On this day in 1954, the exact location of where Disneyland would be built was revealed for the first time in a front page story by the Anaheim Bulletin along with a headline that read “Disneyland Comes Here.”
Thanks to the staff at the Anaheim Library Heritage Services I was able to obtain this copy of the front page and article from May 1, 1954. The article includes a map outlining the land purchased by Disney for the project, which is described as “one of the largest of its kind in the history of the entertainment business.”
The article refers to Disney’s acquisition of land for a “multi-million-dollar entertainment and educational project.” While the article suggests the park would cost more that $5 million the cost of building Disneyland would ultimately balloon to $17 million.
The land acquired by Disney was located, at the time, just outside of the Anaheim city limits in an unincorporated part of Orange County. However, as noted by the Bulletin, “annexation proceedings will soon be begun to bring it into the city.” Doing so would allow Disneyland to utilize Anaheim water and sewer services. A necessary step since the land being acquired is described in the article as “all planted to oranges with the exception of the Reed property which is one of the last remaining walnut groves in the area.”
Another hurdle for Disney was the fact that the properties it sought to acquire were bisected by Cerritos Avenue, as you can see in the map included with the article. Under California law it was not easy to just eliminate an existing road. With the help of local officials, Disney learned that it could do so as long as all adjacent property owners agreed. According to author Sam Genneway, Walt told those involved “If you can abandon that street, you got a deal.”
The article lists 12 different landowners whose properties were being acquired by Disney to build the park. The group includes the Dominguez family, who owned a parcel of land at the corner of West Street and Cerritos Drive. One of the rare Canary palm trees on the Dominguez property dates back to 1896 and remains standing today in Adventureland. You can find the “Dominguez palm” where the Jungle Cruise meets the Indiana Jones queue.
Anaheim Mayor Charles Pearson, city staff and the Chamber of Commerce were credited with working to make the project a reality since the summer of 1953. The article also notes that “a leak in vital information to speculators early in the project” almost derailed the Anaheim location.
The Bulletin story mentions the Anaheim location was chosen by Disney after “a survey by the Stanford University research bureau, retained by Disney for this purpose.” That bureau was the Stanford Research Institute, whose team of Harrison “Buzz” Price and C.V. Wood would be hired by Walt after the site election to play key roles in Disneyland’s construction. Price would later be involved in selecting the site location for Walt Disney World in Orlando and be named a Disney Legend for his many contributions.