Friday, November 4, 2011

DIY: disneyland folklore tour

Hi Disney Fans! My name is Heather and I am so happy to be a part of Kate's DIY-sney week. I have always been a major Disney Girl-- maybe it's due to the fact that I grew up in southern California and visited Disneyland at least once every year, maybe it's the fact that people have always told me I have rather "disney-ish eyes," but it could very well be due to fact that my Dad was an actor for Disney studios from the time he was 12 all the way through to his late 20's. He has millions of fabulous stories about his times working for the Disney studios...including my favorite, in which he actually played Walt Disney in a game of ping-pong and won (I like to think that Mister Disney let my Dad win, but I would never tell him that!) Anyway, I grew up watching all my Dad's old Disney films like Toby Tyler, For the Love of Willadean and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, and I've naturally cultivated a very special love and respect for all things Disney.

pssst: My Dad is the redhead! ;)

So along with my Dad's stories I grew up hearing a lot of stories about Disneyland. I've always been rather fixated with the rumors, and tall-tales associated with Disneyland. You know, all the little strange details and facts they don't print on the tourist map. And so I have created my own Disneyland Tourist Map for you all so you can take yourselves on your own DIY-isneyland folklore tour!

1. The construction and final details of the park were so rushed upon the televised opening day in 1955 that they actually poured the cement on Main Street a mere hour before guests were allowed in. Many people got their shoes stuck in the still wet cement and several women had to break the heels off their stilettos as a result. There are a couple tiny stiletto sized holes still present in the cement today. Also, notice that there are no sharp corners on Main Street, even the curbs are always rounded. This is because research show that rounded edges make people feel safer and happier. Weird huh?

2. Famed comedian, actor, writer, singer and banjo player Steve Martin worked at Disneyland as a kid, getting his show-business start by turning tricks at the Main Street Magic Shoppe.

3. This is kind of a dark fact, but I find it strangely intriguing that tragedy still can invade the "happiest place on earth." Tomorrowland was the home of two of the slowest Disneyland rides that both resulted in fatal accidents-- The Carousel of Progress and The People Movers. Both attractions are now closed.

4. There is a basketball court inside the Matterhorn.

5. In the early 60's, Disneyland started having a rat problem...likely due to all the snacks and sweets getting dropped everywhere and anywhere. Not wanting to use poison or any unsightly traps, the park brought in cats to take care of the rat problem. Apparently this method worked, but they weren't able to remove all the cats, so occasionally you may see a feline running around the park, particularly on Tom Sawyer's Island.

6. Disneyland staff have an annual canoe race around the Rivers of America that takes place one day before the park opens, often in costumes. But they also engage in races on a regular basis around the legendary river. It sounds like the best work team-building exercise ever!

7. In New Orlean's Square there is a secret door with a gold number plaque that reads "33." Behind the door is an exclusive restaurant called Club 33. Membership used to be given to select Disney actors and employees but all memberships were auctioned off to the highest bidders in the 1980's. My Dad used to be a member and took my mom there on their 2nd date. Apparently it's a delicious steak house and it is likely that visiting this exclusive club was a major reason for my mom continuing to date my dad! ;)

8. Before it was Tarzan's Treehouse, this was the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and it was waaayyy better in my opinion. It was also the place for romantic rendezvous amongst the Disneyland staff. I guess you could say they were literally sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g!

9. The Jungle Cruise has always had a script for the wise-cracking boat captains, but they used to have a lot more flexibility to ad lib and have some fun with it. There is one story of a captain actually diving into the Hippo Pool and feigning a knife fight with a Hippo. Another captain would sometimes declare that he could no longer resist the call of the wild! And he would swing off his boat from a well placed vine, giving a Tarzan yell as he left his passengers dumbfounded.

10. Walt Disney loved Disneyland and had two apartments in the park. One in New Orleans Square Adjacent to Club 33 and another above the fire station. He could often be seen strolling Main Street in his slippers and robe in the mornings before the park opened. People can now actually arrange to stay at the apartment in New Orleans Square, but I imagine it will cost a pretty penny!

And there you have it. My slightly unusual, wonderfully weird, practically perfect Disneyland Folklore Tour. Just as a disclaimer: keep in mind that all these stories are just that-- stories. While I know some are true, I can't say for sure that it's all completely true...but that's what I like to believe. In any case, thanks to Kate for allowing me to share my Disney Folklore and have a Zipadee Doo Dah day!