“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land.” — Walt Disney
Disneyland, the first of all Disney theme parks, celebrates its 65th year as “The Happiest Place on Earth”. Disneyland was the culmination of a longtime dream of Walt Disney. Saturday was always “daddy’s day” when his two daughters were young. As he watched his children riding merry-go-rounds, Walt envisioned an amusement park where parents and children could have fun together. A place of dreams and memories and magic. The idea of Disneyland was born. In commemoration of its 65th anniversary, let’s take a nostalgic look back at Disneyland’s Opening Day — July 17, 1955…
Disneyland — “Here age relives fond memories of the past… and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.” — Walt Disney
What a wild Opening Day! 15,000 invitations were sent out for the event. Yet the invitations were counterfeited, and over 28,000 people showed up. Disneyland had not anticipated such a crowd. Excited guests of all ages started lining up at 2 a.m. to see this fantastic new park. Traffic backed up for miles on the highway… a rarity in those days. The temperature peaked at 100º, causing women’s high heels to be stuck in the new asphalt on Main Street U.S.A. No drinking fountains were working due to a plumbers’ strike. The restaurants and concession stands ran out of food and drinks. What more could possibly go wrong?
“Disneyland would be a world of Americans, past and present, seen through the eyes of my imagination.” — Walt Disney
The crowds overwhelmed the new park. The four lands… Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland… were teeming with people. The Mark Twain Riverboat nearly capsized from too many passengers. Yet despite these unforeseen mishaps and surprises, Opening Day proved to be an amazing success. Everyone, young and old, enjoyed Walt Disney‘s dream come true.
“Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams… that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”” — Walt Disney
Opening Day visitors enjoyed many timeless attractions, some still popular today. Recognize your favorites?
- Disney Railroad — Walt’s all-time favorite attraction
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Snow White’s Adventures
- King Arthur Carousel
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Disneyland — “It’s a fabulous playground… a showpiece of magic… a place for people to find happiness.” — Walt Disney
- Mad Tea Party
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- Casey Junior Circus Train
- Jungle Cruise
- Horse-drawn Streetcars — Main Street U.S.A.
Disneyland — “A place of warmth and nostalgia, of illusion and color and delight.” — Walt Disney
The Golden Horseshoe Saloon offered a taste of Americana, with a wild west stage show featuring saloon “owner” Slue Foot Sue and her dance hall girls. Thirsty visitors were directed to the “longest little bar with the tallest glassful of pop”. Walt never wanted alcohol to be sold at Disneyland since it was to be a family amusement park. So frosty root beer was the beer of choice.
“There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow… just a dream away.” — Walt Disney’s “theme song”
Opening Day at Disneyland in 1955 marked a historic turning point for amusement parks. This first Disney park would become a model for theme parks of the future. Disneyland welcomed over one million guests in its opening weeks, and soon outshined the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park in popularity. Disney now has 12 theme parks across six different resorts around the world. In celebration of Disneyland’s 65th anniversary, we pay tribute to Walt Disney who made his dream come true for all the world to enjoy.