The First Disneyland

Disneyland's Picture Souvenir Book, 1955

Disneyland is where dreams come true and it all began with a vision by Walt Disney, which led to the opening of the first theme park in Anaheim, California on July 17, 1955.

Walt Disney began his career as a commercial artist in the early 20th century, before he proceeded to produce cartoons in a studio in California. By 1928, he had already created the Mickey Mouse character, which was wildly popular with people around the nation.

Disney himself had provided the voice over for the iconic mouse, which was first featured in the cartoon, Steamboat Willie. Disney then proceeded to film a couple of feature length cartoon movies such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1938) and Pinocchio (1940).

This eventually inspired Walt Disney to create a magical theme park where his characters could be brought to life to entertain, inspire and educate children and adults alike through the art of storytelling and character development.

The first theme park was built in California, built upon land that had been purchased from the Anaheim farming community and was initially fraught with mishaps due to the unpreparedness of Disney’s team, leading to a food shortage and some minor accidents.

However, the theme park soon recovered from the initial setbacks and became a hit with popular attractions which included the Dumbo and carousel rides (known to have been the favorite ride of Disney’s wife).

In 1965, a larger Disney theme park was opened in Orlando, Florida, to accommodate the growing public demand for the Disney experience, eventually resulting in a chain of theme parks across the globe including France, Japan, China, and Hong Kong.

Although Walt Disney passed on in 1966, his endearing creations and magical art of storytelling continue to inspire millions of people around the world.

Walt Disney’s Disneyland dedication speech, 1955. Walt Disney introduced by Ronald Reagan

Disneyland, 1955

Disneyland’s opening day disaster – Disney’s “Black Sunday”

1955 Disneyland opening day coverage from ABC Television (complete broadcast)

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