One of the first previews of original Disneyland attractions came as a treat to attendees of the 1954 Anaheim Halloween Festival parade. Concept art below by Yale Gracey shows the parade floats designed by Disney for the city’s big annual event. They include floats inspired by the Rocket to the Moon, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Mark Twain steamboat, and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
The Halloween parade was one of Anaheim’s biggest claims to fame, at least in the pre-Disneyland era. The first parade took place in 1924 and drew more than 20,000 people. The big draw for that inaugural parade was a pair of baseball stars – Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson.
By the 1950s the local news referred to the Anaheim event as “the biggest Halloween party in the nation” according to the Orange County Register.
In the summer of 1953, with Disney looking for a site to build Walt’s theme park, officials from the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce approached the company about participating in the annual Halloween parade as a way of inviting them to see what the city had to offer. Disney agreed and participated with a number of floats and characters associated with its films and cartoons. After publicly announcing that Anaheim would be the future location of Disneyland in the spring of 1954, Disney decided the Halloween parade that fall would be a terrific opportunity to give the public a first glimpse of what it had planned for its park.