7 Insane Things Walt Disney Proposed For The First Disneyland

Miniature donkeys, flying saucers, and a “rocket space ship to the moon,” among many more crazy ideas.

7 Insane Things Walt Disney Proposed For The First Disneyland

BoingBoing snagged a rare copy of Walt Disney’s original–and completely insane–proposal for Disneyland. Some of the ideas in the proposal can be traced, directly or indirectly, to the eventual park; Tomorrowland made it into the final version, and Disney’s “Liliputian Land,” where nine-inch-tall robots talk to guests, is a clear predecessor to the “It’s a Small World” ride.


Then there are . . . the other ideas. The ones that weren’t practical then, aren’t practical now, and won’t be practical in the future. The ones that violate laws on interstate commerce and animal cruelty. The ones that have yet to become affordable enough to provide. Check them out below, and read the whole proposal over at BoingBoing.

1. Many of Disney’s proposals are commerce-based; Disneyland from the start was designed to be a place for people to buy stuff. That included a catalog where you could have miniature donkeys, rare birds, and rare fish shipped to you, anywhere in the country. This likely violates several laws.

2. Disney loved animals, so much so that he wanted a safari (“Adventureland”) that includes dozens of species of animals, like American alligators, monkeys, and otters–all of which require totally different habitats, and some of which eat the others. “You glide through the Everglades,” he writes, “past birds and animals living in their natural habitat.” Welp.

3. “When you enter the gigantic ROCKET SPACE SHIP to the Moon,” Disney writes (emphasis his), “and are safety-belted to your seat, the trip through ‘space’ will be scientifically accurate.” Cool! It’s unlikely that there’d be anything scientifically accurate about a “roaring ride” past exploding stars, constellations, and comets, given the relative sizes and lengths of time needed to observe that stuff, but: sounds cool.

4. “FLY-THROUGH the air with PETER PAN, over London…past Big Ben clock…beyond the second star to the right for Never-Never Land. Fly over Captain Hook’s ship…the Indian encampment…the Crocodile…Mermaid Lagoon…Through Skull Rock…” No detail on how you’ll fly through the air is given.

5. In Frontier Country, Disney proposed that guests could take a stagecoach “past GRANNY’S FARM, a practical working farm operated with real live miniature horses, cows, oxen, and donkeys.” This is actually technically possible; there are miniature breeds of all those animals. But the idea of full-blown production farm–only tiny–is still nutso.


6. Disney was so taken with the idea of his miniature perfect world that he proposed some boring miniatures, too. Does Main Street really need a miniature newspaper office or miniature bank? What are people supposed to do there?

7. Mickey Mouse was originally supposed to live in a multi-story treehouse on Treasure Island, where real treasure would be buried.

8. Bonus, a non-crazy idea: In the future, doors would open and close just by asking them to–they would “obey your voice like a Genie.” This is easily doable today; probably all you need is an iPhone and a few rubber bands.

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.