Disneyland is a theme park at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company. The creation of animation and entertainment pioneer Walt Disney, Disneyland has become the world's most famous themed amusement park and one of the most visited sites in the world. An estimated 500 million visitors have visited the park since its opening on July 17, 1955.
The park is usually referred to simply as "Disneyland," though Disney literature occasionally refers to Disneyland as "Disneyland park" or "Disneyland theme-park". This is most likely because trademark law requires that trademarks be used as an adjective and never as a noun. (http://stcrmc.org/Samples_and_Templates/Linked%20Documents/Style%20Guide%20-%20Prado/Tradmrk.pdf) The "Disneyland park" moniker also helps to avoid confusion with "Disneyland Resort" (which consists of Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, and adjoining hotels and shops).
The Disneyland Band plays outside the park's entrance.
Concept and construction
Walt Disney and his brother Roy already headed one of Hollywood's more successful studios before the idea of a park even began to form. Walt's original concept was of a permanent family fun park without the negative element which traveling carnivals often attracted. He developed the idea during his many outings with his daughters Dianne and Sharon, when he realized that there were no parks with activities that parents and children could enjoy together.
While many people had written letters to Walt Disney about visiting the Disney Studio lot and meeting thier favorite Disney character, Walt realized that a functional movie studio had little to offer the visiting fan. He then began to foster ideas of building place at his Burbank studios for visitors to visit and perhaps take pictures with statues of Disney characters set in statue form. His ideas then evolved to a park with a boat ride and other themed areas. These ideas grew bigger and bigger into a concept for a larger enterprise which was to become Disneyland.
Disneyland was partially inspired by Tivoli Gardens, built in 1843 in Copenhagen, Denmark and Children's Fairyland built in 1950 in Oakland, California. Disney's original modest plans called for the park to be built on eight acres (32,000 mē) next to the Disney Studios in Burbank, California as a place where his employees and families could go to relax.
Early in development, during the early 1950s, it became clear that more area would be needed. Difficulties in obtaining funding caused Disney to investigate new ways of raising money. He decided to use television to get the ideas into people's homes, and so he created a show named Disneyland which was broadcast on the fledgling American Broadcasting Company television network. In return, the network agreed to help finance the new park.
On the suggestion of researchers at Stanford University who correctly envisioned the area's potential growth, Disney acquired 180 acres (730,000 mē) of orange groves and walnut trees in Anaheim, south of Los Angeles in neighboring Orange County. Construction began on July 18, 1954 and would cost US$17 million to complete. U.S. Highway 101 (later Interstate 5) was under construction at the same time just to the north of the site; in preparation for the traffic which Disneyland was expected to bring, two more lanes were added to the freeway even before the park was finished.
Disneyland was opened to the public on Sunday, July 17, 1955. The opening ceremonies were televised nationwide and anchored by three of Walt Disney's friends from Hollywood: Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan.
Opening day did not go smoothly. The park was overcrowded as the by-invitation-only affair was plagued with counterfeit tickets. All major roads nearby were congested. The high temperature was over 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and a plumbers' strike left many of the drinking fountains dry. The asphalt that had been poured just the night before was so soft that ladies' high-heeled shoes sank in. Vendors ran out of food. A gas leak in Fantasyland caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland to close for the afternoon. Parents were throwing children over the shoulders of crowds to get in queue for rides such as Dumbo.
The park got such bad press for opening day that Walt Disney invited members of the press back for a private 'second day' to experience the true Disneyland, after which Walt held a party in the Disneyland Hotel for them. Walt and his executives forever referred to the first day as Black Sunday.
Transition: amusement park becomes resort
In the 1990s, major construction began to transform Disneyland from an amusement park into a vacation resort. The Walt Disney Company purchased land surrounding the park that was once the site of low-budget motels and trailer courts, and dug up its original "Hundred-Acre Parking Lot". On this land, Disney's California Adventure and Downtown Disney opened in 2001. The "Grand Californian" hotel, patterned after the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century, extends into Disney's California Adventure and allows paying guests to enter that park through the hotel itself.
Most of the resort's parking today is handled by the five-level "Mickey and Friends" parking garage. With six levels and 10,250 parking spaces, it is the second-largest parking structure in the world, behind only the structure at Tokyo Disneyland. Propane-powered trams bring visitors to the entrance plaza between the two parks. There are also some smaller, off-property lots with regular shuttle service to the parks, and most nearby hotels offer regular shuttle service as well.
The park's management team of the mid-1990s was a tremendous source of contention to many Disneyland fans and employees. Headed by executives Cynthia Harriss and Paul Pressler, each with a retail marketing background, Disneyland's focus gradually changed from attractions to merchandising. The leaders came under increasing criticism for a host of cost cutting initiatives and profit boosting schemes.
Under their direction, few new attractions were built and many were closed down. Shops that once carried a variety of items themed to their locations now carried general Disney character products. Themed restaurants and shops were closed and replaced by outdoor vending carts which caused crowds to clog walkways. The decision to remodel Tomorrowland, derided by some fans, was attributable to Pressler, as was the closure of a great many popular attractions within the area. Dewitt "T" Irby, a retired U.S. Army officer hired as facilities manager, was blamed for the destruction of much of the tooling and attraction components in storage in the backstage areas in an effort to streamline operations as recommended by outside consultants.
After nearly a decade of deferred maintenance, Walt's original theme park was showing visible signs of neglect. Paint was peeling off buildings, burnt out light bulbs, which were once replaced before they could burn out, were so numerous as to make the facades they outlined look like toothless poor relations of their counter parts on reruns of the various Disney TV shows.
In 2003, both Harriss and Pressler stepped down to take over operations of national clothing retailer The Gap. Irby stepped down the following year.
Disneyland back in experienced hands
Matt Ouimet, formerly manager of Disney Cruise Lines, was promoted to assume leadership of Disneyland. Unlike his predecessors, Ouimet was an amusement park fan and had worked summers in Disneyland in his youth. Praised by Disney fan sites for his success in building the Cruise Lines, Ouimet quickly set about reversing trends, especially with regards to cosmetic maintenance and a return to the original infrastructure maintenance schedule in hopes of restoring the good safety record of the past.
Much like Walt Disney himself, Ouimet can often be seen walking the park during business hours with members of his staff. He wears a cast member name badge and welcomes comments from guests.
Disneyland recently hosted its 500-millionth guest. The park is undergoing a number of major renovation projects, and celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2005.
Famous statue of Walt and Mickey stands at the end of Main Street.
Main articles: List of current Disneyland attractions, List of past Disneyland attractions.
The park was designed by Walt Disney's movie studio staff to have five distinctly-themed "lands". Three more lands have been added since the park's opening.
At the center of the park stands Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Based on the stereotypical turn-of-the-20th-century city Main Street, Main Street, U.S.A. is home to many shops but is the only land in all of Disneyland without a permanent ride.
The 1880s-styled shops that line Main Street appear to be full two-story buildings. In reality, however, they implement forced perspective to give the illusion that they are full height. The second levels of the buildings are a few feet short of being full size. If the Disneyland architects had made the buildings a full two stories high, they would have looked incongruously tall compared to the castle.
Walt Disney said, "For those of us who remember the carefree time it recreates, Main Street will bring back happy memories. For younger visitors, it is an adventure in turning back the calendar to the days of grandfather's youth." Above the firehouse is Walt Disney's personal apartment, fully furnished but off-limits to the public. A lamp is kept burning in the window as a tribute to his memory.
Adventureland is designed to be an exotic tropical place in a far-off region of the world. "To create a land that would make this dream reality," said Walt Disney, "we pictured ourselves far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa."
Frontierland recreates the setting of pioneer days along the American frontier. According to Walt Disney, "All of us have cause to be proud of our country's history, shaped by the pioneering spirit of our forefathers. Our adventures are designed to give you the feeling of having lived, even for a short while, during our country's pioneer days."
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 fashion, but its 1983 refurbishment turned it into a Tyrolean village. Since Walt Disney felt that no park was complete without a carousel, an 1875-vintage carousel from Canada became "King Arthur's Carrousel" (sic), the centerpiece of the land.
In Walt Disney's words, "Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future."
Walt Disney was never completely satisfied with Tomorrowland. The area underwent a major transformation in 1967 to become "New Tomorrowland," and then again in 1998 when its focus was changed to present a "retro-future" theme reminiscent of the illustrations of Jules Verne.
New Orleans Square
The Haunted Mansion is patterned after a Southern plantation home.
New Orleans Square was among the last additions to Disneyland overseen by Walt Disney himself. Opened in 1966, it is meant to capture the flavor and architectural detail of New Orleans's Bourbon Street.
New Orleans Square is also home to a private club and restaurant, Club 33, located above the "Blue Bayou Restaurant" around the corner from the entrance to the Pirates Of The Caribbean. Not open to the general public and rarely mentioned in any of the park's promotional material, Club 33's membership costs around $7500-$10,000 per year with a waiting list several years long. The entrance to the club is a plain blue door, marked only with an address plaque bearing the number "33", immediately to the right of the Blue Bayou. It is the only place in Disneyland where alcoholic beverages are served.
Critter Country opened in 1972 as "Bear Country," and was renamed in 1988. It is themed after the animated segments of Disney's 1946 movie Song of the South.
Opened in 1993 and patterned after "Toontown" in the Disney/Touchstone Pictures 1988 release Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Mickey's Toontown looks like a 1930s Max Fleischer cartoon short come to life.
Walt Disney had a longtime interest in transportation, and railroads in particular. He had built a miniature steam railroad on the grounds of his own home. Therefore a number of different modes of transport were incorporated into the park. The transportation systems are in some respects intended more as entertainment rides than as a means of transporting guests.
Disneyland incorporates a steam railroad. Originally known as the Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad, it was sponsored by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Laid to three-foot gauge, the most common narrow gauge measurement used in North America, the railroad is laid in a continuous loop around the park. All the Disneyland locomotives burn diesel fuel, which is less polluting (though more expensive) than the coal, wood or heavy "Bunker C" oil normally used on steam locomotives.
Originally, two trains could operate on the railroad, running in opposite directions. A passing track was incorporated at Main Street station where one train had to wait to allow the other to pass. Later, for safety reasons and to allow the use of more than two trains, the line was changed so that trains in normal service run in a clockwise direction only. The passing track was disconnected and now is only used to display a handcar. The 1958 addition of the "Grand Canyon/Primeval World" diorama necessitated a change in the rolling stock as well; instead of facing forward, the benches of the new flatcars now faced right so that the diorama could be better enjoyed by the passengers. Five open-air, clerestory-roofed observation cars with forward-facing seats dating from the park's opening were returned to service in 2004 after undergoing a three-year restoration.
Another detail dating from the park's opening can be seen from the railroad. As the train passes behind the "it's a small world" attraction in Fantasyland, it crosses a service road that is protected by two miniature wigwag crossing signals. Santa Fe offered the use of full-scale crossing signals, but Disney declined as they would be out of scale with the trains. These scaled-down replicas were designed and built by the San Bernardino shops of the Santa Fe Railroad as a gift to Disneyland. They operate with automotive windshield wiper motors.
The Walt Disney Company constructed the original two locomotives in its own workshops under the supervision of Roger E. Broggie. Patterned after the Lilly Belle, a miniature steam locomotive Broggie had made for Walt's backyard Carolwood Pacific Railroad, these were also models of classic "Wild West" style American 4-4-0s, but built to a larger three-fifths scale. No. 1 was given a big wood-burning 'balloon' stack and large, pointed pilot (cowcatcher) while No. 2 was given a straight stack and smaller pilot common to East Coast coal-burning locomotives.
Two more locomotives were later acquired from outside sources, since this was cheaper than building new ones and since many narrow-gauge lines were closing down and selling their equipment. All three were given extensive renovations before entering service, including new boilers. No. 4 is a "Forney" locomotive, a type of tank locomotive. As an 1894 product of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, No. 4 is the oldest locomotive in service at any Disney property.
In 2004, Disney purchased the inoperable "Maud L." locomotive from the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, and sent it to a Southern California shop to restore it and transform it into a Disneyland Railroad locomotive. This loco will be Disneyland Railroad train #5, and will be the first Disneyland Railroad train added since 1959. The train will be named after the late Ward Kimball, one of Disney's Nine Old Men.
The railroad is undergoing a three-month restoration to bring the roadbed back to gauge in time for the park's fiftieth anniversary. It is the most prolonged closure of the railroad in park history.
Monorail Blue travels over the Submarine Voyage lagoon in Tomorrowland.
One of Disneyland's signature attractions is its Alweg monorail system, installed in 1959. The monorail track has remained almost exactly the same since 1961, aside from small alterations while Disney's California Adventure and Downtown Disney were being built. The monorail shuttles visitors between two stations, one in Disneyland itself (in Tomorrowland) and one outside the park, originally at the Disneyland Hotel but now, after the 2001 remodel, at the Downtown Disney shopping complex. It follows a 2.5 mile (4 km) long route designed to show off the park from above. Three generations of monorail cars have been used in the park, since their lightweight construction means they wear out quickly.
As of 2004, three monorail trains, Monorail Red, Monorail Blue, and Monorail Purple, are in regular service. A fourth train, Monorail Orange, was removed from service and shipped to Disney's engineering department in Burbank for disassembly and study so that new blueprints can be created from it, because Alweg, the company which originally built the monorail trains, has gone out of business.
Disneyland had signed a contract with the Alweg company which required the Alweg name to be displayed on the monorail. This conflicted with the contract with the Santa Fe that only their name could be associated with railroad attractions at the park. This caused a rift between Disneyland and the Santa Fe railroad, and eventually caused the breakdown in their relationship and the removal of Santa Fe sponsorship from the Disneyland Railroad.
Main Street vehicles
A number of vehicles, including a double-decker bus, a horse-drawn streetcar, an old-fashioned fire engine, and an old-fashioned automobile, are available for rides along Main Street, U.S.A.
The Disneyland Skyway, "the first aerial tramway of its kind in the United States"1, was one of the signature attractions at the park. Opened in 1956 by Walt Disney himself, it shuttled passengers between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland 100 feet (30 m) above the ground, giving passengers fantastic views of Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Matterhorn (which it went through), and the Autopia. A distinctive feature was that Disneyland maintained the 'on-stage/backstage' illusion to Skyway guests, covering any sites that would be unsuitable to guests that were also hidden to guests on foot.
The Skyway closed permanently November 10, 1994. Four years later, Tokyo Disneyland removed their Skyway; finally, in 1999 Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom removed theirs. No Skyways are left at any Disney park (Disneyland Paris never had a Skyway attraction).
The Tomorrowland station remained and was used as a maitenance bay for Rocket Rods beginning in 1998. It was removed shortly after the Rocket Rods closed in spring 2001.
The Fantasyland station remains still.
In addition to the attractions, Disneyland provides live entertainment throughout the park. Through the years, this has included:
- The Disneyland Band, which has been part of the park since its opening. Its members gather in flashy matching uniforms to open and close the park daily, then disburse and change costumes to spend the day playing music appropriate to the various themed lands, such as Dixieland music in New Orleans Square. One currently popular group is the Trash Can Band, which pops up unexpectedly in random places in the park. The Disneyland Band is traditionally all male.
- The Golden Horseshoe Saloon offers a live stage show with a frontier or old-west feel. The Golden Horseshoe Revue—an old-west Vaudeville type of show starting Slue Foot (or Sluefoot) Sue and Pecos Bill—ran until the mid-1980s, when it was replaced by a similar show starring Lily Langtree (or Miss Lily) and Sam the Bartender. Most recently, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies have played their guitars and banjos in a bluegrass-and-comedy show.
- The Barbershop Quartet often sings on Main Street.
- Stages throughout the park provide singing and dancing shows.
- Character actors in Frontierland provide small humorous skits with an old-west theme.
- Disney cartoon characters (cast members in costume) greet visitors, talk with children, and pose for photos. Characters who wear full-head masks to create their personas never speak; characters who do not need masks—including many of the female characters, such as princesses—have no such restriction.
- Character actors stroll up and down Main Street occasionally, chatting to guests and performing humous skits with each other. Characters include the town gossip, the mayor, and a host of others.
Ticket book circa 1975-1977.
From Disneyland's opening until the early 1980s, the price of attractions was in addition to the price of park admission. Park-goers paid a small sum to get into the park, then bought coupons (also called tickets), individually or in booklets, that allowed them access to rides and attractions. The least-expensive "A" tickets gave access to the smaller attractions, while the most-expensive "E" tickets gave access to the newest thrill rides or the most interesting and unusual attractions. This led to the still-popular term "E ticket ride" for any particularly outstanding, special, or thrilling experience.
Five-day one-price admission ticket.
In the 1970s, nearby Magic Mountain introduced a one-price admission ticket which allowed free access to all attractions within the park. This model spread rapidly to all other parks, including Disneyland, because its business advantages were obvious: in addition to guaranteeing that everyone paid a large sum even if they stayed for only a few hours and rode only a few rides, the park no longer had to print tickets or ticket books, staff ticket booths, or provide staff to collect tickets or monitor attractions for people sneaking on without tickets.
In 1999, in an effort to offset the long waits in line for the most popular attractions, Disney implemented a new service named FASTPASS. At attractions featuring FASTPASS, a guest can use his park admission ticket to obtain a FASTPASS ticket with a return time later that day (an hour-long window) printed on it. If the guest comes back to the attraction at his return time, he will get to wait in a shorter line and be on the attraction within ten minutes, or often much more quickly. Initially, only a few attractions offered this service, but its popularity ensured its spread to many of the park's attractions.
Some changes over the years have been made due to political correctness. The "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction was the final project in the park personally overseen by Walt Disney and carried his stamp of approval; the Audio-Animatronic pirates in one scene that had chased women from sheer lechery since 1967 now chase them from sheer hunger because they are carrying plates of food. Also, the formerly hostile Indians in Frontierland who once set a perpetually burning fire to a cabin along the "Rivers Of America" have been thoroughly pacified, and the settlers apparently no longer have need of firearms! After their pacification, tour guides tried to convey an environmental message by blaming the burning cabin on the recklessness of the drunken moonshiner living in the cabin, whose flames now threatened a nest of eagles in a nearby tree. Then they blamed river bandits. As of 2003, the cabin was no longer burning. As of late 2004, blank-shooting pistols have been reissued to the Jungle Cruise operators, although they are now fired in the air, rather than at the animatronic megafauna as in years past.
In the half-century that Disneyland has been in operation, nine guests and one cast member have died at the park. A greater number of guests have been injured.
Seven of the deaths were the result of negligence on the guests' part rather than the park's:
- In 1964, 15-year-old Mark Maples of Long Beach, California died after he stood up in the Matterhorn Bobsleds and fell out.
- In 1966, Thomas Guy Cleveland, 19, of Northridge, California was crushed by the Monorail during a Grad Nite celebration while trying to sneak into the park by climbing its track.
- In 1967, Ricky Lee Yama, 17, of Hawthorne, California was crushed while jumping between two moving PeopleMover cars.
- In 1973, Bogden Delaurot, 18, of Brooklyn, New York drowned while trying to carry his little brother swimming across the Rivers of America.
- In 1980, Gerrardo Gonzales, 18, of San Diego, California was crushed by the PeopleMover while jumping between moving cars.
- In 1983, Philip Straughan, 18, of Albuquerque, New Mexico drowned in the Rivers of America while trying to pilot a rubber emergency boat from Tom Sawyer's Island.
- In 1984, Dolly Regene Young, 48, of Fremont, California unbuckled her seatbelt and was thrown from a Matterhorn Bobsleds car and struck by an oncoming train.
In 1974, cast member Deborah Gail Stone, 19, of nearby Santa Ana, California was crushed to death by a revolving wall in the now-closed "America Sings" attraction. She was in the wrong place during a ride intermission; it was unclear whether this was due to inadequate training or a misstep. The attraction was subsequently refitted with breakaway walls.
On December 26, 1998, a metal cleat aboard the sailing ship "Columbia" tore loose, striking three people in the head. Of them, Luan Phi Dawson, 33, of Duvall, Washington, died of a head injury. The park received much criticism for this incident due to its policy of restricting outside medical personnel in the park to avoid frightening visitors, as well as for the fact that the cast member in charge of the ship at the time was a novice.
On September 5, 2003, 22-year-old Marcelo Torres of nearby Gardena, California died after suffering injuries in a derailment of the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster. The cause of the accident was determined to be improper maintenance.
In August 1970, Disneyland was literally invaded by several Yippies who planned the stunt as an attack on what they saw as bloated establishment decadence. In their leaflets, they stated they would help "liberate" Minnie Mouse. They raised a Viet Cong flag on Tom Sawyer's Island, filled the now-closed Inner Space dark ride with marijuana smoke, and caused the closing of the park for the rest of the day until they were rounded up by police.
With memories of this event in mind, in May 1989, park security personnel were prepared for rumors of an invasion of the park by neo-Nazis, in honor of the birth of an obscure Nazi leader named Gregor Strasser. Although several leaflets were published announcing this, only one car of skinheads was seen in the parking lot before the park opened, and none entered.
Some cast members and visitors have reported seeing ghosts in the park, including those of the people who have died in the park. Supposedly, there also are actual ghosts in the Haunted Mansion. Some claim to have witnessed Walt Disney's spirit itself in the Disney Gallery above the Pirates of the Caribbean.
In 2005, The Walt Disney Company will celebrate fifty years of Disneyland. The official celebration will begin on May 5. For more details, see the Happiest Homecoming on Earth.
- 1Disneyland the First Quarter Century (1979). Walt Disney Productions.
- Yesterland (http://www.yesterland.com/skyway.html).
- Daily park brochures from Summer 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002