Disneyland's "opening day" ended up lasting for two whole days! The first was an exclusive event for the press and the unveiling of the park. The second day was the day that the public actually got the chance to experience the magic of Disney and everything the park had to offer. But things didn't go smoothly as planned. There were traffic jams, ticket scalpers selling counterfeit tickets, broken fountains, and mix-ups in celebrity appearances. Despite all of these issues plaguing opening day, Walt Disney's dream park went on to become the "Happiest place on Earth". You can't go back in time and relive the historic opening, but you can check out these photos of Disney's early days and get a taste of what it was like back then.
History Was Being MadeLifebuzz
After years of conceiving and designing the park, Disneyland was set to open its doors on July 17, 1955. They would inaugurate the park to a select few invitees, and you could only get inside with a special ticket. Although 28,000 people entered the premises, half of them had purchased counterfeit tickets, or had just climbed over the fence.
The Opening Was Televised To 70 Million AmericansLifebuzz
Preparations to complete the rides and attractions continued up until the very last minute. The ceremony was actually blessed by a Protestant minister. A band went on to play the national anthem before viewers were allowed to explore the four realms: Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
The Parking Lot Was FullUniversity Of Southern California/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
You couldn't fit another car in the lot even if you wanted to. There was a seven mile traffic jam in the highway just to get to Disneyland, but rumors claimed it was worth the wait.
Celebrities Of That Era Were Among The First To Experience The ParkUniversity Of Southern California/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
Several celebrities visited the park or were there to promote it, like Fess Parker, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Adelle August and California Governor Goodwin Knight, among others.
The Disneys Were Also ThereGene Lester/Archive Photos/Getty Images
For Walt, his family were the true VIPs on opening day. He brought his wife, Lillian, and their daughter, Diane. Here you see them riding a spinning tea cup in one of the attractions.
Getting To Ride Was DifficultLifebuzz
Hundreds of children and parents ran through the streets trying to be the first at one of the attractions. But not all of them were open. The Rocket to the Moon, Peter Pan and Dumbo the Flying Elephant rides were all closed.
They Really Underestimated The Number Of VisitorsMichael Ochs Archives/Moviepix/Getty Images
The riverboat was dangerously close to the water, almost to the point where it could've tipped over or sank. It was way over the maximum weight capacity. Disneyland employees had allowed everyone to get on board. It was a mistake that served as a lesson. This is how they came up with the 300 people per ride limit.
It Was A Hot DayBettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images
Temperatures were really high that day, reaching up to 101º (38º C). Because of this, and the sheer number of people in the park, the refreshment stands and three restaurants ran out of food and beverages quickly. The asphalt that had been poured that morning was soft and melted just enough to cause women's high-heeled shoes to sink into it.
More ComplicationsUniversity Of Southern California/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
Walt Disney was given a choice of having working drinking fountains or running toilets because of a local plumber's strike. He obviously chose the latter, which meant all of the fountains were dry. Since Pepsi was one of the sponsors of the park, some people saw this as a scheme to sell more sodas.
To Most, The Park Was Great RegardlessLifebuzz
People continued to line up to try all of the rides that the park had to offer. Here we can see Autopia, which Disney saw as a miniature freeway on which children would learn to respect the rules of the road. Despite this, 36 cars were wrecked by aggressive drivers who crashed into other vehicles.
"Nature" Was Present TooLifebuzz
The park used animatronics posing as animals in the Jungle Cruise attraction. They also had an Arboretum of sorts where they placed signs with the plants names in Latin.
Parading On Main StreetLifebuzz
There was an "Opening Day Parade" welcoming people and introducing each of the attractions to visitors from all over the world. This parade was also part of one of the televised segments.
Everyone Marched ThereLifebuzz
The parade also included some of the most popular characters from Disney films like "Dumbo." Disney had also been televising a TV Show called "Disneyland" up to that point to be able to afford the construction of the park.
The Next Day It Would Be Open To EveryoneHulton Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Tickets were sold at the doors of the premises to people that had been waiting in line since 2 AM. The first person to buy a ticket and enter the park was David Macpherson, who would eventually end up getting a lifetime pass to all Disney parks in the world.
Walt Would Participate In Some Of The RidesHulton Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Walt Disney was present during the initial first couple of days and interacted with the guests. Here we see him dressed like a cowboy and using a toy revolver while talking to children in Frontierland.
The Happiest Place On EarthLifebuzz
Despite a lot of setbacks, the park was a success and in less than a month it was working at full capacity. All of the rides were opened to the public and most of the initial complications had been dealt with. Disneyland quickly went on to become a place of wonder and amazement, enjoyed by millions throughout the years.