Disneyland Opened 65 Years Ago — and You Can Still Ride These Opening Day Attractions
"The Happiest Place on Earth" celebrates 65 years in operation this year — and these rides have been there since day one.
This July, Disneyland celebrates 65 years of magic at “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Since its opening on July 17, 1955, Disneyland has entertained tens of millions of guests with attractions, shows, and beloved characters. Since that first theme park opened 65 years ago, the Disney Parks empire has expanded through the United States, Europe, and Asia, with six theme park resorts currently established across the world. In many ways, Disney has become the gold standard of theme park entertainment, leading the way in innovative attractions and immersive experiences.
Disneyland Park has undergone countless refurbishments and changes throughout its 65 years, but a lot hasn’t changed since it opened its doors. In fact, you can still ride some of Disneyland’s opening day attractions that Walt Disney himself and the first Imagineers dreamt up decades ago.
After closing in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland previously announced a July 17 reopening date; that has now been postponed indefinitely as California delays releasing theme park reopening guidelines. Even though you won’t be able to celebrate this anniversary at Disneyland in person this year, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of the park’s opening day attractions that continue to entertain guests year after year. Maybe next time you visit, you can create your own commemorative opening day tour by experiencing these 65-year-old attractions for yourself.
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Disneyland Opening Day Attractions That You Can Still Experience Today
1. Main Street Cinema
On opening day in 1955, this theater played silent films; today, this vintage movie theater continues to show classic Disney shorts like "Steamboat Willie."
2. Disneyland Railroad
Inspired by Walt Disney’s own backyard model train, the Disneyland Railroad still transports guests around the theme park, just as it did during opening day (although now it carries guests through dioramas depicting the Grand Canyon and Primeval World, too).
This Tomorrowland attraction allows guests to get behind the wheel and steer a car along a track — at the time, it was a futuristic take on American highways (which were still in progress). Although this ride has been renovated during its 65-year history, it offers essentially the same experience guests had on opening day.
4. King Arthur Carrousel
This Fantasyland carousel is a classic attraction — it has been restored throughout its history, but it retains its timeless charm and beauty.
5. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Based on the 1949 film “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad,” Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is an original Fantasyland dark ride. Even though kids today might not recognize these Disney characters, this ride still attracts crowds who love the classic Disneyland attractions.
6. Peter Pan’s Flight
The notoriously long wait times for Peter Pan’s Flight signify it as one of the most popular Fantasyland rides. Guests climb aboard the vehicles and fly over scenes from the animated Disney movie. Like every ride on this list, it has been refurbished since it opened, but it’s still very similar to what it was like on opening day.
7. Mad Tea Party
This “Alice in Wonderland”-inspired spinning teacup ride was recreated at Disney parks around the globe after its success at Disneyland. It remains a popular ride today (although it’s best if you’re not prone to motion sickness).
8. Snow White’s Scary Adventures
This Fantasyland dark ride has been tweaked several times since it was unveiled on opening day in 1955 — it originally told the story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” with the guests experiencing the attraction as the princess. It’s currently the only princess-themed ride-through attraction at Disneyland, but the “Princess and the Frog”-themed ride replacing Splash Mountain will soon join its ranks.
9. Casey Jr. Circus Train
This kid-friendly train ride — inspired by “Dumbo” — takes guests through miniature scenes from Disney animated films like “Cinderella” and “Pinocchio” (many of these scenes are also seen from the Storybook Land Canal Boats). Fun fact: The sleigh-style cars were actually from the original carousel that later became the King Arthur Carrousel.
10. Mark Twain Riverboat
This 14-minute boat ride was originally called the Mark Twain Steamboat when the park opened in 1955. This Frontierland attraction takes guests on a journey around the Rivers of America aboard a 19th-century paddle boat.
11. Storybook Land Canal Boats
This attraction originally opened as Canal Boats of the World, and it featured beautiful landscapes from different countries. It was refurbished soon after opening day because of technical issues; today, the ride takes guests through the mouth of Monstro (the whale from “Pinocchio”) and on a journey past scenes from Disney movies.
12. Jungle Cruise
While this river boat ride is now known for its punny skippers, the original version of Jungle Cruise was a more serious ride through the rivers of the world, complete with animatronics.
13. Golden Horseshoe Saloon
This restaurant and attraction entertained countless guests with revue shows since opening day. Walt and Lillian Disney celebrated their 30th anniversary with the debut of the Golden Horseshoe Revue in 1955. Today, the restaurant serves lunch and dinner — and it’s worth checking out for its unique history when you visit the parks.