This collection of four Mark Twain Steamboat tickets and Vacationland magazine, featuring a cover photo of the same attraction, hails from the Walt-Disney-era of Disneyland, which lasted from the park’s opening in 1955 to its founder’s passing in 1966.
In the first few years of Disneyland (1955-57), tickets for passage on the Mark Twain, and its circle route around the Rivers of America, were available for individual purchase at the ticket booth stationed in front of the loading dock. The tickets, printed on the park-standard Globe Ticket paper, were available in four colors: gray, pink, yellow, and green. Of the tickets pictured, two are from the very first weeks of Disneyland’s operation (gray and yellow), one is from 1956 (pink), and the other 1957 (green). The front side of each features the following text, as well as a drawing of the steamer itself:
DISNEYLAND RIVER PACKsET & STEAM NAVIGATION CO.
Steamboat “MARK TWAIN”
ADMIT BEARER TO ONE FIRST CLASS CIRCUITOUS PASSAGE
Passengers taking this favorite river steamer will embark on a romantic story-book cruise of our American Rivers, enjoying elegant scenery and interesting views of many historical places.
THIS TICKET GOOD ONLY IF PRESENTED WITH CHECK ATTACHED.
Sailings daily from foot of Frontierland Pier.
The idea for a Mississippi-River-style paddlewheeler attraction dates back to the earliest conceptions of Disneyland, when Walt was considering the purchase of land across the street from his Burbank studios for the purpose of building a small amusement park. Once plans were in motion for the full-scale park in Anaheim, the designers at WED Enterprises partnered with Todd Shipyards to construct the 5:8-scale stern-wheeler, dubbed the Mark Twain. So enamored was Walt with the idea of an old steamer in Disneyland that he fronted the construction costs out of his own pocket when company funds were low. The steamboat’s maiden voyage took place four days before the opening of Disneyland, on July 13, 1955, playing host to Walt and Lillian Disney’s 30th-anniversary celebration, which in addition to the evening cruise included dinner and a show at Slue-Foot Sue’s Golden Horseshoe. Once open to the public, the attraction experienced operational issues as engineers were still trying to work out a safe capacity limit. Soon, however, river voyages were running smoothly and a ride on the iconic steamer began a staple of a visit to Disneyland. In the attraction’s early years, mint juleps (non-alcoholic, of course) were served on-board, just as they had been at Walt and Lillian’s anniversary party. The Disneyland Band would also frequently perform on the lower deck throughout a river trip, as can be seen on the cover of the Fall 1966 issue of Vacationland.
The Walt-Disney-Productions-published magazine, conceived by Marty Sklar, was a glorified advertisement for Disneyland, as well as other Southern-California tourist attractions. Local motel and hotel rooms were stocked with the complimentary publication, which featured articles on different aspects of Disneyland on a quarterly basis, and was supplemented with advertisements and brief articles on other tourist destinations both locally and beyond. This particular issue includes the following Disneyland-themed articles:
p. 2: “Disneyland” (a story reprinted from the April 1966 edition of Good Housekeeping Magazine about one woman’s visit to the park)
p. 7: “Man of the Ages” (a story on the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, as carried on by Disney)
p. 10: “Vaudeville in the Magic Kingdom (a story on Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe)
p. 14: “Shopping at Disneyland (an overview of the park’s retail offerings)
The magazine’s editorial staff, at the release of the issue, stood as follows:
Honorary Editor-in-Chief: Walt Disney (the issue would the second-to-last published in Walt’s lifetime)
Managing Editor: Jack Lindquist
Editor: Richard Smith
Art Director: Phil Bauer
Art Layout: Bob Davis
Photography: Charles Nichols
Circulation Manager: Frank Forsyth
This collection of tickets and copy of Vacationland essentially mark the beginning and end of the Walt Disney era of Disneyland, as well as pay tribute to an attraction that, from the beginning, had held a special place in his heart.