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You’ve been to Disney World 6,784,021 times, but we’ll bet you’ve NEVER seen these photos that tell the rest of the story

For Disney superfans, there’s no such thing as visiting Disney World or Disneyland too much. That concept is altogether inconceivable, and it’s why they become frustrated when asked, “You’re going again?” (Cue the conglomerate eye-roll.)

And while we’re at it–the answer is yes. Yes, we are those terrible “Disney Adults” you’ve heard so much about!

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Credit: Canva Creation, Becky Burkett

But because the Disney Parks empire is so vast and its history so rich and full of magic–sometimes down to the most minute of details–even Guests who visit the parks all year long, every single year can learn something new about the parks every time.

Walt just had a knack for that kind of thing. But despite his untimely death and the fact that his first park is more than 65 years old now, the Disney Parks story can continue to be shared, thanks to the photographs and videos that forward-thinking Imagineers and Cast Members captured so long ago–many of which still have not been widely circulated.

We're Ranking the Best Disney Imagineers of All Time!

Credit: Disney

Once upon a time, there was a radio program that aired five days a week and shared little-known facts and stories with its ever-expanding audience. The Rest of the Story was a program hosted by ABC News’ Paul Harvey. The broadcast began as part of Harvey’s coverage of World War II but continued on May 10, 1976, as its own series across ABC Radio’s networks.

The Rest Of The Story: Paul Harvey, Conservative Talk Radio Pioneer : NPR

Harvey often ended his stories with, “And now you know the rest of the story.” In like fashion, some of these rarely-seen photos offer Disney Parks fans a look at the untold story of attractions, of Walt himself, and of other goings-on behind the scenes that serve to make Disney World and Disneyland all the more magical.

Betcha haven’t seen some of these until now.

Disney’s land before it was Disneyland

Walt Disney looked for the perfect spot for his new theme park, and he found it in a 160-acre orange grove in a little place called Anaheim, California. Its proximity to a major highway, as well as the fact that it was only a 45-minute drive from Los Angeles, made it the perfect place to build Disney’s first family entertainment venue.

disneyland acres orange groves

Credit: Disney Archives

Walt Disney is featured in TV Guide, plugging his “TV program of the year” on ABC

Walt had a map drawn up of his plans for Disneyland. Then his brother–and business partner–Roy Disney took the detailed drawing with him to ABC and managed to turn the tide. ABC agreed to loan Disney $500.000 and guarantee $4,5 million in loans in return for a one-third ownership in Disneyland and a promise of a weekly Disney television show for the network, per DesigningDisney.com.

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On October 27, 1954, Disney’s new series, titled “Disneyland,” aired for the first time.

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Credit: DesigningDisney

Walt Disney takes a moment to survey his park: the realization of his dreams

Portrait of American movie producer, artist, and animator Walt Disney (1901 - 1966) as he sits on a bench in his Disneyland amusement park, Anaheim, California, 1950s.

Credit: Gene Lester, photographer

A rare colorized photo of the entrance to Disneyland on July 17, 1955

Disneyland Resort

Credit: Disneyland Resort

Excited children run through the brand-new Sleeping Beauty Castle on Disneyland’s Opening Day

Children running through gate of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Walt Disney's theme park, Disneyland.

Credit: The LIFE Picture Collection

While the above photo depicts children thrilled to finally gain access to the park Mr. Disney talked about on his ABC TV program, Opening Day at Disneyland was anything but carefree, according to MentalFloss:

More than 28,000 people laid siege to the meticulously-planned theme park on its opening day, many of them navigating the invitation-only affair by either sneaking in or handing in counterfeit passes when the gate opened at 2:30 p.m. Overcrowded and baking in the blistering 100-degree heat, so much went wrong when Disneyland opened its doors that Walt Disney himself would later label the affair “Black Sunday.”

Parking Lot

The parking lot at Disneyland on Opening Day, 1955/Credit: USC Libraries

Disney Crowds

Crowds gather to experience Disneyland on Opening Day in 1955/Credit: USC Libraries/Corbis

The newly-poured asphalt on Main Street, U. S. A. melted under the blistering sun, and ladies’ high-heeled shoes became stuck in the tarry goo. Because attendance exceeded invitations by more than double, the park had a food and beverage shortage. Plumbers were on strike at the time, so we’ll leave you to just imagine the kinds of problems that ensued because of that.

Steamboat

Credit: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives

Even the Mark Twain Riverboat–overloaded with Guests–eventually began to sink under the weight of those over-eager fans. In the photo above, it’s easy to see how low the riverboat is in the water.

All of these problems took place in front of the children who were in attendance at the park that day, as well as their parents and some of Hollywood’s elite.

Then-actor (later President) Ronald Reagan gave a speech at Disneyland on Opening Day

Ronald Reagan

Credit: All That’s Interesting

Sleeping Beauty Castle has a working drawbridge

Sleeping Beauty Castle has long been the most recognizable icon at Disneyland Resort in California. It differs from Disney World’s Cinderella Castle in several ways.

First, Disneyland’s castle is much smaller than Disney World’s. At only 77 feet tall, Sleeping Beauty Castle stands a full 112 feet shorter than Cinderella Castle. Another difference between the two is that the drawbridge at Sleeping Beauty Castle is a working drawbridge, whereas the drawbridge at Cinderella Castle (and every other Disney Parks castle) is merely a facade and has no functional mechanism to it.

18 Jul 1955, Anaheim, California, USA --- Original caption: Walt Disney, the cartoonist-producer and lately creator of Disneyland, the 160-acre, $17,000,000 playground for children, sits in front of his Fantasyland castle during a telecast of the official opening of the playground. The premiere was televised nationally. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Walt Disney on camera for ABC Television with Sleeping Beauty Castle’s drawbridge being lowered in the background/Credit: Disneyland Resort

It’s important to note, however, that Sleeping Beauty Castle’s drawbridge has only been lowered twice since 1955.

A lingerie shop right smack-dab on Main Street

No long explanation needed. Once upon a time, Disneyland featured an intimate apparel shop, and here’s the photo to prove it.

disneyland intimate apparel shop

Credit: Orange County Archives

To make things even more uncomfortable for some Guests, there was even a “Wizard of Bras” at the Hollywood-Maxwell shop at Disneyland. The “wizard” was a mechanical being that served as an “emcee” as Guests browsed. This is one of the only known photos of the mechanical Wizard of Bras from a newspaper supplement that advertised Disneyland and its offerings.

disneyland intimate apparel shop

Credit: Orange County Archives

I don’t know about you, but when I think about purchasing bras and other unmentionables, the thought of Disney Parks does not even come into my mind. What about you?

Walt Disney passes away unexpectedly after a short battle with lung cancer.

The country is devastated, and local newspapers all across the United States document the sense of sadness felt at the loss of the innovator, creator, animator, and visionary, Walt Disney.

Death of Walt Disney in 1966... - RareNewspapers.com

Credit: RareNewspapers

RetroNewsNow on Twitter: "On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died at the age of 65 https://t.co/TzaNINnQPK" / Twitter

Credit: The Chicago Tribune

Death of Walt Disney... - RareNewspapers.com

Credit: RareNewspapers

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom begins to take magical shape

Cinderella Castle would be the icon of Walt Disney’s newest family theme park in Florida. Walt’s plans for his “Florida Project” weren’t to die with him, and his brother Roy and his faithful Imagineers would see to that. They continued with Walt’s plans for a massive Disney park in Central Florida that would ultimately include more than just the Magic Kingdom.

Building Disney World: They History of Orlando Disney | DOZR

Credit: DOZR

Disney World opens to the public in October 1971.

Walt’s plans for a theme park in Florida finally came to fruition on October 1, 1971, but after the disastrous opening day at Disneyland in 1955, the decision was made to play it safe and not have the official Opening Day ceremony until the end of October, allowing for time to see that everything was functioning properly before a formal ceremony might bring a spotlight to any problems, as was the case at Disneyland.

Disney World Opening Day

Credit: D23

Royal Turrets being delivered to Magic Kingdom via Interstate 4

You might think such a sight would “ruin the magic” for avid Disney World fans. But according to those who live near the parks, this isn’t necessarily the case.

royal turret on highway

Credit: SparklyEverAfter

royal turret on highway

Credit: SparklyEverAfter

These photos from SparklyEverAfter.com captured the image of a truck with a flatbed trailer making a very special delivery to Magic Kingdom in 2015. It’s difficult to tell whether the turret was a replacement for one atop Cinderella Castle, or if it was a new turret to be used at the “gateway” to New Fantasyland, which opened in 2016.

new fantasyland disney world magic kingdom

Credit: Becky Burkett

Once and for all, Walt Disney was not cryogenically frozen. Behold, his grave.

Since we are taking a stroll down memory lane with photos from the parks and photos of Walt over the years, it’s appropriate to include some photos of Walt’s grave, just to drive home the point yet again that Walt was not frozen after his death.

54 years after Walt Disney's death, fans are still visiting his memorial

Walt Disney’s family gravesite at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California/Credit: SFGate

Walt passed away on December 15, 1966, and only a day later, he was cremated. His ashes were then interred at his gravesite at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Walt Disney's Grave on his birthday - December 5 2014 - YouTube

Credit: YouTube

It’s important to note that the first human to ever be cryogenically frozen was James Hiram Bedford, who died on January 12, 1967. Dr. Bedford was cryopreserved after that point, which was approximately a month after Walt’s passing.

About Becky Burkett

I'm an enthusiastic writer who finds joy in random things like cold weather, snow, "I Love Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," journals full of blank paper, countdowns to Christmas, the month of December, "Toy Story," "Sleeping Beauty," my 4 kids, my 4 shih tsus, Disney Parks history, Imagineering and visiting the parks. I think Walt Disney is the standard against which genius should be measured. I love to write about Disney Parks, Disney history, all things Imagineering and PIXAR. I adore the colors, story and art direction of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (Team Make it Blue!), and "Toy Story" is life (minus "Toy Story 4"). I believe Walt Disney was so much more than an entertainment and theme park tycoon; I believe he was a savant with a vision for life and how it could be if happiness and kindness are strived for. I love Biergarten at EPCOT and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian. You can find me croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room, chillin' on the PeopleMover or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. I'm always looking for Imagineers in the parks, and I'd rather meet Joe Rohde and Tony Baxter than anyone in Hollywood! Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!