Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, opened on 17 July 1955. It is the only theme park designed and built to completion under the direct supervision of Walt Disney.
- On July 17, 1955, Disneyland had its invitation-only opening day gala, which was broadcast live on ABC. Nearly half the American population watched the festivities from the comfort of their own living rooms. Eleven thousand people were invited to the park; several thousand more arrived and tried to get in with counterfeit tickets. The day was filled with record-level heat and mishaps – Fantasyland was closed by a nearby gas leak, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride succumbed to an overload of the park's power grid – but Walt Disney was ecstatic. When the park opened to the public the next day, visitors were lined up as early as 2:00 AM. The New York Times ran the headline, "Disneyland Gates Open -- Play Park on Coast Jammed -- 15,000 on Line Before 10 AM." Within its first ten weeks, Disney's new amusement park attracted one million visitors. By 1960, that number would rise to five million visitors per year.
- Disneyland became a destination for not just a national audience, including nine former and future U.S. presidents, but an international one. In 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev famously protested his exclusion from Disneyland when the Los Angeles police chief claimed that the leader's safety could not be guaranteed within the park. Prime Minister Nehru of India touched down in the park, as did the King and Queen of Nepal, the Shah of Iran, and political leaders from Europe, Africa and South America. For foreign dignitaries and heads of state, Disneyland provided a window into American culture and history. "What introduces all of it, that you have to go through when you come into the park," historian Steven Watts explains, 'is this idealized rendering of small-town America, the values, the feel, the ethics, all of that. What Disney’s trying to do at some level of awareness is to create an image of America that people would like to think exists."
- American Experience, “Reinventing the American Amusement Park“, PBS.
- Disneyland is not an independent state.
- As Michael Steiner has shown, Disneyland is both a purveyor of national mythology and a powerful symbol of late-modern American life. It is defined by pleasant consumerism, free of dirt, disorder and unhappy noise. And it promises limitless choices of entertainment and education. Behind these promises and the experience of Disneyland, however, is a network of careful management and manipulation, the staging of a powerful message that legitimates a suburban vision of American life and hides not only conflicts over it but also a large labor force of low-wage entertainment, food service, and maintenance workers.
- Encyclopedic article on Disneyland at Wikipedia