I may be a born and bred Florida girl, but there is a certain California landmark that has come to mean the world to me: Disneyland. I will admit, once upon a time I had no idea about Disneyland. I thought the only Disney destination that really mattered was Walt Disney World. In 2005, that all changed. I visited for the first time, during the amazing 50th anniversary celebration and I have returned every year since.
Today marks the 57th anniversary of Disneyland. This blog would be remiss to not honor such an occasion. After all, were it not for Disneyland, Walt Disney World and all other Orlando theme parks would not exist. In 1955, the world witnessed the opening of the first ever theme park. Oh sure, there were plenty of local amusement parks throughout the country, but there was nothing like Disneyland. Walt Disney risked everything he had on Disneyland. And just as they did in regard to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the critics said it would never work. For a very, very brief moment, they were right.
Fifty-seven years ago, on July 17, 1955, the opening of Disneyland proceeded with hiccup after hiccup. There were thousands more people than expected, due to a counterfeit ticket dealer. There was a massive heat-wave and only enough water for the bathrooms. Rides broke down left and right. However, everyone at Disneyland worked together, marched on, and made it work. Now, Disneyland in California and Magic Kingdomin Florida vie back and forth for the number one spot of most attended theme park in the world!
Despite the many similarities between the domestic Disney parks, there really is no place in the world that offers the immersive escapism of Walt Disney World in Orlando. When you add it all up Walt Disney World truly is its own world. The complete immersion is accomplished through a number of aspects including themed hotels, water parks and mini golf, transportation, and the layout and design of all 47 square miles of Disney property.
However, I say this with all due respect (Orlando is my hometown after all) there is a certain charm, a certain warmth that is somehow missing at Magic Kingdom when compared to Disneyland park. This can also be said for Disney’s California Adventure park(Disneyland Resort’s second park).
Although this park went through a multi-million dollar renovation over the past three years, which resulted in amazing new experiences, that charm and warmth is still somehow missing. I do not mean to say that all other Disney parks are inferior to Disneyland, there is just something about Disneyland. To me, it comes down to one major difference…. Walt. Disneyland is the only Disney park that was seen by Walt Disney. There are now eleven Disney parks worldwide, soon to be twelve. Walt passed away in 1966 and Walt Disney World opened in 1971. Were it not for Walt’s older brother Roy O. Disney, we may have never seen Walt Disney World come to life.
So if you are a fan of visiting Orlando, or of theme parks in general, raise a glass today in honor of Disneyland. Were it not for The Happiest Place on Earth, Orlando would not have the Most Magical Place on Earth.
- Jul 17, 1955: Disneyland opens (aytacgok.wordpress.com)
- Vintage Videos: Opening Day at Disneyland, 1955 (laist.com)