When his daughters were little,Walt Disney would take them to play at the carousel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles every Sunday. While his daughters enjoyed their repeated rides, Disney sat on park benches with the other parents who had nothing to do but watch. It was on these Sunday excursions that Walt Disney began to dream of an activity park that had things for both children and parents to do. Disney hired the Stanford Research Institute to find an appropriate location that consisted of at least 100-acres, was located near Los Angeles, and could be reached by a freeway. The company found for Disney a 160-acre orange orchard in Anaheim, California.
While Walt Disney put up much of his own money to make his dream a reality, he didn’t have enough personal money to complete the project. Many of the financiers could not envision the monetary rewards of a place of dreams. To gain financial support for his project, Disney turned to the new medium of television. Disney made a plan with ABC: ABC would help finance the park if Disney would produce a television show on their channel. The program Walt created was called “Disneyland” and showed previews of the different themed areas in the new, upcoming park.
On July 21, 1954, construction on the park began and completed in a year. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened for a few thousand specially invited visitors; the following day, Disneyland officially opened to the public with an entrance fee of $1. What was true when Walt Disney stated it during the opening ceremonies in 1955 still stands true today: “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. Thank you.”
Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with over 650 million guests since it opened.