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April 17, 2014

9 Weird Things You Didn’t Know About Disneyland

Disneyland markets itself as “the happiest place on Earth,” but a lot of weird stuff has to go down to ensure that they maintain that title. Entire websites are devoted to the weird stuff that goes on in the Anaheim park, which includes obsessive-compulsive cleaning habits and entire worlds that exist behind close doors. While I wouldn’t say any aspect of the parks operation is unpleasant, the lengths to which this park goes to keep up appearances can be a little unnerving. Don’t believe me? Take a look.

9. First Employee To Die at Disneyland

The first employee death at Disneyland took place in 1974. Deborah Stone was a greeter on a ride called “America Sings” (sounds lame) when she got caught between a stationary wall on the ride and a moving wall. She was crushed, but not discovered until the next day. The park was closed for three days to clean up and install safety signage. Three days? How badly was she crushed?

8. The Grand Opening Was a Disaster

For a number of reasons. Most obviously, the temperature was over 100 degrees, preventing the tar laid on the sidewalks the night before from drying. So women in heels kept sinking into the surface, making simply walking around a chore. Moreover, due to the counterfeiting of tickets, more than twice as many people showed up as planned, causing the park to run out of food and drinks. Ironically, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle suffered from a gas leak, which I find pretty funny, but only because no one got hurt by it.

7. The Matterhorn Has a Basketball Court in It

It’s pretty weird to have a tiny basketball court in a fake hollowed-out mountain. And depending on what you believe, the reasons for its placement there could be just as weird. According to legend the court either served as a break room while the human mountain climbers were in between ascents and descents (because I’m sure people want to take a break from climbing mountains by playing basketball) or it served as a loophole in the building code. You see, Anaheim didn’t know how to classify what Disney was constructing, so Disney tossed in a hoops court and called the whole thing an arena to get around height restrictions.

6. Free Popcorn and Soda?

The word is that Disneyland receives all its Coca-Cola and Orville Redenbacher popcorn for free in exchange for the goodwill and recognition that comes with being the exclusive soda and popcorn at the happiest place on earth. Of course, this means Disneyland isn’t allowed to sell competitors’ products. Sorry, Jiffy Pop and RC Cola.

5. Main Street USA Will Assault Your Sense Of Smell

In order to tighten the strangehold on your mind, Disneyland doesn’t just stop with displays for the eyes and ears. Additionally, they go after your schnozz when you amble down Main Street, USA, using strategically placed vents to pump out the smell of vanilla during most of the year, but switching it up with peppermint around the holidays. So, hold your nose and sprint through Main Street, USA, lest you get confused and think you’re in a Yankee Candle.

4. Club 33

In New Orleans square, right next to the Blue Bayou restaurant is a door that simply says “33 Royal Street.” Beyond that door is a members-only restaurant in which people sit on a waiting list for years only to pay thousands of dollars per year for the privilege of dining there. More practically, it is the only outlet in Disneyland to serve alcoholic drinks. As of this year, the wait is 14 years and individuals must pay $10,450 as an initiation fee, then $3,275 per year after that.

3. “Pirates of the Caribbean” Used Real Human Skeletons

No reason is given for this, other than “Roy Disney was just a really creepy dude.” The skeletons that were on and around the ride when the park opened in 1967 were human skeletons on loan from UCLA. No reason is known, though the park did eventually give the skeletons back to the school, where they were returned to their countries of origin and buried. That sounds like a more respectful application then having them adorn a theme park ride. In my opinion.

2. The Music Never Stops

Like, never. The powers that be at the park determined that it would be more costly to turn the system off and reboot it than it would to just let the speakers keep cranking out those infectious little ditties after hours. During an emergency or a massive power outage, the music stops, but during nightly cleaning and maintenance, “It’s a Small Word” will keep blasting into the ether, annoying everyone within earshot.

1. They Take Most Any Currency

While they are only required to accept American dollars, as long as a guest is paying with a currency from a country that the US has good relations with, they will pick up the phone and get the day’s exchange rate, probably to the chagrin of every customer in line. So make a note to change your dollars into the most random currency you can find, then use that currency to annoy cashiers and guests alike.

Bonus Fact That Isn’t Weird, But Pretty Useful: If you lose a Mickey balloon at Disneyland, produce your receipt at any outlet that sells them, and you will be given a free one.

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