Disneyland Secrets

Beloved Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the icons at Disneyland, might have hidden a few theme-park secrets. Photo by flickr user ross_hawkes.

I willingly admit that I am obsessed with Disneyland. I can navigate my way from Adventureland to Critter Country better than I can figure out which freeways or streets take me to School. (In my defense, though, I still don’t have my driver’s license… but that’s another story.) I’ve been to California Adventure, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and all four theme parks and two water parks in Disney World Resort, but nothing compares to the beloved original. I kinda know all the lyrics to “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” the Splash Mountain theme song– don’t judge me.

So you can imagine my devastation when I spent Grading Day, Friday Oct. 21, doing college apps instead of taking advantage of our day off and going to Disneyland.

As a proud Disneyphile, I was quite shocked when I came across several weird little-known tidbits about the park. I thought I knew everything! Clearly, 17 years of dragging my parents to ride It’s a Small World for the umpteenth time didn’t teach me absolutely everything there is to know. Here are 5 of the most offbeat and surprising facts that I’ve discovered:

1. Disneyland uses a feral cat colony to control rodent populations. For the past 25 years, Disneyland has used a fleet of about 200 cats to control the hordes of pesky mice that flock to the discarded popcorn and cotton candy at night. Run, Mickey, run!

2. According to CNN, there are dead bodies in the Haunted Mansion. Okay, not exactly dead bodies, but human ashes. Apparently, a family sprinkled their deceased son’s ashes while riding in one of the Haunted Mansion buggies.

3. Sleeping Beauty Castle isn’t as tall as it appears. It was designed with an architectural technique called forced perspective, which gives the illusion of height by making design elements at the castle’s base larger than they are at the top.

4. There’s a basketball court inside the Matterhorn. You may have seen those costumed climbers scaling the Matterhorn to entertain Disneyland guests. Well, one of them got bored one day while waiting around inside the top of the Matterhorn and decided to install a basketball hoop to pass the time.

5. Until 2000, male Disneyland cast members were forbidden from growing facial hair. Walt Disney created the rule in order to make sure they didn’t look like stereotypical creepy carnival workers. The ban on ‘staches was completely lifted in 2000, but not for long; the Disney management wasn’t happy with stubble, so the policy was changed again. Now, if a male cast member wants to have facial hair, he has to already have a full moustache or beard when he’s hired or he has to grow it out over a vacation.