Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17: Dateline Disneyland

On this day in 1955 Disneyland in Anaheim, California had its grand opening (also known as the International Press Preview). Although invited guests entered the park at 2:00pm, it wasn't until 4:30 that the park was seen by millions on television. Dateline Disneyland (which aired on ABC-TV) was mainly hosted by Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan. Shooting a live opening of a theme park had never been done before and Walt Disney himself was understandably a tiny bit anxious (live multi-site broadcasts were unheard of at the time).
Most Disney fans know Walt's famous words - "To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past. And here, youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."

But here are a few quotes that may give you an insight into the sometimes chaotic broadcast on that hot July day:
Art Linkletter - "This is not so much a show, as it is a special event. The rehearsal went about the way you'd expect a rehearsal to go if you were covering three volcanoes all erupting at the same time, and you didn't expect any of them. So, from time to time, if I say, "We take you now by camera to the snapping crocodiles in Adventureland," and instead, somebody pushes the wrong button, and we catch Irene Dunne adjusting her bustle on the Mark Twain, don't be too surprised; it's all in fun, and that's what we're here for."

Walt Disney
: (reading the dedication plaque for Tomorrowland) "A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man's achievements..." (He stops reading suddenly and turns to an off-camera technician) "I thought I got a signal."
The 90-minute black & white broadcast may have been a bit bumpy at times, but it served its purpose ... everyone knew about a place called Disneyland.

To learn more about Disneyland's grand debut click

HERE for more July 17 Disney history.

Happy Anniversary Disneyland!

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