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January 7, 2021

Beautiful Vintage Color Photos of Disneyland on Its Opening Day in 1955

After more than two decades of preparation and construction, Walt Disney’s biggest dream finally became true, as Disneyland opened for the first time in Anaheim, California on July 17, 1955. The public interest in the attraction was not little in the least, as an estimated 70 million people tuned in to watch the 90-minute live broadcast of the theme park’s opening on ABC.

Planted flowers forming design of Mickey Mouse's face.

In reality, however, that historic Sunday was far from perfect. In fact, the rush to complete construction led to numerous problems, considering that the park was not yet fully prepared to host such a huge amount of tourists. Even though the opening was intended to be limited to about 15,000 selected invitees, more than 20,000 guests eventually showed up and passed through the gates thanks to counterfeit tickets, which caused the theme park to be considerably overloaded. 

Such issues, nonetheless, barely had any impact on the attraction’s tangible charm. Within several weeks after the official public opening day, it was reported that Disneyland’s attendance had surpassed 1 million visitors. Here, a look back at the park’s opening day through 36 beautiful vintage color photographs taken by LIFE photographer Loomis Dean:

An elevated view of the park.
Opening day parade.
Opening day parade.
Children running towards the Sleeping Beauty's castle.
Two boys riding the 'Mr Toad Wild Ride' attraction.
A man and two children moving past a scary illustration on the Snow White ride.
Visitors enjoying a popcorn stand.
Visitors waiting to embark on Disneyland's Mark Twain riverboat.
A crowded riverboat.
Boat ferrying visitors.
Disneyland's Mark Twain River boat taking passengers on a journey through the Rivers of America.
Hippopotamus surfaces in the 'Jungle Cruise' attraction.
Two young girls watching a giraffe on the 'Jungle Cruise' boat ride attraction.
'Painted Desert' in Frontierland.
Cars parking.
TWA rocket in Tomorrowland's Space Port.
People resting in Tomorrowland's 'Space Port'.
Tomorrowland boat ride attraction.
'Carolwood Pacific' replica train in Tomorrowland.
The Tomorrowland Boats attraction.
Visitors crossing drawbridge over moat.
Visitors relaxing under sun shapes near the TWA rocket.
Attendees riding in go-carts on a track.
'Autopia' mile-long freeway car attraction.
Children enjoying the 'Autopia' attraction.
'Autopia' mile-long track car attraction.
Boat rides.
Riders on mules in the 'Painted Desert' in Frontierland.
Attendees on the teacup ride.
A quartet of showgirls in costume.
The 'Dumbo' ride.
The 'Circus Train' ride.
The 'Circus Train' ride.
The Golden Horseshoe, a children's saloon.
The Golden Horseshoe, a children's saloon.


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