When Walt Disney created Disneyland in 1955, he envisioned a magical place where children and families could escape from reality and make priceless memories together. He succeeded, and now the park is known as "the happiest place on earth" for good reason. About 18 million people visit the park each year, and it's the goal of staff members to make each and every guest feel like they're having the best day of their lives. From riding legendary attractions like the Matterhorn to visiting with timeless movie characters, there's something magical for everyone at the park.
But even if you're a regular at Disneyland, there's a good chance you haven't seen every last secret that the park holds. There are a lot of obvious, eye-catching sights around Disneyland between the rides and attractions. But there are quite a few concealed secrets that the park hides well. If you have an observant eye, some patience, and a bit of luck you just might be able to catch some for yourself.
Here are 25 surprising secrets that Disneyland keeps concealed from its guests.
25 The Secret Suite in Cinderella's Castle
Cinderella's Castle is home to a secret suite. This room was intended to be used as an apartment for Walt Disney and his family, but he passed away before it could be completed. In this luxurious suite, you'll find 24-karat floor tiles, intricate ceilings, stained glass windows, and even a magic mirror that hides the TV.
Not many people get the chance to stay in this secret suite, but the park does occasionally run contests where you can win a free night there. The suite is located just above the Pirates of the Carribean Ride in New Orlean's Square.
24 The Elaborate Underground Tunnel System
There's a lot more to Disneyland than what meets the eye, and one of the park's best-kept secrets is actually one of its largest. Underneath the many buildings, rides, and walkways in an intricate system of connected tunnels and walkways for the staff and the characters to use.
With this tunnel system, staff members are able to get from nearly any point of the park to another without ever stepping foot out amongst the guests. There are many hidden doors and passageways to disguise these entry points. At some places in the park, these tunnels are actually 3-stories underground.
23 The Envelope of Protection
It's not obvious to the naked eye, but every single ride at Disneyland has been carefully constructed to prevent people from being able to reach out and touch anything from the ride itself. Park engineers refer to this safety strategy as an "envelope of protection" that keeps riders safe.
Even if people decide to ignore the "keep all body parts inside the ride at all times" warning, there's really no risk of colliding with a stationary object while in motion. This is also why selfie sticks were banned from the park - they're longer than the protective envelope and could lead to injury.
22 The Secret of the Smellitizers
If you've ever walked down Main Street, you might have noticed that there's a consistent smell of freshly baked goods. And when you enter a ride like Pirates of the Carribean, you may notice that you can smell a musky seawater scent in the air, despite being miles from the beach.
This is all part of Disneyland's plan to immerse people in the park by targetting all of the senses and eliminate unpleasant smells. They use "smellitizers" to constantly pump different scents into different parts of the park. Disney enthusiast Gavin Doyle told Business Insider, "The Smellitzer was named after the famous WWI shell launcher, the howitzer. Instead of launching deadly shells, it launches glorious aromas."
21 A Front Row Seat on the Monorail
The monorail has been a popular way to get around the park since it opened in 1959. It seats a lot of people and moves from one point to another quickly, giving visitors a much-needed opportunity to take a load off their feet while getting to their next destination.
But what most monorail passengers don't know is that it's actually possible to sit in the front few rows of the first car. Simply ask the monorail conductor politely if you can sit up front. If there's room, you'll get one of the best views of the park imaginable.
20 The Chance to Drive the Mark Twain
Guests of Disneyland can actually earn their "Captain's License" and steer the Mark Twain riverboat up the Rivers of America. Find a staff member before you board and ask if you can visit the Wheel House. When they direct you upstairs, knock on the door that says Private. The captain will greet you at the door and bring you up to the wheel where you'll be able to steer the boat, ring the bell, and sign the guestbook.
Thankfully, the boat is impossible to crash so there's no prior experience necessary.
19 Coca-Cola is Everywhere
The only soda products you can purchase on the park grounds are made by Coca-Cola, and the brand is heavily advertised throughout the various eating areas. There's also a Coca-Cola store in the park itself.
Because Disneyland is such a loyal customer, Coca-Cola treats them exceptionally well. They give Disney free syrup to make and sell the drinks at the park, which saves them a ton of money each year. While the park still needs to purchase cups and containers themselves, it's a move that shows just how deep the partnership between the two brands runs.
18 The Landmarks Have a Unique Name
The landmarks around various Disney parks are referred to as "weenies" because they draw people towards various parts of the park. Cinderella's Castle, the Tree of Life, and Spaceship Earth are just a few examples of the various weenies throughout the parks.
According to Jim Korkis, a Disney Historian, Walt Disney used to use hot dogs (or "weiners") to attract his dog's attention, entice her to do tricks, and even lead her around the house. Korkis suspects that Disney mentioned this to someone during the park's construction and the name stuck.
17 The Eternal Flame in Walt Disney's Apartment
Just above the Disneyland Fire Department on Main Street is Walt Disney's private apartment where he would stay when he visited the area. If you look into the window directly above the Fire Department sign at night, you'll notice that there's still a light on.
When Walt Disney would visit the park, the light used to be lit to announce to all the guests that he was on the property. But today it's always lit as a tribute to the park's creator and is meant to serve as a reminder that his spirit is always alive and present at Disneyland.
16 The Very Special Bench
Walt Disney remembered the exact place where he first dreamed about creating Walt Disney World. And now, you can see it for yourself. The old wooden bench was originally located at the merry-go-round in Griffith Park. Griffith Park was located near Disney studios and Disney thought it would be a great place for Disneyland.
Unfortunately, the park was too small and didn't have the space necessary to house his visionary theme park. Disneyland is now located in Anaheim, California and you can see the bench in the entryway of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
15 Everyone is on a First Name Basis
If you look at the name tag of any staff member, you'll notice that they always have the employee's first name and hometown. This is because Walt Disney himself couldn't stand being referred to as "Mr. Disney" and constantly insisted that people only call him by his first name.
There have been hundreds of different styles of name tags at Disney parks over the years. They frequently change to reflect different park celebrations, anniversaries, and events. The tags feature different colors, characters and landmarks, but the first name basis tradition has never changed.
14 Taking a Trip on The Lilly Belle
At the end of Disneyland's C.K. Holiday Train is a special car named after Walt Disney's wife, Lillian. This car has elegant wood paneling and luxurious red couches and chairs and is a luxurious step up from the other cars on the train. Lilian Disney herself helped to design the parlor car, so it holds a special place in Disney history.
You can ride in this car if you'd like, but you need to arrive early and make special reservations for a trip in these coveted seats. Disneyland only allows a few people to get a spot on this special Victorian themed car every day, so if you do get a spot you're part of a special club.
13 The Resident Cats
You see guests of all kinds roaming the streets of Disneyland, but there's a good chance you've never noticed any of the felines that call the park home. The feral cats are employed by the park to roam in the evening hours and help control the mouse population on the grounds.
The cats are well taken care of. Each one of these 4-legged employees are all spayed/neutered, given regular shots and vet appointments, and fed daily. The method works quite well - Disneyland guests rarely spot mice and other pests on the grounds.
12 No-See-Um Green Buildings
There are many areas around the park that the staff doesn't want visitors to notice. Some of these areas just gates to staff areas, but others are doors to exclusive areas like Club 33. Disneyland staff designs every detail carefully and deliberately - no color is selected by accident. So the areas that they want to hide are painted a color called "no-see-um-green."
"The goal of this color is to cause the object to fade into your color spectrum so that your eye will miss it completely," Gavin Doyle explains.
11 The Main Street Shops are Named After Real People
Each one of the shops on Main Street has a unique name. But not many guests realize that each one is named after a real person. The majority of the names are to honor people who worked for Disney Studios or Disneyland for a long time.
It's a great, subtle way to pay homage to the people who keep the park going. These buildings also aren't nearly as large as they appear to be. The first floor is normal sized, but the second and third floors are quite smaller, creating the illusion of large grand main streets.
10 Club 33 - For Members Only
Club 33 is a secretive, members-only club located in the New Orleans Square section of the park. The space serves as a hangout and restaurant for those that are in-the-know, but as some have discovered - it's very difficult to get a ticket into the club.
The waiting list for membership is about 14 years long, and in order to be put on it in the first place, you need to know someone who is already a member. Once your name is up, the membership fee alone is $100,000. Not many have seen the inside of the club, and photography isn't usually permitted so you won't find many pictures of the club or its members on the web.
9 The Hidden Basketball Court
The Matterhorn Bobsled ride has been a favorite amongst guests for many years. It opened in 1959 and is actually the first known tubular steel continuous-track coaster in the world. But the backstage area holds a secret that's been a favorite amongst employees for many years.
The basketball court is hidden away in a small attic space in the backstage area of the ride. It gives employees an area of their own to unwind and play a pick-up game on breaks and between shifts. There's also a ping-pong table available for staff in the area.
8 The Fun Birthday Treats
If you happen to visit Disneyland on your birthday, be sure to tell a staff member at the gate. They'll bring you down to City hall where you'll receive a birthday sticker letting everyone know it's your big day. But the extra fun doesn't stop there - when you're wearing the sticker throughout the park, other staff members who notice might gift you a few extra goodies, so it's definitely worth obtaining one.
And if you find that it's your birthday but you can't make it to the park that day, stop by your closest Disney Store. They have the buttons in-store and are happy to hand them out to guests to carry on the park tradition no matter where you are.
7 The Hidden Mickey Mouses
Most Disneyland visitors aren't aware that Mickey Mouse is actually hiding all over the park, often in plain sight. They're all over the place on walls, in decorations, and even on rides. Some people have speculated that there's one on every ride in the park, but no one has managed to compile a definitive list to confirm the theory.
This is actually a tradition that Disney has carried over into other parks, so it's definitely worth keeping your eyes open every time you visit to see how many you can spot.
6 The Hidden Eeyore
Mickey Mouse isn't the only one hiding just out of sight in the park. Tucked away on the Indiana Jones Temple of the Forbidden Eye ride is a familiar face from Winnie-the-Pooh - Eeyore. You'll find him up in the rafters of the movie room just after you've made your first few turns.
While hiding Eyeore in a random place may sound like nothing more than a cheeky Easter egg, there's actually a reason for it. The land where the Temple of the Forbidden eye sits was once a large parking lot that was built on when the park expanded. The parking area was known as the Eeyore lot, so his presence now serves as a tribute to the old lot and growth of the park.
5 It's Never Silent
No matter where you go in the park, there's a good chance you're hearing music and voices from the rides and attractions at all times. It would make sense to think that the sounds stop and that the park is quiet after things shut down for the night, but apparently, that isn't the case.
It's been said that the music never actually stops playing at Disneyland. People suspect that it would take too much time and manpower to turn everything on and off every single day.
4 Always in Character
It's not a huge secret that Disney cast members are expected to stay in character while interacting with the public at all times. But the cast members portraying the characters from the Toy Story films take this to an entirely new level.
If a guest spots a character such as Woody or Buzz going through the park, they can shout "Andy's coming!" to make the characters freeze in place or go limp - just like they do in the movies. This little easter egg brings the movies to life for children and adults alike and is a great example of how Disney is constantly working to keep the magic alive.
3 The Julie Andrews Horse
If you visit the King Arthur Carousel you might notice that there's a white horse that looks a bit different than all of the others around it. That's because it's a special horse, dedicated to Julia Andrews and marking her status as an honorary ambassador of the park. She was also the official ambassador of Disneyland during its 50th-anniversary celebrations.
The horse is decorated with birds and flowers that call back to Andrews' most famous Disney film, Mary Poppins. Released in 1964, the movie cemented her place as a Disney legend and immortalized songs like "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Chim Chim Cheree."
2 The Red Carpet Treatment
Disney wants each and every guest that comes through the park to feel like they're special and are always receiving the best treatment that they could possibly get at a theme park. The consideration for the entire guest experience is why Disney decided that the entryway to the park was to be made of red brick - to make guests feel like they're walking on the red carpet.
There are other touches like this scattered throughout the park, such as the curtains at the entry tunnels. These are made to resemble the curtains of a stage, symbolizing that once you're through them, you've entered an entirely new world.
1 The Subtle Details of the Partners Statue
Constructed in the central hub of Disneyland in 1993, the statue famously depicts Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse's hand and pointing towards the future. But most park visitors never notice the amount of detail and references to Walt Disney that are immortalized on the statue itself.
For example, the Smoke Tree Ranch logo is engraved onto the statue's tie. This ranch was a favorite of Walt's where he owned a house and was frequently known to wear ties with this insignia. Walt is also wearing a Claddagh ring on his right hand, which was something both he and his wife wore after their trip to Ireland together.
Sources: Business Insider, Disney Parks, Just Disney, The History Channel, The Travel Channel