Q: We know that Walt gathered inspiration for Disneyland from lots of sources. I understand that one of the parks he visited was Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, California. Is there any record of Walt’s visit to this park? It would be fabulous to see a photo! Is it true that he hired away the park’s first director, Dorothy Manes, as an early employee of Disneyland?
Chris, Alameda, California
A: No specific evidence turned up in the Walt Disney Archives that Walt or his designers ever visited Children’s Fairyland, but he, along with Nat Winecoff and C.V. Wood, did fly to San Francisco on Disneyland business on April 17, 1954. It is possible that they headed over to Oakland. It is indeed true that Walt hired Dorothy Manes. She began working at Disneyland in the 1950s, in charge of youth activities, and continued in that position until 1972.