Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.
Over the nearly six decades that have passed since its debut, many things at the Happiest Place on Earth have either been lost over time or met with a wrecking ball during one of the park's many expansions and refurbishments.
After the jump, we list five original Disneyland artifacts that existed in the park back when Walt walked Main Street, and still exist in the park today.
5. The Frontierland Plaque
First dedicated on opening day, July 17, 1955, this plaque has stood near the entrance of Frontierland ever since. Originally presented to Walt and the park by the American Humane Association, the plaque now sits atop a rock pedestal near the base of a flagpole. The plaque has been moved around a tiny bit over the years (when it was first unveiled it sat closer to the ground, like a tombstone), and the original bolts that hold it into place have been replaced, but today park goers can still enjoy this little piece of Disney history just as they did 57 years ago.
4. The Petrified Tree
On July 11, 1956, Walt purchased the remains of a petrified tree from the Pike Forest Fossil Beds in Colorado and had it shipped to the Disney house in California. It is estimated that the tree is between 55 and 70 million years old. A year later, in September 1957, Walt's wife Lillian presented the stump as a "gift" to to Disneyland. To be read: Get this damn thing out of our house. Today, it still stands near the entry of the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland, just along the banks of the Rivers of America. And the Golden Horseshoe itself can also be considered an original Disneyland artifact as it was there on opening day. In fact, on July 13, 1955, just five days before the park opened to the public, Walt and Lillian hosted a private party in the restaurant to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
3. The Golden "Spike"
If you walk through Sleeping Beauty Castle and look down just as you enter Fantasyland, you'll find a small brass marker in the concrete. There is no plaque or signage around to explain what it is, and for many years people mistakenly assumed it was a golden railroad spike that marked the exact center of Disneyland before the park expanded with Mickey's Toontown in 1993. The truth is that it is neither a golden spike or the center of the park, but rather a survey marker that designates the centerline of Main Street.
2. The Rides
Many of Disneyland's most popular attractions (Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain) didn't exist when the park opened in '55, and many of those that did are now long gone including Kaiser's Hall of Aluminum Fame (closed 1960), the Monsanto Hall of Chemistry (closed 1966), and the Dutch Boy Paint Color Gallery (closed 1963). Man, aren't you guys bummed that you missed out on those? But many attractions have survived all those decades including Dumbo Flying Elephants (refurbished and moved to a new location in 1983), Jungle Cruise (numerous expansions over the years), and many of the dark rides in Fantasyland including Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Peter Pan's Flight, and Snow White's Scary Adventures (all of which were refurbished in 1983).
1. The Cigar Store Indian
Remember the good old days when husbands could buy pipe tobacco on Main Street while their wives shopped for panties and girdles just down the way? Yeah, me either. But it used to happen. When the park opened, Main Street featured a women's lingerie store called the Wizard of Bras
, and just down the street was the Disneyland Tobacco Shop
, a spot for all of the fellas to fill up their pipes or pick up a pack of filterless cigarettes. I wonder if they used to let people smoke while on the rides. Probably. Anyway, the tobacco shop (and bra store) is now long gone, but the cigar store Indian (or cigar store Native American, as I like to call it now) still stands proudly on Main Street in front of the storefront that once housed the shop. The Indian is pretty famous as he's had his photo taken with probably millions of park goers over the years. Even John Lennon
had to get a shot.
Extra Bonus: Sleeping Beauty Castle
Of course! The most important original Disneyland artifact of all is Sleeping Beauty Castle, which started to take form when the park began its construction on July 21, 1954.