After years of planning, Walt Disney finally opened in 1955 the doors to what would eventually become known as the happiest place on Earth. Happy 59th anniversary, Disneyland!
All roads, it seemed, led to Disneyland in Anaheim, California on July 17, 1955 for the park’s opening day. ABC was all geared up to broadcast the event live across the US, the park’s 20 attractions spread across five themed lands were awaiting its first visitors… After years of planning and another year for construction, Walt Disney was finally ready to unveil his dreamland to the public – or so he and his team thought.
July 17 was supposedly for the “International Press Preview,” open only to about 11,000 invited guests and members of the media. However, an overwhelming total of 28,000 people reportedly turned up, most of them having purchased counterfeit tickets. As a result, the day became quite chaotic. First days usually encounter a mishap or two, but Disneyland had enough of them for Disney himself and his executives back then to remember this day as “Black Sunday.” History.com succinctly summed it up, thus:
The park was not ready for the public: food and drink ran out, a women’s high-heel shoe got stuck in the wet asphalt of Main Street USA, and the Mark Twain Steamboat nearly capsized from too many passengers.
Not surprisingly, the press didn’t have a lot of good things to say about the opening day. However, Disney was quick to remedy the situation as he invited attendees once more for a private “second day” the following day, a move that proved to be successful. A man named David MacPherson was the very first member of the public to buy a ticket to the park and, as such, is also continuously given lifetime passes!
Today, Disneyland remains a top tourist destination, a dream location among millions of kids and kids at heart. It has also since expanded to four more resorts in Florida, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
All information in this article were sourced from History, Wikipedia, and Designing Disney. You may also visit these pages for further reading. Meanwhile, you may also visit this page to see color photographs from LIFE magazine taken during the first few days of Disneyland.
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