May 28, 2001
The Disneyland theme park at Anaheim in California
first opened it's gates to the public on 17th July 1955 to
an audience that were largely specially invited guests.
Walt's dream had been to build a theme park that
could be enjoyed by both children and adults alike. The original
plans had Walt's new theme park being built on an area of
land opposite the companys animation studios in Burbank, but
when the available area proved too small to accommodate all
of Walt's ideas he hired the Stanford Research Institute to
locate a new site.
The area suggested by SRI at Anaheim was originally
split into small parcels of land owned by 17 different people,
and in order to buy the initial 160 acres Walt had to use
most of his own capital, sell his vacation home, beg loans
from various companies, and borrow extensively against his
own life insurance.
For weeks before opening, tantalising glimpses of
the new Disneyland theme park were presented during Disney's
television shows in America, and when the park opened it was
an immediate success. At the opening ceremony Walt exclaimed
that "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue
to grow as long as there is imagination".
One of the major limiting factors to it's continuing
growth however, has been that due to its own success the cost
of the surrounding land rocketed, and realising what a potential
gold-mine they had owners refused to sell any further land,
prefering instead to capitalise on Disney's park by erecting
all kinds of hotels, fast food joints, and other assorted
offerings to service the ever increasing streams of vacationers
wanting to spend time at Disneyland.
Recognising the mistake of buying too small a parcel
of land, and not being able to control the commercialisation
of its borders Walt vowed never to make the same mistake again,
this was evident when plans for Walt Disney World were finally
officially announced for the 47 square miles of property Disney
had managed to secretly buy in Florida.
On the opening day of Disneyworld in Anaheim there
were a total of 20 attractions available, though this was
quickly increased as new attractions were added to the park.
Over the years, many of the original attractions have fallen
by the wayside, to be replaced by newer ones, but the original
statement made by Walt on the opening day, that "Disneyland
will never be completed" still holds true.
In a design that was to be echoed again later in
the other theme parks built by Disney, The Magic Kingdom at
Disneyland is split into several discrete themed areas, all
clustered around the centrally located Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
As with the other Magic Kingdom styled Disney theme parks,
the first area encountered by guests after they pass through
the turnstiles is the Railroad station in Town Square. Leading
away from Town Square, Main
Street USA echos early ninteenth century American towns,
and draws the eye to the enchanting Sleeping Beauty's Castle
in the distance.
Just before reaching the castle, guests encounter
the Central Plaza, which is the hub of the whole park, with
walkways leading off to the other main areas, including Adventureland,
In turn these areas lead into the three final areas of New
Orleans Square, Critter
Country and Mickey's Toontown.