The Not-So-Happy Story of Disneyland’s Grand Opening

It was on July 17, 1955, when the first crowds of eager visitors made their way across the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty’s castle to enter the brand new Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. The special day was televised nationwide and anchored by three of Walt Disney’s friends from Hollywood: Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan.

Disneyland’s opening day didn’t turn out to be a “dream come true,” however; and it wasn’t exactly “the happiest place on earth” either. The event was supposed to be only for invited guests and the media, but of the 28,000 people who attended, only about half were actually invitees. The rest of them had purchased counterfeit tickets. There was a traffic jam on the road leading to Disneyland. Vendors ran out of food. Because of a local plumbers’ strike, Walt Disney was given a choice of having working drinking fountains or running toilets and he chose the latter. This generated negative publicity since Pepsi sponsored the park’s opening, and thirsty guests believed the inoperable fountains were a cynical way to sell soda. The temperature on that day was an unusually high 101 degrees, and the freshly poured asphalt was so soft that ladies’ high-heeled shoes sank into it. A gas leak in Fantasyland caused a portion of the park to close for the afternoon. Disneyland got such bad press that Walt Disney and his executives referred to the day as “Black Sunday.”

If you’re a Disney fan, take a step back in time to see how Disneyland came to be: – Disneyland’s Beginnings – Disneyland Timeline – Disneyland’s History – The Sounds of Disneyland (includes the dedication speech given by Walt Disney on the opening day of Disneyland)

Did You Know…? “Doritos” (Spanish for “little golden things”) were first created at Casa de Fritos, a Mexican restaurant in Frontierland, out of old tortillas that otherwise would have been thrown away. This was done without the knowledge of the Frito Co., but in 1961 the newly merged Frito-Lay Company noticed the popularity of the item and decided to mass-produce them. The snack debuted nationwide in 1966. (“How Doritos Were Born At Disneyland“)

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