It didn’t take long for Disneyland to achieve a level of popularity few attractions are able to garner. After opening to the public on July 17, 1955, Disneyland quickly recorded its 1 millionth guest seven weeks later. By the 60s, the mouse began to flex its muscle as Disneyland became more than a suburb phenomenon and started to become an international destination. Thanks in large part to Walt Disney and his continuing tinkering with the park as you’ll see from these vintage Disneyland photos from the 60s.
The decade of the 60s for Disneyland was certainly one of change and continued development. Many attractions were closed during the 60s or reinvented. Midget Autopia, which was a version of the original Autopia ride but for younger children, was closed in 1966. However, Autopia was reimagined with guide rails so younger kids could ride the cars.
There are more rides that closed such as the Conestoga Wagons, Mineral Hall, Monsanto Hall of Chemistry, Space Station X-1, Rocket to the Moon and many more. But new attractions and lands were added. The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse was added as well as the Enchanted Tiki Room; however, in 1966, arguably one of the most significant events occurred. At a cost of $18 million, New Orleans Square opened where Holidayland used to be.
That was the last attraction at Disneyland overseen by Walt Disney as he died December 15, 1966. While the world mourned, Roy Disney, Walt’s older broker took over stewardship of the company. That’s not to say Walt’s influence still wasn’t felt. In 1967, Pirates of Caribbean opens in New Orleans Square and is an instant hit.
Tomorrowland is also significantly updated as Adventure Thru Inner Space is added, along with the Peoplemover and the Rocket Jets. Circlevision 360 also makes its debut across nine movie screens so audiences could enjoy the picturesque landscapes of the United States in the new version of “American the Beautiful.”
The decade ended with another blockbuster debut of the Haunted Mansion.
General admission to Disneyland in the 60s cost a mere $1.60 for adults, $1.20 for juniors, and just sixty cents for children under twelve years of age. However, this only granted access to the free shows, exhibits, and entertainments, as well as access to the free lands and Main Street. This meant no rides.
In the 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Disneyland offered what were known as ticket books which granted you entrance into the park. And, depending on which ticket boom was purchased, there were some limitations on what you could ride. In 1974 an Adult “Big 10” Ticket Book sold for $4.75 per person. This included admission to the park and access to 10 attractions. A “Big 13” Book was sold for just a dollar more at $5.75 which granted the purchaser admission to the park and access to 13 attractions. Each of these books only granted access to one or two of the rides in each land. For example, the Big 10 book only offered one ride for any attraction labeled in “A”, one attraction labeled in “B”, and three rides in both sections’ “C” and “D”.
Disneyland also had a special 12-Ride Book that was on accessible to Magic Kingdom Club Members.
The price of parking from 1955 to around 1970 was just 25 cents. Adjusted for inflation, that would be the equivalent of $2.35 in 2018. It was just 50 cents in the 1970s and $2.00 in the early 80s until the rapid price increases began.
Originally, the parking structure was built to hold approximately 12,175 cars. It eventually grew to 15,167 in the 1970s. And the infamous character sections were implemented for easy parking reminders sometime in the mid-1980s. Before this, the parking lot was sectioned off only by letters. This simple innovation only increased the magic of Disney and the evergreen imagination.
The original parking eventually permanently closed in 1998 to make way for Disney’s California Adventure. The original parking lot served park guests for the first 42 years of Disneyland’s existence.
Main Street USA – Disneyland Photos from the 60s
Guests of Disneyland have made it a habit to take one of many Disneyland pictures in front of the iconic Floral Mickey. As can be seen by these boys posing at the Mickey flower arrangement in 1965. About 7,000 plants are used to create the Floral Mickey arrangement at the entrance of Disneyland park. 4,500 of those plants make up Mickey’s face.
Disney Horticulture professionals work quarterly to replace the flowers with blossoms that reflect the season. During colder seasons, Violas are often used while the warmer seasons call for alyssums. They will even take it a step further to color code the flowers to reflect holidays. Today during special events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween, guests may see Mickey sporting a black, orange, and white façade. And Christmastime, of course, calls for red, greens, and poinsettias.
Not only have the colors of Floral Mickey changed, but so has the design. Earlier renditions such as this one from 1965, showcases a full, round-faced Mickey. Later versions gave Mickey a more animated appearance. Some days there are more flowers than others, but one thing that will never change is the location of this arrangement. The giant smiling face of Mickey has been there since guests first entered the park on opening day in July 1955 and can still be seen at Disneyland today in 2019.
Fantasyland is an original segment in the parks. It thrives off a renaissance vibe, with Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at the forefront, and King Arthur’s carousal prominently displayed in the courtyard. Originally it housed a theater titles Mickey Mouse Theater, which was later renamed Fantasyland Theatre in 1964. This arena played several shows including It’s Tough to Be a Bird (1969) and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1969). Today the theatre is now Pinocchio’s Daring Journey.
Disneyland’s 1961 was brought back to life in 2012 when a scene for Saving Mr. Banks was shot on the property. The film, starring Tom Hanks, tells the story of Walt Disney’s quest to transform Mary Popping from the pages of P.L. Travers’ novel to the big screen. Fantasyland was redecorated to a 1961’s version of the park. Over 400 cast members were used for the three-minute scene and signs looking like the ones from the 1960s were placed above turnstiles. The Mickey Mouse flower garden was altered for a 1960 retro look and members of the crew even dug up ride posters from the archives to hang along the gate.
It’s s Small World also debuted in Fantasyland May, 1966 after originally premiering at the 1964 World Fair in New York. The ride, which celebrates different cultures from around the world, became a huge hit for Disneyland.
Former attractions in Fantasyland:
The Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant (1955-1982)
- Fantasyland Autopia (1956-1999)
- Fantasy Fair
- Kellers Jungle Killers
- Fantasyland Depot (1955-1993)
- Mickey Mouse Club Circus (1955-1956)
- Mickey Mouse Theatre (1955-1982)
- Midget Autopia (1957-1966)
- Moto Boat Cruise (1957-1993)
- Skull Rock (1960-1982)
- Skyway to Tomorrowland (1956-1994)
Tomorrowland – Disneyland Photos from the 60s
Another skyway attraction, the Peoplemover came to Disneyland in 1967. It was based in Tomorrowland as the attraction fit well with the area’s futuristic persona. Small trains on elevated tracks moved people for a grand circular tour above Tomorrowland.
The cars were originally individually painted blue, yellow, red, or green with white roofs. In 1987, this looked changed when the full trains were painted white with a single stripe across the side. Each train was equipped with safety rails. These rails were only semi-wrapped around the cars until 1985, when they were reconstructed to wrapped around the cars entirely for the passengers’ safety. The reason for these additions sparked after several incidents occurred aboard the Peoplemovers.
In August of 1967, a 16-year-old boy tried to jump onto a passing Peoplemover train to another while inside a tunnel. He tripped and landed on the tracks, which led to his death. The ride had only been open for a month at the time. Another incident happened in 1972 when two girls exited the train to retrieve a lost pair of Mickey ears. One girl was able to successfully hop onto another Peoplemover, however, her cousin slipped and fell thirty feet onto the concrete floor. She survived, but she some of her bones and suffered multiple injuries.
The ride eventually closed in 1995 because Imagineers thought the technology surpassed its time. However, there is a Peoplemover still functioning at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
This picture, taken just a year before the innovation of “New Tomorrowland” shows a closer look at the outfits Disney predicted we would wear by the 1980s. By this time, Disney has severely ramped up the attractions in Tomorrowland with the resurrection of Disneyland Monorail, Submarine Voyage, and the Matterhorn (which later became part of Fantasyland). These structures were so grand that people called it the second grand opening of Disneyland.
While it would certainly be entertaining to see Disneyland Cast Members adorned this way today, the nostalgia around these vintage outfits remained intact. Those truly invested in Disney culture and history have worn these old Cast Member outfits as Halloween costumes. Some have even been seen wearing them to special Disneyland events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary!
However, it was around this time in 1966 that Disney execs quickly realized how outdated Tomorrowland was becoming. A year after this picture was taken, the iconic Carousel of Progress, Adventure Thru Inner Space, the Circle-Vision auditorium, Flight to the Moon, and the Peoplemover were implemented to make this land what it is today. This section of Disneyland sees more renovations and upgrades than any other area of the park. These innovations help give Tomorrowland’s tagline “World on the Move” its meaning.
New Orleans Square
Walt Disney first started making plans for New Orleans Square in the late 1950s. It was even on a souvenir map in 1958. The idea of the attraction was an area in the park that would be based on 19th-century New Orleans. It was the first land to be added to Disneyland after the park’s opening and was located where Holidayland used to be.
Walt did see his vision of New Orleans Square come to life when it opened on July 24, 1966 to the public and presided over its opening. While Disney died later that year in December, he was involved in the production of the Pirates of the Caribbean which opened March 1967 along with the Blue Bayou Restaurant.
The Pirates of the Caribbean became the anchor ride at New Orleans Square until the Haunted Mansion opened in 1969.
The Mickey Mouse Balloons – Disneyland Photos from the 60s
As you can see from this photo, the Mickey Mouse balloon has been a highly coveted Disneyland souvenir for decades. In fact, these balloons have been a part of the park’s tradition since day one. These balloons were available for purchase even before the parks opened. However, it was at Disneyland where this souvenir received its recognition and demand.
Treb Heining, a former Disneyland employee, started his unique career as a Balloon Boy at the age of 15. He became well-known for his ability to tie thousands of these Mickey balloons in just an hour! He became so infatuated and skillful at this that he started his own company, BallonArt by Treb. He started by selling balloons to parties, but eventually became responsible for high profile events such as the Superbowl and the Olympic Games . Heining eventually made his way back to his roots when he helped orchestrate the million- balloon launch at Disneyland. The celebration was hosted at the park in 1985 for its 30th anniversary celebration. Heining went on to invent the balloons as we see them now; the Mickey balloon incased in a clear one (also known as the Glasshouse). This man also invented the progressive light-up Mickey balloons and is now head of the Glasshosue Balloon Company, Inc. where he employs 50,000 people worldwide. Can you believe his career all started with a mouse?