Why are these Disneyland attractions still so popular?
Why are these Disneyland attractions still popular?
Before I became a Disney Cast Member, I couldn't dream of going to any Disney Park, but that all changed when I started working for them in 1986. I remember going to Disney World for the first time. The new friends I made working for The Disney Store planned to take a group trip to Florida, (a tradition that would happen many times over the years) and I was amazed how big this "world" was. Many years later after I left the company, I bought a salad from McDonalds. At the time they had the Monopoly Game going on. I didn't win anything off the sticker attached to my cup, but I did enter the 2nd chance drawing online. To my surprise, I won the grand prize which was a trip for 4 to Disneyland! All expenses paid! While I love the thrilling attractions in Walt Disney World like Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest, I had this strange feeling for the original park and attractions, both for their nostalgia factor and the way they can transport us into a world of pure fantasy. But, with the parks consistently bringing in new rides with more and more innovative technology, it’s a worthwhile question to ask — why the original Disney attractions are still so popular after so many years. Let's take a look into the history of some of our favorite OG Disney attractions.
Opened July 17, 1955, the castle is the oldest of all Disney castles. Though it reaches a height of 77 feet (23 m), it was designed by Roland E. Hill to appear taller through a process known as forced perspective. The design elements are larger at the foundation and smaller at the turrets. The castle initially featured an empty upper level that was never intended to house an attraction, but Walt Disney was not satisfied with what he viewed as wasted space and challenged his Imagineers to find some use for the space.
Beginning April 29, 1957, the visitors were able to walk through the castle and view several dioramas depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty. The original dioramas were designed in the style of Eyvind Earle, production designer for Disney's 1959 film Sleeping Beauty, and were then redone in 1977 to resemble the window displays on Main Street U.S.A. The walkthrough was closed for unspecified reasons on October 7, 2001; popular belief claims the September 11th attacks and the potential danger that ensued played a major factor in the closing. On July 17, 2008, Disney announced that the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough would reopen in the style of the original Earle dioramas, enhanced with new technology not available in 1957. The walkthrough reopened on November 27 2008, at 5:00 p.m., drawing long lines going as far back as the Hub at the center of the park.
The castle walkthrough entrance is on the west side of the building inside Fantasyland. Guests first see a large medieval-themed story book open to a page that announces the birth of the princess Aurora. After climbing the stairs inside, a scene depicts Aurora as a baby, being blessed with magic gifts by her fairy godmothers. Behind a glass window, there is an animation of the castle courtyard, and the king and queen watching as a large fire burns all the spinning wheels in the kingdom. At the top of the stairs, as guests reach the center of the castle's top level, another window looks out on the castle's great hall, where everyone in the kingdom is asleep, including servants and the cat and dog. The second half of the walkthrough becomes darker, featuring appearances by Maleficent, her crow, and several gargoyles which fly out of her nearby castle. At the end, the prince fights against Maleficent' s incarnation as a dragon, amid a forest of thorny brambles, and then a field of roses appears with doves flying above, as he kisses Aurora and breaks the spell. As guests exit the walkthrough at the bottom of the stairs on the east side of the castle, another medieval-themed oversized book depicts an image of the prince and princess dancing together, as her dress changes colors from pink to blue and back again.
At the rear of the castle, shaded by the archways and driven into the ground is a gold spike that is widely, but wrongly, believed to mark the geographical center of Disneyland. In reality, the spike is a surveyor's mark that was used to ensure that the castle bridge and entrance lined up with Main Street USA when the park was first constructed. The original geographical center of the Magic Kingdom was in the middle of the round park, where the "Partners" statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse stands. The addition of Mickey's Toontown in 1993 moved the actual center of the park a few yards northward, but still on the hub side of the castle drawbridge.
A bit of trivia for you. The front of Sleeping Beauty Castle you see today in Disneyland was originally supposed to be the back!
One thing that Walt insisted upon was that there be a very, very conspicuous castle, because the castle is going to be the symbol of this whole place. When Walt saw it, he said, ‘I don’t like it.’ So, Imagineers took a look at the castle model and turned it around so that the back of the upper portion now faced the front. The next thing you know, Walt walked in and said, ‘Oh, I like that a lot better.'
Funko celebrated the 65th anniversary of the Disneyland Park not too long ago. Not surprisingly, the Sleeping Beauty Castle with Mickey Pop was the most popular release of the wave, which is why it sold out quickly. This year they came out with this Popular item which is no longer at the Disneyland resort but can still be found at Walt Disney World.
The idea for the Mansion precedes Disneyland dating to when Walt Disney hired the first of his Imagineers. At the time, the park they were developing the attraction for was supposed to be located across from the studios. In 1951, the first known illustration of the park showed a main street setting, green fields, western village and a carnival. Disney Legend Harper Goff developed a black-and-white sketch of a crooked street leading away from main street by a peaceful church and graveyard, with a run-down manor perched high on a hill that towered over main street.
Plans were made to build a New Orleans-themed land in the small transition area between Frontierland and Adventureland. Weeks later, New Orleans Square appeared on the souvenir map and promised a market, a pirate wax museum, and a haunted house walk-through. Anderson studied New Orleans and old plantations and came up with a drawing of an antebellum manor overgrown with weeds, dead trees, swarms of bats and boarded doors and windows topped by a screeching cat as a weathervane.
Disney, however, rejected the idea of having a run-down building in his park. He visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, and was captivated by the massive mansion with its stairs to nowhere, doors that opened to walls and holes, and elevators. Anderson envisioned stories for the mansion, including tales of a ghostly sea captain who killed his nosy bride and then hanged himself, a mansion home to an unfortunate family, and a ghostly wedding party with well-known Disney villains and spooks. Imagineers Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey recreated Ken Anderson's stories in a studio at WED Enterprises.
In 1961, handbills announcing a 1963 opening of the Haunted Mansion were given out at Disneyland's main entrance. Construction began a year later, and the exterior was completed in 1963. The attraction was previewed in a 1965 episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, but the attraction itself did not open until 1969. The six-year delay owed heavily to Disney's involvement in the New York World's Fair in 1964–1965 and to an attraction redesign after Walt's death in 1966.
After Disney's death in December 1966, the project evolved significantly; the Museum of the Weird idea was abandoned. The Imagineers objected to a walk-through attraction's low capacity, going so far as suggesting building two identical attractions to accommodate twice as many guests. A solution appeared with the development of the Omnimover system for Adventure Thru Inner Space. Renamed the '"Doom Buggy", the system's continuous chain of semi-enclosed vehicles offered high capacity. The cars could be set to rotate in any direction at any point, allowing the Imagineers to control what guests saw and heard throughout the show. And because each car held from one to three people, it was a convenient way to divide guests into smaller groups — a better fit with the story of people wandering "alone" through the haunted house.
Opening almost one month after Disneyland's officially debut, Dumbo the Flying Elephant started, well, flying on August 16, 1955. Actually, the ride was supposed to be ready by the park's public opening on July 17, 1955! According to Yesterland.com, a mechanical error of the fiberglass elephants being too heavy to fly pushed back the premiere date of Dumbo. And when I say heavy, I mean 700 pounds heavy!
Originally, the carousel ride's name was to be 10 Pink Elephants on Parade to represent the pink elephants from Dumbo's insane dream. The elephants were quickly changed to be gray to look like Dumbo. Disneyland's Dumbo the Flying Elephant first resided on the west side of Fantasyland. During Fantasyland's Dumbo-sized remodeling, the ride was transported to where Skull Rock once was. It went through another update in 1990 with 16 new ride vehicles.
Matterhorn Bobsleds is an attraction composed of two intertwining steel roller coasters, which opened on June 14, 1959 at Disneyland. It is modeled after the Matterhorn, a mountain in the Swiss Alps. It is the FIRST tubular steel continuous track rollercoaster ever constructed and thus an ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) Coaster Landmark.
In the early 1970's, the ride was officially made a part of Fantasyland, but this was merely a prelude to far more significant changes. In 1978, the Matterhorn received a major refurbishment. The Imagineers' biggest task was to break up the hollow interior space into a number of small, icy caves and tunnels with far more convincing theming. Some holes in the mountain's skin were filled in as well, including the two large openings at the top of the first lift hill that had allowed guests to briefly glimpse the entire southern part of the park.
Another major addition was the Abominable Snowman, a Yeti by the name of Harold. Harold exists as three similar Audio-Animatronic figures that roar at the bobsledders; the first is visible from both tracks, while the other two are visible only from their respective tracks. Each track also features a pair of red eyes that glow in the dark shortly after the lift hill while Harold's roar is heard. These roars can be heard from ground level as well, even over the (recorded) howling of the Alpine wind. The bobsleds themselves were also changed from the original flat, luge-like, multi-colored two-seaters to the rounder, white cars decorated with orange and red stripes.
Some trivia for you. The original Abominable Snowman (Harold) can now be seen inside Disney's California Adventures Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
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