The Walt Disney Touch

 

Even though Walt Disney passed away more than 30 years ago, his particluar attention to detail still lives on in his first theme park, Disneyland.

Part of Walt Disney’s beliefs about Disneyland could perhaps be summerized as there being no such thing as an insignificant detail. Every corner of Disneyland shows this belief, from the lights and landscaping to the trashcans. Everything the public sees is made and fabricated with the highest quality, no matter what the cost.

Some of Walt’s details are still visible throughout the park. Such as:

  • The names on the second-story windows on Main Street are people who contributed to the design, implementation, and running of Disneyland. One of the most recently added is for Dick Nunis, a Cast Member from opening day who eventually ran the Disney Theme Parks , and Charles Boyers, who is noted for his famous Disneyland artwork.
  • Above the Fire House on Main Street is Walt’s apartment, which he used when he stayed overnight at Disneyland. A small lamp in the window is kept constantly lit, in his memory.
  • Main Street and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle were both built with the use of an artist trick called “forced perspective.” They were built so that the ground levels were at normal size, but higher areas were progressively smaller. This makes the upper areas look even higher when seen from below.
  • Gum is not, and never has been, sold inside Disneyland. Any gum found on the ground is scraped up immediately. Walt didn’t want his guests to have to pick gum off their shoes every ten minutes, as was (and is) common at other amusement parks. Alcohol is also not available in any public area of the park.
  • The horses on the King Arthur Carousel are all individually hand- carved and painted. They are continually being repainted, and all the brass is polished every night.
  • The Jungle Cruise got a major overhaul based on what Walt overheard one guest say. The remark in question was: “We don’t need to go on this ride, we’ve already seen it.”
  • The petrified tree in Frontierland, along the banks of the Rivers of America, was an anniversary present that Walt gave to his wife, Lillian. She donated the tree to Disneyland, where it was given its spot overlooking the Rivers of America.
  • Walt made sure the grass areas weren’t fenced in until he saw which areas people walked on. Areas that were used frequently as short-cuts had sidewalks added.
  • When New Orleans Square was added, Walt wanted to put in a private club at which he and other dues-paying members could entertain. Sadly, he was not able to see it completed, but the club was finished and is now a members-only club that occupies much of the second floor of New Orleans Square. The club, called Club 33 for its address, 33 Rue Royale, is the only place in the park where alcohol is served. The membership fee is about $10,000 to start plus annual dues of $1800. There is a waiting list to become a member; the average wait is four years.
  • Disneyland’s address is 1313 Harbor Boulevard. This address was picked by Walt, because at the time Disneyland was built, all that was in the area was orange groves. The explanations for the address are either that ‘M’ is the thirteenth letter in the alphabet, making the address MM for Mickey Mouse, or that the thirteens, being unlucky, were Walt’s way of thumbing his nose at those who thought Disneyland would fail.
  • Walt Disney was very insistent that the designers take the perspective of young children into account when designing the park. Because of this, Walt would frequently stoop down while looking at a partially constructed building to take into account how smaller people would see things.
  • Most gold trim in the park is done with real gold leaf rather than gold paint. This is partially because the gold leaf looks spectacular, and partially because the gold leaf may actually be cheaper because it doesn’t need to be replaced as often.

Article originally printed at “Sharing Walt’s Dream.” By Roger B. Jones, Jr., 1995

Edited December 11, 1999, by Brad A., for use on JustDisney.com


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