Over 40,000 people visit Disneyland every day! Some people travel thousands of miles just to visit Mickey and the princesses. However, without the hard work and vision of one man, Disneyland wouldn’t even exist.
Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse and head of Disney Studios, had a dream of creating a place where parents and children could have fun together. At first he planned to build his park within an eight acre area next to the Disney Studios, but his design soon became too big. He needed more space.
Disney found plenty of room to dream in a 160 acre orange grove in Anaheim, California. In order to finance the building of Disneyland, Disney and his brother, Roy, mortgaged or sold everything they could to raise $17 million dollars. Unable to get a bank loan to cover the rest of the project, Disney turned to television.
While NBC and CBS turned him down, ABC agreed to provide $6 million dollars in exchange for partial ownership of the park. They also required that Disney produce a television show all about the making of Disneyland.
Disney only had one year to complete construction of the park – after that the money would run out. It was a grueling pace, but on July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened. Opening Day became known as “Black Sunday”. The day was a complete disaster. Disney had issued around 6,000 tickets for the Opening Day, but nearly 28,000 people showed up, most of them with counterfeit tickets. Temperatures reached 110°F, and an earlier plumber strike meant that many of the water fountains throughout the park weren’t functioning. The newly poured asphalt kept trapping high heeled shoes, there was a gas leak in Fastasyland, rides broke down, and the opening caused a seven mile traffic jam on the freeway. People were ready to declare Disneyland a failure.
Luckily, Disney and his crew learned from their mistakes. They fixed the water fountains and rides, and limited daily attendance to 20,000 to avoid overwhelming their systems. While the park officially opened in 1955, Disney was insistent that Disneyland would never be complete. In fulfillment of his vision, the park has continually changed over the years. During his lifetime Walt Disney added the Disneyland Monorail, Autotopia, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, the Submarine Voyage, and his favorite attraction, the Enchanted Tiki Room. By 1965, 50 million people had visited Disneyland.
During the 1970s, large roller coasters such as Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad were added to the park. In 1993 Toon Town opened, giving children a chance to visit the homes of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and other famous Disney characters. The year 2001 brought the biggest changes to Disneyland; Downtown Disney, California Adventure, and Grand Californian Hotel all opened creating the Disneyland Resort. By 2004, Disneyland had hosted more than 500 million guests.
The magic of Disneyland is that it makes anything seem possible. From flying with Peter Pan to swimming under the ocean with Nemo, at Disneyland your wildest dreams can come true. This is an idea that was very important to Walt Disney. He always believed that his dreams would come true, no matter how many times he failed or was told “no”. As Disney himself once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”