There’s a myth that the golden spike near Sleeping Beauty Castle marked the exact geographical center of Disneyland when it opened in 1955. Let’s take a look at this myth to see if it’s really true or not. If you already know about the golden spike, there’s a bonus trivia fact at the end of this post that I’ll bet you do NOT know – could there be a second golden spike?
The search for the golden spike
When I first read about the golden spike, I had to go looking for it at Disneyland. I didn’t know exactly where it was except that it was located somewhere near the castle. So I came across this gold-colored cap-thing in the street right in front of the castle, near the “Partners Statue” of Walt and Mickey, and I thought this is it! I found it! Nope – wrong – I was way off.
What I thought was the golden spike was just a stanchion cap where cast members insert poles with ropes to keep people organized for the parades & fireworks, and there are plenty of them scattered around.
Believe it or not, the way I finally found the real golden or brass spike was a Wikipedia article on Sleeping beauty Castle that said the gold spike was located at the rear of the castle “shaded by the archways.” All this time, I had been searching for the spike in front of the castle, not behind it. Now, thanks to Wikipedia, I was able to find “the” golden spike that everyone was talking about.
The Myth of the golden spike
So the myth says that this golden spike marks the exact geographical center of Disneyland Park. Or it did so when the park first opened in 1955. True or False?
What makes this an interesting story is that it seems like it “could” be the center of the park, because it just seems like the castle area is – more or less – the middle of the park. So very unscientifically, I found an old-vintage map of Disneyland and drew some lines bisecting it north-south and east-west.
It appears from the map above that the geographical center of Disneyland in the early days was the area just below (or south) of the castle – in fact even south of the castle hub. The golden spike is located on the north side of the castle. So (ta-da) this myth appears to be FALSE.
So why is the golden spike there?
D23, the official Disney Fan Club, dug deep into the Disney archives, and came up with the following…
“The marker in question is one used to help maintain central surveying sight lines from Main Street, U.S.A. to the castle, and helps to ensure consistent and accurate surveying measurements for this location when they are taken. Thus, we do not believe it to be, or ever have been, the ‘geographical center’ of the park”-D23.com
Bonus Trivia Fact
If the golden spike was used by Disney surveyors to keep the lines straight between the castle and Main Street, there must be a second gold spike at the other end of Main Street too. In fact there was a second gold spike on Main Street, and it was located right in front of the Magic Shop where the tracks for the trolley cross. But, in 2018, Disney re-bricked portions of Main Street and covered up the second golden spike at the South end of Main Street. The picture below shows where the second gold spike was, before it was covered up.
What about today?
Since opening day in 1955, Disneyland has added quite a bit – Mickey’s Toontown to the Northeast and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to the Northwest for starters. Let’s see how the geographical center of the park has shifted in today’s map.
From this map, it looks like the center has shifted slightly north and slightly east of the Castle Hub, but is still well South of Sleeping Beauty Castle.