“My cousin died when we were both 7. We were going
to go the Disneyland together. Now every time I go I feel really guilty because
he’s not there. The firework shows are so emotional, they always make me cry,
and it’s like I feel his presence.”
Soon after Disneyland opened it gates in July 1955, a LIFE magazine article declared the park “the stuff children’s dreams are made on.” Then, same as now, parents’ single biggest complaint centered on cost. Then, unlike now, children’s admission would set parents back $2. (Today, parents must part with $93 if they want their 3-9 year old child to meet Mickey.)
“Disney had expected that $2 would see a child through enough of his $17 million wonderland, but mothers said twice that was needed to keep any enterprising small boy pacified,” LIFE wrote. Add to admission the cost of food and the inevitable souvenir, and it is easy to see the origins of such complaints – and its present-day parallels.
Celebrities, reporters and everyday Americans composed the park’s opening day crowd. Staggered entry tickets attempted to keep the crowds at a reasonable level, but counterfeited tickets largely reduced the effectiveness of genuine staggered entry tickets. Indeed, the park hosted well more than the 10,000 guests projected at any one time, with an estimated 20,000 more loitering about nearby just hoping to gain entry.