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Finding Disneyland Magic in Los Angeles

by | Sep 30, 2020

It has been almost six months since Disneyland and California Adventure had to say, “See ya real soon!” Since then the gates have remained closed to our beloved Magic Kingdom. We are all a little sad Disneyland is not open but are thankful they will be taking the necessary measures to keep us safe when they finally re-open. I could not ignore the vacant feeling I had for a Disney fix, so I decided to find some Disneyland Magic (socially distanced and mask wearing) on my own in Los Angeles!

I decided to start where the idea of Disneyland was conceived. The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round.

“The idea for Disneyland came about when my daughters were very young and Saturday was always Daddy’s day with the two daughters. So we’d start out and try to go someplace, you know, different things, and I’d take them to the merry-go-round and I took them different places and as I’d sit while they rode the merry-go-round and did all these things- sit on a bench, you know, eating peanuts- I felt that there should be something built where the parents and the children could have fun together.” -Walt Disney


Next, I headed over to the original site for Disneyland. It was originally called Mickey Mouse Park before the idea was too big for the site. It would have sat right next to the Disney Studios on Riverside Drive. Now, the Disney Animation Building and an adjacent field.


Notice many of the ideas for Mickey Mouse Park made it to Disneyland and are still popular attractions today. Including the Steamboat, later called The Mark Twain and a railroad making a Grand Circle. There is even an Island that resembles Tom Sawyer Island originally designed as a wild bird sanctuary.

I took a walk past the Disney Studios on Riverside Drive. Disney Studios opened in 1940. Walt Disney used the earnings from the tremendous success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to finance the construction of the Burbank Studio.

That walk around the Studio has made me a bit hungry! It’s a good thing one of Walt’s favorite restaurants is the Tam O’Shanter and just a short drive away located on Los Feliz Blvd. You can even eat where Walt ate. Table 31 was where Walt would frequently sit with animators and Imagineers. Currently the restaurant is only serving food for carry out but table for one in my car seems to do the trick.


Walt’s love for trains was undeniable, in fact he loved trains so much he built a railroad at his home in Holmby Hills. He named it the Carolwood pacific after the street he lived on, “Carolwood Drive.”

Walt had a barn built where he could monitor and remotely control the switches on the Carolwood Pacific railway. That barn has been moved and lucky for us can still be seen today at the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum.

Lasty I decided to quickly drive by a special place. Where the magic continues to make its way to the Disney parks worldwide. Walt Disney Imagineering. A quick picture and I am home in time to miss most of the LA traffic. What a great way to end a day full of finding Disneyland magic.

With the buzz of the parks re-opening and seeing Downtown Disney guests bursting with anticipation this was a great way to get my Disney fix and further appreciate Disneyland’s history and its impact on Los Angeles and Southern California.