“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow so long as there is imagination left in the world.” It’s been over 60 years since Walt Disney spoke those words so, how are we doing?
Published May 1, 2016
Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, showcasing a wide array of exotic lands, shops, shows, exhibits, restaurants, stores, and rides (though “rides” were quickly changed thereafter to being called attractions). With wild success also came smaller failures and shortcomings. Consequently several rides/attractions that once peppered the Disneyland landscape have vanished, giving way to new faces of the park. The first ticket books sold in the park in October, 1955, identified 22 “rides”. Currently the Disney Parks and Resorts website lists 53 attractions inside Disneyland, though this number fluctuates regularly and there are more attractions on the way. The highly anticipated opening of Disneyland’s “Star Wars” land is expected to have at least two new attractions.
The above overlays of a 1955 aerial map and Google’s 2015 aerial map of The Happiest Place on Earth shows that sixty years after the park opened, there has been considerable expansion beyond the park’s original boundary. But it also shows how much wide open space there was inside the park when it first opened. Beyond the ability to expand or fill in the empty space, Disneyland has a long history of giving existing lands and attractions complete makeovers or removing lands and attractions completely to pave the way for new imagineering feats. The list below shows the 22 rides that were presented in ticket books when the park first opened. From the list we can see that rides in red eventually went extinct whereas rides in green are still known today in some form as a beloved attraction or park experience.
Though Storybook Land Canal Boats is not listed on the first ticket books, it was among the first rides operating on opening day of July 17, 1955. It was shut down after a couple months (just before the first ticket books were made) and given an overhaul for a new grand opening in May 1956. It operates today as an attraction. Therefore it has been included among the first rides.
The Golden Horseshoe, however, is not listed. I’ve seen some bloggers refer to The Golden Horseshoe as one of the original rides or attractions of the park. Yes, it was there on opening day, and even earlier as Walt and Lillian Disney ate there for their anniversary, just days before the park opened. But like other restaurants that were there on opening day, including the Swift Chicken Plantation Restaurant and Pavillion Restaurant (which was later renamed the Plaza Pavilion), the Golden Horseshoe has always been categorized as a restaurant or dining experience in the park – current Disney Parks and Resorts dining category for The Golden Horseshoe. It is absolutely a park favorite and has been since the beginning, with a rich history from longtime performers like Wally Boag. But for this comparison of early rides to current day attractions, it is not considered appropriate to include it.
DISNEYLAND 1955 RIDES (Adult Pricing)
A Ticket : 10 cents
Street Car - Surrey Fire Wagon - Cinema Canal Boats of the World (appeared in first series of ticket books)
Space Station X-1 (closed February 17, 1960) 20,000 Leagues Exhibit (closed August 28, 1966)
King Arthur Carrousel
B Ticket : 15-25 cents
Conestoga Wagon (closed September 1959) (15 cents) Freight Train (25 cents)
Phantom Boat (closed 1956) (15 cents)
Mad Tea Party (15 cents) Casey Jr. Train (15 cents) Dumbo Elephant (15 cents) Mickey Mouse Theater (closed August 29, 1982) (15 cents)
C Ticket : 35-50 cents
Mule Pack (renamed several times but closed in 1973) (50 cents) Stage Coach (renamed bu closed in 1959) (50 cents) Mark Twain Riverboat (50 cents)
Autopia Car (35 cents) T.W.A. Moon Rocket (changed sponsorship but closed in 1966) (50 cents)
Passenger Train (closed in 1974) (50 cents)
Jungle River Boat (50 cents)
Peter Pan (35 cents) Mr. Toad (35 cents) Snow White (35 cents)
In more than 60 years, about 60% of the original ticket rides are still featured in the park in some form (including the Canal Boats of the World, which later became Storybook Land Canal Boats). Furthermore, these 14 original rides make up about 26% of the current attractions that exist in the park today (according to the number of 53 attractions that are currently listed on the Disney Parks and Resorts website). Again, this number can fluctuate so by the time you read this and check the list, it might be up to a forceful 55.
While these are interesting quantitative measurements of change in Disneyland, the qualitative changes are a little more difficult to measure. It’s not like there has been a consistent “happy” survey given to every exiting guests from the park for the last 60+ years. We could, however, look at other factors like how park attendance has changed over time or how much the park has trended on Google in recent years. If you have an idea for what should be measured for the qualitative changes of the park, please let us know. If we pursue your idea we will mention you by name in the update for this article.Thanks!