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.
And with those words, Walt Disney himself dedicated Disneyland on its opening day, 60 years ago, on July 17th, 1955.
Walt was a true pioneer and gave us a lot of things in his time that didn’t yet exist. Because of Walt, we got these things:
The first sound cartoon – Steamboat Willie (1928)
The first animated feature-length film – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The invention of the Multiplane Camera
But one of the things that Walt Disney will be most remembered for (besides Mickey Mouse) is the invention of the modern-day theme park. Sure, amusement parks existed. but there was nothing in existence as grandiose at the time as Walt’s idea for Disneyland. Disneyland was about 5 years in development and cost about $17 million to build, but was constructed in only a year’s time. The idea for Disneyland came to Walt while watching his daughters on the merry go round at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Walt’s vision was a place where children and adults could go to have fun together.
Opening day was sweltering hot (about 101° Farenheit). Park attendance was about 28,000 people, but only half of those were actually invited. There were technical glitches galore and the fountains even ran out of soft drinks to serve to the hot (and probably cranky) crowd. Many thought that Walt’s dream would die in its first year.
Fast-forward 60 years and look where Disneyland is now. Sure, we live in a world today where there are other theme parks, but there’s only one Disneyland!
Check out the video below (narrated by Disney Legend, Tony Baxter) to see Disneyland before and during construction. There’s even some cool time-lapse photography of the construction because Walt thought it was a good idea to set up cameras filming the construction. He was right!