Walt Disney with Christine Vess and Michael Schwartner (Disneyland first public guests)

Disneyland Opens to the Public for the First Time

(Pictured above Christine Vess and Michael Schwartner)

It was on this day in 1955 that Disneyland opened to the public for the first time, the day after an ambitious — and stressful — Sunday press preview that survived the myriad complications of a live televised broadcast, invited guests that stayed longer than expected and thousands of uninvited guests finding their way into the park. Disneyland cast members learned all about Murphy’s Law that day, and on the following one newspapers printed stories about these and other problems, including restaurants that were “unable to care for all who wanted to eat,” “endless lines” for attractions and freeway “traffic jams.” One newspaper stated that, “probably for the first time in his career, Disney disappointed thousands of youngsters.” And so it was Disney Legend Eddie Meck to the rescue! Eddie was Disneyland’s first publicity manager, and he believed in the power of inviting the press to experience Disneyland for themselves. Now, with Disneyland operating under normal circumstances, Eddie began bringing back all the members of the press over the course of about two years to experience Disneyland as it was intended to be experienced. This helped build favorable relationships with the press — resulting in priceless positive PR — and helping turn Walt Disney’s magic kingdom into a success story that continues today.