In the life of a true Disney fan there are moments. Your first time at a Disney theme park, your first time seeing the castle, your first peek backstage. For some fans, luck smiles on them occasionally and they get to do things that a lot of people don’t get to do – dinner at Club 33, a stay in one of the “Dream” suites. But every now and again, an extraordinary opportunity presents itself. That’s what happened to me and five of my friends this afternoon.
I’ve been in Southern California for the past week with my family – enjoying the parks, San Diego, Huntington Beach and the rest of the sites around the area. Today, we had a chance to be among the very first groups to ever take a tour behind the scenes at Disneyland. This is something being set up by the Disney Institute as a special program not for sale to the general public. I was very excited about this – very few people have been backstage at Disneyland and this was a rare and special treat for me, and the 40 podcast listeners who signed up to join us.
I’ll save the details of the tour for another blog, as well as for next week’s show. I also won’t go into great detail right now about how it came to pass that I was invited to see Walt Disney’s apartment on Main Street in Disneyland. For now, it’s enough to say that I was invited, along with 5 other friends and I’m still reeling from the experience.
To enter the apartment we were taken backstage just alongside the firehouse on Main St. We walked behind the guest relations building to a stairway that led up to the patio that overlooks Main St. This used to be a VIP viewing area for the parade, but thanks to a large tree that grew to block the view, it’s no longer used for that.
From there you enter a very small Foyer. Directly ahead of you is Walt’s bathroom (more on that later), and to your right – the apartment. Now, if the apartment looks like it was decorated by your grandmother, keep in mind Walt’s affinity for ‘turn of the century’ decor (Main St USA is a great example).
Of the pieces currently in the apartment, only two are ‘original’ to Walt.
The music rolls for the player above are also original to Walt and are concealed behind the day bed he used to sleep on.
On the wet bar are a set of cups and a jar bearing the name “Tom and Jerry”. Apparently, this was a drink (I’m assuming it was non-alcoholic) that Walt loved.
The shower is also ‘original’ to Walt. Walt had it built with multiple shower jets as he had an old Polo injury and the multiple jets provided him relief when the pain flared up.
As legend has it, the lamp in the window was how cast members in the early days would know if Walt was in the park – if the lamp was on, the boss was in town. Since his death, the lamp has been left perpetually lit. I’ve seen that lamp many times from the other side of the window – I had to take the picture of the lamp from ‘the other side’.
To say that this is the highlight of my “Disney fan” life would be pretty accurate. Very few get to see the apartment and that I was able to share this with some of my friends made the experience all the more special. I only wish I could have brought everyone from the tour up with us to see it.