People travel from all over the world to visit Disneyland in Anaheim, so Irvine residents lucked out having the theme park right in their backyard. Indeed, Disneyland has been a staple of Orange County since its opening in 1955. But no matter how many times you may have been there, chances are you haven’t uncovered all the hidden secrets sprinkled throughout the Magic Kingdom — until now. Irvine Weekly has put together a guide for the top 10 Disneyland secrets to uncover next time you visit the park.
10: Hidden Mickeys
This is ranked lowest on our list because it’s probably the secret that the most people know about. The Disney Imagineers purposely built the signature Mickey Mouse silhouette into most attractions and restaurants around the park. For example, on Star Tours, when C-3PO appears at the front right of the room, a small, bright white classic Mickey is on his right forearm near his wrist. If you don’t think you’d be able to spot all the Mickeys yourself, there are many blogs that can assist you in finding them.
9: Club 33
Club 33 is a private, members-only club in New Orleans Square. Unlike California Adventure, Disneyland is dry and Club 33 is the only place in the park that sells alcohol. Club members pay $10,000 a year plus a $25,000 non-refundable initiation fee, but there’s a 14-year waiting list to join. Members get early access to the theme park, free valet parking at the Grand Californian Hotel and full access to the Lilly Belle car on the Disneyland Railroad, a secret presidential car at the tail of the Disneyland Train named after Walt Disney’s wife Lillian. It’s reserved for V.I.P.s and special guests but if you arrive at the park before it opens, you can go to the Disneyland Railroad Station, wait for the opening announcement and ask one of the cast members to make a reservation for you to ride in the Lilly Belle train car.
8: The Dominguez Tree
While there are many attractions still at the park that date back to its original opening, one fixture in the park even predates that. Above the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland, there’s a palm tree that belonged to the Dominguez Family, the family who sold their Anaheim farm to Walt Disney so he could build Disneyland. The family made one request: that their family tree, which was a wedding gift, remained untouched and live on as part of the park. Walt Disney agreed and the tree still stands today.
7: Captain the Mark Twain Riverboat
You’re the captain now! If you plan to ride the Mark Twain Riverboat, how about captaining it? Before you board, you can find a Disney cast members and ask to visit the wheelhouse. They’ll take you to the second floor to a door marked “Private.” Knock on the door and the captain will take you to a secret ladder that goes to the wheelhouse, where you can steer and captain the riverboat under supervision. You can ring the Mark Twain bell and sound its whistle too. When the ride is finished, you can ask for a certificate and sign the guestbook alongside all the people who have ever steered the Riverboat.
6: Morse Code Message at New Orleans Square Train Station
At New Orleans Square Train Station, you may or may not have noticed some random Morse code from the telegraph office next door. Most likely you don’t speak morse code and didn’t give it a second thought, but the message is actually from Walt Disney’s original dedication he gave on Disneyland’s opening day: “To all who come to Disneyland, welcome. Here, age relives fond memories of the past and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.”
5: The Secret Food Menu
Throughout the park, there’s a lot of off-menu food that is available to order if you know what to order. This includes a “Galactic Style” burger at the Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland, which is topped with fries, cheese, bacon, onions and Thousand Island dressing. At the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland, you can order a dish called Ice Cream Nachos, which is three scoops of ice cream topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and chocolate chips, all on top of waffle cone “chips.” One more example is the loaded tater tots at River Belle Terrace. Once again, there are blogs out there that can assist you in finding all the secret food throughout the park.
4: Walk In Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps Tour
Most people don’t know that a tour exists called “Walk In Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps.” A guide will take you to spots that are usually not available to guests including Walt Disney’s “secret” apartment in Main Street U.S.A., above the Main Street fire station. He and his entire family used the apartment from time to time and it has been preserved the way it was when they lived there, with a lamp in the window that’s always on in honor of Walt. You’ll get lots of interesting stories from your tour guide and ride the attractions that are still there from when the park first opened. You’ll even get an exclusive lunch on Main Street. Reservations can be made by calling (714) 781-TOUR.
3: Basketball Court in the Matterhorn
Big Foot isn’t the only thing hidden in the Matterhorn ride! That’s right, in the backstage area of the ride, there’s a small attic space that has a basketball hoop. Cast members can play games between shifts or on brakes there while you’re screaming your head off on the ride.
2: Native Feral Cats
You may or may not have noticed a few feral cats when you’ve been walking around Disneyland. This isn’t just an accident: Disney spokespeople have acknowledged their existence. Some say that when Walt was alive, feral cats were first discovered in Sleeping Beauty’s castle so he decided to leave them be so they can take care of any rodent problems. Cast members have been known to actually care for these cats who, ironically, are there to kill Mickey and Minnie’s real life compatriots!
1: Doritos Were Invented In Disneyland
Frito-Lay owned a restaurant in Disneyland when the theme park first opened in 1955 called Casa de Fritos. In need of a way to salvage stale tortillas rather than just throwing them away, the restaurant began flavoring and frying them, turning them into what we know as Doritos. After the snack became a huge hit with Disneyland guests, Frito-Lay made Doritos into a national brand.
While we just scratched the surface of Disneyland secrets and picked our favorite ones, there are many more park secrets out there for you to uncover. If you haven’t explored any yet, then perhaps they’ll make this classic theme park fresh and new to hold over guests until Star Wars Land opens this summer.