Many people have been to Disneyland; in fact, millions flock to both Disneyland and Disney World every year, from around the world. But few stop to think about how and why Walt Disney decided to build these amazing parks. This article will talk a little bit about that, as well as how the planning process worked, the success of the park, and the goals that Walt was trying to achieve when he built and opened up Disneyland, the park that would change the world forever.
Walt Disney the man
Walt Disney was born in Illinois in 1901. In his early years, he loved to draw and paint, and was a young entrepreneur who would sell his art to family, friends, and neighbors. Around age 10, Walt’s family moved to Kansas where Walt fell in love with trains (his uncle was an engineer). In high school, he took courses in cartooning, photography, drawing, and was on the school newspaper. Walt later began making commercials for the Kansas City Film Ad Company and from there opened up his own animation business. Around 1923, Walt and his brother moved to Hollywood and opened the Disney Brothers’ Studio. Shortly after that, a legend was born. Walt brought Mickey Mouse to life in Steamboat Willie, which was an instant success.
Ideas for the park
The initial idea for Disneyland came when Walt was out spending the day with his daughters- he took them to ride the carrosel, and while he sat on a park bench watching and eating a bag of peanuts, he realized there should be a way that he and his daughters could enjoy the park together. This was to become Walt’s guiding principle behind Disneyland, it would be the first place of it’s kind where children and parents could go to enjoy themselves and have fun. Plans in the beginning were designed on an 8-acre plot, which sat next the studios in Burbank. Though Walt drafted up a few great ideas for the Burbank lot, the animation business was still riding high and his attention needed to be with that. However, the idea for Disneyland still remained high in Walt’s mind and he knew he would get back to it.
In 1953, Walt had a plot of 100 acres right outside of Los Angeles surveyed. He wanted to create his “magic kingdom”; this would be his Disneyland. His vision was to have room to build great nature landscapes; things like mountains, waterfalls, rivers, castles, a railroad, giant teacups, and flying elephants. Eventually Walt decided to buy a 160-acre plot of land for his park, at an orange grove located in Anaheim, California.
The creation of Disneyland
When Walt Disney was asked during construction and beginning plans about how he would create his vision of a huge castle, near-real animals, a paddleboat, among other attractions, he already knew what he was going to do. In fact, the park that opened in 1955 was already mapped and planned out. Walt planned out Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierland, and even Fantasyland. His goal was to give families a place where dreams could come true, where parents and children could learn a little about history, and people could take a trip to another world all together.
The park, once built, cost a total of $17 million. Opening day at the park was more than anyone could have imagined, with a variety of new lands and 18 attractions. Disney had sent out 6,000 invitations to the Grand Opening, but by mid-afternoon, the park had over 28,000 guests (many of those tickets turned out to be fake). The park had a rough start, including a massive heat wave, plumbing problems, and other small issues. Many people thought that park would not last.
After only 5 years, Walt Disney Productions increased its gross income from $6 million to over $70 million. Despite the bad start, ten years later, Disneyland had seen 50 million guests in its park. Two years later, in 1967, Disneyland opened what would become its most popular attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean. In 1969, the Haunted Mansion opened, and at the time was the most technologically advanced attraction anywhere.
In 1966, Walt Disney passed away. His last film, Mary Poppins, was the top earning film of 1965. After his death, his brother Roy took over the business. From the 1980s to the 1990s, Disney’s stock grew exponentially. One great thing that Walt said before he passed, and that keeps the Disney franchise going, was “if you dream it, you can do it”.
Although Walt missed many great things that Disney has produced, no one can say that he would not be proud of what his brother Roy and Roy’s sucessor’s were able to do in his absence. Not only has Disneyland now become two parks in one, many others parks have also opened. These include resorts in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Hawaii, and Disneyworld in Florida. There is also a park in Paris, and Disney owns a unique cruise line, similar to a floating park, a perfect vacation for any family.
Walt’s vision of creating something that families can do together has indeed become a reality. The Disney franchise is now a worldwide company, and families from all over the world travel to enjoy these parks and cruises that Walt created and later helped inspire. Disneyland is an experience that every family should enjoy. The Disney experience is one that you and your family will never forget.