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.
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.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse appear at Disneyland's opening day, on July 17, 1955.
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.
The Disneyland parking lot, full on opening day, July 17, 1955.
An aerial view shows Disneyland as guests attend opening-day festivities in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955.
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.
Disneyland's opening-day parade, photographed on July 17, 1955.
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."
Visitors take a ride on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland on July 17, 1955.
A crowded Mark Twain Riverboat sails at Disneyland in July 1955.
Showgirls in costume sit at an outdoor table and drink from mugs at Disneyland in July 1955.
A children's saloon, the Golden Horseshoe, photographed at Disneyland on July 17, 1955.
A pack of "wild animals," caged for safekeeping at Disneyland in July 1955.
Guests enjoy the Autopia attraction on July 17, 1955.
People rest in Tomorrowland's Space Port on July 17, 1955.
Tourists enter Frontierland, a re-creation of the Old West, in Disneyland, ca. 1955.
The Painted Desert in Frontierland, photographed on July 17, 1955
Mickey Mouse rides in the locomotive cab of a train (with Walt Disney just to his left) as it arrives at a station in Disneyland on July 18, 1955
Crowds of people watch the Tomorrowland portion of a parade celebrating the opening of the Disneyland amusement park on July 17, 1955.
Parade participants and costumed Disney characters ready themselves for the televised grand opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955.
Children run into Disneyland on opening day, July 17, 1955.
Visitors ride the Mad Hatter's Tea Party attraction in Fantasyland on July 17, 1955.
Park attendees relax under sunshades near a TWA rocket in Disneyland in July 1955.
A view of the Tomorrowland Boats (renamed the Phantom Boats) attraction at Disneyland in July 1955. The attraction lasted only from the park's opening until 1956.
A little girl laughs with excitement while riding a carousel at Disneyland in July 1955.
(via The Atlantic)