Theme Park of the Week: Disneyland

July 17, 2022, 8:00 AM · Happy birthday to Disneyland, which opened 67 years ago today, on July 17, 1955.

Other amusement parks might have opened before Disney's original park, but it was Disneyland that defined to the public what a theme park could be and inspired a building boom in parks over the next two decades. How big was this park? To this day, whenever a developer floats the idea of a new theme park, they say that it will be their community's "Disneyland."

On Disneyland's birthday, I always like to share the ABC broadcast of the park's opening ceremonies, starring future US President Ronald Reagan, along with Walt Disney himself.

Today, Disneyland is home to Theme Park Insider readers' top-rated attraction in the world, Star Wars Rise of the Resistance as well as the highly-rated Indiana Jones Adventure and the original Pirates of the Caribbean, which just reopened after an extended refurbishment. Elsewhere in the park, Disney is rebuilding Toontown, which will reopen early next year as the west coast home of the Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway ride that originally opened in Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.

Disneyland is currently offering discounted tickets to Southern California residents, and our travel partner has that deal starting at $78 per day. Just look for the California Resident Promo tickets on its Disneyland tickets page.

To celebrate the park's birthday, we would love to hear your favorite Disneyland memory, in the comments.

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Replies (10)

July 17, 2022 at 10:59 AM

Sadly, haven't been able to get back there since 2003. However, the trips were always fun as there's a magic there not in Florida, just fun seeing the classic rides like Mr. Toad, Submarines, Matterhorn and more. It's just great even watching videos of it and a fun reminder of why it's lasted so long.

July 17, 2022 at 11:44 AM

Wow, I've watched that video before but it's especially poignant and sad now that Disney seems to have turned away from the high-minded egalitarianism Walt espouses there. "This is your land," he says, welcoming "all" who enter here. A place for everyone.

Contrast that with Disneyland today, a place where the wealthy take precedent over all, where the poors are made to wait even longer so the rich can ride more quickly. Chapek would surely tell you Disneyland is HIS land, and you'll pay him everything in your pocket (and more) for the privilege of being allowed to visit. Surely if he had been there on opening day his speech would have been directed at shareholders, assuring them he would squeeze every penny out of those smiling faces.

Sure, Disneyland is still packed because people like me still see it as Walt intended. But with every visit that dream slips away and the reality of Disney's corporate greed and classism becomes more and more apparent. As my 12 yo daughter said, "Disneyland is getting as bad as Six Flags." To hear that coming from a kid is heartbreaking.

July 17, 2022 at 12:01 PM

I visited in 1969, 1980 and 2008. I have some hope that I will be visiting again later this year.

July 17, 2022 at 4:58 PM

My favorite Disney park. Nothing beats the original.

July 17, 2022 at 8:29 PM

Just made my 2nd visit earlier this spring. Walt Disney World is still my go-to for Disney's American parks due to Florida's infrastructure being better equipped to handle tourists, but Disneyland is still worth the hassle every now and then.

July 18, 2022 at 7:20 AM

Courageous topic it was, but there are also very beneficial and effective Cheap business dissertations, available to getting from them throughout the UK so easily.

July 18, 2022 at 12:29 PM

Although bigger and newer Disney parks abound, something about the original that can't be topped.

Still, I'd like there to be a few more non IP driven attractions developed. Yes, Disney is rich in the IP department, but many of their most beloved and popular attractions (Pirates, Mansion, Space & Big Thunder...Autotopia for kids) are original concepts. Just a bit of balance.

Plus having more original concepts allows for far more creativity. Imagineers wouldn't be bound by the IP narrative.

July 18, 2022 at 1:33 PM

That's an interesting take Jay R. I would say that the days of big parks building attractions based on original IP are numbered. I guess there's a chance WDI can pitch attractions based on S.E.A., but in most cases executives are going to want to see a bankable IP associated with the massive outlay needed to design and build a major theme park attraction. Smaller parks can get away with original IP because the cost to develop those backstories are probably the same or cheaper than the cost to license outside IP. With the larger parks, they already have access to huge libraries of IP, so it probably costs them more to develop an original idea and would carry a greater risk in terms of bankability compared to an existing IP with a built-in fanbase and known quantity of popularity.

Personally I'd like to see some more original IP in theme parks to make those experiences unique to simply watching stuff on TV or streaming. I was actually pretty impressed by a recent visit to Kings Dominion, who have really expanded their original theming in the "Jungle X" area over the past few months (where Tumbili opened earlier this year). While I think Disney or Universal could do a similar concept a million times better because of their nearly infinite resources, they both have existing IPs within their portfolio that would be vastly more popular than the generic theming that Cedar Fair has used at Kings Dominion.

July 18, 2022 at 1:49 PM

Disneyland is amazing. A true classic. The gold standard of theme parks. Its only problem is Disney executive board.

July 18, 2022 at 7:19 PM

@Russell and @Jay I'm agnostic to original ideas or IP themes if the rides offer a new experience. Star Tours but in the Millennium Falcon, Midway Mania Except with Spiderman, Guardians of the Galaxy ride Space Mountain--that ain't getting it.

I heard the Quinjet ride is going to be Star Tours with the Avengers. Hooray.

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