First Disneyland Guidebook (1955)

img210Guide1Guide6Guide3Guide2Guide4Guide5img211This souvenir guidebook, officially titled The Story of Disneyland with a Complete Guide to Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Frontierland, Main Street U.S.A., was the first ever produced, its printing pre-dating the park’s opening.

The guidebook, which was available to guests beginning with the grand opening of Disneyland, provides, with both text and concept art, an introduction and overview of the park and its five “lands.” Considering it went to press while much of the park was still under construction, no photographs can be seen in this first edition guidebook. A page-one welcome from Walt Disney himself addresses that very issue, and provides a heartfelt introduction to his long-held dream on the eve of its realization:



We hope you will have fun here, and that this souvenir will long recall happy, carefree hours in a place dedicated to your enjoyment.


The first edition illustrations on these pages show buildings and exhibits in artist rendering stage. That was so we could have the booklet ready for our early visitors. But DISNEYLAND will always be building and growing and adding new things…new ways of having fun, of learning things and sharing the many exciting adventures which may be experienced here in the company of family and friends.


What you see in DISNEYLAND represents the combined efforts of hundreds of artists, architects, scientists, expert craftsmen and engineers who have helped us carry out a long cherished dream.


The park-playground fulfills a wish that those of us who like the same things might more closely share the pleasures I have had in exploring the paths of fable and folklore, of nature and science and historical legend on the screen and television.


So, the opening of DISNEYLAND, where visitors of every age and circumstance can learn joyously from fact and live closely with fantasy, has been for me—as I hope it has been for you—a most happy event—a dream come true.


Walt Disney

The latter half of the twenty-two-page publication provides an index of Disneyland attractions, shops, and eateries, as well as a series of very generalized maps of the different sections of the park. Though, a few of the listed attractions wouldn’t be ready for Disneyland’s debut (e.g., Casey Jr. Circus Train, Dumbo the Flying Elephant), and still others would undergo slight name-changes by the time of the famed Press Preview event on July 17, 1955. In fact, the disclaimer on page 18 is testament to the fact:

In order to have this souvenir guide ready for the opening of Disneyland, it was necessary to go to press before final decisions were available on some listings. For that reason, this book may be incomplete and subject to change.

Also of interest is the fact that the front cover features the “Disneyland, Inc.” trademark, rather than the usual “Walt Disney Productions.” DLI was established as a side-company dedicated solely to the construction and operation of Walt’s theme-park project. The moniker, however, would only be seen on certain merchandise and park publications through the 1950s, as the company’s investor-shares would be bought out by Summer 1960, the park then becoming a fully-owned entity of Walt Disney Productions.

This first-ever guidebook offers fascinating insight into the earliest incarnation of Walt’s ambitious Disneyland and represents one of the few, highly-desirable souvenirs available to guests on Day One.


One thought on “First Disneyland Guidebook (1955)

  1. Years ago, I went to an estate sale and I looked through a bunch of paper items on a tabletop. I spotted this guidebook there. It was the last day of the sale, so all the cheaper items were half-price. I got my copy for $1.75!


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