Thursday, March 28, 2013

Disneyland: The Way We Were

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by former and long-time Disney Archives chief, Dave Smith.  He showed photos taken when the park was built and told stories about what it was like in those days.

One of the stories he told was about how Walt hired Stanford Research (now called SRI) to find a location for Disneyland.  They came up with a few locations but determined the Anaheim location would be ideal because the new freeway under construction (the Santa Ana "The 5" freeway) would act as an important artery for traffic to the park.

One of the discarded locations was next to the Disney corporate headquarters in Burbank. Below is a fuzzy picture of concept drawing. They ultimately decided against this location because there wasn't enough space. You can read more about how SRI determined the location that became the Happiest Place on Earth here.

Once the location of the park was determined, Disney had to get 17 property owners to sell their land. Ultimately they all sold, but Dave told us that it wasn't easy.

Here's a photo of the Jungle Cruise while it was being built - this is the waterfall where you can see the fabulous "back side of water."

Dave told us that Walt modeled the Castle after european castles with one big difference. European castles were made big to impress and intimidate. Walt wanted his castle to make people feel welcome so he made it smaller. Dave suggested that making it smaller might have also been a little easier on the Disneyland budget.

The photo below is of the bottom of the Mark Twain Boat as it was being built.

And here is the rest of the boat in process...

Disneyland used to have a stage coach ride with real horses and a Mule Train ride with real mules. The Stage Coach was removed after a horse was spooked by a train whistle and dumped the attached stage coach. The mules were removed later because they were sometimes uncooperative and unpredictable. 

This photo is the start of the Mad Tea Cups. As you can see it's a Hidden Mickey.

Here is the Matterhorn. Seems a little odd that the started at the top and worked their way down.

Here's the Matterhorn today:

It was a great talk and I was glad I was able to attend.

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