The Disneyland theme parks are some of those places that are shrouded in mystery. Many of us have heard about the underground tunnels and the basketball court hidden in the Matterhorn. But even in the age of endless information, there are still some things that are likely little-known or even completely unknown to the public about the parks. While that may be the case, there are some bits of information that have slipped through the cracks and into my hands.
So now I present to you some strange and cool facts about the Disney parks that, unless you're a major fan, might not have known.
Club 33 is the stuff of legends here in Los Angeles. Do I know people who have eaten at the elusive Disneyland hotspot? Allegedly. The "secret" restaurant, located in the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland, is much less secret than it was when it was built in 1967, but the real point of intrigue these days is the price you have to pay to get into the club.
Some people spend years on the wait list to become a member of Club 33. When they're finally given the chance to join, there's a $25,000 initiation fee per person, and a $10,000 annual fee. Yes, this is a pretty hefty price tag, but the restaurant also has 4.5 stars on Yelp if that helps (also, check out their images on Yelp for some truly drool-inducing pictures). Eating here is a definite bucket list item for any hardcore Disney fan with some extra cash in their pocket. On the other, fiscally responsible hand, maybe I'll stick to the churros, giant pickles, and turkey legs.
The happiest place on Earth hasn't always been that happy. In 2010, Disneyland Paris was hit the hardest. After facing a new management approach that made working for the Magic Kingdom very difficult, staff cuts and policy changes that changed the fresh food to frozen, and a Disneyland chef who had worked in a more upscale Disney kitchen for 10 years, killed himself after scratching "Je ne veux pas retourner chez Mickey" which translates to “I don’t want to go back to Mickey’s house,” Disneyland Paris wasn't exactly the place to be. The suicide of Chef Franck was only one of three suicides of Disney workers in 2010. Due to the brutal working conditions, employees gave the park the nickname “Mousewitz.”
Also, this year, employees have been complaining about the low wages and lack of benefits. Employee, Sherry Shluz, 65 said:
"I love my job, but I have been working here for 20 years, and making $13.45 after that long doesn't sound like much.”
Quite a bummer. This reminds me of when I went to Disneyland to perform with my choir in middle school and we had to walk behind the scenes of Toontown. Talk about a broken illusion.
The Beatles Calling it Quits
Disneyland is usually not associated with being the official breakup place of The Beatles, but it is. It probably wouldn't have been great press for the happiest place on Earth. In 1974, John Lennon signed the termination papers that ended The Beatles at Disney World's Polynesian Village. Lennon was the last of the four to sign the documents even though he was the first to initiate the breakup.
John's girlfriend and assistant May Pang recalls in her book Instamatic Karma: Photographs Of John Lennon:
"On December 29, 1974, the voluminous documents were brought down to John in Florida by one of Apple’s lawyers.
'Take out your camera,' he joked to me. Then he called Harold to go over some final points.
When John hung up the phone, he looked wistfully out the window. I could almost see him replaying the entire Beatles experience in his mind.
He finally picked up his pen and, in the unlikely backdrop of the Polynesian Village Hotel at Disney World, ended the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in history by simply scrawling John Lennon at the bottom of the page"
Hopefully, John was able to quell his sadness over breaking up one of history's greatest bands by enjoying Disney World.
Prepare your Google searches because this one's a doozy. Apparently, the ride Splash Mountain, which is based off of the 1946 Disney film Song of the South, is a very popular place for people to...um...flash. Whether it's the rush of the log ride or simply knowing that there is a camera that will snap this brief moment of lewdness at a popular place for families with children, I guess it just became a thing.
You can try to blame this one on the ever growing cast of adult Disney stars who have strayed somewhat from the path of wholesomeness to twerking all you want, but this gag has been going on since the 1990s. In fact, flashing became so common, that employees had to be trained to quickly screen and weed out the photos before they are available to the public eye. I guess it's been less of a problem in recent years, but recent staffing cuts have allowed the movement a bit of a comeback. If Flash Mountain is something you're into (no judgement) a quick Google search will yield the desired results. You're welcome?
The Wizard of Bras
On a similar note to Flash Mountain, back when the park first opened in 1955, it relied heavily on corporate sponsorships. One of these sponsors was Hollywood-Maxell Brassiere Co. of Los Angeles. Oh yes, Disneyland used to sell lingerie. The store also had a host known as the Wonderful Wizard of Bras.
It's funny because I've always thought that Disneyland's Main Street was missing a risqué element. So...that's something! Sadly, after about 6 months, the store doors closed forever. I guess we'll have to buy our Snow White themed bras elsewhere.
Richard Nixon is Not a Crook
From George Washington to Barack Obama, whether they wanted to or not, U.S. Presidents have always held a place in Disneyland-goers hearts in the "Hall of Presidents." Otherwise known as a place to cool off and take a seat, while also learning some valuable lessons from our nation's past and present leaders.
Few of our commanders in chief have been a bigger fan than Richard Nixon. In 1955, Nixon was even given the key to Disneyland. But 1973 was, by far, Nixon's most famed visit. Nixon faced down 400 Associated Press managing editors at the Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort and announced "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook." Well, as we all know, just 9 months later Nixon resigned from office. Dopey indeed.
You might have already known about some of these, but if you knew about the "Wizard of Bras," I applaud you because I had no clue until today. If these are some of the not-so-secret facts of the Disney parks, I can only imaging its real secrets. Like the NDA signing, pinky swearing secrets. I have always thought that Mickey's smile was hiding something.
I know there are tons of other fun and strange facts about the parks, if you have any others that blew your mind, please add them in the comments!