Opening day – Disneyland
Well for my first post on this blog I thought I would go back to when the magic of Disney really became public property, the day Walt opened his first theme park in Anaheim,California.
Set in 160 acres of land, Disneyland had taken years of planning before opening its gates to press, Disney workers and family, park construction workers and sponsors, on 17th July 1955. The park would experience some teething issues, caused by both fake tickets being sold, which would amount to 28,000 people getting in to the park, but also technical problems, including traffic jams and parts of the Mark Twain steam riverboat breaking.
The following day the park would open to the public for the first time.
When the park first opened, 18 attractions were available,spread across five themed areas, some of which are still around today, including the Jungle Cruise (home to John Lassiter’s first job at Disney, who has now gone on to become chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, as well as Principal Creative Chief of Walt Disney Imagineering), as well as The Mad Tea Party and King Arthur’s Carousel.
Please see below for the full map of the park on opening day
On the day of the press preview,the opening was broadcast on Disney’s very own TV network, ABC, which became, at the time, the biggest telecast ever presented.
This included a dedication, after being introduced by actor and future president Ronald Regan, by Mr Walter Elias Disney (known as Walt to you and me)
“To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts which have created America … with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
Many celebrities would visit on this first day including the RatPack and Debbie Reynolds (whose daughter,Carrie Fisher, is set to Star in a current Disney property, all be it a role she first played 35 years , in reprising the character of Princess Leia Organa, in the third of the Star Wars Trilogies)
Overall the launch wasn’t a huge success, but the day taught everybody a lot of valuable lessons
Thanks for reading