(p. A11) On July 17, 1955, about 28,000 people (roughly half of whom had been sold counterfeit tickets) walked, for the first time, through the gates of Disneyland and into history. To say it didn’t go smoothly would be an understatement: The temperature was 101 degrees (hot, even for Southern California) and difficulties with both the plumbing system and the labor unions made it impossible for anyone to get a drink. Only a handful of the rides and attractions were open at all, and most of those were continually breaking down and closing. Even the animals–the horses and mules in the Wild West attractions–refused to cooperate. That walk may have been historic, but it was made even more difficult by all the asphalt–poured only a few hours earlier–that kept sticking to everyone’s shoes.
. . .
With Disneyland, Walt Disney took the concept of narrative to the extreme: Rather than merely showing the viewer a story, even with the heightened naturalism of sound, color and a combination of cartoon characters and real actors, the theme park actually immersed the viewer in the story itself.
. . .
Walt Disney–who famously said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world”–would be pleased that in the half century since his death, his creation has been constantly tinkered with. Although very little remains of the park that opened in 1955, he would still recognize it, and love it.
For the full commentary, see:
WILL FRIEDWALD. “CULTURAL COMMENTARY; Finding Disneyland; Celebrating 60 Years of Disneyland, a Park that Was ahead of Its Time.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., July 15, 2015): D5.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 14, 2015, and has the title “CULTURAL COMMENTARY; Celebrating 60 Years of Disneyland; In honor of Disneyland’s 60th birthday, a look back at a park that was ahead of its time.”)