THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH – IS 56 YEARS OLD

Walt Disney wanted to build a place where children and parents could have fun together.  The original plans for the park were on 8 acres next to the Burbank studios where his employees and families could go to relax. Although, World War II put those plans on hold. During the war, Walt had time to come up with new ideas, and creations for his magical park. It was soon clear that 8 acres wouldn’t be enough.

Walt found a rural 160 acre spot in Anaheim, California.  On July 21, 1954 construction began with clearing acres of citrus trees and moving horses to make room for the park.  Walt looked to his movie studio staff for help in making realistic castles, mountains, ships, etc.  They created 20 attractions in five uniquely different lands.  (Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, an Main Street USA)  Opening day was 12 months later on Jul 17, 1955 and after a total investment of $17 million and it was time to open the gate.


The highly anticipated opening day festivities, including the dedication and a parade, were covered by ABC with a 90 minute live special, ‘Dateline Disneyland’, was hosted by television personalities Art Linkletter, Ronald Regan and Bob Cummings.  Ninety million viewers witnessed the fantastic results of one man’s dream come true.

The grand opening did not go so smoothly.  11,000 invitations had been mailed to the studio workers, construction workers, the press and officials.  Counterfeit tickets were used and by mid-afternoon, over 28,000 ticket holders were heading for Disneyland causing unprecedented traffic jams.

although everything appeared to be magical, many things did not go as planned.  A 15 day heat wave raised temperatures up to 110 degrees and due to a plumbers strike, few water fountains were operating.  When the gates opened workers were still planting trees and in some areas paint was still wet.  The asphalt had been poured just that morning and some ares were very soft.  Rides broke down shortly after opening and restaurants and refreshment stands ran out of food and drink.  A gas leak in Fantasyland caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland to close for the afternoon.

During the event, Walt Disney was unaware of the chaotic situation. He was being shuttled from one part of the Park to another for the ‘Dateline Disneyland’ broadcast. It wasn’t until later that he became aware of the negative reaction to Disneyland.  Walt immediately summoned his staff, and measures were taken to deal with the problems of low ride capacity, congested walkways, traffic jams and slow food service. The press was invited back for a private “second day” to experience the true Disneyland.


Disneyland Park was then opened to the public and crowds started to gather in line as early as 2 a.m.  The first person to buy a ticket and enter the park was David MacPherson with admission ticket number two, as Roy O. Disney arranged to pre-purchase ticket number one.  Ten years after opening over 50 Million visitors had come through the gates.  Today, more than four decades later Disneyland’s success is world-renowned.

The park was turning a profit by its second year of operation, and new rides were planned.

All of Disneyland is constructed at 4/8 scale.

Disneyland is home to more than 40 rides and attractions.

More than 400 items are collected by Lost and Found each day.

On an average day, park guests generate more than 30 tons of trash.

Disneyland recycles 4 million pounds of cardboard, paper, and other materials annually.

Over 4 million burgers, 3 million fry orders, 1 million gallons of soda are served each year.

Sleeping Beauty Castle stands only 77 feet tall but looks larger due to forced perspective scaling architecture.

The castle is trimmed in 22 karat gold leaf to ensure it glitters even on cloudy days.

Steve Martin used to work in the Magic Shop in Disneyland.

Disneyland’s address is 1313 Harbor Boulevard.

  • M is the 13th letter of the alphabet, making the address MM for Mickey Mouse.
  • If you turn the address sideways it looks like 2 sets of mouse ears.
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