Thoughts While Watching: The 1955 Disneyland Opening Day Broadcast

Disneyland

I hope that in the flurry of excitement over my most recent trip report you haven’t forgotten about my Thoughts While Watching series – I know I haven’t!

Last time we watched The Pre-Opening Report from Disneyland, so I thought it would be appropriate to follow it up with a viewing of the 1955 Disneyland Opening Day Broadcast, which was televised live on the very first day of Disneyland’s operation.

This one’s a little longer at an hour and thirteen minutes, but well worth the watch for any Disney parks enthusiast. Presided over by Uncle Walt alongside a smattering of reporters and celebrities, you could tell it was live because of all the times things didn’t go quite Disney perfect. My favorite example is probably when the guy can’t find – actually, you know what? Click play and follow along!

And now –

55 Thoughts Jenn Had While Watching The 1955 Disneyland Opening Day Broadcast:

  1. The Disneyland press room doesn’t look too magical.

  2. I don’t care for Art Linkletter standing ON the railroad tracks like that, and neither would OSHA, I think.

  3. I am loving this early television “We’re totally going to mess this up, guys” disclaimer. Pardon me while I adjust my bustle.

  4. In a different universe Art crossed the railroad tracks and was immediately taken out by the train.

  5. Oh, right, I forgot that Ronald Reagan was a movie star first. BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF AMERICA, BE GREAT!

  6. I knew opening day was dire, but did the heliport and parking lot count as attractions?

  7. Wait, was the fire station actually a fire station?

  8. Next time I’m in the Emporium I’m definitely getting myself some nylons and a buttonhook.

  9. Way to spoil the forced perspective illusion, guys.

  10. Who brings a mandolin to a canoe ride?

  11. Getting serious “how do you do, fellow kids” vibes from this announcer. Twenty-three skidoo!

  12. Awww, look at Walt in his little conductor’s cap and bandana.

  13. Stand up, straight, Mr. President; have some RESPECT.

  14. It is time for THE SPEECH.

  15. That was Gettysburg-esque in its succinctness. Walt did love Lincoln.

  16. I did not expect this religious angle. They let a reverend AND a priest talk, but why didn’t they let the rabbi say anything? Corollary thought: is there a joke in there?

  17. If this were happening today some big shot pop star would definitely sing the anthem.

  18. Oh, hey, Fess Parker is back.

  19. Did he just say Buddy Ebsen is there? Was Buddy Ebsen in Davey Crockett? [Looked it up later and evidently he was! I’m glad he finally got the nickel out of his lungs]

  20. Awww, all the parade sections splitting off to their respective lands is pretty cute.

  21. “This is one of the greatest parades – man-made parades – I’ve ever seen.” As opposed to the alien-made ones? What do you know that we don’t, Bob Cummings?

  22. Ah, shoot, have all the individual lands had dedication plaques of their own this whole time and I’ve just never noticed? Or is that just at Disneyland?

  23. I’ve read that Disneyland didn’t have background music loops the first couple years, but based on the soundtrack for this special I think that the subsequent music loops have done a great job preserving the spirit of what Walt had in mind.

  24. Fifties youth say: “Screw Disneyland – WHERE IS FESS PARKER????”

  25. Oh. Oh dear. I see we’ve reached the “well, it was a different time” portion of the program.

  26. Are all the lands going to get their own musical numbers or is this special for Davy?

  27. I’m not saying Big Thunder Mountain isn’t awesome, but… I wanna ride a mule around Frontierland!

  28. Pecos Bill is here! I wish the Diamond Horseshoe was still a year-round attraction.

  29. And the Mark Twain riverboat was never that full again.

  30. I was told Ms. Dunn would be adjusting her bustle.

  31. “The Rivers of the World! America, that is!” You’re just ahead of your time, Art.

  32. Ronnie Reagan has sure made himself at home.

  33. I kind of wish WDW had a New Orleans Square.

  34. Was Aunt Jemima a walk-around face character? Hmmm.

  35. Implied kissing? Scandalous!

  36. Can you imagine, guys? Tomorrowland! The future! 1986!!!!

  37. Awww, Walt’s face. “I thought I got a signal.” That was ADORABLE.

  38. “1986! That’s WAY ahead!” That’s what I said.

  39. “… predictions of things to come.” [Camera cuts to Autopia] “Well… uh…”

  40. Oh, hey, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.! Finally some celebrities I’m familiar with. 😜

  41. “The women drivers are given special space, just as they are on the highways.” … What?

  42. I half expected to cut to Ronald Reagan with his coat off and his shirt unbuttoned.

  43. We get to virtually ride Rocket to the Moon?!

  44. Don’t get to comfy, Capcom – Gina Torres could replace you at any moment.

  45. Hey, that knight kinda sounded like Thurl Ravenscroft…

  46. Is that Cinderella? Is that Sleeping Beauty? Is that the Blue Fairy? WHO IS IT?

  47. That Dumbo costume is AMAZING. They should really bring it back.

  48. I bet that fade transition from live camera to cartoon and back was cutting edge for the time.

  49. Did I miss a sequel where Snow White and Prince Charming have a kid?

  50. MARJORIE MAIN!!! Now that’s a celebrity worth highlighting!

  51. “And I think if he ever gets a microphone we’ll be able to talk to him – ” Gotta love a live show.

  52. Just add my voice to the cacophony lamenting the loss of Mr. Toad in WDW.

  53. “I can’t tell you the ending because it would violate the Hays Code.”

  54. Thank GOD Mickey and Minnie experienced a glow up.

  55. Maybe if you hadn’t let Fess Parker stage an entire musical number you would’ve had more time to explore Adventureland instead of just saying “Uh, sorry!” and rushing off in a tangle, guys.

Fifty-five thoughts for the 1955 opening! That one got me right in the feels. I’ve read the stories – Day One was a minor disaster – but dang it if it wasn’t the start of something beautiful. We’ll take a look at that blessed progression in the next one. See ya real soon!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

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