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The ‘Sunnyside’ of Sleepy Hollow

Gene Duncan

by , Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney Imagineering Art Director Alex Caruthers recently shared a little-known piece of trivia with me regarding the inspiration for the Magic Kingdom Park quick service restaurant Sleepy Hollow, located in Liberty Square. I have been passing Sleepy Hollow regularly, since 1974, and never gave a thought as to a “story line” … (There is ALWAYS a story line).

Old Woodcut Image of Sunnyside

Sleepy Hollow (the restaurant) offers tasty caramel corn, assorted cookies and refreshments, and is generally busy most of the time. Washington Irving is the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – you remember Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. In 1835, Irving purchased a tiny, two-room cottage situated on ten acres in Tarrytown, New York, along the banks of the Hudson River. He described the place “capable of being made a little paradise.”

Irving spent many years remodeling and expanding the residence, combining elements of colonial New York architecture and buildings he knew in Scotland and Spain. He named it Sunnyside in 1841, and history shows that the home was a busy place, full of friends and family most of the time – not unlike the restaurant.

Disney’s Sleepy Hollow Restaurant

Compare the old woodcut image of Sunnyside with a photo I just made of Sleepy Hollow. Those Imagineers continue to amaze me …


  • Gene: This is really fabulous! Did you know you can actually visit the real Sunnyside? It’s now a museum in Tarrytown, NY.

  • Very neat. I wish that WDW would offer an architectural tour of the Magic Kingdom since Walt Disney himself was involved in developing the park. Every trip, something new amazes me!

  • What is so amazing is how much back story is still there to discover. That is why WDW is so great, the Imagineers have peppered the parks with trivia and we get to discover it years later, like buried treasure hidden in plain sight! Thanks for this!

  • I live quite near the real Sunnyside – it’s a popular spot for school tours and weddings. But I never made the connection to WDW before. Thanks for letting me know that there’s is a little bit of “home” right near my home.

  • It’s wonderful to get this kind of background info
    It will make buying a funnel cake even more enjoyable !!

  • It is the storyline that makes it all so cool.

    Thanks for sharing, Gene!

  • Really Cool

  • Incredible :-) What attention to detail. Thanks for sharing this, Gene!

  • Very cool. I knew that these buildings had lots of character and were modeled after architecture of the time period, but this is amazing.

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