ANAHEIM, Calif. - It was July 17, 1955 in Southern California. The greatest Imagineer to ever live unveiled his personal dream come true. KTTV cameras were there, Opening Day at the “happiest place on Earth.”
Everyone wanted to be first to see what iconic showman Walt Disney spent decades dreaming about.
The ceremony was full of pomp and pageantry, hosted by TV legend Art Linkletter and watched by a television audience of 90 million people. Actor and future California Governor, and US President Ronald Reagan helped open Sleeping Beauty Castle to a special group of kids who were the first to experience Fantasyland and iconic rides Tea Cups, The Carousel, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
On TV everything appeared to be going smoothly. The ceremony was fun and organized. But for guests, it was a much different story. It was 100 degrees outside. Traffic backed up for miles as people who were supposed to show up every two hours showed up all at once. Invitations went out to 15,000 guests, but because of counterfeiters thousands more showed up.
When Walt Disney opened Disneyland he said he hoped it would be “a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” He famously observed: “Disneyland will never be completed…as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
Since 1955, Disneyland has welcomed more than 750 million guests to its 500-acre family destination.
In 1957, former child actor Shirley Temple helped Walt Disney dedicate Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough. Celebrities Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher, Desi Arnaz, even the Shah of Iran were among the first to visit the park.
The Disneyland dream then as it is today – a magical place where adults and children can be kids – together.
Watch our video and take a nostalgic trip down memory lane that only KTTV can show you!