Have you ever heard of Disneylandia? Have you been to Mickey Mouse Park? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t – because neither one ever existed. Both were concepts that Walt had in mind even before Disneyland opened. In the course of Walt’s storied career, he had many ideas he pursued but eventually abandoned. Often, those ideas morphed into realities that we know today by a different name. For example, his idea for a ski resort eventually became Country Bear Jamboree.
Touring the Walt Disney Family Museum, there are some great exhibits showing not only Walt’s vision for Disneyland but precursor ideas as well. One of those were for plans for a unique park across the street from the Disney Studios on an eight-acre lot they owned and was to be called Mickey Mouse Park. Mickey Mouse Park is the precursor idea to what would eventually be called Disneyland. It all started from an idea Walt had about building a better park for his kids and for every child – one that was clean and family-friendly. Plans were developed which included a train (of course), an opera house / movie theater, a Western village (perhaps the beginnings of Frontierland), a carnival section, and other goodies. I love the idea that Walt intended to build a toy store in the main village that would not only sell Disney memorabilia, but include a toy repair shop to fix broken toys! Although his ideas quickly overcame the limited space they had across from the studios, preliminary plans can still be seen at the museum and it’s fascinating to see these kind of details that Walt and his “imagineers” put into creating his first theme park. Many of those ideas actually became part of Disneyland when it opened albeit in grander form.
- Read about Walt’s inspiration for a better park at the D23 dedication for Walt’s bench at the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
- You can read parts of the original memo about Mickey Mouse Park on the Disney Parks blog
Then there were the plans for a traveling exhibition called Disneylandia! Again, you can see these plans Walt had at the Walt Disney Family Museum. The information about this fascinating idea was all on display in one of the exhibits. I found out from reading the placards that Walt developed a love for miniatures as far back as 1939 when he attended the Golden Gate International Exposition. He saw an exhibit of Mrs. James Ward Thorne’s dioramas which included handmade furniture in intricate detail. He was intrigued with what he found and nearly 10 years later, unable to shake this fascination, began in earnest his own collection. By the early 1950’s Walt had developed an idea for a traveling miniatures show that would feature his collection of historical American furniture in their own dioramas and he was going to call this show Disneylandia. It never quite made it to the production stage, but you can view some of Walt’s miniatures collection – both those he found and those he crafted himself – on display at the museum. It’s pretty fascinating and is a testimony to Walt’s attention to detail which again is a hallmark of the craftsmanship he put into Disneyland itself.
- For more details on Disneylandia, read this post on The Walt Disney Family Museum site or visit the museum
Walt was a man often ahead of his time. His ideas for new ways to entertain and inform the public were revolutionary and shaped how we view things today. Exploring these ideas that never came to fruition is intriguing because it gives us more insight into Walt’s thinking. Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to see these on display at the Walt Disney Family Museum!