Disneyland, arguably the most famous theme park in the world, had an invitation-only soft opening 68 years ago today.
A few thousand guests flocked to the new theme park in Anaheim, Calif. on July 17, 1955.
Due to the Disney brand’s massive popularity, however, 28,000 visitors showed up that day — most with counterfeit tickets in hand.
But that was the least of the park officials’ worries. There was also a July heat wave to contend with, only a handful of water fountains working due to a plumbers’ strike, and the problem of women’s shoes sinking into the soft asphalt that had been laid only hours before.
Despite these preliminary issues, Disneyland still opened to the public officially the following day for the admission cost of $1 — a far cry from today’s average adult price of $92.
Though many of the rides you see have since been closed and/or updated, the classic Main Street USA entrance still looks virtually unchanged.
Disney History Institute also has a great rundown of what to pay attention to in the video. Below are a few of our favourite tidbits, but check out the rest and full explanations over at the website:
- There are no costumed Disney characters in the 1950s, so you won’t see Mickey or Minnie Mouse anywhere in the video.
- The “Hollywood Maxwell’s Intimate Apparel” shop at the 1:20 mark was a real shop at Disneyland that was there for only six months. It had a history of women’s underwear in one room with miniature displays, and another room where you could buy modern bras. At Disneyland!
- The monkey at 1:29 performed from 1955 when the park opened to the late 1950s. Because the park did not yet have the budget for costumed characters to roam the streets, Main Street entertainment was the kind you would have found on an actual city street.
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