Early Views of Disneyland

(1955)* - "Sleeping Beauty's Castle" under construction in early 1955. Image courtesy of Ape Pen Publishing - Photo by Mell Kilpatrick  


Historical Notes

The concept for Disneyland began when Walt Disney was visiting Griffith Park in Los Angeles with his daughters Diane and Sharon. While watching them ride the merry-go-round, he came up with the idea of a place where adults and their children could go and have fun together. His dream lay dormant for many years. Disney also may have been influenced by his father's memories of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago (his father worked at the Exposition). The Midway Plaisance there included a set of attractions representing various countries from around the world and others representing various periods of man; it also included many rides including the first Ferris wheel, a "sky" ride, a passenger train that circled the perimeter, and a Wild West Show. Another likely influence was Benton Harbor, Michigan's nationally famous House of David's Eden Springs Park. Disney visited the park and ultimately bought one of the older miniature trains originally used there; the colony had the largest miniature railway setup in the world at the time.^





(1955)* – 'Getting Closer' - Walt Disney walking in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle during construction.  


Historical Notes

In 1952, the proposed project had been called Disneylandia but Disney followed ABC Television advice and changed it to Disneyland two years later, when excavation of the Disneyland park site began. Construction began on July 16, 1954 and cost $17 million to complete. The park was opened one year and one day later (July 17, 1955). US Route 101 (later Interstate 5) was under construction at the same time just to the north of the site; in preparation for the traffic Disneyland was expected to bring, two more lanes were added to the freeway before the park was finished.^





(1954)* – Disneyland Main Street under construction.  





(1954)^ - View showing the Disneyland front gates under construction.  





(1955)^ – Aerial view look down Main Street showing Disneyland taking form.   





(1955)* - Fess Parker ("Davy Crockett") and Buddy Ebsen (“George Russell”) at Disneyland, walking on Main St while the park was still under construction.  





(1955)^ - Walt Disney, the day before the "Grand Opening"......  


Historical Notes

On opening day the asphalt was still soft and the high heels of some ladies got stuck in it.






(1955)* - Disneyland on opening day, July 17, 1955. View is looking north, with Harbor Boulevard on the upper right and the Santa Anna Freeway running across the top. Visitors show up early on the 1st Day.  






(1955)* - The Disneyland Parking lot on Press Preview Day, July 17, 1955. Lots of V8 engines and white wall tires seen here. Photo: Los Angeles Examiner / USC Libraries collection.  






(1955)^ - The line to purchase Disneyland tickets on the park's opening day.  


Historical Notes

Disneyland opened its gates at 2:30PM on Sunday July 17, 1955. The park opened as invitation only on this day, given to studio workers, construction workers, the press and officials of company sponsors. (The park opened to the general public the following day - July 18.) Because tickets to the grand opening were counterfeited, a surprising 28,000-plus attended.

The Official Opening Day was July 18th. General Admission was $1.00 (75 cents for juniors, 50 cents for children). Cost of individual attraction tickets range from 10 cents to 35 cents.*





(1955)* - Looking out to the Disneyland railway station and parking lot on opening day, July 17, 1955.  






(1955)* - Opening Day parade down Main Street. Life Magazaine - July, 1955  


Historical Notes

Actor Fess Parker, famously known in 1955 as TV's Davy Crockett, led the opening-day parade dressed as the famous frontiersman and riding a horse.

The Mouseketeers were first introduced to the public during the live broadcast of the Disneyland opening day festivities. All 24 members were featured in the inaugural Main Street parade and were showcased with their very own musical production number.

The grand opening was televised as a “live” 90-minute broadcast on ABC television. The festivities were hosted by TV personalities Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings and pre-presidential Ronald Reagan and, of course, Walt Disney. Covered by 24 cameras (3 was the norm), the show was TV’s most elaborate live broadcast to date viewed by an estimated 90 million viewers.*




(1955)^^ - Opening day at Disneyland - July 17, 1955. Walt Disney is there to see his dream come to life.  


Historical Notes

The Disneyland Railroad (DLRR), originally the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad, is a narrow gauge railroad.  It was inaugurated on the park's live television preview on July 17, 1955. This live steam railway was constructed for $240,000; the two original locomotives cost $40,000 each. Riders use it as transportation to other areas of the park or simply for the experience of the "Grand Circle Tour". The Main Street railroad station is situated at the entrance of Disneyland.^





(1955)* – View showing the entrance to Disneyland, Anaheim, the year it opened with early model car parked in front.  






(ca. 1960)*  - A day at Disneyland with no lines.  






(ca. 1956)* - View of Disneyland's Town Square, facing City Hall. This is part of "Main St., U.S.A." Two horse-drawn carriages are seen on the street.  


Historical Notes

Main Street, U.S.A. is designed to resemble the center of a turn-of-the-century (c. 1910) American town. According to Harper Goff, who worked on Main Street, U.S.A. with Walt, he showed Walt some photos of his childhood home of Fort Collins, Colorado. Walt liked the look, and so many of the features of the town were incorporated into Main Street, U.S.A.^




(1956)* - Aerial view of Disneyland amusement park and surrounding neighborhoods in Anaheim; view is looking east. Several orange orchards are visible beyond the park, but the area in the forefront is still undeveloped.  


Historical Notes

During the first half of the 20th century, before Disneyland opened its doors to the public, Anaheim was a massive rural community inhabited by orange groves, and the landowners who farmed them.^




(1955)* – Closer view of Disneyland showing an orange grove next to the park.  





(1957)* - Walt Disney pilots the maiden voyage of the new “Viewliner” which preceded and led way to the Monorail.  





(1957)* - The past catches up with the present at Disneyland as the 1900 freight train pulls abreast of the Tomorrowland Viewliner.  


Historical Notes

Between 1957 and 1958, the Viewliner, "The fastest miniature train in the world," ran alongside the Disneyland Railroad for just over a year, and therefore has the distinction of being the shortest-lived ride in the park's history.^




(1955)*# - Aerial view of Disneyland surrounded by orange groves and also by a train.  


Historical Notes

The Disneyland Railroad was inspired by Walt Disney's love for trains, while tinkering in the barn of his live steam backyard Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Since the first spark of the idea of the park which would later evolve into Disneyland, each design concept held one thing in common "..and it will be surrounded by a train." — Walt Disney ^




(1956)^ - An aerial view of Disneyland in 1956. The entire route of the Disneyland Railroad is clearly visible as it encircles the park. Image courtesy of Ape Pen Publishing - Photo by Mell Kilpatrick  


Historical Notes

Some 160-acres of citrus trees had been cleared and 15 houses moved to make room for the park. The area was in semi-rural Orange County.^




(1956)* - View showing a group of Valley Times newspaper boys riding the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train through the new Living Desert. Writing below the train reads, "Just like Death Valley - the Guys in Boxcar 1".  


Historical Notes

The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train Ride opened in 1956. It was a 2 ft. 6 in. narrow gauge mine train that ran through the new Living Desert.  After the scenery was redone in 1960, it was upgraded and became Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland.

In 1977, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction replaced this sedate train ride with a roller coaster version. The only attraction that remained from the scenic vistas was the mighty waterfall tumbling from Cascade Peak into the Rivers of America, visible only from various boat rides around the Rivers. Only one of the four Locomotives and two cars from the original ride remained on a stretch of track where Cascade peak once stood, as a staged wreck scene. The train, however, was removed in early 2010.^




(1955)* – Tomorrowland with the TWA Moonliner, the tallest structure in the park at the time.  


Historical Notes

The first Tomorrowland opened at Disneyland on July 17, 1955, with only several of its planned attractions open, due to budget cuts. The construction of the park was rushed, so Tomorrowland was the last land to be finished. It became something of a corporate showcase, despite Walt Disney's reluctance. Monsanto Company, American Motors, Richfield Oil, and Dutch Boy Paint were some of the many companies to open showcases in Tomorrowland in the first few years.

Tomorrowland's showpiece was the TWA Moonliner, derived from Disney's "Man In Space" television episodes developed in the 1950s. The Moonliner was the tallest structure in the park at the time, even taller than the park icon Sleeping Beauty Castle. The Moonliner hosted Rocket To The Moon which was a ride to the moon.^




(1955)* - It was originally called the Midget Autopia.  


Historical Notes

The Disneyland Autopia is one of the few current attractions that opened with the park on July 17, 1955. When it opened, it represented the future of what would become America's multilane limited-access highways, which were still being developed. President Eisenhower had yet to sign the Interstate Highway legislation at the time Disneyland opened.^




(ca. 1955)* - A family enjoying the first generation Autopia ride at Disneyland. These were gas powered go-karts that went about 6 mph. Fun for the kids; but not enough speed for a teenager or adult. More fun to bump the person in front of you if they stopped or slowed.  


Historical Notes

Before the park opened, the cars were tested without the bumpers, and were almost completely destroyed by the test drivers. Bumpers were fitted around the vehicle, but there were still problems with collisions, as a guide rail had yet to be implemented on the ride. Eventually the vehicles were fitted with spring-loaded bumpers to discourage collisions.^





(1955)* - Disneyland’s Autotopia Ride  






(ca. 1955)* – View showing a boat full of passengers on the Storybook Land Canal Boat Ride with the Casey Jr. Circus Train above and behind it.  


Historical Notes

The Casey Jr. Circus Train was based on the train of the same name from the 1941 film Dumbo, it gives passengers a tour of many miniature versions of classic Disney animated film scenes. This tour is similar to the one given on the slower paced Storybook Land Canal Boats, but does not incorporate narration. The attraction was opened two weeks later than Disneyland due to testing.

The Skyway would pass over part of the Casey Jr. Circus Train track.^




(ca. 1955)* – The original Storybook Land Canal Boats Attraction (Still Open).  


Historical Notes

Storybook Land Canal Boats is a leisurely-paced outdoor boat ride through a winding canal featuring settings from Disney animated films recreated in miniature. This was one of the original attractions when the park opened in 1955, although the miniature buildings and landscaping were not added until the following year.^




(ca. 1955)#*^ - View of Fantasyland as it appeared in the 1950s, with Tea Cups at lower-left and King Arthur's Carrousel at center.  


Historical Notes

Fantasyland is the area of Disneyland of which Walt Disney said, "What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice's nonsensical Wonderland? In Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone's youth have become realities for youngsters – of all ages – to participate in."

Fantasyland was originally styled in a medieval European fairground fashion, but its 1983 refurbishment turned it into a Bavarian village.^

King Arthur's Carrousel - Inspired by the Griffith Park Carousel, Walt Disney wanted something similar for his new theme park: a carousel consisting of all jumpers. A park model Menagerie Carousel was purchased and moved to Disneyland in 1954. The carousel was built by William Dentzel and had been operated at Sunnyside Beach Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, since 1922; it had three courses of horses and other animals on a platform 72 feet in diameter.  The attraction was refurbished and significantly altered by the Arrow Development Company of Mountain View, California in preparation for opening day. It was widened to four courses to increase guest capacity. Of the carousel's 71 horses and one mule, most were carved in the Dentzel factory.*




(1955)^ – LIFE Magazine photo showing the Mad Tea Party ride on the opening day of Disneyland, July 17, 1955.  


Historical Notes

Originally located behind Sleeping Beauty's Castle, this attraction originally had no brakes, or clutches to control the speed of the spinning cups! After complaints of wooziness and nausea, the cups were finally modified in 1983 making them more difficult to spin out of control.




(1968)^ – Close-up view of the Mad Tea Party Ride in Fantasyland.  The ride was inspired by the Unbirthday Party scene in Walt Disney's Alice In Wonderland.  





(ca. 1956)^^# - View looking over the roofline of Fantasyland with the Skyway seen in the distance.  


Historical Notes

The Skyway at Disneyland opened on June 23, 1956. It was built by Von Roll, Ltd. based in Bern, Switzerland. It was the first Von Roll Type 101 aerial ropeway in the USA. Walt Disney Imagineering bought the ride from Switzerland.^




(ca. 1956)^^# - Zooming in, you can see the Skyway Buckets, the masts of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship restaurant, and the mountains in the distance.  





(1956)* - Walt Disney and Dr. Walter Schmid, Swiss consul-general in Los Angeles, are the first passengers in Disneyland's newest attraction, the Skyway. June, 1956.  


Historical Notes

Walt Disney Imagineering bought the Skyway ride from Switzerland. It was a 1947 Vonroll sidechair model.^




(1963)* - View showing Skyway Buckets running right through the Matterhorn with bobsled making a sharp turn out of the mountain.  


Historical Notes

In 1959, a major renovation added The Submarine Voyage, the Disneyland Monorail, the Matterhorn (now a Fantasyland Attraction), and the Motor Boat Cruise, but when the Matterhorn was planned it was designed to be built right in the path of the Skyway, so without a single closure of the Skyway, the Matterhorn was built around the Skyway.^




(1967)* - View of the Disney Skyway over Fantasyland.  Dumbo the Flying Elephant Ride is at lower right.  


Historical Notes

Dumbo the Flying Elephant opened at Disneyland in October 1955, three months after the park opened.

One elephant from the ride is in the collection of the National Museum of American History, donated in 2005, on the occasion of Disneyland's 50th anniversary.^




(1960s)* – View from the Disney Skyway looking down toward The Submarine Voyage and The Disney Monorail.  





(ca. 1960)^ – View showing the loading dock of the Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland.  


Historical Notes

The Submarine Voyage featured vehicles designed to resemble submarines. It first opened on June 14, 1959, as one of the first rides to require an E ticket. It was part of a major expansion of Tomorrowland, which included the Matterhorn Bobsleds roller coaster, an expanded version of Autopia, the Disneyland Monorail, and the Motor Boat Cruise.^




(1995)^ - Disneyland submarines of the Disneyland Submarine Voyage.  


Historical Notes

The Submarine Voyage closed on September 9, 1998, at that time, it was reported that the attraction would reopen with a new theme by 2003, but that did not come to pass. The attraction ultimately reopened in June 2007 themed to Disney Pixar's Finding Nemo, and now operates as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.^





(ca 1960s)* – Ground view showing the Submarine Voyage, Disney Monorail, and Disney Skyway.  





(1959)^.^ - Walt, Dick, Pat, Julie and Tricia at the opening ceremony of the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail.  


Historical Notes

Nixon grew up about 15 minutes from Disneyland.  Tricia and Julie were 13 and 11 in 1959 when the Monorail opened.




(1960s)* - View showing the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail over the entrance to the Submarine Voyage Ride.  


Historical Notes

The Disneyland Monorail System (originally, the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail) opened on June 14, 1959, as a sightseeing attraction in Tomorrowland. The Mark I trains (Red and Blue) consisted of three cars each. In 1961 it became a true transportation system when Tomorrowland station was lengthened to accommodate the debut of the four-car Mark II and the additional new Yellow train, the track was extended 2½ miles outside the park and a second platform was constructed - the Disneyland Hotel station. In 1968 Mark III Monorail Green joined the fleet and both platforms were lengthened for the arrival of the more streamlined and efficient five car Mark III monorail train conversions.^




(ca. 1959)* - Disneyland ALWEG Monorail alongside Harbor Boulevard.  





(1966)* - View showing the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail as it approaches the Disneyland Hotel.  


Historical Notes

The Disneyland Hotel opened on October 5, 1955 as a motor inn owned and operated by Jack Wrather under an agreement with Walt Disney, the hotel was the first to officially bear the Disney name. Under Wrather's ownership, the hotel underwent several expansions and renovations over the years before being acquired by Disney in 1988.

Guests traveled between the hotel and the Disneyland Park main entrance via a tram. The Disneyland Monorail was extended from its original 1959 configuration and a station opened at the hotel in 1961.^




(1960s)* – Monorail and Skyway  


Historical Notes

The Skyway closed in 1994.




(1960s)* – Monorail makes its way past the Matterhorn with the Sleeping Beauty Castle and Skyway seen in the background.  





(ca. 1964)* – Classic view showing the Monorail, Skyway, and Matterhorn.  





(1958)* – View showing the Matterhorn under construction. The Matterhorn mountain and sleds opened on June 14, 1959.  


Historical Notes

The Matterhorn both in style and name grew from Walt Disney's extended vacation in Switzerland while filming Third Man on the Mountain. In a moment of inspiration, impressed by the beauty of the real Matterhorn, Walt grabbed a postcard of the mountain from a souvenir stand and sent it back to Imagineer (architect) Vic Greene with the message, “Vic. Build This. Walt.” This resulted in the merger of the toboggan ride concept with the thoughts of a bobsled coaster ride that would run around and through the structure.^




(2012)^ – View of the Matterhorn mountain after its 2012 refurbishment.  





Before and After

(1958)* - Disneyland's Matterhorn Mountain.   (2012)^ - Disneyand's Matterhorn Mountain.






(1960)* - Disneyland mountaineers, Hans, Otto, and Fritz, climb the park’s 147-foot-tall Matterhorn. Photo by Ralph Crane for LIFE. Image was flipped either by Crane or by the magazine for publication.  


Historical Notes

Shortly after the Matterhorn’s construction in 1959, the park started employing climbers to go up the mountain multiple times a day, up through the late 1970s, when the mountain underwent a major renovation. After that, the climbers were more of an occasional sighting, though it’s my understanding that the park revived the daily climbs in 2012 and has been doing them since.

Fun fact! Since the climb doesn’t take all that long, the park installed a basketball hoop and half-court inside of the mountain so that the climbers had something to do in their downtime between shows.





(ca. 1967)* - View showing the People Mover with the Rocket Jets Ride and Matterhorn in the background.  


Historical Notes

The People Mover (1967–1995) was a scenic, slow-moving ride high-above Tomorrowland that was intended to demonstrate how people could be shuttled around a central urban area without rushing to board individual trains or drive individual cars. It consisted of many dozens of small open-air cars seating up to eight riders, all running continuously on a track above and through the various attractions in Tomorrowland. After the ride was closed, the track sat vacant for two-and-a-half years until the opening of the ill-fated Rocket Rods.^




(1967)* - PeopleMover opens at Disneyland.  The People Mover is run through a remodeled Tomorrowland during press preview of the new Disneyland attraction.  


Historical Notes

The Walt Disney World version of the People Mover is still active in the Magic Kingdom under the name of Tomorrowland Transit Authority.^




(1967)^#^# - Close-up view of the Rocket Jets Ride and the People Mover located in Tomorrowland.  


Historical Notes

The rocket-spinner ride (originally called Astro Jets) was located between Submarine Voyage and Flight to the Moon. It has undergone the following name and location changes: 1964–1966, Tomorrowland Jets; 1967–1997, Rocket Jets: A new version of the same ride, in a new location above the People Mover loading platform. The ride's mechanical components are now part of the Observatron, a sculpture on the same site that plays music and spins at regular intervals.^




(ca. 1967)* – View showing the Rocket Jet Ride with the entrance to the People Mover directly below it.  


Historical Notes

The ride's present incarnation is known as Astro Orbitor, located at the entrance to Tomorrowland from Main Street, and debuted in 1998.^




(1962)* - The Flying Saucers operated from 1961 to 1966. The space occupied by the ride became the Tomorrowland Stage when New Tomorrowland opened in 1967.  


Historical Notes

Guests rode in single-rider cars on a cushion of air that were steered by shifting body weight. The air cushion was supplied from below through holes in the floor that opened when the cars passed over. The ride's site later became the site of the Tomorrowland Stage, and is now the site of Magic Eye Theater. Luigi's Flying Tires at Disney California Adventure is a modern-day version of the Flying Saucers.^




(1960s)* – Tomorrowland  





(1962)* – The new Rocket to the Moon attraction.  


Historical Notes

In 1962, Douglas Aircraft began sponsorship of Disneyland's Rocket to the Moon attraction. The rocket's familiar TWA logo (in place since 1955) had been replaced with blue vertical stripes and large red upper-case letters spelling "DOUGLAS." The sponsorship lasted until 1966. An American aerospace manufacturer, based in Long Beach, California, Douglas later merged with McDonnell Aircraft - who continued sponsoring the updated Flight to the Moon in 1967.




(1960s)* – Passengers brace themselves for a simulated ride to the Moon.  


Historical Notes

The show was originally named Rocket to the Moon, and it opened in 1955 along with Disneyland. The ride was refurbished as Flight to the Moon in 1967. On March 21, 1975, the destination was changed to Mars because humans had already been to the Moon.*




(1969)* - Tomorrowland at Disneyland with People Mover, Skyway, Monorail, and Submarine Voyage in the background. At lower-left is the Tomorrowland Terrace concert stage which hydraulically rises out of the ground for concerts.  





(ca. 1967)* - Tomorrowland Terrace Stage. The area was originally occuppied by The Flying Saucers (see previous photo).  


Historical Notes

Tomorrowland Terrace is a restaurant located in Tomorrowland that is notable for its unique concert stage, which hydraulically rises out of the ground. The restaurant was sponsored by Coca-Cola from its opening in 1967 until Tomorrowland was redesigned in 1998. The stage's original large planters and space age spires were replaced with a retro-futuristic design to match the Jules Verne-like design of the new Tomorrowland.^




(1967)* - Dancing to a rock band at Tomorrowland Terrace Stage.  


Historical Notes

In 2000, Tomorrowland Terrace was renamed Club Buzz, as it started hosting a show called "Calling All Space Scouts: A Buzz Lightyear Adventure." The 1998 designs were replaced with a Buzz Lightyear theme. A large sign was added above the stage with the words "Club Buzz" and a small sign with the subtitle, "Lightyear's Above the Rest." When the show ended, the Buzz Lightyear theme was mostly removed along with the large sign. The smaller sign that formerly read "Lightyears Above the Rest" then read "Club Buzz."

In 2006, the stage was redesigned again, and is an updated version of the original 1967 design, with large bowl-shaped planters and tall spires, with colors of white, silver, and blue, going with the Tomorrowland and Space Mountain theme. The restaurant and stage reverted to the original name; Tomorrowland Terrace. It currently hosts the Jedi Training Academy, where children between the ages of 4 and 12 are randomly chosen to participate in the show to become Jedi padawan and face off Star Wars antagonists.^




(1960s)^ - Sleeping Beauty Castle; Home of the Future... with the People Mover in the foreground.  





(1957)^ – View showing the Monsanto House of the Future in Tomorrowland with Sleeping Beauty Castle seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

The Monsanto House of the Future (also known as the Home of the Future) opened at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in 1957. Sponsored by Monsanto, the design and engineering of the house was done jointly by Monsanto, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Walt Disney Imagineering.

The attraction offered a tour of a home of the future, set in the year 1986, and featured household appliances such as microwave ovens, which eventually became commonplace. The house saw over 435,000 visitors within the first six weeks of opening, and ultimately saw over 20 million visitors before being closed in 1967.^




(ca. 1957)^ - View showing a woman standing by the floor-to-ceiling window inside the Monsanto House of the Future located in Tomorrowland.  


Historical Notes

The house closed in 1967. The building was so sturdy that when demolition crews failed to demolish the house using wrecking balls, torches, chainsaws and jackhammers, the building was ultimately demolished by using choker chains to crush it into smaller parts. The reinforced polyester structure was so strong that the half-inch steel bolts used to mount it to its foundation broke before the structure itself did.

The reinforced concrete foundation was never removed, and remains in its original location, now the Pixie Hollow, where it has been painted green and is used as a planter.^




(1956)* – Aerial view showing the Disneyland Hotel 9 months after its opening.  


Historical Notes

The Disneyland Hotel opened on October 5, 1955, nearly three months after Disneyland opened, and this aerial photo was taken on July 16, 1956. These days, of course, the hotel is completely encircled by the gargantuan Disney resort, and beyond that the city of Anaheim. But back then it was pretty much all open farmland as far as the eye can see.

Click HERE to see satellite shot from 2021.




(1963)^ - Aerial view of Disneyland looking southeast. The Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) is in the upper left corner. Harbor Boulevard forms the eastern boundary of the park. To the middle right, one can see the Haunted Mansion under construction.  


Historical Notes

The Haunted Mansion would open in 1969. Also under construction, and up and left from the Haunted Mansion, is Pirates of the Caribbean, which opened in 1967. The two attractions took a while to build because Disney's engineering arm at the time, WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering), was busy on projects dealing with the 1964 New York World's Fair. Both attractions are located in New Orleans Square, which opened in 1966. Anaheim's newly completed Melodyland Theater ("theater-in-the-round"), is at the top of the photo.




(ca. 1960)* - People on a raft to Tom Sawyer Island.  


Historical Notes

Tom Sawyer Island opened in 1956, one year after the opening of Disneyland Park.




(1960s)* - Heading to Tom Sawyer Island with the Haunted Mansion seen in the left background under construction  


Historical Notes

The Haunted Mansion opened in 1969.




(1960s)^ – An Los Angeles Airways passenger helicopter flys over Disneyland.  


Historical Notes

From the late 1950s to 1968 Los Angeles Airways provided regularly scheduled helicopter passenger service between Disneyland and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and other cities in the area. The helicopters initially operated from Anaheim/Disneyland Heliport, located behind Tomorrowland. Service later moved, in 1960, to a new heliport north of the Disneyland Hotel. Arriving guests were transported to the Disneyland Hotel via tram. The service ended after two fatal crashes in 1968. LA Airways was purchased by Golden West in 1971.




(1970s)* – Passengers approach a Golden West helicopter with the Disneyland Hotel in the background.  


Historical Notes

Los Angeles Airways ceased operations in 1971 upon its purchase by Golden West Airlines.^




(1962)* - Disneyland ticket booth.  


Historical Notes

From Disneyland's opening day until 1982, the price of the attractions was in addition to the price of park admission. Guests paid a small admission fee to get into the park, but admission to most of the rides and attractions required guests to purchase tickets, either individually or in a book.^



(1964)* - Disneyland prices for admission, tour, rides, and parking in 1964.  





(ca. 1977)^ - Disneyland ticket book circa 1975–1977. The tickets were printed as "coupons".  


Historical Notes

The ticket book consisted of several coupons, initially labeled "A" through "C". "A" coupons allowed admission to the smaller rides and attractions such as the vehicles on Main Street, whereas "C" coupons were used for the most common attractions like the Peter Pan ride, or the Tea Cups. As more thrilling rides were introduced, such as the Monorail or the Matterhorn bobsled, "D" and then eventually "E" coupons were introduced. Coupons could be combined to equal the equivalent of another ticket (e.g. two "A" tickets equal one "B" ticket).^






Historical Notes

From the thrill ride experience at Disneyland, the colloquial expression "an E ticket ride" is used to describe any exceptionally thrilling experience.

Disneyland later featured a "Keys to the Kingdom" booklet of tickets, which consisted of 10 unvalued coupons sold for a single flat rate. These coupons could be used for any attraction regardless of its regular value.

In 1982, Disney dropped the idea for individual ride tickets to a single admission price with unlimited access to all attractions, "except shooting galleries".  The adult admission price was $12.00. ^




(1960)^ – A 1958 Ford Country Sedan is parked on the side of the road leading up to the Disneyland parking lot.  A woman is seen admiring the flowers while the family sits patiently in the car.  Note the parking lot sign reads 25 cents.  Parking today is $20.  





(1950s)* - Waiting in line to get into the parking lot at Disneyland.  





(ca. 1960)* – PARKING 25¢ - View showing the Katella Avenue entrance to Disneyland.  The Matterhorn (built in 1958) can be seen in the distance.  





(ca. 1966)^ - Tram crossing West Street from the Disneyland Hotel. Construction is visible in middle left on the Tower addition which would open in the summer of 1966. The Monorail has just cruised by on its way into the Hotel station. Note the iconic Disneyland Hotel sign with its distinctive typeface/script.  






(ca. 1956)^ - Now honey, did we park in the Dumbo or Goofy section?  






(ca. 1960)* - View showing the entrance to Disnelyand. Looks pretty much like it does today.....except maybe for the crowds.  


Historical Notes

Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with over 650 million guests since it opened.

Opening year (1955) attendance: 1 M

2013 attendance: 16.2 M ^




(1965)* - Photograph caption dated February 9, 1965 reads, "Disneyland's Town Square is filled with turn-of-the century atmosphere, old-fashioned vehicles and happy people. Compare this to the Disneyland of ten years ago. Soon the Opera House (center) will house 'Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,' Walt Disney's newest 'three-dimensional experience in history' for Disneyland guests. It will be opened in mid-year as a major feature of the Park's Tencennial Celebration."  


Historical Notes

Walt Disney originally conceived of a show that would pay tribute to all U.S. Presidents as part of a proposed extension of Main Street, U.S.A. in the 1950s. However, the technology at the time would not permit a show on the scale Disney wanted, and the Main Street extension proposal was abandoned (the presidential tribute was later built as The Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom). Disney's Imagineers opted to focus instead on creating a tribute to Lincoln, Disney's boyhood hero.^




Then and Now

Main Street Disneyland – Top photo was taken one day before 'Grand Opening' in 1955, with Walt Disney making final inspection.*  


Historical Notes

On opening day the asphalt was still soft and the high heels of some ladies got stuck in it.






(n.d.)* - View of Sleeping Beauty's Enchanted Castle at the entrance to Fantasyland.  


Historical Notes

Opened July 17, 1955, the castle is the oldest of all Disney castles. Though it reaches a height of only 77 feet, it was designed to appear taller through a process known as forced perspective; design elements are larger at the foundation and smaller at the turrets.^




(2010)** - View of fireworks above and around Sleeping Beauty's Enchanted Castle.  


Historical Notes

The beautiful Sleeping Beauty Castle sits at the center of Disneyland Park.  It is based on the late-19th century Neuschwanstein Castle, with some French inspirations (especially Notre Dame de Paris and the Hospices de Beaune).^



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Other Sections of Interest


Early City Views (1800s)

Historical Bldgs (1800s)

Early Hollywood (1850 - 1920)

Early San Fernando Mission

Early Los Angeles Plaza

Water in Early Los Angeles

Early So Calif Amusement Parks

Baseball in Early Los Angeles

Aviation in Early Los Angeles

Early San Pedro and Wilmington

Mystery History: Q & A

Early City Views (1900 - 1925)

Historical Bldgs (1900 - 1925)

Early Views of Hollywood (1920 +)

Early Views of the San Fernando Valley

California Historical Landmarks in LA

Electricity in Early Los Angeles

Historical Timeline of Los Angeles

Los Angeles River - The Unpredictable

Early Views of Mt. Lowe Railway

Early Views of Santa Catalina Island

Early Views of the Miracle Mile

Early City Views (1925 +)

Historical Bldgs (1925 +)

Early Views of Hollywood Bowl

Early Views of Pasadena

Early Views of Santa Monica

Early Views of Glendale

Early Views of UCLA / Westwood

Early Views of USC

Early Views of Historic Main Street

Early Los Angeles Streetlights

'Miracle Mile' (1920s & 1930s)




Water and Power in Early LA






Newest Additions





New Search Index


A new SEARCH INDEX has been added to help navigate through the thousands of topics and images found in our collection. Try it out for a test run.


Click HERE for Search Index



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