ALL STARTED in the 1940s The first—and con-with Walt Disney looking for stant—challenge was
a way to show kids where finances. “I could never
The magic behind the
creation of Disneyland
Disney’s genius, dedication and money— against his life insur-
and nothing less than a little magic. ance and sold a home.
Mickey Mouse and Snow White convince the financiers
lived. Maybe he could build a display in a that Disneyland was
vacant lot next to his Hollywood studio. feasible, because
Maybe it could be something bigger. dreams offer too little
The dream became Disneyland, which collateral,” Disney said.
wouldn’t open until 1955, some 15 years later. To get the project
Building the Magic Kingdom required all of going, he borrowed
PHOTOS COURTESY OF DISNEY
The story goes that Disney’s dream of a Later, he and his brother, Roy O. Disney, Scenes from the archives: Walt Disney and
display for his early characters slowly evolved reportedly mortgaged everything they early Disneyland sketches; castle construction
into a much larger vision—a theme park owned to raise some of the $17 million in 1955; the Nixons cut a ribbon in 1959; and
that would showcase the growing cast of needed to build Disneyland. A deal with opening day crowds in 1955.
Disney characters and reflect nostalgia for ABC TV, which required Disney to produce
his roots in rural Marceline, Missouri. Unlike a weekly TV show, brought in more money. seven weeks, the 1-millionth guest passed
the carnivals of the day, it would be a clean, Opening day—Sunday, July 17, 1955— through the gates. In 2004, Australian Bill
safe place for children and their parents. was, simply put, a disaster, known in Disney Trow was declared the 500-millionth guest.
Disney hired a company to search lore as “Black Sunday.” A sweltering heat In explaining his vision for the park,
Southern California for a suitable piece of wave pushed temperatures above 100 Disney said, “Disneyland would be a
land to house his vision: flying elephants degrees. Because it had been laid the night world of Americans, past and present,
and giant teacups, a fairy-tale castle and before, Main Street’s asphalt was still seen through the eyes of my imagination—
rivers, waterfalls and mountains, moon steaming, trapping high-heeled shoes. a place of warmth and nostalgia, of illusion
rockets, a scenic railway and more. Huge crowds choked the resort. and color and delight.”
The company found the perfect spot at Despite the rocky start, Disneyland It certainly is that today, 50 years
a 160-acre orange grove in rural Anaheim. quickly became a tremendous hit. Within later.—TT
train or a Disney movie in the backseat of a will never be complete.’And so Disneyland is was a real highlight. And then becoming part of
car or an ABC program on a handheld device going to continue to grow and evolve just as it Disney when [ABC] sold to Disney, and becom-when somebody is sitting in a park or on a has every year in these past 50 years. ing its president and CEO, were true milestones.
beachor wherever. The future is bright because Southern
So we intend fully to be at the front of the California is still a growth area, visitation to CC: In those positions, were there ap-
line in terms of making our content available Southern California is very strong, Disney- proaches or a common theme that carried you
on these new platforms and think there’s a land has never looked better, we’ve added all through as a leader?
real advantage when we do that. kinds of new attractions to help celebrate the BI: When you work in a large company,
50th and there’s much, much more to come. as I have for many years, patience is a virtue.
CC: On Disneyland’s 50th anniversary: Whether it’s rebuilding an old attraction or put- You have to be really patient in terms of man-
What a milestone. It has truly been a part of ting in a new one, Disneyland is a place we’re aging your career. You have to love what you
the American experience. What does the next going to continue to invest in for growth. do. And I have always loved what I’ve done. For
50 years hold for Disneyland? more than 30 years, I’ve shown up to work
BI: Walt Disney was fond of saying, ‘As CC: You’ve been in this industry in a wide every morning happy to be here.
long as there’s magic in the world, Disneyland variety of different positions. What are your In my case, primarily because of the types
career milestones? of jobs I’ve had, I’ve always been driven by cre-
BI: One of the early ones was ativity. Nothing excites me more than seeing a
becoming head of programming great product that’s the result of someone’s
for ABC’s Wide World of Sports at a creative genius. I still get the chills when I
time before ESPN and others. ABC think about a great TV show or a great movie
Sports was the preeminent televi- or riding Space Mountain in Hong Kong last
sion sports brand. That allowed week, which is unbelievable in terms of cre-
me to experience the thrill of vic- ativity. So I’m driven more than anything else
tory and the agony of defeat. by that creative process.
The Costco Connection
Costco features a variety of Disney products over
the holidays in the warehouses and at costco.com.
Also, members can buy discounted tickets to
Disneyland through the Southern California CityPass
in most West Coast warehouses and at costco.com
(click “entertainment,” then “tickets”), and Southern
California residents can get discounted Disneyland
tickets in local warehouses and at costco.com.
Costco Travel offers special vacation packages to
Disneyland. For information, visit costco.com (click
“Travel”) or call Costco Travel at 1-877-849-2730.
Programming ABC in prime And I love working with people. I’ve tried
time during the late ’80s and early to not allow all the changes that I’ve experi-
’90s and being responsible for enced and success change me in any way. C
putting on programs like Home Improvement, America’s Funniest Home For more on Disney, see this month’s Online
Videos, NYPD Blue and Twin Peaks Edition at
28 The Costco Connection NOVEMBER 2005