Ten Overlooked Details of Magic, History, and Tradition at the Disneyland Resort
Anyone visiting Disneyland Resort will gladly share which attraction is their E-ticket equivalent (Toy Story Mania). They'll then tell you where to find their favorite snack (dipped ice cream), and character meet-n-greet (Captain America). Visits are planned around wait times queues to get on as many attractions as possible. And, just maybe a few side visits to catch a certain mouse's autograph. Overlooked details in Disneyland are in abundance and we're here to help you find them!
Uncover the magic layer-by-layer and you'll find hidden surprises that make Disney, well…Disney. One of the things that makes Disney so unique are the tiny details of history and tradition you can find scattered across the park. Follow along for ten overlooked details in Disneyland Resort.
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1. Tribute Windows on Main Street U.S.A.
Perhaps you've been too focused on hurrying down Main Street U.S.A. to catch your FastPass time on Thunder Mountain Railroad to stop and window shop. Or you bypass the sounds of the honking Omnibus and the sweet scents of what Candy Palace is concocting. Above all the cacophony of Main Street U.S.A. are the tribute windows. These glass mirrors actually reflect names of Disney contributors and icons who've shaped the studios, theme parks, and company as a whole.
From “it's a small world” designer Mary Blair, to animator Marc Davis and his wife — costumer Alice Davis — you'll find a Disney history book unfolding. Stand in front of the 20th Century Music Company for a tribute to the Sherman Brothers, composers of Mary Poppins songs. “The Brothers Tunemakers” is painted on the door honoring Robert and Richard Sherman who also penned the earworm theme to “it's a small world”. Across the way above Emporium, you'll spy Elias Disney‘s own window. This is Disney's homage to Walt Disney's father.
And, the windows don't just stop in Main Street U.S.A. Journey to Frontierland to spot Fess Parker‘s window. Parker portrayed both Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone in early Disney televised series. e also was a prolific winemaker after his retirement; his wine is part of the Disney's Family of Wines. Walt himself also has a tribute window in Toontown honoring his work with his early Laugh-o-gram series.
There is no specific map of the windows available at the park but you can go online to find updated versions of the windows for any of the Disney theme parks. To earn such a distinguished honor, the person must be retired, have obtained the highest level of service and achievement, and an agreement must be solidified between park management and Disney Imagineers.
The history that goes into these windows is one of the reasons it made our top spot for overlooked details in Disneyland!
2. First Pickle of the Day
Also on Main Street is a throw-down happening not many guests may know about. This second overlooked detail in Disneyland Resort is the “First Pickle of the Day” button. Walk quickly to the snack vendor between Starbucks and Disney Clothiers, LTD to vie for the first dill pickle of the day. The earlier you get to Main Street, the better chance you have at winning the prize. Basically, the Cast Member will write “First Pick of the Day” on a celebration button along with the date. Buttons have also popped up celebrating “First Dole Whip of the Day”, and “First Corn Dog of the Day.” For those button collectors, this is a great find!
3. Walt Disney's Apartment and Bench
The third overlooked detail in Disneyland is a person- Walt himself. Disneyland Park is the only theme park Walt Disney ever walked so his presence is felt more here than any Disney theme park. Main Street U.S.A. houses some of those memories starting with Walt's apartment located above the Fire Station adjacent to City Hall. There is a guided tour, “Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps” which may allow entrance into the apartment (schedules vary) but you can still view the light that glows in the window. This light shines continually as a tribute to Walt Disney.
Next, head to The Disneyland Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. When you enter the Opera House, you'll notice a bench. The story goes Walt Disney would take his daughters to Griffith Park for a turn on the merry-go-round. He would sit on nearby benches where he'd dream up conceptual plans for a theme park. The bench in the Opera House is one of those said benches.
4. Disneyland Tours featuring History, Disney Magic, and More!
Along with “Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps” tour, Disneyland Park offers a variety of more behind-the-scenes peeks for guests. I'm a big fan of the tours myself so have been on most. I recently rode the Disneyland Railroads on “The Grand Circle Tour” which covers the history of the trains and Walt's fascination with the steel engines. And guests who take this tour can step aboard the infamous Lilly Belle car, named in honor of Walt's wife Lillian.
Disneyland Park also offers “Disney's Happiest Haunts” tour during September and October. If you're a Haunted Mansion fan then I recommend signing up. If not, pass and save your money for another treat.
During the holidays, you can reserve the “Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort” guided tour. I'd highly recommend this tour full of lots of yummy hot chocolate and gingerbread. Plus, you'll get a great view of the Christmas Fantasy Parade.
A reminder that tours fill up quickly so make your reservations as soon as possible by calling (714) 781-8687. Annual Passholders receive a 15% discount on Disneyland Resort Guided Tours.
5. Hidden Mickeys: A Treasure Hunt for the Mickey Mouse Silhouette
This next overlooked detail in Disneyland may not be as hidden as one may think but it's still a fun option during any visit. A “hidden Mickey” is the classic silhouette of Mickey with the head and ears. We have Disney Imagineers to thank for these incredible details found on attractions, in shops, and even incorporated into Disney films.
Read our full guide to Hidden Mickeys at Disneyland.
Some are easy to spot such as in the carpet design in Disneyland hotels, some are made up of rocks, plants, or odd shapes. Look carefully while standing in any queue and you'll find some. Cast members do their best to continue the tradition as seen in the Haunted Mansion ballroom. Usually, one of the place settings is designed with the Mickey Mouse head. You can create your own list, download several online, or even purchase books about the “hidden Mickeys”.
6. Disney “Easter Egg” Details that Reference Disney Characters, Movies, Attractions, and More!
Image via OC RegisterThe Disney “Easter Egg” is one of my favorite overlooked detail in Disneyland. These hidden surprises usually reference another Disney entity such as a character, movie, attraction, or even Walt himself. Disney Imagineers love to tease guests with blasts from the pasts or ongoing Disney stories. Here are a few I've found over the years.
- One of the easier hidden props to view is the Evil Queen who stands menacingly in the window above Snow White's Enchanted Wish in Fantasyland. You have to look quickly to see her before the curtain closes on her.
- On the backside of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, look up and sometimes (not often but it happens) you'll view spears and bows leaning against the castle bailey (walkway). This is in reference of the guards sleeping because of the curse Maleficent placed on Princess Aurora's kingdom.
- I discovered my favorite Disneyland “Easter egg” about a decade after the fact so even as a seasoned guest, I still find new things. This hidden surprise is on The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh. Once you pass the great room where Pooh Bear is spinning in his honey pot, turn quickly and look up. You can spot some very familiar faces from one of Disneyland's most beloved attractions- Country Bear Jamboree. Buff, Melvin, and Max are still just hanging around albeit a bit more privately now. (Note- you must be sitting in the front seats of the Honey Pots in order to turn to see the trio).
DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK
- The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure pays homage to an off-kilter character who isn't even Disney. Disney (should-be) legend Don Knotts played The Incredible Mr. Limpett– a fishy character in a Warner Brothers movie of the same name back in the 1950s. This undersea character with very similar facial characteristics as Don Knotts, has made his way into Ariel's grotto. You have to look intently to find the character or ask a cast member. And note to the Disney Legends Committee- Mr. Knott needs to be honored. Thank-you from an Apple Dumpling Gang fan.
- Jet to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! for a terrific Disney treasure hunt. Even if you choose not to go on the attraction (me) you can still peruse the props throughout the queue. Besides a few notable ones from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies including Cosmo the Astro Dog, you'll spy a few familiar Disneyland characters. Matterhorn's Harold the Yeti hangs from the rafters of the fortress queue. He's hard to miss since he's massive but a certain cephalopod is trickier to spot. In the boiler room, you'll see a half-covered portrait (from the original Tower of Terror) and in front is an octopus with a box on her head. She is Terrence the bear's love interest from “Two Different Worlds”, a musical number from Country Bear Playhouse.
There is an abundance of Disney “Easter Eggs” throughout the Disneyland Resort. You could spend days trying to find just a portion of them. It's an ongoing adventure with every visit.
7. Disneyland Resort Coin Presses
Disneyland Resort has more than 50 machines to press pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters into elongated souvenirs. You'd think with that many machines that these wouldn't be an overlooked detail in Disneyland, but guests pass by them just the same. Disneyland Park introduced the first two in 1987. The first elongated coin image was Mickey with “Disneyland” emblazoned behind him. The second imprint was Big Al from Bear Country. These images are no longer available – in fact, a coin with the Mickey image recently sold on eBay for $122 because of it's rarity. The plates are rotated out which makes the collecting very desirable because once the plates are gone, they do not reappear.
These stretched coins are the cheapest souvenir from any Disney theme park (minus the free celebratory buttons). The penny coin costs 51-cents, the nickel is 80-cents, the dime will set you back 85-cents, and the quarter machines charge one-dollar. The idea is simple. Just select the image you desire, put the coins in the slots, push in the lever to disperse the coins. The machine will press the image on your flattened coin and you'll have a prize to take home in mere seconds. Fold-out books are available to hold the pressed coins. There are also two hand-crank machines located in Downtown Disney District as well. Disneyland Resort does not have an official map of the machines but for a great reference, check out parkpennies.com.
8. Jungle Cruise Map
This happy little piece of Disneyland memorabilia is available at request on a first-come, first-serve basis. Yes, it is an actual map of the Jungle Cruise tour complete with the “backside of water”. Just ask the cast member stationed upon your disembarking of the attraction. You have a better chance of scoring one of these if you come first thing in the morning to grab your souvenir of this overlooked detail in Disneyland!
9. Little Man of Disneyland
You can find the Little Man of Disneyland right near the FastPass entrance to Indiana Jones Adventure. Between that queue entrance and the stairway entrance to Tarzan's Tree House is some foliage including a large tree. At the base of the tree you'll see what looks like a tiny entrance to a dwelling.
This is the tribute to the 1955 Little Golden Book about the Leprechaun who lived in Disneyland. There's never been a sighting of Patrick Begorra, the Little Man himself, but maybe he's only a third-shift Leprechaun.
This overlooked detail in Disneyland is a favorite of many- you can even find that the Little Man of Disneyland will decorate for the holidays!
10. Molly and Millie on Buena Vista Street
The last overlooked detail in Disneyland Resort I'd like to mention is a group of characters who can completely make your visit magical. The Citizens of Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure are hilarious! From Officers Clyde and Calvin Blue to Donna Linn de Laria- the unofficial mayor- spending time with these characters will put a smile on your face. Seek out the bike messengers Molly and her sister Millie who deliver packages to the rest of Buena Vista Street citizens. Ask if you have a message because you just might from the big mouse himself- Mickey! What an impressive souvenir to take with you!
Looking for even more Disneyland Secrets? Check The Book
Stuff Even Mickey Doesn't Know
When a theme park has been around for 60 years, it hides a lot of secrets. Disneyland expert Gavin Doyle has swept aside the pixie dust and uncovered little-known stories about the happiest place on earth that will make you a master of the magic.
Doyle develops each of his dozens of secrets into a brief story that illuminates a forgotten moment in Disney history, or sheds light on a neglected area of the park, or reveals something new about an iconic attraction, such as:
- Why is the address of Disneyland 1313 Harbor Boulevard?
- What's up with the Jewish menorah on Main Street?
- Why is there a fake book called “Walt & You” at City Hall?
- Where can you find Sherlock Holmes at Disneyland?
- Is there really a pet cemetery at the Haunted Mansion?
Shhh! It's a Disneyland secret. Until you read this book…
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Plan Your Disneyland Vacation and find Overlooked Details in Disneyland!
The list goes on and on with so many overlooked details in Disneyland Resort. Maybe you'll find a few of your own during your next visit. Let us help you plan your vacation! Subscribe to our free deals newsletter! You will receive helpful planning information, exclusive Disney deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here:
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