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Thursday, January 12, 2023

Hidden Disney History: John Rea and Disney’s Adventureland

Long before the world made its way to DISNEYLAND- even before DISNEYLAND’s creator was born- John Rea would influence the design of Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Anaheim. Before an Anaheim orange grove became the happiest place on earth, it was actually a ranch that grew walnuts- and it was owned by John Rea.

Mr. Rea arrived in Anaheim in 1896, buying a large parcel of land in the southern part of town. In a fateful decision, he would choose to grow walnuts on the land. The walnut trees required a wind break, so John planted some eucalyptus trees on the property. Although he’d never know it, these trees would alter the course of Disney history.

Almost 60 years after these trees were planted, Walt Disney would purchase the land and begin planning out his one and only Magic Kingdom. As shown above, the original plans called for Adventureland to be located east of Main Street where Space Mountain exists today. After Walt Disney visited the site, however, he saw John Rea’s eucalyptus trees west of where Main Street would be located. The trees that had protected John Rea’s walnut trees would be a perfect way to shield Adventureland’s jungle from the hustle and bustle of Main Street. Walt Disney would move Adventureland to the west of the park entrance, where it would inevitably be placed at Disney theme parks around the world- and all because someone who would never live to see the opening of DISNEYLAND planted some trees.

Today, the trees still provide a shield to guard the Adventureland jungle from Main Street and the outside world. Guests can still see these trees from Town Square- they are located behind City Hall.