60 years ago today, Disneyland, which was once 60 acres of orange groves, opened its gates for the first time. The brain child of Walt Disney stretched the imagination of kids of all ages. It was a theme-park like nothing anyone had ever seen. The grand opening was televised across the country. Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr headlined a star-studded audience. It was a primetime event. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready for primetime. According to reviews, it was a complete disaster. It was over 100 degrees in Anaheim that day. There were traffic jams, counterfeit tickets, broken rides and a water shortage. Some might say that’s a typical Southern California day…
But after working out the kinks, and learning a great deal from the debut, Disneyland flourished. It only took 7 weeks to reach 1 Million visitors. After 60 years, the turnstiles have been rotated over 750 Million times in Anaheim. When you combine all of the Disney parks and resorts from Orlando to Paris to Tokyo, over 100 Million people attend every year.
Disneyland represents so much of what America is. Sure, it’s become a profit machine of commercialism over the decades. Disney investors have reaped the benefits. But it’s also a dream that became reality through ingenuity and hard work. It’s a place where memories are made. Friends and families congregate. And no matter how old you are, you’re still a kid. Creativity and imagination are powerful things. Starting something from a mere idea to an established entity is the American way. It only grows when you adapt and keep trying new ways. It thrives when you bring in new people who feel as though it’s theirs.
Happy Birthday Disneyland. It is a big day for the imagination.
Have a good weekend. We’ll be back, dark and early on Monday.