Vintage Disneyland: Disney in the 1950s.

Disneyland Paris has been open since the 1990s, but the Disney dream has been around for much longer than that. Walt Disney’s original studio was founded in 1923 in California, and Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, the company’s first breakout character. After creating cartoons to support the war effort throughout the Second World War, a now successful Walt Disney had the idea to create an amusement park near his studios in Burbank, but he realised that his proposed site was too small.

In 1953 he bought a 65 hectare site in Anaheim and began construction in 1954, finishing the park in 1955. Disneyland was influenced by a number of other sites of the era – the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where Walt Disney’s father worked, which included the Midway Plaisance with a set of attractions representing countries around the world, a number of rides, a passenger train circling its perimeter and a Wild West show, all of which would subsequently become elements of future Disneyland developments. He might also have been influenced by the House of David zoo and amusement park in Michigan, which had a miniature railway, racing cars, a penny arcade and various dances and shows.
The park was funded by the ABC television network, which Disney would eventually purchase wholesale. Its opening day was famously chaotic – technical difficulties, an audience twice the size of what it should have been thanks to ticket counterfeiting, malfunctioning plumbing and on-air flubs by its Hollywood-famous presenters (including Ronald Reagan) marred the event, but regardless Disneyland was off to a strong start thanks to good publicity.
Famously, in 1959, the Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev was not allowed to visit Disneyland due to security concerns, while the Shah of Iran was invited in the 1960s. Doritos (Spanish for ‘little golden things’) were invented as a way to recycle old tortillas sold by the Casa de Fritos, eventually picked up by the Frito-Lay company and sold nationally by the mid 60s. Disneyland has continued to expand since then, building success upon success until it became the global empire it is today.