Walt Disney and the idea of an amusement park were made for each other and, in 1952, his plan to create a rather special amusement park was first made public. His aim was to give families an amusement park which was clean and organized, with something to give pleasure to both parents and children, and which would engender a feeling of happy excitement.
The amusement park had been a dream of his from before the Second World War but had to be put on hold until peace was restored. A suitable site was found in Anaheim in California in 1953. This was an orange grove and before work started, the trees had to be taken out and 15 houses moved. Walt was later to regret not buying more land so that the amusement park could have expanded easily.
Once construction began, it was a case of everyone working flat out to get the amusement park finished as it was intended to open the following year. 6, 000 invitations were sent out and on July 17th 1954 the park opened – and surprisingly 28, 000 ticket holders went through the doors!
The amusement park, which cost $17m to build, was divided into five areas and reflected Disney’s philosophy of respecting the past, looking to the future and firing imaginations. Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland [with the Sleeping Beauty Castle] and Tomorrowland made up the amusement park when it first opened. Since then there have been many changes so that the amusement park has kept up with the times. As Disney has
introduced new and loved characters, they have been introduced into the amusement park so that there is always something fresh to attract visitors back.
Disneyland was always something more than just a commercial venture to Walt Disney. He had an apartment in the amusement park, situated in the fire
station on Main Street and he kept a close eye on things to ensure that standards were kept high, particularly where cleanliness was concerned. He and his wife, Lilian, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary at the amusement park, which confirms the attachment he felt towards it.
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