Disneyland celebrates 64 years today in the United States.

Since its gates opened in 1955, Disneyland has sold 84 million Mickey Mouse ears and hosted over 750 million guests.

Some sweet, dark, and amusing tidbits have escaped the notoriously secretive theme park over the years - although most visitors are blissfully unaware, you'll know better now.

The man himself

Reddit user Egheaumaen exposed the truth behind "the Disney point", explaining that Walt Disney was a chain smoker. Consequently, the majority of photos of him show him holding a cigarette.

That "point".. Photo / Getty Images

"In modern society, it is no longer socially appropriate to be a chain smoker, so the Disney company has airbrushed the cigarettes out of all the old photos of Walt. This leaves Walt holding his hand in a very strange position, with two fingers extended, where there used to be a cigarette between them.

"The Disney Company's official explanation for this is that Walt had a very unique hand gesture, that every time he pointed, he did so with two fingers. In order to perpetrate this lie on the public, all Disney employees everywhere, are required to point with two fingers, and are told, "This is the Disney way." The next time you're around a Disney employee, ask for directions, or ask where something is. I guarantee you they will point with two fingers."

Tom Hanks maintained the point in Saving Mr Banks. Photo / Disney screengrab
Tom Hanks maintained the point in Saving Mr Banks. Photo / Disney screengrab

ScorpionX-123 added to the Disney Point lore, "It's also because pointing with one finger is considered rude in other cultures".

But it's Disney, so you know it was mainly about the first thing.

The 2006 book about Walt Disney by Neal Gabler revealed the results of Gabler's unprecedented access (with the Disney family's permission) - he paints a picture of a depressed, workaholic, often-nasty man. When his cartoonists tried to form a union, he brought in armed guards.

Disney was anti-Semitic and racist too; he attended meetings of a pro-Nazi organization, the German American Bund, in the '30s. He also resisted hiring black Americans for his parks.

Disney was rightly accused of perpetuating racist stereotypes in his films. In Dumbo, Jim Crow (yes, named after the dehumanising racial segregation laws) is a jive-talking minstrel stereotype, played by a white actor. It also features faceless black workers who sing this offensive ditty.

"We never learned to read or write… Grab that rope, you hairy ape!"


Fantasia was cut in 1969 to remove scenes where a centaur called Sunflower, drawn in the minstrel style, serves the stamped-out-looking white centaur women.

'Sunflower' was cut out of Fantasia.
'Sunflower' was cut out of Fantasia.

Gabler also explodes the urban myth that Disney was cryogenically frozen on his death. In fact, he was cremated and his ashes buried in a private garden.

The final words ever written by Walt Disney were "Kurt Russell." The then-child actor had just signed a massive contract but no one knows what Walt specifically wanted.

The cast

Jscott18597 claims on Reddit, "A Disney princess that worked at the park said she had literal stalkers that would show up constantly to talk to her. They would even get angry at the replacement if she wasn't working. Disney wouldn't do anything until the stalker did something physical or lewd. Apparently a 40 year old man coming to visit a specific 20 year old girl (who had to interact with the man with a smile) day after day wasn't creepy enough for Disney."

Bkbee says, "Some of the princesses do coke to stay peppy".

Load_more_comments adds, "My ex worked there and apparently there's lots of sex happening behind the scenes."

Reddit user little-bones was a Tinker Bell performer, "I can't count how many times people asked me what was under my dress or tried to grope me. I would always shame them by loudly exclaiming 'You want to know what's under my dress? Well there's pixie dust of course!' or 'This man is a pirate! He's trying to reach the pixie dust that I keep under my dress!' and they'd walk away in shame like the creepy [expletive] they are."

Reddit user tfyvonchali saw a Snow White who wasn't as tame as the original, "Snow White, cursing a mother out in Puerto Rican Spanish, in character voice, than returning to English with out breaking a note in vocal. The Mom had pushed her son in front of people, he fell and had a bloody nose. The mother started yelling at him. Snow White comforted him, chewed her out and carried on. (Never seen a mother shrink so fast from their f*** up before. ) All of this seen through the nose of the character costume I was in."

The things these princesses put up with. Photo / LorenJavier, Flickr
The things these princesses put up with. Photo / LorenJavier, Flickr

Sweet secrets

Oscar Martinez, who now works at the Carnation Cafe, is Disneyland's longest-serving cast member. He started working at the park in December of 1956.

You can still see a light in the window of the The Fire Station on Disnleyland's Main Street that used to be lit in order to announce that Disney himself was in his apartment. After he passed away, it was lit permanently to symbolise his constant presence in the world.

At the middle of Mickey's Toontown, there's a fountain with a number of musical instruments and Mickey Mouse in the center, holding an orchestra conductor's baton. There are the same musical instruments imprinted on the manhole covers next to the fountain. If you jump on or touch the covers, you'll hear the corresponding instrument play.

You've heard of Hidden Mickeys at the park. But did you know there is one Hidden Walt? Across from the perfume shop in New Orleans square is a glass shop. At the top of one beam is a silver engraving of Walt's head.

Strange secrets

An ex-employee warns, "There are definitely venomous pit vipers in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride."

Less scary, but nearby, is a secret suite at Cinderella's castle. It was originally intended to be an apartment for Walt Disney and his family, but he passed away before it was finished. It features 24-karat gold floor tiles, stained glass windows and Cinderella's crown and glass slipper. Disney occasionally allows people to stay in the suite for the night.

The Dream Suite. Photo / Wikimedia Commons
The Dream Suite. Photo / Wikimedia Commons
The Dream Suite. Photo / Wikimedia Commons
The Dream Suite. Photo / Wikimedia Commons

When he visited Disney World, Florida, Walt was unsettled by the sight of costumed characters having to pass through the "wrong" lands to get to their allotted spots, spoiling the magic. He came up with an elaborate tunnel system which runs beneath Disney World, and allows actors to put on their costumes and appear in the appropriate land without shattering the illusion. The entire park is built on a gentle incline to accommodate the tunnel system, which reportedly smells like rubbish thanks to the "trash can vacuum system" in the park.

Back in 1971 when Disney was deciding where to build Disney World, as a way to gain an advantage over other locations, Florida gave them the rights to create their own local government. This is now known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Nope, can't see that ever being a problem, no siree.

According to the book "Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies" by Jason Surrell, the skeletons used in the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride were real skeletons taken from UCLA's medical center.

Only one human skull remains, if you will pardon the pun.

Human remains at Disneyland. Photo / Twitter
Human remains at Disneyland. Photo / Twitter

Dark secrets

A no-fly zone was put into effect within a three mile radius of Cinderella's Castle after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

On July 8, 1974, 18-year-old Deborah Gail Stone was crushed to death after slipping between a revolving wall and a stationary platform inside the America Sings attraction. One of the audience members heard Stone's screams and notified park staff. Other employees didn't notice the dismembered body until the end of the show and thought that Stone's death screams were part of the show. By the time the audience member and the staff got to her, it was too late. Stone died from her injuries. Stone's parents sued Disneyland for the death of their daughter, which resulted in a small settlement.

On January 3, 1984, a 48-year-old woman from Fremont, California was decapitated when she was thrown from a Matterhorn bobsled car and struck by the next oncoming bobsled. The spot where she was killed is now called "Dolly's Drop" by cast members. An investigation found that her seat belt was not buckled.

Degjo witnessed something terrible. "I was there the day a cable broke on the ship on Rivers of America. Struck a dude across the chest and neck, lots and lots of blood."

Indeed, on Christmas Eve 1998 two Disneyland tourists were critically injured and a worker was severely hurt Thursday at one of the park's oldest and tamest rides when a heavy piece of metal was ripped from the Columbia sailing ship and hit the visitors in the face. Disney settled a lawsuit brought by the victim's survivors for an estimated US$25 million.

Amusing secrets

Briarpatch92 used to work at the park and shared her experience on Reddit, "If you forget your name tag, you wear a spare from the managers' office. Most of the spares say Chris from Orlando, because it's unisex. But a lot of cast members keep the spare and wear it when they're not feeling 'magical' so they can't get complaints. I did actually know one Chris from Orlando who was a cast member, and it sucked for him because he never got any cast compliments. Guest relations always figured it was a fake name."

DentalOffense used to work at Magic Kingdom, "It goes without saying that Disney is great at keeping sight lines in mind. A majority of buildings and ride queues are just facades. One that comes to mind is the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World. The building that looks like the ride has nothing in it and is about 1/16 of the ride building itself. You can see it very well on Google/Apple Maps."

Additionally, the scale of buildings on Main Street gets smaller as you approach the castle so that the street looks longer at the start of the day when you're excited and appears shorter as you leave the park, ready to go home. Similarly they use smaller bricks towards the top of the castle to make it look bigger.

Finally, have you ever noticed the "go away green" paint Disney uses? You're not supposed to. It's on everything they don't want you to pay attention to.