The company started with a mouse drawn on a train. The Disney parks, however, are rooted in a Santa Monica park.
Walt and his daughters frequented Griffith Park. Walt would watch Diane and Sharon play on the famous Merry-Go-Round.
Griffith is one of the largest urban parks in North America, sprawling over 4, 000 acres. From 9 holes of golf to concerts, rides and spectacular views – Griffith is certainly unique. Strolling here, one may recognize locations from famous films. The Terminator, Back to Future, and The Rocketeer all shot scenes here. With everything Griffith offers, it may be the Disney connection that is the most intriguing.
It was on a plain green bench facing the Merry-Go-Round that Walt began invasion a place where young and old could play together. Of course, it was those original thoughts that spawned the creation of Walt’s greatest legacy – Disney Parks.
The bench has been removed and is now a fixture at Disneyland’s Main Street Opera House. Despite the relocation of the bench, Walt’s footprints can still be seen around the park.
The Walt Disney Carolwood Barn stands in the Los Angeles Live Steamers complex at Griffith Park. The barn is the last surviving structure from the home he shared with his family.
At home, Walt had used the barn as a machine shop for his trains. In these walls, he envisioned a theme park surrounded by a working steam train. Because of this, the barn is known as ‘the birthplace of Imagineering’. Now a museum, it hosts a collection of Carolwood Railroad and Disney memorabilia.
After almost 75 years at Griffith Park, the Merry-Go-Round still delights park-goers to this day.
If you’re in Santa Monica exploring Griffith Park, take a minute to watch the Merry-Go-Round. You never know what you may dream up.