In honor of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, we present 50 cool, obscure and simply odd things you probably didn’t know about the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth. Many were culled from Mouse Tales by David Koenig (Bonaventure, $19.95). Some were provided by Disney archivist Dave Smith, and others came from 101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland by former park employee Kevin Yee and lifelong fan Jason Schultz (Zauberreich, $14.95).
1. Disneyland’s original Tinker Bell was a 71-year-old Hungarian circus performer named Tiny Kline. The first to fly off the top of the Matterhorn on a zip line, she previously worked as a stunt aerialist, hanging from a flying airplane by her teeth.
2. High inside the hollow Matterhorn is a basketball court. It’s part of an employee break room. Los Angeles Lakers’ center Vlade Divac has been up there to shoot hoops.
3. Many of the faces of the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean are modeled on those of the “Imagineers” (Disneyspeak for the park’s artists and engineers) who created the ride. There’s evidence one face was modeled on Walt Disney’s.
4. Ron Ziegler, Richard Nixon’s press secretary during the Watergate scandal, once worked as a skipper on the Jungle Cruise ride.
5. The spooky voice that narrates the Haunted Mansion ride is that of the Pillsbury Doughboy. An actor named Paul Frees, who was to Disney what Mel Blanc was to Warner Brothers, supplied the voices for both, as well as many of the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean and most of the characters in “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” (except Abe himself). He was also the voice of John Lennon in the old Beatles cartoons and Boris Badenov in the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.