20 Historic Photos Of Disneyland On Opening Day In 1955

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is the Senior Editor of Branded Content at Wild Sky Media. She grew up in upstate New York and Oregon and now lives in Queens, NY. Ileana graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in sociology. After graduating, she attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, then worked as in marketing at Oxford University Press. Since transitioning to editorial, she has written for BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Woman's World. She has also worked for local newspapers and magazines in upstate New York. In her free time, you can find Ileana watching Law & Order: SVU, eating ice cream, and spending time with her dog.

In 1955, the world of theme parks changed forever. Disneyland, originally known as Disneyland Park, opened to the public on July 17, 1955, in Anaheim, California.

According to Disney lore, Walt Disney came up with the idea for Disneyland after he visited numerous amusement parks with his daughters throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1953, he bought a 160-acre site in Anaheim, and construction began on the theme park in 1954.

Since the park first opened, people have visited Disneyland over 726 million times. The amusement park has been so successful that Disney went on to open a number of other Disney parks, both in the US and around the world.

In addition to Disneyland, there is also Walt Disney World (located in Florida), Disneyland Paris, Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and Tokyo Disney Resort.

Although each of the Disney parks is amazing, there’s nothing quite like the original in California. Take a trip through memory lane by looking through these historic photos of Disneyland from opening day!

Additionally, Disney just launched Disney+ where you can stream tons of Disney content whenever your heart desires. Sign up for a free 7-day trial here!


Cowboys on horseback ride across a bridge into Frontierland on opening day. It’s not typical to see people on horseback at Disneyland nowadays, but on opening day in 1955, there were real-life cowboys on the property.

parking lot

The parking lot was completely full on Disneyland’s opening day. People were so desperate to get into the park that some even parked illegally — just look at the car in the front left; that’s definitely not a parking spot!

tomorrowland ride

On opening day, parkgoers couldn’t wait to try out the attractions — from rides to games to restaurants. People couldn’t get enough. In this photo, kids and adults alike stand in line to get a chance to go on the Tomorrowland boat ride attraction.

circus train ride

The Circus Train ride was an exact replica of the Casey Jr. train from the movie Dumbo. In the background of this photo, you can also see people floating down a lazy river on a boat.

teacup ride

Kids spin in the iconic teacup ride at Disneyland on opening day. This ride, located in Fantasyland, was officially called the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The teacups are still an iconic Disney ride.

Walt Disney poses in front of the Fantasyland castle during the grand opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955. Walt Disney died  just 11 years later, in 1966, at age 65.

tomorrowland parade

Parkgoers watch the Tomorrowland portion of the parade, which features cars, astronauts, and more. Disneyland still features a daily parade, which kids and adults absolutely love. It’s always a fun way to take a break from riding roller coasters!

kids castle

Kids sprint through the opening under Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Fantasyland. The castle is absolutely iconic, and people from all over the world flock to Disneyland to get a picture with the famous castle.

golden horseshoe

“Bartenders” serve root beer to kids at the Golden Horseshoe, a children’s saloon. Although Disneyland is great for adults and children alike, the park has always catered to younger kids, which is why this adorable saloon was a hit.


Kids zoom around a mile-long track on Disneyland’s Autopia freeway car attraction. Autopia is still open at Disneyland, and other Disney parks have their own versions of the same attraction.


People take a break from the heat and relax in Tomorrowland’s Space Port. On the first day, people were absolutely astounded by what they saw. Although it was thrilling to get a first look at Disneyland, it was also exhausting — people could relax in restaurants and lounge areas to catch their breath and get ready to explore more.

disneyland castle

Disney characters stand near the Fantasyland castle. As is the case today, Disney characters are a huge part of the Disneyland experience. Kids can’t wait to meet all their favorite characters, from princesses to Mickey Mouse to brand-new movie characters.

parking lot trolleys

Trolleys transport park guests from the parking lot to the amusement park. The parking lot was enormous, so to save people the long walk to the park, trolleys carried guests to and from the amusement park. Disney California Adventure Park was eventually built on this parking lot.

disney knight

Walt Disney and California Governor Goodwin Knight wave to fans from on board the E.P. Ripley train. The opening of Disneyland was a huge event — ABC even televised the unveiling of the park.

mark twain riverboat

Happy park visitors wave from the decks of the Mark Twain Riverboat ride. The Mark Twain Riverboat is still in operation today — it features a 14-minute ride around the Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.


Park guests watch as the parade makes its way down Main Street. Main Street is still a huge attraction for guests at Disneyland. It welcomes visitors to the park and sets them up for a great day ahead.

mickey mouse donald duck

Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck hold hands outside the Fantasyland castle. These two classic Disney characters look perfect standing in front of the iconic castle.

Adults and children float along the water on one of the boat rides. From their vantage point, they can see the Circus Train and numerous other rides at the park.


Parkgoers gather in the plaza around the teacup ride. This central location was a fun place for families to get together and take in the sights of the park.

kids disneyland

Excited kids sprint into Disneyland to get on rides and explore the park. As is true today, kids can hardly contain themselves when they see Disneyland for the first time.

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