Sixty-five years ago tomorrow, on August 31, 1948, an important document was shared with Disney Studio artist Dick Kelsey, outlining Walt Disney’s vision for a new kind of amusement park. One of the earliest detailed descriptions of the concept, it gives wonderful insight into what he envisioned for what one day would become Disneyland. I’ve received some excerpts of the actual memo from my friends at the Walt Disney Archives, which I’m excited to share with you on this anniversary.
In this excerpt, we can see that the park was intended to be a welcoming place where guests of all ages could have fun together. And of course, we know that from the beginning, Walt intended for there to be a railroad surrounding the park.
Notice the detail in the document. Three hundred seats in the Opera House – years away from construction, and already there was a vision for how many people should fit in there. And a repair shop in the toy store? How convenient!
Perhaps most fascinating are the ideas that came to life in Disneyland when it opened years later in 1955. The magic shop, the Town Hall, the horse-drawn cars … Pastoral elements from rural experiences were envisioned from the beginning.
Here you can see a vision for Frontierland starting to develop. It’s called “The Western Village” here, but the Stage Coach and Donkey Pack Train (which would later materialize as the Rainbow Mountain Stage Coaches and Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules) are there. And the pack train would “take ten kids.” Again, amazingly detailed thinking.
The project went through many working titles, the most well-known of which was “Mickey Mouse Park,” and at one time it was even referred to as “Kiddieland.” I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that Disneyland was the best choice.
See the posts below to learn more about Disneyland history: