In one of his most popular quotes, Walt Disney himself said, “I hope we never lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.” Well, I beg to differ. I mean, technically, Mickey (the mouse he was talking about of course), was such a huge success that it led to the success and growth of Walt’s business. A successful business that led to more projects and bigger success. So yes, without Mickey the Mouse none of the things we Disney Addicts know and love today would probably be here. But, when it comes to the parks, Disneyland in particular, I have to credit the man, not the mouse. Disneyland was created thanks to Walt’s vision. In fact, today Disneyland has an exhibit honoring the man and his dream.
In the Main Street Opera House on Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland sits a park bench. This bench doesn’t look special. It is old and green and looks pretty ordinary. But it is far from ordinary. Legend has it that this is the bench Walt used to sit on when he would take his two daughters, Diane and Sharon, to the local park. Here at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, Walt would sit and wait while the girls rode the merry-go-round. Perhaps it was the boredom of sitting and waiting. Perhaps it was his desire to ride the merry-go-round himself. Perhaps it was nothing more than daydreaming. Whatever sparked the thoughts, it was while sitting on the bench waiting for his girls that Walt dreamt up a place where families could have fun together. When interviewed later, Walt said, “Disneyland really began when my two daughters were very young. Saturday was always Daddy’s Day and I would take them to the merry-go-round and sit on a bench eating peanuts while they rode. And sitting there alone, I felt there should be something built, some kind of family park, where parents and children could have fun together.” He believed it so much he set out to create it!
In addition to the famous Griffith Park bench, the Disneyland Story exhibit also features a carousel horse from the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, a scale model of Disneyland as it looked on opening day July 17, 1955, models of attractions, artwork, and other memorabilia and rare Disneyland artifacts. There is usually a short film as well but it is currently on hiatus while the theatre shows a special sneak peak of the new live action movie, “Dumbo”. “Disneyland: The First 50 Years” is scheduled to return April 18, 2019.
Much like One Man’s Dream in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park in Florida, this exhibit is a must do for any true Disney Addict. Take a moment and step away from the hustle and bustle of the park to pay homage to the park’s humble beginnings. Feel free to whisper a little “Thank you, Walt” too. Trust me, no one in there will think you are crazy. We are all Disney Addicts. We get it. Without that Griffith Park bench, who knows if Walt would have slowed down enough to create “The Happiest Place on Earth”. Hmm…maybe it was all started by a park bench?
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