The history of Disneyland is very interesting. In 1955, Walt Disney who was already famous for his cartoons and characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy put his famous characters to work and began a new venture – a theme park in Anaheim, California. Construction of Disneyland had only begun 12 months prior on July 31, 1954, and the cost of the build was $17 million. The Disneyland of 1955 offered only 18 attractions and was located on about 160 acres of land that was previously covered with orange groves.
History of Disneyland Opening
Disneyland first opened on July 17, 1955, and nearly twice as many people as anticipated showed up, with the total attendance 28,154 people. The cost of admission was $1 for adults and 50 cents for children twelve and under. Hollywood celebrities such as Sammy Davis Jr., Kirk Douglas, Debbie Reynolds and Frank Sinatra made their appearance on its opening day. The opening of was quite a historical event. It was nationally televised and hosted by Art Linkletter along with Bob Cummings and Ronald Reagan.
Opening day at Disneyland was a little traumatic as Disney old-timers referred to it as Black Sunday. The power went out, rides broke down and restaurants were short on food. Wet paint got on people’s clothes. And in addition it was very hot, and because plumbers were on strike, few water fountains were operating and some toilets were not working. Asphalt still steaming because it had been laid the night before was literally “trapping” many high heel shoes.
Walt Disney stated on the opening day: “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, dreams and the hard facts that have created America… with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
History of Disneyland Attractions
The “lands” on opening day were Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Main Street USA had the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad as well as other sponsored locations such as Bank of America, Gibson Greeting Cards, Upjohn Pharmacy and Carnation Ice Cream Parlor.
Adventureland only had one ride: the Jungle Cruise. In Frontierland, the Mark Twain Riverboat was in operation, and there were stagecoach rides and Pack Mules. The Golden Horseshoe Revue was also open. There were sponsors in Tomorrowland such as the Dutch Boy Paint Gallery, Kaiser’s Hall of Aluminum Fame and Monsanto Hall of Chemistry. In Fantasyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Snow White’s Adventures, the Mad Tea Party and Peter Pan’s Flight were operational.
Before the end of the first year in operation, more attractions were added to Disneyland. According to DisneyMouseLinks, “In Tomorrowland, Rocket to the Moon opened. In Fantasyland, the Casey Junior Circus Train opened before the end of July. Also opening in 1955 were Autopia, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mike Fink Keelboats, Tomorrowland Boats… and the Mickey Mouse Club Tent were all added.” Tomorrowland Boats were later named the Phantom Boats. In 1959 Disneyland had the first monorail in the western hemisphere in daily operation.
History of Disneyland
Walt Disney intended that guests leave the outside world behind. Above both tunnels when entering Disneyland are plaques that state: “Here you leave today and enter the world of Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy.”
On September 8th, 1955, the one millionth guest walked through the gates. Based on all the snafus on opening day, Disneyland was expected to fail; however, by the end of the first year, the company was making a profit.
Over the years many attractions have been added such as “the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, It’s A Small World, and the Matterhorn, to name a few,” and Disneyland has grown larger than anyone could have imagined, maybe even more than Walt Disney could have imagined himself.