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14 vintage photos of Disneyland behind the scenes that will make you see the theme park in a whole new light

Published by Business Insider on Sun, 13 Oct 2019


After opening for business in 1955, Disneyland spent the next decade implementing tons of new rides and attractions.In the '60s, some photographers got behind-the-scenes looks at the theme park in Anaheim, California, and captured their experiences through film.In their vintage photos, Disney employees are seen creating the rides that are now considered to be fan favorites, like It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean.You can also see cast members lounging "backstage," or in private areas of the theme park.Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.When Disneyland first opened in 1955, only 33 rides and attractions existed.By the '60s, however, the theme park began to install some of the rides that are now considered classics, like Pirates of the Caribbean and It's a Small World. A few lucky photographers gained behind-the-scenes entry at the time, and captured their experiences with film.Here's a look at their vintage photos that will make you see some of your favorite Disney attractions in a whole new light.No matter how big or small, Disneyland employees put meticulous detail into each and every attraction at the park.Small bumblebee props were hand-painted by Disney artists in August 1962.For example, each bird in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room was handmade.In 1962, photographer Tom Nebbia captured a group of Disney employees creating the birds in a workroom. While some seemingly worked with cotton swabs, other artists appear to have combed the birds' feathers.Underneath their feathers, the birds look more like robots.According to Disneyland's website, the Enchanted Tiki Room debuted in 1963, one year after this photo was taken.Disney employees also handcrafted the It's a Small World dolls.While seemingly inside the ride, Disney employees dressed each doll in their cultural attire. Nebbia captured this scene in 1962, four years before the ride opened in 1966.Pirates of the Caribbean animatronics were altered inside the ride.From afar, the characters within Pirates of the Caribbean look almost like real people. But up close, it's clear that they're actually just animatronicssome of which have no legs.Rides were improved upon even after opening to the public.Though the Jungle Cruise has been a part of Disneyland since 1955, Imagineersas Disney calls its creative teambegan installing new animals in the 60s.Elephants, for example, are now classic characters in the ride. But in 1962, employees had to create the fake animals using saws and fiberglass.Some props were even reviewed by Walt Disney himself.Though it's unclear if this elephant was installed on the Jungle Cruise ride or another attraction, Nebbia photographed Walt Disney examining the prop in 1962.It wasn't always easy to relocate props after building them.In the '60s, employees had to use simple rolling carts to relocate giant props. They also had to move them past other pieces, like totem poles designed for Frontierland's Indian Village, which no longer exists.Read more: 11 vintage photos of Disneyland's opening day in 1955 that will make you wish you were thereBut not all props were kept in pristine conditions.During a visit in August 1962, Nebbia photographed a man sitting atop a crocodile prop while drinking a beverage. The fake animal was one of many scattered in what appears to have been a prop junkyard.Many Disneyland attractions started off as unrecognizable inventions.Though the above photo might appear to show a standard robot, it actually captures the first version of an Abraham Lincoln animatronic. The mechanism was created for the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction, which still exists today.Even in the '60s, Disneyland engineers were able to create strikingly-accurate props.After creating the robotic portion of their Abraham Lincoln prop, engineers were able to create a realistic face and body that moved with the mechanism.But according to D23, there was a time when this didn't seem possible. Walt Disney reportedly envisioned a show featuring wax figures of every US president as far back as the '50s. He also wanted the figures to move, talk, and stand in front of screens that showcased scenes from US history.But because advanced technology was so expensive at the time, he and his team created only a single figure, Abraham Lincoln, in the '60s, which they hoped would attract sponsors to help build the rest. Their plan eventually worked out, and also led to the creation of The Hall of Presidents in Disney World.Disneyland employees didn't always stay in character throughout the theme park's early days.While backstageas Disney often refers to its back-lot areassome characters lounged while wearing only half their costumes. In the photo seen above, one man was dressed as half an alligator, while another employee wore most of Peter Pan's costume.But even when they did, character costumes at Disneyland sometimes looked alarming.When princesses from Scandinavia visited the theme park in the 1960s, for example, they were greeted by a strange version of Minnie Mouse. Her costume was comprised of a simple blue dress, flimsy tail, and oversized mask that didn't match the rest of the outfit.It's unlikely that similar photos would be taken today.According to Popsugar, modern Disney cast members can lose their jobs if caught taking photos in restricted areas.Read more:54 photos that will make you want to visit every Disney theme park in the world19 vintage photos of Disney parks around the worldTHEN AND NOW: How Disney parks have changed over the years31 photos of old Disney World attractions we wish would come back
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