Disneyland is known as “The Happiest Place on Earth”. Millions of people each year visit the park. But a vast majority of those miss out on a lot of little touches that Disney has added to the park to make it even more magical. For the people that do take the time to learn about these little known facts, their appreciation and enjoyment of the park goes up another notch.
Main Street is the first land that visitors experience when they enter the park, and it is filled with little touches that Walt Disney himself personally wanted added to the park. The first one is located right inside the gates to Disneyland itself. Walt wanted Disneyland to be like an interactive movie. The concrete beneath your feet when you enter the park is colored red. This represents the “red carpet” of a movie premiere. As you enter the park, you will pass through one of two small tunnels. These represent the curtains that cover movie screens at old time theatres. When the curtains would open, you would know that the movie was about to begin. When walking through the tunnels at Disneyland you slowly get a view of the park until finally the whole thing is opened to you and your day of fun is about to begin.
Main Street USA itself is a representation of what life was like in the early 1900’s. It is based on Walt’s home town of Marceline, Missouri. But what most people don’t know is that the City Hall building is not a representation from Marceline, but almost an exact replica of the City Hall building that can be found in Colorado Springs, Co.
Next to City Hall on Main Street, you will find the Firehouse. Above the Firehouse is where Walt Disney had his private apartment. Because Walt was spending great amounts of time overseeing the completion of Disneyland when it was first being built, he needed a place that he could stay overnight. The apartment was used many nights for either Walt himself or for his children. Walt would keep a light on in front of the window to signify that he was staying in the apartment that night. Today, the apartment is closed to visitors, but if you look up, you can still see the light on in the window of the apartment. This light has been kept on since Walt’s death to signify that his presence will always be in the park.
One of the tricks used all throughout Disneyland is forced perspective. To see an example of this on Main Street, all you have to do is to look at second stories of the buildings. If you look hard, you will notice that they are smaller in scale than the first floor. This fools your eye in to thinking that the buildings are taller than they really are. This illusion is created by changing the size of the windows and bricks on the wall. Disney used another optical trick on Main Street as well. The buildings that are on the southern half of Main Street (those that are closest to the entrance of the park) are larger than the northern buildings (closed to the castle). This gives the perspective that as you are walking towards the castle, it is farther away than it looks. The reverse happens when you are walking the other way. The train station looks closer than it really is. The thinking behind this was that when you arrive, it gives a grander feeling as you are walking to start your day. But at the end of the day, when you are tired and leaving, the exit looks just a little bit closer than it really is. Sleeping Beauty’s also uses forced perspective to look much taller than it is. The bricks at the bottom of the castle are considerably larger than they are at the top.
One of the things that you might notice walking down Main Street is that a lot of the windows have names on them. Walt wanted a way to recognize particular people that had either helped Disneyland in a special way, or had helped Walt himself. The names on the windows honor these people. This tradition has continued over the years as more people have been recognized for their contributions to Disneyland. Also in keeping with the movie theme, these names are similar to the credits you will see at the end of a film. For those that are interested, City Hall has a sheet that lists all these people’s names, their window locations, and what contributions they gave to be immortalized in Disneyland. The list is free, just ask a cast member for one.
I hope these fun facts help you realize there is more to Disneyland than just what you see on the surface. Hopefully it will inspire you to discover new things and enjoy the park on another level.