Things You’ll Never Believe Existed in Disney

Sleeping beauty Castle
Credit: Disney

Do you ever wonder what the early days of walking through a Disney Park were like? Did Main Street, U.S.A., always smell like baked goods? Was a Mickey ice cream bar a popular snack back in the day? Did it even exist during the opening? Fun facts like Disney California Adventure once started as a parking lot, and where Walt Disney got his inspiration, make up the history of Disney.

When Walt Disney set out to create his very first theme park, it was not just about Mickey Mouse. He integrated parts of his childhood, his interests, and animation to create Disneyland. The Disney Company created a Park that was unlike any other. Many of his animated films like Snow White (1937) and characters like Donald Duck became large parts of the Park.

The Walt Disney Studio was so successful in putting out the best pictures like Mary Poppins (1965) and Robin Hood (1973) that creating a theme Park like Disneyland didn’t seem farfetched. As we know the success of Disneyland only lead to more theme parks, as Disney World opened in 1971. Since then Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT have all joined the Disney theme parks.

Walt Disney

Credit: Disneyland Resort News

Real Mermaids in Tomorrowland

Could you imagine, as a fan of The Little Mermaid (1989), that you can go to Disneyland and see real-life mermaids? In 1959, the attraction 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opened and had “real” mermaids in the lagoon. Like in the animated film, live performers were seen swimming around the pool or lounging in the sun on rocks, waiving to Disneyland Guests. It was noted that the submarine propellers were dangerous to swim near and could harm the mermaids, so they were to stay clear of swimming too close. There are stories of the chlorine turning the mermaid’s hair green, which may have had a part in the performers only lasting until 1967.

Related: Disneyland Used To Have Real Mermaids Within The Theme Park (Well, Sort Of)

Frito Kid

Another part of Disney’s history is the full-sized Frito Kid that doubled as a vending machine did exist once. In Casa de Fritos, sponsored by Fritos, the Frito Kid would come to life with a nickel and dispense your corn chips. He moved to (what is now) Rancho del Zocalo in 1957 and operated there through the 1960s. After inserting your nickel, Frito Kid would come to life asking his friend Klondike (who was nowhere to be seen) to deliver some chips to his customers. A fun fact is this is also where the Dorito originated, all inside Disneyland Park!

He Can Fly, He Can Fly, He Can Fly!

For only a few weeks in 1965, you could actually see a man flying through the air in Disneyland. Giving a Peter Pan type of vibe, the rocket man was just what it sounded like, a real man with a rocket belt that propelled him through the sky. William P. Suitor claimed to have over 2,000 flights with his jet pack and not a single accident. Although he was only in Tomorrowland for a few weeks, he was also seen in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Walt Disney and his brother Roy O Disney really thought of every possible way to bring theme parks to life.

RELATED: A Brief History of Disneyland’s Teen Nightclub, Videopolis

Real Human Bones in Pirates of the Caribbean

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride opened in 1967; it has since been deemed the most popular ride in Disney and in the entire world. Pirates of the Caribbean has given over a third of a billion people a ride. The décor calls for props like swords, pirate attire, and bones in some scenes. For the opening, UCLA donated real human bones, which were scattered throughout one scene of the ride. This is all in accordance with Imagineer Jason Surrell.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Credit: Left photo D23, right photo Disneyland Resort News

RELATED: Former Walt Disney World Attractions That We Miss

UpJohn Pharmacy

In the early days of Disneyland, if you wanted a break from the rides and snacks, you could stop at UpJohn Pharmacy on Main Street, U.S.A.. At UpJohn’s, you could find unique souvenirs and get a free glass bottle of vitamins. Leading up to the opening of Disneyland, Disney purchased pharmaceutical antiques to have on display for Guests, with some dating back to centuries prior. The store had two clerks and two pharmacists on staff. Visitors would also receive an UpJohn’s Pharmacy postcard with the Disneyland logo. Ultimately they closed down in 1970 but donated most of the antiques. It is now on display at the History of Pharmacy Museum.

Building Main Street U.S.A.

Credit: Disneyland Resort News

RELATED: The Secret Is Out – The Disney World Scavenger Hunt Collectors Didn’t Know Existed

It’s wild to think these experiences existed within Disney Parks! Did you ever experience any of them?

About Sarahfina LoFaso

Sarahfina is an author, and adjunct professor with a passion for writing and of course, all things Disney! Cinderella is her favorite princess and movie, both the animated and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 1997 version. In close second place is Hercules, tied with Saving Mr. Banks. Sarahfina enjoys writing about the history of Walt Disney and all the parks, along with food, dining, and resorts. Her favorite ride is the Tower of Terror, and her favorite restaurant right now is the San Angel Inn, in EPCOT. Most importantly, her must-have snack every Disney trip is the controversial turkey leg, because it reminds her of her family trips as a kid with her grandparents.