Disneyland The first Disney park, representing an investment of $17 million, opened in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955, to an invited audience, and to the public the next day. Walt Disney had enjoyed taking his two daughters to carnivals, zoos, and small amusement parks when they were young, but he found that he was sitting on the bench eating popcorn while they rode the merry-go-round and they had all the fun. He wondered why a place could not be built where parents and kids could go have fun together. Eventually he put some designers on his own personal payroll and began coming up with some concepts. He first thought of building his park on a strip of land across Riverside Drive from the Disney Studio in Burbank, but when that space proved too small to hold all of his ideas, he hired the Stanford Research Institute to survey the possibilities for a site. SRI came up with the site in Anaheim, which was covered with orange groves and made up of parcels owned by 17 different people. By borrowing on his life insurance, selling his vacation home, and getting money from several companies, Walt was able to purchase an initial 160 acres and build Disneyland. It opened with an elaborate live television special, but people were already primed to see it. Walt had used episodes of the weekly evening television show to present tantalizing glimpses of what the park would be like. After its opening, guests flocked to see what Walt had built. The first guests through the turnstyles were Christine Vess and her cousin Michael Schwartner, ages 5 and 7. The fame of Disneyland spread, and soon it was on the must-see lists for not only Americans but foreign tourists as well. To keep people coming, Walt realized that he had to keep improving Disneyland. At the opening, he said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” Over five decades now, Disneyland has continued to grow. New attractions have been added, sometimes carving out new space and sometimes replacing attractions that had become dated or inefficient. Parades, celebrity guests, celebrations, and other events provide incentives for the local populace to make return visits. As soon as Disneyland became a success, people throughout the world wanted Walt Disney to build a Disneyland in their town, but he bided his time until he had the park running smoothly. Only then did he start to listen to some of the entreaties, and his planning eventually led to his announcement of the Walt Disney World project in Florida shortly before his death. Disneyland was the first of its kind. Other parks have copied Disneyland since, but there will never be another like it. It is unique and continues to set the standard that all others have to follow.

On opening day, these were the attractions:

1. King Arthur Carrousel
2. Peter Pan’s Flight
3. Mad Tea Party
4. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
5. Canal Boats of the World
6. Snow White’s Adventures
7. Autopia
8. Space Station X-1
9. Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad
10. Circarama
11. Horse-drawn Streetcars
12. Fire Wagon
13. Main Street Cinema
14. Surreys
15. Jungle Cruise
16. Stage Coach
17. Mule Pack
18. Mark Twain Riverboat
19. Penny Arcade
20. Golden Horseshoe Revue
Disneyland has welcomed millions of guests through the years, with the following being the special record-breaking ones:

1,000,000th guest, September 8, 1955: Elsa Marquez
10,000,000th guest, December 31, 1957: Leigh Woolfenden
25,000,000th guest, April 19, 1961: Dr. Glenn C. Franklin
50,000,000th guest, August 12, 1965: Mary Adams
100,000,000th guest, June 17, 1971: Valerie Suldo
200,000,000th guest, January 8, 1981: Gert Schelvis
250,000,000th guest, August 24, 1985: Brooks Charles Arthur Burr
300,000,000th guest, September 1, 1989: Claudine Masson
400,000,000th guest, July 5, 1997: Minnie Pepito
450,000,000th guest, March 15, 2001: Mark Ramirez
500,000,000th guest, January 8, 2004: Bill Trow
The two-billionth guest to visit a Disney Park was 12-year-old Emmalee Mason of Colorado Springs, Colorado, arriving at Disneyland on May 2, 2006.