Opening Day at Disneyland
Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955. Walt arranged for the star-studded premiere to be televised in a program hosted by television celebrity Art Linkletter and his friends, actor (and future president) Ronald Reagan and television star Bob Cummings. At a time when three cameras for a single show were considered the limit, ABC used 22 cameras to broadcast the full range of activities.
Unfortunately, Disneyland simply wasn’t ready for prime time: Rides broke. Restaurants ran out of food. A gas leak was detected in Fantasyland, which then had to be shut down. Viewers witnessed some of the snafus on live television. Fess Parker (the actor who played Davy Crockett on Walt’s television show) was seen riding his horse directly into a newly planted pine forest. And movie star Irene Dunne simply wasn’t able to get the bottle to break when she attempted to christen the grand steamboat, the Mark Twain.
Of course, the true star of the show was Walt himself, who was seemingly unflappable. He moved quickly around the park, introducing one land after another. At Fantasyland, he read the famous dedication “Fantasyland is dedicated to the young and the young in heart, to those who believe when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”