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Disneyland: The 'Original' Magic Kingdom -- Part 2

by Sarah Mudd, PassPorter Message Board Guide (Moderator)
Last modified 06-09-2011

“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome.

em>Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” —Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955

When I walk through the gates of Disneyland Park, the outside world ceases to exist. It’s easy to walk into the park and be completely absorbed by the “Disney Bubble,” to forget that just on the other side of those walls is the hustle and bustle of a very busy street filled with hotels, cars, tourists, and all the noise that goes with them. Walking through those turnstiles makes it all go away.

Disneyland is “The Original” Magic Kingdom, built and opened by Walt Disney himself. It was built on 85 of the 160 acres of property Disney acquired, and on the day it opened contained only 20 rides and attractions! Since the day Disneyland opened, it has been a draw for both the famous and not-so-famous, and even world leaders. In 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited the U.S. for two weeks and (besides meeting John Wayne) claimed to only want to do one other thing . . . visit Disneyland. You can even find old video of the Shah of Iran visiting the park in the 1960s!

Like Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World, when you enter the turnstiles at Disneyland Park, there is an iconic Mickey Mouse face in the front flower garden that is a very popular place to stop and take a photo. After walking under the train station archway, which is adorned with a plaque that reads “HERE YOU LEAVE TODAY AND ENTER THE WORLDS OF YESTERDAY, TOMORROW AND FANTASY,” you enter Disneyland’s Main Street USA. At first glance, it looks very similar to Walt Disney World’s Main Street, but Disneyland’s is on a slightly smaller scale. Usually, we hop on to the Disneyland Railroad “for a grand circle tour of the Magic Kingdom, with stops at New Orleans Square, Mickey's Toontown, and Tomorrowland.” Then, after we’ve come back full-circle, we head down Main Street USA.

Around Town Square, you will find stops for the Main Street Vehicles (Fire Engine, Horse-Drawn Streetcars, Horseless Carriages and Omnibus), all of which run up and down Main Street from Town Square to the Central Plaza in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. On the right side of Main Street, you will find “The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.” Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was the main attraction at the State of Illinois pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, with an Audio-Animatronic Mr. Lincoln addressing the crowd for over 5 minutes. With the exception of two short time periods (two years in the 1970s and a four-year block between 2004-2009), Mr. Lincoln has been entertaining folks at Disneyland Park since 1965.

Just across the Square, you’ll find City Hall and the Fire Station. The Disneyland fire station holds a very special significance. Walt Disney was ever-present during the construction and first 11 years of the park’s existence (until his death in 1966), so much so that he had a private apartment built above the Disneyland Fire Dept. so that he and his family had a place to stay in the park while he watched over daily operations. In the front window of the apartment was a small lamp that, when turned on, clued the Cast Members in on the fact that Mr. Disney was in the park. When Walt died, the lamp was turned on and has not been turned off since. Some may call me crazy, but when I walk into the park (and then as I am leaving the park for the last time on my trip) I say “Good morning,” and “See you next time,” in the direction of the Disney apartment. I guess it is my own little way of thanking the man who built the park that both kids, and the kids in all of us adults, have come to love so much.

As you continue on down Main Street you’ll pass by the Emporium, Candy Palace, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Carnation Café, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Newsstand, Main Street Pin Shop, Penny Arcade, and Main Street Cinema. The Cinema is modeled on old silent movie theaters, and different animated shorts are played on the screen to recorded musical accompaniments. Since it opened it has always included “Steamboat Willie,”, of course!

Around the Central Plaza (known to some as “The Hub” at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom), you’ll have the option of heading left into Adventureland and Frontierland, right into Tomorrowland (passing the Plaza Inn – home of the “Minnie and Friends – Breakfast in the Park” character breakfast), or straight ahead through Sleeping Beauty Castle to Fantasyland. As I am I a creature of habit, I always go left. Adventureland, here we come!

The first attraction you come to in Adventureland is the original Enchanted Tiki Room! Opened in 1963, the Tiki Room was originally planned as a restaurant where birds would serenade you as you ate, but the restaurant plans were scrapped and the attraction instead was made into a full show. (Tiki Trivia! Because of the extensive use of computers necessary for the operation of the audio- animatronic birds, Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room was the park’s first air-conditioned attraction.) For all of you Dole Whip lovers, you can get your fill of Dole Whips, Dole Whip Floats and fresh pineapple spears from the Tiki Juice Bar just out in front of the Tiki Room. As you wander further into Adventureland, you can visit with Aladdin and friends in Aladdin’s Oasis and climb Tarzan’s Treehouse. As you exit Tarzan’s Treehouse, be sure to check out the artifacts left behind by the Swiss Family Robinson when they sold their treehouse to Tarzan and the Porter’s in 1999! Don’t forget to take a ride on the Jungle Cruise (who can resist the bad jokes, really?) where you’ll see charging hippos, sleeping zebras, the backside of water, and very hungry piranhas while riding in boats named such things as Nile Princess, Amazon Belle, and Kissimmee Kate.

If there is one attraction you do not want to miss in Disneyland Park, it is (in my opinion) Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Trust me, this is an attraction that you probably wouldn’t mind standing in a long line for, as the queue is totally immersive. The queue area includes lots of props from the Indiana Jones movies as well as booby traps (such as the Temple of Doom’s spike room), and wall inscriptions of a cryptic nature. (Trivia! The ride was built on what was once Disneyland’s “Eeyore” parking lot. See if you can find the lot’s sign along the queue.) The ride technology is much the same as DINOSAUR in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World, in that you ride in a jeep that bounces and moves along the ride’s, often very dark, course. But whatever you do, “Once you enter the Chamber of Destiny, do NOT look into the eyes of the idol!”

All this touring has worn me out, so I am going to take a break and snack on some tasty barbequed kabobs at Bengal Barbeque. In the next installment in this series, we’ll continue exploring Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom.

About the Author: Sarah is a busy stay-at-home mom, Travel Consultant with Ears to You Travel, PassPorter Message Board Guide and Navy wife whose family is currently stationed in Washington state. She has made many trips to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Her family is excited to be heading to Disneyland (her husband and 2-year-old son's first  trip) in August 2011!

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Updated 06-09-2011

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