This Day in History – Disneyland Opens

In 1955, the world of theme parks changed forever. Disneyland, originally known as Disneyland Park, opened to the public on July 17, 1955, in Anaheim, California.

According to Disney lore, Walt Disney came up with the idea for Disneyland after he visited numerous amusement parks with his daughters throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1953, he bought a 160-acre site in Anaheim, and construction began on the theme park in 1954.

Since the park first opened, people have visited Disneyland over 726 million times. The amusement park has been so successful that Disney went on to open a number of other Disney parks, both in the US and around the world. In addition to Disneyland, there is also Walt Disney World (located in Florida), Disneyland Paris, Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and Tokyo Disney Resort.

Although each of the Disney parks is amazing, there’s nothing quite like the original in California. Take a trip through memory lane by looking through these historic photos of Disneyland from opening day!

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Cowboys on horseback ride across a bridge into Frontierland on opening day. It’s not typical to see people on horseback at Disneyland nowadays, but on opening day in 1955, there were real-life cowboys on the property.


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The parking lot was completely full on Disneyland’s opening day. People were so desperate to get into the park that some even parked illegally — just look at the car in the front left; that’s definitely not a parking spot!


Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

On opening day, parkgoers couldn’t wait to try out the attractions — from rides to games to restaurants. People couldn’t get enough. In this photo, kids and adults alike stand in line to get a chance to go on the Tomorrowland boat ride attraction.


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The Circus Train ride was an exact replica of the Casey Jr. train from the movie Dumbo. In the background of this photo, you can also see people floating down a lazy river on a boat.


Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Kids spin in the iconic teacup ride at Disneyland on opening day. This ride, located in Fantasyland, was officially called the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The teacups are still an iconic Disney ride.


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