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 Cruise.


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 debuts.
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 operation.


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 life.


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 theater screen.


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 Tokyo Disneyland.


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 theme song.


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