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This Whole Business of Childhood

“To all who come to this happy place – welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America … with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world. Thank you.”

Walt Disney’s father helped build the grounds of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. In the 1950s as the population of America for the first time shifted West into desert climes on a mass scale, Walt Disney started receiving letters from people about visiting the Disney Studio, located in Los Angeles. Walt realized that a functional movie studio had little to offer to visiting fans. He began to dream about a site near the studios for tourists to visit; ideas that evolved into the first Disneyland Park located in Anaheim, California. The first Disneyland opened to the public on Monday, July 18, 1955 and crowds started to gather in line to enter as early as 2 a.m. Walt’s brother Roy O’Disney had arranged to pre-purchase ticket number 1, so an adult named David MacPherson became the first official visitor to Disneyland, with ticket number 2. For a park that had to become iconic with children all over the world, MacPherson’s historic ticket was potentially disastrous from a marketing point of view, and recognised as such by the ever-alert Mr. Disney. In a masterstroke of foresight and damage control, he had an official photo taken with two children instead, Christine Vess Watkins (age 5 in 1955) and Michael Schwartner (age 7 in 1955). The photo was captioned, “Walt Disney with the first two guests of Disneyland.” Continue reading This Whole Business of Childhood