Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Disneyland's only residents - Owen & Dolly Pope

Disneyland's only residents were Owen andDolly Pope. They were hired in 1951 to put together some livestock for Walt's future park. They first lived in a trailer at the Disney Studio where they raised and trained horses. Three days before Disneyland opened, they moved into the park to run the Disneyland Pony Farm

 Located on the side of the Car Barn

"In 1951, Walt hired Harper Goff to begin drawing up plans for the little park he was visualizing being built on the Studio grounds in Burbank. Walt also hired horse trainer Owen Pope and his wife Dolly. He wanted the couple to begin training horses for the western section of his new park. Being close to the livestock was necessary for the amount of training that was to ensue so the Pope’s moved into a trailer on the Studio lot. Besides teaching horses and mules how to behave, they also helped build wagons and coaches for the new park. 

As plans for Walt’s dream changed and grew, the location of his park moved from the Studio to Anaheim. Eventually the Popes needed to move to Anaheim as well to be near the horses. 

Before construction began on Disneyland, something had to be done with the houses that belonged to the former owners of the land. Walt told the Popes they could choose any one of them to live in. Their selection was soon moved to a ten acre area behind what would eventually become Fantasyland. This area was known as the Pony Farm and at one time, the Pope’s cared for as many as 220 animals. The Popes are also the only people to actually ever live at Disneyland. Walt may have had an apartment above the Fire Station, but he never lived there. This honor belongs to the Popes alone. 

The Popes continued working and living at Disneyland until 1971. It was at this time that they moved to Florida to help open the Magic Kingdom. They created the Tri Circle D Ranch at Fort Wilderness where it still stands today. They retired in 1975 and it’s due to their efforts here in Florida that they earned a window at the Magic Kingdom – and it is appropriately located on the Car Barn."


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