Let's us sample those delights too!
Disneyland has been the subject of seven Little Golden Books: Little Man of Disneyland (1955), Donald Duck in Disneyland (1955 and 1960), Disneyland On the Air (1955), Jiminy Cricket Fire Fighter (1956), Mickey Mouse and the Missing Mouseketeers (1956), Donald Duck Lost and Found (1960), and Disneyland Parade With Donald Duck (1971). There's a fair amount of artistic license in how the park geography and architecture is represented in these books, which makes the already charming illustrations even more interesting to Disneyland fans. (I'm only including pages depicting Disneyland, so if you want to see Mickey talking on his office phone, you'll just have to buy the books!)
Little Man of Disneyland (1955)
Reissued in 2015 under the Little Golden Book Classics line to coincide with Disneyland's 60th anniversary (making it the only book covered here that is still in print), Little Man... serves as a teaser-trailer of sorts for the still under-construction Park.
As Mickey and company scout the future park site in the same Anaheim orange groves famously walked by Walt in Disneyland promotional footage, they encounter Patrick Beggora, the "last Little Person left in Movieland".
Disney's live-action film Darby O'Gill and The Little People wouldn't premier until 1958, but Walt had expressed interest in leprechauns as possible subject matter as far back as 1946, and made several trips to Ireland during that film's pre-production.
I've seen illustrations of Disneyland, and concept art of Disneyland, but here's something unique: illustrations of concept art of Disneyland! The Jungle Cruise, Sleeping Beauty's Castle, a Main Street storefront and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride vehicle are visible, as well as a non-descript rollercoaster that doesn't correspond to any actual attraction.
An under-construction Sleeping Beauty's Castle surrounded by scaffolding, and that mysterious roller-coaster looming in the background behind a Main Street building.
Patrick Beggora's tiny tree house was recreated in Disneyland in 2015, to coincide with the book's reprinting.
Donald Duck in Disneyland (1955, 1960)
This depiction of the east side of Main Street, USA, seems to be a hodge-podge of various storefront styles without much regard for accuracy, save for the pointed roof and circle window of the "Photo Supplies" store, recognizable as the #106 Fine Tobacco Shop (currently the 20th Century Music Company.)
Next door is a building numbered "1873". Main Street stores do in fact have "street addresses", but with house numbers in the hundreds. You have to look in Frontierland for house numbers in the 1870s (the Golden Horseshoe Saloon is 1871).
Pictured at its original intended location in the center of Town Square is the bandstand. By opening day it had been relocated to the opposite end of Main Street, near Sleeping Beauty Castle. It was later moved to the Magnolia Park area between Adventureland and Frontierland before finally being donated to the City of Anaheim in 1962.
The yellow enclosed freight cars are the "Retlaw 1" combine cars. With their tiny windows and bus-style seating they didn't really lend themselves to looking at passing scenery, so were retired in 1974, having since turned up in the hands of various private collectors and at railroad museums.
A Jungle Cruise boat passes behind famous "Schweitzer Falls" for a close-up view of the back-side of water. For the first few years, skippers treated the excursion like a serious nature tour rather than a series of gag setups. The shift to a more irreverent spiel began with the addition of Marc Davis' humorous Elephant Bathing Pool and African Veldt vignettes in the early 1960's.
Here we find the Mark Twain River Boat after apparently having made a big wet U-turn (it normally circles the Rivers of America in a clockwise direction). The large white building is recognizable as the Golden Horseshoe Saloon, home of The Golden Horseshoe Revue (1955 to 1986.) The blue-roofed, house-like structure might be the Chicken Plantation Restaurant (1955-1962), based on its proximity to the dock (or it could just be a piece of generic scenery to fill out the scene).
The Stagecoach (1955-1959), along with the Conestoga Wagons, transported guests with real horses down a real dirt path to see fake cactus and fake rocks. It was replaced by the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and Pack Mules in 1959.
The charming and still operating Casey Jr. Circus Train. You won't see kids peeking over the top of the animal cage cars in real life, because they are actually fully enclosed.
These fancy red curtains look like they belong to the Lilly Belle parlor car and not the yellow "Retlaw 1" combine car Donald is riding.
Louie has flown his Peter Pan's Flight ride vehicle right out of the attraction and is now hovering through the skies over Fantasyland while Capt. Hook threatens from below. With its endless ocean and rock cliff, it's not clear where this scene is supposed to be taking place.
Autopia's original cars with the fully-bumpered bodies, and no center guide rail (those wouldn't be installed until 1965). The 14 mph speed limit sign is more than double the cars' actual top speed.
Another look at the bandstand as Donald relaxes at the Main Street train station.
Tomorrowland famously got the short-end of the budget in the rush to meet opening day, and this illustration looks more like concept renderings than anything that was actually built. The rocketship pictured resembles the one from Disney's Man In Space (1955) series, not the iconic TWA Moonliner that was actually erected at the site.
Disneyland experienced a major growth spurt in 1959 with the addition of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Monorail and Submarine Voyage Thru Liquid Space (the Skyway buckets were added in '56.) A 1960 updated edition of Donald Duck In Disneyland swapped out a few spreads to highlight these newer attractions.
Mickey and Donald make a red-carpet arrival to the Main Street Opera House for filming of a television special. That Man In Space version of the Tomorrowland rocket makes an appearance on the cover, as well as the Mark Twain River Boat and Disneyland Stagecoach.
The Opera House is the oldest building in Disneyland park, originally used as a workshop and lumber mill during construction and for several years after park opening, before opening to guests in 1961 for a temporary exhibit of props from the film Babes In Toyland. It then briefly served as the "Mickey Mouse Headquarters", before finally becoming the permanent home of Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln in 1965.
Look at those dapper park guests. They are expecting to be in the audience of a live television broadcast, so that may explain why they are so sharp-dressed, but it really wasn't unusual to see guests dressed up for their day at the park back then.
This backlit panorama of the park is just a painted backdrop used for filming.
Jiminy Cricket Fire Fighter (1956)
By the mid-1950s, Jiminy Cricket had left his debut role as Pinocchio's conscious far behind and was firmly ensconced in his new position as master of ceremonies in several educational films for Disney, including the safety series I'm No Fool, the Encyclopedia and Nature of Things newsreel-style documentaries, and health and wellness series, You And Your.
Jiminy Cricket, Fire Fighter finds our "chipper little fellow" working in the same vein, using the Disneyland #105 Fire Department on Main Street as a base of operations to teach lessons in fire safety. Unfortunately most of the actual lessons are taught off-property (e.g. Mickey's fire-trap suburban home), but we at least get a look at the horse-drawn "Chemical Wagon" fire truck (still on exhibit today), Sleeping Beauty's Castle, and another concept-art version of Tomorrowland.
Mickey Mouse and the Missing Mouseketeers (1956)
Mickey, Goofy and Donald visit Disneyland to film a special episode of The Mickey Mouse Club, only to find the Mouseketeers have disappeared somewhere in the park.
There were a couple short-lived Mickey Mouse Club oriented attractions in 1956: a live circus show that lasted less than a year, and the Mickey Mouse Club Theater, a movie house located in Fantasyland that featured both a 30-minute program of animated shorts and air-conditioning. Neither attractions are mentioned in this book.
Finally an accurate rendering of Tomorrowland's landmark centerpiece. The TWA Moonliner stood in front of the Rocket To the Moon attraction, until it was removed for the 1967 Tomorrowland remodel. The pond bordering the Autopia track hosted the short-lived and problematic Phantom Boats attraction. It closed permanently in 1956.
Mickey and Minnie, armed with a sword and shield purchased at the Main Street Magic Shop, rescue a pair of Mouseketeers, who don't appear to represent any specific kids from the cast (the names on their jerseys are illegible).
Mickey and Minnie astride a horse on King Arthur's Carrousel, which originally came in a variety of colors (they were all painted white in a 1975 refurbishment.)
Donald Duck Lost and Found (1960)
I'm not sure why Donald gets sole billing in this Disneyland outing that finds Mickey and what's-his-name exploring Tom Sawyer Island.
Tom Sawyer Island, along with the motorized rafts that ferry people across the Rivers of America, opened to the public May '56. The island itself was there from opening day, but as merely scenery with no guest access. Disney lore credits Walt himself with designing the island playground, with its labyrinthine caves, climbing rocks and rope bridges.
For the first few months after opening, guests could actually borrow a fishin' pole and catch live fish from Catfish Cove, a stocked pond located just off the dock. Since most Disneyland visitors don't bring ice-filled coolers with them to the park, the caught fish frequently ended up tossed in the garbage (or worse, left behind on a ride vehicle.)
Donald and Mickey ponder the echoing voices from Injun Joe's Cave, named for the villainous character from Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. The cave was rebranded "Smuggler's Cove" when the island underwent a Pirates Of the Caribbean-themed makeover in 2007.
Goofy and Mickey examine a huge map. Much smaller brochure-style maps of the island have been available to park guests through the decades, including a version updated in 2007 to highlight changes made for the "Pirates' Lair" makeover. At the upper right we find Indian Territory and, inaccessible on foot but visible from the water, Burning Settler's Cabin.
Disneyland Parade with Donald Duck (1971)
This is the most recently published book (only half a century old!) and the least interesting as far as seeing renderings of the park, as it's mostly Disney characters preparing for the big parade in a vague "backstage" area.
Once again, Donald and nephews visit Disneyland. On the horizon, between the castle and Matterhorn mountain, we can see the top of Fort Wilderness, the Skyway buckets, and the thatched roof of the Enchanted Tiki Room. The pirate ship is Captain Hook's Galley (formerly the Chicken of the Sea), a ship-shaped snack bar that stood in a Peter Pan themed lagoon in Fantasyland until a 1982 remodel of the area.
Finally the parade is ready to roll as our tour of Disneyland via Little Golden Books comes to a close.