A Blog by Cabel Sasser

Backstage Disneyland

Scientists say time is linear, but they are full of nerd garbage, because time for sure accelerates exponentially. As my personal time velocity is currently set at a 6 or 7, I’m beginning to understand how important it is to post, share, and properly archive the things I have and love.

Even if just two people are interested in my obsessions or ephemera, who knows how those two people might be inspired and what might come of it?

Under the influence of archival friends like Jason Scott, and with immense scan help from my friend Kay Savetz, if I see something cool, I think: “that belongs in a scanner!”

So, let’s talk about Disneyland. Something I truly love.

A few years ago I bought, at an auction, a lot of “Backstage Disneyland” newsletters. Created by the Disneyland Recreation Club, and distributed to cast members, I was taken by the beautiful cover designs — and couldn’t wait to discover what was inside.

Also, importantly, a quick Google showed me that, as far as I could find, they weren’t readable online.

So I had them all scanned, just for you. (And me.)

There are a few notable things about these:

  • The editor — at least at first — was Wally Boag, Portland native, well known performer in Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue (he did over 39,000 shows), and big influence to Disneyland cast member Steve Martin.
  • They’re very funny — at least at first. Almost a Mad Magazine Meets Disneyland vibe. As the late 70’s and 80’s enter the picture, things get more buttoned up.
  • They’re unbelievably cozy — at least at first. Early Disneyland was clearly a family. Employees all seem to know each other. Nothing in here feels “corporate” at all. Compared to The Walt Disney Corporation in 2023, it’s really hard to wrap your head around.

Here are just a few interesting content highlights, the first found by my friend Greg Maletic:

Q: How many light bulbs did Disneyland have in 1962?

A: 49,878.

Q: How many nautical miles had Disneyland ships travelled by 1963?

A: 1,172,020.

There are Star Wars cartoons in the 1980 issue that are incredible — little did they know what the future held:

A 1974 article “What Is WED” discusses a then-planned “UFO Show”, which I would’ve absolutely loved to see:

And don’t miss the special Haunted Mansion issue, and the Summer 1980 issue has an incredible parody instruction card making fun of Disneyland’s complex phone system.

I don’t have every issue, but it’s a start. (See below!)

Kick back, grab a beverage, and click any issue to dig in!

Note: you can download any of these issues as a PDF — look for the link in the “Download Options” box on the right.

I really hope you enjoy these. And I have more historical artifacts to share on this blog, so stay tuned!


PS: I have one request! If you find an interesting tidbit of information or cool thing in these, will you drop a note in the comments below and share? Thanks!!

Update 6/27/23

Real-deal independent Disney archivist Jason Schultz has absolutely saved the day. He’s provided me with the eight missing issues in my set — meaning this post now contains a complete set of Backstage Disneyland! From the first issue in 1962 to the last in 1980.

Jason is dedicating his life to building an absolutely mind-boggling digital Disneyland archive, far beyond anything you can imagine. Check it out at!

And so, here are the rest!

Leave a Reply

  1. andrewrich

    The “UFO Show” sounds like a dead-on description of “Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters”:
    “Guests will travel in cars one direction, armed with air guns, while eerie, unhuman, gremlin-like targets pop up and dart the other direction. Upon completion this attraction will be the first “shooting gallery” where the marksman’s position moves as well as his target’s.”
    The only real difference being the light guns in the latter vs. the proposed air guns.

  2. Wil A

    Spring 1966.

    Besides the totally obvious ones (ie, the ones with Disney characters), I’m not sure I’d recognize these as related to Disney at all!

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Dave

    These are wonderful! Obsessed with the type design especially

  4. Katherine

    mickey and minnie and legally married?! the candid corners are really sweet and I love the colored paper they use for certain sections!! these were made with care and purpose!

  5. Daniel Liu

    Let’s say on average each lightbulb is 60 W x 49,878 lightbulbs = almost 3 megawatts, just for lightbulbs!

  6. Chuck Jordan

    In the Haunted Mansion issue, in the section about guest questions, they have one where the guest is asking “Is this Tarzan’s tree?” It only took a couple of decades for it to turn out true.

  7. Dave

    These are amazing, thanks for acquiring, scanning and sharing them! I loved this description of the “Tiki Room Basement”

    We were attracted to the Tiki Room basement by the sound of popping popcorn. Soundman Dan Poppa said it keeps the birds happy. Actually this sound is caused by the clicking and popping of hundreds of valves and relays. These relays regulate the air pressure that control the bird’s body movements. The only exception is the beak which is controlled by an electrical circuit.

    A one-inch-wide tape containing 14 tracts is the heart of the Tiki Room show. Eleven of these tracks are used for sound effects while the other three control bird movements, the fountain, and lights. A “bird hospital” is maintained in the basement, where all “operations” are carried out except re-feathering. During the winter the popcorn pops for 8 hours or an average of 22 shows.

    (v06n01, page 8)

    1. extrarice

      Thank you for posting these. My dad worked at the park in those days, and was a contributing artist to the magazine, but lost track of his copies over the years. It’s great to see them again!

  8. Elena

    What a beautiful collection! Thanks for sharing it!

  9. Kevin

    Amazing, thank you for sharing these!

  10. Ines

    I’m in awe of all the effort you went through to do this!! What a beautiful collection. Thank you.

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