DISNEY FIX: WALK IN WALT’S FOOTSTEPS
Our tour guide was Eddie from Azusa, CA. He did a great job showing us around and telling us some of the little details that make the park so special. He started off by telling us about the disaster that was opening day at Disneyland, commonly referred to as “Black Sunday”. There were counterfeit tickets sold, which doubled the expected attendance; several of the lands were shut down for the afternoon due to technical difficulties; none of the fountains were running due to a water strike; the asphalt on Main St wasn’t completely dry, so women’s heels were getting stuck; and there was a person who had a ladder near the north end of the park charging people for admission! Despite all of this, Walt delivered his opening speech to the world as if nothing happened.
One detail that I’m sure most of you are familiar with is the use of forced perspective. the windows on the ground level of Main St. are regular sized, but when you look at the second story and the third story windows, they get progressively smaller to give the illusion of height. What I didn’t know was that the buildings on the beginning of Main Street closest to the Park entrance are taller than the ones at the end of Main St closest to the castle. This way, when guests enter the park and they look towards the castle, they feel like there is a lot more to explore. It also works the opposite way, when tired guests are exiting the park, the forced perspective makes the gates seem a lot closer. It’s a little hard to tell from the pictures but it’s a lot more noticeable when you’re actually there. Here’s a picture of Main Street looking towards the castle:
And here is one looking towards the exit:
New Orleans Square in my opinion is one of the most richly-themed lands in Disneyland. Our guide pointed out a few details that were new to me that I had never noticed before. These plates attached to the buildings are Fire Insurance Plates. There are different sizes scattered around New Orleans Square, and the size indicates the amount of coverage each house had. In the event of a fire, the fire department would save the houses with the biggest insurance plates first, and if you didn’t have fire insurance, your building would be saved last.
Another funny little detail Eddie pointed out were these “Romeo Spikes”. These would be installed by young girls’ fathers to prevent “Romeo” from climbing up and down the pipes in case they were planning an unscheduled visit. 🙂
Now for my personal highlight of the tour, Club 33! Actually, it was just the lobby but we still got to be on the other side of the door! 🙂 There are plenty of rumors on how the name Club 33 came about, but our tour guide assured us that the club got its name simply because it was located on 33 Royal Street – nothing more. There is a famous prohibition-era speakeasy in New York located on 21 W 52nd St called the 21 Club and that is how they got the inspiration to name Walt’s private club.
Let’s go inside shall we?
If the lobby is any indication of how luxurious the rest of the club is, there are some very lucky people up there. 🙂
All I had to do was press the button…
More examples of forced perspective can be seen at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. If you look at the bricks of the castle closely, you might notice that the bricks near the bottom of the castle are larger than the ones closer to the top.
Here’s a closer look:
Also to the right of the castle, you might notice the statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Due to a miscommunication, Snow White’s sculpture is the same size as the dwarves. To fix this, there was a sculpture of a small deer added next to Snow White and a larger squirrel was placed next to the dwarves.
On the way back down Main Street, Eddie pointed out that the lamps lining Main Street were purchased from real cities. Some of them even have markings indicating where they were originally from. This one is from St Louis:
Finally, we stopped by the Opera House on Main Street. Ask any cast member or Disney fanatic about Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and they might tell you the story of how the front of the castle facing you as you enter the park is actually the back side of the castle. Herb Ryman, the imagineer who designed the castle, was messing around with the scale model of the castle and took the top portion off and put it on backwards. When he realized Walt was walking in, he didn’t have time to put it back to it’s original position, but Walt liked it and the rest is history. What’s news to me is that the scale model at the Opera House is that same model that Walt Disney was looking at over half a century ago!
If you have a chance to take this tour, I highly recommend it. They will be changing up the tour very soon to add Walt’s apartment to the itinerary, so that’s another thing guests can look forward to.
Until next time!
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