Youve heard it gleefully shouted dozens of times, that familiar phrase: Im going to Disneyland! While this phrase still conjures joy and wonder and all that good stuff for children, theres always been an eerie undercurrent to The Happiest Place on Earth, and that eeriness becomes more and more pronounced the older you get. Its hard to define, but theres something off-putting about the place. Something vaguely menacing about its cult-like atmosphere and perennially masked staff and associates, about the covert racism exhibited by its founder/namesake, about the whole dirty corporate scheme and its heartless business trust pulling the strings behind the curtains. Certain details about Disneyland are undeniably lurid, so naturally weve compiled a short list chronicling some of the juiciest lowlights from Disneylands checkered 57-year history. Enjoy.
1.) Disneyland is home to literally dozens of feral cats. Shortly after the completion and dedication of Disneyland, the staff realized that many of the rides and other attractions had become overrun with mice. But no worries: the mice problem was eventually solved when the grounds became overrun with stray alley cats instead. Ever since then, Disneyland has been the de facto homeland for generations of Anaheims stray cats, though I imagine they probably dont harmonize over charmingly orchestrated musical numbers late at night after close.
2.) For years, Disneyland cast members were required to wear communal, company-issued underwear to be handed in after every shift. Staffers werent allowed to wear their own underwear since it tended to bunch up under the costumes. Instead, they were issued company jock straps along with cycling shorts or tights. During the time this policy was in effect, there were at least three recorded instances of actors catching scabies or pubic lice as a result. The policy was revoked in 2001.
3.) Disneyland enforces a strict mandate against staff dating co-workers. The policy is called Dont Date Disney, and it discourages cast members and other associates from flirting with or romancing any other Disney employees. The policy also includes a zero-tolerance rule against engaging in any inappropriate behavior with guests. Still, given the fact that at least 3 babies have been born on the grounds of the resort, theres no telling what else has been going on backstage.
4.) Initially, Disneyland forbid its employees from having long hair/facial hair. During the first two decades or so of its existence, Disneyland tried to distance itself from the hippie movement that was sweeping the nation. One of the measures it took was prohibiting male employees from growing out their hair. Even now, the policy has only been relaxed a little; long hair is still discouraged, but males are allowed to have (neatly trimmed) mustaches.
5.) Yippies once invaded Disneyland in 1970. The radically-oriented Youth International Party organized a smoke-in on Tom Sawyers Island, and approximately 200 kids ran amok throughout the park all day, smoking pot and harassing employees among other acts of mischief. They were eventually confronted with riot police out in the parking lot, though the incident never turned seriously violent. However, the yippies did cause enough turmoil to get Disneyland closed down five hours early, only the second unscheduled closing in the parks history (the first was after JFKs assassination).