David MacPherson, a 22-year-old student, arrived at Disneyland about midnight on July 17, 1955. The amusement park was holding a public grand opening the next morning and MacPherson wanted to be the first in line. He waited alone in the dark through the night, determined to be the first person to buy a ticket and enter the park. By dawn, the line had grown to 6,000 people, but MacPherson maintained his spot at the front. On the morning of July 18, 1955, Walt Disney arrived to greet guests at his new amusement park. He picked two children from the back of the line and allowed them to enter the park for free. Macpherson’s long night paid off, and he purchased the first ticket to enter Disneyland. After years of planning and preparation, Disneyland opened for the first time 65 years ago this month.
Walt Disney dreamed of creating a park that would delight children and adults alike. He started creating sketches of Disneyland as far back as 1932. Using the proceeds from successful movies like Snow White, Disney began formulating plans for an amusement park. He hired the Stanford Research Institute to investigate possible sites, attendance expectancy, and cost. Artists created thousands of sketches and architects worked feverishly on blueprints. A 1953 illustrated map of what Disneyland might look like sold for $708,000 at a 2017 auction! When the Stanford Research Institute recommended Anaheim as the best site for the park, Disney purchased a 160-acre orange grove and construction began.
As opening day approached, the highly anticipated park was called a modern “Wonder of the World.” One paper reported that “never in history has any attraction, including World Fairs, ever received so much advance publicity…and worldwide attention.” Tickets to enter Disneyland cost $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. Parking cost 25 cents a day and the overall cost to build the park was $17 million.
Some 50,000 visitors flocked to Disneyland on opening day. Cars backed up for miles on the Santa Ana Freeway and the parking lot was filled to capacity by 10:00 a.m., leaving hundreds of cars waiting in line. David MacPherson walked around the park for a little while that first day, before heading back to campus to attend a class without riding a single ride. Although he was allowed to keep that first ticket as a souvenir, he sold it for 50 cents after leaving the park to buy gas to get home.
MacPherson’s night at the ticket booth, however, came with a big reward. He was given a lifetime pass to Disneyland. Each January he receives an annual pass for four which covers admissions, free parking, and rides.
Nearly 20 million visitors visit Disneyland each year. Do you remember your first visit to the park? Read more about the opening of Disneyland on Newspapers.com today!
86 thoughts on “July 18, 1955: Disneyland Opens to the Public!”
The progress of Disneyland was broadcast weekly on the Mickey Mouse Club TV show. I thought the teacup ride was the coolest thing I had ever seen — Taking a prop from an iconic movie scene and adapting it to a whole new experience. The degree of innovation was not lost on me.
The grand opening of Disneyland was covered on the Mickey Mouse Club and I was glued to the TV set. But living in NJ, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go there.
But in 1965 my husband and I went to a convention at Lake Tahoe. Afterward, we rented a car and came home by way of Anaheim. My dream of visiting Disneyland came true much sooner than I thought was ever possible.
I’ve never been back to Disneyland, but now living in central Florida, we’re about 100 miles from Walt Disney World. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve gone. It’s magical every time. We’re looking forward to the next Grand Opening after the COVID quarantine is lifted.
The Mickey Mouse Club didn’t air until 3 months after Disneyland opened. What you most likely watched was “Disneyland USA”.
When my children found out that Disneyland opened July 18th, 1955, their first statement was to tell “Wow Mom, you’re older than Disneyland. I was born in March 1955. Disneyland was always our of our price range for a family vacation. So my husband and I went for our honeymoon. We took our kids a few times and they have enjoyed spending those significant year celebrations by taking me to Disneyland. Thankfully we got to spend our 50th together as well as the most recent 65th in March before the closing.
My birthday is Sept 1955 and I’ve always thought I’m the same age as Disneyland. I didn’t go until I was in 8th grade and loved it! Nice you got to return on those significant years.
My birthday is also September 1955! I was in my 50’s when I finally got there. Been at WDW in Florida many times.
Disneyland has always been one of my favorite places. Call me old school but I have never been to Disney World and prefer to return to the original Magic Kingdom!
You should try Epcot Center .. if is AMAZING !
On the morning of July 18, 1955 I knew nothing about Disneyland as I drove with three friends, one of whom I later married, to the bullfights in Tijuana, Baja Mexico. There were no freeways in those days and we expected a little traffic while driving back to Los Angeles. We got into the mother of all traffic jams on the way home and were unable to figure out what the hell was going on. We spent many hours in angry confusion with no possibility of getting out of the jam. It was sometime after we got home that I learned the cause of the monster traffic jam — opening day at Disneyland. I do not remember anything about the bullfight we saw that day but I sure as hell remember the drive home;
One of my earliest memories of Disneyland in the 70s was of the ride ticket books. You had to purchase one as you went in and you tore out each ticket to use on an A ride or an E ride. I believe A tickets were for kids’ rides like Small World and E tickets were for the faster rides. Were there B, C, and D tickets as well? When they were used up, that was it! I still remember the thrill of finding a brand new book of ride tickets under a bush that someone must have dropped!
Yes, there were A, B, C, D and E. tickets. The E ticket rides were the best, so you used them first. Then you you worked your way through the book until all you had left was A. You rode Dumbo and imagined it was an E ticket ride.
Thanks Judy! I figured there must have been B, C, and D tickets. I guess a limited amount of tickets really kept the lines down. But what a thrill when they did away with them and we were free to go on as many rides as we liked!
I still have some tickets in a book. I went the second day and I remember it was 114 and the parking guys were passing out. We lived so close we could hear and see the fireworks from out house.
Wow! That’s HOT! I remember reading how the newly paved Main Street was melting and the ladies’ high heeled shoes were getting stuck in them. Can you imagine wearing high heeled shoes to Disneyland today? Your ride ticket book is a treasure! I’d love to see what a ticket looked like after all these years.
I’ve been to Disneyland countless times and yes, you still see some women dressed like that. We can’t imagine why they do that.
I’ll scan them when I have a chance. I remember I wore a dress. I was just going into High School.
Barbara, I was just going into high school also! I wore a yellow cotton dress, and high heels to go to Disneyland, in August, of 1955. We had traveled from Chicago to Great Falls, MT. to get my brother who was just out of the Air Force. We went on to Disneyland, and all had a great time.
I went the 2nd day to and lived a quarter mile from Disneyland. We lived on Bellevue Dr.
We lived on Chapman Ave. where the Hospital is now. The hospital was just one big building then, and down the street from our ranch.
I still have my ticket book
I have that same memory. I think my first visit was about 1972 and I remember those tickets well. They seemed like gold!
My 1st visit was in the 60’s. Disneyland was almost empty compared to now. And those ticket books were gold. We wore dresses everywhere back then. High heels…heavens, think how you would feel at the end of the day. AT&T night, or Navy night really made you feel super special. That was when you could ride whatever you wanted without worrying about using up your tickets. I always loved the fact that I shared my birthday day with Walt!
I grew up in San Diego (born July 18, 1960) and every third year we went to Disneyland. (We rotated between Disney, Knott’s Berry Farm and Sea World.) Years ago, when I was moving from one state to another, I tossed an old ticket book that still had a few left in it. I still kick myself for that! Those tickets are responsible for a phrase I still use when describing something fantastic: “That better than an E-ticket ride!” How many of you remember that little gem? I’ve now lived in Clearwater, Florida for about 27 years and I have not been to Disneyworld. Seems too expensive and too crowded. And I’ve been told they don’t have the Matterhorn or Tinker Bell flying from it at night before the fireworks. But they still exist in my memories.
I still have my ticket book from my first visit December 1962. They’re probably only a ride tickets. LOL
My family and I were at Opening Day in 1955. I had my Davy Crockett coonskin hat on and was ready to go on all of the rides. I had just turned 6 on July 12th and couldn’t wait to get there. Unfortunately as those of you who were there with me know many of the rides broke down during the day and at the end only the carousel was working. I didn’t care. It was a beautiful day.
Happy Birthday! My daughters birthday is today as well!
My dad took our family to Disneyland on opening day (Monday). We lived in Alhambra, CA, less than an hour away. Hardly any rides were working other than the carousel. Having watched the construction of Disneyland on the Mickey Mouse TV show, I was very excited to ride Mr. Toad’s Ride. It was finally fixed long enough to get to ride it. I was 10 years old when the park opened. As a teenager I took many dates to Disneyland. Parking was 25¢ and entrance was $1.50. Something a teenager could afford. There were 4 dance bands on the weekends and we’d dance the night away. It was really a great time to be growing up in SoCal.
Each summer my family spent three weeks in Westwood while my dad taught at UCLA. In July 1955 about three weeks after Disneyland opened my family spent the day at the new park. I was eight years old. I remember I was dressed in navy blue shorts, a red and white stripped top and the brand new sailor hat with my name embroidered on the front which my dad bought for me in the Frontier Land gift shop. As we waited for the Mark Twain, the paddle wheeled steamer that circumnavigated the island, a “deck hand” selected me to ride up in the wheelhouse. I was overjoyed, not just because I got to ride with the Captain and “stir” the steamer but because I knew I would have something really good to write about in “the what did you do this summer” essay that surely would be assigned when school started in September.
My mother took me in 1956, I was 9. After hours of rides and walking we were both exhausted as we headed to the parking lot. Unfortunately, my mother had no idea where she had parked the car! I think Disneyland was one of the first to designate parking areas because of the size of the lot. As we walked around searching for the car it somehow became my fault for not paying attention to the location when mother parked the car. My mother never returned but I have many times, always making sure I knew were the car was parked. One of my favorite memories is dancing to the music of Les Brown when I was in my 20’s.
My uncle lived near Anaheim. I got to Disneyland when I was 7, in 1957 and remember that visit very well, and many others, as we later moved to CA when I was 11. I still have a couple of those ticket books. I’m a great fan of Walt Disney bringing his dreams to fruition in so many ways and watching Walt Disney series go through its many transformations and from black and white to color on TV.
I have read that Disney was inspired to build Disneyland after he visited Santa Claus Land, an early theme park, in southern Indiana. If correct, it seems strange the writer would omit such an important part of the story.
Oops. You have the opening date wrong! Disneyland opened on July 17, NOT the 18th. Their grand opening was REPORTED in newspapers the following day, July 18, hence the source of your confusion.
Hi Lou, You are correct. The park opened the 17th for a press day, but opening day for the public was the 18th.
I attended Disneyland on opening day with a YMCA day camp. I remember driving by watching it being built. You could see the rocket ship and the log ride sticking up. It was an exciting time. I heard that Walt Disney visited Fairyland in Oakland, California and it was the inspiration for Disneyland.
I was nine years old when Disneyland opened. I was always a Disney fan but living in Alabama I don’t remember the opening. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and have enjoyed just as much reading the comments from those who remember going there. It’s refreshing to read these positive comments without a single negative one. I will come back to read others memories. Keep them coming.
Larry, So do I, there is way too much negative in today’s world. I was at Disneyland only once, in 1978. Thanks for your comments.
My first trip to Disneyland was when I was 3 years old in 1960. As I remember, the best was the horse head metal hitching posts that line Main Street. I grabbed the ring through the horse’s mouth and pretended I was riding it. That was the most fun. The Snow White and Peter Pan rides on the other hand were very scary, especially the part with the Crocodile!
×In 1959, the summer I turned 8, my mother and I went from NY to Mexico, and then to CA to visit her niece and family. We went to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. I remember both were crowded, but it was very sunny at Disneyland. There was a lot more shade at the “farm.” Many years later, my best friend and I went to Disneyworld– her parents paid for the trip as a graduation present for her completing nursing school. While Disneyland was pretty much complete, hotel row was still very much a construction site. The pool at our hotel wasn’t finished, so if we wanted to swim, we had to go two hotels down to use that pool. I found it fascinating that the core area of Disneyworld was identical to Disneyland. We went back to Disneyworld just a few years ago. The surrounding area of hotel and resort properties has changed a lot.
I went to Grammar School, Katella School, where the hotels are now. The school was across the street from huge strawberry fields, which are now Disneyland.
My parents took my little brother and me to Disneyland the summer it opened. He was 5 and had red hair and lots of freckles. While walking down Main Street one of the park officials asked if they could take a picture of him eating ice cream for their magazine. We never heard if his picture was used. I remember the ticket books. My favorite rides were the autobahn and the jungle ride. Disneyland has always been a magical place.
My favorite child hood photo is of me, my sister and dad. It was 1963, we were in dresses and my dad was in a suit as were all the men in the background. I still have a ticket book without the E tickets. I have my Mickey Mouse club badge and club comic books that arrived each month for 12 cents.
What better place to get lost than at Disneyland
When I was 10 years old (1962) our family (7 kids) took a vacation from Las Vegas to Southern California. We stayed at our Uncle’s house. Dad took the whole family to Disneyland, where he bought a bundle of ride tickets and would dole them out whenever we got to a ride we wanted to take. The tickets were lettered A B C D and E depending on the value of the ride. The E tickets were the most coveted because they got you on rides like the Matterhorn and the Monorail. We had a great day and the park was announcing closure in a little while so Dad told us to plan out the final ride we wanted to go on. Dad had only one E ticket left and I begged him to let me go on the Monorail. I won, and they put me in line for it. I enjoyed the ride but it didn’t seem to be taking us on a tour of the park. Instead we were riding over the parking lot and it came to a stop at the Disneyland Hotel. I waited in my seat a few seconds thinking it would continue on back to the starting point. Then the announcer said everyone should get off, this is where the Monorail car sits until it starts up in the morning. I reluctantly got off and was walking slowly because I had no idea where I was or what to do. I noticed a nice-looking couple glanced at me, but I was embarrassed to ask any questions. I walked down to the lobby and out into the parking lot. I noticed the chain link fence and thought about climbing it into the park to work my way back to the Monorail Station. But the fence was very tall and I didn’t think I could manage it, plus there was that river with the alligators in it… I was worried my family would leave without me (obviously, that wouldn’t happen). I wandered back toward the hotel and that nice-looking couple approached me and asked if I was lost. I started crying, and told them that I thought I was on a ride around the park. They took me into the hotel and told the front desk clerk I was a lost boy and could he help them get me back to my parents. Then, out of the blue, Dad came bursting onto the scene. Grabbing me up in his arms, he started right into chewing out the desk clerk and the nice-looking couple and complaining pretty much about the whole operation that could cause a little boy to get lost. I told Dad that the nice-looking couple was helping me–and Dad calmed down. I guess he was just mad at the whole world of Disney for letting me get lost. When we got to the car it was late and everyone was fast asleep. Mom was so glad to see me, and gave me the hug I really needed a while earlier. I asked Mom what time it was—it turned out it had been over an hour since I took that ride on the Monorail, the park was closed and almost everyone was gone. It had only seemed like a few minutes to me, and it was an odd end to a magical day.
Whoa, Keith! What a bittersweet memory of getting lost at Disneyland! I have distinct memories in the 50’s and 60’s of my father telling all the kids once we arrived into the park on Main Street that he designated a particular place on Main Street for us to congregate if we were separated. Of course these were the days of no cell phones, something which would have helped you, too, but the nice-looking couple came through for you. On each visit Dad would say “This is where we meet if things get honked up.”
Needless to say even at the age of 84 I can visualize being at Disney World and going from one attraction to another as fast as I cold go. Seeing the fireworks at night and the parade was just so wonderful for little kids (and grown ups alike). What a wonderful experience I will never forget and still get excited thinking about going back. I am so happy for the reopening as it makes everyone so happy.
I remember in 1967 the summer after my father had his cancer surgery, he decided we would all go on a cross country trip. He Was about 43 and didn’t know if he was going to have 6 months or how long he would have. Of course I was only 14-15 at that time and wasn’t aware of the reason he made these plans. Dad wanted his family to have a great vacation memory. Disneyland was on that list. What a memory it still is to this day! I get to relive it when my son and I talk about the trip he took 22 years later.
In 1989, Dad took another cross country trip this time it was with my son, he was 13. My older sister’s 2 girls, and Mom. He beat the cancer. The grandchildren got to go to both Disneyland and Disneyworld. I was so grateful my son would be spending time with his grandparents, sharing memories of a cross country trip as I had done so many years before, that would last a lifetime. Thank you Daddy! Miss you A heart attack got him the following year 1990, at age 66, God was good.
I was an early visitor was 1955 or 1956. I remember the tickets and the arguments over who would get to choose which land we went to and which ride we took. It was usually first to Tomorrowland – strip to the future. I remember the house of tomorrow- so far from what we see today -but a real thrill then. We went back again and again always enjoying our time there. Christmas Eve was our special family time with the old- fashioned feel of the park and the love of everyone there. What better a place to visit on March AFB night and my marriage proposal from my husband of 54 years. Thank you, Walt, for sharing the love!
My grandpa worked as a press photographer for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. He covered the grand opening that day. He told my family and me that Walt had two options that day: either the drinking fountains would work or the toilets would work. He chose the toilets. To make up for it, they handed out paper cups of water and orange flavored soda free of charge. My grandpa also said that the temperature that day was over 90 degrees with no clouds in sight. He said the asphalt hadn’t fully cured and hardened yet and the heat only made it worse. Many women were dressed formally as they typically did back then and their heels were sinking into the asphalt due to the heat. I only wish I could find some of the photographs my grandpa took.
My husband and I moved to San Francisco in 1958 and we took our 5yr old daughter to Disneyland that summer. We had special tickets a gift from someone. They included red wrist bands which gave us access to all the rides. We didn’t have to stand in line, just go to the front of the line and show our wrist ribbons and we were escorted right on. Years later, my husband was a teacher/counselor in Napa, CA and every year he was on the bus trip with the 9th grade students for their graduation party. He had many fun and interesting stories to tell about those trips. I, too, have ticket books and other memorabilia from those trips.
I went to Disneyland for the first time in the summer of 1956 when I was 12. My family was staying at Balboa beach and drove up to Anaheim. I have been back many times. When I was in high school my senior class from Coachella Valley High School went up on busses for a day at the theme park.
I first went to Disneyland when in 1957 when I was 10 years old. When exiting the Dumbo ride I found a dollar bill just outside the fence. On my own, I made my way to buy a slice of pizza for .50 cents. Later that day I got to drive the Autopia by myself, that was such a thrill. We just missed the Mouseketeers who were greeting people in front of the castle by minutes, but Big Roy was still there and made a drawing of me which he signed. In 1965 I graduated from Montclair High School and we had our class all night party at the park. There were many other high schools also celebrating there.
I also have a picture drawn for me by Roy, probably about that same time. He drew a picture of Mickey Mouse and signed it Roy. My family had recently moved to Anaheim from Chicago. We didn’t go to Disneyland very often because it was expensive. We would sometimes park nearby to watch the fireworks and Tinkerbell.
I remember watching the opening of Disneyland on TV in 1955. What a thrill. I never thought I’d ever get to go there. The next year for my birthday my grandmother took me, my brother, and Mom to Disneyland. It was also my first time in an airplane. Grandma went all out on this trip. From LAX we rode in a helicopter that landed in the Disneyland parking lot where a small tram picked us up and ferried us over to the original DisneyLand hotel. We stayed for three days, Still didn’t see the whole park. Did see Walt Disney at the hotel (Motel actually). And got to see the Mousekateers from a distance. All a great trip that I remembered in great detail for years. 40 years later my wife and I visited Disneyland once again. We parked our RV in Vacationland. That was the last year that was open. On our last day we caught the overhead tram going out. The driver invited us to ride with him in the lead car. I told him about my first arrival there in 1956. He was blown away. He didn’t know they once did that. Of course he wasn’t even born then. Very nice young man tho. Both my visits were memorable.
My Great Uncle, George Mills Sr. was contracted out by Walt himself – as the Prime Contractor to build Disneyland. He office and desk was behind horse pulled fire station that is located to the left as you enter the park. To save cost is develop a saw mill in-side the park – where he cut timber for construction. As you are walking down main street the Disney Corp has memorized his name by painting his name and the other two construction contractors on the window above the Starbuck Coffee House.
One interesting fact, Walt asked George to make payroll for the last week prior to the Park opening – because Walt depleted all his own personal funds because of scope changes and cost overruns. My great uncle George made payroll !!!
Walt asked George to stay on – because George had all the blue-prints to the Park.
The Disney Corp hired George’s son, George Mills Jr to build the Disney Park in Tokyo and was completed April 1983.
I would love to invited by the Disney Corp for a private tour of Disneyland.
I hope they do invite you! What an awesome story.
I lived in Pomona, CA, about 35 minutes on a narrow road through Brea Canyon from Disneyland. I was about to enter high school that summer. I think I convinced my older sister to drive a group of us to the Park. She was a recent college graduate. I remember that a ticket book was $5.00. I remember TomorrowLand and AdventureLand rides. At that age, I found Main Street boring and FantasyLand to young. It was a great place to take a date after I was able to drive three years later since the prices were still in the range of a teenager with a small income.
Back in the summer of 1955, my parents took my brother and I on a trip to California. We traveled by train for three days – from Omaha to California. We didn’t make it for opening day – but it was soon after. As a four year old little girl, I was looking forward to going to Disney Land and seeing Cinderella’s Castle, but was disappointed when I was only able to walk through the arch opening. It was still a memorable experience and I was hoping to recreate the family outing with my children and grand children in October. Unfortunately my 5 year old granddaughter has Muscular Dystrophy and the Pediatrician has advised us not to travel as COVID-19 is a greater risk for her. Hopefully, we will be able to travel next year…
I really feel for you, the Grandma of a 5-year-old with muscular dystrophy. I taught in a preschool in the Boston area for children with various physical disabilities and able-bodied children. One of the children, a 5-year-old boy had muscular dystrophy. I sincerely hope your family is able to make this trip when it becomes safer to travel and be at Disneyland. It will be magical! I grew up in Southern California, my family having moved there from Michigan in 1957. Since we lived only about one hour from Disneyland we visited it about once a year. Also, when I graduated from high school in 1968 our high school had their Grad Night Party at Disneyland following our graduation ceremony. All the graduates attending were required to board a bus directly from our high school to get to Disneyland. Then we were “frisked” by the Disneyland staff at the entrance. The school, our parents, and the Disneyland staff wanted to make sure that we had the safest possible experience that night. No teenagers possibly driving intoxicated to Anaheim or driving home too tired after being at Disneyland all night! A group of parents signed up to be chaperones. Lots of other high schools were there to celebrate their graduations, too. Disneyland provided lots of bands for dancing that night. I got to go twice since my boyfriend had graduated one year before. I was his guest at his Grad Night party at Disneyland and he was my guest the next year. Wonderful memories! I can even remember what I was wearing that night. Such big changes happening at time of life. Little did I know that I would meet my future husband 3 months later, my first week at college. It didn’t turn out to be the boyfriend with whom I went to the Disneyland Grad Night parties, but I will forever remember what sweet times I had with my high school boyfriend on those two magical nights at Disneyland.
My family traveled from Washington State to Disneyland in August of 1955. I was born May 25th and was three months old, but I remember being held by my father as we were waiting to go into the park. A boy walked past us carrying a clear balloon with another Mickey Mouse-shaped balloon inside. The Mickey balloon was red. Then, looking over my father’s shoulder, I saw the same shape done in flowers in the garden near the front entrance.
Seeing the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head is literally my first conscious memory!
My family got to go to Disneyland the summer of 1959. I was 11 years old, my 2 sisters 14 and 16. My mom packed us up from our home in Maryland and we camped all over USA. We even camped in our cousins backyard in Anaheim. You could see the Matterhorn from their yard. 3 days of bliss in the park. Our 8mm home movies are still fun to watch.In 1965 we had 1 day at Disney. My sister became a Disney-holic. She visits Disney World 2 or 3 times a year from her winter home in Florida
I was living in VIRGINIA when the park opened. I watched the Mouseketeers and really wanted to go! After I got married, and had my son in 1965, we drove down and my dreams came through!
In frontier land we met an Indian Chief, he had on the full outfit.
I got a picture of him holding my baby son. They had an artist who made sand pictures. No AI real people.
I have been back many times, and still love it, esp. the fireworks!
I didn’t get to Disneyland until I was about 40 in 1990. BUT I still remember sitting on the floor on Sunday nights to watch Walt Disney introduce the show for that evening.
One night he did the whole show telling the TV audience all about the opening of a magical place that would be opening soon and showed the viewers what was coming. I was still 4 years old and remember it fairly vividly. It was worth the wait when I finally got to go!!
My parents met at Disneyland, both worked there on opening day, My mother worked at the Carnation restaurant and my father was the captain of the Steamboat, a little over a year later in 1956 I was born……….. Big a big fan ever since…
How very cool, Rusty! What a wonderful Disneyland memory!
We lived in Laguna Beach at the time when my Aunt (visiting from Iowa with her family) took my brother and me, and her children to Disneyland on opening day. What a thrill! However, we only got to ride on the tea-cups. It didn’t matter though, we had a wonderful time!
I went to Disneyland for the first time in the summer of 1956. We lived in Chicago and my father extended a business trip to Iowa and we went all the way to Anaheim, daring 124 degree heat in Needles, California on the way. When we got there, my parents didn’t have enough money for any of the rides, so we just paid for entrance to the park, walked all around, rode the free train, saw a free 3-D movie with Mickey Mouse and had lunch. The only unique thing we did was that I had my picture taken with Will Scarlett from the Disney movie, Robin Hood. I stood on a tree stump and we took a picture together. The Disney photographer said that for a quarter, they would develop the photo and send it to us in Chicago. When we got home, the envelope was there, but inside there was no photo. Just the quarter. The photo didn’t come out. Still, an amazing memory and I live In Cali now so my kids and I have been there probably a hundred times. It’s a wonderful place.
Our family lived in the LA area when Disneyland opened. My parents were just starting their family at the time, so it would be several years before we kids were old enough to go. My mother, for many years, would tell a story on herself—it was something she apparently said when Disneyland first opened: “that place will NEVER amount to anything, it’s at the end of a DIRT road !!!!!”. She always thought it was so funny that she was SO wrong about that !!!!! And as we kids got older, we would go to Disneyland over and over again—we LOVED it !!!!! And then, as my husband and I raised our own family further north in Oregon and Washington, we still made sure our kids got to go to Disneyland several times when they were young. And just last year, when our oldest son turned 38 in October, Disneyland was where he spent his birthday, with his girlfriend AND his brother —so it just goes on and on !!!!!!
When the Mouseketeers were first on TV (October 1955), I was in 2nd grade and fell in love with Annette Funicello. The following year we were asked to write a poem on the subject “If I had a hundred dollars.” Mine (which I still remember all these years later) was:
“If I had a hundred dollars,
I’d go to Disneyland,
for if I went there,
I’d meet my girlfriend.
I’d take her by the hand,
and go out for a date,
for I’d be in California,
and that’s a beautiful state.”
Even though we lived in CT, I was able to visit Disneyland in 1960 when our family took a vacation to the west coast to visit relatives. We camped the night before in an orange grove not far away so we could be there early in the morning. I didn’t get to see Annette, but I enjoyed riding the Matterhorn as well as spinning on the Teacups and seeing the animated animals on the Jungle Cruise. Thanks for the memories.
I graduated college in 1955 and a few weeks later went to Disneyland. I lived in NYC and had never heard of it. My father was running a trade show for the Theater Owners of America convention, and the park was one of the attractions. It was kept open that evening just for the convention, so I had no idea how crowded it would normally be. Years later I moved to Los Angeles and went there frequently. The convention also included trips to studios. Mine was to 20th Century Fox and I had lunch with Natalie Wood and Gig Young.
I’ve been to California several times; but, I’ve never been to Disneyland. We took the boys (4) to Disney World in Florida several times when my father lived in Orlando. We have a lot off great memories of Disney World and so do the boys.
The last time we were there, they were still building the Epcot globe; it wasn’t enclosed yet.
I still have quite a few of those ride tickets; but, they have all been removed from the booklets they came in. I wonder if they are worth anything today?
Anyway; Disney World was a great experience for the family. My wife has been back to Disney World, and also to Disneyland as well, while attending our oldest son’s wedding several years ago. Work prevented me from going either time. Maybe someday I’ll be able to go back.
I do remember the television broadcasts of the Mickey Mouse Club; black and white only; no color television yet. I was in the infirmary at the Methodist Home for Children in Philadelphia, Pa. at the time; I believe I was six or seven years old at the time.
My parents took our family to Disneyland a number of times when we were kids and I have taken my kids there a few times as well. When I was a kid, it was an amazing place, lots of fun and exciting rides. I know if cost a fortune to maintain a park like Disneyland, but I think the cost for a family to go there is too high. When I took my kids there in the mid 90’s, we ran out of camera film for our Cannon, which I usually would buy a roll of 36 exposure outside Disneyland for less than $4.00 back in the mid 90’s. When I bought a 36 exposure roll of film in the Disney park, it was over $13.00. Ever since this way over charge, I have not wanted to return to this place and this has now been 25 years ago. It’s too bad they don’t keep it more affordable for families. I know they most likely aren’t doing as well with the current issue of corid 19 happening. I also know, usually it still going strong and it is still overall a huge money making machine. I wonder sometimes how Walter would feel about what he had created? I know despite the cost of entry, food, drinks, gift shops items, it’s so expensive to go there. At least you don’t have to buy film there anymore….LOL.
I remember it! My grandmother took me in the summer of 1955. We spent month visiting relatives in California. We went to every ‘theme’ park, tourist site, and most beaches from San Francisco to San Diego. Only the thrill of swimming in the Pacific waters came close to matching the fun we had on the 2 days we explored Disneyland. Every year we traveled to California to visit her sisters involved a trip to Disneyland just to enjoy favorite shows and rides and to explore what was new.
I visited Disneyland on July 17, the day before the public opening. Since my Father worked for Disney studios at one time, we were allowed in the day before. A day where Disney staff families were the first to enjoy the Park. I was nine years old, the ideal age, and remember wandering alone and in awe of all the wonders. I stopped before a lake in an area still under construction. I looked around and up, and Walt Disney was looking at me. He stood holding onto a bare wood beam. We waved at each other.
This is so cool. My first cousin (Burhl Fauntz) worked at Disneyland For the Burns detective agency in the late 50’s right after they opened. He was a Marshall. Once considered to be the fastest gun. See the newspaper October 13, 1957 the Chino Champion for more info.
We lived in Pomona and visited Disneyland soon after it opened. My mom was a widow with six kids aged 9 Yes to 9 months. I still don’t know how she was able to afford it. We have 8 mm film of me standing in line to buy tickets and a shot of the ticket prices. I remember during the day being on Tom Sawyers Island and there was a portion of land incomplete. Me and a brother hopped the fence and went to explore down a path and a of a sudden two men walked toward us One was Walt Disney and I remember him saying. “Hi boys”. Wonderful memory.
I don’t know the date we attended, because I was just 4 years old. But, I remember, it was in December and we saw, the first Christmas Parade! I was absolutely in love with the giant marching Tin Soldiers!
We lived in Anaheim and my father sold maintenance supplies. One day he told me I could go with him to make a delivery at one of the shops on Main Street a few days before the park opened.I was fifteen at the time and there had been a buzz around town for a couple of years. The shop owner walked us around the park and introduced us to Walt Disney. He asked me if I would test drive the little cars on the autobahn because he wanted a report from a kid. Of course I was delighted!
My dad ,Ira E Smith, helped build Disneyland and many of the rides. We attended as a family on the 2nd day,July 19,1955. I was not quite 5 years old. My 2 sisters and I got Mickey ears and watches. I got a Davy Crockett watch. Dad worked on construction at Disneyland throughout many years. We lived a quarter mile away and would climb on the roof of our carport to watch the fireworks. My sister & I along with other neighborhood kids would pull weeds, do dishes and other odd jobs for neighbors to earn money. We would walk to Disneyland and buy our ticket books and spend fun filled days at the Disneyland park. My dad’s local carpenters union would buy tickets and hold picnics in the special area of the park. We would then get arm bracelets which allowed us to ride everything without having to use ticket books. Dad helped build so many of the rides I can’t remember them all but, he worked on the Grand Canyon, submarine, Matterhorn mountain, flying saucers and many others. He was the first man to stand at the top of the Matterhorn and got to carry Annette Funicello down a ladder to take photos at the submarine ride. She was wearing heels and could not safely climb down without help. I have many fond memories of Disneyland. Many of my family members are still season pass holders.
Donna, your account was simply fun to read. Thanks for sharing. I really cannot remember exactly when we first experienced Disneyland, but the day we went there were no long lines, and one ride started up just for us!
When relatives would visit us in our Southern California home, we would get to go with them to Disneyland and loved the pickles on Main Street, had a place to meet there should someone get lost, and loved the submarine ride. What a marvelous place!
Born in 1950, my childhood dream was going to Disneyland. Finally got there in 1971 when I was in the Navy stationed in San Diego. It was Military Appreciation Day and the entire Park was closed to the public about 3:00 PM and then reopened free to military personnel and their families about 5:00 until midnight. No charge for admission and no tickets required for any of the rides. My wife and I had a wonderful time.
The first time I went to Disneyland was during the Christmas Holiday in 1967. My husband was stationed in San Diego. Our son was a toddler. We took a bus up to Anaheim and a cab to Disneyland. What a dream come true for a young couple from Wisconsin. The next year my parents came to visit. My husband was overseas. My parents, my son, a childhood friend and
I spent a day a Disneyland. It was a day my Father really enjoyed. The last time I was there was with a Carousel Convention group. It has always been one of my favorite places.
My father worked at Disney Studios at the time of the Grand Opening. But I didn’t get to see Disneyland in Anaheim until 1959 during his Employees Day, I was able to tour the studio where they filmed some of the productions. I met a few of the stars (remember Fess Parker?) and watched Walt do an ad for an upcoming show. Dad snuck me into the Studio and told me to be quiet since Walt didn’t care to have watches who didn’t know he swore when making a mistake (which he did – I was promptly ushered out). Walt was a kind and generous man with a mild sense of humor. He loved his employees and the public but was so seriously focused on his projects that it left no room for human distractions.
I’m 61 yrs old. I’ve never been to Disneyland. I’ve always wanted to go and take my nephew but between no available time and unfortunate events I’ve never been able to manage the trip. Here’s hoping we’ll make it some day. I’m glad everyone has such great memories.
When dating, my future wife and I had our first date at Disneyland. Our honeymoon was at Walt Disney World and our anniversary was at Paris Disneyland.
Due to me living 2.7 miles from Disneyland and a Annual Pass Holder, I’ve been to Disneyland 1,859 times.
I remember my first visit, I believe was 1956.
I took my girl friend. We bought our ticket books and had a whole lot of fun. It was a great time and affordable.
I wonder how much of these comments are bot’s or sock puppets as they look very similar to each other.
They all seem unique to me! Just about everyone has memories of Disneyland!
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