The Center of the Unknown
Passing through Sleeping Beauty Castle from the Central Plaza, you will notice a small “golden marker” on the ground near the back portico of the castle, immediately below the beautiful hanging clock. It is widely rumored that this marker marks the very center of Disneyland. However, according to Dave Smith, Archives Director for The Walt Disney Company and author of the 760 page “Disney A to Z, The Official Encyclopedia”, this marker is not the center of Disneyland and never has been. Nor is it to mark the center of Main Street, U.S.A. In fact, he states that there is no consensus among Disney Imagineers as to the purpose of this small bronze marker or plug. That said, if you ask a Cast Member about it, you’re likely to get an answer indicating it’s the center of Disneyland…thus the rumor continues.
Point Zero – Paris, France
Note: Because there is no consensus among Disney Imagineers as to the purpose of the bronze marker at Sleeping Beauty Castle, as well as no known reason for it within The Walt Disney Company or elsewhere, I offer up the idea below, which is purely a supposition on my part.
In 1949, Walt and his family visited Paris, France, and it is probably safe to say they made sure to visit the stunning gothic cathedral, Notre Dame. In the front plaza of the cathedral, embedded into the stone pavers in a manner similar to the bronze marker at Sleeping Beauty Castle, is the bronze “Point Zero” marker. This small marker is considered the official center of Paris, as well as the exact point from which all distances throughout France are measured. Could Walt have stood at this marker and taken inspiration from it for the castle he was planning for his new Disneyland park, which he would build only a handful of years later?