Saturday, July 25, 2015

Disneyland—12 Things You Probably Didn't Know

Disneyland—located in Anaheim, California (just south of Los Angeles) and the first of the many Disney theme parks, turned 60 years old on July 17, 2015. I came across a list of 12 facts that most people don't know and, in honor of the anniversary, I'd like to share them with you.

1) Opening Day Pandemonium
Disneyland's first few days were a near disaster. During the invitation-only preview, rides broke, food ran out and a gas leak shut down Fantasyland. The new asphalt on Main Street was so soft that women's high heels sank into it. High heels in an amusement park you ask? Remember, this was 1955. Counterfeit tickets led to overcrowding and the temperature rose to over 100 degrees. A plumbers' strike made Disney choose between working restrooms and drinking fountains. He wisely chose restrooms. Some reporters predicted the park would not stay open for long.

2) A Sneak Peek
On July 13, a few days prior to the invitational sneak peek, a lucky few had early access to the park for Walt and Lillian Disney's 30th-anniversary party. Guests were invited on the Mark Twain Steamboat's inaugural voyage for mint juleps followed by dinner at the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland.

3) Tomorrowland Boats
The Tomorrowland Boats, operating in the Tomorrowland Lagoon, hold the distinction of being the first of the Disneyland rides/attractions to be closed. The ride was renamed Phantom Boats in 1956 before being closed in August after only 13 months in operation. The Lagoon went on to host the Submarine Voyage ride.

4) Pack Mules
One of the park's original attractions provided guests with a 10-minute pack mule ride around Frontierland. The live animal attraction was rebranded as Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules in 1956. Being by nature a stubborn animal, the mules would stop along the trail for no apparent reason and refuse to continue, frustrating both the mule handlers and the riders. The mule ride was finally discontinue in 1973.

5) Intimate Apparel
For Disneyland's first six months, Main Street housed a very unusual shop for a family-oriented amusement park. Hollywood-Maxwell Brassiere Co. of Los Angeles sold a range of bras and corsets as well as presenting a display of the history of underwear. The store also boasted a mechanical magician named the Wizard of Bras. The Brassiere Co. closed its Disneyland location in January 1956.

6) Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship & Restaurant
From 1955 to 1969, the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant in Fantasyland was considered the place to eat when visiting the park—provided you like tuna. The menu included Tuna Clipper Salad, Tuna Dietetic Salad, Tuna Boat Salad, Tuna Pie-Pastry Shell, Tuna Burger, Tuna Sandwich and Shrimp Cocktail (the only non-tuna item on the menu). Prices ranged from 55 to 90 cents. Coffee was 10 cents and something named "Chocolate Drink" sold for 15 cents. Although the restaurant dropped its Chicken of the Sea branding in 1969, it remained open until 1982.

7) Walt's Disneyland Apartment
From the time of the park's opening, Walt Disney kept a small apartment for his family's use on the second floor of the Main Street Firehouse. The apartment was decorated by Emile Kuri, who had decorated many of the Disney films, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The apartment is still there. The Victorian style rooms are not open to the public, but a light always remains on in the window, symbolizing Walt's spirit.

8) Skyway
Opening in 1956, the Skyway ride allowed guests to view Disneyland from above. The gondola lifts ran from a Swiss-style chalet in Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. Following the opening of the Matterhorn roller coaster ride in 1959, the gondolas passed through tunnels in the mountain. The ride was closed in 1994 shortly after a man fell from one of the gondolas. He filed a $25,000 lawsuit against the park. At the later trial, he admitted he had purposely jumped. The Fantasyland ski chalet is still there, but no longer in use.

9) Liberty Street
Over the years, various proposals were made for the development of the area between Main Street and Tomorrowland, but none ever came to fruition. Liberty Street, announced in 1956 for a 1959 opening, was planned as a Revolutionary War-era boulevard but it never happened. A 1958 proposal for Edison Square also went by the wayside. Other ideas included an International Street and Chinatown.

10) Holidayland
If you've never heard of Holidayland, it's probably because Holidayland only existed from 1957 to 1961. Now the location of New Orleans Square, the small area represented a town park with a picnic area, baseball diamond and playgrounds. Holidayland was deemed lacking in spark and finally closed.

11) Submarine Voyage Mermaids
In the late '50s and through the '60s, young women were hired to play live mermaids, swimming and lounging in the Submarine Voyage Lagoon four hours a day. Unfortunately, the lagoon's chlorine turned the blonde mermaids' hair green. According to Disney lore, there were incidents of men swimming out to the rocks to flirt with the mermaids. The implementation of Submarine Voyage mermaids was discontinued in 1967.

12) Monsanto House of the Future
In 1957, Monsanto Company sponsored this glimpse far into the future—to the year 1986. The attraction lasted 10 years and featured a variety of technological innovations such as a replacement for refrigerators named cold zones, dimmer-controlled lights and something called a microwave oven. The living room even featured a television screen mounted on the wall. In 1967 the time had come to demolish the house, but things didn't go as planned. The demolition, was scheduled to be completed in one day. It actually took two weeks. The wrecking ball merely bounced off the durable house. Chainsaws and jackhammers also proved ineffective.

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