Karen's Disneyland Timeline Page
July 16 - More that 180 acres of south Anaheim orange groves begin their
transformation into the "Happiest Place on Earth." To finance Disneyland,
Walt Disney sells a vacation home and borrows against his life insurance.
July 17 - Disneyland opens with 18 attractions, including the Jungle Cruise,
Tomorrowland Autopia, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and the Mark Twain. The televised
opening is hosted by Ronald Reagan, Art Linkletter and Bob Cummings.
The 11,000 invitation-only tickets to opening day are so easily duplicated
that first-day attendance shoots to 28,154. One entrepreneur folds a ladder
over the park's backside fence and lets people in for $5.
On Thanksgiving, the Mickey Mouse Club Circus debuts with a parade
down Main Street USA but is poorly received and discontinued in early 1956.
Thirteen attractions open, including Tom Sawyer Island and the Skyway.
Traditional "Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks display debuts.
Sleeping Beauty Castle's interior walkways, Frontierland Shooting Gallery
and Fantasyland Autopia - where riders race at a top speed of 11 mph -
are among eight new attractions.
Alice in Wonderland, Grand Canyon Diorama, Main Street Firetrucks and three-masted
Sailing Ship Columbia debut.
3,500 take part in first "Christmas in Many Lands" parade; park's first
New Year's Eve party draws 7,500.
Vice President Richard Nixon dedicates the nation's first complete, daily
operating Monorail - the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System. Other new attractions
include Submarine Voyage - inspired by Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under The
Sea" - and the 147-foot Matterhorn,
Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev is denied permission to visit Disneyland,
sparking an international incident.
America the Beautiful, Nature's Wonderland (based on Disney's True-Life
Adventure movies), Art of Animation debut.
Monorail system expands to connect park with Disneyland Hotel. Flying Saucers
take flight, supported by an intricate system of air-pressure valves and
motors. Despite frequent breakdowns, the 90-second ride is hugely popular.
First all-night Grad Nite Party draws 8,500 high school students. Tinker
Bell begins summer flights from Matterhorn's peak to Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Six tons of steel and 110 cubic yards of concrete become the Swiss Family
Treehouse. Also opening are the Safari Game Shoot, the Pavilion Restaurant
and the Tahitian Terrace. "Audio-animatronic" elephants arrive in the Jungle
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln comes to Disneyland. The audio-animatronic
Lincoln production highlights the park's 10th anniversary.
New Orleans Square opens, the park's first new "land." It's a Small World
At 9:35 AM Dec. 15, Walt Disney, 65, dies of cancer. Disney had been
recovering from surgery a month earlier to remove one of his lungs. His
brother, Roy, takes charge of the Disney entertainment empire.
Pirates of the Caribbean premieres. Tomorrowland opens six new attractions,
including Carousel of Progress, Flight to the Moon and a redesigned Rocket
Jets. First daily operating PeopleMover system in the United States begins
Haunted Mansion opens.
Yippies protesting the Vietnam War invade the park August 6. Some parade
down Main Street USA and speak of "liberating" Minnie Mouse. Others take
over Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer's Island, yank down the 15-star American
flag and raise a Viet Cong flag in its place. The protest escalates when
the park is ordered closed at 7 PM and 30,000 guests are escorted out.
Trash cans are set on fire and rocks and debris are thrown at police blocking
the main gate. Police make 23 arrests.
At 11:45 PM December 20, Roy Disney, 78, dies from a cerebral hemorrhage.
One hundred millionth guest comes though the gates.
Main Street Electrical Parade, which uses 500,000 twinkling lights, winds
its way through the park for the first time. Bear Country becomes park's
seventh theme "land." Attractions include Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes,
Indian Trading Post and Country Bear Jamboree.
Disney introduces 11-ride ticket books.
Walt Disney Story opens on Main Street USA. The exhibit includes memorabilia
and pictures from the family's archives and a short film on the park founder's
America Sings, a review of the nation's musical history, premieres in Tomorrowland's
rotating Carousel Theater.
On July 8, Disneyland hostess Deborah Stone, 18, is the first employee
fatality. She dies after being caught between the carousel's rotating theater
wall and a stationary stage wall.
Mission to Mars, an updated version of Flight to the Moon, opens. America
on Parade, honoring the nation's bicentennial, premieres.
Three youths are shot in Tomorrowland in the park's first reported
large-scale gang fight.
Space Mountain opens after two years of construction. The $20 million attraction
costs more than Disney spent to build the entire park in 1955.
Mickey Mouse turns 50 with a November celebration attended by 91,762 guests.
The two-acre Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opens in Frontierland.
The park's first birth happens July 4: 6-pound, 10-ounce Teresa Salcedo.
On March 7, 18-year old Mel Yorba becomes Disneyland's first murder victim.
Yorba is stabbed to death during a fight with James O'Driscoll, 28, who
says Yorba had pinched his girlfriend.
The E-ticket remains in the language but disappears from Disneyland. The
passport, good for admission and unlimited use of park's attractions, is
introduced at a cost of $12 for adults.
Revamped Fantasyland opens, adding Pinocchio's Daring Journey.
World Premiere Circle-Vision opens in Tomorrowland featuring a 360-degree
Videopolis opens. The high-tech, open-air amphitheater with a 5,000-square-foot
dance floor screens music videos on 70 televisions.
The 17-minute 3D film "Captain EO", featuring Michael Jackson, premieres
in Tomorrowland. Big Thunder Ranch, a recreation of an 1880s horse ranch,
opens in Frontierland.
Star Tours is launched. George Lucas combines his "Star Wars" characters
and space flight simulator technology to bring the attraction to life.
In the park's first gang murder, Selesi Tai, 15, a Compton gang member,
is shot four times with his own gun after an argument with rival gang member
Keleti Naea, 21.
The 87-foot-tall Splash Mountain opens. The ride features a five-story
drop down a simulated waterfall.
Disneyland welcomes its 300 millionth guest.
Plans are unveiled for Port Disney, a Long Beach waterfront resort featuring
the DisneySea theme park and five resort hotels. Disney also announces
plans to add dozens of attractions at Disneyland.
Disney unveils its plan for the Disneyland Resort, a vacation complex including
Westcot Center and three resort hotels. In December, officials abandon
plans for the Long Beach park, citing numerous regulatory hurdles.
Fantasmic, Disney's $30 million fire, water and laser show, debuts in the
Rivers of America. DisneySea plans are revived, placing it adjacent to
Disneyland's $100 million Toontown opens, the first new land since Bear
Country in 1972. The cartoon village features Roger Rabbit's Toontown Spin,
the Jolly Trolly, Donald Duck's boat and Chip 'n' Dale's treehouse.
The Anaheim Planning Commission and City Council approve the Westcot
Center project's environmental impact report.
Disney shelves plans for Westcot Center, says it's considering new options.
The $100 million Indiana Jones Adventure debuts. Guests board World War
II transports for a ride past bubbling lava pits, mummies, snakes and a
giant rolling boulder.
Reversing a 40-year-old policy, Disneyland officials allow Michelle
Shinn and Mark Gonsalves of San Jose to get married at the park.
Springtime sees the transformation of Big Thunder Ranch into the medieval
setting of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame Festival of Fools."
On August 1, Bob Penfield, the last of the original Disneyland opening
day cast members, retires after more than 42 years of service. To commemorate
this special occasion, Bob is honored with a window on Main Streeet displaying
the legend "Club 55 School of Golf, Bob Penfield, Instructor."
"it's a small world" Holiday premiers on November 27. This all-new
winter holiday-themed overlay to the classic Disneyland attraction "it's
a small world" highlights winter holiday festivities around the world and
intertwines "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells" with the attaction's famous
Michael Eisner, chairman of the board and CEO of The Walt Disney Company,
officially dedicates the new Tomorrowland, along with 40 past and present
U.S. Astronauts, on Thursday, May 21.
On May 20, Disneyland hosts the official homecoming of Army Staff Sargeant
Andrew Ramirez, Staff Sargeant Christopher Stone, and Specialist Steven
Gonzales. It is the first time the three U.S. soldiers, who had been
captured by Serbian forces on March 31, stand on American soil since their
release from captivity.
Tarzan's Treehouse opens in Adventureland on June 23 (replacing the
Swiss Family Treehouse).
In January, Disneyland kicks off a yearlong celebration of its 45th birthday.
In June, the new Autopia opens, combining sections of road formerly
used by both the Tomorrowland Autopia and Fantasyland Autopia. The
attraction is given a new theme, based on its sponsor, Chevron.
February 8 - An entire new theme park, "Disney's California Adventure"
is scheduled to open adjacent to the original Disneyland Park main entrance.
Orange County Register, "Disney's 40th Anniversary", July 16, 1995
"Disneyland - Celebrating 45 Years of Magic," Disney Enterprises Inc.,
Roundtable Press, New York, 2000