Did the Little Man of Disneyland really exist?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Little Man of Disneyland, the story goes like this:  Patrick Begorra was a leprechaun who lived in a tree located on the property that would one day become Disneyland.  When the park was being built, Mickey Mouse told Patrick that his house had to go to make room for the park.  Patrick was upset, but he moved his stuff into another tree on the property, but kept it a secret!  Presumably so the mouse couldn’t evict him a second time …  It was a story crafted by Disney to begin pushing the concept of Disneyland to kids.  The book was released by Golden Books (and you can find originals and reprints all over Amazon), and is pretty cute.

Patrick and his house, from the Little Man of Disneyland book.
Patrick and his house, from the Little Man of Disneyland book.

If you do a search online for the Little Man of Disneyland, you will see various forums where people have cloudy memories of seeing Patrick’s house, nestled at the bottom of a tree in Adventureland – you could even look inside and see his little tiny furniture and everything.  Until one day (and nobody is ever clear on even the year, much less the month or day), Patrick’s house was filled in with concrete and the Little Man of Disneyland had left to return to Ireland.  So the story goes …

But was this actually true?  Did Disney set up a tree to look like the home of Patrick from the children’s story?  The answer may lie with Bill Evans.

Bill was the director of landscaping at Disneyland, and planned the park out for the better part of 50 years.  Retiring in 1975, he continued to consult even until his death just last year.  Perhaps Bill’s most well-known contribution to Disneyland is in the Jungle Cruise, where he imported many plants from around the world to simulate the jungles of Africa.

In addition to his skill at telling a story with plants, Bill devised a crafty way of moving trees  – drill a hole at the base of it and lift it from the ground with a steel pole (with the help of a crane, of course).  Once the trees were in place, the holes would be filled in with  – you guessed it … concrete.

Armed with the back story of how many of the trees in Adventureland arrived on-site, it’s easy to see how a cute story of a tiny leprechaun living in a tree could turn into a park myth.  You can almost hear the tour guide telling an inquisitive guest who asked about the plug that it was the former home of Patrick Begorra, can’t you?  And thanks to forums and the internet in which they live, this myth has spread.  Considering that there are no photos of his house prior to last week (and we got the scoop on that one!), how is it that this cute story has lasted so long without being either confirmed or busted?

So, are we correct?  Is the idea of the Little Man of Disneyland being an actual physical part of the park and then taken away, false?  Or did Patrick actually have a small home in Adventureland over 20 years ago, only to return thanks to the D23 conference?

Was this small part of Disneyland’s pre-history brought to life for the very first time last week?  If you have proof, we’d love to see it, because we are calling this myth officially busted – the Little Man of Disneyland never existed in the park!  We have some insider information from a source in WDI with a long family history with the park that lends a bit of credence to our investigations, so we feel pretty confident in breaking this myth open.

Still … it’s a cute legend!

Patrick’s current house, located underneath the Indiana Jones sign.




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