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1955: When Disneyland Was Hailed as "a New Amusement Wonderland"


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disneyland_opening_day_1955_h_15.jpg

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In July 1955, admission cost $1, including tax, for adults and 50 cents for children under 12.

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened to visitors in Southern California. The Hollywood Reporter published the below article, outlining the features of the theme park, a day later: 

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/disneyland-anniversary-history-park-hailed-809463

 

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Wow, to pay less than $10 for an entire day at Disney! I'm not sure you can get a small fry for that now.

I think I remember hearing that the opening day was a disaster though: people forged tickets and over-packed the park, there wasn't enough water, some rides weren't ready to open, etc. Disneyland is such a well-oiled machine now, it's hard to imagine anything like that happening.

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23 minutes ago, antoniacarlotta said:

Wow, to pay less than $10 for an entire day at Disney! I'm not sure you can get a small fry for that now.

I think I remember hearing that the opening day was a disaster though: people forged tickets and over-packed the park, there wasn't enough water, some rides weren't ready to open, etc. Disneyland is such a well-oiled machine now, it's hard to imagine anything like that happening.

There had been a plumber's union strike in the days leading up to opening (the place was built in less than a year), and they had to decide whether to finish connecting toilets or water fountains, as there wasn't enough time to do both before opening day.  Toilets won out.   

The press accused Disney of doing so on purpose to force people to buy soft drinks.

Also, the asphalt hadn't completely set, so shoe heels got stuck in the pavement.  Adults dressed to go to the park in those days.  Believe they had the same problem in Hong Kong in 2005 where some benches sank into the pavement on opening day.

Until Disney moved to a one-price admission scheme, you paid admittance to the park, and then if you wanted to ride or visit attractions, you needed to pay for each separately.  In the early days they took either money or coupons, but later transitioned to only coupons.  You could buy a booklet of coupons for a slight discount over face value, or you could buy them separately at little ticket booths scattered around the park.  It was a way of providing crowd control, as the most popular rides and attractions had a higher cost and thus limiting re-rides.  Coupons originally were labeled A through C, with C being the most desired attraction coupons.  Later "D" and "E" coupons were added, giving rise to the phrase "E ticket ride"  E tickets were always the first to run out in your coupon book.  They went to a flat admission price scheme in 1982, after a one to two year transition period.  The opening of EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World in 1982 hastened the move away from coupons in Florida, since Disney now had two theme parks in one location, and a different ticketing scheme was deemed necessary. 

Disneyland's opening day was televised on ABC and hosted by Art Linkletter, Ronald Reagan and Bob Cummings.  ABC  financed part of the park, and in exchange, Walt Disney created a TV program for them (also called Disneyland), that he used to promote the park.  Of course, some 40 years later, Disney would buy ABC. 

The 17th was supposed to be a invited-media-only event, but the general public got counterfeit tickets and essentially doubled the crowds to around 30,000 people.  The official opening to the public was intended to be the 18th, and was officially declared as such in company annals, but Disney has since reverted to the 17th as the official anniversary date.

 

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I just finished reading a bio on Guy Williams. As Zorro, he had to parade around Disneyland at special events. But his kids were allowed on the property at any time. Can you imagine walking around that park for free and watching daddy playing Zorro? My god, that must have been cool. 

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14 hours ago, Janet0312 said:

I just finished reading a bio on Guy Williams. As Zorro, he had to parade around Disneyland at special events. But his kids were allowed on the property at any time. Can you imagine walking around that park for free and watching daddy playing Zorro? My god, that must have been cool. 

I was a Golden Key Member at the opening of DisneyWorld in 1971 with all sorts of special privileges. My Mom would drop me off at the Park in the AM with $5 in my pocket and pick me up at 4 for dinner. I'd be the "escort" for all relatives visiting us from the rustbelt, so I went often & knew the place inside out. I think the hand built sets & painted artistry of the place inspired me to become an restorer that specializes in Amusement Arts.

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19 hours ago, Janet0312 said:

I just finished reading a bio on Guy Williams. As Zorro, he had to parade around Disneyland at special events. But his kids were allowed on the property at any time. Can you imagine walking around that park for free and watching daddy playing Zorro? My god, that must have been cool. 

There's also the story of Don DeFore's restaurant in Disneyland.  His son, Ron DeFore, wrote a book entitled "Growing Up in Disneyland"

https://www.defore.net/rondisney.htm

 

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