May 7, 1950: The Lilly Belle, a 1/8-scale-steam locomotive makes its inaugural run on the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, Walt’s personal model-railroad built in the backyard of his Holmby Hills estate. The miniature attraction, which friends and family members would enjoy over the next few years, helped inspire him to build a full-scale version in the plans for his new theme park.img199

Railroad pass that Walt had printed up for invited guests of his personal backyard railroad


March 27, 1952: Walt’s theme-park dream, an idea he’s been toying with in various forms for several years, is finally made official in a public announcement that fronts the Burbank Daily Journal and terms the project Disney’s “Make-Believe Land.”

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Personal check hand-signed by Walt Disney the day of his famous theme-park-project unveiling


July 1953: Walt hires the Stanford Research Institute to study the viability of his proposed theme park, as well as determine possible locations. The Anaheim location is selected the following month.


September 26-27, 1953: Walt and artist Herb Ryman hole themselves up at the Disney Studios to create the conceptual sketches needed to secure investors for the Disneyland project. The marathon brainstorming session, which gave the world its first glimpses of Walt’s dream-park, is now famously referred to as the “Lost Weekend.”

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Herb Ryman’s personal portfolio case, containing a reproduced copy of the “Lost Weekend” prospectus used to secure funding for the construction of Disneyland


July 21, 1954: Construction of Disneyland begins.

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Actual blueprint used in the construction of the park’s iconic centerpiece, Sleeping Beauty Castle


1954-55: Anticipation for the new park builds as Walt teases concept art and attractions on his weekly Disneyland television series. Additional promotional campaigns are run with various park sponsors—among them a Richfield-Oil-sponsored comic book.

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This Disneyland-inspired comic adventure was available in Richfield fueling stations throughout 1955


July 15, 1955: Several area newspapers include special advertising supplements in their Friday editions, ahead of the park’s press preview (Sunday) and public opening (Monday).

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Pre-opening supplement included with the Los Angeles Examiner


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The O.C. Register supplement was re-issued sixty years later for the park’s diamond anniversary


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Act II: Opening Day >>