59 years ago today the Happiest Place on Earth opened and a whole new industry was born…the theme park industry. I posted this same video a year ago. If you haven’t watched it yet, and are a fan of the Disney theme parks, you absolutely need to take the hour or so to watch it. After all, this is where the Disney theme parks began. It’s so interesting to see how chaotic that day actually was. If Disneyland were to open today, I’m pretty confident that it would have had a better orchestrated broadcast. When Disneyland opened, it did so with tons of problems. Due to a plumbers strike, Disney had to decide whether Disneyland would have working restrooms or water fountains. He chose the restrooms and had Disneyland cast members roam around the park with cups of water for the people waiting in lines. Additionally, Southern California had a record heat wave around the opening day. So, the tar on Main Street U.S.A. didn’t fully settle. Women were literally walking out of their shoes as they walked up Main Street U.S.A.! As if that weren’t enough to overcome, people made fake opening day tickets. So, Disneyland was overwhelmed with more guests than it was prepared for. In spite of all the craziness, the guests who attended left happy.
To understand why the opening of Disneyland was a huge event back in 1955, you have to understand what lead up to its opening. In order to find the remaining funding needed to open Disneyland, Walt Disney agreed to do a weekly television show on the ABC network. This show followed the progress as Disneyland began to take shape. The first part of this series is in the video above. In it, you see the public unveiling of Walt’s dream. Also, in this first part, Walt talks of the concept behind Frontierland and we get to hear Fess Parker (as Davey Crockett) sing the famous Davey Crockett song.
Part two goes into the inspiration behind Adventureland and Tomorrowland. One thing I find very interesting is that in the introduction of the lands, you aren’t getting specific information about the attractions. There is detail given as to what the feel for each land will be like.
Next up is Fantasyland. In this video is some rare footage (or at least rare today) from Song of the South. “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing, it was all started by a mouse.” You’ve probably read the quote by Walt Disney many times before. In the above video, he says these very words around the 6 minute mark. He says this because he believes that the real beginning of Disneyland is the story of Mickey Mouse. Pretty cool stuff!
Part 4 continues with the Mickey Mouse story. I love hearing Walt talk about Mickey! You’ll also see some wonderful animation in this video as Walt introduces us to Pluto, Goofy, and Donald. This video contains the short entitled Lonesome Ghosts.
Part 5 continues through the history of Walt Disney Animation. The main clip shown in this video is from Fantasia.
The conclusion of the Disneyland Story gives us a “sneak peek” at an upcoming movie entitled Alice in Wonderland.
The Disneyland Story was just the beginning of Walt’s introduction about Disneyland. Each week, Walt would give the country an update on the progress being made in the construction of Disneyland. This video is really interesting because it gives us a peek at life in Los Angeles in 1954. I thought it was funny to hear Walt speak of having plenty of parking at Disneyland. Their parking lot will accommodate 10,000 cars. I’m pretty confident that the needs for parking exceeds that presently. You’ve also got to love Walt’s commentary. Each week, America would get to watch Disneyland literally grow from mere dirt. I’ll spare you each episode. If you’d like to actually watch the progress from this show to its opening day, go to the You Tube channel and watch.
Can you just imagine what it must have been like to live in that time? The build up to the opening of Disneyland must have been insane and expectations high. My mother and father in law grew up in Chicago and remember very well watching the Disneyland television show. Going to Disneyland was like this once in a lifetime experience and they couldn’t wait to experience Walt’s theme park for themselves.
The early days of Disneyland lead to many televised specials. The above is from the 10th Anniversary of Disneyland. It’s amazing to me how much Disneyland grew in 10 years. Walt takes us through the newest additions and the plans for the future. Want to know a little behind the creation of It’s a Small World or Pirates of the Caribbean? Watch this video.
To gain a little perspective of what Disneyland’s opening day has led to, check out the above video which aired in the 1990’s.
I’ll close off this look back at Disneyland’s birthday with this video. It’s kind of fun to see how much things have changed over the years and how much remains the same. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Throwback Thursday trip back to the early days of Disneyland. Happy Birthday Disneyland! Can’t wait to see how you’ll celebrate your 60th next year!