Today we'll reveal a few hidden gems at the 'Happiest Place on Earth.' What all of these "finds" have in common are their unique views of -- and uncommon way to experience -- Disneyland.
Sometimes when you discover something special, it's followed by that typical (read: selfish) urge to keep it all to yourself.
Not so at Hollywood Thoughts.
OK, That's a lie. At first, we weren't going to share any of this, either. But in the interest of the greater good, we're gonna spill everything.
Make your way to the train station at the top of Main Street. When you push through the turnstile, ask one of the conductors if it's possible to take a 'tender ride.' Depending on shift changes, crew training, or the need to take-on water at the Frontierland station, you might just find yourself riding a small bench on the car directly behind the train's engineers.
These are real steam engine locomotives, folks, so the ride can get a bit toasty during the summer months... but the trip will be a one-of-a-kind experience. The crews are extremely friendly and will answer any of your questions about the trains.
Where else can you get that 'up close' view of the engineer ringing the bell and tugging the rope to make that familiar, "toot-toot" on the whistle? If you've got kids, this will be the ride of a lifetime that'll leave them saying, "Thomas, who
?" Tender rides are only available from the Main Street station.
Disneyland, in fact, would have never been built were it not for the fact that Walt needed a place for his trains...
In the mid-1930's, Disney suffered a nervous breakdown and was urged by his doctors to develop a stress-relieving hobby that would take his mind off the pressures of running a studio. Walt was drawn to miniature trains and, in time, he built a miniature railroad system that filled his entire Holmby Hills backyard (he even tunneled under his wife's flower garden-- the first Disney 'dark ride' attraction!).
With his love of trains growing, Disney drew plans for a small, "Mickey Mouse Park" across the street from the Burbank studio (where the animation building now stands) that would include a closed-loop train ride. As plans for other rides grew, it quickly became apparent that more land would be needed.
Smash cut to breaking ground in Anaheim. The rest, as they say, is history.
If a tender ride isn't available, ask the Main Street conductors if it's possible to ride aboard the 'Lily Belle' caboose.
This car was completely refurbished in April, 2006 and is named after Walt's wife, Lillian. To get a ride is a real treat-- and a real step back in time. Plush red velvet couches line the warm cherrywood walls of the car. Victorian potted palms and delicate gold light fixtures complete the turn-of-the-last-century decor. Looking out the big picture windows as you chug around the river bend into the Frontierland 'forest,' you'll truly feel transported to a place from the past.
When you exit the train station, look for the double-decker bus. Hop on board, and climb to the top for a rare (low-flying) birds-eye view.
Pay attention to the second floor windows on the stores that line Main Street. Most of them are filled with the names of artists that contributed to the success of the Disney studio and theme parks.
The first name ever etched on a Main Street window was of Elias Disney; It was Walt's way of honoring his Dad.
Ready for the last tip?
Head over to Frontierland, and make your way to the Mark Twain steamboat.
Once you're on the dock, ask one of the employees for a ride in the Captain's wheelhouse. Once inside, they'll put you to work as you take-on most of the Captain's duties (don't get nervous-- the whole operation is on a submerged track).
Aside from being the guy tempting the dog with a bone in the 'Pirates' ride, we can't think of anything more cool than ringing the ship's bell or pulling the rope to blow the big steam whistle.
And whatta view!
PS: Don't forget to ask for the certificate commemorating your special voyage aboard the Mark Twain.
And, hey, do us all a favor, please... keep this stuff to yourself, OK?!?