In Photos: A Look Back at the Opening Days of Disneyland in 1955

Allan Grant / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

During the week of July 17, 1955, Walt Disney’s new theme park, named “Disneyland,” opened to the public in Anaheim, California. The 17th, a Sunday, was intended to be an “international press preview,” limited to selected invitees who could ride the attractions, witness the parades, and take part in the televised dedication of the park.

However, many counterfeit invitations were distributed, and more than 20,000 eager guests showed up, overwhelming many areas of the 160-acre park. The official public opening came the next day, July 18, and within several weeks, Disney reported that more than 1 million people had visited the site.

Here, a look back at the opening days of Disneyland in 1955:


Allan Grant / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

Children run through the gate of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland, Walt Disney’s theme park, in July 1955. The park opened to the public the week of July 17, 1955.

Los Angeles Examiner / USC Libraries / Corbis via Getty

 

Mickey and Minnie Mouse appear at Disneyland’s opening day, on July 17, 1955.

Allan Grant / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

The movie producer and animator Walt Disney smiles as he stands in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at the grand opening of Disneyland in 1955.

Los Angeles Examiner / USC Libraries / Corbis via Getty

 

The Disneyland parking lot, full on opening day, July 17, 1955.

Associated Press

 

An aerial view shows Disneyland as guests attend opening-day festivities in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955.

Los Angeles Examiner / USC Libraries / Corbis via Getty

 

Dumbo and other characters from Disney movies appear in a parade down Main Street, U.S.A., at the Disneyland opening on July 17, 1955.

Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

Disneyland’s opening-day parade, photographed on July 17, 1955.

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Original caption: “Eddie Fisher (left) was a host at the opening of Walt Disney’s ‘Disneyland,’ where he served on the Coca-Cola refreshment corner. Shown are Eddie Fisher as he gives a drink to aluminum-clad spaceman Don MacDonald, as Debbie Reynolds looks on.”

Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

Visitors take a ride on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland on July 17, 1955.

Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

A crowded Mark Twain Riverboat sails at Disneyland in July 1955.

Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

Showgirls in costume sit at an outdoor table and drink from mugs at Disneyland in July 1955.

Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

A children’s saloon, the Golden Horseshoe, photographed at Disneyland on July 17, 1955.

Bettmann / Getty

 

A pack of “wild animals,” caged for safekeeping at Disneyland in July 1955.

Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

Guests enjoy the Autopia attraction on July 17, 1955.

Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

 

People rest in Tomorrowland’s Space Port on July 17, 1955.

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2 Comments

  1. Nolan Welch says

    OMG I still remember back then. They even had “E” tickets for the big rides. Zorro would have sword fights on the roof. Food was still expensive back then too lol. Now days everything is expensive there. I,m 81 yrs old now and my birthday is July 16th but the memories are still there.

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