Happy Birthday Disneyland! 66 years ago today Walt Disney’s first theme park became a reality.
The path to Disneyland’s opening on July 17, 1955 was fraught with so many challenges and obstacles it’s a wonder that Walt was able to open the gates. Financing challenges, a rush to complete construction in less than a year to meet the TV broadcast date set by ABC, a design team made up primarily of movie industry artists with scant experience in actual construction, labor union disputes, and intense skepticism within the amusement industry were just some of the headwinds the project faced.
So how did the dream come true? I think the best answer is because Walt insisted on achieving his goals for the project and never budged. He assembled a team and established a culture from the top-down that was unafraid to take chances on pushing the limits of their creativity. As many original Imagineers have shared, Walt didn’t keep around anyone who would respond to ideas with the phrase “no, because” and expected everyone to take a “yes, if” approach.
This birthday is especially worthy of celebration considering Disneyland was closed last July 17th and has just recently re-opened at full capacity once again. But as the park has demonstrated throughout its 66 year history – it will endure through all challenges foreseen and unforeseen.