Celebrating Hidden Disney History on Disneyland's 59th Anniversary

Posted July 17, 2014 by Chris Epting

Disneyland turns 59 today, so what better time to look at some of the lesser-known history of what is arguably the world's most beloved theme park?

Since opening in 1955, Disneyland has never stopped evolving, dynamically adjusting and reshaping based on taste, popular culture and the desire to create things that the world has never seen.

Disneyland, circa 1950s

Photo courtesy of OC Archives

But as it has changed over the years, there are still telltale traces left behind of what used to be. Some of the remnants of relics are deliberately placed, while others just seem to have survived based on luck.

No matter where you walk in the park, you are almost always passing by some interesting part of the past.

You just have to know where to look.

For instance, in Adventureland, at the entrance to the Indiana Jones ride, there is a jeep located right out front. That vehicle actually starred in the movie that inspired the attraction. And then, once you enter the structure and are waiting in the area where a black-and-white film describes the history of the ride, turn around and look at the back ceiling. You will see a picture of Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh series. That's because you are standing exactly where the old Eeyore parking structure used to be and some sentimental folks at the park decided to pay tribute to the old structure.

And then there is Tarzan's Treehouse. Back in the 1960s, this was originally designed as the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. That's why, if you look carefully inside the treehouse, you will still see a copy of that famous book, The Swiss Family Robinson, resting on a table. And that's also why the gramophone record player still plays the old Swiss Polka. They are simply honoring the past.

Moving over to Critter Country, pay close attention next time you ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. See, that structure used to be the Country Bear Jamboree. In honor of that, the stuffed, mounted heads of three animals that were once part of the Jamboree can now be seen about halfway through Winnie the Pooh. You’ll have to crane your neck and look backwards, but there you will see them – high up on the wall.

Inside Tomorrowland’s Little Green Army Men Shop, pay close attention to the front counter. It is made up of old People Mover cars, the transport attraction that opened at Disneyland in the late 1960s. You may also notice that the shelves are made of old Rocket Jet vehicles from yet another long gone Disney attraction.

Inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, there is a long-held rumor that the human skull on the headboard of a bed that you pass is actually authentic (a gift supposedly given to Walt Disney). But nobody really knows for sure.

If you choose to experience the Autopia attraction, keep your eyes peeled for two vintage cars that are on display alongside the track. One of them is an original Mr. Toad's Wild Ride car and the other is an original Autopia car.

Finally, throughout Fantasyland you can see some of the actual old booths where Disneyland would sell ride tickets back when you had to purchase tickets individually. Today, the strangely shaped houses and other structures are used to sell food and souvenirs.

There are many other hidden history treasures throughout Disneyland. One day soon, we’ll be sharing even more of them but in honor of the park's 59th anniversary, we hope you enjoyed these peeks into the past.

Stay tuned for an update later today on Disneyland’s 60th celebration announcement.

Updated 3 p.m. July 17. 

As part of today’s festivities, Disney announced the start of a new photo contest, leading up to the 60th Diamond Celebration in spring 2015. Here’s an excerpt from the video below, but watch the entire video for complete details:

“We invite you to send us your fondest memories in the form of photos you’ve taken here at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth,’ during the past six decades. Fans will vote for the best memory from each decade, and the top vote-getter will emerge as our Grand Prize Winner!

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