Walt Disney's "secret" Disneyland apartment

Walt and Lilian Disney's daughter Diane talks to the Huffington Post about her parents' "secret apartment" over the firehouse on Disneyland's Main Street, USA. The apartment, decorated by a film production designer called Emile Kuri, was a private haven for the Disneys during the construction of Disneyland, and remained so after its completion. The apartment is still there (though it's off-limits to the public) and is a kind of time-capsule of the Disneys private lives.

There's another space, over the Pirates of the Caribbean, that was built to be a more lavish family apartment, but Walt died before it was completed. It was the "Disney Gallery" (a shop selling prints and other souvenirs) for many years, though it was lately converted to a luxury hotel suite, the "Disneyland Dream Suite." Initially, stays in the suite were awarded as surprise prizes to visitors, but now I believe it can be rented at a very high tariff.

Did a lot of people get to go up there, or it was a very private place?

Very private. It was for them. It was their residence there and they would invite people up, if there were special people in the park, mother and dad would go out and they would invite them up. Early, it was during "Davy Crockett," I remember there was some event there that day and Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen were both out there for it, and dad was looking out that window and saw them and he said, "Hey, come on up!"

He told them how to get around, back behind, and get up to the apartment and there was a fire pole in it, it's not there now, but there was a door into the closet area that had a fire pole, like the firemen would have, and he showed it to them and said, "Why don't you guys slide down that?" And they did! People would say, did your father ever do that? I'm sure he didn't.

Diane Disney Miller Remembers Dad: Walt's Secret Disneyland Apartment, His Passions & More (PHOTOS) (via Crib Candy)


  1. In 1999 I went to Epcot center to work on an installation in Tomorrowland.  They told me to drive down a back road, take an unmarked exit, tell the guard who I was, park, walk past Orange Horizons, then go to a popcorn stand, turn left, and enter a door set in the wall behind a shrub.  I went to an espresso cart but it didn’t have any popcorn.  I said, “Where is the popcorn cart?”  The man pointed and said, “The door is over there.”  

    The door led to stairs and a tunnel with roads and carts.  I passed a large wooden crate marked “FUEL CELL” and went into a dark room, with black-flocked walls, where my equipment had been stationed for me to work on.

    I tried the underground break room, but it was dismal.  On the way, I saw someone smoking.  Another person, a manager type, approached the first guy and said, “Could I ask you to do me a favor?”  The guy straightened up and assented, and was told, “Could I ask you to put that out for me?” Wow.

    So I spent three days underground, emerging only to eat at the theme restaurants.

    The last night, I stayed until 9pm, so I decided I’d wait for the fireworks, not having gone to any of the amusements available (not that my badge, which said “NO RIDES”, would have let me).  As I headed back to the closed Orange Horizons building, a beefy but cheerful man said, “Hello, hello, hello!” to me as a I walked by him.  I said, “Good night” and kept going, but he kept greeting me.  Gradually it dawned on me that he was security.  I fished my “NO RIDES” badge out and showed it to him, and he smiled broadly and let me head back out the way I came.

  2. I have actually had lunch at Club 33, which I think is the place above Pirates of the Caribbean that is mentioned above.  I went with a friend whose mother worked at a law firm that had a membership.

    I’d have to say that it was a top dining experience.  It was a buffet, but a buffet with such items as quail’s eggs and caviar.  Plus, it’s the only place in the park where you can get alcohol.  It was great fun to have gotten in to that place.

    1.  C33 adjoins the place over Pirates, but it’s a different place. The place over pirates is right at the “front” of New Orleans Square, close to the water. C33 is set back in the middle of the square. 

      I’ve eaten there too — it’s pretty good, though IMO, the food is actually miles better at the Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel, which may be my favorite restaurant in southern California, period.

  3. Late to the party but wanted to say that the Disney gallery was one of my favorite places in Disneyland and I was crushed when I found it closed on a recent visit. Major bummer. It wasn’t just a souvenir shop–it had all the old attraction posters for sale, tons of concept art from the Imagineers, and even a model of Disneyland. They even had an option to have almost any piece of art you wanted custom printed in multiple sizes and mediums. 

    1.  Isn’t there a shop along those lines elsewhere in the park now? Is it just not as good as that one was?

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