Disneyland: Then and Now

Yesterday I returned home from a week long trip to California. Three of those days were spent at the always enjoyable Disneyland. My family has a long history of attending Disneyland. My dad actually went opening week, and I’ve been so often that I know how to get around without a map.

Disneyland: Then and Now

Disneyland welcomes its first guests in 1955In Walt Disney’s Opening Day speech, he said “Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination in the world”. That phrase has held true, and for the past fifty-four years, Disneyland has been under constant change. The first big changes happened in 1959, with the additions of the Monorail, the motor boat cruise, Skyway, Fantasyland Autopia, Matterhorn, and Submarine Voyage. And in 1967, New Orleans Square opened, with the new attraction Pirates of the Caribbean, and in ’69, the Haunted Mansion finally opened its doors, after standing empty since 1963. Tomorrowland has gone through the most changes, with total remodels and additions and removals of attractions. Adventureland has even had it’s fair share of change.  The Jungle Cruise has seen a few additions, Indiana Jones joined the adventure, and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse turned into Tarzan’s. Frontierland got rid of the slow moving mine train and pack mules, and Big Thunder Railroad replaced it, offering up “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” Fantasyland saw more rides, and an facade facelift in 1983, just before the ’84 summer Olympics. I could go on and on about Disneyland history, but today I would like to talk about the most recent changes made to Disneyland…

Submarine Voyage

Seagulls call out as guests venture into the world of fishIn 1959, the Submarine Voyage opened to Disneyland guests and they were able to explore under the polar icecap, and see the ruins of the lost civilization of Atlantis. For a short period of time, live mermaids were part of the attraction, perched on top of rocks, waving to guests, and swimming past the subs as they moved through the lagoon.

In 1998, the Submarine voyage closed, and rumors as to why circulated: the lagoon leaked, the loading process was too time consuming, and it was to become a pure Atlantis themed attraction when the animated film was released, though that film proved dismal at the box office. In 2005 speculation stopped and the announcement was made that the Submarine Voyage was to be transformed into a Finding Nemo themed attraction. And in 2007, the subs reemerged to a brand new audience. This version takes explorers into the waters around Australia, and through “new technology”, they are able to understand what fish are saying. Here, the story of Finding Nemo unfolds in stunning new effects of projecting the animated characters.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Drink up me hardies, Yo ho!Pirates was the last ride that Walt Disney had a hand in creating. Sadly, Disney died three months prior to it opening to the public.

In 1997, the ride under went slight changes, mainly the changing of the cue area outside, and an alteration of the pirates chasing the women and for the “pooped pirate”. In the original ride, pirates chased women, suggesting a desire to rape, while a rather large woman chased a pirate, eluding to the fact she was lacking in the romance department.  Today, pirates chase woman holding pies, and the large woman is chasing after her pirate with a rolling pin and he carries food. The “pooped pirate” originally held a petticoat, and in the barrel behind him a young woman was be seen peeking in and out, and he could be heard saying “I’d like to hoist me colors on the likes of that winsome wench” along with other sexual innuendos. The 1997 change had him holding a chicken leg, and a cat popped in and out of the barrel.

In 2003, Disney hit it big with the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, and in 2006, the ride was changed to incorporate elements of the film. The first visible change is seen just as you enter the building, Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa have been added to the pirate paintings along the wall. In the ride itself, the first change is in the grotto with the pirate skeleton sitting atop a pile of gold.On the far right, the chest from Curse of the Black Pearl can be seen. In dark portion of the ride, a fog is produced and Davey Jones is projected onto the fog, he says a variety of lines, mainly contradicting the age old saying “Dead Men Tell No Tales” and says “Oh, but they do!” Another change is in the battle between the ship and the fort. The pirate captain aboard the ship is now Barbossa, and he wants to know where Jack is. In the scene where the mayor is being dunked, the pirate asks where Jack is, and to the left Jack can be seen peeking in and out of some dress mannequins. Just a little further on, the “pooped pirate” has gone through yet another change. Now, he holds a key and map, and Jack pops up out of the barrel, and now the lines discuss not wanting Jack to get a hold of the key and map. The final change is just past the scene where the four pirates are drunkenly shooting at each other in a room full of explosives. In the final grotto, Jack is seen among jewels and talking about the joys of piracy. Additionally, music from the films has been added into portions but overall, the ride maintains its original integrity.

Tom Sawyer’s Island

Pirates are around every corner now!Along with the popularity of Pirates and change to the ride itself, Tom Sawyer’s Island was taken over by pirates! The signs for the island now read “Pirate’s Lair” and they are simply nailed over the top of the Sawyer signs.

Injun Joe’s Cave became Dead Man’s Cave with Davey Jones’ chest with a heart beating sound coming from it, along with other pirate elements. There are other fun surprises in store and pieces of shipwrecks scatter the island. Fort Wilderness is no longer available to explore and now, if you peek through, you can see items that are stored for the show Fantasmic. One building on the island has been transformed into Will Turner’s blacksmith shop. Additionally, some portions of the shipwreck forts are built of barrels which bear the brand of the East India Trading Company.

The Haunted Mansion

But when Halloween makes Christmas, you might see a few flawsCelebrating its 40th year, the Haunted Mansion has seen very, very few changes. In 2006, the attic bride saw an upgrade with a bouquet that changes into a hatchet and there are wedding photographs scattered about with her and her many husbands, whose heads disappear as you move past. Previously, she had a heart that beat loudly and was visible through her dress.

In 2001, the Haunted Mansion underwent a holiday change for the first time, and now, every October through December, the Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack Skellington and the citizens of Halloweentown from Tim Burton’s classic The Nightmare before Christmas. This change is a drastic one with an outside layover, new audio track, different portraits and countless other additions.

Leave a Comment!