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The Happiest Place on Earth?- Disneyland’s grand opening day was a disaster

Tijana Radeska
Sleeping Beauty Castle Disneyland Anaheim

Once upon a time in the warm city of Anaheim, California, the hearts of dozens of children were filled up with joy and happiness, as Walt Disney opened the gates to the first ‘happiest place on earth’ – Disneyland.

Walt, as the pioneer of the American animation industry and one of the most beloved adults among children around the world, once described how he came up with the idea of opening the legendary park.

1955 Disneyland opening – parade. Photo Credit

1955 Disneyland opening – parade. Photo Credit

After watching his two daughters having fun on the flying horses in the Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, he came up with the idea of creating a similar place where parents would take their kids to play and have fun together.

Claiming that he had had many similar ideas for a long time, Walt decided to realize this particular one and that’s how Disneyland was born. Although the theme park was only an idea in his head at the time, Walt was very decisive in accomplishing what he’d imagined, ignoring his main problem – money.

Walt Disney (center) showing Orange County officials plans for Disneyland’s layout, December 1954. Photo Credit

Walt Disney (center) showing Orange County officials plans for Disneyland’s layout, December 1954. Photo Credit

He didn’t have enough to finance the park alone, and came up with another idea to cover the costs. Walt created a show named Disneyland and arranged a broadcasting on the American Broadcasting Company and they agreed to finance the building of his theme park in return.

Approximately $17 million dollars were invested in Disneyland’s construction and the park had its grand opening one year and one day after the construction had started.

An aerial view of Disneyland in 1956, with the Disneyland Railroad route visible

An aerial view of Disneyland in 1956, with the Disneyland Railroad route visible

Nearly 28,000 people attended the opening event on 17 July 1955. Only half of the guests were invitees; all the others climbed over the fences to sneak inside or purchased counterfeit tickets.

A warm feeling overwhelms when realizing that so many people respected Walt and wanted to attend the opening of his legendary Disneyland.

Fantasyland (Peter Pan’s Flight and the Matterhorn Bobsleds). Photo Credit

Fantasyland (Peter Pan’s Flight and the Matterhorn Bobsleds). Photo Credit

Main Street at Disneyland as seen from a Horseless Carriage. Photo Credit

Main Street at Disneyland as seen from a Horseless Carriage. Photo Credit

David MacPherson was the first person from the general public who bought a ticket and entered with ticket number 2, as Walt’s brother Roy bought the first one from the manager of admissions.

David and his two children received lifetime passes to Disneyland that day. Approximately 50,000 guests came to see the park on the next day.

Walt Disney in 1946.

Walt Disney in 1946.

Walt was a remarkable man who always knew how to get what he wanted. Everything he created over the years, including all the famous animated characters like Mickey Mouse and Cinderella, will forever remain as the most favorite characters amongst children.

Read anther story from us: The “Fake Disneyland” of China that died before it was ever fully alive

Today Disneyland remains as the most visited theme park in the world with over 650 million guests passing through its gates since it opened.