Category: Fun Facts

Indiana Jones – Temple of the Forbidden Eye Fun Facts

Indiana Jones – Temple of the Forbidden Eye Fun Facts

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – Centerpiece of the Park

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – Centerpiece of the Park

Our eyes are drawn to it from the moment we enter Disneyland Park. It serves as the centerpiece and one of the main reference points of the park. We watch fireworks burst over it and dazzling lights stringed over it year after year. It’s photographed 10’s of millions of times each year. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is what we think of when we talk about Disneyland.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle

The castle was an original idea of Walt’s and was to serve as the centerpiece of his new theme park. While the castle hasn’t changed a ton over the past 60+ years it’s been there some changes have occurred. Even before the castle was built it went through several last-minute changes.

Originally the castle was supposed to be Snow White’s castle based on the first princess film Walt did. However, it was changed to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle when Walt saw the opportunity to draw attention to the film with the castle. Even before its final approval, the top back of the castle that we see today was actually the front. Right before Walt approved the model the designer flipped it around and Walt agreed it looked better that way.

The inside of the castle has only served as a storage area, small offices and currently a walk-through attraction. The drawbridge leading up to the entrance of the castle is an actual working drawbridge and has only been raised and lowered twice. Once for the dedication of Disneyland in 1955 and once for the rededication of Fantasyland.

If you enjoyed this Fun Fact be sure to read all our other ones about Disneyland!
Hollywood Tower Hotel – Porcelain In The Library

Hollywood Tower Hotel – Porcelain In The Library

It’s a classic. The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a fan favorite and a must ride attraction. The Hotel opened in 1994 at the end of Sunset Blvd and has been producing some of the best screams ever since. The attraction features the tower itself and extensive grounds including old fountains, sculptures, and lots of shrubbery. Inside the tower is the lobby which has seen better days and of course the library where you start your Hollywood experience.

Hollywood Tower Hotel

The library is full of things like old lamps, pictures, books, and even some hidden messages from past Imagineers. One of our favorites is the note left behind for the porcelain found on one of the tables in the library. The note reads, “Porcelains of Europe. Although susceptible to earthquake damage, are an important element in films and attractions of Hollywood.” The note references the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California where several of the porcelain props for the Hollywood Tower Hotel were damaged and broken.

Most of the porcelain was repaired and some needed to be replaced but it’s there in the library for you to enjoy…and a little note about its history.

One BIG Adventure – Thunder Mountain Railroad

One BIG Adventure – Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad made its debut at Disneyland Park in 1979 after extensive research including an outing adventure by Imagineers. Whereas the ride was originally going to be a stand alone attraction, it ended up replacing an existing one known as Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland.

The giant rock formation that grabs your attention stands 104 feet tall and is based off of the rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. One year later Big Thunder made its debut at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida with a similar rock formation but this one was based on Monument Valley instead of Bryce Canyon. If you compare the two closely you’ll notice differences in the shape and color of them.

For fans of the Indiana Jones films you’ll be interested to know that during the filming of the 2nd Indiana Jones movie, Temple of Doom, Steven Spielberg actually came to Disneyland Park to record sounds from Big Thunder Mountain for his mine cart scenes in the movie. Pretty cool!

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Buena Vista Street Names

Buena Vista Street Names

Much like the windows and shops on Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland Park, Buena Vista Street in California Adventure Park has shops with names that relate to something about Walt and his life. They are subtle though so not everyone gets the connections that are being made as they stroll down Buena Vista Street.

Here are just a few of the names and connections they have with Walt:

  • Mortimer’s Market – The original name for Mickey Mouse was Mortimer until Walt’s wife Lillian convinced Walt to change it to Mickey.
  • Kingswell Camera Shop – Walt and his brother Roy had an office located on Kingswell Avenue. It’s said to have been their very first office.
  • Los Feliz Five & Dime – An area that Walt and his brother Roy spent a lot of time working and living in when they were first in LA.
  • Hollymount Property Associates – An actual realty company who shared an office building with Walt and Roy when they were first starting out in LA.
  • Oswald’s – A character that Walt created before Mickey Mouse. He was lost for a time to an ex-business partner of Walt’s and Universal Studios (who first distributed the Oswald cartoons) but was re-acquired by Disney in 2006.
  • The billboard featuring the California Limited – It references 3 major cities: Chicago, Kansas City, and Los Angeles. They represent Walt’s movement west including his birth-town Chicago, his growing-up years in Kansas City (or close to), and his eventual work place Los Angeles.

Next time you take a stroll down Buena Vista Street be sure to check these out and share you new-found knowledge with others!

Mickey’s 10 Commandments of Imagineering

Mickey’s 10 Commandments of Imagineering

When guests walk into a Disney theme park the best way to describe their experience is magical. But it doesn’t just happen that way by luck. A lot of time and effort goes into planning a new park, new land or even a shopping or dining experience. The men and women in charge of the planning and execution of these things are called Imagineers; and they’ve been around since the beginning (Disneyland Park).

Of course they weren’t always perfect at their job but they did have a great mentor and leader, Walt Disney. His imagination and attention to detail paved the way for Disneyland Park and all the rest of the Disney theme parks in creating a magical experience for each of us.

In the early years of WDI a list of commandments known as Mickey’s 10 commandments was put together as a guideline to help future Imagineers as they built, changed, and added onto the theme parks.

  1. Know Your Audience – You should know your main audience before you start designing.
  2. Wear Your Guest’s Shoes – Team members should experience your creation as guests do.
  3. Organize the Flow of People and Ideas – There should be logic and sequence to your story, and in the way guests experience them.
  4. Create a Wienie (Visual Magnet) – Create targets that help lead guests through your idea clearly and visibly.
  5. Communicate with Visual Literacy – Make good use of all the non-verbal forms of communication – color, shape, form, texture.
  6. Avoid Overload and Create Turn Ons – Resist the temptation to overload your audience with too much information and too many objects.
  7. Tell One Story at a Time – Stick to the story line, good stories are clear, logical and consistent.
  8. Avoid Contradictions and Maintain Identity – Details in design or content that contradict one another confuse as audience about your story or the time period it takes place in.
  9. For Every Ounce of Treatment, Provide a Ton of Treat – In our business, Walt Disney said, “You can educate people – but don’t tell them you’re doing it! Make it fun!”
  10. Keep it Up! – In a Disney park or resort, everything must work! Poor maintenance is poor show!

As Imagineers design they keep all these in mind to help give us that magic! Next time you’re walking around a Disney theme park think about some of these and see if you can see how it was applied to where you’re at. Mostly though have fun!

A Tree’s Life: From Magic Kingdoms to Animal Kingdom

A Tree’s Life: From Magic Kingdoms to Animal Kingdom

Anyone who’s visited a Disney theme park know that foliage is one of the most important elements to the park. It hides, disguises, makes bigger, and treats us to a sense of adventure. In 1954 when Walt’s original Magic Kingdom was being built Imagineers were tasked with the job of using foliage to help shape the many lands and attractions with make up the park. One place in particular proved to be a harder job than originally thought, the Jungle Cruise.

Initially Imagineers thought that bringing in fake trees was the best option; but Walt wouldn’t have it. He wanted real foliage (just like he wanted real animals). And so it was, Imagineers brought in real jungle foliage and it thrived, barely. One of the most common pieces of foliage that you can see is bamboo. It’s long shoots tower over the attraction making it seem like you’re on a real river in a real jungle.

When Magic Kingdom theme park in Florida was being built a shoot of bamboo from Disneyland was cut and planted at Magic Kingdom. Years later when Disney started building Animal Kingdom, a piece of the bamboo from Magic Kingdom (that came from Disneyland) was cut and planted at Animal Kingdom. That bamboo shoot has grown and can now be seen behind Pizzafari on Discovery Island.

Spaceship Earth Is More Than What It Seems

Spaceship Earth Is More Than What It Seems

EPCOT’s geodesic ball, home to Spaceship Earth, is one of the most unique designs ever done at a Disney theme park. Originally a design of Buckminster Fuller, Disney Imagineering teams took it one step further to make it a reality and house an actual attraction inside. It’s made up for 4 levels, the very top being held up by the 6 legs on the outside of the ball and the other three hanging from that level. It was also designed to help guests know where they’re at in the park, acting at as a landmark for the front of EPCOT.

Because of its unique shape and side, the corridors used by Cast Members to get around the inside can be tricky to use. While trying to stay hidden from guests, Cast Members have been known to mark the walls with chalk or pencil to help them find their way around the ball and not get lost.

Main Street U.S.A. Windows and Walt’s Apartment

Main Street U.S.A. Windows and Walt’s Apartment

The original design of Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland included shops (as we see today) on both sides of the street leading towards the castle. They were based off of Walt’s own Marceline, MO town as well as designer Harper Goff’s Fort Collins, CO. Initially the shops featured windows that matched the real town’s feel but were changed when Walt suggested he wanted kids to be able to see in them as well. The window’s were lowered allowing for this.

Walt’s Apartment above the fire station in Town Square was originally part of the design of Disneyland. When Walt was spending the night there he would leave a lamp on in the window facing Town Square to let the Cast Members know he was there. Even after his death the lamp is lit at night in memory of when Walt was there watching over the park.

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