The “Happiest Place on Earth” is home to some of the most wonderful and thrilling rides and experiences whether you’re a kid or an adult. Next time you’re visiting Disneyland with your family or friends, we hope you’ll explore some of its fun oddities. Here are just 10 of our favorites.
1. Cats (not mice) have their run of the park after hours.
We hate to rain on Mickey Mouse loving fans, but there’s a concerted campaign to keep the Happiest Place on Earth completely free of Mickey’s family members. Disney is so committed to pest control, they loose local feral cats to wander freely in the park when it’s closed. From time to time, the Disney Corporation pays to have the kitty denizens spayed and neutered, and they relocate new kittens to local no-kill shelters to help keep the feline population under control.
2. You can Captain the Mark Twain riverboat (if you know the drill).
Here’s what you do. Before you get on the boat, find a cast member and ask them if you can visit the wheelhouse. They’ll lead you to a door marked “private” on the second floor, which you’ll enter and then climb the ladder to the wheelhouse, where you can steer the boat and ring the Mark Twain’s bell! Afterwards, sign the guestbook, where the names of all the previous “captains” are logged.
3. Walt liked to secretly spy on park visitors.
If you find yourself at the Fire House on Main Street, take a gander at the second floor window. While Disney was building the park, he built an apartment on the second floor so he could be close to all of the action. Once the park was opened, he’d bring his family and secretly watch visitors from behind the white curtains, an omniscient presence overseeing his kingdom. After Disney’s death, company brass put a candle in the window to remind everyone of Uncle Walt’s enduring presence. The candle remains to this day.
4. All of the plants in Tomorrowland are edible.
It turns out Uncle Walt really was ahead of his time. When conceptualizing Tomorrowland, he really wanted the land of the future to be sustainable and efficient. Since urban farms are often a part of sustainable city planning, Disney took this to heart and planted all edible vegetables and fruits throughout Tomorrowland.
5. Mickey Mouse is everywhere (if you know where to look).
Frequent flyers to Disneyland know that throughout the entire park, Disney Imagineers have scattered thousands of “Hidden Mickeys” attached to numerous attractions, restaurants, and hotels. These Hidden Mickeys are always in the classic mouse silhouette: one large circle for his head and two smaller circles for his ears.
6. Some Disney fanatics arranged to have the Magic Kingdom be their final resting place.
You can probably guess where we’re going with this one. So many Disney aficionados have expressed their wish to have their ashes spread somewhere in the Magic Kingdom. The most prominent case occurred in 2007, when a woman riding Pirates of the Caribbean was caught on security video scattering what seemed like ashes during the ride. A subsequent investigation by Anaheim police did could not locate the woman and one cheeky police spokesperson related that as soon as the ride was over she was “in the wind.” Disney P.R. has, in the intervening years, struggled to hold the company line that impromptu funeral services do not occur, but insiders like former workers insist that it does, and more often than you think. Company lore even cops to specific clean-up policies and procedures for just such incidents. Apparently, the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are the customary spots for these ceremonies. We can neither confirm nor deny.
7. There really is a members-only club with a daunting price tag.
Disney freaks the world over angle for a coveted invite to Club 33, the most exclusive club (some say) there is. Club 33 is situated in New Orleans Square. Members enjoy early access to the theme park, free valet parking at the Grand Californian Hotel and full access to the Lilly Belle car on the Disneyland Railroad. Club 33 is also the only place in Disneyland where you can get a cocktail. Club members pay $10,000 a year plus a $25,000 nonrefundable initiation fee for the privilege. Though the waiting list is said to be more than 10 years long, every few years they open up memberships to the public though few can afford the hefty cost. In recent years, most memberships have gone corporate, with companies in the area doling out passes to employees as annual rewards.
8. Disney created its own shade of green in order to help keep the magic alive.
No See-um green is the color Disney Imagineers created for utilitarian buildings on property and other unattractive things like trash cans. These items are painted in this color so that they’re less noticeable. No See-um is supposed to be the most unobtrusive shade in the color spectrum and it’s meant to disappear into the background. Nonetheless, every year people enamored with the color show up with their decorators and paint swatches to try and match for their home decorating projects.
9. You will never see Goofy without his head or an employee breaking character.
Disneyland employees are cast members, not workers and when they’ve punched in for a shift, they are not “on the clock” but “on stage.” Disney, as a company, takes this policy very seriously as Uncle Walt took great pains to make sure that park visitors were entering into a fantasy world and would not have their experience marred by the mundane. To this day, the policy continues, with everyone from character actors to concession stand personnel and custodians maintaining their “onstage” persona whenever in the sightline of a park visitor. In case this seems a little Draconian, keep in mind that Disneyland is designed with an abundance of onstage and backstage areas. The experience is designed to keep visitors “in the moment,” but there’s also a fair bit of backstage for employees to duck into (behind walls, artfully designed shrubbery, etc.) It’s all part of the magic.
10. All of the teacups are not created equal.
The Mad Tea Party ride in Fantasyland includes about 18 teacups, each one set at a different spinning speed. The orange teacup with diamonds and the purple one are the fastest spinners. The two teacups with hearts are the least likely to get you ill – they spin the slowest.