Literally people talk about it, write books and blogs about it, read the things that people write about it, while others reference it regardless of whether or not having passed through its gates. I’m talking about Disneyland - the original built amongst oranges groves in Anaheim, California, USA, whose gates opened to the public July 17, 1955 - the most remarkable of the Disney parks dotting the globe and without question remarkable beyond comparison to other theme parks.
Right off the bat, on these topics:
• History: Disneyland is the first.
• Licensing: Characters live beyond theatrical runs.
• Marketing: It’s an actual place where you can spend time with the characters.
• Amusement parks: It reset the standards of quality, service and cleanliness.
• Experience: it’s new, nostalgic, fun, thrilling, scary, spectacular, lyrical and tasty. It is noisy, crowded and expensive, and yet still nets to being magic.
I say that its remarkable-ness is inextricable from Walt Disney and his paraphrased notion that there just should be a place like it.
It’s remarkable that a park of popcorn and carrousels expanded to the complex with different themed lands that Walt and Herb Ryman created over a September weekend in 1953 as a pitch to investors. It’s quite a thing to go from the height of controlled story-telling that is animation, to re-inventing an entertainment form which both envelops its audience and relies on the audience’s interaction.
It’s remarkable in that even with all his business and personal finances put into it, Walt needed investors, and he got them at a time when amusement parks were thought of as a dirty source of entertainment.
It’s something in the fact that after one year and one week Disneyland was constructed amongst farms off an exit from a new highway. Hoover Dam took five years to build, the St. Louis Arch required over two years and Walt Disney World with its first park took four years.
It’s remarkable that people argue which is better, Disneyland or Walt Disney World - an inaccurate comparison of a single 85 acre park to a 30,000 acre resort which should be a feeble contest when WDW began as a project for Walt to improve upon the faults and shortcomings of the original. (Disneyland IS better with 80 attractions compared to WDW, Magic Kingdom’s 46).
It’s remarkable in that after 55 years and 45 after Walt’s death, the folks inheriting the custodianship of Disneyland have neither screwed it up by allowing it to become worn and outdated, nor ruined it by “improving” it beyond recognition. Having been away from that custodian status (three runs, about 11 non-consecutive years) for over a decade, I still care for what goes on within it’s berm. It’s gets in you and stays with you, host and guest alike.
With all the bad things about people, you’d think that a thing like Disneyland should not exist or last, but still it just kind of should. That’s kind of remarkable.
“[The idea for Disneyland] came about when my two daughters were very young and Saturday was always Daddy’s day with the two daughters. So we’d start out and try to go someplace, you know, different things, and I’d take them to the merry-go-round and took them different places and as I’d sit while they rode the merry-go-round and did all these things--sit on a bench, you know, eating peanuts--
“I felt that there should be something built where the parents and the children could have fun together. So that's how Disneyland started.
“Well, it took many years... it was a period of maybe 15 years developing. I started with many ideas, threw them away, started all over again. And eventually it evolved into what you see today at Disneyland. But it all started from a daddy with two daughters wondering where he could take them where he could have a little fun with them, too.”
— Walt Disney