July 17th, 1955 – The night before…
The anticipation of going to a place full of rides for kids kept my sisters, brother, cousin, and I talking late into the morning hours.
Our parents allowed us all to spend the night in the living room (sleeping bags and all), and we pretended we were camping out.
We must have gotten some sleep because we were ready to go at the crack of dawn. By the time we got to Anaheim (we lived in the San Fernando Valley) a mob (see photo below right) of people were pouring through the gates. I guess they didn’t know much about crowd control in those days.
It’s hard to say what I remember most about that magical day. I was five-years old and quickly overawed at the magnificence around me. One of the most impressive was the “Rocket to the Moon/Flight to the Moon/Mission to Mars” exhibit that instantly made me want to be an astronaut.
I thought the “Indian Village(left)” was neat, as I loved playing Cowboys and Indians. Looking back, I can see how people might think we were racist or politically incorrect by today’s standards.
But, back then we were innocent of such things because they were all around us and we didn’t know any better. The movies told us the Cowboys were the good guys and the Indians were the bad guys.
Back to Disneyland:
I recall riding in Dumbo, who gently went up and down and around. I thought the people dressed up like cartoon characters were cool. I asked my dad how the people inside could stand the heat? Unfortunately, I can’t remember exactly what he said. It was something along the lines of “They get paid to do it.” I sure remember the heat.
When you walked your feet stuck to the newly laid asphalt (they kept slipping out of my sandals!) that looked wet under the blazing sun. Women were getting their high heels stuck, much to my amusement. I saw more than one person fall down, only to quickly get up red-faced and embarrassed, trying to act like nothing happened. If people tripped and fell today (and it was the amusement park’s fault) they’d sue and get part ownership!
My overall impression of that day’s
big adventure (See Photo left), was one of bliss.
As we drove home I struggled to stay awake and talk with my older sister Linda, but lost the battle and passed out.
I ran across the following article this morning and it inspired me to reminisce. Enjoy:
10 Things I Miss About Disneyland
By Rick VanderKnyff
“When Disneyland opened in 1955, Westerns were still the biggest thing on TV and the early Disney rides and attractions reflected that. Orange County also had Knott's Berry Farm, which comprised mainly the ghost town -- with free admission -- and chicken dinner restaurant until owners decided to go whole hog into the Disney-style theme park business. In those days, young fans would head to Disneyland or Knott's with their cap pistols strapped onto their hips and felt cowboy hats on their heads.
The Indian Village, with real people in full Native America garb hanging out amid the teepees and other paraphernalia, was one of Disneyland's original attractions in those quieter, less culturally aware times. This attraction -- with people in native costume on display -- would never fly today, and rightly so. But it's interesting to remember when this was all part of the Disney experience.”