Disneyland Park is a theme park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, USA. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company. Disneyland Park has become the world's most famous theme park and one of the most visited sites in the world. An estimated
515 million visitors have visited the park since its opening on July 17, 1955. A worldwide celebration began in commemoration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary on May 5, 2005.
"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, 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."
Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955
Concept and construction
Walt Disney and his brother Roy already headed one of Hollywood's more successful studios founded in 1923, long before the idea of a park even began to form. Walt's original concept was of a permanent family fun park without the
negative element which traveling carnivals often attracted. He developed the idea during his many outings with his daughters Diane and Sharon, when he realized that
there were no parks with activities that parents and children could enjoy together.
While many people had written letters to Walt Disney about visiting the Disney Studio lot and meeting their favorite Disney
character, Walt realized that a functional movie studio had little to offer to the visiting fan. He then began to foster ideas
of building a site at or near his Burbank studios for tourists to visit and perhaps take pictures with Disney characters set
in statue form. His ideas then evolved to a small play park with a boat ride and other themed areas. Walt's initial concept,
his "Mickey Mouse Park," grew bigger and bigger into a concept for a larger enterprise which was to become Disneyland.
Disneyland Park was partially inspired by Tivoli Gardens (built in 1843 in Copenhagen, Denmark), Greenfield Village (built in 1929 in Dearborn, Michigan), and Children's Fairyland (built in 1950 in Oakland, California). Disney's original modest plans called for the park to be built on eight acres (32,000 mē) on Riverside Drive next
to the Disney Studios in Burbank, California as a place where his employees and families could go to relax.
Early in development, during the early 1950s, it became clear that more area would be needed. Difficulties in obtaining funding caused Disney to investigate new ways
of raising money. He decided to use television to get the ideas into people's homes, and so he created a show named Disneyland which was broadcast on the fledgling American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network. In return, the network agreed to help finance the new park.
Walt Disney showing the concepts of Disneyland
On the suggestion of researchers at Stanford Research Institute who correctly envisioned the area's potential growth, Disney acquired 160 acres (730,000 mē) of orange groves and walnut
trees in Anaheim, south of Los Angeles in neighboring Orange County.   Construction began on July 18, 1954 and would cost USD$17 million to complete. U.S. Route 101 (later Interstate 5) was under construction at the same time just to the north of the site; in preparation for the traffic which Disneyland was
expected to bring, two more lanes were added to the freeway even before the park was finished.
Because of financial considerations, Walt Disney was forced to turn to outside financing for his theme park. He first turned
to long-time licensee Western Publishing which invested in the park. ABC as part of the deal to broadcast the Disneyland television show also became an investor.
For the first five years of its operation, Disneyland was owned by Disneyland, Inc., of which Walt Disney Productions, Western Publishing and ABC each owned shares. After the park was a clear success Western acceeded to a request to sell its
share in the enterprise back to Disney. But ABC refused the same request initially, feeling the profit potential of the park
was too lucrative to sell. It wasn't until 1960 that Walt Disney Productions acquired ABC's share of the theme park. Disney's
displeasure at ABC's actions partly motivated the Walt Disney anthology series moving to NBC in 1961.
1955: Opening day
An aerial view of Disneyland, 1956
Disneyland Park was opened to the public on Monday, July 18, 1955. However. a special "International Press Preview" event was held on Sunday, July 17, 1955, which was only open to invited guests and the media. The Special Sunday events, including the dedication were televised
nationwide and anchored by three of Walt Disney's friends from Hollywood: Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan.
The event did not go smoothly. The park was overcrowded as the by-invitation-only affair was plagued with counterfeit tickets.
All major roads nearby were congested. The summer temperature was over 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and a plumbers' strike left
many of the park's drinking fountains dry. The asphalt that had been poured just the night before was so soft that ladies'
high-heeled shoes sank in. Vendors ran out of food. A gas leak in Fantasyland caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland
to close for the afternoon. Parents were throwing their children over the shoulders of crowds to get them onto rides such
as the Dumbo Flying Elephants.
The park got such bad press for the event day that Walt Disney invited members of the press back for a private "second
day" to experience the true Disneyland, after which Walt held a party in the Disneyland Hotel for them. Walt and his 1955 executives forever referred to the first day as "Black Sunday," although July 17 is currently acknowledged by Disney as the official opening day. On July 17 every year, cast members wear pin badges stating how many years it has been since July 17, 1955. For example, in 2004 they wore the slogan "The magic began 49 years ago today". But for the first ten years or so,
Disney did officially state that opening day was on July 18th, including in the park's own publications.
On Monday, July 18, crowds started to gather in line as early as 2 a.m., and the first person to buy a ticket and enter the park was David MacPherson. Walt Disney decided to have a photo taken with two children, Michael Schwartner and Christine Vess instead, and the photo of the three always carries a caption along the lines of "Walt Disney with the first two guests of
Disneyland." MacPherson, Schwartner and Vess all received lifetime passes to every single Disney-owned park in the world.
Disneylands around the world
Plaque at the entrance that embodies the intended spirit of Disneyland by Walt Disney: to leave reality and enter fantasy
- Main article: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Despite the problems on the opening day, Disneyland was clearly an enormous success. It attracted visitors worldwide in
unprecedented volume. Soon, even as they refined and developed Disneyland, Walt and Roy were also planning an expansion of
the concept to other locations.
The Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida was built with Walt's hatred of the cheap motels and amusements that popped up around Disneyland in mind. It is the largest
private-owned vacation destination, and the most popular vacation destination in the world although the yet-to-open Dubai Land in the United Arab Emirates is twice the size. Walt Disney World opened in 1971 under the guidance of Roy O. Disney. Since its opening, with one theme park and two hotels, the resort has grown into four theme parks, two water parks, twenty-three
hotels and a retail, dining and entertainment district.
In 1983 the first international Disney theme park opened: Tokyo Disneyland Park in Japan. Tokyo Disneyland Park is now part of the Tokyo Disney Resort, and has a sister theme park Tokyo DisneySea. Tokyo Disneyland Park and Tokyo DisneySea are owned by a Japanese corporation, Oriental Land Company. The Walt Disney Company receives royalties based on revenues and maintains creative control.
In 1992 Euro Disney opened in France, and is now the Disneyland Resort Paris with two theme parks.
On September 12, 2005, the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort was opened in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is owned jointly by the Hong Kong Government and the Walt Disney Company.
1990s transition: theme park becomes resort
In the 1990s, major construction began to transform Disneyland from a theme park into a vacation resort. The Walt Disney
Company purchased land surrounding the park that was once the site of low-budget motels and trailer courts and -- on the site
of Disneyland's original "Hundred-Acre Parking Lot" -- Disney's California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney opened in 2001. The Grand Californian Hotel, patterned after the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century, extends into Disney's California Adventure Park and allows paying guests to enter that park through the hotel itself.
Most of the resort's parking today is handled by the six-level "Mickey and Friends" parking garage. With six levels and
10,250 parking spaces, it was for a short time the largest parking structure in the world. Propane-powered trams bring visitors
to the entrance plaza between the two parks. There are also some smaller, off-property lots with regular shuttle service to
the parks, and most nearby hotels offer regular shuttle service as well.
The park's management team of the mid-1990s was a tremendous source of contention to many Disneyland fans and employees.
Headed by executives Cynthia Harriss and Paul Pressler, each with a retail marketing background, Disneyland's focus gradually changed from attractions to merchandising. The leaders came under increasing criticism
for a host of cost cutting initiatives and profit boosting schemes.
Under their direction, few new attractions were built and many were closed down. Shops that once carried a variety of items
themed to their locations now carried general Disney character products. Themed restaurants and shops were closed and replaced by outdoor vending carts which caused crowds to clog walkways. The decision to remodel
Tomorrowland, derided by some fans, was attributable to Pressler, as was the closure of a great many popular attractions within
the area. Dewitt "T" Irby, a retired U.S. Army officer hired as facilities manager, was blamed for the destruction of much
of the tooling and attraction components in storage in the backstage areas in an effort to streamline operations as recommended
by outside consultants.
After nearly a decade of deferred maintenance, Walt Disney's original theme park was showing visible signs of neglect.
Paint was peeling off buildings and roofs were literally disintegrating from age, especially the thatched roofs in Fantasyland and Adventureland. Light bulbs, which were once replaced before they burned out, not only were run to
burnout but were so numerous as to make the facades they outlined look almost toothless. Fans of the park decried the perceived
decline in customer value and park quality and rallied for the dismissal of the management team.
Disneyland in the 21st century
In 2003, both Harriss and Pressler stepped down to take over operations of national clothing retailer The Gap. Irby stepped down the following year.
Matt Ouimet, formerly the president of the Disney Cruise Line, was promoted to assume leadership of the Disneyland Resort in late 2003. Shortly afterward, he selected Greg Emmer as Senior Vice President of Operations. Emmer is a long-time Disney cast member who had worked at Disneyland in his youth
prior to moving to Florida and holding multiple executive leadership positions at the Walt Disney World Resort. Praised by Disney fan sites for his success at Disney Cruise Line, Ouimet quickly set about reversing negative trends, especially
with regards to cosmetic maintenance and a return to the original infrastructure maintenance schedule, in hopes of restoring the good safety record of the past. Much like Walt Disney himself, Ouimet and
Emmer can often be seen walking the park during business hours with members of their staff. They wear cast member name badges,
queue in line for attractions and welcome comments from guests.
Disneyland Park hosted its 500-millionth guest in 2004.
In 2004, the park undertook a number of major renovation projects in preparation for its fiftieth anniversary celebration.
Many classic attractions (often ones neglected during Paul Pressler and Cynthia Harriss' times as Disneyland Resort President)
have been restored, probably most notably Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise, and Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, which has received a complete restoration of its 40-year-old soundtrack.
In 2005, the entire Walt Disney Company celebrated Disneyland Park's 50th anniversary, marketed as the "Happiest Homecoming on Earth." The official celebration began on May 5, with a dedication from Michael Eisner, Bob Iger, and Art Linkletter. On July 15, 2005, Disneyland Park became the first 'location' to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The actual anniversary day (July 17) was an event marked more by the fans' enthusiasm than by the company's recognition. The first people began to line up at
3 p.m. the day before. Overnight, park management opened the gates of Disney's California Adventure Park simply to house the thousands of people who showed up over the course of the night. A second line formed outside the security
checkpoints as thousands more arrived in the final hours before the park opened. Disneyland Park opened at 7:00 a.m., although
it took several hours to admit the crowds that showed up that morning.
At 10:00 a.m., Diane Disney Miller reread her father's original dedication speech in a ceremony with Art Linkletter, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, CEO-elect Robert Iger, and CEO Michael Eisner. Later that day, a recording of Walt Disney's original dedication speech was replayed throughout the park, exactly 50 years
to the minute from when it was originally delivered. No other special events had been planned for the day, making for a much
smaller celebration than the media blowout of May 5. There were also complimentary golden Mickey ears that were specifically made for July 17, along with cupcakes for the guests. Many of the people who had waited overnight left after the rededication. Although the
gates had been temporarily closed in the morning, it was done only to control crowds which were flooding Main Street for the
morning ceremony. The park never reached capacity that day.
Famous statue of Walt and Mickey, called "Partners", stands at the end of Main Street.
The park is divided into public areas, consisting of themed lands, and the well-concealed "backstage" area, which normally
only cast members can enter. The themed lands and other public areas occupy 85 acres (344,000 mē).
At the center of the park stands Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Disney does not release official figures, but visitor capacity is estimated to be between 65,000 and 85,000 guests. An
estimated 87,000 guests flocked to Disneyland to see Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade do its final run. Disneyland often hits capacity during the Christmas season between late December and very early January.
- Main articles:
The park was designed by Walt Disney's movie studio staff to have five distinctly-themed "lands". Three more lands have
been added since the park's opening.
- Main Street, U.S.A.
- Based on the stereotypical turn-of-the-20th-century city Main Street, specifically Disney's boyhood home of Marceline, Missouri, Main Street, U.S.A. is home to many shops but is the only land in all of Disneyland without a permanent ride. Walt Disney said, "For those of
us who remember the carefree time it recreates, Main Street will bring back happy memories. For younger visitors, it is an
adventure in turning back the calendar to the days of grandfather's youth."
- This land is designed to be an exotic tropical place in a far-off region of the world. "To create a land that would make
this dream reality," said Walt Disney, "we pictured ourselves far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa." Attractions include the "Temple of the Forbidden Eye" in Indiana Jones Adventure, the Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room and "Tarzan's Treehouse." (The Tarzan Treehouse is an adaptation of the earlier Swiss Family Treehouse from the Walt Disney film, Swiss Family Robinson).
- This land recreates the setting of pioneer days along the American frontier. According to Walt Disney, "All of us have cause to be proud of our country's history, shaped by the pioneering spirit of
our forefathers. Our adventures are designed to give you the feeling of having lived, even for a short while, during our country's
pioneer days." Frontierland is home to the Pinewood Indians band of animatronic Native Americans, who live on the banks of the Rivers of America. Entertainment and attractions include Fantasmic!, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat, and Sailing Ship Columbia. Frontierland is also home to the Golden Horseshoe Saloon, a show palace straight out of the Old West. Currently the comedic troupe "Billy Hill and the Hillbillies" entertain guests on a daily basis.
- Walt Disney said, "What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice's nonsensical Wonderland? In ; Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone's youth have become realities for youngsters - of all ages - to participate in." Fantasyland
was originally styled in a fairground fashion, but its 1983 refurbishment turned it into a Bavarian village. Attractions include several dark rides, the King Arthur Carrousel (spelled this way by Disney), and various children's
In Walt Disney's words, "Tomorrow can be a wonderful
age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to
give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future."
View of the "new" Tomorrowland as seen from 1998-2005
- Disneyland producer Ward Kimball had Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, Willy Ley, and Heinz Haber as technical consultants during the original design of Tomorrowland. Initial rides included the rocket to the moon; later, a large fleet of submarines was added. The area underwent a major transformation
in 1967 to become "New Tomorrowland," and then again in 1998 when its focus was changed to present a "retro-future" theme
reminiscent of the illustrations of Jules Verne. Current rides include the popular Space Mountain and Star Tours, among others.
- New Orleans Square
The Haunted Mansion is patterned after a Southern plantation home.
- New Orleans Square was among the last additions to Disneyland overseen by Walt Disney himself. Opened in 1966, it is meant to capture the flavor and architectural detail of New Orleans's Bourbon Street. This area contains two of the most popular Disneyland attractions, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, and a private club and restaurant, Club 33.
- Critter Country
- Critter Country opened in 1972 as "Bear Country," and was renamed in 1988. Formerly the area was home to the Indian Village
with actual Native Americans entertaining guests. Today, its main draw is Splash Mountain, a log flume attraction themed after the animated segments of Disney's 1946 movie Song of the South. In 2003, a dark ride called The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh replaced the long-running Country Bear Jamboree, a show featuring singing Audio-Animatronic bears.
- Mickey's Toontown
- Toontown opened in 1993 and was patterned after "Toontown" in the Disney/Touchstone Pictures 1988 release Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Mickey's Toontown looks like a 1930s Max Fleischer cartoon short come to life. The land is built like the town where Disney characters live.