How Old Is This Disneyland ?

The concept for Disneyland began one Sunday, when Walt Disney was visiting Griffith Park with his daughters Diane and Sharon. While watching his daughters ride the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round he came up with the idea of a place where adults and their children could go and have fun together. His dream would lie dormant for many years. Walt Disney's father helped build the grounds of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. This perhaps gave Disney the creative spark whence Disneyland originated. The fairgrounds for the World's Fair were a cheaply constructed set of individual "Country" areas from around the world and areas representing various time periods of man; it also included many "rides" including the first Ferris wheel, sky ride, a passenger train that circled the perimeter, Wild West Show, etc. Although the 1893 World's Fair was meant only to last a summer in Chicago, in Southern California the weather was accommodating to a "Fair Grounds" of stucco buildings that would otherwise disintegrate in the rain, snow and ice of other climates. One can see the resemblance of a "Land" filled with "rides" and a fairgrounds with differently themed areas to the Disneyland created 60 years later in the 1950s as the population of America for the first time shifted West into desert climes.

While many people had written letters to Walt Disney about visiting the Disney Studio, Walt realized that a functional movie studio had little to offer to the visiting fans. He then began to foster ideas of building a site near his Burbank studios for tourists to visit. His ideas then evolved to a small play park with a boat ride and other themed areas. Walt's initial concept, his "Mickey Mouse Park", started with an 8 acres (0.012 sq mi; 0.032 km2) plot across Riverside Drive. Walt started to visit other parks for inspiration and ideas, including Tivoli Gardens, Greenfield Village, The Efteling, Tilburg , Playland, and Children's Fairyland. He started his designers working on concepts, but these would grow into a project much larger than could be contained in 8 acres (32,000 m2).

Walt hired a consultant, Harrison Price from Stanford Research Institute, to gauge the area's potential growth. With the report from Price, Disney acquired 160 acres (0.250 sq mi; 0.647 km2) of orange groves and walnut trees in Anaheim, southeast of Los Angeles in neighboring Orange County.

Difficulties in obtaining funding prompted Disney to investigate new methods of fundraising. He decided to use television to get the ideas into people's homes, and so he created a show named Disneyland which was broadcast on the then-fledgling ABC television network. In return, the network agreed to help finance the new park. For the first five years of its operation, Disneyland was owned by Disneyland, Inc., which was jointly owned by Walt Disney Productions, Walt Disney, Western Publishing and ABC. In 1960 Walt Disney Productions purchased ABC's share (it had earlier bought out Western Publishing and Walt Disney). In addition, many of the shops on Main Street, U.S.A. were owned and operated by other companies who rented space from Disney.

Construction began on July 18, 1954 and would cost USD$17 million to complete, and was opened exactly one year later. U.S. Route 101 (later Interstate 5) was under construction at the same time just to the north of the site; in preparation for the traffic which Disneyland was expected to bring, two more lanes were added to the freeway even before the park was finished.


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