|Walt Disney showing one of the early maps of Disneyland (Disneyland Resort)|
THEME PARKS“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world,” said Walt Disney about his dream park which opened for the first time on July 17, 1955 with its five original “lands”: Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street, U.S.A. Since then, many things have changed. New "lands" have been created such as Bear Country (later changed to Critter Country), Mickey's Toontown and the heavily anticipated Star Wars-themed area coming in 2019. Many attractions have come and gone, but some of the park’s most popular attractions today have been a part of the park since the beginning which include the following:
With its main station located in Main Street, U.S.A., it's hard to miss the Disneyland Railroad. Originally called the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad in 1955, the train completely circled the park. The railroad began with two steam locomotives (the C.K. Holliday and the E.P. Ripley) which had been built at the Walt Disney Studio in 1954. The trains would stop at train stations located in each “land.” Today, there are five engines (Fred Gurley, Ernest S. Marsh and Ward Kimball) that circle the park. Surprisingly, that circle is just a little over a mile long and takes 18 minutes to make the loop due to its many stops. Today the park features four train stations at Main Street U.S.A., Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square and Toontown.
Although nauseating to some, this spinning tea cup ride is so popular that it also appears in every other Disneyland theme park around the world. The ride of course is taken from Disney’s 1951 animated film, Alice in Wonderland and the iconic music played is from the “Unbirthday Party” scene. There are 18 spinning cups that hold up to five riders each atop of three separate turntables. The turning wheel in the middle of each cup allows riders to spin even more and as fast as they want. There was a time when some cups became stationary as a prevention of motion sickness, but they soon spun again after many complaints came from riders actually wanting that dizzy feeling.
Located in Adventureland, the Jungle Cruise was the only attraction in operation in that neck of the woods during the park's first days. It was based on Disney’s True-Life Adventure films and the very first tours were a lot more serious and educational in tone compared to the campy mix of jokes from the ride’s skippers and humorous gags featured in the various scenes. The seven-minute journey follows along the Mekong River, African Congo, Nile River and the Amazon in South America. Over the years new additions and changes have taken place on the Jungle Cruise, but by and large, the attraction is the same ride it’s always been and is still hugely popular.
(Photo by Deror Avi via Wikimedia)
Featured in Fantasyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is a dark ride based on Disney’s The Wind in the Willows segment from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad movie. While the ride is still very popular, many of the young riders are not familiar with the original cartoon from which it is based. Riders board old-fashioned motorcars and race through various locations featured in the movie. The weirdest twist of this ride is that the end scene takes place in hell (which was not featured in the movie by the way) where the room is overly heated to give the full effect. The ride’s sister attraction was found at the Magic Kingdom in Florida and was also very popular, but it was replaced to become a Winnie-the-Pooh ride, so the Disneyland version is the only one in existence of the ride today.
At the time of the park’s opening, this was the first paddle wheeler built in the United States in 50 years. While the 105-foot-long hull was built at the Todd Shipyards in San Pedro, California, the rest was built within a sound stage at the Disney Studio in Burbank. Today, the Frontierland attraction paddles down the Rivers of America around Tom Sawyer Island. The Mark Twain actually had its maiden voyage four days before the park officially opened to guests. It was used for a private party that celebrated the 30th wedding anniversary of Walt and Lillian Disney.
|(Photo by Bytebear via Wikimedia)|
Based on the train featured in Disney’s 1941 film, Dumbo, the Casey Jr. Circus Train was a simple train ride that rode around the hills on the side of Fantasyland. Due to mechanical problems, the train had to be stopped after the park’s opening day and wasn’t ready to re-open for two weeks. In 1956, the train encircled the popular Storybook Land attraction. Guests ride in animal cages or sit in the ornate sleigh looking at miniature buildings inspired by various Disney animated films. Also, just like in the Dumbo film, the train struggles up a hill stating, “I think I can, I think I can...” before making it to the top and down the other side.
Some hardcore fans may be disappointed to learn that this carousel is not a Disney original. It had been running circles at the Sunnyside Amusement Park in Toronto, Ontario since 1932 before it was moved to Disneyland. It originally featured a fleet of horses in three rows (and a few sleighs which were taken out and used for the Casey Jr. train) but was later refurbished with the addition of another row of horses making the count up to 72. The colorful carousel also shows various scenes from the animated movie, Sleeping Beauty and plays instrumental music from the movie as well. When the park opened, the horses were featured in various colors, but the ride’s single white horse was the most popular and because of this, all the horses were later painted white. Only one of them is a mule. It is also worth noting that the ride was featured in the Disney movie, Saving Mr. Banks.
(Photo by Harshlight via Wikimedia)
Riders of the early version of Snow White Scary Adventures were confused. They didn't understand that the ride was meant to show guests the experience from the princess' point of view allowing them to be Snow White running away from the evil witch. The ride had two other problems as well: eventhough the title of the ride says “scary adventure” parents somehow ignored the “warning” and ended up freaking their kids out not expecting to see so much of the witch. Riders also often stole the apple that the witch offered them on the ride. In 1983's refurbishment of the ride, Snow White was brought into the story, the scariness of the ride was toned down somewhat and now the witch offers a holographic version of the apple that disappears when swiped at.
(Photo by Carterhawk via Wikimedia)
Another dark ride found in Fantasyland is this Peter Pan themed ride where instead of cars or vehicles, riders “fly” on ships. The ride is still one of the park’s most popular, but the early version left guests scratching their heads. The original concept for the ride was to let riders pretend that they were Peter Pan and so, the little guy in green tights never appeared in the attraction, but park guest kept wondering where Peter was. That all changed (along with some new effects) in 1983 when new audio-animatronics were added to the show including Peter Pan.
(Photo by Ellen Levy Finch via Wikimedia)
Located in Tomorrowland, Autopia first began to show the future of the America’s roadway and gave kids a chance to see what it was like to actually drive a gas-powered car. During the early days of the park, there were no guide rails for the cars had no bumpers. Little drivers would more often than not hit other cars and stall on the road. It caused a lot of headaches for park employees, but the ride was so popular that the park added two more very similar versions of the ride (Midget Autopia and Junior Autopia) for Fantasyland in 1955 and 1956. Today, the original is the only one left and the streets are just as crowded as they are in the very real Los Angeles. Still, kids love it.