Some of my earliest memories of Disneyland are of running from ride to ride, skipping the ‘boring’ stuff for the thrill of adventure and speed. It was all about roller coasters back then.
Slow down? Never! Making me go on ‘it’s a small world’ was akin to making me eat Brussels sprouts. Give me death before the sprouts! I never knew how much I was missing in my flagrant disregard for all things magical. There is more to Disneyland than just the rides and so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.
Today we’re going to relax and stroll back in time as we visit the Gallery on Main Street.
The idea for Disneyland first came to Walt when he was sitting on this very bench. He would take his daughters to the carousel and it occurred to him that families needed a place where they could go for some entertainment.
Disneyland Park first opened on July 17, 1955 and only had 20 attractions. Officially, Disney says that July 18, 1955 is the first ‘Opening Day’, but on July 17th, the park opened to the press and invited guests. Considering how super fabulous Disneyland is now, you’d never guess that the first day was a disaster. The asphalt they poured just that morning was still soft and ladies’ heels sunk into it. There was a plumber’s strike which meant Walt had to choose between working drinking fountains or toilets. Thankfully, he went with the toilets. Disneyland suffered negative press for months about the debacle and even Disney employees would refer to that day as ‘Black Sunday’ for years afterward.
When they opened their gates the next day, they were better prepared for the 50,000 guests who showed up. This is what the park looked like on that first day:
Notice anything missing? All the rides! When Disneyland first opened, none of the attractions we think of as quintessentially ‘Disney’ were there. No Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, ‘it’s a small world’, nope, just a few rides in Fantasyland and the Jungle Cruise. Still, for people back in 1955, this was major entertainment.
One ride that was open on that first day and is still in operation, is the railroad. It travels all around the park and even through the Grand Canyon. I know! I was freaked out by that as a kid, too. Even though I can recall the exact minute when I realized it might not be real, I love riding through that stretch of the journey.
By the time I was old enough to go to Disneyland, they had built up the park with thrill rides and shows. It wasn’t a one-price admission fee back then, we had to use tickets for all the rides. Do you remember these?
If you do, then you’ll recall that the best rides were ‘E’ tickets. The baby rides (like Dumbo and Peter Pan, two of the parks most popular rides even today), were ‘A’s and ‘B’s.
At the end of the day, we’d have leftover ‘A’ tickets, but never any ‘E’s. That’s where the phrase, ‘Better than an E ticket!’ comes from. Never heard it? Huh, then you haven’t been hanging out at Etherton House lately.
The park has come a long way since then, now you get one admission ticket good for all the rides and can even use it to gain entry to rides faster. Super cool!
The artwork in the Gallery is constantly changing. When I visited they were showcasing original art by Disney artists. This is what the create when not on the clock and boy howdy! It’s amazing stuff. Right now they also have two models inside the Gallery, one is of Splash Mountain and the other is of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. (My favorite place in all of Disneyland ~ you’re shocked, I know!) If you scrunch down real low and look through the drawbridge, you can see Walt on the other side. Gives me chills every time I see it.
I hope you enjoyed this little detour to the Gallery on Main Street. The next time you go to Disneyland, slow down just a little bit and take time to enjoy the simple pleasures the park has to offer.
I’d like to share this video of Walt’s dedication of Disneyland. Like the photo above, it gives me chills in a good way. Disneyland isn’t the poster child of commercialism for me, it’s a place where dreams come true, where one man’s vision inspires me to see beyond what the world has to offer.
What are your favorite memories of Disneyland? Is there an amusement park near you that you enjoy attending? Do you seek out the thrill rides, or enjoy strolling among the people? Come on! Share with us, you know we love to hear from you.