“What I want Disneyland to
the most of all is a happy place
place where adults and children
experience together some of the
wonders of life. Of adventure,
feel better because of it. ”
Disneyland is a thousand different impressions – from a space
to a castle – a carrousel calliope to a jazz band. It’s flovers
fireworks, popcorn and ice cream. And it’s the sounds of laughter and
sight of smiling faces – sights and sounds which you’ll remember long
your day in the land of the young and happy at heart is over.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Walk past the famous floral Mickey at the Main Entrance and
small town way of life from America’s past. On Main Street, U.S.A.,
see sights and sounds from a time when life was as leisurely as a ride
Horse-drawn Street Car and as innocent as the antics of a silent
ster. Browse in the turn-of-the-centuy Emporium or ride the
Disneyland Railroad. From the color and music of a hometown parade to
nostalgic flavor of an old-fashioned treat, you’’l experience the joy
recalling fond memories while you create new ones on Main Street,
both sides of the street are always sunny.
Whether your visions of sugarplums include lollipops or
chocolates, your sweet toot is right at home on Main street where
come flavored with favorite childhood memories.
A fruit vendor’s cart displays fresh,crisp wares while flovers
eveywhere. The saxophone band entertains on street corners and a
band makes you tap your toes. Every sight and sound on Main Street
guaranteed to make you fell “red, white, and blue ” all over!
Entertainment on Main Street comes in lots of shapes, sizes,
and smiles. Disney cartoons at the Main Stret Cinema serve up
helpings of laughter, while shops like the Crystal Arcade offer
to treasure. Or learn a magic trick or two at the Main Street Magic
Just remember – on Main Street fun comes the old-fashioned way – you
One day Walt Disney had a vision. It was a vision of a place where
children and parents could have fun together. The more Walt dreamed of a
“magical park,” the more imaginative and elaborate it became.
The original plans for the park were on 8 acres next to the Burbank
studios where his employees and families could go to relax. Although,
World War II put those plans on hold. During the war, Walt had time to
come up with new ideas, and creations for his magical park. It was soon
clear that 8 acres wouldn’t be enough.
Finally in 1953, he had the Stanford Research Institute conduct a
survey for a 100-acre site, outside of Los Angeles. He needed space to
build rivers, waterfalls, and mountains; he would have flying elephants
and giant teacups;a fairy-tale castle, moon rockets, and a scenic
railway; all inside a magic kingdom he called “Disneyland.”
Location was a top priority. The property would have to be within the
Los Angeles metropolitan area, and accessible by freeway. It would also
have to be affordable: Walt’s pockets were only so deep.
The search for the best spot finally ended in the rural Anaheim,
California with a purchase of a 160-acre orange grove near the junction
of the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) and Harbor Boulevard.
The site where Disneyland was to be built.
Although, Disneyland was expensive. Walt once said “I could never
convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible, because dreams
offer too little collateral.” So Walt turned to Television for his
financial support. “Walt Disney’s Disneyland” television series offered
a glimpse of the future project. This brought the idea of Disneyland
into reality for Walt and the American people.
Construction for Disneyland began on July 21, 1954, a meager 12 months
before the park was scheduled to open. From that day forward Walt
Disney’s life would never be the same.
Some 160-acres of citrus trees had been cleared and 15 houses moved to
make room for the park. The area was in semi-rural Orange County, near a
freeway that would eventually stretch from San Diego to Vancouver.
When the real designing came around, Walt was met with inevitable
questions. How do you make believable wild animals, that aren’t real?
How do you make a Mississippi paddle ship? How do you go about building
a huge castle in the middle of Anaheim, California? So, Walt Disney
looked to his movie studio staff for the answers. The design of
Disneyland was something never done before. There would be five uniquely
Walt discussing the plans of all the different lands.
Walt had planed out all the lands, to every detail. Main Street, U.S.A.,
the very front of the park, was where Walt wanted to relive the typical
turn of the century city Main Street. He 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
Walt made Main Street U.S.A the entrance to a “weenie,” as he called it.
“What you need is a weenie, which says to people ‘come this way.’ People
won’t go down a long corridor unless there’s something promising at the
end. You have to have something the beckons them to ‘walk this way.'”
Walt also had planed for an “exotic tropical place” in a “far-off region
of the world.” Called Adventureland. Walt said, “To create a land that
would make this dream reality, we pictured ourselves far from
civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa.”
Frontierland was made to relive the pioneer days of the American
frontier. Walt said:
“All of us have a 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.”
Fantasyland was created with the goal to “make dreams come true” from
the lyrics of “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Walt 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 would feature a large Sleeping Beauty Castle, and a Fantasy
Tomorrowland was created as a look at the “marvels of the future.” Walt
“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.”
Although, Walt had trouble working on Tommorrowland. He said that “right
when we do Tommorrowland, it will be out dated.”
Walt Stayed close to every detail of the Park’s Construction, and he
visited the site in Anaheim several times a week. Progress went
sporadically despite exasperating obstacles.
The Rivers of America, carved out of sandy citrus grove soil, refused to
hold water. The answer was finally found in a bed of native clay: an
inch layer on the river bottom formed a pad as hard as cement. Although,
minor set backs did follow, progress did continue.
Plants were planted throughout the park, emptying nurseries from Santa
Barbara to San Diego. Detail was made; if Walt Disney didn’t like what
his studio designers came up with, he’d do it himself. An example of
this is Tom Sawyers Island. He thought his designers had “misunderstood
the idea” so Walt took home the plans and the next day had it designed
the way it appears today.
Disneyland under construction in 1955
Bit by bit, Disneyland got ready for Opening Day. The staff worked
around the clock to get ready. The Mark Twain was being moved, deck by
deck, down the Santa Ana freeway to get to Disneyland on time. Finally,
everything seemed to come together. The “magical little park” was really
a $17,000,000 “Magic Kingdom.” Walt’s dream had come true and Disneyland
was ready to open.”
Opening day, was a day to remember. Six thousand invitations to the
Grand Opening had been mailed. By mid-afternoon over 28,000 ticket
holders were storming the Magic Kingdom. Most of the tickets were
Walt Disney was 53 when he dedicated Disneyland Park. It was a memorable
ceremony. There in Town Square, Walt could look around and see the
fulfillment of his hopes, dreams, and ambitions in the form of a
spectacular entertainment kingdom.
Although, Opening Day was a terrible disaster. A 15 day heat wave raised
temperatures up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, due to a plumbers
strike, few water fountains were operating in the hot weather. Asphalt
still steaming, because it had been laid the night before, literality
“trapping” high heeled shoes. After opening day, the heat wave
continued, and almost wiped out the park.
Beside the terrible opening day conditions, the park did eventually pick
up. By 1965, ten years after opening day, 50 Million visitors had come
through the gates.
Even though Walt Disney wasn’t able to see how his park and his company
prospered and grew into the 21st Century, his legacy still lives on with
us. Throughout Disneyland and throughout the entire world, he will
always be there.
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