On July 17, 1955, an amusement park called Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California. After some meticulous mapping and only one year of construction at a cost of nearly 17 million dollars, the public’s expectations were running quite high. 28,000 visitors entered the gates—about 17,000 more than expected—and the day’s proceedings were broadcast by ABC in a program that featured actors Ronald Reagan, Art Linklater, and of course, Walt Disney himself.
Image courtesy of Designing Disney
Unfortunately, the park’s gleaming, all-American veneer was hiding some major issues. Drinking fountains ran dry in 100-degree heat. The restaurants ran out of food, the rides broke down, and a gas leak in Fantasyland even caused half the park to shut down! For Disney employees, the day would forever hereafter be known as “Black Sunday.”
Image courtesy of Disney Parks
But Disney rallied, inviting many press emissaries into the park over the next few months in order to prove that the fledging wonderland had learned from its mistakes. His tenacity paid off: 62 years after its opening and 51 years after the death of its namesake, Disneyland has grown large and prosperous, with elaborately planned “lands” and nearly 20 million visitors per year. And that’s not even mentioning its gigantic successor to the southeast, the technicolored self-contained city-state that is Walt Disney World.
Just goes to show what happens “when you wish upon a star”!
Featured image courtesy of USA Today.