There is a very special birthday celebrated on July 17th. No, I’m not talking about David Hasselhoff, Donald Sutherland or Phyllis Diller (who all happen to have been born on July 17th). This birthday is actually for a place rather than a person. On July 17th, 1955 the “happiest place on earth” aka Disneyland opened it’s gates. Yes, 58 years ago Walt Disney gave his famous speech saying:
“To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past…and here, youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America … with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
And you know, those words have rung true for generations. In honor of Disneyland‘s birthday, we’ve collected 21 fascinating facts about Disneyland, check them all out here:
21 Pieces of Disneyland Trivia! 1 of 22
Click through for 21 fascinating facts about Disneyland right here...
The Matterhorn 2 of 22
Yes, it's true. There is a basketball court in the middle of The Matterhorn. It's a small, half court, but a basketball court nonetheless. It is inside, towards the top of the mountain and had been a break area for the alpine climbers and some of the cast members who worked the bobsled ride.
Walt’s Apartment 3 of 22
Sitting above the Disneyland Fire Dept. is Walt Disney's personal apartment. It's a small space that was Walt's private area for when he would visit. And if you look at the main window, Disneyland always keeps a lantern lit in honor of Walt's memory.
Orange Groves 4 of 22
What was on the land in Anaheim before Disneyland was built? Disneyland was built on 160 acres of farmland, mostly orange groves. This is an image of the land before building began.
Tarzan’s Treehouse 5 of 22
There is an interesting cameo in Tarzan's Treehouse. In the kitchen at the base of the treehouse, look closely and you'll spot Mrs. Potts and Chip, from Beauty and the Beast. You can see an image of them right here.
The Organ 6 of 22
Disneyland once had a walk-through attraction showing off props from the Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But the large organ from this long gone spot found a home, it is now housed in the ballroom of The Haunted Mansion.
Marceline, Missouri. 7 of 22
Does this little town look a bit familiar to you? It should. This is Marceline, Missouri, the hometown of Walt Disney. He based Disneyland's Main Street on this street. And an interesting note, it is the only place authorized to fly the official Disneyland flag outside of Disneyland.
Star Tours 8 of 22
Where the popular Star Tours ride is was once the home of Monsanto's Journey to Inner Space. The Mighty Microscope, that was part of the Monsanto ride, is still there! Where? According to this site, "it's down and to the right just as your StarSpeeder shoots over the railing into the maintenance bay, before heading up and out the space portal."
Real Bullets! 9 of 22
Once upon a time, the Penny Arcade on Main Street had a shooting gallery that used, get this, REAL bullets. The game had live ammunition in .22 caliber rifles. The game was quickly pulled and didn't last a year.
Tom Sawyer Island 10 of 22
Tom Sawyer Island actually has a Missouri zip code! And on opening day, it was "annexed" as part of Missouri!
The Mad Hatter 11 of 22
If you go to The Mad Hatter shop in Fantasyland (it's right by the Tea Cups), you might spot a vision of a disappearing Cheshire cat! Look above the mirror that is placed above the check-out counter and the Cheshire cat will magically appear (and then disappear as he does).
The Enchanted Tiki Room 12 of 22
Cigar Store Indian 13 of 22
Petrified Tree 14 of 22
While Disneyland is only 58 years old, there is one part that is MILLIONS of years old. By the banks of the River of America is a petrified tree that is between 55 million and 70 million years old. Walt bought the fossil from a local in Colorado and brought it home. His wife Lilian said it was "too big for the mantle," and donated it to Disneyland.
Photo Source: Albert Lam/Disney Photoblography
The Train Station 15 of 22
If you listen closely at the train station in New Orleans Square you'll hear some interesting tapping sounds. And those aren't just any random taps, it is Walt Disney's opening day speech delivered in Morse Code.
The Cats of Disneyland 16 of 22
About 200 feral cats call Disneyland home. (Yes, there are cats living in Disneyland and the park encourages their living there.) They feed the cats, fix them, and make sure their medical needs are met. Why? Because as one Cast Member told me, "they help keep the Mickey and Minnie population down." They added that if a Cast Member falls for one of the felines, they can adopt them and take them home.
Indie’s Ode to the Past 17 of 22
There is an interesting nod to the past in the ride Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye. In the scaffolding of the projector room, there is a poster of Eyeore from Winnie-the-Pooh. Why? Because once upon a time, the area that the Indiana Jones ride resides was once part of the parking lot and the section was the Eyeore section.
Country Bears Tribtue 18 of 22
Once upon a time, Country Bear Jamboree was housed in the area that is now home to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. In an ode to the now replaced ride, they left the moose heads of Max, Buff, and Melvin of the Country Bear Jamboree hanging around.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle 19 of 22
Imagineer Herb Ryman designed Sleeping Beauty's Castle inspired by King Ludwig II''s Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. The team created a model of the castle and Ryman was experimenting with the look of the building, he took the top of the castle (the pink part with the spires) and turned it around. Walt Disney walked into the room soon after and decided that that was the way to build it. So that part of the castle is actually backwards!
Steve Martin 20 of 22
Did you know that Steve Martin got his start at Disneyland? When he was just 10-year-old he would sell park programs. And as a young adult he worked at the Magic Shop, showing off magic tricks to the masses. He even came back for Disneyland's 50th anniversary and went behind the counter to do some of his magic. You can check out photos of him at Disneyland right here.
John Lasseter 21 of 22
John Lasseter has come a long way! The writer, director and chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios was once a Jungle Cruise skipper. He once said of the Jungle Cruise:
"I love that ride. I loved being a ride operator because you are part of the ride. Anybody who has ridden on that, you know that the skipper, he has all of these bad jokes. And trust me, they are really bad jokes. You know, you show people the "back side of water" and so on... But one of the things that I loved was that you have this captive audience and I honed my comic sense of timing because of being on this ride and doing the jokes over and over, and really trying to make the audience laugh. And I loved it!"
Walt Disney Partners Statue 22 of 22
If you look closely at Walt's tie, you'll notice an interesting tie clip. Many think it appears to look like some kind of Asian symbol, but it is actually a ranch brand that says STR. STR stands for Smoke Tree Ranch, the Palm Springs ranch that Disney had a home and that he loved to escape to.
Photo Source: Walt Disney unless otherwise noted.