Disneyland is celebrating its 60th anniversary. On July 17, 1955, the magical theme park opened for the first time.
The day started with a preview for the press, and then opened up for invited ticket holders. Six thousand invitations had been extended.
Park staff were expecting 11,000 people to show up. But there were many counterfeit invitations, and a crowd of 28,000 people came in. Another 90 million viewers watched the opening day coverage on TV.
U.S. Geological Survey via Flickr // Public Domain
The $17 million park covered 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California. Walt Disney wanted room to expand, but in the 60 years since, the city has grown up around the park.
Walt Disney rehearsed his speech for the opening ceremonies.
And he rode in the opening parade.
The park was barely constructed in time for opening day. Paint was still wet in some places, and the asphalt hadn’t quite set. It was soft under the hot sun, and women in high heels found themselves sinking into it. It wasn’t long before vendors ran out of food. Read more about the opening day woes in a previous mental_floss article. Disney executives invited reporters to come back the next day for a better experience.
Disneyland only had twenty attractions at the time, one of which was the Sleeping Beauty Castle. The five themed areas at the time were Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street USA.
There were costumed characters already in place, but they seem rather creepy compared to the modern versions. Those character costumes went through many changes; you can see some of them in a previous mental_floss article.
USC Regional Historical Photo Collection via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
The public opening was on July 18, when anyone could buy tickets. Disneyland staff had scrambled to prepare for crowds, after the problems of the previous day. The admission price for adults was one dollar; children were admitted for 50 cents. We’ve come far since those days.
A good time was had by all.
Even the Disney family.
The opening of “the world’s most fabulous kingdom” was covered by ABC News in the live broadcast called Dateline Disneyland. You can see the broadcast in its entirety at YouTube.