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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.