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Did you know that the home of a couple who lived at Disneyland still stands today?

(KTLA) – The ability to wake up and see Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Main Street U.S.A. outside your bedroom window would be a dream come true for many Disney fans.

But for Owen and Dolly Pope, it was reality: The couple lived at Disneyland from 1955 to 1971.

Before they ever lived on Disney property, the Popes used to show horses at various fairs throughout California, living out of their 30-foot van, according to a Disney Parks Blog post from 2011. In 1950, Disney Imagineer Harper Golf saw one of those performances at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles and recommended that Walt Disney see the show as well.

At the time, Disney was interested in small ponies and equipment for a project he was working on. That project was Disneyland, and it was slated to be housed next to the company’s studios in Burbank.

The two parties met in March 1951. The Popes initially assumed Disney wanted their horses for a film, but later discovered that he needed their services for the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Later that year, the couple moved into the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank, where they would reside for almost three years. During their stay at the studio, Owen Pope built stalls for the horses. Walt and Roy Disney would also visit the Popes daily to chat about the plans for Disneyland and their former work at fairs, according to the post.

“Other than military personnel housed there during World War II, the Popes are the only people to have ever lived at the studio,” the post said.

During Disneyland’s construction, various structures were moved to the park grounds in Anaheim. During the relocation period, the Popes were given their choice of houses that were being moved to the theme park.

The Popes chose a 1,300-square-foot ranch house known formally as the Witherill Bungalow. The house was moved to 10 acres of land behind Frontierland, known as the “Pony Farm” and later known as Circle D Corral, the blog post said.

The Popes moved into their new home three days before Disneyland officially opened on July 17, 1955.

Disneyland
A view of the Popes’ family home at the Disneyland Resort. (Disney Parks Blog)

As Disney cast members, the couple advised Imagineers on the use of animals in a theme park and tended to animals, including horses that powered the Conestoga Wagons attraction. During his time at Disneyland, Owen Pope also built the harness and riggings for the horses at Walt Disney World for the  Tri-Circle-D Ranch.

In January 1971, the couple moved from Disneyland to Florida, where Owen Pope helped supervise the new ranch. At the time, their home served as Circle D Corral employee offices.

But even though the couple moved, their house remained at the Disneyland Resort. And it has remained on the property long after the Popes retired in 1975.

In 2016, Disney spent $20,000 to relocate the house to a different backstage area in a parking lot off Ball Road as construction on Galaxy’s Edge began, the Orange County Register reported.

Unfortunately, the old horse stables were demolished to make room for the new land.  

The Popes’ impact on the Disney company is still celebrated today. Owen Pope — but not Dolly Pope — has an honorary window on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom, SFGate reported.

As for the house, it’s not accessible to the public but is used for events from time to time.


Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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