On July 17, 1955, Disneyland celebrated its Opening Day with an invitation-only affair. Theme park staff were expecting 15,000 guests—including President Ronald Reagan—but greeted nearly double that number due to counterfeit tickets. Official tickets were $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. Fans had been enjoying Disneyland the show on TV for about nine months at the time Disneyland the place opened. The theme park opened only a year after construction on what was previously 160 acres of orange groves, and critics predicted that this rush job would lead to Walt Disney’s demise. Despite its seemingly rapid materialization, Disney had been planning the project for nearly two decades. It was scorching, about 100 degrees, that day. There were traffic jams, broken rides and sold out food—it was so stressful that employees referred to the event as Black Sunday—but guests returned day after day, then year after year to experience the magic once again. Here are photos of the chaotic and historic Opening Day at Disneyland.
24 Rare Photos Reveal The Thrill Of Disneyland’s Opening Day In 1955. April 1, 2023