It was 58 years ago today, on July 17, 1955, that Walt Disney stood inside the entrance to Disneyland, welcoming “all who come to this happy place” for the first time.
It was a catastrophic opening day where anything that could go wrong did, and left many predicting the park would be short lived.
Hardly. To date the park has welcomed more than 600 million guests, according to the Disneyland Newsroom website. It has also lived up to Walt’s vow that “Disneyland will never be completed … as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
Over the decades, it has expanded to become an approximately 500-acre resort destination that includes a second theme park, California Adventure, three hotels and the shopping, dining and entertainment district known as the Downtown Disney District.
There have been new rides added while some of the originals have gone through a few changes. But Disneyland’s uniqueness and magical ambiance continue to draw out the child in all who “leave the real world behind” as they walk through the gates.
Walt hoped the park — the original Disney theme park — would be “a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
I think it’s fair to say, his goal was reached.
I don’t know where I would go to let the little kid in me run wild without apology if not for Disneyland. I am forever grateful to Walt.
I can’t be in Disneyland today to mark the anniversary, but I’m counting down to the third D23 Expo, Aug. 9-11, at the Anaheim Convention Center where I also plan to get in plenty of Disneyland time.
Events and panels are still being added to the schedule, but highlights include presentations of upcoming films by Disney and Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter and Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn; induction of the latest Disney Legends, including Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Jobs, and the late Dick Clark; a presentation of some of Disney’s current Broadway productions that will include performances by some of their cast members; opportunities throughout the event to meet cast members and characters of many Disney films and TV shows; and a workshop for a first look at upcoming digital products, including upcoming Disney games, mobile apps and online shows.
If you love all things Disney, this a fun place to meet others who share your passion and load up on information about Disney’s past, present and future. Single-day tickets and three-day passes can be purchased.
Find a full schedule of events along with ticket information at www.d23.com
I must congratulate my coworker Desert Sun photographer Crystal Chatham and her husband Simon on becoming first-time Disneyland annual passholders. I hope it gives you a year full of fun and great memories. It’s a great place to escape the realities of life we deal with in our jobs. Looking forward to hitting some of the rides with you, also.