Theme park history is fascinating enough on its own, but Disneyland history is especially fascinating. Why? Because, as these incredible—and, in some cases, almost unbelievable—former Disneyland attractions underline, the early years in the park were wild. Live mules! Real fishing! Actual mermaids! Can you imagine the careful, safety-oriented Disneyland of today launching these kinds of attractions? Nope. But when the park had just flung open its gates to visitors, all these and more could be found within its borders.
If you grew up during a particular era in the United States, you’ve likely encountered a particular piece of child-friendly jewelry that was, for a brief period, a must-have on the playground: the slap bracelet—a bracelet made of a thin strip of metal housed in a colorful cloth covering which could be straightened out, and then made to curl up as if by magic when slapped on a wrist. But who invented the slap bracelet, an item that was ubiquitous in the early ‘90s? Is there an individual with whom we can credit the simple yet effective toy?
Amusement parks are generally viewed as cheerful, happy places—but if you look below the bright and colorful surface, you’ll often find something a little spookier. For example, there are loads of haunted theme park attractions in the world—or at least, allegedly haunted attractions. Many of these ghost stories are just that—stories—but sometimes, there’s a kernel of truth to be found there, too.
From the aliens of Toy Story to The Flintstones’ Great Gazoo, images of extraterrestrial beings—no matter how wide and varied they might be—often have one thing in common: Their bright green color. But why do we call aliens “little green men” at all? Why have we so frequently imagined them as that single shade for so long? The answer, it turns out, is more complicated than you might think.
For more than 50 years, something curious awaited people adventurous enough to visit the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, California: a solitary phone booth positioned in the middle of the desert. It worked, too—and although the Mojave phone booth, as it was called, went largely unnoticed for most of its lifetime, the last few years of its existence brought with them a notoriety the likes of which most telecommunications devices can only dream. (Insofar as machines are capable of dreaming, that is.)