Before Disneyland Opened

FAMILY HISTORY ~ Sunday, February 6, 1859

ELIAS CHARLES DISNEY is born in Bluevale, Ontario, Canada to Kepple Disney and Mary Richardson-Disney.

FAMILY HISTORY ~ Wednesday, April 22, 1868

FLORA CALL is born in Steuben, Ohio to Charles Call and  Henrietta Gross-Call.

FAMILY HISTORY ~ Sunday, January 1, 1888

ELIAS C. DISNEY and FLORA CALL are married on New Year's Day in Kismet, Florida, 40 miles north of the future home of Walt Disney World.

FAMILY HISTORY ~  Saturday, June 24, 1893

ROY OLIVER DISNEY [future CFO of the Walt Disney Company] is born at home in Chicago, Illinois.

FAMILY HISTORY ~ Saturday, October 31, 1891

Elias Disney buys a PARCEL OF LAND on the corner of Tripp and Palmer Streets in Chicago, Illinois. Using plans drawn by Flora, he builds a house on the property where his youngest children will be born.

FAMILY HISTORY ~ October, 1893

The DISNEY FAMILY MOVES into their finished home at 1249 Tripp Avenue in the Hermosa section of Chicago, Illinois.

FAMILY HISTORY ~ Thursday, December 5, 1901

WALTER ELIAS DISNEY [founder and future CEO of the Walt Disney Company] is born at home on 1249 Tripp Avenue in the Hermosa section of Chicago, Illinois.

FAMILY HISTORY ~ Saturday, February 10, 1906

The Disney Family SELL THEIR HOME in Chicago and move to a small farm in Marceline, Missouri.

NEWS ITEM ~ Monday, July 13, 1925

WALTER ELIAS DISNEY and LILLIAN BOUNDS[both from Hollywood, California] are married in Lewiston, Nez Pierce County, Idaho. Witnesses include Hazel B. Sewell [Lillian's sister] and Sydney O. Bounds by an Episcopalian Minister.

NEWS ITEM ~ Saturday, August 10, 1935

RON DOMINGUEZ is born on farm land in Anaheim, California that will eventually become Disneyland. The 30 acre farm land had been purchased by his grandfather.

NEWS ITEM ~ Wednesday, August 31, 1938
WALT and ROY DISNEY put a deposit on 51 acres of land in Burbank, California to build their new animation studio. This facility will prove important to the planning of Disneyland in future years.

NEWS ITEM ~ Monday, May 6, 1940
The new WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIO is completed at Buena Vista Street in Burbank, California. The new streamlined animation department and tree lined private roads made working at the new studio easier for the staff.

NEWS ITEM ~ Tuesday, August 8, 1948
Walt Disney writes a memo to Dick Kelsey outlining his ideas for a DISNEY-INSPIRED AMUSEMENT PARK.

NEWS ITEM ~ Monday, May 15, 1950
The LILLY BELLE STEAM ENGINE, a prototype to Walt’s full sized Disneyland stream train debuts at Walt’s backyard in Holmby Hills, California until 1953.

NEWS ITEM ~ Thursday, March 27, 1952
Walt Disney makes the FIRST PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT of plans to build “Disneyland” on Riverside Drive in Burbank across the street from his studios at a cost of $1,500,000. After some planning, the site is deemed too small and Walt begins looking for a larger property. Harper Goff draws the original renderings for the Burbank property. 

NEWS ITEM ~ December, 1952
WALT DISNEY INC. is formed to plan the new theme park. This will eventually be called W.E.D. Enterprises [for Walt Elias Disney] headed by Bill Cotrell.

1953 Disneyland ~ Planning a Dream

NEWS ITEM ~ July, 1953
Disney commissions the STANFORD RESEARCH INSTITUTE and Harrison “Buzz” Price to look for a location in California to build Disneyland.

NEWS ITEM ~ July, 1953
On early drawings of Disneyland, TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURELAND is placed on the east side of the park. It will be based on the lands and culture of Africa, Asian and Polynesian.

NEWS ITEM ~ August, 1953
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA in Orange County is selected for the site of the new theme park. This 160 acre parcel of land is currently orange and walnut trees privately owned by local farmers.

NEWS ITEM ~ Wednesday, September 23, 1953
Walt and his staff spend 48 straight hours at the studio with Herb Ryman creating a VISUAL PRESENTATION OF DISNEYLAND for the Bankers to see, thus hoping they will invest in the project and loan the studio money. These drawing became the blueprint for the Disneyland that is built.

NEWS ITEM ~ Thursday, October 8, 1953
Planning begins for HOLIDAY-LAND in the new Anaheim Park. This area will be located outside of the berm.

NEWS ITEM ~ October, 1953
OPERATIONAL PLANNING begins for the day to day running of Disneyland. Their original estimate is that 5 million per year will visit Disneyland and it will require $9 million in capital costs. It took $17 million to open the main gates much of which was provided by corporate sponsors.

NEWS ITEM ~ 1953
Plans are drawn up for build LILLIPUTIAN LAND in an area north of Tomorrowland. It was to be a miniature scale land. This area was later changed and re-adapted.

NEWS ITEM ~ 1953
Plans are drawn up for an INTERNATIONAL LAND to be located north of Tomorrowland that would represent the many nations of the world. This area was never built.

1954 Disneyland  ~  Building A Dream

NEWS ITEM ~ January, 1954
Selected Disney Staff members begin TOURING AMERICAN AMUSEMENT PARKS to get an idea of what to do and what not to do. These include the nearby Knott’s Berry Farm and several local and state fairs.

ON THE AIR ~ Friday, April 2, 1954
Walt agrees to produce a weekly television show for ABC in return for funding. He will call the TV show simply “DISNEYLAND”.

NEWS ITEM ~ Monday, April 19, 1954
Retired Rear ADMIRAL JOE FOWLER begins working at Disneyland, as a consultant for all the water vehicles being built at the park including the Mark Twain Steam Boat and later became the construction boos of the entire project.

NEWS ITEM ~ Spring, 1954
MILT ALBRIGHT, working in studios’ payroll department since 1947, Milt is promoted to manager of accounting for Disneyland.

NEWS ITEM ~ Saturday, May 1, 1954
The ANAHEIM BULLETIN NEWSPAPER breaks the story of Walt’s plans to build a theme park in Anaheim, California.

NEWS ITEM ~ Friday, July 16, 1954
With ONE YEAR TO GO until the grand opening, 180 acres of Anaheim orange groves begin to be cleared and surveyed. To finance Disneyland, Walt Disney sells a vacation home and borrows against his life insurance, as well as speaking to corporations about investing in exchange for a presence in the new park.

NEWS ITEM ~ 1954
Walt Disney decides that TOMORROWLAND’S DESIGN will be based on the future year of 1986.  This is the date of the return of Halley’s Comet.

NEWS ITEM ~ Wednesday, July 21, 1954
GROUND IS BROKEN to begin construction for Disneyland on the 180 acre site in Anaheim, California.

NEWS ITEM ~ Friday, August 13, 1954
EXCAVATION BEGINS at the Disneyland project site. There are 4,000 orange trees and less than 20 houses on the property which must be dug up and moved or torn down. Only two or three of these houses will be saved to use as Disneyland offices.

NEWS ITEM ~ Wednesday, August 25, 1954
A formal GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY for Disneyland is cancelled, as it is thought more important to keep the work schedule going and finish the project by deadline.

NEWS ITEM ~ 1954
The OPERA HOUSE on Main Street becomes the first building finished during Disneyland’s construction. It will serve as the Disneyland Mill, where workers can produce intricate woodworking needed for various construction projects at Disneyland. It will remain open until 1960.

NEWS ITEM ~ Sunday, October 10, 1954
A WORK PROGRESS MEMO from the Disneyland construction team reports that there is progress in all areas of the new park, but Tomorrowland is not even mentioned.

NEWS ITEM ~ Friday, October 15, 1954
The ELEVATED DIRT BERM that will surround Disneyland is now nearly completed.

ON THE AIR ~ Sunday, October 27, 1954
“DISNEYLAND” Season 1, Episode 1 ~ “The Disneyland Story” features Walt Disney Takes viewers on a quick tour of the studio before introducing the public to his new theme park and talks about Mickey Mouse’s history.

NEWS ITEM ~ Fall, 1954
Walt Disney makes the difficult decision to STOP WORKING ON TOMORROWLAND, as there appears to be not enough time to finish it before the July 17th opening.

NEWS ITEM ~ 1954
An 1875 DENTZEL CARROUSEL is purchased and moved to Disneyland. It had previously been operated at the Sunnyside Beach Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada since 1922. It contained three courses of carved horses and other animals when purchased. Walt decided he would like a carrousel of all horses and a search was begun to find more antique carved horses.

ON THE AIR ~ Wednesday, October 27, 1954
SEASON ONE OF “DISNEYLAND” runs weekly until Wednesday, July 13, 1955. It is on ABC-TV hosted by Walt Disney. The theme song was “When You Wish Upon a Star”. This season featured the wildly popular Dave Crockett series and the Dateline: Disneyland show that featured the opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955.

ON THE AIR ~ Wednesday, October 27, 1954
Episode one of Season 1 ~ DISNEYLAND: "THE DISNEYLAND STORY" airs on ABC (first episode of Disneyland television show). Hosted by Walt, it features previews of upcoming attractions being built in the new theme park and a history of Mickey Mouse’s film career.

ON THE AIR ~ Sunday, December 15, 1954
“DISNEYLAND” Season 1, Episode 8 ~ “Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter” airs. This is part 1 of a 3 part series where Davy and George Russell try to make a truce with the Indians.

1955 Disneyland ~ Almost Ready
NEWS ITEM ~ Saturday, January 1, 1955
Helm’s Bakery enters a float in the PASADENA TOURNAMENT OF ROSES PARADE with a Disney theme. This float features Mickey Mouse, Dumbo and a series of flying pink elephants and helps to publicize the upcoming opening of Disneyland. It wins the Judges Special Award. The Firehouse Five Plus Two performs on the float.

NEWS ITEM ~ January, 1955
Plans for Disneyland indicate that the FRONTIERLAND MINIATURES MUSEUM is still being constructed despite the fact that this attraction was not in the park on opening day in July.

NEWS ITEM ~ January, 1955
The Walt Disney Company announces PLANS TO BUILD A HOTEL on property across from Disneyland off of West Street. It will cost $10 million and be designed by architects, Pereira & Luckman. It will be owned and run by the Wrather Corporation. [Jack and Bonita Wrather are friends of Walt's].

NEWS ITEM ~ Saturday, January 15, 1955
CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON THE TOMORROWLAND portion of the new theme park, after Walt decides it must be ready by opening day.

ON THE AIR ~ Sunday, January 26, 1955
“DISNEYLAND” Season 1, Episode 14 ~ “DAVY CROCKETT GOES TO CONGRESS” airs. Episode 2 of 3, Davy enters the political arena after the death of his wife, Polly.

ON THE AIR ~ Sunday, February 2, 1955
“DISNEYLAND” Season 1, Episode 15 ~ “THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS” airs. A sort film based on Kenneth Grahame’s 1941 book about Mr. Toad and Badger. This animation was originally called “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.”

ON THE AIR ~ Sunday, February 9, 1955
“DISNEYLAND” Season 1, Episode 16 ~ “A PROGRESS REPORT AND NATURE’S HALF ACRE” airs featuring A look at how the construction of Disneyland is coming along shown with a True-Life Report called “Nature’s Half Acre.”

NEWS ITEM ~ February, 1955
WALT DISNEY CHANGES HIS MIND about his decision to not finish Tomorrowland. He decides to build it before the opening in July. He feels the entire project should be presented to the public rather than open Tomorrowland at a later date.

NEWS ITEM ~ Spring, 1955
DICK NUNIS is hired as one of over 600 people to help run Disneyland. Dick is first hired as a go-fer and later to train company executives and employees on the daily park operations for Disneyland at $1.80 an hour.

NEWS ITEM ~ 1955
The plans for building LILLIPUTIAN LAND in an area north of Tomorrowland are cancelled.

NEWS ITEM ~ 1955
JACK LINDQUIST is hired as the parks’ first advertising manager.

ON THE AIR ~ Sunday, February 23, 1955
“DISNEYLAND” Season 1, Episode 18 ~ “DAVY CROCKETT AT THE ALAMO” airs. This is the third of the trilogy in the series. Davy Crockett travels to Texas with a gambler, watch a bison stampede and the episode ends with Davy waving his gun at Mexican troops from on top the Alamo. [His death is not shown].

NEWS ITEM ~ March, 1955
The AUTOPIA ROADWAYS are finally paved and ready for the Autopia cars to be added to the track.

NEWS ITEM ~ Thursday, March 3, 1955
The COLOR GALLERY EXHIBIT in Tomorrowland sponsored by Dutch Boy Paints is completed and ready for the opening day.

NEWS ITEM ~ Tuesday, May 17, 1955
The DISNEYLAND MARCHING BAND is hired and organized and begins rehearsing for opening day to begin daily parades and concerts on Main Street USA under the direction of Vesey Walker. This band is still performing today.

NEWS ITEM ~ Thursday, May 26, 1955
Joe Fowler reports to Walt Disney that the MAD TEA PARTY attraction will not even be ready to test until June 11, 1955; thirty-seven days before the grand opening.

NEWS ITEM ~ May, 1955
JOE FOWLER reports that only six of twenty attractions will be completely ready by opening day. 11 others are doubtful and 3 will be impossible to finish.

NEWS ITEM ~ Wednesday, June 25, 1955
The DUMBO attraction finally flies successfully for the first time during test flights with only 3 more weeks until the park opening.

NEWS ITEM ~ Monday, July 4, 1955    

Disneyland's two new steam engines, the CK HOLLIDAY and EP RIPLEY make their first full run around the park in preparation for opening day.

NEWS ITEM ~ Wednesday, July 13, 1955
Walt and Lillian Disney celebrate THEIR 30th ANNIVERSARY with family and friends on the Mark Twain followed by a performance of the Golden Horseshoe Revue at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland.

NEWS ITEM ~ Wednesday, July 13, 1955

Ron Dominguez is hired four days before opening as a ticket taker at the front gate of Disneyland. He discovers that the Spanish style house he grew up in on the Disneyland property  has been moved and now serves as administrative offices.

ON THE AIR ~ Sunday, July 13, 1955  
“DISNEYLAND” Season 1, Episode 21 ~ “THE PRE-OPENING REPORT FROM DISNEYLAND” tells of final plans for the grand opening in 4 days and is followed by a tribute to Mickey Mouse. It is shown on ABC-TV Guests include Robert Cummings, Sammy Davis Jr, Irene Dunn, Ronald Reagan, Jimmie Dodd and some of the Mouseketeers.

NEWS ITEM ~ Saturday, July 16, 1955

Walt Disney hosts a private corporate party at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland.

The History of Disneyland Timeline

1938 to Early 1955

Before Disneyland Opened