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« A Look at the Progress City Model- Then and Now | Main | Out With The Walt, In With The New »
Saturday
Jul172010

Disneyland in 1955

A look at the early days of Disneyland. The park opened to invited guests on July 17, 1955. The following day it opened to the general public.

Front and back covers of "Picture Souvenir Book of Disneyland in Natural Color" reprinted in 2005 for Disneland's 50th Anniversary.

 

Scan from the inside front cover of "Picture Souvenir Book of Disneyland in Natural Color"
A list of attractions was presented in this early map from an early Picture Souvenir Book. This specific book was not available on Opening Day, of course, because photos with guest in them were not available. This an interesting map-- oddly drawn and missing a number of attractions from 1955. You'll notice the lack of labels for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Snow White, Peter Pan, Mad Tea Party, and almost everything in Tomorrowland. I love that the Railroad is traveling the wrong direction. Holidayland is on the complete opposite side of the park. It's cool to see the waters of Rivers of America connected to the waters of " 'Explorer Boat Ride' through the Rivers of Mexico, Africa, Central and South America, and Australia" (The Jungle Cruise).

 

Main Street, USA

No other part of Disneyland resembles the way things looked in 1955 more than the exterior portions of Main Street. Almost every sign has been changes but the architecture of the buildings remains almost identical. The interiors however have changed much.

 

 

Fantasyland

Within the Castle Courtyard King Arthur Carrousel was positioned much closer to Sleeping Beauty Castle than it is today. The Mad Tea Party was directly north of the carrousel (both moved to new locations along with Dumbo in 1983). Sleeping Beauty Castle was spectacular yet the public had little connection with the animated film because Sleeping Beauty would not debut until January of 1959. Artwork was presented on Disneyland, the T.V. show in 1954 and the Sleeping Beauty walk through attraction inside the castle opened in 1957 with several dioramas telling the story of Sleeping Beauty. A similar walk through attraction exists today.


Casey Jr. Circus Train, one of the most charming little attractions even today, offered a view of the very underdeveloped Canal Boats of the World (later renamed Storybook Land Canal Boats). The boats were sadly not operational on Opening Day. The landscaping and miniature scenes we know today were not present but plenty of dirt was.

A creepy looking Court Jester selling balloons?

You'll notice what looks like another Court Jester running with kids on Opening Day through the castle in this famous photo. When did they finally get rid of those guys?? I guess they fit the land in which they reside, but still...

 

Tomorrowland

The most changed of any land. The Autopia is the only remaining attraction today. In 1955 guests enjoyed the following, now extinct, attractions. Circarama U.S.A., "A Tour of the West, the Dutch Boy Paint Color Gallery, Monsanto Hall of Chemistry, Kaiser's Hall of Aluminum Fame, Rocket to the Moon, Space Station X-1, Thimble Drome Flight Circle (displaying flying model planes), Tomorrowland Boats, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea exhibit, and The World Beneath Us presented by Richfield Oil.

No guide rail on the Autopia track?? Boy did I dream of that as small child. Among the first to ride the Autopia on Opening Day were Frank Sinatra and son and Sammy Davis Jr.



 

Adventureland

Hop aboard the "Explorer Boat Ride through the Rivers of Mexico, Africa, Central and South America, and Australia" (Jungle Cruise) where the skipper was not wise-cracking, the plants were small, and the Marc Davis gags we know and love today did not exist. However Schweitzer Falls waterfall was called Schweitzer Falls even way back then.

Frontierland

Other than the exteriors of Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle, the southern stretch of Frontierland facades have changed less than almost anything in the park.

 

Opening Day Model

It's worth taking a look at this top-notch model that was installed in the lobby of Disneyland's Opera House in Town Square for the 50th Anniversary. It was originally installed flat then later relocated within the same lobby to a northwest wall and was mounted on an angle. This location, as you might remember, once housed the talking animatronic owl who spoke about Walt Disney's True Life Adventures. Oh how I loved watching him narrate those clips in his little graduation cap in an old-fashioned classroom setting.

 

Hooray for Disneyland.


Images scanned by Mitch. All other photos taken by Mitch.

 

Related posts:

New Fantasyland 1983
Disneyland 1955 Model Close-ups
THEN AND NOWWalt at Disneyland

 

References (2)

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  • Response
    Disneyland in 1955 - Imagineering Disney -
  • Response
    Disneyland in 1955 - Imagineering Disney -

Reader Comments (7)

happy 55th anniversary of Disneyland guys!

now I seriously want that book.

July 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Happy Birthday Disneyland!

July 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLilly

I didn't realize the Jungle Cruise wasn't called the Jungle Cruise back then. Interesting.

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I sure wasn't at Disneyland on opening day but I was at Legoland on it's opening day. That's about the same, right?

July 20, 2010 | Registered CommenterFritz

Great post! I linked to it in my blog entry today.

Happy 55th to Disneyland!

July 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Mitch: Thanks for this posting! My, what things trigger memories. My parents took my brother and me there not very long after it was opened. I remember the orange groves along the side of the road, the woven picnic basket on the back seat beside me, and how the tip of the rocket ship dominated the skyline (it was the first thing you would look for as you drove closer to the park)--and I'm pretty sure I owned that book; it's not the photographs that I remember so much as it is the line drawings. What a pleasure to remember it and see it all again.
Thanks!

July 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike Linton

While cleaning out drawers, I found a 1955 souvenir book. But it is a little different than the one in the photo. Under Disneyland it says c 1955 Walt disney productions. Is this a counterfit?? Does it have any value?? Have not had any luck in finding anything on the net. Thank You

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Hartjes

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