Disneyland is a place rich in history but often visits are so time crunched you can barely enjoy it. There is a great way to learn about the beginnings of the park AND enjoy a few rides.
Disneyland offers a tour everyday in the park at 9:30 am and 10:30 am for $109.00. If you are a annual pass holder you can save 15% and Disney Visa card holders also can get a discount. Allow yourself 4 hours to enjoy the tour, as the first time my mom and I attempted we had to leave early to catch a flight so we missed the best part of the tour which is the Dream suite.
Disney asks guest to check in early at the tour meet-up area, where you can choose your lunch items. I choose a turkey sandwich, water, and my now favorite dessert the item in the parks the Matterthorn macaroon.
Our tour started with the history of the opening of the parks in 1955. We learned that Walt’s apartment was actually above the firestation and if Walt was in the parks the light in the window would be on. To this day the light remains on in tribute of Walt. As we meandered past the firehouse we learned that Main Street is actually based on Marceline, Kansas Walt’s hometown. We spent a moment in front of the flagpole and heard the famous speech Walt delivered when the parks opened. I also thought it was hilarious to learn that there were so many weeds present when the park opened that with time running out to pull them Walt came up with a idea to add signs with the Latin names of the weeds to make it seems as they were supposed to be there. On opening day there were 28 thousand guests and in the first week the park had over a million.
As we continued on our tour that day here are some fun facts we collected:
- Disneyland is designed like a wheel where the center of the park near the castle on Main Street is the center and the spokes are leading out to all the lands.
- Fantasyland is known as the”heart of Disney” and the first land built.
- The carousel in Fantasyland is the oldest attraction with all white horses so no one would fight over who could ride the white horse.
- Walt Disney was a very patriotic man: he wanted to enlist in the military, but at the time he was only 16, but lied on his birth certificate so he could join the Red Cross Corp.
- In 1966 the real mayor of New Orleans came to Disneyland’s New Orleans Square to dedicate the land
- Walt Disney and his wife Lillian loved to take their family on long road trips. On one road trip Walt bought a Petrified tree. (Picture below)
A great highlight of the tour was lunch. Sometime lunch is during the middle of the tour or the end depending on when the Dream Suite is available for viewing. I highly recommend the Matterthorn Macaroon!
Now here is where I think the Disney Magic really shines! We meandered around Indiana Jones ride to a secret area near Pirates Of the Caribbean. We split our group in two to ride a fancy elevator to Walt’s Dream suite. The suite is 2,220 square foot living space right above Pirates Of the Caribbean that opened in January 2008. In the 1960’s Walt decided he needed a larger area to entertain VIPs so he enlisted the help of Dorthea Redmond (whose is famous for some of the set designs in the movie “Gone With The Wind”) to design the layout. Walt’s wife Lillian and Walt Disney studio decorator Emile Kuri were tasked with furnishing and decorating. Unfortunately Walt never saw the Dream suite completed as he died in 1966. The only way to see the Dream Suite now is on this tour. Depending on your tour guide you may be able to take picture inside or not. You get one guaranteed picture in the sitting area but on the tour I was on we couldn’t take any additional pictures so the ones you see here are a secret.
The Disneyland Dream Suite includes a living room, open-air patio, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. When you enter the front door leading to the parlor room you will notice that it is designed French Provincial-meets-Fantasy-land style. There are original paintings in this room of a French Castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty’s castle. There is also a gorgeous fireplace designed like something you would see in New Orleans that when it’s turned on the “flames” look like fireworks. Each room of the suite has some sort of “Disney Magic.” In the living room it is this clock that on the hour plays Disney tunes you might know like “When you wish upon a star.” One of the bedroom is decorated like the trains Walt Disney loved and had a train that circles the entire room! The best “Disney Moment” which our tour guide called the “Goodnight Kiss” was in the Adventure Land master suite. When you pressed the button the lights dimmed and a oil painting came to life with mermaids from Peter Pan. The ceiling even had stars that twinkled! Peter Pan’s ship sails as a projection on the headboard just before the lights go back to normal. Though my favorite room was the bath with the giant soaking tub and replica Tiffany glass above it. The goodnight kiss there is music from Symphony No. 6 from “Fantasia” playing. I could picture myself enjoying a nice bath with the plush robes that hung nearby. (I wonder who does the laundry here).
Overall doing the tour at least once if you have never done it. Another benefit is that your guide will “walk” you on two rides which in our case included Alice In wonderland and Peter Pan. It’s nice not to have to wait in lines! There is a lot to learn touring parks even if you are a huge Disney fan. Through the headsets you hear audio from the opening of the park and music from the wonderful world of Disney specials. All in all a special time in the happiest place on earth!