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Disneyland Article
Inspiration For Disneyland Rides Came From Towns Across America

Source:Orange County Register
Author:Robert Niles
Dateline:June 09, 2016
Posted:June 11, 2016
Tom Sawyers Island
Tom Sawyers Island
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Did you know that you could find Disneyland in Colorado? And in Arizona, Texas, Missouri and Louisiana?

I was driving my daughter back from college last week and we found a little bit of Walt Disney World in Wyoming, too. Real-life landmarks around the nation have inspired many of the sights familiar to Disney theme park fans. If you know where to look, you can put together a fun Disney-themed road trip to many of these sites across the American West.

My daughter and I found that little bit of Disney at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. This 113-year-old log structure inspired the look of Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort, which opened in 1994 and today is one of the top-rated hotels at Walt Disney World. Southern Californians who visit Disney World likely will recognize the Wilderness Lodge's neighbor, the Grand Floridian Resort, which looks an awful lot like San Diego's Hotel del Coronado.

Let's set aside the abundant number of California landmarks reproduced in Disney's theme parks to highlight some of the original versions of other Disneyland and Disney California Adventure locations vacationers might find in their travels across the western half of the United States.

Walt Disney's childhood hometown of Marceline, Mo., may have inspired the idea of Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A., but when it comes to the street's actual look, artist Harper Goff turned to his hometown of Fort Collins, Colo. This college town in northern Colorado has grown quite a bit since Goff lived there nearly 100 years ago, but if you stand at the corner of College and Mountain Avenues and look down at the Old Town Square, you might see the family resemblance to Disneyland's Main Street.

It's easier to see the resemblance between Disneyland's New Orleans Square and the original Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of the eponymous city. You can find a more child-friendly destination far up the Mississippi River in Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Mo. Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island might be closed for the year, but Hannibal continues to promote many of the locations around town that found their way into Twain's books ... and eventually, on to Disney's island.

Even if Disney's Radiator Springs is supposed to be located in California, thanks to its presence now in Disney California Adventure, the Route 66 town that feels most like it in real life might be the community of Williams, Ariz. I first encountered it several years ago when - just like Lightning McQueen - our family's car broke down, leaving us stranded there for several days.

There you'll also find a familiar collection of souvenir shops and diners in the town, and there's even a popular ride there, too - except that this one is a scenic railroad that runs between the town and the Grand Canyon. It might not seem as fast Radiator Springs Racers, but the views might be even better.

I also found a little bit of Cars Land in Texas, as well. On another cross-country road trip, we got off the Interstate at an exit with no re-entry, so we had to drive through on a back road to the next town - Shamrock. On our way into town, we drove past the old Conoco Tower Station that's the spitting image of Ramone's House of Body Art. The city of Shamrock now owns the original, which is open to the public as a visitor center for the area.

So whether you go looking for them, or just stumble across them by chance, plenty of Disneyland sights await you far beyond the theme park's gates.

Attractions Referenced

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