July 16, 1954, Walt Disney broke ground on his dream. After attending carnivals and other family events with his children, he wanted to create a theme park of his very own. He wanted to create a place where adults and children could have fun together in a safe environment. He wanted a place where his fairy tale adventures could be come real life excitement.
On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates. The event was to be a day that was by invitiation only, but those with counterfit invitations made their way in to Walt’s magic kingdom. This day has gone down in Disneyland lore as Black Sunday. It was truly a disaster. The plumbers had been on strike just prior to the park opening, and Walt had had to make a choice between restrooms and drinking fountains. He opted for restrooms and had cast members walk the park with cups of water for the guests. With the unexpected guests, one can only imagine the results of the underestimated need for water and other amenities. The park asphalt had been poured just before the opening and in the 101 degree weather, the women’s heals sunk into the pavement.
Things have improved a bit since Black Sunday. Disneyland has become and remains the place of Walt’s dreams. As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t agree with everything that Disney management does within the park. But I do believe in Walt’s original vision. I believe in spending quality time with my children in a place that we can enjoy together. I, like Walt Disney, believe in prolonging childhood and imagination.
Happy Birthday, Disneyland. May your current gate keepers remember that it all started with the magic of a mouse and a dream. May they remember that “Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, dreams, and hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will become a source of joy and inspiration for all the world.” May they remember that Disneyland is more than a theme park, it is a work of art and monument to a great American folk hero.
Disneyland is more than a theme park, it is a place to learn about the past. Resort imagineers and designers are committed to getting it right down to the very last details. Paying attention to detail reaches far beyond architecture true to the given time period and the use of antique furniture.
Next time you are in New Orleans Square, look for all of the fire insurance plaques on Royal Street and Orleans Street. See how many you can find!
If you have an interesting fact you would like to share with the Babes in Disneyland readers, send me an email!
If you grew up in Orange County in the ’80s or ’90s, then you probably hung out at Tomorrowland Terrace (TLT) dancing or know someone who did. It was a wholesome place to pick up on members of the opposite sex, grab a burger, giggle, and dance. Disneyland management is funny about TLT; they go for years running the dance floor as a place for teens to hang out and then stop it because it becomes too crowded, too this, or too that, only to reopen it years later all over again. The cycle seems to have repeated itself over the last 20 or so years.