California: Disneyland

“To all that 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 hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”

Walt Disney

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Walt Disney conceived the idea for Disneyland while he was visiting Griffith Park in Los Angeles with his daughters Diane and Sharon. While watching them ride the merry-go-round, he came up with the concept of a place where adults and children could have fun together. The original plans for the park were for an 8 acre property next to the Burbank studios where his employees and their families could go to relax. Unfortunately, World War II put those plans on hold but it did not prevent Walt from coming up with new ideas  for his magical park. It soon became evident that 8 acres wouldn’t suffice.

He hired the Stanford Research Institute to help find an appropriate site for his project and ultimately purchased a 160-acre orange grove near Anaheim in 1953. Construction for the park began on July 21, 1954 and it was unveiled during a special televised press event on ABC Television on July 17, 1955.  Disneyland is the only theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney.

Walt had planned out all the lands in the park to every minute detail.  Main Street, U.S.A., situated at the very front of the park, was where Walt wanted to create a typical turn of the century city. Adventureland was to be an exotic tropical place in a “far-off region of the world.” Frontierland was to help visitors relive the pioneer days of the American frontier. Fantasyland was conceived with the goal of  making dreams come true from the lyrics of “When You Wish Upon a Star.”  It would feature a large Sleeping Beauty Castle and a Fantasy Village. Tomorrowland was created as a window to peek  at the “marvels of the future.”

Since its opening, Disneyland has undergone a number of expansions and renovations, including the addition of New Orleans Square in 1966, Bear Country in 1972, and Mickey’s Toontown in 1993. The Disney California Adventure Park was built on the site of Disneyland’s original parking lot and opened in 2001.  Over the years the park has welcomed more than 650 million visitors!

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The Dapper Dans entertain the crowds on Mainstreet USA in barbershop style

The Dapper Dans entertain the crowds on Mainstreet USA in barbershop style

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion decorated for the holidays

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion decorated for the holidays

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An elephant surprises guests on the Jungle Cruise

An elephant surprises guests on the Jungle Cruise

Polynesian dancers sway to the drums in It's A Small World

Polynesian dancers sway to the drums in It’s A Small World

Dumbo the ride in Fantasy Land

Dumbo the ride in Fantasy Land

Mickey's Toontown

Mickey’s Toontown

One of the many character appearances in Toontown

One of the many character appearances in Toontown

Autopia the ride in Tomorrow Land

Autopia the ride in Tomorrow Land

Tom Sawyer's Island located in the Rivers of America

Tom Sawyer’s Island located in the Rivers of America

Disney's Holiday Parade on Mainstreet USA

Disney’s Holiday Parade on Mainstreet USA

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The Evil Queen makes an appearance in Fantasy Land

The Evil Queen makes an appearance in Fantasy Land

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Minnie Mouse all decked out for Halloween

Minnie Mouse all decked out for Halloween

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Disneyland Webpage: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/

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