July 17, 2014
“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” Walt Disney, July 17, 1955, 4:43 PM.
As in my post entry yesterday (July 16, 2014), the fort must be defended at all costs. My personal memory of my one-time visit to Disneyland as a child, was a feeling of anticipation, nervousness, and fear. And that is before I even step into the entrance to the Disney kingdom. For most people, the amusement park is a place of great joy, but for me, it was a landscape of horror. Throughout my life, I had a fear of heights and I didn’t took to the idea of a giant mouse and duck wearing a sailor’s outfit approaching me as I entered the playground of dread. My memory of the place is more about the heat (it was hot that day), the food I ate (hot dog that had some sort of Disney packaging around it) and the only toy my mom and grandmother bought me that day - a tiny glass statue of Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. I kept these two tiny glass figures for many years, or till I lost my house in Beverly Glen in a mud slide. Nevertheless I often reflect on those objects, because they represent something I can’t explain, but I can greatly feel for.
Walt Disney got the idea of having an amusement park, due that they were getting tourists who were going to his studio in Burbank, and at first he was going to build up a park near the studio, but alas, the property was too small for such a project. Walt hired Harrison Price, who was a research economist specializing in how people spend their leisure time and resources. Disney had a genius touch in hiring employees who were good at their jobs, and Price was the man who made practical sense to Disney’s vision for Disneylandia, or better known as Disneyland. With Price’s analysis, Disney purchased land in Orange County, and it took one year and one day to build Disneyland.
On July 17, 1955 it opened, which was referred to for Disney and his 1955 executives as “Black Sunday.” Mostly due that rides were not fully operating at its peak, and there was no water on the property due to a plumber’s strike that was taking place at the time. Also Disney also arranged with the ABC network to have live coverage of the opening, which was a technical disaster. The TV hosts were Bob Cummings (“Love That Bob”), Art Linkletter, and Ronald Reagan and their was one cringeworthy incident where a live TV camera caught Cummings making out with a dancer - alas, as one plans everything to the specific inch, that inch refuses to stand still. Nevertheless, the next day went more smoothly.
Although it wasn’t exactly accurate, Christine Vess (age 5) and Michael Schwartner (7) were the first paying customers to get into the park, and Disney did a series of publicity photos with the children, and both of the them were rewarded with life-time passes to Disneyland. 50,000 people showed up that Monday, which was unusually hot. Around 101 F. Luckily they had running water and the toilets were working as well. So yes, there were some down moments, but in the end, like Disney planned it, the low became high, and to this day it’s a special location.
It must be bizarre to people, but I never actually seen a full-annimated Walt Disney film. Only cartoons from “The Mickey Mouse Club, ” as well as “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.” My main introduction to the Disney World, besides visiting Disneyland (just only once) is their merchandise. I had toys and comic books associated with Disney’s “Zorro, ” “The Mickey Mouse Club, ” and of course Mickey and that duck. I even had a Mickey Mouse portable record player, that played my very small collection of Disney recordings. So I was very much raised up in a household full of Disney images, but at the same time I had a natural distrust for the figures and the empire that it came from. I think due that to me, the Disney world, specifically Disneyland was a fortress, and I felt confined in such a controlled landscape, even for a kid. I didn’t feel safe, in fact, I felt locked up in that world. I often think that Disney occupied my world to a certain degree, where even looking at nature was somewhat controlled by Walt and his fellow visionaries. On my many walks through the neighborhood, I go by the original Disney home on Lyric Avenue, where reportedly, he made Mickey Mouse there. The charming French normandy style architecture that he lived-in is beautiful in scope and size, but then his visions kicked in, and now we have an empire that is based on one man’s imagination and his ability to entrap the masses into his world. I think what I find the most disappointing is the fact that my world is so different from Disneyland, that I find the separation of Disney life and mine is a total distance from each other. I often feel depressed regarding the gap, but as they say in London tube platforms, “mind the gap. ”