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Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks built
at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, opened on July 17, 1955. It is
the only theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt
Disney. It was originally the only attraction on the property; its name was
changed to Disneyland Park to distinguish it from the expanding complex in the
Walt Disney came up with the concept of Disneyland after visiting various amusement parks with his daughters in the 1930s and 1940s. He initially envisioned building a tourist attraction adjacent to his studios in Burbank to entertain fans who wished to visit; however, he soon realized that the proposed site was too small. After hiring a consultant to help him determine an appropriate site for his project, Walt bought a 160-acre (65 ha) site near Anaheim in 1953. Construction began in 1954 and the park was unveiled during a special televised press event on the ABC Television Network on July 17, 1955.
Since its opening, Disneyland has undergone a number of expansions and renovations, including the addition of New Orleans Square in 1966, Bear Country (now Critter Country) in 1972, and Mickey's Toontown in 1993. Disney California Adventure Park was built on the site of Disneyland's original parking lot and opened in 2001.
Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with over 650 million guests since it opened. In 2011, the park hosted approximately 16.14 million guests, making it the second most visited park in the world that calendar year.2 According to a March 2005 report from the Disney Company, there are 65,700 jobs supported by the Disneyland Resort, which includes, at the Resort itself, 20,000 direct Disney employees and 3,800 third-party employees (that is, independent contractors or their employees).
Disneyland was dedicated at an "International Press Preview" event held on Sunday, July 17, 1955, which was only open to invited guests and the media. Although 28,000 people attended the event, only about half of those were actual invitees, the rest having purchased counterfeit tickets.16 The following day, it opened to the public, featuring twenty attractions. The Special Sunday events, including the dedication, were televised nationwide and anchored by three of Walt Disney's friends from Hollywood: Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan. ABC broadcast the event live, during which many guests tripped over the television camera cables.17 In Frontierland, a camera caught Cummings kissing a dancer. When Disney started to read the plaque for Tomorrowland, he read partway then stopped when a technician off-camera said something to him, and after realizing he was on-air, said, "I thought I got a signal",17 and began the dedication from the start. At one point, while in Fantasyland, Linkletter tried to give coverage to Cummings, who was on the pirateship. He was not ready, and tried to give the coverage back to Linkletter, who had lost his microphone. Cummings then did a play-by-play of him trying to find it in front of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.17
Traffic was delayed on the two-lane Harbor Boulevard.17 Famous figures who were scheduled to show up every two hours showed up all at once. The temperature was an unusually high 101 ¡ãF (38 ¡ãC), and because of a local plumbers' strike, Disney was given a choice of having working drinking fountains or running toilets. He chose the latter, leaving many drinking fountains dry. This generated negative publicity since Pepsi sponsored the park's opening; disappointed guests believed the inoperable fountains were a cynical way to sell soda, while other vendors ran out of food. The asphalt that had been poured that morning was soft enough to let ladies' high-heeled shoes sink into it. A gas leak in Fantasyland caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland to close for the afternoon. Some parents threw their children over the crowd's shoulders to get them onto rides, such as the King Arthur Carrousel.18 In later years, Disney and his 1955 executives referred to July 17, 1955 as "Black Sunday".
After the extremely negative press from the preview opening, Walt Disney invited attendees back for a private "second day" to experience Disneyland properly. The next day, crowds gathered in line as early as 2:00 am. The first person to buy a ticket and enter the park was David MacPherson with ticket number 2, as Roy O. Disney arranged to pre-purchase ticket number 1 from Curtis Lineberry, the manager of admissions. However, an official picture of Walt Disney and two children, Christine Vess Watkins (age 5) and Michael Schwartner (7), inaccurately identifies them as the first two guests of Disneyland. Both received lifetime passes to Disneyland that day, and MacPherson was awarded one shortly thereafter, which was later expanded to every single Disney-owned park in the world. Approximately 50,000 guests attended the Monday opening day. Download