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June 23, 2012

“The Happiest Place on Earth” opened in Anaheim, California on July 17, 1955. The event was covered live by ABC-TV and it was hosted by Ronald Reagan and Art Linkletter. Less than a year earlier, in October 1954, the Disneyland TV show had also debuted on ABC-TV. Walt had been using the show to occasionally let the public know what the park would look like.

The struggle to build the park is well known. The original idea called for eight acres. By the time construction began, Walt had purchased a 160-acre orange grove. His vision included five distinct, individualized “lands” within the park. The visitor would enter through Main Street USA and from there they could visit Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

The success of the park didn’t happen overnight. There were problems on the park’s opening day. Asphalt had been laid the night before and people were literally getting trapped on the pavement. The plumbers were on strike and there were very few working fountains. Those minor difficulties would have been okay, but on opening day, a fifteen day heat wave had temperatures reaching 110 degrees in the park itself and, as a result, the pavement was even hotter. In addition, over 28,000 people showed up. That would have been a great sign, except that many were brandishing counterfeit tickets.

Despite the initial problems, Disneyland started to grow. Within ten years the park could boast that fifty million people had visited. Walt visited the park often. He would greet people as they walked about and if they asked, he would sign autographs. Several of the animators took studios right above Main Street. Studio artists like Marc Davis and Herb Ryman had designed some of the park's major attractions.

In the 1950s and '60s, the Corner Art Store would sell matted animation cels for $1 or $2. Today, many of those cels are highly valued collectibles. Other collectibles include signs, tickets and virtually anything else connected with the park. The park continues to this day and Disney has built additional parks in Florida, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong.

Disneyland was featured in the following issues of Four Color Comics #716, #866 (both featuring Tomorrowland) and #1025. It was also spotlighted in the title of several issues of Dell Giants.

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