It Opened Sixty Years Ago on Sunday, July 17, 1955

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The leading edge baby boomers were turning nine in 1955, when a very exciting dream became a reality. If you lived in the western United States, especially California, your parents might even take you to see it.

Disneyland ticket

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I remember watching television in Pennsylvania enviously, along with approximately ninety million other excited Americans, as Disneyland opened on one hundred sixty acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California. The ABC television hosts for that grand event were Ronald Reagan, Art Linkletter and Bob Cummings. In order to physically attend the Sunday grand opening, individuals had to be invited and have a special ticket. Eleven thousand tickets were issued. Unfortunately, those tickets could be easily duplicated, and more than twenty eight thousand individuals passed through the gates of “The Happiest Place on Earth” that day. The official general admission ticket cost one dollar and the cost of the fourteen original attractions ranged from ten cents to thirty-five cents.

Walt Disney conceived the idea for Disneyland on August 31, 1948, when he sent a memo to a studio production designer to develop “Mickey Mouse Park.” Its construction began on July 16, 1954, and it was completed and dedicated exactly one year and one day later at a cost of seventeen million dollars. Do any of you think something similar could be built on that schedule today?

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Disneyland was divided into a number of themed-areas, called “lands.” Originally, there were five lands, including:

  • Main Street, USA
  • Adventureland
  • Frontierland
  • Fantasyland
  • Tomorrowland

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The original fourteen attractions that were available on opening day included:

  • Autopia
  • Disneyland Band
  • Disneyland Railroad Main Street Station
  • Disneyland Railroad New Orleans Square Station
  • Jungle Cruise
  • King Arthur Castle
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Main Street Cinema
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventure
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats

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During the next year, four more attractions opened, including:

  • Casey Jr. Circus Train (July 31, 1955)
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant (August 16, 1955)
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (June 16, 1956)
  • Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes (July 4, 1956)

Currently, there are fifty-eight attractions at Disneyland.

The cost of a Disneyland ticket has increased steadily, from its opening day introduction price of one dollar, to nearly one hundred dollars today. Here’s a snapshot of the price at the start of each decade starting in the seventies:

  • 1970 $3.50
  • 1980 $7.50
  • 1990 $31.00
  • 2000 $46.00
  • 2010 $82.00
  • 2015 $99.00

Disney now has parks in Florida, Japan, France and Hong Kong with its newest park scheduled to open this year in Shanghai.

Please tell us your memories if you were lucky enough to be there in the park’s early years, and share this post with your Facebook friends.

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