If you go to Disneyland and look up above the fire house on Main Street, you will see a curtained window with a lamp that is always lit. This is the apartment where Walt Disney lived while Disneyland was being built and where he often stayed and entertained in later years.
It is not open to the public. For many Disney fans, the chance to visit is a lifelong dream. Thanks to a very dear friend in the Disney organization, my twins and I got to live that dream this weekend. It was an incredible surprise.
Our tour guide was a "Keeper of the Keys," one of the few Disneyland tour guides who has access to Walt's apartment. She was lovely and kept up a steady stream of descriptions and stories about Walt Disney. She didn't wear a name tag, just a "D" brooch, and I'm kicking myself for not remembering her name. I was in a state of shock at that moment.
We were invited to sit on the antique furniture while she spoke. It was only later that I learned that the couch I was sitting on folded out and became Walt Disney's bed. Oh my.
The decor was beautiful and feminine turn-of-the-century style done by the same set designer who did "Mary Poppins." Apparently Walt Disney's wife loved roses, so they were everywhere from the carpet to the carved chairs. The setting fit in perfectly with the theming of Main Street. We saw the delicate china and wine glasses and even the Tom and Jerry set that the Disneys used to entertain guests. Tom and Jerrys were a popular drink back in the '60s and '70s I think. Sort of a warm eggnog with rum or brandy. I couldn't take a picture of their set but I found one that's similar to it:
Then we were taken out to the patio area. If you look above and to the left of the firehouse, you can see the latticework fence that gave them some privacy. There is a shady cool area there with artificial turf and patio furniture and statuary. Really a lovely sanctuary. I would love to hang out there and watch the people going by on Main Street. Apparently Walt particularly enjoyed watching the candlelight procession at Christmas from there.
The very small bathroom was notable for the four shower heads at different angles. There was a bureau nearby that Walt kept stocked with toys for the grandchildren. We heard about how the Disney kids would go just outside the apartment into the Jungle Cruise area and jump out from behind trees to surprise guests going by in boats.
Back in the sitting room, we were allowed to take pictures facing the window with the lamp that looks over Main Street. My twins sat down and I quickly snapped this shot:
I would like to think that Walt Disney would have smiled to see these young people. Here they are turning into teenagers but they are enjoying his park with family and friends. Walt called the creative engineers who helped design Disney attractions "Imagineers." As my son was leaving Disneyland, he turned to me and told me that he wants to be an Imagineer someday. Maybe a little of that Disney magic rubbed off in that apartment.