“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
- Walt Disney, July 17th 1955
Today marks the 60 year anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney's now world famous (and world changing) theme park, Disneyland.
The event was filmed (video). Ronald Reagan introduced Walt at the dedication (@ minute 12:18 in clip), who then read his dedication speech. Also notable were three military chaplains present to represent the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths. Following the dedication speech a prayer was offered, the governor spoke, bells tolled, a flag was also dedicated and raised.
I have known walt disney for many years and have long been aware of the spiritual motivation in the heart of this man who has dreamed Disneyland into being. Let us join with him then in dedicating these wonder filled acres to those things near to his heart and our hearts: to understanding and good will among men; laughter for children; memories for the mature; and aspiration for young people everywhere. And beyond the creeds that would divide us, let us unite in a silent prayer that this and every worthy endeavor may prosper at God's hand. Let us bow in prayer. <Silent moment, Walt, dignitaries, and attendees bow heads> Amen.
Governor Goodwin Knight:
Today is a wonderful day as all of America is proud as we open Disneyland. This is a wondrous community with all of the charm of the old world and all of the progress and ingenuity of the new world. Yes this is a wonderful place for children and grown ups alike. There are replicas of every town and city in America. Stores, libraries, schools, just like your home town. All built by American labor and American capital under the belief that this is a God fearing and a God loving country and as we dedicate this flag now we do it with the knowledge that we are the fortunate ones to be Americans and that we extend to everyone everywhere the great ideals of Americanism, brotherhood, and peace on earth, goodwill towards men.
A flyover and parade ended the dedication ceremonies. The following day the doors were opened to the general public (though much of the park was still under development.)
The pace of the building of Disneyland is remarkable. For a variety of reasons, including our abundant regulations and red-tape bureaucracy, it would be nearly impossible to accomplish such a feat today, and it would be exceedingly more costly. The land was undeveloped in 1953. Opening day was in July 1955. The cost was $17 million (today that is probably over $150 mil. in 2015 dollars.)
Remember, Disneyland is more than the place. Even if the park itself and company were to disappear overnight - it is a way of thinking and the spirit to which the place was dedicated: the ideals, dreams, and hard facts that created America.
"Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." - Walt Disney
Read the Biography recommended by those that knew him best, including Walt's daughter: Walt Disney, An American Original.
Disneyland Opening July 17 1955
The Walt Disney Family Museum
My, oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine, headin’ my way,
Ray Gilbert, © 1945 Walt Disney Music Company.