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What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

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  • [Question] What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

    The day after Disneyland opened. The reason being is that the park got grilled in the papers the next day. Nothing went right that day. The water fountains didn't work. It was a scorcher of a day, the pavement hadn't hardened yet.

    I know we fantasize about how that day would have gone as Disney fans but the truth is it was a disaster (although I would have loved to have been there still).

    So despite Walt being an optimistic person as we all know how do you think he reacted on the inside? The future of the company rested on the success of Disneyland. Did he have any doubts about the place? He didn't know what we all know now, 58 years later there are message boards just to talk about his park, but in 1955 he didn't know this. How nervous would he have been? Or was he not nervous at all and was he patient and confident his park would thrive?

  • #2
    Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

    Well he dealt with the studio nearly going bankrupt with the production of Snow White. Luckily it was the biggest film of all time(at the time). Subsequent films got more expensive and the box office turn outs were less. WWII didn't help in the way of finances either. Film is one thing, but a 17 million dollar theme park(a lot more compared to today) would've killed Disney if it wasn't a success. Thankfully the kinks got worked out, and Walt was always there thinking of ways to plus his park for the 11 years he was there to see it grow.
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    • #3
      Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

      .
      Marquis d'Bod of the RCMC... always and forever

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      • #4
        Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

        Walt had a choice between running toilets and running water fountains. I also think that he had no idea how famous and well known the park would become. his empire, so to speak, is bigger now than ever, and I think that if he were alive today, he would be so proud that so many people are fans of his work.
        "Who's she?!?"
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        • #5
          Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

          "At least the Internet and Micechat haven't been invented yet. They would rake me over the coals on this."

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          • #6
            Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

            If I remember the some of the paper headline back then weren't they calling for DL defeat. I don't think people realized that the amount of people who showed up on the July 17, 1955 would be consider a slow today, in 2013. 28,000 people showed up for opening day. Remember the hotel was still under construction at the time, the roads around Harbor were all dirt and no building for miles, and All that ran through the property was huge Electrical lines on the south end of the property, and what we know as the 5 was a 4 lane road.

            Hey don't forget the Mark Twain almost sank, the walls were not painted in Tomorrowland, painting of the Chicken of the Seas was occurring during opening ceremonies, The canal boats had no plants, the cement on Main Street was not dry, only one drinking fountain in the entire park worked, and it was 96 degrees all on that opening day.

            And Walt started construction of the park on July 16, 1954, he built all that in just one year.
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            • #7
              Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

              Originally posted by LordVader View Post
              Film is one thing, but a 17 million dollar theme park(a lot more compared to today) would've killed Disney if it wasn't a success.
              17M = roughly $148,354,813 in today's money, round it up to $149M

              Disney spent nearly 10 times that amount relaunching DCA. I shudder to think what Disneyland would cost to rebuild as-is today.

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              • #8
                Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

                I can imagine his thoughts may have run along the same lines as my thoughts when I'm hosting people and I freak out about the food being right, and making sure everyone's happy and has a drink, and that the music is right. Only his thoughts were like 100x more stressful no doubt. You're not hosting a few people, you're hosting thousands and emotions had to be running really high that day.


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                • #9
                  Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

                  The serious side of me would say Walt probably sat back after that day and thought, "Well, looks like we got some work to do to make this better. Tomorrow is a new day. Let's get to work."

                  The humorous side of me says he was thinking, "Well this is one Mickey Mouse operation. Guess that's what I get for making Goofy the project manager!"

                  By the way, I laughed at Bob's internet comment. Great job Bob!

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                  • #10
                    Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

                    I think he would be immensely proud of the thinks that went well, cause things did go well. But I think he would have looked at everything as a whole and instantly start thinking of ways to make it better. Keep moving forward

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                    • #11
                      Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

                      Disneyland was a hit despite operational deficiencies.

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                      • #12
                        Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

                        I like to think seeing people descend on the place en masse gave him the satisfaction of knowing that it was something the public wanted, which few had really believed.

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                        • #13
                          Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

                          Originally posted by bigcatrik View Post
                          I like to think seeing people descend on the place en masse gave him the satisfaction of knowing that it was something the public wanted, which few had really believed.
                          You don't spark a national phenomenon with a television show nobody is watching.

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                          • #14
                            Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

                            “Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.” - Walt Disney

                            He probably saw lots that needed improvement during that first summer. I wonder what Roy was thinking.
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                            • #15
                              Re: What would Walt Disney have been thinking on July 18, 1955?

                              Originally posted by BigThunder View Post
                              He probably saw lots that needed improvement during that first summer. I wonder what Roy was thinking.
                              Kicking himself for only buying one third of Disneyland, Inc.

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