Disneyland, marketed as the happiest place on Earth, is an American theme park in Anaheim, California, owned and operated by the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division of The Walt Disney Company. It opened on July 17, 1955, in ceremonies led by Walt Disney. Disneyland holds the distinction of being the only theme park to be designed, built, opened, and operated by Walt Disney.
Currently the park has been visited by more than 515 million guests since it opened, including presidents, royalty and other heads of state. In 1998, the theme park was re-branded Disneyland Park to distinguish it from the larger Disneyland Resort complex. In 2007, over 14,800,000 people visited the park making it the second most visited park in the world, behind the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
The dedication to all Disney Parks, begins with the phrase "To all who come to this happy place welcome..." with the exception of the Magic Kingdom park in Florida. The dedication there begins, "Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney..."
The concept for Disneyland began one Sunday, when Walt Disney was visiting Griffith Park with his daughters Diane and Sharon. His idea was simple: a place that both adults and children could enjoy. His dream would lie dormant for many years. Walt Disney's father helped build the grounds of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. This perhaps gave Disney the creative spark whence Disneyland originated. The fairgrounds for the World's Fair were a cheaply constructed set of individual "Country" areas from around the world and areas representing various time periods of man, it also included many "rides" including the first Ferris wheel, sky ride, a passenger train that circled the perimeter, Wild West Show, etc. Although the 1893 World's Fair was meant only to last a summer in Chicago,in Southern California the weather was accommodating to a "Fair Grounds" of stucco buildings that would otherwise disintegrate in the rain, snow and ice of other climates. One can see the resemblance of a "Land" filled with "rides" and a fair grounds with differently themed areas to the Disneyland created 60 years later in the 1950s as the population of America for the first time shifted West into desert climes. See
While many people had written letters to Walt Disney about visiting the Disney Studio Walt realized that a functional movie studio had little to offer to the visiting fans. He then began to foster ideas of building a site near his Burbank studios for tourists to visit. His ideas then evolved to a small play park with a boat ride and other themed areas. Walt's initial concept, his "Mickey Mouse Park", started with an plot across Riverside Drive.
Walt started to visit other parks for inspiration and ideas, including Tivoli Gardens, Greenfield Village, Playland, Children's Fairyland, and Republica de los niños He started his designers working on concepts, but these would grow into a project much larger than could be contained in eight acres.
Walt hired a consultant, Harrison Price from Stanford Research Institute, to gauge the area's potential growth. With the report from Price, Disney acquired of orange groves and walnut trees in Anaheim, southeast of Los Angeles in neighboring Orange County.
Difficulties in obtaining funding prompted Disney to investigate new methods of fund raising. He decided to use television to get the ideas into people's homes, and so he created a show named Disneyland which was broadcast on the then fledgling ABC television network. In return, the network agreed to help finance the new park. For the first five years of its operation, Disneyland was owned by Disneyland, Inc., which was jointly owned by Walt Disney Productions and ABC. In 1960 Walt Disney Productions purchased ABC's share. In addition, many of the shops on Main Street, U.S.A. were owned and operated by other companies who rented space from Disney.
Construction began on July 18, 1954 and would cost USD$17 million to complete and was opened exactly one year later. U.S. Route 101 (later Interstate 5) was under construction at the same time just to the north of the site; in preparation for the traffic which Disneyland was expected to bring, two more lanes were added to the freeway even before the park was finished .
Disneyland Park was opened to the public on Monday, July 18, 1955. However, a special "International Press Preview" event was held on Sunday, July 17, 1955 which was only open to invited guests and the media. The Special Sunday events, including the dedication were televised nationwide and anchored by three of Walt Disney's friends from Hollywood: Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan.
The event did not go smoothly. The park was overcrowded as the by-invitation-only affair was plagued with counterfeit tickets. All major roads nearby were empty. The temperature was an unusually high 101°F (38°C), and a plumbers' strike left many of the park's drinking fountains dry. Disney was given a choice of having working fountains or running toilets and he chose the latter. This, however, generated negative publicity since Pepsi sponsored the park's opening; enraged guests believed the inoperable fountains was a cynical way to sell more soda. The asphalt that had been poured just that morning was so soft that ladies' high-heeled shoes sank in. Vendors ran out of food. A gas leak in Fantasyland caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland to close for the afternoon. Parents were throwing their children over the shoulders of crowds to get them onto rides such as the King Arthur Carrousel.
The park got such bad press for the event day that Walt Disney invited members of the press back for a private "second day" to experience the true Disneyland, after which Walt held a party in the Disneyland Hotel for them. Walt and his 1955 executives forever referred to the first day as "Black Sunday", although July 17 is currently acknowledged by Disney as the official opening day. On July 17 every year, cast members wear pin badges stating how many years it has been since July 17, 1955. For example, in 2004 they wore the slogan "The magic began 49 years ago today." But for the first ten years or so, Disney did officially state that opening day was on July 18, including in the park's own publications.
On Monday, July 18 crowds started to gather in line as early as 2 a.m., and the first person to buy a ticket and enter the park was David MacPherson with admission ticket number 2, as Roy O. Disney arranged to pre-purchase ticket number 1. Walt Disney had an official photo taken with two children instead, Christine Vess and Michael Schwartner, and the photo of the two carries a caption along the lines of "Walt Disney with the first two guests of Disneyland." Vess and Schwartner both received lifetime passes to Disneyland that day, and MacPherson was awarded one shortly thereafter, which was later expanded to every single Disney-owned park in the world.
In September 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev spent thirteen days in the United States. On his visit Khrushchev had two requests: to visit Disneyland and to meet John Wayne, Hollywood's top box-office draw. Due to the Cold War tension and security concerns, he was famously denied an excursion to Disneyland.
In the late 1990s, work began to expand on the one park property. Disneyland Park and its Hotel, the site of the original parking lot, as well as acquired surrounding properties were earmarked to become part of a greater vacation resort development. The new components of this resort were another theme park, Disney's California Adventure Park; a shopping and entertainment precinct, Downtown Disney; and a remodeled Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel and Grand Californian Hotel. Because the old parking lot (south of Disneyland) was built upon by these projects, the six-level 10,250 space "Mickey and Friends" parking structure was constructed, the largest parking structure in the US.
The park's management team of the mid-1990s was a source of controversy among Disneyland fans and employees. In an effort to boost park profits, various changes began by then park executives Cynthia Harriss and Paul Pressler. While their actions provided a short term boost in shareholder returns, it drew widespread criticism from employees and guests alike. With the retail background of Harriss & Pressler, Disneyland's focus gradually shifted from attractions to merchandising. Outside consultants McKinsey & Co were also brought in to help streamline operations, which resulted in many changes and cutbacks. After nearly a decade of deferred maintenance, Walt Disney's original theme park was showing visible signs of neglect. Fans of the park decried the perceived decline in customer value and park quality and rallied for the dismissal of the management team.
In July 2006, Matt Ouimet announced that he would be leaving The Walt Disney Company to become president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Soon after this announcement, Ed Grier, executive managing director of Walt Disney Attractions Japan, was named president of the Disneyland Resort. Greg Emmer retired from his job on February 8, 2008.
The Happiest Homecoming on Earth was the eighteen-month-long celebration (held through 2005 and 2006) of the fiftieth anniversary of the Disneyland theme park, which opened on July 17, 1955. The Happiest Celebration on Earth commemorated fifty years of Disney theme parks, and celebrated Disneyland's milestone throughout Disney parks all over the globe. In 2004, the park undertook a number of major renovation projects in preparation for its fiftieth anniversary celebration. Many classic attractions were restored, notably Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise, and Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. The 50th Anniversary celebration ended on September 30, 2006.
The park is divided into realms, which radiate like the four cardinal points of the compass from Central Plaza, and well-concealed backstage areas. On entering a realm, a guest is completely immersed in the environment and is unable to see or hear any other realm. The idea behind this was to develop theatrical "stages" with seamless passages from one land to the next. The public areas occupy approximately . When the park initially opened, it consisted of five themed areas:
Since the initial opening, additional areas have been added:
Main Street, U.S.A. is patterned after a typical midwest town of the early 20th century. Walt Disney derived inspiration from his boyhood town of Marceline, Missouri and worked closely with designers and architects to develop the Main Street appeal. It is the first area guests see when they enter the park, and is how guests reach Central Plaza. At the center of The Magic Kingdom and immediately North of Central Plaza stands Sleeping Beauty Castle, which provides entrance to Fantasyland by way of a drawbridge across a moat. Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland are arrayed on both sides of the castle.
Main Street, U.S.A. is reminiscent of the Victorian period of Americana with the train station, town square, movie theatre, city hall, firehouse complete with a steam-powered pump engine, emporium, shops, arcades, double-decker bus, horse-drawn streetcar, jitneys and other bits of memorabilia. At the far end of Main Street, U.S.A. is Sleeping Beauty Castle, and the Plaza hub which is a portal to all the theme lands.
The design of Main Street, U.S.A. utilizes a process to give the appearance of height called forced perspective. Buildings down Main Street are built at 3/4 scale on the first level, then 5/8 on the second story, and 1/2 scale on the third.
Adventureland is designed to be an exotic tropical place in a far-off region of the world. "To create a land that would make this dream reality", said Walt Disney, "we pictured ourselves far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa." Attractions include opening day's Jungle Cruise, the "Temple of the Forbidden Eye" in Indiana Jones Adventure, and Tarzan's Treehouse, which is a conversion of the earlier Swiss Family Robinson Tree House from the Walt Disney film, Swiss Family Robinson. Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room which is located at the entrance to Adventureland is the first feature attraction to employ Audio-Animatronics, a computer synchronization of sound and robotics.
New Orleans Square is a themed land based on 19th century New Orleans. It was opened to the public on July 24, 1966. Despite its age, it is still very popular with Disneyland guests, being home to two of the park's most popular attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. Hidden in the walkway near the Blue Bayou Restaurant, there is a doorway with the number 33 beside it. This is the entrance to a private members-only club inside Disneyland, that members pay high amounts of money to get into. Club 33 is the only place in Disneyland proper to have alcoholic beverages.
Critter Country opened in 1972 as "Bear Country", and was renamed in 1988. Formerly the area was home to Indian Village where actual indigenous tribespeople demonstrated their dances and other customs. Today, the main draw of the area is Splash Mountain, a log-flume journey inspired by the Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris and the animated segments of Disney's Academy Award-winning 1946 film, Song of the South. In 2003, a dark ride called The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh replaced the Country Bear Jamboree. The Country Bear Jamboree presented shows featuring singing bear characters that were visualized through electronically-controlled and mechanically-animated puppets, known as Audio-Animatronics.
Fantasyland is the area of Disneyland which Walt Disney said, "What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice's nonsensical Wonderland. In Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone's youth have become realities for youngsters - of all ages - to participate in." Fantasyland was originally styled in a medieval European fairground fashion, but its 1983 refurbishment turned it into a Bavarian village. Attractions include several dark rides, the King Arthur Carrousel, and various children's rides.
Mickey's Toontown opened in 1993 and was partly inspired by the fictional Los Angeles suburb of Toontown in The Walt Disney Studios' 1988 release Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Mickey's Toontown is a 1930s cartoon come-to-life and is home to Disney's most popular cartoon characters. Toontown features two main attractions: Gadget's Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. The "city" is also home to cartoon character's houses such as the house of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
During the 1955 inauguration Walt Disney dedicated Tomorrowland with these words: "Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future."
Disneyland producer Ward Kimball had Rocket scientists Wernher von Braun, Willy Ley, and Heinz Haber as technical consultants during the original design of Tomorrowland. Initial attractions included Rocket to the Moon, Astro-Jets and Autopia; later, the first incarnation of the Submarine Voyage was added. The area underwent a major transformation in 1967 to become New Tomorrowland, and then again in 1998 when its focus was changed to present a "retro-future" theme reminiscent of the illustrations of Jules Verne.
Current attractions include Space Mountain, Innoventions, Star Tours, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, Autopia, the Disneyland Monorail Tomorrowland Station, Astro Orbitor and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage opened on June 11, 2007, resurrecting the original Submarine Voyage which closed in 1998.
Encircling Disneyland and providing a grand circle tour is the Disneyland Railroad (DRR), a short-line railway consisting of five oil-fired and steam-powered locomotives, in addition to three passenger trains and one passenger-carrying freight train. Originally known as the Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad, the DRR was presented by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway until 1974. From 1955 to 1974, the Santa Fe Rail Pass was able to be used in lieu of a Disneyland "D" coupon. With a three-foot gauge, the most common narrow gauge measurement used in North America, the track runs in a continuous loop around The Magic Kingdom through each of its realms. Each turn-of-the-19th-Century train departs Main Street Station on an excursion that includes scheduled station stops at: Frontierland Station; Toontown Depot, the gateway to Fantasyland; and, Tomorrowland Station. The Grand Circle Tour then concludes with a visit to the "Grand Canyon/Primeval World" dioramas before returning passengers to Main Street, U.S.A.
One of Disneyland's signature attractions is its monorail service, which opened in Tomorrowland in 1959 as the first daily-operating monorail train system in the Western Hemisphere. The monorail guideway has remained almost exactly the same since 1961, aside from small alterations while Indiana Jones Adventure was being built. Five generations of monorail trains have been used in the park, since their lightweight construction means they wear out quickly. The most recent operating generation, the Mark VII, was installed in 2008. The monorail shuttles visitors between two stations, one inside the park in Tomorrowland and one in Downtown Disney. It follows a 2.5 mile (4 km) long route designed to show the park from above. Currently, the Mark VII is running with the colors Red and Blue with one more color to be added in the coming months.
The original destination of the monorail was the Disneyland Hotel. With the creation of Downtown Disney in 2001, the new destination is Downtown Disney, instead of the Disneyland Hotel. The physical location of the monorail station did not change, however the terminal is now separated from the hotel by several Downtown Disney buildings, including ESPN Zone and the Rainforest Café.
All vehicles that are found on Main Street were designed to accurately reflect turn-of-the-century vehicles, including a double-decker bus, a horse-drawn streetcar, a fire engine, and an automobile. They are available for one-way rides along Main Street, U.S.A. The horseless carriages are modeled after cars built in 1903. They are two-cylinder, four-horsepower (3 kW) engines with manual transmission and steering. Walt Disney used to drive the fire engine around the park before it opened, on most mornings. It has also been used to host celebrity guests and used in the parades.
From the late 1950s to 1968 Los Angeles Airways provided regularly scheduled helicopter passenger service between Disneyland and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and other cities in the area. The helicopters initially operated from Anaheim/Disneyland Heliport, located behind Tomorrowland. Service later moved, in 1960, to a new heliport north of the Disneyland Hotel. Arriving guests were transported to the Disneyland Hotel via tram. The service ended after a fatal crash in Paramount, California, on May 22, 1968 killed 23 (the worst in aviation history at that time) and another in Compton, California on August 14, 1968 killed 21.
Periodically through recent decades (and most recently during the summers of 2005 and 2006), Mickey Mouse has climbed the Matterhorn attraction several times a day with the support of his friends Minnie, Goofy, and some Disneyland guests. Other mountain climbers could also be seen on the Matterhorn from time to time. As of Spring 2007, Mickey and his "toon" friends no longer climb the Matterhorn but the climbing program continues.
It consists of synchronized lighting and special effects, with floating barges, the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Sailing Ship Columbia, fountains, lasers, fireworks, thirty-foot-tall "water screens" upon which animated scenes are projected, and an automated forty-five foot fire-breathing dragon.
Elaborate fireworks shows synchronized with Disney songs and often an appearance by the Peter Pan character Tinker Bell. Recent presentations have become more elaborate, featuring new pyrotechnics, launch techniques and story lines. In 2004, Disneyland introduced a new air launch pyrotechnics system, reducing ground level smoke and noise and decreasing negative environmental impacts. At the time the technology debuted, Disney announced it would donate the patents to a non-profit organization for use throughout the industry.
During the Holiday Season, there is a special fireworks presentation called Believe... In Holiday Magic which has been running since 2000, except for a short hiatus in 2005 during the park's 50th Celebration.
Additionally, in front of the Golden Horsehose Saloon, The Laughing Stock Co. enacts small humorous skits with an old-west theme.
Debuting in May 2005 as part of the Disneyland's 50th Anniversary, Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams is presented, celebrating several of the classic Disney stories including The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland, and Pinocchio. During the holiday season, Disneyland presents "A Christmas Fantasy" Parade which celebrates the joy & wonder of the holiday season.
Also, during the Holidays, many other smaller entertainment offerings are added, such as the Main Street Carolers who perform throughout the day.
Later Disneyland featured a "Keys to the Kingdom" booklet of tickets, which consisted of 10 unvalued coupons sold for a single flat rate. These coupons could be used for any attraction regardless of its regular value. Obviously it would behoove the buyer to use these for the most thrilling attractions or rides.
In 1982 Disney dropped the idea for individual ride tickets to a single admission price with unlimited access to all attractions, "except shooting galleries" . While this idea was not original to Disney, its business advantages were obvious: in addition to guaranteeing that everyone paid a large sum even if they stayed for only a few hours and rode only a few rides, the park no longer had to print tickets or ticket books, staff ticket booths, or provide staff to collect tickets or monitor attractions for people sneaking on without tickets.
Later Disney introduced other entry options such as multi-day passes, Annual Passes which allow unlimited entry to the Park for an annual fee and Southern California residents' discounts.
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Since the park's opening in July 1955, there have been numerous accidents, injuries, and deaths at the park. As of December 2006, 12 guests and one employee have died inside the parks, while over 100 guests have been injured.
Additionally, Disneyland has had numerous planned closures included: