On this day 60 years ago, the park that started it all made its grand debut. Even though it was considered an opening day disaster and predicted failure, the park prevailed and brings joy to people all over the world to this day. Here are a few facts about Disneyland’s opening day on July 17, 1955.
1. 28,000 people visited the park that day. In present time, Disneyland can easily accommodate that many people in a day, but back when it first opened it was chaos.
2. About half of the 28,000 guests had forged tickets. Therefore, the food carts ran out of food and many rides broke down. Only 15,000 were invited and 13,000 extra people showed up.
3. The temperature was 101 degrees and the cement hadn’t fully set so women’s high heels were sinking into the pavement tar.
4. It was reported that guests were throwing their children to the front of attraction rides so they could get on faster!
5. There was a gas leak in Fantasyland which caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland to close for the day.
6. 12 rides were running on opening day: Jungle Cruise, King Arthur’s Carousel, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Dumbo, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Disneyland Railroad, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Mad Tea Party Peter Pan’s Flight, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Mark Twain Riverboat, and Autopia.
7. The employees dubbed opening day, Black Sunday.
8. Former president Ronald Reagan co-hosted the live broadcast of Disneyland’s opening day.
9. Disneyland’s opening day caused a 7 mile long traffic jam on Santa Ana Freeway.
10. Admission was $1 for adults and .50-.75 cents per child depending on their age. Individual tickets for rides were sold separately at ticket booths. This made Disneyland’s annual salary around $3,300, even with inflation adjustments that’s minimal to was the resort makes now!
Despite having a rough start on opening day 60 years ago, Disneyland is a quintessential American icon. The mishaps on opening day did not sway guests from wanting to attend the parks, it only took 7 weeks for the overall guest attendance to reach 1 million. Walt quickly made the needed adjustments and the park was on the right track to make a magic and profitable park that we know and love today. Happy 60th birthday to the Happiest Place on Earth!
“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.”