Myths and Legends about Disney at A Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts”

Part 4 of 4

We’re now down to the final 11 so-called “Insane Facts” from MSN’s “41 Insane Facts You Definitely Don’t Know About Disneyland.”

I hope you enjoyed Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this 4-part series. Did you find them to be “mind-blowing facts... that even the ultimate Disney fan doesn’t know”?

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, April 17, 2015

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Wizard of Bras from a 1955 advertisement in the Santa Ana Register. Courtesy Orange County Archives.

Claim 31: “There was a lingerie shop as well — it only lasted six months and closed in 1956.”

Status: Wrong term—it was really a corset and bra shop

The Intimate Apparel Shop, operated by Hollywood-Maxwell Brassiere Co. of Los Angeles, was a corset and bra shop on Main Street U.S.A. Exhibits included old (circa 1900) and new (1955) corsets, bras, and petticoats—and the Wonderful Wizard of Bras.

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2014

Claim 32: “The drawbridge on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is real and can be raised or lowered.”

Status: No longer True

Sleeping Beauty Castle (not Sleeping Beauty’s Castle) was built with a real drawbridge mechanism, although it was hardly ever used. The drawbridge looked authentic because it was authentic.

In 2014, the simple rows of chains that separated guests on the drawbridge from the moat were replaced by permanent railings made of wood and wrought iron—firmly attached and not designed to fold up or away. The drawbridge is no longer truly a drawbridge. Guest safety is a higher priority. Presumably, it would be possible to restore it to its original design, but that will probably never happen.

screen capture

Screen capture, September 11, 2001, courtesy of Allen Huffman

Claim 33: “There have only ever been three unscheduled days the park had to close. The days were the national day of mourning after John F. Kennedy was killed, after the Northridge earthquake in 1994, and on 9/11.”

Status: False

There have been more than three days when Disneyland was scheduled to be open but remained closed.

Two of the days mentioned in the claim are correct. Disneyland closed on Saturday, November 23, 1963, the day of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred before Disneyland’s opening time; the park remained closed that day.

Disneyland did not suffer damage from the pre-dawn Northridge earthquake on Monday, January 17, 1994. The park was open for business, although each attraction opened only after after it was thoroughly inspected. Newspapers at the time reported that Disneyland stayed open. The mistaken “fact” that Disneyland closed that day has taken on a life of its own on the Internet in recent years.

The biggest reason for unscheduled closings has been weather. For example, Disneyland did not open on Wednesday, December 16, 1987, because of “foul weather warnings.” According to the Los Angeles Times the following day, “It was the third time in 25 years that the Magic Kingdom shut down, and the first closing since March 1983, when the county was struck by a powerful storm that caused more than $100 million in damages.”

In addition, there have been days when the park closed early. The common reason was weather. But there was a different reason on August 6, 1970, when approximately 300 Yippies “invaded” Disneyland and caused so much disruption that Disneyland management closed the park six hours early.

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo © Disney: This is a rare color image of opening day taken outside the Main Entrance of Disneyland on July 17, 1955.

Claim 34: “Eleven-year-old George Lucas was at the park on opening day.”

Status: Close enough to be called True

A 1995 article in Entertainment Weekly (“‘Indiana Jones’ goes to Disneyland” by Steve Daly, February 3, 1995) confirms that Lucas was one of Disneyland’s earliest guests:

If you ask George Lucas, executive producer of the Indy movies and controller of all rights to the character, the Disney-Indy alliance is a natural. “I was at Disneyland the second day it opened (in 1955),” he says, recalling that the mini-freeway Autopia ride was his favorite “until I could drive.”

The date was apparently either July 18 or July 19, depending on whether “second day” means the day after the televised opening or the second public day. It would be his first of many visits.

Other accounts tell how 11-year-old George Lucas took a plane ride from Modesto Airport to Southern California, where his best friend had recently moved. Together, they enjoyed the brand-new Disneyland park.

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Claim 35: “When you wait in line for Star Tours, an overhead speaker will page Egroeg Sacul, which is George Lucas spelled backward.”

Status: True

In the queue of the original version of Star Tours (1987–2010), a woman’s voice on the public address system requested, “Departing Endor passenger, Sacul—Mr. Egroeg Sacul—please see the Star Tours agent at gate number 3.” It was one of the many airport-like announcements that kept guests entertained as they slowly proceeded toward the simulators.

When the current version of Star Tours (officially Star Tours – The Adventures Continue) opened in 2011, the new audio track in the refreshed queue kept this announcement.

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2004

Claim 36: “The props in Indiana Jones’s office when you’re waiting in line for the ride are real props from the movie franchise.”

Status: Undetermined

When Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure opened in 1995, newspapers mentioned that the truck near the entrance had appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Beyond that, there were no references to actual props from the movies. Disneyland PR has never claimed that Professor Jones’ basecamp office is filled with actual props from the movies.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. If some of the production props were available to Disney, it may even have been easier or cheaper to acquire them than to re-create everything.

The source of the MSN claim may have been an unverified item at HiddenMickeys: “Many of the props in Indy’s Office were used in the films as well. The cooling fan, the hand pump, the calendar, the maps (with Mickey pulls at the bottom labeled India, Europe, America, etc.) but not the notes and letters or the scroll. REPORTED: Mark Turner (Wizard of Indiana Jones) 30 JUN 97.”

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Claim 37: “Three babies have been born in Disneyland.”

Status: True

Dave Smith, Former Chief Archivist at Walt Disney Archives, addressed a question about Disneyland babies in Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered (Disney Editions Deluxe, 2012):

Q. I am sure that lots of interesting things have happened at Disneyland. Has anyone ever given birth there? And if so, how many times has that happened? Marianne, Hilliard, OH

A. Sometimes a baby is ready to be born at an unexpected time, and there is no opportunity to get the mother to a hospital. There actually have been three babies born at Disneyland, the latest in April 2002.

The babies were born on a bench on Main Street, U.S.A. (1978), Disneyland First Aid (1984), and a Disneyland main entrance Lead office (2002). All were girls. Another a baby girl was born at the Toy Story Parking Lot bus stop in 2012. You can count her as baby number four if you want to include the entire Disneyland Resort.

With millions of guests (some of whom are pregnant) visiting Disneyland every year for almost 60 years, and with babies sometimes making their entrances into the world sooner and more quickly than expected, it’s surprising that the number isn’t much higher. Perhaps there were other births that never made it into newspapers, but those can’t be counted.

There’s a myth that Disneyland gives a lifetime pass to any baby born in the park. That’s not the case. Disneyland does not want to encourage expectant mothers to show up when they’re about to give birth, head over to First Aid, and collect an incredibly valuable lifetime pass that obligates Disneyland to provide free admission for the next 90 or so years.

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Claim 38: “Disneyland does not sell gum on purpose to keep the grounds clean. They also don’t sell shelled peanuts.”

Status: True about gum; wrong adjective for peanuts

Disneyland’s custodial Cast Members spend plenty of time scraping gum off the pavement, even though the two parks do not sell gum. Disneyland’s three hotels don’t sell it either. If you ask a Cast Member for gum at the Candy Palace on Main Street or Trolley Treats on Buena Vista, the response is likely to be that Walt Disney personally made the decision not to sell gum.

Disneyland does not want peanut shells on the ground either, which is why there are no unshelled (or in-shell) peanuts at the Disneyland Resort. Shelled peanuts are peanuts that have been removed from their shells—and those are readily available.

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2005. This was a spill of clam chowder, not a “Code V.” It was promptly cleaned up.

Claim 39: “When a guest vomits in Disneyland, employees use the term ‘Code V’.”

Status: True

The use of “Code V” has been confirmed by custodial Cast Members on podcasts, blogs, and online forums.

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo © Disney: Opening Day Dedication – July 17, 1955

Claim 40: “On Disneyland’s opening day, the cement did not set in time. Women’s heels kept sinking into the ground.”

Status: Mixed

Guests were not made to walk through unset cement, so the “cement” part of the claim is wrong. But accounts of why Disneyland’s opening earned the nickname “Black Sunday” include high heels sinking into newly laid asphalt in the summer heat. This story has taken on a life of its own. The actual extent of the problem might never be known.

Photo for a Sanity Check on “41 Insane Facts” about Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2008

Claim 41: “You can own a piece of Disneyland by buying a brick for $150. It will line the path right outside the ticket entrance.”

Status: False, although partially true in the past

For 11 years, Disneyland’s “Walk of Magical Memories” program allowed guests to “sponsor” personalized 10-inch hexagonal Commemorative Bricks for $150. Annual Pass holders received a 10% discount. Guests who paid for the pavers do not actually “own a piece of Disneyland” because they did not buy ownership of the pavers, only the opportunity to have their names put on them.

Disneyland stopped accepting new orders at the end of February 2011. These pavers can still be seen in the Esplanade between Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure.

Take a look at Insane Facts Part 1, Insane Facts Part 2, and Insane Facts Part 3.

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Disneyland Signs, P 1
Insane Facts, Part 3

© 2015 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated April 30, 2015.