Born on this day in 1955 (by being dedicated with a televised press preview), Disneyland is 55 years old today. The park is located in Anaheim, California.
Walt Disney designed and supervised the building of Disneyland. Today the Walt Disney Company has lots more theme parks (including California Adventure, next to Disneyland; Magic Kingdom and Epcott Center, at Disney World in Florida; and Disneylands in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Paris). But the original Disneyland is the only one designed and supervised by Walt Disney himself.
Disneyland has the most cumulative attendance (total attendance from all years) of any theme park in the world, with close to 600 million guests so far since 1955. Last year Disneyland was the second most visited theme park in 2009, with more than 15 million visitors.
But this major success story was not without its birth pains:
Apparently July 17, 1955, was not as smooth a dedication day as could have been hoped. An affair for invited celebrities and press only, including TV host Art Linkletter and then-actor Ronald Reagan, there were more visitors with counterfeit tickets than with real tickets (11,000 people were expected, and 28,154 people came)! It was hot (101 degrees Fahrenheit), and the fresh asphalt got gooey. There was a plumbers' strike that meant that the drinking fountains didn't work, a gas leak closed part of the park for part of the day, and some vendors ran out of food.
The park got quite a bit of bad press. Disney and others later referred to the day as “Black Sunday.”
Still, the opening of the park to the public was scheduled for the very next day, and crowds began to line up at 2 a.m. for tickets. Around 50,000 people attended on Monday, July 18, 1955.
I can't quite imagine how much fun those people had, with 50,000 people trying to ride the 20 original attractions!
For sure, there can be problems and discomforts with a visit to D-Land, but I have been there bunches of times, and for my family it has been, as billed, one of the Happiest Places on Earth!
Do the Theme Park Thing
- Design an amusement park around a theme. How about a Percy Jackson and the Olympians Park? Or a park called Planets of the Universe?
- Go to an amusement park. The water parks near me sound tempting right about now!
- Play a computer game in which you build a virtual theme park. (Sim Theme Park or Roller Coaster Tycoon are two possibilities.)
Do the Disney Thing with a Disney movie marathon.