Secret Stories of Disneyland

Trivia Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes

by Jim Korkis | Release Date: April 30, 2017 | Availability: Print, Kindle

The Happiest Trivia on Earth

Disneyland has a lot to hide. Well, that sounds nefarious, so how about, Disneyland has a lot for you to discover. And I don't mean wait times and ride descriptions. I mean the deep, rich, hidden legacy of the park. Its real secrets.

No one knows Disney history better than Disney historian Jim Korkis. In this book, the latest in his best-selling "Secret Stories" series, he unearths still more theme park gold and presents it in bite-sized stories that you can enjoy while waiting in line, sitting in a monorail, or whenever you have a few moments to fill with fresh Disney knowledge.

With over 90 "mini chapters", organized by theme park "land", plus a special section devoted to some of the attractions that exist beyond the berm, you're sure to discover new lore about the happiest place on earth.

Table of Contents


A Word from Walt

The Story of Disneyland

Part 1: Main Street, U.S.A.

Train Station Clock Capers

Walt’s Apartment

Emile Kuri: Interior Decorator

A Mezuzah on Main Street

Disneyland Comic Books

The Osmond Brothers Discovered

The Dapper Dans


Grand Canyon Diorama

Alcohol in Disneyland

First Baby Born at Disneyland

Partners Statue

The Hub

Part 2: Adventureland

The Jungle Cruise

Marc Davis Speaks

Bill Evans Speaks

The Dominguez Palm

Adventureland Alligators

Back Story of Indiana Jones Adventure

Secrets of the Temple

Enchanted Tiki Room

Tiki Gods

Part 3: Frontierland

The Secret Origin of Churros

The Man Who Sank the Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer’s Island

Tom Sawyer’s Island Dedication

Beacon Joe

Legend of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Secrets of Big Thunder Mountain

Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition

Sailing Ship Columbia

Part 4: New Orleans Square

Haunted Mansion Back Story

Pepper’s Ghost Illusion

The Bride in the Attic

The Pirates Story Explained

Pirate Costumes

Pirate Secrets

Lafitte’s Anchor

Blue Bayou Restaurant

Recipe for Monte Cristo Sandwich

The Nazi Influence

Thurl Ravenscroft

Club 33

Part 5: Critter Country

Splash Mountain

The Snore in Splash Mountain

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes

Fowler’s Harbor

The Secrets of Harbour Galley

Part 6: Fantasyland

The Disneyland Wienie

Disneyland Time Castle

Items in Time Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle

King Arthur Carrousel

Castle Feral Cats

Storybook Land

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

First Death at Disneyland

Snow White’s Grotto

Snow White Wishing Well

Matterhorn Yeti

Part 7: Mickey's Toontown

The Back Story of Mickey’s Toontown

Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin

Gadget’s Go-Coaster

Miss Daisy

CAR Toons

Part 8: Tomorrowland

Monorail Madness

The Kidnapping of Richard Nixon

The Star Tours Back Story

The Geese Droids of Star Tours

Dr. Who?

Origin of Space Mountain

Astro Orbitor

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Part 9: Beyond the Berm

Beyond the Berm

Weed Science

Floral Mickey

Disneyland Parking Lot

Citizens of Buena Vista Street

Mr. Limpett's Hidden Cameo

Storytellers Statue

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar

How many secrets are really left to be discovered about Disneyland?

It is important to remember that even if you are one of those Disneyland fans with dozens of books about the park on your bookshelves, quick links to multiple popular Disneyland websites, or even a well-used annual pass, there is always something else to learn, even if it is just a different perspective on a familiar fact.

Many Disneyland fans are new to the wonders of the park and often something that may seem common knowledge to you will be a secret to them. Since Disneyland is a living entity that keeps growing and changing, there will always be new secrets and forgotten older secrets to share with Disney fans.

“It has been said that Disneyland will never be completed. In fact, I said it. That there will always be something new and unusual and that’s our hope,” stated Walt Disney in 1961.

Because of that, this book is not meant to be the ultimate, definitive guide to Disneyland secrets.

As the subtitle states, this book contains trivia notes, quotes, and anecdotes. It is meant to provide a few moments of amusement for those who love the Happiest Place on Earth and to perhaps enhance their appreciation in a different way than other guides.

Think of it as a selection of tasty condiments to spice up a well-loved entrée.

I grew up believing that ketchup was the only acceptable dipping option for French fries. When I saw others using mustard, Ranch dressing, barbeque sauce, and other selections, I was appalled at this blatant heretical action and questioned the sanity of the people who seemed to have veered so far away from the obvious correct choice.

Over the years, I have found that occasionally sampling these alternatives was not only enjoyable but provided me with a greater satisfaction when I returned to using my favorite ketchup.

I hope that the short selections in this book may also spark a greater appreciation and understanding of Disneyland for even the most frequent and knowledgeable guest as well as the curious newcomer.

Jim Korkis

Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for over three decades. He is also an award-winning teacher, a professional actor and magician, and the author of several books.

Korkis grew up in Glendale, California, right next to Burbank, the home of the Disney studios. As a teenager, Korkis got a chance to meet the Disney animators and Imagineers who lived nearby, and began writing about them for local newspapers.

In 1995, he relocated to Orlando, Florida, where he portrayed the character Prospector Pat in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom, and Merlin the Magician for the Sword in the Stone ceremony in Fantasyland.

In 1996, Korkis became a full-time animation instructor at the Disney Institute teaching all of their animation classes, as well as those on animation history and improvisational acting techniques. As the Disney Institute re-organized, Jim joined Disney Adult Discoveries, the group that researched, wrote, and facilitated backstage tours and programs for Disney guests and Disneyana conventions.

Eventually, Korkis moved to Epcot as a Coordinator for the College and International Programs, and then as a Coordinator for the Epcot Disney Learning Center. He researched, wrote, and facilitated over two hundred different presentations on Disney history for Cast Members and for such Disney corporate clients as Feld Entertainment, Kodak, Blue Cross, Toys “R” Us, and Military Sales.

Korkis has also been the off-camera announcer for the syndicated television series Secrets of the Animal Kingdom; has written articles for several Disney publications, including Disney Adventures, Disney Files (DVC), Sketches, and Disney Insider; and has worked on many different special projects for the Disney Company.

In 2004, Disney awarded Jim Korkis its prestigious Partners in Excellence award.

A Chat with Jim Korkis

If you have a question for Jim Korkis that you would like to see answered here, please get in touch and let us know what's on your mind.

You began exceptionally early as a Disney historian. You were how old?

I was about 15 when I interviewed Jack Hannah with my little tape recorder and school notebook with questions printed neatly in ink. I learned to develop a very good memory because often when the tape recorder was running, people would freeze up. So, I sometimes turned off the tape recorder and just took notes which I later verified with the person. I always gave them a chance to review what they had said and make any changes. I lost a lot of great stories, although I still have them in my files for future generations, but gained a lot of trust.

How were able to hook up with these guys

I was very, very lucky. I was a kid, and it never occurred to me that when I saw their names in the end credits of the weekly Disney television show that I couldn't just find their names in the local phone book and call them up. Ninety percent of them were gracious, but there were about ten percent who thought it was a joke and that maybe one of their friends had put me up to phoning them.

It was like dominoes. Once I did one interview and the person was pleased, he put me in touch with others. After some of those interviews were published in my school paper and local newspapers, it gave me some greater credibility. Later, when they started to appear in magazines, I got even more opportunities.

How do you conduct your research?

JIM: You know, one of the proudest things for me about my books is that not a single factual error has been found.

To do my research, I start with all the interviews I've done over the past three decades, some of which are some available in the Walt's People series of books edited by Didier Ghezz. When necessary, I contact other Disney historians and authorities to fill in the gaps. And I have amassed a huge library of books, magazines, and documents.

When I moved from California to Florida, I brought with me over 20,000 pounds of Disney research material. The moving company that had just charged me a flat fee was shocked they had so severely underestimated the weight, and lost thousands of dollars. That was over fifteen years ago and the collection has only grown since that time.

About The Vault of Walt Series

You've been writing articles and columns about Disney for decades. Why all of a sudden start writing Vault of Walt books?

JIM: I was fortunate to grow up in the Los Angeles area at a time when I had access to some of Walt’s original animators and Imagineers. They shared with me some wonderful stories. I wrote articles about their for various magazines and “fanzines” of the time. All of those publications are long gone and often difficult to find today.

As more and more of Walt’s “original cast” pass away, I realized that their stories had not been properly documented, and that unless I did something, they would be lost. Everyone always told me I should write a book telling these tales and finally I decided to do it.

Walt's daughter Diane Disney Miller wrote the foreword to your first book. How did that come about?

JIM: She actually contacted me. Her son, Walter, loved the Disney history columns and articles I was writing and would send them to her. I was overwhelmed that she enjoyed them. She was appreciative that I tried to treat her dad fairly and not try to psycho-analyze why he did what he did.

She also liked that I revealed things she never knew about her father. As we talked and I told her I was doing the book, I asked if she would write the foreword. She agreed immediately and I had it within a week. She even invited me to go to the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and give a presentation. She is an incredible woman.

What was Diane's favorite story in the book?

JIM: Obviously, the ones about her dad were a big hit. She especially liked the chapter about Walt and his feelings toward religion. She told me that it accurately reflected how she saw her dad act.

What's your favorite story in the book?

JIM: That’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. I tried to put in all the stories I loved because I figured this might be the only book about Disney I would ever write.

One chapter that I have grown to love even more since it was first published is the one about Walt’s love of miniatures. I recently found more information about that subject, and then on the trip to Disney Family Museum, I was able to spend hours examining some of Walt’s collection up close.

About Who's Afraid of the Song of the South?

Why did you decide to write a book about Song of the South?

JIM: I wanted to read a “Making of the Song of the South” book, but nobody else was ever going to write it. I wanted to know the history behind the production, why Walt made certain choices, and as many behind-the-scenes tidbits that could be told. I didn’t want to read a sociological thesis on racism.

Fortunately, over the years I had interviewed some of the people involved in the production, had seen the film multiple times, and had gathered material from pressbooks to newspaper articles to radio shows of the era.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Song of the South. I wanted to get the facts in print and let people make up their own minds.

Did you learn anything new when writing the book?

JIM: I thought I knew a lot after being actively involved in Disney history for over three decades, but writing this book showed me how little I really know.

For example, I learned that it was Clarence Nash, the voice of Donald Duck for decades, who did the whistling for Mr. Bluebird on Uncle Remus’ shoulder. I learned that Ward Kimball used to host meetings of UFO enthusiasts at his home. I learned that the Disney Company tried for years to make a John Carter of Mars feature. I learned that Walt himself tried to make a sequel to The Wizard of Oz. I learned that Disney operated a secret studio to make animated television commercials in the mid-1950s to raise money to build Disneyland. And so much more.

Even the most knowledgeable Disney fans will find new treasures of information on every page of this book.

What's the biggest takeaway from the book?

JIM: Walt Disney was not racist. That is one of those urban myths which popped up long after Walt died, and so he was unable to defend himself.

In my book, I make it clear that Walt had no racist intent at all in making Song of the South. He merely wanted to share the famous Uncle Remus stories that he enjoyed as a child, and he treated the black cast with respect and generosity.

Many people don't realize that the events in the film take place after the Civil War, during the Reconstruction. So many offensive Hollywood films made at the same time as Song of the South, even one with little Shirley Temple, depicted the Old South during the Civil War in an unrealistic manner. Walt's film got lumped in with them, and he was a visible target for a much larger crusade.

Books by Jim Korkis:

With John Cawley:

  • Animation Art: Buyer's Guide and Price Guide (1992)
  • Cartoon Confidential (1991)
  • How to Create Animation (1991)
  • The Encyclopedia of Cartoon Superstars: From A to (Almost) Z (1990)

The last place you'd expect to find a former Nazi interrogator is Disneyland's New Orleans Square. But that's where we found one.

The mural in the breezeway of Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle depicting in several panels the story of Cinderella was brought into a physical reality by famed mosaicist Hanns-Joachim Scharff and his wife, along with his daughter-in-law, Monika. Dorothea Redmond came up with the design, but Scharff was the one who did the tedious work of cutting, trimming, and pasting together the individual pieces of glass and tile.

Scharff studied art history at the University of Leipzig and was inspired and drawn to mosaics as a youth during a visit to Italy. He was also later responsible along with Monika for the mosaic entrance to The Land pavilion at Epcot.

However, his first assignment for a Disney theme park was in 1966 for New Orleans Square in Disneyland. Scharff did thirty table tops in the Creole Café, the mosaic thresholds for the French Market, and worked on two of the quaint specialty shops. The threshold designs were based on original art work from mid-19th century New Orleans.

Scharff was also a German Luftwaffe interrogator for the Nazis during World War II. He was called the “master interrogator” for all of Nazi Germany and was often called in to assist other interrogators. His techniques were so effective that after the war, he assisted the U.S. military in incorporating his methods in their interrogation training programs.

Continued in "Secret Stories of Disneyland"!

Especially at Christmas time, with the park chockful of holiday decorations, Jews visiting Disneyland will be hard-pressed to find anything to honor their religion. But if you know where to look, Main Street has a year-round mezuzah and a holiday menorah.

A mezuzah is a piece of parchment (usually in a small metal case) featuring particular verses from the Torah. In Rabbinic Judaism it is affixed to the doorframe to fulfill the Biblical commandment to inscribe the words of the Sherma Yisrael (a Jewish prayer) “on the doorposts of your home.”

A mezuzah should be placed on the right side of the door or doorpost, in the upper third of the doorpost, and slanted toward the room into which the door opens.

On Disneyland’s Main Street, there is a doorway along the Emporium on the west side of the street just before the entrance to New Century Jewelry (originally the location of the Upjohn Pharmacy, a favorite location for doctors visiting the park in the early days) that features the name of a fictional resident in gold-leaf lettering: Dr. Benjamin Stein. It is a bit unusual because the name is not on one of the upper-floor windows like so many other names and it does not represent a person who contributed to Disneyland.

To the right of the door is a mezuzah. Dr. Stein does not exist on the Main Street at Walt Disney World, only Disneyland.

In 1995, former Disneyland president Paul Pressler expressed concern that, during the holidays, there was nothing in recognition of the celebration of Chanukah.

In the tradition of its founder, Walt Disney, Disneyland was known for welcoming all religions, but during the holiday season, all the decorations in the park seemed to reference only Christmas and Christian symbols. Walt Disney World had an annual exhibit in the American Adventure attraction at Epcot that acknowledged the Jewish seasonal celebration.

So this location was themed to acknowledge a simple turn-of-the-last-century general practitioner and a menorah is placed in one of the upstairs windows. The welcoming sign on the door states: “Have a fever? Have the flu? Come on in and we’ll cure you!”

In September 2004, the mezuzah was stolen and had to be replaced.

Continued in "Secret Stories of Disneyland"!

About Theme Park Press

Theme Park Press is the world's leading independent publisher of books about the Disney company, its history, its films and animation, and its theme parks. We make the happiest books on earth!

Our catalog includes guidebooks, memoirs, fiction, popular history, scholarly works, family favorites, and many other titles written by Disney Legends, Disney animators and artists, Mouseketeers, Cast Members, historians, academics, executives, prominent bloggers, and talented first-time authors.

We love chatting about what we do: drop us a line, any time.

Theme Park Press Books

The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion The Ride Delegate 501 Ways to Make the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation The Cotton Candy Road Trip The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney Disney Destinies Disney Melodies The Happiest Workplace on Earth Storm over the Bay A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World: Volume 1 Mouse in Transition Mouseketeers Down Under Murder in the Magic Kingdom Walt Disney and the Promise of Progress City Service with Character Son of Faster Cheaper A Tale of Two Resorts I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand The Adventures of Young Walt Disney Death in the Tragic Kingdom Two Girls and a Mouse Tale Ears & Bubbles The Easy Guide 2015 Who's the Leader of the Club? Disney's Hollywood Studios Funny Animals Life in the Mouse House The Book of Mouse Disney's Grand Tour The Accidental Mouseketeer The Vault of Walt: Volume 1 The Vault of Walt: Volume 2 The Vault of Walt: Volume 3 Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? Amber Earns Her Ears Ema Earns Her Ears Sara Earns Her Ears Katie Earns Her Ears Brittany Earns Her Ears Walt's People: Volume 1 Walt's People: Volume 2 Walt's People: Volume 13 Walt's People: Volume 14 Walt's People: Volume 15

We're always in the market for new authors with great ideas. Or great authors with new ideas. Whichever type of author you are, we'd be happy to discuss your book. Before you contact us, however, please make sure you can answer "yes" to these threshold questions:

Is It Right for Us?

We specialize in books that have some connection to Disney or theme parks. Disney, of course, has become a broad topic, and encompasses not just theme parks and films but comic books, animation, and a big chunk of pop culture. Your book should fit into one (or more) of those broad categories.

Is It Going to Make Money?

There's never a guarantee that any book will make money, but certain types of books are less likely to do so than others. They include: hardcovers, books with color photos, and books that go on forever ("forever" as in 400+ pages). We won't automatically turn down these types of books, but you'll have to be a really good salesman to convince us.

Are You Great to Work With?

Writing books and publishing books should be fun. The last thing you want, and the last thing we want, is a contentious relationship. We work with authors who share our philosophy of no drama and zero attitude, and the desire for a respectful, realistic, mutually beneficial partnership.