When we traveled to Disneyland for the 50th Anniversary celebration, I created a walking tour pamphlet for my parents (they had never been and my Mom was so excited because she remembers watching Uncle Walt countdown the park opening on television). Unfortunately it was created using Publisher – and can no longer be opened. So, I thought I would try to recreate it over the next few weeks as a countdown to the 60th celebration. I’ll start with the attractions that opened in 1955 and are still there today.
“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, the 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.”
“Disneyland really began when my two daughters were very young. Saturday was always Daddy’s Day, and I would take them to the merry-go-round and sit on a bench eating peanuts while they rode. And sitting there, alone, I felt that there should be something built, some kind of family park where parents and children could have fun together.”
Believe it or not, Disneyland didn’t start out fulfilling Walt’s dream. Opening day is called “Black Sunday.” Due to a plumbers strike, Walt had to decide between drinking fountains or restrooms for his guests. The restrooms won, but not enough soft drinks were ordered to cover the uninvited guests who had counterfeit tickets or had climbed the back fence via a ladder “bridge”. Another setback in construction was the pouring of asphalt down Main Street the night before opening. Many stiletto heels were trapped in the steaming surface as guests streamed into the park. All this was captured on lived television. Sadly, local reports gave the park poor reviews – but thanks to families who fell in love, despite the problems, returned and continue to visit making it the dream destination it is today.
“Main Street, U.S.A. is America at the turn of the century – the crossroads of an era. The gas lamps and the electric lamp – the horse drawn car and auto car. Main Street is everyone’s hometown – the heartline of America.”
Due to Walt’s perfectionism (historic design details including the door hardware), Main Street has had the least changes over the years – shops have been renamed or rearranged, but you still walk down a turn of the century small town. Above the shops are “offices” and “businesses” that pay tribute to special people from Disneyland’s history. You can still eat breakfast just like Walt at the Plaza Inn, overlooking the hub. As the sun sets, enjoy the gas lights purchased on auction from Baltimore and St. Louis.
Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad (renamed in 1974)
Main Street Cinema
“Here is adventure. Here is romance. Here is mystery. Tropical rivers – silently flowing into the unknown. The unbelievable splendor of exotic flowers…the eerie sound of the jungle…with eyes that are always watching. This is Adventureland”
Jungle Cruise: Walt wanted real animals for the attraction, but realized they would be sleeping and dull most of the day. So, Bob Mattey was hired to develop the animals (he created the squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). Today the Jungle Cruise has its own ecosystem with natural air conditioning.
The show was so important to Walt that once an employee parked too close to the Rivers of America. The vegetation was so sparse that the car was visible from the Mark Twain. Walt saw it and came running up in a floppy hat, waving his arms and snapped, “What are you doing here in 1860 with a 1955 automobile?”
“Here we experience the story of our country’s past…the colorful drama of Frontier America in the exciting days of the covered wagon and the stagecoach…the advent of the railroad…and the romantic riverboat. Frontierland is a tribute to the faith, courage, and ingenuity of the pioneers who blazed the trails across America.”
Golden Horseshoe Review: (show closed in 1986) it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest running stage show. It was also the location of Walt & Lillian’s 30th anniversary celebration before the opening of the park.
Mark Twain Steamboat: 5/8 scale, steam powered ship.
“Here is the world of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn – and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young-in-heart – to those who believe that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”
Sleeping Beauty Castle: after much debate, it was decided the castle was prettier backward – so the back door faces Main Street. The castle was name for the upcoming film – Sleeping Beauty – four years before its release.
Canal Boats of the World: renamed Storybook Land Canal Boats in 1956.
Casey Jr. Circus Train
Dumbo Flying Elephants
King Arthur Carrousel: the original paint on the horses was multi-color – they are all white now.
Mad Tea Party
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: in the attraction, Toad visits Hell, which is not in the film.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Snow White’s Adventures (renamed in 1983)
“A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man’s achievements…a step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come. Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure, and ideals: the Atomic Age…the challenge of outer space…and the hop for a peaceful and unified world.”
Autopia: rails were added in 1965. Current track combines three older tracks.
Quotes taken from an untitled booklet of quotes given to park cast members during Traditions.