Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#Disneyland60.....Today In Disneyland History......August 13, 1954

Disneyland Excavation Begins
August 13, 1954

Orange County Archives

On August 13, 1954, excavation began in Anaheim, California with the removal of walnut and orange trees of the site that would open as Disneyland just 11 months later on July 17, 1955.  The original vision for Disneyland first came when Walt Disney would take his two young daughters, Diane and Sharon, to play at the carousel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles every Sunday. While his daughters enjoyed their repeated rides, Disney sat on park benches with the other parents who had nothing to do but watch. It was on these Sunday excursions that Walt Disney began to dream of an activity park that had things for both children and parents to do.
At first, Disney envisioned an eight-acre park that would be located near his Burbank studios and be called, "Mickey Mouse Park." However, as Disney began to plan themed areas, he quickly realized that eight-acres would be way too small for his vision.
Although World War II and other projects put Disney's theme park on the back burner for many years, Disney continued to dream about his future park. In 1953, Walt Disney was finally ready to start on what would become known as Disneyland.

The first part of the project was to find a location. Disney hired the Stanford Research Institute to find an appropriate location that consisted of at least 100-acres, was located near Los Angeles, and could be reached by a freeway. The company found for Disney a 160-acre orange orchard in Anaheim, California.

Once the location was decided upon, the problem of funding came next.  While Walt Disney put up much of his own money to make his dream a reality, he didn't have enough personal money to complete the project. Disney contacted financiers to help but as much as Walt Disney was enthralled with the theme park idea, the financiers he approached were not. Many of the financiers could not envision the monetary rewards of a place of dreams.      

To gain financial support for his project, Disney turned to the new medium of television. Disney made a plan with ABC Television in that they would help to finance the park if Disney would produce a television show on their channel. The program Walt created was called "Disneyland" and showed previews of the different themed areas in the new, upcoming park.

On July 21, 1954, construction on the park began with the actual excavation of the orange and walnut orchards taking place some three weeks later. 11 months later, on July 17, 1955, 6,000 by-invitation-only guests were invited for a special preview of Disneyland before it opened to the public the following day. The total cost of building Disneyland would be $17 million. 

Since its opening, Disneyland has undergone a number of expansions and renovations, including the addition of New Orleans Square in 1966, Bear Country (now Critter Country) in 1972, and Mickey's Toontown in 1993. Disney California Adventure Park was built on the site of Disneyland's original parking lot and opened in 2001.
Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with over 650 million guests since it opened. In 2013, the park hosted approximately 16.2 million guests, making it the third most visited park in the world that calendar year. According to a March 2005 report from the Disney Company, there are 65,700 jobs supported by the Disneyland Resort, which includes, at the Resort itself, 20,000 direct Disney employees and 3,800 third-party employees. Walt Disney once said, Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” Luckily for all of us, imagination and magic know no bounds. And that’s what happened today in Disneyland’s history. 

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