July 17, 2010
|Disneyland front entrance circa 1955. Photo credit: BlogwayBaby.com|
"The Happiest Place on Earth" turns 55 today!
On Sunday, July 17, 1955, a special international press preview event was held at Disneyland, including a nationwide televised dedication anchored by Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan. Only 11,000 were expected to attend the invitation-only affair however, due to counterfeit tickets, 28,154 people showed up.
The overcrowding was just one of the problems that day. In fact, the press was so unimpressed with the park that Walt Disney and his executives would later refer to July 17, 1955 as "Black Sunday." The temperature was an unusually balmy 101 degrees and a plumbers' strike left many of the park's drinking fountains dry. Since Pepsi sponsored Disneyland's opening, disappointed guests believed the inoperable fountains were a ploy to sell soda. The morning's freshly-poured asphalt was so soft that ladies' high-heeled shoes sank into it. Vendors ran out of food. And a gas leak in Fantasyland caused it, Adventureland and Frontierland to close for the afternoon.
Despite Sunday's unsuccessful press preview, crowds started to line up as early as 2 a.m. for Monday's official Opening Day. On July 18, 1955, Disneyland opened to the public with just 20 attractions. Roy O. Disney, Walt's brother, pre-purchased the first ticket; the first official guest to buy a ticket and enter the park was David MacPherson, with admission ticket number 2. Approximately 50,000 guests entered the park that Opening Day, and nearly 600 million more (including myself) have visited since.
|ShareThis | Posted July 17, 2010 at 11:15 AM|
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