The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers a variety of packages to
Disneyland® Resort. See Costco Travel at
Costco.com or call 1-877-849-2730.
In our digital editions
Click here for a video overview
of Disneyland attractions.
(See page 14 for details.)
A rare color shot
of opening day.
formation, ‘Disneyland is not a museum.’ He
was always the first person to say, ‘Let’s reinvent,’ ” says Imagineering’s Scott Trowbridge,
portfolio creative executive and studio leader.
Trowbridge believes Disney would
approve of Imagineering’s commitment to
legacy and its devotion to the cutting edge.
“We want to honor the traditions, but part of
that is constant rebirth,” he says, “always ask-
ing the questions Walt asked: ‘What can we do
next?’ and ‘What would our guests want?’ ”
Sam Gennawey, author of The Disneyland
Story: An Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of
Walt Disney’s Dream (Keen Communications,
2014; not available at Costco) and Walt and
the Promise of Progress City (Ayefour
Publishing, 2011; not available at Costco),
believes the Imagineers are a coterie of pio-
neering talents united by a common vision.
“The need to keep adding capacity to the
ever-increasing crowds [at Disneyland] forced
the Imagineers to create new show technology
and transportation systems,” says Gennawey.
“Bringing figures to life was a Disney trademark, and the creation of audio-animatronics
[in 1961 by Disney electrician Lee Adams, evident now in attractions like Pirates of the
Caribbean, Splash Mountain and Indiana
Jones Adventure] was a giant leap forward.
“Even today, with [competing] theme
parks relying more and more on 3D film-
based attractions, being completely immersed
in another world is something you can only
experience at Disneyland.”
When Walt Disney’s park bench pipe
dream finally enjoyed its grand opening on
July 17, 1955, few were convinced that
Disneyland would last at all. Indeed, the
hotly anticipated unveiling before 11,000
invited VIP guests (including Jerry Lewis,
Ronald Reagan, Debbie Reynolds and
Sammy Davis Jr.), which was stormed by an
estimated 17,000 unanticipated, gate-crash-
ing visitors, came to be known within the
organization as “Black Sunday.”
According to a Los Angeles Herald-
Examiner column by the late Hollywood col-
umnist James Bacon, the grand opening was
no fairy tale, but rather “a disaster” and “a
nightmare.” Temperatures that day topped
100; drinking fountains ran dry due to a
plumbers’ strike; the supply of food and bever-
ages for sale was quickly exhausted; the draw-
bridge at Sleeping Beauty Castle mal-
functioned, reportedly stranding thousands of
guests; rides like Autopia and Peter Pan’s
Flight stubbornly refused to consistently oper-
ate; and, perhaps worst of all, there was a gas
leak in Fantasyland.
Despite the debut’s series of unfortunate
events, all of it aired live to 90 million television viewers on ABC, Disney “just rolled up
his sleeves that very night and said to all of us,
‘OK, so now we’re going to fix all of this,”
according to Sklar. And, in the next seven
weeks, more than 1 million guests crossed the
threshold into Disney’s phantasmagorical
utopia. Today, Disneyland is one of the most
popular destinations in the world.
“Disneyland is special because it’s a place
[where] we’ve all grown up,” says Sklar. “We
enjoy the adventure and the magic and the storytelling when we’re children, and then we
experience that joy when we take our children,
and, all of a sudden, we’re taking our grandchildren. Disneyland is always changing, but
it’s also always remained the place of joy and
inspiration Walt envisioned it to be. Disneyland
is a constant, and I think the world
really needs that.” C
J. Rentilly is a Los Angeles–based
children. Disneyland is always changing, but
; “Walk in Walt’s Disneyland
Footsteps” tour. For $109, a limited number of guests are led by a park expert on
a 3½-hour tour, enjoying a revealing,
behind-the-scenes glimpse. To schedule
a tour, call (714) 781-TOUR (8687).
; Locate the hundreds of “hidden”
Mickey Mouse images/profiles/icons
throughout the park, including more
than 40 on Main Street alone.
; In the telegraph office at the New
Orleans Square train station, a coded
message plays on a loop. (Hint: The
encrypted bulletin is a warm greeting
from Uncle Walt himself.)
; R.I.P. When boarding your “Doom
Buggie” at Haunted Mansion, ask a
Disneyland cast member for your personalized death certificate and it will
likely be ready for pickup by the time
your vehicle comes to its, uh, final
Below: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror; Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue; Star Tours—The Adventures Continue; Cars Land.