To All That Enter This Happy Place : Welcome.
Wow, where do I begin? I suppose at the beginning, as it's a very good place to start. (Yes I know, that's not Disney..but still a fun tune to sing). Any whoooo... The beginning.
If you're visiting my page for the first time, as I'm assuming you are, you may or may not know much about the park itself, or about Walt Disney. Clearly a simple Google search could get you all the answers you need, but here's a brief run down of where it all started.....
Walt Elias Disney was born December 5th, 1901 in Illinois. After lying on his birth certificate, he was able to join the Army and was an ambulance driver in France until he returned to the States in 1919. It was then he pursued his passion for drawing as a cartoonist for a local newspaper in Kansas. He began experimenting with cell-animation and cameras, which was really the birth of Laugh-O-Gram. Fast forward to 1923, Disney and his brother Roy had suffered some hardship with Laugh-O-Gram and were forced to declare bankruptcy. In true Disney style, Walt and his brother Roy pulled up their boot straps, determined not to give up on their dream and headed to Hollywood to start the Disney Brothers Studio.
After hiring a beautiful ink and paint artiste named Lilian, Walt quickly became smitten with her, and after a brief courtship, the two married in 1925. *image courtesy of disneyparksblog.com*
With an unstoppable team, Walt, Roy and Lillian, by 1929 they had created "Silly Symphonies", a compilation of short cartoons which featured Mickey Mouse and some of his pals. Of note, one of Disney's first cartoons was called "Flowers and Trees". It was the first full length cartoon produced in color and ended up winning an Oscar! Success for the Disney Brother's Studios began to snowball. In 1937, Disney released the first ever full length feature film Snow White.
After a long run of animation film achievements with titles such as Fantasia, Pinocchio, Bambi and Dumbo, Walt began to dream bigger. After sitting on a park bench in Griffith Park watching his daughters Diane and Sharron (who I'll talk about more in coming blogs), Walt began to imagine a new kind of park where he could take his daughters. An amusement park!
July 17th, 1955 Disneyland Park was opened. While it wasn't technically 'ready' to be opened (you know, having to choose between drinking fountains and working toilets due to a plumbers strike. Thankfully he chose the latter. Or the fact hat ladies heels were sticking in the not quiet dried asphalt on Main Street), it was still met with great reception. So much so, that the initial 11,000 invitations for opening day some how (maybe due to the ease of reprinting them) turned into over 28,000 people. The opening was covered by ABC television and MC'd by Ronald Reagan. Guest were treated to 18 rides which included The Jungle Cruise, Autopia and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Over the next 10 years, Disneyland continued to grow with new attractions opening and old ones being re-imagined. As Walt always said "Disneyland will never be completed, it will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in this world."
(This next part has taken me a bit to figure out how to write. I have written and deleted what comes to mind at least ten times....but here it goes)
Walt's dream of an amusement park had been brought to life, but he wasn't finished yet. A few years after Disneyland's opening, Walt began to dream of something even bigger. An Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Construction on EPCOT had been started when in 1966, on December 15th, Walt Elias Disney passed away from lung cancer.
Walt not only left his wife Lillian, his two daughters Diane and Sharron, brother Roy the day he passed. He also left a hole in the hearts of so many dreamers, in the children and parents who had enjoyed watching his cartoons, who had come to love the park and see it as a second home.
But in this tragedy, Walt also left us with something more valuable than the movies or even the amusement park. He left us with a dream. He ignited in so many people a passion for following their dreams no matter how big they were. He left millions and millions of people over generations a place where they can go as a family or even by themselves, and escape the harsh realities they may be facing in their life and instead find a moment of peace.
Please join me on this journey where we will leave today and enter a world of all things Disney.