Let me start by saying I have never done a tour at Disneyland. I grew up at Walt Disney World, having gone probably 200 times and each time I visit any park, I see something I have never seen before. Therefore, getting the chance to visit Disneyland and do an actual tour based on the history of the park, made me feel like a kid in a candy shop.
Here is a peak of what I saw at Disneyland while “walking in Walt’s footsteps”.
We started by meeting at the tour center, directly to the left when you enter Disneyland, there are shaded seats and a small restroom. We are met by the tour guides and handed earpiece systems, so that the guide can walk and talk, this is a fantastic advantage to those who have trouble hearing in crowds! Our first stop is under the very apartment Walt lived in! Typically the tour takes you inside, however they are currently doing some construction behind the scenes in preparation for an additional exit for the mass crowds guaranteed for the 60th anniversary. We are told about why Walt wanted to be on-site and hands on, turns out traffic was awful even back then! When Walt was on property, he always left the light on in the window, so that the cast members knew to be on their best behavior. To this day, that light is kept shining 24/7, to remind the cast members that he is always there and to always be your at your peak!
Walking toward the castle, we look at the windows and the names written on them is a tribute to all that helped make Disneyland successful. Take your time when you walk down main street to see the small details up above. We stopped at the center hub and heard Walt’s speech. Walt’s voice at Walt’s creation equals tear jerker! There, we are told of some of the issues that opening day battled. Did you know that there was a plumbing strike? That Walt basically had to choose between working water fountains and plumbing for the toilets? (He thankfully chose the toilets) Have you heard that women’s high heels stuck into the newly paved main street because the heat was brutal and the cement obviously wasn’t done drying! Did you know that a man, who owned property adjacent to the park, charged people to use his ladder and climb over the Disneyland fence, hence why the actual numbers of who entered that inaugural day are just guesses. Walt, being overly involved with a live taping of this event with the local television station did not come to find out any of these issues until the next day! Despite these epic failures, Disney did not see it that way. Despite these catastrophic problems, they welcomed the 1 millionth guest within 2 months and 5 millionth within another month.
As we walk through the park, we are reminded that each step we take, is a step that Walt created for us. We learn of how some of the attractions changed from the original ideas and how some of the things Walt dreamed, never came to fruition. Currently the tour takes you inside the Dream Suite, a 2 bedroom apartment made for the 2008, year of a million dreams launch. This apartment was originally to be made for Walt and his family and friends being that the one above the fire station was very small. The location is set in the New Orleans area, next to his beloved Club 33 and 1901. This is something that only those doing the guided tour can see, and it is truly amazing! The imagineers took Walt’s own ideas of this apartment and actually made them very true to the plans.
There is so much to see at any Disney Park and if you are a true lover and historian of Walt, I beg of you to take a guided tour. Bring some tissues, because the song you hear at the end, standing in the center of Disneyland is sure to bring some tears.
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