At 2:30pm on July 17, 1955, Disneyland's gates opened, welcoming guests into the theme park for the first time. ABC broadcast the historic event with a LIVE telecast and at 4:43pm, a 57 year-old Walt Disney delivered his famed dedication.
"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."
Dedication Day was initially conceived as an International Press Review for media, celebrities and invited guests. However, brand new Cast Members in a brand new park were overrun, as more than 28,000 people attended the unofficial opening. Counterfeit tickets and passes allowed an estimated 12,000-14,000 people to crash the private Sunday event.
On Disneyland's official opening day, July 18th, Cast Members welcomed approximately 50,000 guests to the Anaheim park. Walt's brother, Roy O. Disney, symbolically purchased Disneyland's first ticket, celebrating the success shared since moving to California in the 1920's.
When Disneyland opened in 1955, Disney didn't know if his theme park would be a success. The first year of operation, Disneyland drew more than a million guests to Anaheim, California. In 1956, attendance jumped to 4 million guests. After 57 years Disneyland boasts an annual attendance of nearly 16 million, following Walt Disney World as the second most visited theme park in the world.
Although more people visit the resort in Orlando, the original Disneyland remains the only place where guests can walk in Walt's footsteps and experience the magic Disney crafted firsthand.
A new Disney Detail inside Disney California Adventure Park is directly tied to Disneyland's opening. Travelling a route that connects Buena Vista Street and Holltwoodland, Red Car Trolley #717 is numbered to honor Disneyland's Dedication Day, July 17.