I have an unapologetic and undying love for Disneyland. To me it is, to use their tag line, the happiest place on earth. And while today Disneyland turns the ripe old age of 57, it is completely ageless, staying fresh, new and relevant. I love Disneyland as child, as a mother, and as a dreamer. It is that place of fun, fantasy, and all things fantastic. Yes, I drank the Disney Kool-Aid and I have cherished every sip.
On July 17th, 1955, Disneyland officially opened (full disclosure: Babble is owned by Disney). One of the first things I ever memorized (besides the Pledge of Allegiance) was the opening speech by Walt Disney. I would recite it like a mantra or a prayer before bed. And those words that Walt spoke 57 years ago still ring true today:
“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.”
One wonders if Walt realized how much joy and inspiration Disneyland would actually have on the world.
When the park opened on that fateful Sunday, not everything was perfect: “as the gates opened, all was not quite ready. Workmen were still planting trees and in some areas paint was wet to the touch,” Designing Disney says. “The asphalt that had been poured just that morning was so soft that ladies’ high-heeled shoes sank.” On top of that, there was a flood of counterfeit tickets distributed, which brought the park population up to about 28,000, rather than the 11,000 invited guests that were to attend the opening. The heat wave that So Cal was experiencing didn’t help either, with temperatures up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Rides broke down, water fountains went dry, and there was a gas leak in Fantasyland that caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland to close for the afternoon.
A rocky start. But one that didn’t dim the bright future that would come for the land made from one man’s dream.
Happy birthday Disneyland and thank you for all you’ve given to us over the years. We love you.
Image: The Disney Blog