The Happiest Place on Earth, a.k.a. Disneyland, opened 60 years ago today in Anaheim, California. We now think of Walt Disney’s magical theme park as the wonderful place of many childhood memories that runs like a flawlessly smooth machine. But, that wasn’t the case on July 17, 1955. Disneyland’s opening day went down in history as a complete disaster, and the culmination of what the press began calling “Walt’s Folly.”
Disney and his crew had rushed to complete the park in just one year, in part because of a series of television specials ABC was airing to promote the park. When it opened to the press and invited guests for a special preview day on July 17, the asphalt was still soft from just having been poured. Women’s heels sank into it
as they walked down Main Street, U.S.A. A plumber’s strike meant that Disney had to choose between
installing enough water fountains or toilets, and he chose to have the latter. People were annoyed at having to pay for beverages, but at least they could use the facilities.
Still, Walt Disney was all smiles at the park’s official dedication ceremony. “To all who come to this happy place: Welcome! Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world,” he announced
to everyone who had gathered.
Disneyland may have gotten off to a rough start, but it would soon set a new standard for theme park attractions and entertainment. Even if you've personally paid a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth at some point in the past 60 years, you've probably never heard the following Disneyland facts before.