Even if you’ve never gone to Disneyland, you’ve still probably heard about what “the happiest place on Earth” offers its guests. When Walt Disney built the magical theme park in the summer of 1955, he wanted to create a place where both children and adults could escape to make lifelong memories.
However, you could visit Disneyland dozens of times and still never figure out all of its secrets. Believe it or not, there are a number of sneaky tricks that even the most seasoned Disney guests probably don’t know about. Here are 22 of them!
1. Only a handful of Disney veterans know about Club 33, a members-only hangout and restaurant hidden in the New Orleans Square section. The only way to gain access is to know a member or put your name on the 14-year waiting list—and pay up to $100,000 in fees. The treatment you get when you’re in, however, is second to none.
2. Disneyland never wants guests to get a whiff of garbage or any other unappealing smell, so engineers invented what they call the Smellitzer, a machine that literally pumps certain smells—such as popcorn and freshly baked pastries—throughout different areas of the park.
3. Many of the restaurants scattered throughout Disneyland have secret menu items that you have to request if you want to indulge in them. The Mickey Mouse bread bowl is one. You can also order ice-cream nachos and loaded tater tots if you know where to look.
4. If you get to Disneyland when it opens, you can ask to ride in the Lilly Belle car, a special Victorian-themed train car Walt Disney dedicated to his wife, Lilly. The car only allows a few visitors to ride each day, so you have to get to the park extra early for a chance to hop aboard.
5. If you’ve ever been to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, you’ve probably noticed the enormous drawbridge. Even though the bridge isn’t active anymore, it does work. It’s only been lowered twice in Disneyland’s history: once on opening day in 1955, and again in 1983 when Fantasyland opened.
6. There’s a secret apartment above the fire house on Main Street where Walt Disney actually used to work sometimes. When Disney wasn’t working, he would also use the apartment to host his family and friends.
7. You will never hear a park employee respond to a question with the words, “I don’t know.” Employees are strictly forbidden to say it; if they truly don’t know an answer, it’s their responsibility to find someone who does. Also, since pointing with one finger is considered rude in certain cultures, employees will always use the two-handed point.
8. The Matterhorn Bobsled ride is incredibly popular, but one thing that riders don’t know about is the secret basketball court located in the backstage area in the mountain. The small attic space offers employees an area to play a quick game between shifts.
9. The monorail is a popular way to get around the park. It’s fast and it seats a large number of people at a time. What most guests don’t know is that a polite inquiry to the conductor can get you a front row seat in the first car!
10. You probably had no idea that, as a guest of Disneyland, you can actually steer Mark Twain’s riverboat up the Rivers of America. Visitors of all ages can earn their “captain’s license.” Don’t worry; the boat is impossible to crash.
11. When Disneyland opened in 1955, Frito-Lay owned a restaurant called Casa de Fritos in the park’s Frontierland area. The eatery began repurposing stale tortilla chips by flavoring and frying them. These chips eventually became the Doritos that everyone loves today.
12. The buildings that line the streets of Disneyland were specifically designed to look much larger than they actually are. For example, the buildings on Main Street all look as though they’re three stories tall, but the second and third floors are much smaller. This forced perspective gives Main Street quite a grand appearance.
13. Every Disney park contains at least one landmark object, nicknamed “weenies” by Walt Disney himself, that were designed to immediately catch guests’ eyes. Sleeping Beauty’s castle is an obvious weenie, as are Mickey’s Fun Wheel and Tomorrowland’s Spaceship Earth.
14. George Lucas, the creator and director of the Star Wars films, wanted Disneyland’s Star Tours ride to feel as authentic as possible. He decided to loan the theme park the actual C-3PO and R2-D2 props from the original films!
15. There is a building in Disneyland called the Telegraph Cable Office that still has an actual telegraph from when the park first opened. If you listen carefully, the telegraph taps out the Morse code translation of the welcome speech Walt Disney made on the opening day.
16. Most people love to ride carousels; they’re a nostalgic throwback to simpler times. On King Arthur’s Carousel, one of the horses, Jingles, was dedicated to actress Julie Andrews in 2008 to recognize her work in the film Mary Poppins and to honor her as a longtime Disney park ambassador.
17. If Disney employees want to direct attention away from certain areas of the parks, the staff will paint it a color Disney calls “go-away green.” This dull hue doesn’t stand out, so visitors won’t notice areas that are perhaps off-limits or under construction.
18. If you ever visit Disneyland and see a cat or two roaming the park, don’t worry—they’re not homeless. Disney actually houses hundreds of feral cats that peruse the grounds to take care of any rodent problems that might arise. (Watch out, Mickey!)
19. One of the most popular attractions in Disneyland is the Haunted Mansion. Most people don’t know the voice behind the mansion’s theme song, “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” is a man named Thurl Ravenscroft—the same guy who voiced Tony the Tiger!
20. Two time capsules were buried beneath the Disneyland grounds by construction workers. The first was buried under Sleeping Beauty’s castle in 1995 in celebration of the park’s 40th anniversary, and the second was hidden in the California Adventure park under Buena Vista Plaza in 2012. Each one will stay put for next several decades.
21. If you ever find yourself with a growing appetite in Tomorrowland, look no further than the plants! Even though eating them isn’t advised, all of the plants in the futuristic area of Disneyland are edible. This is a subtle reference to sustainable agricultural technology of the future.
22. Disney prides itself on having incredibly clean parks, and it intends to keep them that way to enhance the experience for guests. One of its biggest initiatives? It doesn’t sell chewing gum in any of its parks. Guests can, however, bring in their own.
The next time you take a trip to Disneyland, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. Keep your eyes peeled for Club 33!
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