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A man from Riverdale brings Disneyland magic to a basement in Utah



Riverdale, Utah – Travis Larson of Riverdale doesn’t have the standard basement setup with an enormous couch, a large-screen TV, and possibly some storage space.

If Larson invites you to visit or have a party, you’ll probably spend time at Magic Kingdom instead.

“I brought up (to people) I’ve got a Disney-themed basement,” Larson said. “And what people assume is that it’s pictures and knickknacks. And then when they see what this is they’re like, that’s totally not what they expected. That was the reaction I wanted.”

The Larson basement makeover took place gradually. Due to his work schedule, the former railroad conductor—who is currently employed by a business that erects large-scale steel—has worked on the 22,00 square foot basement for over 12 years.

The desire to create a unique and visually stimulating space for his family and guests gave rise to the theme.

“So I went through a couple of ideas, a couple of iterations, like, one I wanted to be like a pirate theme, there was like an old west cowboy theme, like a 1920s type feel,” Larson said.

Larson didn’t understand the concept something he had always envisaged until he had made a few trips to Disneyland.

“ I started taking some photographs, or going through some photographs, and noticed that some of the things that I had taken when I was at Disneyland lined up with things that I had already drawn, and I don’t know if it was coincidence or not,” he said.

Disney-themed areas abound in the basement, including Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, and even a secret entrance that allows Peter Pan to enter and escape.

“I liked Disneyland a lot, the way they do their styles,” Larson explained. “Their aesthetic is just unique, and I really liked the fantasy, German-esque feel, if you will. So that’s kind of how I landed upon this theme.”

Larson spent more than $5,000 on the project overall, and a large portion of the materials were either handmade or recycled. His handcrafted doorknobs, hand-painted lanterns, crowds, and Disney noises that he captured at Disneyland all exhibit his meticulous attention to detail.

Even the themed basement has a day-to-night transition.

Larson pointed out that although the basement initially resembles the exterior of Disney structures, a smaller replica of what you would find in the park, there are genuine rooms behind the little doors. The rooms have been reduced by 70%; one is his own workshop, and the other is his daughter Alyse’s chamber, which she recalls from when the basement was first being built and is now transformed into a miniature Disneyland.

“I remember hanging out here when there was just plain wood,” she said.

Even though Alyse doesn’t host friends anymore, she is still in awe of how the room makes her feel.

“I like coming down here, and it feels different than being in a house, it feels like I’m outside.”

Larson has a few more tasks to complete.

“There are some plants and stuff that I still want to do,” he shared. “ I’m working on the flower beds. There’s a little bit of painting left. But other than that primarily for the for the most part, this is finished.”

He isn’t weary of the enchanted process of building his own Fantasyland, though.

“To see that someone has got some excitement from what I created. That’s the reward,” Larson said with a smile.


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