disneyland 1955

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Peter Pan’s Flight by Loomis Dean, 1955 by Tom Simpson
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Via Time

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Remembering the 2005 “Happiest Celebration on Earth” castle decorations

These decorations commemorated the “Happiest Celebration on Earth” in honor of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary and was formally unveiled on May 5, 2005. The castle’s exterior was adorned with polished gold trim and accents, swags, banners and tapestries. Golden statues of Disney animated characters were also added to the exterior, including Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Wendy circling the tallest spire. Other statues included Kaa and King Louie from The Jungle Book, Simba, Timon, and Pumba from The Lion King, Sebastian and Flounder from The Little Mermaid, the Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and Victor, Hugo and Laverne from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Just above the front archway sat an enormous “stained-glass” mirror modeled after the magic mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The mirror changed images every 40 seconds to feature each Disney castle and the date its park opened: Disneyland, 1955; the Magic Kingdom, 1971; Tokyo Disneyland, 1983; Disneyland Resort Paris, 1992; and Hong Kong Disneyland, 2005. The decorations were removed in late September 2006.

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July 17th 1955: Disneyland opened

On this day in 1955, 60 years ago, the Disneyland theme park was officially opened in California. Walt Disney began working on cartoons in the 1920s, with his iconic Mickey Mouse character debuting in 1929 and Snow White becoming the first Disney film in 1937. By 1955, Disney’s films had found popularity and critical acclaim, leading Disney to seek to expand into other fields. He had visited various amusement parks in the 1930s and 1940s, which inspired him to build a similar park. Construction began on the 160-acre former orange grove in Anaheim, California in 1954, and ultimately cost around $17 million. On July 17th 1955, Disneyland was officially unveiled in a televised press event hosted by actor and future President Ronald Reagan and watched by 90 million people. The opening event did not go entirely smoothly, with the asphalt on Main Street USA - which was only poured that morning - being so soft that shoes sank into it, over 10,000 people arriving with counterfeit tickets, a lack of refreshments, and closed rides. However, these early blips were soon forgotten when the first guests arrived in droves the following day, paying admission prices of $1 for adults and 50c for children under 12. By September, over one million people had been to Disneyland. Despite contemporary concerns that the park would fail, Disneyland has since expanded to more sites both in the United States and abroad, and is one of the largest tourist destinations in the world, boasting over 650 million guests since 1955. 

“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, the 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.”
- Walt Disney at the opening of Disneyland, 60 years ago today