Walt Disney dreamed of a unique theme park for families and kids of all ages. However, his vision suffered several setbacks. Ira Riklis gets in depth with the details of when these setbacks finally led to the grand opening of one of the most magical places on earth.
A Unique Vision For Disneyland
When Disneyland finally opened, Walt Disney likely never imagined the overwhelming response as families around the world flocked to his new theme park.
Walt Disney established a successful career as a cartoonist and creator of world-famous characters such as Mickey Mouse, created in the 1920s. After moving to California and opening Disney Studios as a location to create his animated characters and films, he began receiving letters from parents. Destination 360 explains that parents across the country wanted to bring their children to visit Disney Studios in Burbank, California.
Walt Disney’s original vision was to create a family-oriented theme park next to Disney Studios, so that Disney employees, along with visitors to Disney Studios, could have a fun place to relax and enjoy time together right next door to the studios.
However, the vision changed once Walt Disney considered several important points about that vision. What he likely did not count on was the resistance he faced and other difficulties in making his dream a reality.
World War II Creates A Setback
World War II created a setback for Walt Disney to implement his plan to build his grand theme park. Just Disney points out that during WWII, Walt Disney had the time to reflect on his original plans and to consider new ideas related to his vision. One of those realizations was the fact that he decided his original plan for building an eight-acre theme park was simply not large enough.
The planned eight-acre magical park would not accommodate large crowds of families bringing their children to the magical Disney kingdom of animated characters, rides, water fun such as waterfalls and rivers, a railway, locations for food, events and other magical family fun.
These considerations led Walt Disney to the realization that his original idea for constructing his dream family theme park needed new plans and a new location.
Location, Location, Location
The revelation that the original plans needed revision to include the intention of constructing a larger and perhaps even more magical theme park sent Walt Disney on a mission to find the ideal Los Angeles-area location. His plans to build in Burbank also fell through because local officials objected to plans for a theme park in the area.
He decided on a 160-acre location in a rural Anaheim area. Disney purchased the orange grove, which met with two of his main requirements. The location was easily accessible by freeway and still located within the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Plans for creating the grand theme park at the new location actually began in July 1954. Disney set his sights on opening the park one year later.
Theme Park Finally Opens
One major issue that Walt Disney admitted he did not count on was the difficulty in securing financial backing for his dream magical park. After suffering disappointment from the refusal of some financial backers, Disney remained determined to receive necessary financial backing to help make his dream theme park a reality.
Undeterred, he worked diligently to garner support for the Disneyland theme park, staying close to ongoing design and construction throughout the year-long project.
It has been revealed that Walt Disney utilized the television show “Disneyland” to promote the opening of Disneyland. Some sources indicate Disneyland opened with 18 attractions, while others claim there were 20 attractions throughout Main Street USA, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland.
Just Disney says that 6,000 invitations went out, yet 28,000 people flocked to opening day, many with counterfeit tickets. That day proved disastrous. A plumber’s strike limited water supply, food ran out and temperatures soared to 110 degrees.
Families braved the early setbacks after Disneyland opened in July 1955 and within just 10 years, more than 50 million people visited Disneyland.