Disneyland Secrets


Disneyland is rich in details and history, and thanks to that, there are a lot of little “Easter Eggs,” secrets, quirks, and fun minor experiences to be discovered, most of which go unnoticed by casual guests. They’re obviously not major elements of attractions or substantial things, but they are layers of detail that really enhance the Disney experience for a lot of guests.

There are tons of things in Disneyland that could qualify for this list. Literally thousands. We’re sure there are plenty of things even we don’t know about! Accordingly, this list is not exhaustive. If you’re really into learning more about the secrets of Disneyland, a couple of great books to check out are the Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys book and great historical books about Disneyland, like Disneyland Inside Story. We’ve tried to put together a fresh list, so we’ve left out common “secrets” like the basketball court in the Matterhorn (sorry, Travel Channel, if you mention this in every special on Disneyland, it ceases to be a secret), Club 33, the stray cats, and, of course, Disney’s “Best Kept” secret, Disney Vacation Club! However, if you’re a die-hard Disneyland fan, there’s a decent chance most of these will be familiar to you.

Unlike our list of Walt Disney World Secrets, which covered all four parks, there are so many details of Disneyland (the park) that we think it’s deserving of its own list. We’ll cover Disney California Adventure in a subsequent post (and perhaps even a post dedicated solely to Cars Land).

Here are some of our favorite “hidden” Disneyland details, secrets, etc.:

Disneyland Secrets

Popcorn Turners - Each popcorn stand in the park has a different character attached to its popcorn turner. These range from a yeti (near the Matterhorn) to the Rocketeer (Tomorrowland) to even seasonal turners like Oogie Boogie (near Haunted Mansion Holiday) and Santa Claus (Main Street). This tradition continued at Tokyo Disneyland, where my all-time favorite one exists in Frontierland–Big Al!

Tomorrowland Future Dinosaurs? - If you look carefully in the planters between Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and Space Mountain, you will notice a few large, blue eggs among the plants. There is scant information about these eggs online, but a couple of reputable sources have indicated that they are meant to be dinosaur eggs. Dinosaurs in the future? Now that’s a promising future to us! (Out of all of these secrets, this one is my favorite…if you know anything more about these eggs, please share in the comments!)

Secret Restrooms - Indiana Jones Adventure probably takes the cake for having the most little secrets scattered throughout it. One of our favorites is the “secret” restroom in the queue. Our understanding is that this was built out of necessity, as the Indiana Jones Adventure queue is looooong, and waits regularly exceeded three hours when it first opened. Because of that, guests having “emergencies” was a fairly regular thing for a while. There are also “secret” (or lesser known) restrooms in the Tiki Room waiting area.

Pirates of the Caribbean is a must ride at Disneyland; it's significantly longer and better than the Walt Disney World version. More Disneyland trip planning tips: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/disneyland-first-time-visit-2012/

LEGO Captain Jack - Standing in the scene above on top of a treasure chest is a LEGO Captain Jack Sparrow. You can only really see it if you’re looking for it, and once you see it, it sticks out like a sore thumb on each subsequent ride-through. At least for us.

New Orleans Square Mast - From Tom Sawyer Island, a ship’s mast is visible above the roofs in New Orleans Square. This mast is not visible when in New Orleans Square itself, and to my knowledge, it’s only visible from certain elevated spots on Tom Sawyer Island. Pretty nice touch, especially given that very few people will ever notice it!

Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh & Mr. Toad -  Winnie the Pooh displaced the Country Bear Jamboree, and actual audio animatronics for Max, Buff, and Melvin are actually inside the attraction and visible if you look behind you at the right as you enter the “honey” room during the ride! There are other tributes to the Country Bears throughout Critter Country (formerly Bear Country), including at Hungry Bear Restaurant and above the shops.

Disneyland Spring 2012_036

Plaza Pavilion Mural - During its early years of operation, Disneyland had sponsors for many (most?) of its attractions and restaurants. The Plaza Pavilion, now the home of the Jolly Holiday Bakery, was sponsored by Stouffer’s, and featured a large, whimsical mural about food preparation. That mural was tragically lost forever, but when Jolly Holiday Bakery opened, a tribute to that mural featuring Mary Poppins was added. Most guests probably don’t realize why that quirky “Poppins Tree” painting is in Jolly Holiday Bakery and pass it up without a second thought, but for those who do know the story, it’s a smile-inducing sight.

Esmerelda - The very existence of this fortune teller just inside the Penny Arcade on Main Street would almost be enough for her to make this list (she’s one of those things that hides in plain sight), but the bonus “secret within a secret” of her playing cards that are themed to the Haunted Mansion puts her over the top.

Splash Mountain Critters – Splash Mountain features different characters at Disneyland than at Walt Disney World because Disneyland’s wasn’t built entirely from scratch. Many of the Audio-Animatronics figures in the Disneyland version were sourced from America Sings, which was a stage show that used to play in the Innoventions building. Take a look at this article to see exactly how the Splash Mountain AAs were featured in America Sings.

Miss Tilly - Tilly is a mannequin who works at the Main Street Cinema. Her Cast Member name tag lists here as being from Marceline, Missouri, which is where Walt Disney lived as a child. There are references to Marceline throughout the parks, but this is our favorite because it’s understated. Not sure if there’s any significance of the name “Tilly,” but it seems like more than a coincidence that it’s the name of both this Cast Member and the shrimp boat impaled on Mount Mayday at Typhoon Lagoon. For more info about Tilly, check out this post on Yesterland.

Hidden Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters Target - In the second room of the ride where Zurg stands and turns (revealing and concealing targets with his cape), there is a small “Z” on his chest that does not look like the other targets. But it is a target, and it’s worth 50,000 points. This target can be very difficult to hit (even if it looks like you squarely got it), and it only registers about half the time, but the payoff is great.

Fantasyland Weather Vanes - Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride has a Mr. Toad weather vane, and Peter Pan’s Flight has a Tic-Toc-Croc weather vane. As you’ll learn from another of these secrets, it pays to look up in Fantasyland! 

Walt Disney World 068

Captain Rex – Just inside the second queue room are a few droids sitting in and around packing crates. One of these is Rex, pilot of the original Star Tours. Rex is marked as defective and can be heard faintly playing audio from the original attraction in a broken manner. Author Kevin Yee has a good rundown of them here. Our favorite Star Tours “Easter Egg” has got to be the “Hitchhiking Droids” (like the Hitchhiking Ghosts from Haunted Mansion), but unfortunately, that’s only at Tokyo Disneyland.

Eeyore Parking - This borders on being too well known, but we think it’s pretty cool. Behind the projector in the Indiana Jones Adventure queue is a sign with a picture of Eeyore on it. The best way to see this sign is to get to the end of the projection room of the pre-show and turn around to look for it. If you still can’t see it, ask a Cast Member. They often carry flashlights and can point it out for you.

Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland Remnants - Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland was, essentially, the predecessor to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, except it was a leisurely train ride focused on sight-seeing and it encompassed a much larger footprint. When it closed, many aspects of the ride were left in place, probably in part due to cost of removal and in part because they added to the look of Frontierland without being obvious elements of a closed attraction. Nowadays, these remnants are fun reminders of the past for Disney geeks like us. I’ve become obsessed with this ride over the years, and given my fondness of other leisurely rides like the Peoplemover, I wish it were still around.

Evil Queen - Above Snow White’s Scary Adventures, there’s a small window (see the photo above) that opens now and then to reveal the Evil Queen peering over guests. Most people miss this small detail because it’s brief, discreet, and above their sight lines.

Morse Code Telegraph Office - I don’t know Morse Code, but I’ve heard from numerous sources that the telegraph office at the New Orleans Square Train Station “plays” Walt Disney’s opening day dedication of Disneyland in Morse Code. It’s either true or this is a carefully promulgated urban legend. Here’s a fun and interesting story about the Morse Code…its level of details suggests that this is true, or the author of that article has an incredible imagination!

Snow White’s Wishing Well - Another Snow White detail is to the right of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Snow White Grotto. If you listen into the Wishing Well here, you will hear an ‘echo’ of Snow White singing.

20111118_318

Jingles - The “lead” horse of the King Arthur Carrousel was dedicated to Julie Andrews in honor of her service to the Walt Disney Company, including during the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland. Ornate decorations and tributes to Andrews were added to Jingles, and these remain today. Jingles is easy to spot as the horse covered with bells (and the most ornamentation).

Party Line Phones - The Market House on Main Street has a couple of 1800s-era party line phones. Pick up these phones to listen into some mundane, yet humorous conversations. With the recent opening of Starbucks, there was some concern that these phones would disappear, but they are still present!

Edible Plants in Tomorrowland - This is another one I can’t verify the truth of, as I haven’t tried to consume them all, but each of the plants in Tomorrowland is supposed to be edible. The idea behind this stems from Tomorrowland’s original role as offering a glimpse into a better tomorrow for America, from transportation to homes to even horticulture. Over the years its vision has morphed to a science fiction land and the plants don’t make quite as much sense, but they’re still a cool detail.

Mailboxes - There are working mailboxes throughout Disneyland. Not a huge secret, but many guests don’t realize that these boxes aren’t just for show. Disneyland used to have its own special Sleeping Beauty Castle stamp for the mail, but now it is stamped with the regular Anaheim, California stamp.

Mike Fink’s Keel Boat - Another remnant of an extinct attraction, this little keel boat along the Rivers of America looks like it’s just one of the many little details added to give interest to the River’s edge for its attractions, but it also serves as a tribute to this attraction of the past.

Swisskapolka - Tarzan’s Treehouse replaced the old Swiss Family Treehouse (which still exists at Walt Disney World), but as a tribute to the former attraction, a phonograph in the treehouse quietly plays the Swisskapolka, which is the catchy theme song from the original treehouse.

That’s the list of our favorite Disneyland “hidden” secrets, Easter Eggs, and other details that we most enjoy! As you can see, a lot of our favorite things are tributes to Disneyland’s past; it’s interesting how Disneyland toes the line between staying current (“not being a museum”) and embracing its storied past. We’ve learned about a lot of these from simply experiencing the parks at our leisure, but also from various D23 events, visiting the parks with passionate Annual Passholders, and from the sites and books devoted to the topics. Big thanks to all of the great resources from which we’ve learned about these secrets over the years!

Looking for Disney trip planning tips? Make sure to read our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide.

For updates on Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the latest news, discount information, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!

Your Thoughts…

Now that you know some of our favorite secrets, hidden references, and “Easter Eggs” found at Disneyland, let’s hear some of your favorites! The ones listed in the article just begin to scratch the surface, so post some of your favorites in the comments!

468 ad

50 Responses to “Disneyland Secrets”

  1. Aaron in DC says:

    Does anyone know if they swap out Swisskapolka for Christmapolka in December? Oh no! Now the tune is in my head. AAAAHHHHH!!!!

  2. Matt G. says:

    You can see the ship mast, or at least part of its rigging, from the main walkway around the Rivers of America. I’ve not actually been on Tom Sawyer’s Island (shameful, I know!), but I’ve seen that mast walking around that area of the park.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Really? On our recent trip, I tried looking while near the Rivers of America, but didn’t see it. A friend mentioned tree growth obscuring it more…

    • Evelyn Wilkinson says:

      Actually, the ships’ masts move around during the day. Sometimes there’s one, sometimes there’s several, sometimes there’s none.

      The best place to view them is around the Rivers of America toward Critter Country.

  3. Jennifer says:

    You have got to tell me where the LEGO figure is. My kids and I spent forever looking at the picture to find it!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Oh, there’s no way you’re going to be able to find it in that photo. When you come into that scene, look at the top left of the treasure chest that is in the middle foreground of that scene. It might take a few passes through to spot, but once you find it once, it’s easy to see.

      • Jennifer says:

        We found it! My son was over the moon! He felt so “in the know” and loved knowing something others didn’t! Thanks for the great description of where to find him.

  4. Kara says:

    LOVE this blog post. Probably my favorite from you ever. No mention of the palm tree in Adventureland though (or is that common knowledge?)

  5. Jasmine says:

    As a Disneyland vet, I must say, you’ve come up with a nice list!

    I’ll add one.

    In Pirates of the Caribbean, during the beginning scenes with the skeletons, above the skeleton in the bed, on the headboard, is a skull with crossbones. The skull and crossbones are real. They were donated by UCLA Medical School years ago, right around the time when the ride first opened in the 60′s.

  6. Tammy says:

    Loved the keel boats. I remember as a kid how much fun they were. I remember being on the Gullywhumper when they had an impromptu race and in the middle of the race the Bertha Mae crew used their poles to push crew from the Gullywhumper into the water. It was a ton of fun. The other times we road it was the standard tour around Tom Sawyer Island.

  7. Andy says:

    Just a note, the heads on the dark wall in the pooh ride are NOT the ones from the Country Bears Attraction. They are 3/4 size, not animatronic, and were originally found in Terry Berra’s Arcade .

    • Zneefrock says:

      WOAH! I don’t work here (just saying) but WOAH! So, they just put the heads there to see if anyone could find them?

  8. Andy says:

    A favorite ‘hidden’ of mine at Disneyland is on the roof of the Jungle Cruise. There is a Tiki-god drummer sitting up there! He is easy to spot, as it can be seen while in line on the second floor.

  9. Theresa says:

    There is a tribute to Gertie the Dinosaur/Winsor McKay in Disneyland, at Tinkerbell’s house in Pixie Hollow:
    http://i43.tinypic.com/2wfjs04.png

    I’m guessing it’s relatively new, since it doesn’t appear in most of the pictures of that area on Google Images.

  10. Dan Heaton says:

    Awesome list. I really wish that I had some of these tidbits when I went to DL in 2012. I guess it’s another excuse to go back soon! Great work.

  11. DRToohey says:

    Awesome list – gotta look for Jack next time. My favorite (thanks to the cultivating the magic tour) is that there’s a sequoia near Golden Horseshoe that is one of the five remaining ones of its species. And I think the only specimen in the western hemisphere

  12. mitch says:

    It’s the details like this that will forever make disney parks something magical. I hope they continue to respect their history and fans by allowing these “secret” things to remain in place while Disney looks toward the future with their acquisitions of star wars and marvel. Disney thrives on creating feelings of nostalgia even while they are working on the cutting edge. This is why you can’t drag me to a park like six flags and universal is a once in a blue moon thing to do, but Disney remains special.

  13. Regarding the Morse Code at the New Orleans Square Train Station, here’s a great story about how a ham operator worked with Imagineering to get it fixed:

    http://www.hiddenmickeys.org/disneyland/secrets/square/morse.html

  14. Sam Gennawey says:

    Hello Tom,

    Here are a couple more of my favorites.

    How you can predict when the train is about to arrive at the New Orleans Station and the fact that the Haunted Mansion always gets the last laugh.

    http://samlanddisney.blogspot.com/2013/06/hidden-moments-at-disneyland.html?q=last+laugh

    Thanks,
    Sam Gennawey

  15. Terri says:

    Great info! I’ve read many “secret” articles but first time hearing about most of these. This is my first year with season passes and I’ve never been there during Christmas. I really want to experience Christmas at Disneyland but my husband is reluctant to spend the money since we’re going to Mexico in Jan. What is everyone’s thoughts? Worth the trip and expense? Any special secrets during the holidays?

    • Evelyn Wilkinson says:

      You should definitely “experience” Disneyland during Christmas!

    • Sheri says:

      It’s just magical decorated for Christmas. Poinsettias everywhere. Haunted mansion is decorated as The Nightmare Before Christmas movie!! Hint: Nice weather in daytime, but cold at night, so bring jackets, gloves and hats and rent a locker to the right when you first come in the gates :) Mexico will take a back seat to Christmastime in Disneyland!

  16. Greg says:

    Tom,

    AMAZING photos! A lot of them look like you were the only one in the park at the time. How did you accomplish this?

    Some of my favorite hidden items are:

    The Smellitizers on Main St.
    http://findingmickey.squarespace.com/other-hidden-dl/main-street-usa/2738796

    It’s a Small World Charlie Brown!:
    http://findingmickey.squarespace.com/other-hidden-dl/fantasyland/2367832

    The secret pet graveyard behind the Haunted Mansion
    http://www.doombuggies.com/secrets_queue.php

    The Echo Spots in Tomorrowland:
    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/innoventions-anaheim-2?filter_by_userid=True&select=BDNCTXcX2JyZQxYzxR0Djw&userid=SitYDdmJtpyi8V7vNJcBCg#BDNCTXcX2JyZQxYzxR0Djw

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the additional tips! Never heard of the Echo Spots in Tomorrowland. We’ll have to give that a try!

      • Greg says:

        I’ve tried it and it totally works. The crazy thing is only YOU can hear the echo no one else can hear it. You have to stand right on the little dot!

      • kalamawashington says:

        As weird at this sounds, I have been to a place that has the same thing. It on the top of Council Crest in Portland, Oregon. It is very similar. This one is cement circular area with a short wall around it, like the picture shows. I have lived in the Portland area since 1955, and have been to Council Crest dozens and dozens of times, but had never noticed this until about two weeks ago when someone else “stumbled” onto it. It is amazing.

      • di says:

        Epcot inside the china theater they have a awesome one.

  17. WAYNE says:

    Just came back from Disneyland, You are right, the Lego Captain Jack once I saw it, it you don’t notice anything else. Heading for Disney World for Christmas.
    Thanks for the info on your web site

  18. Alyssa says:

    When I took the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour at Disneyland they said the mast in New Orleans Square is supposed to represent a ship sitting in one of the lakes that surrounds New Orleans. If you’re facing the Rivers of America (represents the Mississippi River) the mast would be docked in the lake behind you. We got that tidbit while we were standing near the petrified tree, you can see it from there through the “street”. That was my favorite trivia from the tour because obviously the Imagineers thought about the actual layout of New Orleans!

  19. ANDY HOGENCAMP says:

    Being a HAM radio operator I can read Morse code. The message you hear at the train station is completely random. It is NOT Walts speech. Sorry.

  20. Paige says:

    My family and I LOVE learning about all these Disney secrets! But, we need a little more help on the LEGO Captain Jack. We have been watching an HQ YouTube video of the ride to try and spot it. We saw your previous comment about it being in the middle foreground, but there are many treasure chests. Is there any other landmark it’s next to that we could spot?

  21. Tiffany says:

    I wonder if the dinosaur eggs have anything to do with the train tunnel behind that area? When you ride the train from Tomorrowland to the Main station you go thru a tunnel that has a prehistoric exhibit. It’s actually really cool and kind of a nice little break in the day. Thank you for this fun list! We are HUGE Disneyland fans and can’t wait to experience several things from your list on our next visit. My boys are going to go nuts over the Lego Capt Jack Sparrow!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      No, they truly were supposed to be alien dinosaurs added as part of the 90s Tomorrowland overhaul. I don’t know the full story, but they’re unrelated to Primeval World.

  22. bree says:

    I was in Disneyland a few weeks ago and while waiting in line for the Peter Pan ride I kept staring at the Evil Queen in the window and I was looking to see if anyone around me would notice her. A few people glanced up there because I guess the noticed I was staring at one spot but the curtain would always be closed when they looked. I found it pretty funny.

  23. Nancy says:

    Thanks for these little tidbits. Could you tell me where the restroom is in the Indiana Jones Queue? We were in line once and saw a lady let her child pee right in the queue line. Terribly disgusting. (We did tell an CM)

  24. Chris says:

    My favorite secret at the Disneyland Resort is the hidden “incredible Mr. Limpet” in the Little Mermaid ride. He is on the wall opposite of dancing Ariel in the ‘under the sea’ room.

  25. Hannah says:

    Just a side note to the Tomorrowland horticulture. Each land, including DCA, have plants that are themed to match the look of the land. I know pretty obvious but I love this fact :)

  26. home says:

    The bottom line is you’ll only achieve success if you really want to quit yourself. Make utilization of these valuable tips and great and rich writing and submitting articles for web quality.

  27. Jamilah says:

    The Jack Sparrow is now GONE! :( My friend and I are APs and after we found out about it the first time we got so excited to see it every time! Well the next time we came back, ole Jack was gone. I’m guessing a cast member took him or moved him? :/

  28. festie says:

    just to clarify that it’s been roughly 10 years since the last time I went and even though at that time I had a season pass and went at least once a week for however long I was able to park in downtown Disney for free I hardly ever rode the train. the last time I went I did ride the train and as it pulled into the toontown(?)station I could see a closed attraction that ive never heard of or been able to find anything about. thank you to anyone that knows of this and spills the beans! it was a giant stage designed like a forest. even the seating for the audience had a foresty type of quality. cant find anything on any closed attractions site. what gives? again thanks to any who help!

  29. Bestro says:

    For those who are wanting to see Lego Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60uIxEiCT9M

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>