In the 10th Anniversary show, we were given sneak peeks at New Orleans Square, which was the first new land to be added to Disneyland since opening day. Today, it is the home to two of the most popular Disneyland Attractions. It's also the location of one of Disney's greatest entertainment venues. And for these reasons, it remains as the favorite land for many Disneyland-goers not to mention exclusive to Disneyland, only.
But it's evolution is almost as interesting as the evolution of Disneyland itself.
First, let's take a trip to Adventureland. In 1963, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room opened. Inside, Audio-Animatronic birds, flowers, and tiki gods entertained guests. For the time, it was very hightech. This innovation would be used highly in New Orleans Square.
Around this time, a majestic New Orleans-type house was constructed in Disneyland. This mansion had a sign on the front of it's gates- a want ad for ghosts. Little did Disneyland park-goers know what was happening inside. And Walt didn't know either.
Soon, this part of Frontierland was gutted and the railroad tracks were moved to allow for constuction of the brand new land to begin. Foundations were layed but worked stopped. This was due to the World's Fair, reported in a previous update. And for 2 years, this construction area sat empty and closed of to the public. Inquistive minds climbed the Swiss Family Treehouse to see what was going on.
But really, the ideas for New Orleans Square dated back to when DIsneyland was first invisioned. Walt wanted a Haunted House, and planned one for Main Street. This idea was eventually scrapped but never totally disappeared.
The Haunted Mansion went through various stages. It was initially concieved to be a walk-through tour, but the ideas grew bigger and bigger. The Haunted Mansion would still sit dormant while Walt worked on other things, like Tomorrowland and Pirates of the Caribbean.
In the late 50s, Walt wanted to do a Pirate Wax Museum. So when he wanted to build New Orleans Square, he saw it as the perfect location for the walk-through. Construction stopped during the Worlds Fair with the rest of New Orleans Square. After the Fair Walt came bak and decided to do a pirate boat ride with Audio-Animatronic pirates wrecking havoc on a Caribbean seaport. Design started, however the ride was to big. So WED planned to have the majority of the ride outside the railroad tracks in a building. Therefore, guests would have to travel under the tracks to get to and from the showbuilding. They would do this by plunging down a waterfall, then climbing up one. Pirates would also be the home to the Blue Bayou, which would be a great restaurant in the actual pirates ride overlooking the Bayou.
While construction on Pirates of the Caribbean began, planning for the Huanted Mansion started back up. Stories included a muderous pirate who moved here, killed his bride, then hung himself. There was also talks about doing a "Museum of the Wierd". Many aspects from each story were incorperated into the mansion, where guests would tour a "retirement home" of sorts for ghosts.
New Orleans Square officialy opened on July 24, 1966. Though the 2 big rides were not opened, and neither was the Blue Bayou, people strolled through the streets and felt as though they were actually in New Orleans.
There was one last roadblock- on December 15, 1966, just a few months before Pirates opened to the public. Therefore, it was the last attraction Walt Disney exclusively worked on. Pirates would open to the Public in March of 1967, and from Day One is a hit. Not to mention my personal favorite attraction in any Disney theme park.
The Haunted Mansion would not open unti, 1969, three years after Walt Disney's death. It was the first attraction completed without the help of Walt, and helped prove to the Imagineers that Disneyland could still succede even without the man who dreamed it up. The opening of the Haunted Mansion spiked attendence incredibly high, probably because most people wanted to see what was inside it ever since they saw it 6 years ago.
Today, New Orleans Square is one of the most renowed lands in Disney theme park history. And the Dream Suite as well as Club 33 are also pretty cool, too! Both were designed to be used by Walt Disney, but after he died, the front part, which was to be Walt Disney's own apartment was office space while the back part became Club 33, an exclusive membership area for people. Later, the front area became the Disney Gallery, later to be replaced by the Dream Suite, where Walt vision of the Suite could finally be realised- special guests could stay there during th Year of A Million Dreams. (I actually had the privelege of eating in both Club 33 and staying a night in the Dream Suite. It was Fantastic!)
*Note: All concept art in this column are Copyright Disney. No copyright infringement intended.