“Anaheim, California. There grew a grove of orange trees covering a lot of ground.
Once upon a time in Anaheim… Anaheim, California, a man beheld those orange groves wondering if he had found the answer to his special dream – his very special vision. He walked around… and looked around… and came to this decision:
(The man’s name was Walt Disney. And as he stood in that orange grove 25 years ago, he saw in his mind’s eye a magic kingdom the likes of which never, NEVER existed anywhere on Earth.)
And he said, “I will build my dream in Anaheim – Anaheim, California! And everything I build will be the grandest sort of fantasy – imagination is the key to Disneyland!” – Danny Kaye, from the Disneyland 25th Anniversary Special
The Whole Special. It’s so deliciously 1980.
Imagination, along with hard work, perseverance, stubbornness, contributions from others, and so much more was, and still is, the key to Disneyland. As Walt’s opening day broadcast began on July 17th, 1955, imagination ran wild. The theme park was born, and what an amazing debut it made. On televisions across America, a new locale became the go-to destination for many families. Given Walt Disney’s dream and drive, looking back, this is not surprising. However, up until that point, it was very much up in the air.
Not anymore. 58 years later, and the park is going strong as ever. Even with Disney Parks world wide, people still travel from all over the globe to visit Walt’s original theme park.
People like us. We, the vacationers, the day trippers, the locals who love to go and soak up the atmosphere. Who still talk to Mickey as if we’re seeing him for the first time. Who plan for weeks on end which ride will be our first when we get there. Who put on mouse ears as if they are part of our everyday accessories. Who stand in line for 25 minutes on a hot day for a Dole Whip because water just won’t do.
Although some naysayers may scoff, there really is a magic feel to Disneyland. Whether it’s nostalgia, an escape from real life, or the need to relax on a bench as horse drawn trolleys pass by, we feel transformed as we enter. For even a few hours of the day we can forget our worries, or, at the very least, take time to reflect a bit while riding a train through jungles, New Orleans and a prehistoric scenario.
Because of this magic that lingers long after I’ve left the park, even now, a month and a half out from another trip, I want to take the time today to say the following:
Happy Birthday, Disneyland. Thank you to all who worked on creating this happy place, from Walt himself to the bulldozer drivers who cleared the orange groves… you have my gratitude. May you continue to be a source of joy and inspiration on this earth for years to come. May our grandchildren know the wonder of flying with elephants and sliding down icy slopes of hills while eluding abominable snowmen. Here’s to many more birthdays to come.