Seeing Stars: Where the Stars Play


 1313 Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA. / (714) 781-4565

If you had to name one spot in Southern California that has been visited by virtually every famous Hollywood celebrity at one time or another, where would it be? Spago? Grauman's Chinese Theatre? The Hollywood Bowl?

Well, probably no other place in the world has attracted as many celebrity visitors as... Disneyland.

   

    

Photos: top row: Dolly Parton, Jack Nicholson with Angelica Huston;
bottom row: jack Benny & George Burns with the Smothers Brothers, Dick Van Dyke.

No matter how big a star they become, they still want to go to the Magic Kingdom.  Howls of protest  came out of Russia, back in the 1950's, when they wouldn't let Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev visit Disneyland. They took him to 20th Century Fox studios instead, and introduced him to Marilyn Monroe, but do you think that satisfied him? Not for a minute. He craved the Disney magic.

Elton John reminisced that he went to Disneyland for the first time on the day before his big 1971 concert at the Anaheim Convention Center (across the street from the park).

Reclusive singer Michael Jackson was a big Disney fan too, and Disneyland "cast members" tell me that they spotted him in the park on more than one occasion, usually heavily disguised with costumes & make-up so he wouldn't be recognized. (I wonder if he snuck into "Captain Eo" to see himself in 3-D...?)

EOnline reports recent (2012-2013) visits by Katy Perry (at Club 33), Matt Damon, Miley Cyrus, Adam Sandler, Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Dakota Fanning, Nicolas Cage, Megan Fox, James Franco, Christina Aguilera, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Bateman, Lindsay Lohan, Emma Stone, Matthew McConaughey, Selena Gome, and Emma Roberts.

The Times spotted Sandra Bullock at the park, as well as Gwen Stefani (in ToonTown), Molly Ringwald (with her son, on Dumbo), Jessica Alba (at DCA), and Heidi Klum (on the Jungle Cruise).

In 2006, Lindsay Lohan had a birthday bash at Disneyland & DCA. And in 2005, Reese Witherspoon had a run-in with an aggressive paparazzzo at DCA, just a month after Scarlett Johansson reported been chased by photogs at Disneyland.

In fact, Disney cast members and visitors report seeing many stars enjoying themselves at the park recently, including:

  • Tom Cruise & his daughter on the Fantasyland Teacups.
  • Jennifer Lopez (at the Blue Bayou restaurant)
  • Kobe Bryant (with his daughter on the Pinocchio ride)
  • Hilary Swank (near the castle)
  • Whoopi Goldberg (on the parking lot tram, wearing a wig)
  • Jack Nicholson (boarding a submarine)
  • Demi Moore (on Main Street - with her head shaven for "G.I. Jane")
  • Tom Hanks (when he was filming "That Thing You Do")
  • Michael "Kramer" Richards (in disguise at the Small World ride )
  • Steve Martin (walking down Main Street USA)
  • John Travolta (riding "It's A Small World")
  • Rod Stewart & Rachel Hunter (on the carousel)
  • Gary Busey (on the loading platform of the Big Thunder Railroad)
  • Lorenzo Lamas (watching the portrait artist in New Orleans Square)
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt (riding the King Arthur carousel)
  • Cheech Martin (buying food at the Tomorrowland Terrace)
  • Phil Collins (leaving Space Mountain)
  • Ed MacMahon (riding in the tailcone of the monorail)
  • Mark Hamill ('Luke Skywalker' in the Briar Patch shop)
  • David Faustino ('Bud Bundy', dancing in Tomorrowland)
  • Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins (dining at the Blue Bayou restaurant)
  • Courtney Love (taking her daughter on Dumbo)
  • Mike Myers (getting on Indiana Jones)
  • James Woods (watching Fantasmic!)

   

More general sightings included Harrison Ford & Calista Flockhart, Barbra Streisand, Keanu Reeves, Jay Leno, Nicolas Cage, Luke Perry, Robin Williams, Kevin Kline, William Shatner, George Lucas, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Cindy Crawford, John Lithgow, Christina Applegate, David Hasselhoff, Marlon Brando, William Shatner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Eddie Van Halen & Valerie Bertanelli, Sarah Ferguson (the Duchess of York) and Princess Anne.

If you have any doubts about Disneyland as a magnet for celebrities, just walk into the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel and take a look at the display of historic photos of VIP's which lines one Wall of Fame (on the west side of the lobby of the Marina tower, near the Fantasia store.) Just about everyone who is anyone has had their picture taken at Disneyland. Take a look at the photos, and you'll recognize countless famous faces.

While Khruschev never made it to the park, just about every other politician and world leader has been here. Included are photos of U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, George Bush and Harry Truman. Richard Nixon is seen with his wife and adult children on a 1968 visit; President Jimmy Carter was photographed out jogging next to the "America Sings" building, surrounded by Secret Service men. In a poignant photo, Senator Robert Kennedy is pictured boarding the Matterhorn bobsleds with his kids, the day before he was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel.

Also pictured are Prime Minister Nehru (of India), Emperor Hirohito (of Japan), the Reverend Desmond Tutu (of South Africa), King Hussein (of Jordan), King & Queen Gustav (of Sweden), Prime Minister Chirac (of France), and the Dalai Lama (from Tibet).

Hollywood's royalty is well represented here at Disneyland as well, with photos of such noted actors and actresses as Elizabeth Taylor (seen buying popcorn with Eddie Fischer), Julie Andrews (shown singing on stage at the Golden Horseshoe), Morgan Fairchild, Fred MacMurray, Vincent Price, Sophia Loren, Macaulay Culkin, Dustin Hoffman and Buddy Hackett.

Other Hollywood visitors photographed at to the Magic Kingdom include comedians Bob Hope, Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis, Joe E. Brown, Red Skeleton, the Smothers Brothers, Dick Van Dyke & and sports figures such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Joe DeMaggio. Muhammad Ali is seen signing an autograph while standing in line for the monorail.

There are also photos of directors Francis Ford Coppola & George Lucas and CBS newsman Walter Cronkite. Others stars include Jayne Mansfield, Michael Landon, Martha Raye, Danny Thomas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Shirley Temple.

In February of 1992, Elizabeth Taylor rented the entire park (after dark) for her 60th birthday bash.

But not all celebs call ahead for the star treatment. In an interview with the Orange County Register, actress Meg Ryan ("Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail") confesses that when she and her husband Dennis Quaid ("The Big Easy") went out to Disneyland for a recent family outing, "We just stood in line like everybody else and enjoyed ourselves!" Likewise, Nicolas Cage ("Con Air") and wife Patricia Arquette was also seen standing in line for a Fantasyland ride. Jason Alexander ('George' on "Seinfeld") was spotted recently taking a tour of the park with a guide. Arnold Schwarzenegger was recently spotted on the Jungle Cruise. And Robin Williams waited in line for the train ride.

So don't be surprised if you see a familiar face in the park. I have personally spotted several celebrities there, ranging from Alan Thicke (who was shooting a TV commercial for a Disney Easter parade he was scheduled to host) to Emperor Hirohito, (who was paying his first royal visit to the USA).

The annual Christmas Candlelight Procession (usually the first weekend of December) always has a celebrity host who reads the Christmas story aloud. In 2009, it was Jon Voight ("Midnight Cowboy"). In 2008, it was John Stamos ("Full House"). In 2007, it was Jane Seymour (of "Dr. Quinn" fame). In 2005, it was Dick Van Dyke (remember him as the chimney sweep in "Mary Poppins"?) Past years have seen celebs like Bob Hope and Cary Grant.

And surely you must have seen those commercials where an athlete says "I'm going to Disneyland!," after winning the big game. Well, they're not kidding! Most often, those athletes actually show up at Disneyland that same day (or the following day), and are treated to a parade down Main Street USA. I remember seeing MVP pitcher Orel Hershiser there, waving to the crowd, right after the Dodgers won the 1988 World Series.

Celebrities have also worked at Disneyland before they achieved stardom (or notoriety, as the case may be). Comedian Steve Martin worked at the Magic Store on Main Street USA. Both Ron Ziegler (Richard Nixon's press secretary) and the late H.R. Haldeman (Nixon's chief advisor) worked at the park in their pre-Watergate years. Actor Kevin Costner met his wife at Disneyland, where she worked as 'Snow White' - he was her 'Prince Charming'. Joanna Kerns (the mother on "Growing Pains") played the 'Blue Fairy' that led off the Main Street Electrical Parade.

The first two "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies held their world premieres at Disneyland, with a giant screen set up over the Rivers of America, and stars like Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom walking down Main Street USA.  And in 2013, they did the premiere of "The Lone Ranger" at DCA.

Back in June of 2000, Disney held a post-premiere party for the Bruce Willis comedy "The Kid" in Tomorrowland, during regular park hours. Celebrities spotted riding the new Autopia included Matthew Perry (of "Friends"), Helen Hunt, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Christine Lahti.



And here's a little "secret" about the Magic Kingdom that many people don't know about:

Tucked away in New Orleans Square is a very private, very exclusive club for VIP's. Called "Club 33," it is located on the second floor of New Orleans Square, above the Blue Bayou restaurant. (When you face the entrance to the Blue Bayou restaurant, the entrance to "Club 33" is located just to the right.)

"Club 33" retains its exclusivity with a high price, a membership roster limited to less than 500, and it has a waiting list for new memberships a mile long. Corporations pay around $25,000 to join, and about $10,000 per year. Individuals pay around $10,000 to join, and over $3,000 in annual dues. The door to the club requires a special electronic card to open. Once inside, an antique glass elevator whisks the VIP guests up to the posh private club, the only spot inside Disneyland where alcohol is served. Memberships cannot be sold, leased, transferred or bequeathed. And even members have to make reservations weeks in advance.

If you keep an eye on the comings and going from this little-known place, you might just spot a celebrity exiting or entering the club. Robert Wagner was seen dining there, as was the late Michael Jackson. Reports have it that Jack Nicholson might be a member.

One cast member recently reported seeing Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline all together at Club 33. Others report seeing Geena Davis, Buddy Ebsen, Fess Parker and more at the Club on various occasions.

But be aware that most of the Club 33 members are merely influential members of the business community, not Hollywood celebs.

[To see a 360o QTVR movie of the inside of Club 33, just click here!]

(Also see the separate page about Disneyland and movies.)

Getting there: Disneyland is located in the city of Anaheim, at the northwest corner of Harbor Boulevard and Katella Boulevard. / From the Santa Ana (5) Freeway, take the Harbor Boulevard exit. Follow the signs south on Harbor to the Disneyland gate, then turn right (west) into the park. / Alternatively, from the Garden Grove (22) Freeway, take the Harbor Boulevard exit, then drive north up Harbor about 3 miles and turn left (west) at the Disneyland gate (just past Katella Boulevard).


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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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This webpage is not associated with any business described in the article above, and does not constitute an
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