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Happy 50th to the Magic Kingdom

Disneyland was born in the mind of Walt Disney, but conceived in

Burbank. But the city was just too small for his imagination.

His vision of making his stories come to life grew and grew until

Disneyland would not fit on the original site across Riverside Drive

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from where Disney studios are now.

The rest is 50 years of history -- in Anaheim -- where Dumbo,

Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy keep smiling, every day on a much

larger lot.

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But in those 50 years, the Disney legacy has touched not only

Anaheim, but Burbank and Glendale as well. In fact, Walt’s legacy

reaches to a time before the park’s opening in 1955, to 1944, when he

moved his studios here.

That legacy in Burbank makes it all the more worthwhile to say

Happy 50th to the Magic Kingdom, which came close to being built

here.

Indeed. “Beautiful Downtown Burbank” could have been Downtown

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Disney.

It was a much simpler layout then, of course. When the idea of

Disneyland was born, there was no Tomorrowland, Adventureland or Main

Street U.S.A. Instead, early drawings depicted a stage coach route

and Indian Village, with a railroad that went around the perimeter of

the park.

Would Burbank have been a “happier” place with a Disneyland?

It certainly would have been different.

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Just ask Assistant City Manager Mike Flad.

“There wouldn’t be one part of this community that would be

similar,” Flad told the Leader recently.

And that’s a good thing.

Burbank has been able to sustain a small-town charm with distinct

neighborhoods, even as the Disney corporate machine churns its wheels

on Burbank’s southern edge.

Perhaps it’s enough to be blessed simply with people and

institutions in Burbank that have preserved memories of Disneyland

and its beginnings.

For instance, conceptual drawings of Disneyland’s inception on

display at the Gordon R. Howard Historical Museum in Burbank show a

theme park in Burbank that included a man-made lake, a Bird Island, a

bird sanctuary and an operating riverboat.

And then, there’s just great memories of those early days.

“We went to all of the lands. It was much smaller compared to what

it is now,” said Sharon Leech, an employee at Joslyn Adult Center who

was among the 28,000 people present for Disneyland’s opening day.

Billions of visitors have visited the park since then. Yet, 50

years later, we can still trace the Magic Kingdom back to Burbank.


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