One major difference between Disneyland and other amusement parks is the huge amount of detail put into the smallest of details. When creating Disneyland, Walt wanted a place that took you out of your everyday world and made everything you saw take you back to a specific place and time, and with his team’s help, he ensured that he got every magical detail right. And the most amazing part of all of these efforts is that, unless you’re looking closely, you will miss most of them.
Upon entering the park, you can’t miss the giant Mickey face in the flower garden, and once you step onto Main Street, the grandeur of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle may take your breath away, but when you catch your breath, you might notice that you smell fresh baked cookies. It’s no accident – it’s part of the deliberate genius of the magic that lives at Disneyland.
As you continue along Main Street, pause in front of the fire station and look into the upper window. You’ll see a lit lamp (or a Christmas tree during the holiday season). This was the location of Walt’s apartment and when he was alive, the lamp was lit to let Cast Members know when he was in the park. Since his death, the lamp (or tree) has been lit constantly as a reminder that his spirit will always be alive in Disneyland.
Now look at the windows. You may see written phrases like “The Brothers Tunemakers – Richard and Robert Sherman, Proprietors.” The Sherman Brothers, as they’re more affectionately known, created some of the most memorable Disney tunes like ‘it’s a small world’, the music from ‘Mary Poppins’ and more. All of the people referenced in the windows have added to the Disney magic in some way. Take your time as you head down Main Street and see how many you can find. Then look up their stories – some of their contributions are incredible.
Some of my favorite hidden treasures are the characters that run the popcorn machines. Each character is unique and specific to the land in which they reside. As soon as I showed this to my girls, they ran to each machine they could find to see who was turning the crank this time!
When you’re in line for Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans square, look up into the Dream Suite balcony. Did you miss it? Here are Walt and Roy’s initials. You can almost see them enjoying their morning coffee on the balcony, watching guests enjoy the wondrous kingdom they built. Walt’s dream was to have an apartment there with room for all of his grandkids at one time. Sadly, he never realized his dream, but the memory lives on in the Dream Suite.
Take a ride on the Disneyland Railroad. Walt loved trains and his love shows in every detail on the railroad journey around the park. Listen carefully as you pass the New Orleans Square/Frontierland station. You’ll hear the clicking of a telegraph. If you’re versed in Morse Code, you’ll be able to decipher that the telegraph is relaying Walt’s Disneyland Opening Day speech.
Upon a quick trip around Frontierland, you may come across a petrified tree. Did you know that was a gift from Walt to his wife? Did you know that she “loved” it so much, she recommended that he keep it in Disneyland (not on her property as he had suggested)?
Have you ever looked closely at the window tower above Snow’s White’s Scary Adventures? If you’re patient, the Evil Queen will take a quick peak to ensure she sees what the subjects of her kingdom are up to.
Turn around and watch the Carousel, Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland. Each of these horses has a name (and you can get the list from Guest Services at the Park). Keep an eye out for Jingles, the lead horse. You’ll recognize him by the jingle bells dangling down from his saddle, and the Mary Poppins inspired emblems on his coat of arms.
In addition to hiding some of these treats in lesser known places, many of these details are hidden in plain sight. When going through it’s a small world, each land has native people and animals, but it also brings a little Disney magic, such as, Tinker Bell soaring over you and dusting you with Pixie Dust, Marlin and Dory – still searching for Nemo, and even Stitch surfing the Hawaiian waves.
My favorite of these details are when an entire ride gets a makeover to celebrate a holiday or special event. At Christmas time the Haunted Mansion becomes Jack Skellington’s home. It’s a Small World celebrates a holiday tune almost as catchy as the attractions’ original song, and just recently Disney offered the opportunity for Space Mountain riders to cruise the galaxy with X-wings, TIE fighters, and the Millenium Falcon. Even the line into the ride received a special Star Wars makeover.
Do you want to investigate some of Disney’s hidden magic for yourself? Contact me at
Amy@TravelWithTheMagic.com or you can find me on Facebook. You can also call me at 1-
800-670-4312, ext 129. I can’t wait to plan your MAGICAL vacation!