The History of Disneyland
For more than 20 years, Walt Disney dreamed up his Disneyland Theme Park. On July 17, 1955, his dream became a reality after just one year of construction. Disney was joined by California Governor Goodwin Knight and many distinguished guests as he unveiled his $17 million park and its 18 attractions that ranged from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to the King Arthur Carousel.
It only took seven weeks for Disneyland to welcome its one millionth guest and nearly 60 years later, billions of people have visited the company’s parks located all around the world. Disneyland has changed a lot over the years — adding new rides and attractions that have thrilled park attendees. We’ve highlighted some of the park’s biggest attraction accomplishments and sprinkled in some fun facts for your enjoyment.
Disneyland Opens – 1955
In 1955 Disneyland launched with a handful of attractions, on a large parcel of land that was purchased by company founder Walt Disney.
The park was based around Disney’s biggest hits at the time, and the company purchased enough land for some very big expansion plans in the future.
Matterhorn Bobsleds/Monorail/Submarine Voyage – 1959
Four years after the park opened, a bunch of new attractions made their debut. Among those attractions was the 147-foot tall mountain bobsled adventure which showed up at Fantasyland.
Tomorrowland debuted the Submarine Voyage, and the Monorail also made its first trip.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – 1963
Disney used The Enchanted Tiki Room to debut Audio-Animatronics as a new musical fantasy exhibit in Adventureland.
The exhibit featured birds, flowers, and Tiki gods that performed for enthralled audiences. The exhibit was ahead of its time and attracted millions of guests.
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln – 1965
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was heralded by Disney officials as a “human” Audio-Animatronics exhibit that was capable of realistically simulating the actual movements made by humans.
The exhibit was set up at the Opera House on Main Street, U.S.A. after first making an appearance at New York World’s Fair.
“It’s a Small World” – 1966
The following year Disney debuted “It’s a Small World.”
The ride included 500 singing and dancing dolls, representing children from all over the world.
Pirates of the Caribbean – 1967
Continuing its tradition of using Audio-Animatronics, the team at Disneyland debuted the Pirates of the Caribbean exhibit in New Orleans Square in 1967.
This exhibit has remained one of the most popular at Disneyland over the years. It’s popularity grew with the release of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which star Johnny Depp.
Haunted Mansion – 1969
There are 999 ghosts in this exhibit, and they are featured from different parts of the world. Also debuting in New Orleans Square, the ride has been scaring Disneyland guests for decades.
This ride helped show the true diversity of Disneyland’s attractions which ranged from the whimsical to the scary.
“The Main Street Electrical Parade” – 1972
Disney created this popular parade with help from more than half-a-million twinkling lights. The parade was designed to feature elements from Fantasia, one of the most popular Disney films of all time.
Disney continues to host its parades on a daily basis and they are a huge draw from visitors looking for the full Disneyland experience.
Space Mountain – 1977
Space Mountain opened May 27, 1977 and is located in Tomorrowland. The high-speed interstellar adventure took a full two years to build. The ride “re-launched” in July 2005 and it continues to draw in tens of millions of visitors to the park.
Your trip to Disneyland isn’t complete without a ride on Space Mountain.
New Fantasyland – 1983
Disneyland launched a New Fantasyland attraction in 1983. It took a full 20 months to construct, and features a bunch of attractions including Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Peter Pan’s Flight.
Disney gave the area a facelift and with it many of its popular attractions such as Dumbo the Flying Elephant, King Arthur Carousel, and the Mad Tea Party.
Splash Mountain – 1989
This new ride, located in Critter Country, is an 87-foot tall attraction that takes riders on a journey through swamps and bayous. Guests finish the ride with a five-story drop over a waterfall that leads to a briar patch.
Splash Mountain remains a popular attraction to this very day, even as new rides and attractions have emerged at the park.
Mickey’s Toontown – 1993
Mickey’s Toontown was built with the attraction Roger Rabbit’s Car-toon Spin, as well as various other rides and exhibits for guests of all ages.
The attraction was an immediate hit among park visitors, largely in part because it shares a namesake with the company’s most famous cartoon character — Mickey Mouse.
Indiana Jones Adventure – 1995
This was Disneyland’s first big attempt at taking a highly successful franchise and bringing it to the masses. Based on George Lucas’ film of the same name, this ride takes park visitors through a thrilling archeological journey.
Indiana Jones is a big draw for Disneyland visitors young and old.
Disney California Adventure Park – 2001
10 years after The Walt Disney Company announced it would launch the Disneyland Resort, the company debuted this attraction in 2001.
It includes a multi-day destination with two parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney entertainment district.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – 2004
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened in 2004 to rave reviews. Disney once again did what it does best and combined a classic piece of Hollywood with Disney innovation.
The storytelling is great and the ride has been thrilling audiences for more than 10 years.
Toy Story Midway Mania! – 2008
Disney continued to expand its Resort in 2007, and in 2008 Toy Story Mania! debuted at Disney California Adventure Park.
The ride-through, interactive adventure allows guests to enter and take part in a high-energy 4-D carnival midway that is hosted by Toy Story characters.
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – 2011
The original Star Tours attraction opened in 1987 and was reimagined as Star Tours – The Adventures Continue in 2011.
The ride features several 3-D adventures that send voyagers to Coruscant, Tatooine, and other destinations from the Star Wars galaxy.
The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – 2011
At Disney’s California Adventure park, The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure debuted.
It takes park visitors through various scenes with songs from The Little Mermaid film.
Cars Land – 2012
Cars Lands at Disney California Adventure park is a 12-acre attraction that invites fans of the popular cartoon to partake in three new attractions.
Fans can enjoy Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi’s Flying Tires, and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.
Fantasy Faire – 2013
Disneyland rolled out the red carpet treatment for the grand opening of Fantasy Faire. This village square gives guests the chance to meet their favorite Disney fairy tale heroes and heroines in one central location.
Stop at Fantasy Faire and you won’t spend half of your time at Disneyland trying to find your favorite characters. Disney continues to build new attractions that attract millions of people to its park on a daily basis. While we have offered a timeline of Disneyland California’s best attractions, the company offers many other options at Disney World, Disney Shanghai, and its other parks around the world.