Disneyland's Opening Day Mishaps, And Disney World's Triumph

By | December 5, 2018

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Vice President Richard Nixon at Disneyland at Anaheim, California, August 11, 1955. (Photo by USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images); a Disneyland ticket book.

In 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, changing family amusement forever. The kid-friendly site, divided into various "lands" (Adventureland, Frontierland, etc.), dotted with rides and populated by characters Walt Disney had created set a new standard. Celebrities and civilians alike attended the opening, mingling with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other walking, talking animals, even though much of it didn't go as planned. The park in California was so successful that a second venue, on a lot more land in Florida, was opened a decade later.

Plan Of The Park

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Disneyland Grand Opening, 1955

Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, on what had previously been 160 acres of orange groves in Anaheim, California. Six thousand special invitations were sent out to people involved in the $17 million project as well as to the press. ABC broadcasted a live special that was hosted by Art Linkletter, Ronald Reagan, and Billy Cummings.

The original park was divided into five sections: Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street, USA. Some of the attractions included Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight, Mad Tea Party, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The iconic Dumbo ride would open the following month., while the classic “It’s a Small World” would not make its debut for more than a decade.