On Disneyland’s opening day in 1955, an invitation-only crowd of 15,000 was expected, but thanks to counterfeit tickets, 28,154 entered the gates. A few more even scaled a fence, using a ladder erected by an entrepreneur who charged $5 a head. On the Santa Ana Freeway, there was a 7-mile backup

Disneyland’s Disastrous Opening Day

Whether or not Walt Disney wished upon a star, his dreams were about to come true as nearly half of the United States gathered around black-and-white televisions on July 17, 1955. After more than two decades of planning and a breakneck year of construction, the Mickey Mouse creator had transformed a 160-acre orange grove in Anaheim, California, into a $17 million theme park—Disneyland.

Bankers and even Disney’s brother Roy, who was the financial director of his movie studio, thought the ambitious project would lead to ruin, but the animation mogul borrowed against his life insurance and sold vacation property to build what some in Hollywood dubbed “Walt’s folly.” With his reputation and finances at stake, Disney pushed a frenzied schedu… Continue Reading (4 minute read)

15 thoughts on “On Disneyland’s opening day in 1955, an invitation-only crowd of 15,000 was expected, but thanks to counterfeit tickets, 28,154 entered the gates. A few more even scaled a fence, using a ladder erected by an entrepreneur who charged $5 a head. On the Santa Ana Freeway, there was a 7-mile backup”

  1. FancySack

    To honor that day, there’s a 7 mile backup on the Santa Ana freeway every day.

  2. aleper

    Fun fact: my friend and I were the first in CA Adventure. We were 17 and skipped school and got dropped off at like 5am to wait with everyone who had spent the night. A woman guided us to a tunnel to get to the front and…we ended up inside. Since it didn’t open for a few hours, we sat down and wondered what to do! Eventually, a female exec came up to us and we mumbled something about her dad working there. She said, “Awesome – they are testing all of the rides, go try them!” We rode every ride but the indoor ones and then cheered with employees as everyone ran in. Never have anywhere to tell this story!

  3. Kingsolomanhere

    Damn that’s America, 15,000 invited and 13,000 counterfeit tickets. We innovate, including the dude with a ladder charging 5 bucks to go over the fence

  4. zedder1994

    There was an interesting documentary on TV the other week about Walt Disney. The opening day for Disneyland was stinking hot and many ladies had their stilletos stuck in the newly laid asphalt.
    Walt worked overnight with the construction crew to get it ready for the first guests. And when it first opened every despot and dictator on the planet wanted to go to Disneyland. Much to Walt’s displeasure.
    I haven’t been to Disneyland in California but have been to Tokyo and Hong Kong Disneyland. And they were fucking crowded. Once Covid pisses off definitely going to Disneyland In California.

  5. chuggada

    A buddy of mine and I once snuck into Disneyland on grad night. Still can’t believe we got in and got away with it.

  6. castmemberzack

    My dad was there. I have a recording from that day (vinyl). You could go into a booth and sing along with Donald Duck to Davy Crockett. It’s amazing to hear him at 5 years old, nevertheless at the opening of one of the greatest theme park ever.

  7. trailermotel

    Real life Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

  8. livingfortheliquid

    So people were always jerks.


    Back in the late 90’s my friend and I decided to try and sneak into Disney (Florida) . We scoped out the entry and considered just swinging our legs over the waist high fence but we knew there were people watching and though nah “we’re smarter than this” (spoiler we’re not) … so we started looking for alternatives , we then found ourselves walking through chest high grass in a dryish swamp following a chain link fence (directly under the monorail) at one point the monorail started coming towards us and we dove into the grass and took cover laying there for a minute until it passed by out of sight (on our stomachs in the chest high grass , in a swamp, in Florida …)
    Finally our persistence paid off and we found a perfect spot , we scaled the fence got over the barbed wire using a tree that was just close enough to give us a point to balance on and jump over .
    We were thrilled , self congratulatory, and pretty much acting like dicks … when suddenly 2 Disney cops showed up out of nowhere and grabbed us and unceremoniously dumped us into their bronco. As they questioned us they told us they’d been watching us on camera the whole time and had started to be concerned … me trying to not get actually arrested was playing the good but stupid guy role and started asking why they were concerned … one of the guys just looked at me and said “son you’re in Florida , you know we got gators and snakes that’ll kill you quicker than I can call the police”
    Incredibly they didn’t call the police or press charges they let us go probably based purely on us acting like dumbasses and them feeling sorry for us being so stupid ….
    Funny part is we had been there a week and snuck into Epcot , pleasure island, and even the water park … we had been sleeping in the hammocks in the “Aruba resort” and showering in the middle of the night in the pool showers

    I look back now and think how stupid we were but it was an amazing time, we ended up driving to Keywest Florida a few days later just in time for fantasy fest (it was an epic start to a few month road trip across the southern and Western US)

    Memory’s are flooding back now… not sure why this post triggered all these memory’s but thank you

  10. competitionspeedcube

    Man: Breaks into someone else’s property and charges people $5 to do the same.

    The US: “Entrepreneur”.

  11. rustyseapants

    I bet someone must have said, “I am going to wait a couple of months before I go to Disneyland, so they get the bugs out of the system.”

  12. xoRomaCheena31

    My covid brain freaks out at these numbers now.

  13. moneed

    If you’re interested in the opening of Disney, consider listening to Podcast: the Ride. They give an in-depth insights into different amusement parks.

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