate the length and width of a riverboat.
  • The Jungle Cruise got a major overhaul based on what Walt overheard one guest say. The remark in question was: “We don’t need to go on this ride, we’ve already seen it.”
  • Fantasyland’s carousel operated at Toronto’s Sunnyside Park for decades before being moved to Disneyland in advance of the park’s opening. The original carousel featured a menagerie of animals but now has only horses. Additional horses were acquired from other amusement parks.

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  • The horses on the King Arthur Carousel are all individually hand-carved and painted. They are continually being repainted, and all the brass is polished every night.
  • The Enchanted Tiki Room was originally envisioned as a restaurant where the animatronic birds, flowers, and Tikis would perform an after-dinner show.
  • Jose the Macaw, star of the “Enchanted Tiki Room”, used to sit perched above the entrance to Adventureland greeting guests but he was soon removed because he proved too popular and created crowd congestion at the entrance to Adventureland.

Disneyland Resort Adventureland Entrance

  • Walt made sure the grass areas weren’t fenced in until he saw which areas people walked on. Areas that were used frequently as short-cuts had sidewalks added.
  • When New Orleans Square was added, Walt wanted to put in a private club at which he and other dues-paying members could entertain. Sadly, he was not able to see it completed, but the club was finished and is now a members-only club that occupies much of the second floor of New Orleans Square. The club, called Club 33 for its address, 33 Rue Royale, is the only place in Disneyland® where alcohol is served
  • New Orleans Square includes seven ficus trees transplanted from Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. Disney landscape specialist Bill Evans learned in 1962 that Pershing Square was being redone, and he made a deal to buy and transport the trees; their tops had to be cut off so they would make it through underpasses.
  • Walt Disney often walked around Disneyland®, stood in lines with visitors and talked to children about their experiences at the Park.
  • Walt Disney carried pre-signed photo cards to give to visitors who asked for autographs.

Disneyland's Best Kept Secrets-An Insider's Tips To The Magic

  • When Tom Sawyer Island opened in 1956, kids could borrow fishing poles at Huckleberry Finn’s Fishing Pier and fish in a small pond stocked with 15,000 catfish, perch and bluegill.
  • The Golden Horseshoe saloon was modeled after the dance hall in the 1953 movie “Calamity Jane.” A box next to the stage was reserved for Walt Disney and his guests.
  • The costumed Disney characters were not present during the park’s early days. Walt’s brother Roy, who ran the business side of Walt Disney Co., was concerned the characters would be tainted if the theme park failed.
  • For height reasons, there’s a good chance Mickey Mouse and many other costumed characters are played by female cast members. Male cast members portray the taller characters such as Goofy and Sheriff Woody. Princess characters also have strict height requirements-they must be 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall.

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  • Walt Disney was very insistent that the designers take the perspective of young children into account when designing the park. Because of this, Walt would frequently stoop down while looking at a partially constructed building to take into account how smaller people would see things.
  • The petrified tree in Frontierland, along the banks of the Rivers of America, was an anniversary present that Walt gave to his wife, Lillian. She donated the tree to Disneyland®, where it was given its spot overlooking the Rivers of America. It is the oldest item in Disneyland® being over 75 million years old

Disneyland Autopia

  • Among the first drivers on the Autopia ride on opening day were Frank Sinatra (and his son) and Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Steve Martin worked at the Disneyland Magic Shop in his early days, and Martin’s friend and teenage co-worker at the shop, John McEuen, went on to found the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
  • Richard Carpenter, brother, and bandmate of the late Karen Carpenter, was the keyboard half of a piano-banjo duo on Main Street in 1967. He was fired for playing too much contemporary music and in the 1970s, Michelle Pfeiffer worked at Disneyland as Alice in the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Main Street Electrical Parade Disneyland

  • Guests are never more than 30 steps away from a trash can
  • The E-ticket didn’t exist in 1955. The first E-tickets were issued in 1959 for use on then-new Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage rides.
  • The Matterhorn was the first tubular steel roller coaster in the world

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  • In Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, the Toad Hall library includes these titles: “For Whom the Toads Croak” and “A Tadpole Grows in Brooklyn.” It was originally planned as a roller-coaster type attraction but Walt toned it down, feeling that adults would shy away from such a “wild” Wild Ride
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures features the voice of Adriana Castelotti, the original Snow White.

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  • it’s a Small World that was only expected to last 2 years.  It was created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It just celebrated its 50th anniversary. By the time it’s a Small World opened at Disneyland in 1966, it had already been seen by more than 10 million visitors during its two years at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.
  • At one time there was a basketball court in the Matterhorn. It’s a small space at the top of the structure where cast members could rest.
  • Mickey Mouse balloons have been in the Park since 1956. The first balloons were black and white.

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  • There are “hidden Mickeys” scattered throughout the park. Look around and you can find the Mickey Mouse head shape in bushes, formed by buildings, etched in surfaces, in the place settings in the Haunted Mansion and countless other places.

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  • Every Cast Member wears a name tag, even the draft horses that pull the trolleys up and down Main Street, U.S.A.
  • No Disney Cast Member at the Disney Reservation Center has the same name. If there are more than two with the same name, one of them is “given” a new name to avoid confusion.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean was the last ride that Walt Disney personally supervised the construction of.
  • The tapping that can be heard at the telegraph offices at the train depots are “sending” the first two sentences of Walt’s opening-day speech.

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  • Paul Frees, who also voiced Professor Ludwig Von Drake and the skull that says “Dead Men Tell No Tales” on Pirates of the Caribbean, also voices the Haunted Mansion’s ghost narrator.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion were originally envisioned as a walk-through attraction.

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  • The pipe organ in the Haunted Mansion’s ballroom was reused from the set of the movie “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Capt. Nemo’s organ was part of a Tomorrowland display featuring props from the movie before it was relocated to the New Orleans Square ride.
  • In order to fit the attraction in the available space, the “Haunted Mansion” utilizes an elevator in the “stretching room” to lower guests to a tunnel that crosses underneath the railroad tracks.

Disneyland Disney's California Adventure Park Christmas Festival of Holidays

  • The Haunted Mansion’s hitchhiking ghosts actually have names. They’re Ezra, Phineas, and Gus.
  • Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion is voiced by Eleanor Audley, the actress who voiced both Lady Tremaine and Maleficent.
  • The Indiana Jones ride was almost its own mini-land called Indiana Jones and the Lost Expedition. It was designed to be a giant complex that would house both the Indiana Jones Adventure ride and a mine cart roller coaster. Also, the Jungle Cruise and the Disneyland Railroad would have cut through portions of the ride.
  • The props in Indiana Jones’ office (located in the queue) are actual props from the Indiana Jones movies including a hidden Eeyore parking lot sign in the queue for Indiana Jones Adventure, Temple of the Forbidden Eye located in the projection room.

Disneyland Frontierland Columbia

  • Big Thunder Mountain took 10 years of planning and 18 months of construction to complete. It cost $17 million — the same amount it took to open Disneyland in 1955.
  • Tom Sawyer Island has a Missouri zip code and, on opening day, was annexed to Missouri.
  • The Indian Burial Ground on Tom Sawyer Island was originally located in the old Indian Village which is now the present site of Critter Country.

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    Can We Go Again?

  • The pond along Big Thunder Trail still contains jumping fish left there from the Old Mine Train Attraction and the steam engine on display in the queue of “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” was used in the movie “Hot Lead & Cold Feet.”

Mark Twain Frontierland Disneyland

  • The Mark Twain stern-wheeler, built at a cost of $150,000, was constructed in pieces and assembled at Disneyland. The upper deck was fabricated in Burbank, and the hull was built at a San Pedro shipyard, trucked overnight to the park and lifted by crane into the Rivers of America. The maiden voyage of the “Mark Twain” was made before opening day, during Walt’s wedding anniversary celebration.
  • The “Columbia Sailing Ship” was the first three-masted windjammer built in the United States in over one hundred years.
  • The water tower adjacent to the Frontierland Train Station is an actual, functioning water tower used for Disneyland’s authentic steam trains.

Disneyland Train Walt

  • The first two keelboats at Disneyland, the Gullywhumper and the Bertha Mae, were the original boats used in the Disney film, “Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.
  • The Rivers of America in Frontierland is 4 to 8 feet deep. The first time the man-made river was filled in 1955, the water seeped through the sandy soil. The riverbed was eventually lined with clay to prevent leaking. The Rivers of America held 6.16 million gallons of water the first time it was filled and lost 30,000 gallons a day to evaporation.
  • Maintenance crews pour12 pounds of green or brown dye into the water a few times a week to color the river and other water attractions to obscure the ride tracks from being seen by guests.
  •  More than 50 scuba divers maintain the water-based attractions and waterways at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
  • The 8- to 15-foot-tall berm that surrounds Disneyland was designed to keep out the real world and keep in the fantasy world. The dirt for the berm came from the excavation of the Rivers of America. Some of the 350,000 cubic yards of excavated dirt were also used to create what would become Tom Sawyer Island.
  • Over 200 cats roam the park at night to control mice and other vermin. They are purposely feral so that they won’t come out while crowds are there.
  • In the early years of the “Submarine Voyage”, “real” mermaids could be found atop the coral reef in the lagoon.

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  • Originally, the “Autopia Freeway” cars were supposed to teach young people how to drive safely. The young test drivers, however, reduced the original 36 cars to 6 by smashing into each other. Therefore, large bumpers were incorporated into the design of the cars.
  • A baby was born at Disneyland near Main Street on July 4, 1979. Mickey Mouse presented baby Teresa Salcedo with an official Disneyland birth certificate. As of 2012, there have been three babies born at Disneyland®


  • The original Disneyland parking lot held 12,175 cars. Much of the lot has been turned into Disney California Adventure Park, although a portion of the parking area remains behind the Tower of Terror attraction.
  • Disneyland estimates that more than 2.8 million churros are sold a year and more than a million corn dogs are sold annually.Disneyland Ears Zack
  • About 84 million Mickey Mouse ears have been sold since 1955. The Mouseketeers first wore the hats in the 1950s on “The Mickey Mouse Club” television show.
  • More than 750 million people have visited Disneyland since its opening day. It took just seven weeks for the first million visitors to walk through the gates. Attendance was 3.6 million in 1955-56, its first year of operation.

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Happy 66th Birthday Disneyland! Thank you for dazzling us for the past 66 years-we can’t wait to see what magic awaits us all in the years to come! What new things can you add to our list of 101 facts you may not know about Disneyland?