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23 Magical, Mind-Blowing Facts About Disneyland

Celebrate more than six decades of Disneyland with these facts about its disastrous first day, its secret tribe of feral cats, the one ride with actual human bones, and more.

Children sprint across a drawbridge and into a castle that marks the entrance to Fantasyland at the opening of Walt Disney's Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. Fantasyland had been closed until late in the dayUncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Understaffed, behind schedule, and so short on flowering plants that landscapers had to adorn weeds with plaques bearing fake Latin names, Disneyland opened its gates for the first time on July 17, 1955.

Despite the frantic lead-up, Disneyland’s inauguration drew nearly 30,000 guests on the first day—about three times as many people than had actually been invited for the special press preview, many holding counterfeit tickets—and Walt Disney’s life’s work began to blossom. Here are 23 mind-blowing Disneyland facts compiled from Chris Strodder's epic The Disneyland Book of Lists.

Disneyland - Sleeping Beauty Castle under construction - 1955.Everett/REX/Shutterstock

Disneyland was almost built in Burbank, California

Before Disney chose Anaheim, he almost built his park on a seven-acre studio lot in Burbank. The meager playground would be called “Walt Disney’s America.” Fortunately for us all, his dreams grew quickly. You'll definitely want to see Walt Disney's first map of Disneyland

Walt Disney crosses the drawbridge that serves as the entrance to the castle in what will be the heart of Disneyland, in California on April 16, 1955. It's located at the end of Main Street and will house part of Fantasyland. This is the castle where you can see the dining hall awaiting the returning King Arthur's Knights, Sleeping Beauty slumbering, Peter Pan ride, Alice in Wonderland's story and many others. (AP Photo/David F. Smith)David F. Smith/Shutterstock

The amusement park was built on a 160-acre orange grove

Disneyland displaced more than 12,000 orange trees. Park landscapers Jack and Bill Evans tried to make up for it though: More than 40 species of flowers and 700 exotic trees grow along the Jungle Cruise alone, and the iconic Mickey-head topiary out front contains 10,000 flowers—replanted six times a year.

Elizabeth Taylor and boy friend Eddie Fisher hold her children by her marriage to actor Michael Wilding as they begin one of the fantasy rides during an outing at Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif., on . The boys are Michael (left), 6, and Christopher, 4Don Brinn/Shutterstock

Disney nicknamed the park’s opening day “Black Sunday”

The very first opening day at Disneyland was a complete madhouse! As more and more people crowded into the amusement park, masses of food, drink, and bathroom shortages abounded.  But wait, it gets worse. The summer heat even melted the freshly poured pavement, which trapped some women who wore high heels. Plus, the large crowds nearly tilted the Mark Twain Riverboat over into the lake because the ride had exceeded its passenger capacity. Don't get any Disneyland facts confused with Disney World's, though. Check out the real difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Tallia Storm and Emily Canham enjoy Disney Stars on Parade during the launch of Marvel Summer of Super Heroes at Disneyland Paris.Jon Furniss/Shutterstock

Many initial press reviews were scathing, but inconsequential

Despite the bad reviews, approximately 50,000 people attended the public opening the very next day.  Some even arrived in line as early as 2 a.m.

Roy Disney Son Of Roy Oliver And Nephew Of Walt Disney Is Pictured At The Opening Of Euro Disney. Roy Died Of Stomach Cancer 17/12/2009 At The Age Of 79.Clive Limpkin/Shutterstock

Walt’s brother purchased the first Disneyland admission ticket

On July 18, 1955, Roy O. Disney, Walt's brother, purchased the park's very first ticket for only one dollar, a mere bargain compared to today's prices charging more than $100 for a one-day park pass. The park sold its one-millionth ticket less than two months later on September 8.

Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, California, USAMarc Rasmus/Shutterstock

The annual attendance in Disneyland’s first year reached the millions mark

Nearly 3.6 million people visited Disneyland in its first year. Today, the park serves roughly 16 million people each year. Want more Disneyland facts? These are the 8 secret spots you never knew existed in Disney parks.

Feral Cat at Recoleta CemeteryDene Miles/Shutterstock

Disneyland is home to dozens of feral cats

For years, staffers have fed these so-called Disneyland Cats as a free pest-control solution. Today, you might spot some at the feeding station near the Hungry Bear Restaurant, but they weren’t always welcome. When Walt Disney stumbled upon the first flea-infested batch of cats inside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in 1955, he adopted them out to staff members as quickly as possible. 

The Shanghai Disney Resort is a theme park resort built by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, attracting many tourists around ChinaSipa Asia/Shutterstock

Guests spend 83 times more on average today than they did 63 years ago 

The average cost per guest per day in 1955 was about $2.37: $1 for admission, $0.25 for parking, and the rest for rides and souvenirs. The cost for a similar visit today: $196 (an 83-fold rate hike). Make sure you know these 14 ways to save big money on your next Disney trip vacation

Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean AttractionJim Smeal/Shutterstock

The most popular attraction at Disneyland, and in the entire world, is Pirates of the Caribbean

Since its 1967 debut, Pirates has entertained close to a third of a billion passengers. Learn more about the real-life places that inspired Disney park rides like Pirates of the Caribbean. 

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