The Happiest Place on Earth Turns 60

Walt Disney is one of America’s best known dreamers – best known for bringing his dream to life. Sixty years ago, July 17th ,1955, Walt Disney opened the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California to an invite-only crowd and gate-crashers that swamped the park which was riff with problems – including wet paint, rides breaking down, food shortages and even a gas leak. The park cost $17 million to build in 1955 and continued to have problems the following day when it opened to the public.

In the early days Disneyland was far from a sure thing – Walt Disney often stayed overnight at the park to work on problems and slept in a small apartment above the Firehouse on Main Street U.S.A. This is the only park that Walt would work on personally, but it was his vision that would spawn a world-wide empire of imagination.

When the park first opened it included only 18 attractions spread over Main Street U.S.A, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Adventureland. Today there are 11 Disney theme parks spread across the world. These days Walt Disney Corp also includes a television station, cruise ships, a movie production company, toys and just about anything you can think of.

While this level of success, let alone any success was not a guarantee when Disneyland opened its doors some 60 years ago today so-called “Disney vacations” are the dream vacations not only of children but of many people world-wide.

Jody Victor