Thursday, May 14, 2009

Opening Day at Disneyland, July 17, 1955



These 2 kids, Michael Schwartner and Christine Vess Watkins, seem to have no idea how cool it was to be the first children through the turnstiles on opening day...and to be greeted by none other than Walt himself! Note the Smoke Tree Ranch tie that he is wearing.

In shot #2 you have a birds-eye view of the opening ceremonies held in Town Square. I have also included a closeup of the area where Walt and the others were standing.





This photo gives you a much better look at Walt & Co.; Mrs. Goodwin J. Knight and her husband, the Governor of California, are on the left. I am sure somebody out there can identify the guy standing next to Walt.



My previously posted color shot of the ceremonies and a closeup of Walt (blocked by a lamppost) and others:





Walt, sans tie, is giving his famous opening day speech:



See more vintage & current Disneyland Opening Day photos at my regular website.

15 comments:

Hannibal8 said...

Congrats Dave. That's quite a milestone. I believe I have enjoyed all 1000 posts. I love the story ones. Keep up the great work.

TokyoMagic! said...

He took his tie off and he also changed his pants (he's wearing dark pants in the shot with the kids) Why the change, I wonder?

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Fun post! Hey, I thought the same thing as Tokyomagic, why the change of clothes? My guess would be the same reason I've changed clothes at DL, it was HOT and you get kinda sticky... I like the expression on Walt's face in the 4th photo, I wonder what he was thinking. Thanks Dave!

Peter said...

In regards to the 2 children (who seem to have no idea how cool it was to be the first children through the turnstiles on opening day).. Youth is wasted on the young. Lol
Congratulations on your 1000th post.

Pete

Ron Schneider said...

That 4th official is Walt's nephew, the Reverend Glenn D. Puder, who acted as minister for the dedication ceremony and recited a prayer before Walt spoke.

Davelandweb said...

Ron - Many thanks for the info! I would guess on Walt's change of clothing...he was moving around quite a bit that day as can be witnessed from the live telecast footage. Considering the opening was in July and the weather that time of year, I am sure he was hotter than heck!

Lonnie DeCloedt said...

Is that the same flagpole that's currently in the park? It looks so much taller in picture #2, but I'm not sure if it's just because of the angle the photo was taken from.

olddisneylandfan said...

About Walt's change of clothes... Maybe he _didn't_ change clothes.

Since Opening Day was and invitation only event, I wonder if the photo of the first two guests is from the _next_ day--and those kids are the first two regular paying customers.

Katella Gate said...

Hey Lonnie, glad to see you found your way out of LurkerLand! I like your blog. Been reading it for years.

Smoke Tree Ranch used to be right down the road from my old house in Palm Springs. I used to read meters for the gas company... and always tried to fennegle a way to get into the Ranch and snoop around. No such luck, but Google Earth is the next best thing.

Alyssa Ray said...

I agree with OldDisneylandFan... It was always my understanding that Michael and Christine were the first "paying" children through the turnstiles... They made a special appearance on a 35th Anniversary television special that is still one of my favorites :)

Either way, great pics and great post!

Davelandweb said...

Lonnie - The base (which came from a vintage lightpost in LA) is the same; whether or not the pole itself has changed over the years, I am not sure.

The Blue Parrot said...

All... You need to remember that there was the Dress Rehearsal for the TV broadcast held earlier in the day and then the live broadcast later in the afternoon. Check out the lighting (position of the sun) in various shots and you can spot which is which. Walt in the jacket sans tie is the Dress Rehearsal.

The Blue Parrot said...

You can also spot the Marine band in khakis for the Dress rehearsal and then in full dress uniforms for the live broadcast.

Portia said...

I met the little girl (Chris) that was first in the gates when I was small. She was grown and had several children ( I remember her daughter's name was Angel) and we played together at her sister's house, who happened to live up the street from us. She told us that she and her cousin were the first children in the gates because she had fallen and scraped her knee. Note the bandaids in the photo. They both received life long passes for themselves and their families.
Just a small note for you.

Davelandweb said...

Portia - Thanks so much for the info; I love getting little tidbits like that! - Dave