Even if you visit Disneyland often, there are usually little details that go unnoticed. Fantasyland is full of these touches that add an extra layer of fun to this land designed for children.
1. Gargoyles on Sleeping Beauty Castle
Gargoyles used to be a common architectural detail because they functioned as drain spouts that channeled rain water away from buildings. The grotesque looking stone creatures would look out of place on the whimsical Disneyland castle, so the Imagineers made gargoyles out of squirrels instead. If you look around the sides of Sleeping Beauty Castle, you will see several of these squirrel drain spouts which are a nod to the traditional gargoyle you would typically find in a castle’s design.
2. The Poison Apple
The entrance to Snow White’s Scary Adventures has a neat detail that most overlook. The main doorway has a podium with a brass book of spells and a brass apple. The average visitor just passes by this decoration on their way into the attraction. Those who pause a moment and touch the poison apple will hear the evil queen’s laugh, a bit of foreboding to what lies ahead on the ride.
3. The Evil Queen is Watching You
Snow White’s Scary Adventures has another fun detail in the attraction’s facade. If you look up through the trees, you’ll see a large window with closed drapes. If you watch for a few moments, you’ll see the curtains open and the Evil Queen peering down at you. This can best be seen when standing near the entrance to Peter Pan’s Flight and looking across at the entrance to Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
4. Jingles, the Lead Horse on King Arthur Carousel
Did you know that Disneyland’s carousel has a lead horse? Jingles is the only one of the hand carved, wooden horses that is adorned with little bells (which is how the horse got its name). This horse was painted gold for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. It was later dedicated to Julie Andrews in honor of the carousel horse she rides in the movie Mary Poppins.
5. The Cheshire Cat in the Mirror
If you are trying on a hat inside the Mad Hatter gift shop, you might see a surprise in the mirror. The Cheshire Cat periodically makes an appearance in one of the large, oval mirrors along the ceiling.
6. Dumbo the Flying Elephant Band Organ
As you walk around Fantasyland, it is hard to miss the Disney tunes being played by the vintage mechanical band organ behind Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction. The band was built around 1915 by Gavioli, a well-known European manufacturer of circus organs. According to Disney, the organ weighs three-quarters of a ton and on a clear day can be heard over a mile away. It plays 28 minutes of Disney tunes using its wide-range of musical effects.
If you take a closer look at the organ, you will see the doors at the center open up and a miniature Dumbo will fly out. Over the years, I have had mixed results trying to see this detail as it is often not working. But if you happen to catch it on a day when it is functioning, it is a fun little detail to see.
7. Figaro’s Exit Sign
As you exit the Village Haus Restaurant, you will see an image of Fiagro painted on the wall. He has a rope over his shoulder, which is connected to the illuminated exit sign, to give the appearance that his is pulling it along. I have heard a few different versions of the story, but the gist is that Disney’s Imagineers needed a clever way to obscure the fact that the exit sign was off center.
Some say the exit sign was placed off center because of a supporting beam inside the wall. Others have said that the murals were already painted before the exit signs were installed as part of the state’s fire code. Whatever the reason, the Imagineers found a way to solve the problem when building the same restaurant at Disneyland Paris. Their version of the exit sign shows Figaro giving a thumbs up, as if showing he is pleased the off center sign was finally fixed.