July 17: Mouse House

2016/07/17 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1955 Disneyland opened.

The 160-acre park in Anaheim was planned directly under the direction of Walt Disney.  Its big day was a glitzy but soft opening; “Dedication Day” welcomed only media muckety-mucks, although at-home viewers could tune in to see the proceedings as they were telecast on ABC (an investor in the project).  Regular folk got to actually walk through the Castle on the 18th.

The original park included five sections.  On “Main Street, USA” visitors could ride horse-drawn surreys and fire away at a shooting range (raising the question, what Main Street was Walt thinking of?).  “Fantasyland” had (and has) some of Disney’s most iconic amusements: flying Dumbos, the Mad Tea Party, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  “Advntureland” still has its jungle cruise and that’s about it.  “Frontierland” is the section that aged least well–Davey Crockett, the Conestoga wagon and the Stagecoach Ride apparently didn’t attract enough attention from kids even in the 1950s.  “Tomorrowland” was not just a peek into future-world but a glorious exercise in capitalism: amusements were three-dimensional advertisements for companies from Dutch Boy paint to Richfield Oil.

The corporate associations, from the ABC docu-mercial to the Monsanto Hall of Chemistry (no joke) is at first glance pretty crass trade, but perhaps it was just the most upfront and honest part of this whole venture.  Disneyland promises to make dreams come true, and that fantasy comes at a price (currently $95 to $120 depending on your age and level of impatience).  And really that’s not so much for your ticket to the happiest place on earth.

image: it’s the Castle!


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