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Orange Bird Photo Hunt



Entries in Main Street U.S.A (12)


Disneyland in 1955

A look at the early days of Disneyland. The park opened to invited guests on July 17, 1955. The following day it opened to the general public.

Front and back covers of "Picture Souvenir Book of Disneyland in Natural Color" reprinted in 2005 for Disneland's 50th Anniversary.


Scan from the inside front cover of "Picture Souvenir Book of Disneyland in Natural Color"
A list of attractions was presented in this early map from an early Picture Souvenir Book. This specific book was not available on Opening Day, of course, because photos with guest in them were not available. This an interesting map-- oddly drawn and missing a number of attractions from 1955. You'll notice the lack of labels for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Snow White, Peter Pan, Mad Tea Party, and almost everything in Tomorrowland. I love that the Railroad is traveling the wrong direction. Holidayland is on the complete opposite side of the park. It's cool to see the waters of Rivers of America connected to the waters of " 'Explorer Boat Ride' through the Rivers of Mexico, Africa, Central and South America, and Australia" (The Jungle Cruise).


Main Street, USA

No other part of Disneyland resembles the way things looked in 1955 more than the exterior portions of Main Street. Almost every sign has been changes but the architecture of the buildings remains almost identical. The interiors however have changed much.




Within the Castle Courtyard King Arthur Carrousel was positioned much closer to Sleeping Beauty Castle than it is today. The Mad Tea Party was directly north of the carrousel (both moved to new locations along with Dumbo in 1983). Sleeping Beauty Castle was spectacular yet the public had little connection with the animated film because Sleeping Beauty would not debut until January of 1959. Artwork was presented on Disneyland, the T.V. show in 1954 and the Sleeping Beauty walk through attraction inside the castle opened in 1957 with several dioramas telling the story of Sleeping Beauty. A similar walk through attraction exists today.

Casey Jr. Circus Train, one of the most charming little attractions even today, offered a view of the very underdeveloped Canal Boats of the World (later renamed Storybook Land Canal Boats). The boats were sadly not operational on Opening Day. The landscaping and miniature scenes we know today were not present but plenty of dirt was.

A creepy looking Court Jester selling balloons?

You'll notice what looks like another Court Jester running with kids on Opening Day through the castle in this famous photo. When did they finally get rid of those guys?? I guess they fit the land in which they reside, but still...



The most changed of any land. The Autopia is the only remaining attraction today. In 1955 guests enjoyed the following, now extinct, attractions. Circarama U.S.A., "A Tour of the West, the Dutch Boy Paint Color Gallery, Monsanto Hall of Chemistry, Kaiser's Hall of Aluminum Fame, Rocket to the Moon, Space Station X-1, Thimble Drome Flight Circle (displaying flying model planes), Tomorrowland Boats, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea exhibit, and The World Beneath Us presented by Richfield Oil.

No guide rail on the Autopia track?? Boy did I dream of that as small child. Among the first to ride the Autopia on Opening Day were Frank Sinatra and son and Sammy Davis Jr.



Hop aboard the "Explorer Boat Ride through the Rivers of Mexico, Africa, Central and South America, and Australia" (Jungle Cruise) where the skipper was not wise-cracking, the plants were small, and the Marc Davis gags we know and love today did not exist. However Schweitzer Falls waterfall was called Schweitzer Falls even way back then.


Other than the exteriors of Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle, the southern stretch of Frontierland facades have changed less than almost anything in the park.


Opening Day Model

It's worth taking a look at this top-notch model that was installed in the lobby of Disneyland's Opera House in Town Square for the 50th Anniversary. It was originally installed flat then later relocated within the same lobby to a northwest wall and was mounted on an angle. This location, as you might remember, once housed the talking animatronic owl who spoke about Walt Disney's True Life Adventures. Oh how I loved watching him narrate those clips in his little graduation cap in an old-fashioned classroom setting.


Hooray for Disneyland.

Images scanned by Mitch. All other photos taken by Mitch.


Related posts:

New Fantasyland 1983
Disneyland 1955 Model Close-ups
THEN AND NOWWalt at Disneyland



Atop Cinderella Castle

A few years back I would occasionally be asked to go to the top of Cinderella Castle to check on and/or photograph something.  As you can imagine, the views are amazing.  I felt like that guy in old videos on top of a tower during park construction taking time-lapse and still photography.  How cool of a job that would have been.

A vew to the north from just above Cinderella's Royal Table.

I had assumed in earlier years that there was a nice little elevator to the top of the tallest spire with a room for Tinkerbell to relax in until the fireworks.  Of course the spire is far too narrow for any such thing.  There is however an elevator that goes to what is now the Castle Suite, which was then a small office and small storage space.  From there a door leads to one level of rooftop on the east side of the castle facing Tomorrowland.   Metal ladders bolted to the ground and walls lead you from one level of rooftop to the next.   

A small wooden door at the base of the tallest spire opens to a tall narrow shaft with another metal ladder leading to the top of the spire.  Harnesses are required if you wish to ascend to the highest point of the castle.  At the top of the very tall ladder is a wooden door which opens to a small wooden platform hardly large enough for two people to sit on.

It's great to sit up there and take in the views.  You can see for miles.  It was a joy to see the Magic Kingdom and distant Epcot all at the same time. 


Area Music [ Part 1 ]

Kick your feet up and enjoy this relaxing mix of instrumental background music.  It will make you think you are at Disneyland or Walt Disney World.


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Area Music

Frontierland Area Music

Main Street, U.S.A Area Music

Vintage Space Mountain Entrance Music

"it's a small world" Area Music

Jungle Cruise Sound Effects

New Orleans Square Area Jazz

Splash Mountain Exit Music

More to come.