Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Disneyland through the Decades, 1955-1964:
As we "prepare to dazzle" for the upcoming Diamond Celebration, let's take a look back at some of the milestones during each of the last six decades that have made the Disneyland Resort the magical place it is today. Over the next several months, we'll celebrate each decade leading up to our 60th anniversary on July 17, 2015.
July 17, 1955...
Walt Disney opened Disneyland on July 17,1955, with these now-famous words, "To all who come to this happy place, welcome." Since then, more than 700 million Guests-including world leaders and celebrities- have passed through the gates that Walt imagined as "a source of joy and inspiration to the world."
Although 14,000 Guests were invited to visit on opening day, the number of Guests swelled to more than 28,000 due to a counterfeit ticket scheme (one entrepreneur even set up a ladder on the north end of the park, charging patrons to climb over). A plumber's strike forced Walt to decide whether to finish the drinking fountains or bathrooms-so Guests went thirsty even in temperatures of over 100 degrees. In fact , it was so hot , women's high heels sunk into the newly laid asphalt on Main Street U.S.A.
On opening day, there were 20 major attractions-many of them still here today:
Canal Boats of the World
Circarama, U.S.A. (360-degree movie theater)
Golden Horseshoe Revue
King Arthur Carrousel
Mad Tea Party
Main Street Cinema
Mark Twain Riverboat
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Peter Pan's Flight
Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad
Snow White's Adventures
Space Station X-1
Opened later in 1955 (in chronological order)
TWA Rocket to the Moon
Main Street Shooting Gallery
Casey Jr. Circus Train
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Exhibit
Dumbo Flying Elephants
Mickey mouse Club Theater
Mike Fink Keel Boats
March...Astro-Jets (later known as Tomorrowland Jets and then Rocket Jets) opens in Tomorrowland. these individually controlled vehicles give Guests a bird's-eye view of Disneyland. as the attraction rotates.
June...Tom Sawyer Island Rafts begin operation in Frontierland.
Skyway to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland opens with 44 four-passenger gondolas suspended from a 2,400-foot-long cable, taking Guests between the two lands.
Storybook Land Canals Boats opens, changing the landscape of Canal Boats of the World from miniature cities and landmarks to iconic scenes from Disney fairy tales.
July...Rainbow Caverns Mine train begins operation in Frontierland. The caverns showcase pools and small waterfalls amid stalagmites and stalactites.
Indian War Canoes begin operation in Frontierland (later moved to Bear Country to become Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes).
April...Walt Disney and Shirley Temple dedicate the Sleeping Beauty Castle interior walk-through, featuring dioramas telling the "Sleeping Beauty" story.
June...Monsanto House of the Future opens in Tomorrowland. Built of plastics, this modernistic house features the latest in furniture, appliances and gadgets of the future.
Motor Boat Cruise opens in Fantasyland. Children enjoy piloting theirs crafts around the waterways under the Autopia bridges and Monorail beams.
The modernistic Viewliner train begins operation in Tomorrowland.
December...The first New Year's Eve Party is held in Disneyland, with 7,500 attending.
March...Grand Canyon Diorama opens in Disneyland, part of the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad. At 306 feet long, it is the world's longest seamless hand-woven canvas.
June...Sailing ship Columbia opens. It is a full-scale replica of the original Columbia, the first ship to circumnavigate the globe in 1778.
Alice in Wonderland attraction opens in Fantasyland.
August...The Fire truck begins transportation services on Main Street, U.S.A.
January...Fantasyland Autopia opens due to the immense popularity of the original attraction.
June...Submarine Voyage attraction opens in Tomorrowland , billed as a voyage through "liquid space." The original eight subs hold 38 Guests, each with a porthole for viewing the underwater wonders-from mermaids to a giant sea serpent.
Disneyland -Alweg Monorail System opens in Tomorrowland. It represents the first ever urban monorail system in the U.S.- and what is viewed as the transportation of the future. In 1961,the beam expands to reach the Disneyland Hotel.
The Matterhorn Mountain with its Matterhorn Bobsleds opens in Fantasyland as the first thrill ride at Disneyland. The mountain is 147 feet high, 1/100th the height of the real Matterhorn and uses 2,175 steel girders.
May... Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland opens in Frontierland, taking Guests through a wilderness area populated with more than 200 lifelike bears, beavers and other critters. Pack mules are added two weeks later.
Art of Animation opens in Tomorrowland, showing the history and development of the animation process.
March... Marble figures of Snow White and the seven Dwarfs-straight from Italy- are brought in to create the Snow White Wishing Well and Grotto in Fantasyland. Walt invites Guests to make a wish and drop a coin into the well to benefit children's charities, a tradition that continues today.
June... Tinker Bell takes to the sky, flying from the peak of the Matterhorn to Sleeping Beauty Castle each night to begin the "Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks extravaganza.
The first Grad Nite brings 8,500 graduating seniors to Disneyland, making it the largest high school graduation party ever held in the U.S. at the time.
August...Flying Saucers-individually controlled, rubber-bumper circular ride vehicles propelled by air-open to rave reviews in Tomorrowland.
December...Sets from the movie make up the "Babes in Toyland" Exhibit in the Main Street Opera House-and, two years later, become the headquarters for the Mickey Mouse Club.
Sarfari Shooting Gallery (also known as Big Game Safari Shooting Gallery and Big Game Shooting Gallery) opens in Adventureland and provides target practice for "big game hunters." The guns even use real pellets.
November...Swiss Family Tree house opens in Adventureland. Modeled after the shipwrecked tree house in "Swiss Family Robinson," the entirely man-made tree is 150 tons, has 450 branches and towers 70 feet above Adventureland.
June...Featuring a new Audio-Animatronics system designed by WED Enterprises, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room brings to life more than 200 colorful singing birds, flowers and powerful tiki gods to perform in a tropical musical review.
Although the New York World's Fair didn't occur at Disneyland, many of Walt Disney's exhibits-including "it's a small world" and "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln"-found their permanent homes in Disneyland after debuting to enthusiastic fair audiences.
Jungle Cruise gets a new African Veldt region,, introducing Audio-Animatronics lions, giraffes, zebras, jackals, wildebeests, hyenas, antelope-and a new scene with frightened hunters trying to escape up a tree to avoid the sharp horn of an angry rhino
to be continued...Dr Lee