Disneyland: A Chronology

1955: With much of Hollywood in attendance, Walt Disney opened the Magic Kingdom on July 17. On the park’s first day, 28,154 guests (left) took their first looks at the original Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland and Adventureland.

1957: On New Year’s Eve the park welcomed its 10-millionth visitor. During the year, Shirley Temple Black unveiled the interior of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The first extensive nighttime operation hours kept the park open through midnight during the summer months.

1959: Vice President Richard M. Nixon dedicated the Alweg Monorail System, which Disney officials said was “America’s first daily operating monorail fleet.” The park changed Anaheim’s skyline with the 147-foot, snow-capped Matterhorn Mountain and bobsled runs.


1962: Harry James, Benny Goodman, Ray Anthony and Count Basie brought the big-band sounds to Disneyland. The Swiss Family Tree House was added to Adventureland, and the landmark Pavilion Restaurant was opened on Main Street Plaza.

1965: What became one of Disneyland’s longest-running shows, “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,” opened at the Main Street Opera House. An animated Abraham Lincoln (right) continues to conduct town meetings for park guests. Frank Sinatra Jr. helped the park ring in its 10th anniversary.

1966: Walt Disney died Dec. 15. His brother, Roy O. Disney, pledged to continue plans for the park’s expansion. That year, New Orleans Square became the first new theme area since the park’s opening.

1967: Pirates of the Caribbean, an audio-animatronics attraction that takes visitors on a boat ride through raucous city scenes and into a high-seas battle, opened. A new Tomorrowland was opened with seven new attractions.

1969: New Orleans Square was expanded with a Haunted Mansion that had nearly 1,000 ghosts prowling the halls. A new monorail station was completed in Tomorrowland to accommodate four newly designed, air-cushioned trains.

1970: Civil disturbances rocked the park as about 75 long-haired youths took over Tom Sawyer’s Island. The park was closed, and helmeted riot police marched in to dislodge the youths.

1971: The 100-millionth guest visited the park. Roy O. Disney, Walt Disney Co. chairman, died. Company officials credited him with providing the “financial wizardry” that allowed his brother’s creations to survive and grow.

1972: The park’s seventh theme land, Bear Country (since renamed Critter Country), brought the backwoods flavor of the great Northwest to Anaheim with new attractions and food outlets.

1975: Disneyland celebrated its 20th birthday. The park updated its Flight to the Moon attraction with the opening of Mission to Mars in Tomorrowland.

1977: Astronauts Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra and Alan Shepard dedicated the opening of “Space Mountain,” a futuristic roller-coaster ride through outer space.

1979: A 15-day strike by 500 crafts and maintenance workers ended when union members reversed their earlier decision and decided to accept the park’s wage and benefit package. Big Thunder Railroad in Frontierland opened. The ride takes visitors on a trip through deep gorges in a setting resembling the Gold Rush country in California.

1980: The park celebrated its 25th anniversary with a daily parade presented January through November, featuring more than 250 performers.

1983: Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian Disney, helped dedicate the park’s new Fantasyland, featuring Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. Updated versions of Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Peter Pan’s Flight also were unveiled.

1984: Disneyland workers went on strike (above) for 22 days before ratifying a new contract.

1985: Disneyland began a yearlong celebration of its 30th birthday that included the awarding of a new car to every 3,000th person who entered the park July 17. For the first time, park began seven-days-a-week operation.

1987: Hollywood’s George Lucas helped to bring a piece of “Star Wars” to Disneyland with the opening of Star Tours. The ride simulates a flight from Disneyland to the Moon of Endor and beyond.

1989: Splash Mountain opened, taking visitors on a thrilling journey through swamps, bayous and waterfalls, culminating with a five-story drop to the park floor. The park welcomed its 300-millionth guest.

1990: The company announced it would build a new $1-billion theme park in Anaheim or Long Beach. It also said it would reinvigorate the 35-year-old Disneyland with dozens of new attractions to be built throughout the decade.

1991: Plans for an expansion of Disneyland were unveiled.

Source: Walt Disney Co.

Los Angeles Times