September 1, 2017

Friday at Disneyland 1955

Time for another visit to Disneyland. This time its 1955, and Walt's magical kingdom has recently opened. Let's take a look around the park that became an American institution and a franchise to be exploited by later leadership.

Main Street U.S.A. was charming back then! It was full of life as guests journeyed under the train station to find a fully recreated piece of life at the turn of the century. The Main Street Cinema showed the latest in film, including the lovable Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie. Varieties of vehicles were found everywhere from horse drawn street cars to the omnibus to the local fire engine. No need to walk if you didn't want to. But why wouldn't you want to explore all the shops along the way including the old fashioned Market House with its party line telephone.

What was that at the end of the street? A Bavarian castle! The gateway to Fantasyland actually. A place for the young and young at heart. Fly off to Neverland with Peter Pan, ride the carousel, the Mad Tea Party spinning cups, or explore the mysterious Skull Rock. There was no Matterhorn Bobsleds or It's a Small World, but you still couldn't keep families away. There was nothing like this park to be found anywhere in the US.

An opening day crowd pleaser was the Jungle River Cruise. Found in Adventureland, long before the Enchanted Tiki Room, Swiss Family Treehouse, or Indiana Jones Adventure, the area wasn't as lush as it is 60 years later, but it was still beautiful and full of animals. As the premier attraction in the land, guests couldn't wait to board these beautiful little vessels to head off to the remotest parts of Africa and Asia. They still can't.

The American West and its tales of Davy Crockett and other heroes inspired the park's Frontierland. Back in the day, Americans were rightly proud of our heritage. Walt Disney himself loved this parcel of land and its Mark Twain Steamboat and the wonderful Golden Horseshoe Revue. In this man's opinion, the original show in the old saloon is still the best. 

Walt never just looked backward. He was always looking forward as well. Tomorrowland was mostly incomplete at opening, decorated with flags and banners to mask the fact the budget had been busted. Space Mountain and a grand adventure aboard submarines would have to wait for later. I can forgive the suits back then or this misstep as this was a brand new venture, but now there's no excuse now for opening a shoddy half-day park. The money's there as well as the expertise. 

It was a great and memorable year to visit Disneyland- and it was only beginning.

(Map from

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