1955-66: Throughout the dozen years that Walt oversaw his park, twelve different “Welcome to Disneyland” main-gate maps were printed and issued to guests: the 1955 version, three 1956 versions, a 1957 version, a 1958 version (which was distributed throughout 1959, as well), and a version each year from 1960-65. The INA guides, first distributed in 1965 by Insurance Company of North America from their Main Street location, were issued seasonally throughout 1966 in lieu of a main-gate map.
1955-66: Thirteen softcover pictorial souvenir guidebooks (under varying titles) were published in Walt’s lifetime: one for each of the twelve years, save the last (1966). In addition, a pre-opening guidebook was published in early 1955; two versions were published in 1957; and a shortened special insert was published in 1959 ahead of that year’s complete edition. The 1965 edition was sold throughout 1966, as well.
Complete collection of Walt-Era souvenir guidebooks (from left-to-right): 1955 (pre-opening); 1955 (post-opening); 1956; 1957 (version 1); 1957 (version 2); 1958; 1959 (special insert); 1959; 1960; 1961; 1962; 1963; 1964; and 1965.
July 22, 1955: Just in time for the park’s first full weekend of operations, Rocket to the Moon opens in Tomorrowland. It will be refurbished and re-branded as Flight to the Moon in 1967, and again as Mission to Mars in 1975, closing permanently on November 2, 1992.
July 31, 1955: Casey Jr. Circus Train opens in Fantasyland. The park’s original Dumbo-themed attraction operates to this day.
August 16, 1955: Dumbo the Flying Elephant opens in Fantasyland. Two decades later, an expansion is announced in the form of Dumbo’s Circusland, though never materializes. In the 1983 Fantasyland expansion, the attraction is relocated seventy-five feet northeast to its current location.
August 29, 1955: The iconic Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant begins serving in Fantasyland. Skull Rock and Pirate’s Cove are added to the landscape five years later. Though, the entire area will disappear in the 1983 expansion.
September 8, 1955: Disneyland welcomes its millionth guest less than two months after opening.
October 5, 1955: The Disneyland Hotel opens with 104 rooms available to guests. Today, the hotel boasts nearly a thousand.
October 11, 1955: At a price of $2.50, the first Disneyland ticket books go on sale. They contain A, B, and C tickets for the various attractions (with D and E tickets to be added in later years).
November 24, 1955: The Christmas at Disneyland Festival opens, featuring the park’s first holiday parade—a favorite tradition of many guests that continues today.
December 25, 1955: Mike Fink Keelboats open in Frontierland. Based on the studio’s wildly-popular Davy Crockett franchise, the attraction operates more than four decades, closing on May 17, 1997.
Original souvenir pilot’s license for those lucky enough to take a turn in the Mark Twain wheelhouse navigating the Rivers of America
March 24, 1956: Astro-Jets open in Tomorrowland. The attraction is re-branded as Tomorrowland Jets on August 7, 1964, refurbished as Rocket Jets on July 2, 1967, and completely overhauled and relocated as the still-operating Astro-Orbitor on May 22, 1998.
June 16, 1956: Canal Boats of the World are refurbished as Storybook Land Canal Boats, fulfilling Walt’s original vision for the attraction. One of Walt’s favorites, the attraction continues to operate to this day.
June 16, 1956: The major Frontierland expansion Tom Sawyer Island welcomes guests for the first time. It remains the only Disneyland attraction to have been designed by Walt himself. On May 25, 2007, the island is refurbished and re-branded as Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. Rafts continue to ferry guests back-and-forth between the island today.
June 23, 1956: Skyway to Fantasyland/Tomorrowland opens. When the Matterhorn attraction is built three years later, it is done so to accommodate an inter-mountain passage for the Skyway. After nearly forty years in service, the attraction closes on November 10, 1994.
July 2, 1956: The Mine Train opens in Frontierland. It is re-branded with an extended route as the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland on May 28, 1960. The attraction ceases operation in early 1977 in preparation for the construction of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
July 4, 1956: Indian War Canoes open in Frontierland. They are re-branded as Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes on May 19, 1971, and continue to operate under this name today.
1956 ephemera (from left-to-right): “A Glorious Day at Disneyland” gift pack; ticket flyer; informational brochure; Kodak Camera Tour of Disneyland brochure; Red Wagon Inn menu; Songs of Frontierland record
Spring 1957: Disneyland Holiday magazine debuts.
April 29, 1957: The Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-Through opens in a ceremony overseen by actress Shirley Temple. The attraction closes temporarily from October 7, 2001 – November 26, 2008, but now once again continues to entertain guests with a refurbished experience.
June 12, 1957: The House of the Future joins the Hall of Chemistry as the second Monsanto-sponsored attraction in Tomorrowland. The plastic structure offers guests a glimpse of tomorrow’s technology for the next decade, closing on December 1, 1967.
March 31, 1958: Grand Canyon Diorama opens along the Disneyland Railroad. The attraction is inspired by the Academy-Award-winning documentary Grand Canyon, which debuts in theaters at the end of the year.
June 14, 1958: Alice in Wonderland opens in Fantasyland. A walk-through version of the attraction was planned for opening day, but never materialized. The more elaborate dark-ride version remains in operation today. In addition, the Sailing Ship Columbia begins passenger voyages on the Rivers of America. Its design is inspired by the American windjammer Columbia Rediviva, which became the first of its kind to circumnavigate the globe in the late eighteenth century.
June 14, 1959: Disneyland’s first major expansion is completed with Matterhorn Bobsleds, Submarine Voyage, and the Monorail. The Matterhorn continues to thrill Fantasyland guests to this day, while the original Submarine Voyage is now operating as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in Tomorrowland (after a nine year closure from 1998-2007). The now-iconic Monorail, after an opening ceremony overseen by Vice President Richard Nixon and family, has tripled the length of its route in the decades since.
May 28, 1960: Nature’s Wonderland opens in Frontierland. The Mule Pack, Stage Coach, Conestoga Wagons, and Mine Train attractions were closed to make way for this enhanced mine-train attraction, which operated until January 2, 1977.
November 18, 1962: Swiss Family Treehouse opens as Adventureland’s second attraction. Dubbed Disneyodendron semperflorends grandis by its designers, the walk-through attraction based on the studio’s popular live-action film operates until March 8, 1999. A refurbished version opens that summer as Tarzan’s Treehouse.
April 22, 1964: The New York World’s Fair opens in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, New York, anchored by four Walt-Disney-designed pavilions: General Electric Progressland, Pepsi-Cola Presents ‘It’s a Small World’—a Salute to UNICEF and the World’s Children, the State of Illinois’ ‘Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and Ford’s Magic Skyway.
It’s a Small World ephemera (left-to-right): souvenir program; souvenir record signed and notated by Richard M. Sherman; press photographs; attraction tickets
July 17, 1965: The park celebrates its “Tencennial,” with many of the festivities overseen by the inaugural Disneyland Ambassador, Julie Reihm.
Advertising supplement that ran in the San Francisco Examiner a few days prior to the park’s tenth anniversary
Before being named Disneyland Ambassador, Julie Reihm served as a park tour guide, a service advertised in this Summer 1964 flyer which pre-dates the preliminary rounds of the Miss Disneyland Tencennial competition by a few months
July 18, 1965: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, first of the New York World’s Fair transplants, arrives in Main Street’s Town Square. The attraction takes a two-year hiatus from 1973-75, returning as the re-branded The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Subsequent updates in 1984 and 2001 bring enhanced technology and additional content to the presentation. It closes once more from 2005-09 to make way for the re-furbished and current version of the attraction: The Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
Late-60s souvenir brochure distributed at the attraction
1965 park ephemera (left-to-right): United Airlines Tencennial brochure; Walt Disney’s Disneyland souvenir book
May 28, 1966: It’s a Small World opens in Fantasyland. The attraction, which was developed for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, has become one of the most recognizable around the world, due in large part to the Sherman Brothers’ theme song of the same name. It’s a Small World Holiday, a seasonal overlay, began in 1997, and in 2008, dolls depicting animated characters from various studio films were added.
The arrival of the hit World’s Fair attraction at Disneyland inspires the theme of the 1966 Rose Parade, as well as the selection of Walt Disney as the event’s Grand Marshal. Along with the original parade ticket pictured above, float designer and legendary Disney animator Bill Justice has signed this copy of the parade program.
July 24, 1966: New Orleans Square becomes the sixth official land in the park. The opening ceremonies are overseen by Walt and Victor H. Schiro, mayor of the land’s namesake city.
December 5, 1966: Walt enters the hospital on his sixty-fifth birthday and passes away ten days later.
March 18, 1967: Pirates of the Caribbean opens in New Orleans Square. The attraction, the last to be overseen by Walt himself, becomes an instant hit with guests. It is today regarded by many in the industry as the quintessential theme park attraction.
First-edition (Dell Pocket-Size) biography co-written by Walt’s daughter Diane in the mid-50s and sold on Main Street for several years after