We have something special for you today, the Introduction to the Third Edition of The Disneyland Encyclopedia. PLUS, you’ll find four of the entries from the book (with photos from the book in glamorous black and white). Our thanks to author Chris Strodder for access to so much of his newly revised book. Read on folks. . .
“There are still plenty of avenues to be explored.”
Paralleling Disneyland’s continuous growth, this new edition of The Disneyland Encyclopedia is the largest yet. Since the first edition appeared in 2008 with 502 entries, I’ve added another hundred. There are fifty-five (now there’s a nice number!) brand-new entries for this third edition. Among them are new structures that have recently joined or will soon join the park (including Star Wars Land); new exhibits (see Season of the Force); new events and parades (Egg-stravaganza, Paint the Night, etc.); new profiles of Disneyland’s Imagineers and performers (like Tony Baxter, Steve Martin, and the Side Street Strutters); new entries for movies and books with scenes set in Disneyland (Saving Mr. Banks and Little Man of Disneyland); and all-new individual entries for some longtime Disneyland favorites that I’m excited to include for the first time (Big Thunder Trail, Fort Wilderness, Mailboxes, Mouse Ears, Windows of Enchantment, and more).
In addition, I’ve added some topics that aren’t exactly inside Disneyland, but they’re still important to its history: entries for Harbor Boulevard, the Heliports, and runDisney, for instance, plus new profiles of some influential “outsiders” who helped shape and support the park (such as Arrow Development, Ray Bradbury, and Keith Murdoch). A few new entries might seem a little unusual—I’m looking at you, Happiness—but trust me, they all contribute to this attempt at explicating the complex and fluid history of Disneyland.
If you’re new to The Disneyland Encyclopedia, here’s quick recap of what it is and does. While most Disneyland books group topics together geographically (which means you’ve got to know where something is if you want to read about it) or chronologically (which means you have to jump from chapter to chapter to find out how something has changed over the decades), this book presents A–Z entries that tell the full story of an attraction, person, or event, self-contained within its own entry. Thus, skipping around isn’t necessary—if you know the name of what you’re looking for, you can go straight to its alphabetical entry and read all about it. Naturally, you can still skip around if you want to, and the book even helps you do that by boldfacing related entries so you can flip to them easily. In addition, our index of over 4,000 listings should help you find any proper noun in the book.
Readers already familiar with this encyclopedia might notice that the sixty sidebars in the second edition are missing from this one. Actually, they’re not missing, they’ve just been relocated to our sister publication: The Disneyland Book of Lists, a photo-laden book published in 2015 that includes 250 lists of information, quotes, rankings, trivia, jokes, celebrities, urban myths, and much more from Disneyland’s history. Here in The Disneyland Encyclopedia, you’ll notice new “Mouscellany” sidebars sprinkled throughout the text—almost 200 of them—that supplement a nearby entry with a bonus fact, a considered opinion, or a little extra pixie dust.
That The Disneyland Encyclopedia continues to change is appropriate because the book itself is the product of a lifelong desire to track the changes in Disneyland. I’ve been visiting and studying this park steadily since 1966 (so long ago that the old Flying Saucers were still hovering in Tomorrowland). Even as a kid walking in for the first time, I already could tell that Disneyland was the world’s most influential and famous theme park. I quickly realized that the park wasn’t just astonishingly fun, it was also the happiest, cleanest, most courteous, and best-planned public place I’d ever been in. Of course, everyone knows these aspects of Disneyland, even if they’ve never been there. You don’t have to be a genius, or even out of elementary school, to know Disneyland’s reputation, and the learning curve for “getting” Disneyland once you’re there can be measured in minutes. But once you begin to realize how much and how often the park changes, and you start to see the historic arc of its evolution, the learning curve for truly understanding Disneyland at its most subtle and significant levels can be measured in years, and maybe even decades.
I first got a sense of Disneyland’s constant evolution back in the 1960s when, after just a few visits, I realized that some of the things I’d seen in 1966 had disappeared by 1967, and new things had already arisen in their place (especially in Tomorrowland). For the next few years, I perused the park’s Fun Maps, pored over its souvenir books, and marked its transitions and tweaks. But Disneyland, ever the ambitious moving target, refused to be pinned down. I continued my informal study of Disneyland’s history well into the 1980s and began compiling rudimentary encyclopedia entries and lists in the 1990s. Now, hundreds of visits later, after taking thousands of photographs, measurements, and notes and working incessantly on these three encyclopedia editions for over a decade, I’ve gained a fuller appreciation of Disneyland’s ability to continually reinvent itself.
At times, the park’s changes have seemed almost magical. Take, for instance, the 2015-2016 Diamond Celebration for Disneyland’s sixtieth anniversary, which featured spectacular new fireworks, a dazzling new parade, and over a year of new events, exhibits, activities, food, and merchandise. The park drew more than 18 million guests and obliterated all of its annual attendance records by ten percent. Every square inch of Disneyland, it seemed, was fully utilized and decorated. Then, before that celebration was even over, officials announced the single biggest park expansion ever: fourteen acres of Star Wars Land that is sure to send attendance records soarin’ over California. This is what I’m talking about. Just when you think Disneyland is about to peak, just when you think there’s no room to squeeze in anything else, presto! Another fourteen acres magically appear, and the park prepares to accelerate to an exciting new galaxy.
As Disneyland continues to reach new heights, so will we, in our appreciation. Disneyland is more than beautiful and entertaining; it’s wondrous and transportive. Like a magnificent work of art, Disneyland reveals more and more of itself with intense study. The more powerful your mighty microscope, the more details you’ll see. Hopefully this book will help you discover those details, understand Disneyland’s history, and see for yourself all that Disneyland has to offer, from its simplest fun to its most profound joys. Ultimately, the best lesson of all is that there is always more to learn, especially in dynamic, ever-changing Disneyland.
Pismo Beach, California
The A-Z Entry on Page 38: Address
Historically, Disneyland’s street address has been given as either 1313 Harbor Boulevard or 1313 S. Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, CA 92803. This location is on Disneyland’s east side, and we’ve had both addresses given to us at City Hall at different times. Cast members will explain that this address points to Disneyland’s main administrative offices, visible from the Monorail as it passes along Harbor. Searches online and in books, and even calls to Disneyland’s information line (714-781-INFO) occasionally give a west-side address for Disneyland at both 1313 Disneyland Drive and 1313 S. Disneyland Drive (in 2016, we easily found all four “1313” addresses while searching and calling around).
It’s possible that the street number was intentionally selected and has some special significance. This idea is supported by Stephen Faessel’s Historic Photos of Anaheim, which says that “Anaheim’s civic government took care of . . . arranging the signature address of ‘1313’ South Harbor Boulevard.” Window on Main Street by Disney Legend Van France claims that Walt Disney personally selected the numbers because they’re part of Donald Duck’s license plate (313) and Disney’s wedding anniversary (July 13). Some people claim that Disneyland’s address makes a reference to Mickey Mouse; “M” is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet, and thus 1313 = MM. Others note that there’s a precedent for this street number in the Disney canon: a 1954 Uncle Scrooge comic pinpoints Donald Duck’s address as 1313 Webfoot Walk, Duckburg. When all these theories were presented to the Anaheim Planning and Zoning Department in 2013, the amused representative said the numbers are “simply a coincidence.”
At Disney California Adventure, 1313 appears in another form: it’s the room number on the souvenir pin and keychain for the Hollywood Tower Hotel. In 2013’s Monsters University, the school in the film was established in 1313.
The A-Z Entry on Pages 85-87: Big Thunder Trail
DATES: September 2, 1979–January 10, 2016
Along with the opening of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in 1979 came a fascinating new walking area. Wrapping around the back of the tall, sculptured Big Thunder rocks, the 800-foot-long Big Thunder Trail delivered pedestrians from the western edge of Fantasyland to the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Golden Horseshoe, and other main locations at the center of Frontierland. The walkway averaged twenty to twenty-five wide, though it could narrow to only fifteen feet and spread to about thirty-five feet. But the Big Thunder Trail offered much more than just a shortcut between the two lands.
Theming was detailed and comprehensive along the trail. Previously blocked off, the new northern end started just west of the Village Haus restaurant. Stone pillars and signage announced the trailhead. Here the rockwork subtly transitioned from Fantasyland’s smooth pastels to a rougher, darker style anticipating the wilderness landscapes to come. As they walked, guests might have noticed that the path gently sloped downward and that its texture had changed. It also showed the impressions of carts, horseshoes, and boots, effective details that were carried through into the heart of Frontierland.
Heading south from Fantasyland, walkers immediately passed a shaded sitting area on the left that had formerly been reserved for smokers. Behind this area’s benches was a mural attempting to recruit horse soldiers with dramatic imagery and words: “Join the Cavalry and have a courageous friend” and “The Horse Is Man’s Noblest Companion.” The first of three tunnels along the trail came next; the sounds of miners working inside were added in 2014. A little farther down the trail were the entrance to the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue with its stage and Big Thunder Ranch with its petting zoo and Miss Chris’s Cabin; on the left, behind high strands of real barbed wire, were the towering spires of Big Thunder Mountain. All along this stretch, guests heard the rowdy sounds of Big Thunder’s rollicking railroad.
Crossing a footbridge that was twenty-seven feet long and twenty-one feet wide, guests passed under trees that draped almost completely across the trail. On the left (eastern) side, a patch of varied cacti had at least one Hidden Mickey on view (shown). To the right, a large, still pond invited a restful pause. Hooting owls were among the recorded bird sounds heard here on the trail’s western side. Two tunnels gaped behind the pond, one that was open and moodily lit at night, and another that was loosely boarded up. The trail emptied out past Big Thunder’s railroad at a small building decorated with a beautiful Mark Twain mural and the Ship to Shore Marketplace beckoning ahead.
It was possible to explore Fantasyland and Frontierland without ever taking the Big Thunder Trail that connected them at the back. Thus, not everyone traveled this route through the wilderness, and they may never get to, now that most of the trail has been torn up for the Star Wars Land construction that began in early 2016.
Many animals are seen along the Big Thunder Trail, especially at the main pond: real ducks, crawdads, turtles, lizards, tiny fish, and big, albeit artificial, leaping fish (shown). Oh, and one more critter, which has often been rumored to exist but is rarely seen by guests: live feral cats, such as this one that the author saw sneaking into the brush near Big Thunder Ranch in 2015 (shown). Disneyland encourages the feral cats to live in the park to help control the rodent population.
The A-Z Entry on Pages 233-235: Happiness
It might seem unusual that an abstract emotional state such as happiness should be an entry in an encyclopedia—unless that encyclopedia is about Disneyland. This park, we’ll argue, was created to inspire the transcendent feeling of happiness.
Disneyland’s raison d’être is spelled out in the 1953 prospectus that summarizes Walt Disney’s plans. The very first thing stated about the proposed park is that “it will be a place for people to find happiness,” an assertion that is repeated at the end. Then, on June 14, 1959, Walt Disney dedicated the latest Tomorrowland attractions by stating that Disneyland’s “only purpose” is “the pursuit of happiness for all” (his phrasing dovetails nicely with Disneyland’s conspicuous patriotic pageantry; “the pursuit of happiness” is one of the fundamental “inalienable rights” named in the Declaration of Independence).
As noted in this encyclopedia’s Walt Disney entry, Disney’s intentions for the park can be reduced to basically just one, which is the instruction he gave to all his designers: put smiles on guests’ faces. Of all the thousands of Disney quotes that could have been used for the plaque on the Partners statue, this is the one that made it: “Most of all what I want Disneyland to be is a happy place.” On Disneyland’s famous dedication plaque (shown), there’s only one adjective directly applied to Disneyland among its seventy words and numbers: “happy.” Starting in 1955, the Disney Traditions training given to new cast members emphasized one common objective: “We deliver happiness.”
If anything, the happiness theme has only strengthened over time. In 1975, a new advertising slogan reminded everyone that Disneyland is “the happiest part of growing up.” In 2005 and 2006, the comprehensive celebration of Disneyland’s fiftieth birthday was named the Happiest Homecoming on Earth. And a 2014 promotion introduced new signs to remind everyone that Disneyland just “Keeps Getting Happier.”
Happiness isn’t just something Disney latched onto for his family-friendly ad campaign. It’s actually observable. In October 1965, sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury wrote an article for Holiday magazine called “The Machine-Tooled Happyland.” In it, he advises readers to visit Disneyland for themselves: “There you will see the happy faces of people. I don’t mean dumb-cluck happy . . . I mean truly happy.” Significantly, in 2015 a welcome sign near the Mickey and Friends parking structure didn’t read, “This Way to Disneyland”; it read, “This Way to More Happiness” (shown). After sixty years of reminders, the sign implied, everyone knows that Disneyland and happiness are one and the same.
Thus it’s no accident, no mere marketing gimmick, that Disneyland is called “The Happiest Place on Earth” instead of “The Most Entertaining Place on Earth,” “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” “The Funnest/Friendliest/Greatest place on Earth,” etc. Happiness was the designated goal; it is the inner emotion being externalized. For over sixty years, happiness has been the delivered result that helps explain why the vast majority of Disneyland’s guests come back again and again, even when they know high prices and long lines await them. Coming to Disneyland makes them happy.
Want to know what “happy” looks like? There’s a statue of him standing in the Snow White Wishing Well and Grotto next to Sleeping Beauty Castle (shown).
The A-Z Entry on Pages 342-344: Mouse Ears, aka Ears Hat
For decades, the famous hats designed to look like Mickey Mouse ears have been among Disneyland’s most ubiquitous souvenirs. How ubiquitous? Over 78 million ear hats were sold in Disneyland’s first fifty years, according to Life magazine in April 2005. A 2006 issue of The New Yorker called them “the most recognizable corporate headgear after that of the Playboy Bunnies.” According to a 2014 Disneyland press release of “fun facts,” mouse ears are “the most popular Disneyland Resort souvenirs of all time, with more than 84 million ‘ears’ sold since 1955.”
Introduced by the TV Mouseketeers in 1955, the ears were initially designed by artist Roy Williams, one of the adults on the show. It’s possible that he was inspired by the traditional montera, a hat worn by Spanish bullfighters with a somewhat similar shape dating to the mid-1800s. Manufactured for Disneyland by the Benay-Albee Novelty Co. (makers of the pinwheel beanie), they were made with hard-cotton felt and came in basic black. Once purchased, the owner could have his or her name stitched into the back.
These ear hats first appeared in one of Disneyland’s souvenir books in 1958, the same year the Mad Hatter opened on Main Street. Since then, the ears have been modified into hundreds of styles, changed into different colors (gold for the fiftieth anniversary in 2005), and had new features added such as “glow” technology that enables them to light up. The simple, basic hats sold for $14.99 in 2016.
In celebration of the ears’ long history, Disneyland declared 2013 the Year of the Ear and introduced new limited-edition collectible hats every month of the year. The wild selection included pirate themes, feathers, flowers, veils, embroidery, sequins, and more. For 2015’s Diamond Celebration, a special “jeweled ear hat” created by the Arribas Brothers could be purchased for $625; another set, a glittery Minnie Mouse style with a pendant, cost $24.95 and quickly became the biggest seller of all the 500+ new items introduced for that year’s sixtieth anniversary (shown).
The ubiquitous ears also continue to be represented in popular culture. They’ve been worn on TV shows (such as “The Spaghetti Catalyst,” a 2010 episode of The Big Bang Theory) and even in artworks: Vincent Van Goghs to Disneyland, Bob Buccella’s 1987 painting, depicts Van Gogh wearing a one-eared hat.
The most expensive mouse ears ever created? Probably the crystal-studded hat created by Swarovski, a dazzling $25,000 prize given away in a 2016 Share Your Ears promotion to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.