We’re so close! We’re just two weeks away from the 55th anniversary of Disneyland and 10 years away from the end of our countdown.
The years 1966 to 1970 were monumental in the creation of Disneyland park as the place we now know and love. In this five-year span, three very popular attractions were added to the Park – Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and “it’s a small world.”
I would argue that it is nearly impossible to pick the “biggest” new addition in this time period, but we all have our favorites.
Even Jason Surrell, senior show writer at Walt Disney Imagineering, and author of “The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies,” had a hard time choosing one.
“My favorite Disney attraction of all time ping-pongs back and forth between The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean,” Jason states, “but I’m a lifelong horror film and ghost story addict, so I’d have to say that the Haunted Mansion very narrowly edges out Pirates of the Caribbean! To this day it absolutely astounds me that in this VERY short period of time, the same core team of Imagineers created two of the all-time priceless jewels in the Disneyland crown.”
Let us know your favorite attraction in the comments section, and read about these significant years below.
1970 – At the beginning of this year, the Legacy of Walt Disney opens on Main Street, U.S.A., featuring a display of Walt Disney’s awards and memorabilia along with an exhibit on the California Institute of the Arts. Later in the year, the Disneyland Hotel opens the 319-room Marina Tower with a new registration lobby. “Show Me America” comes to the Tomorrowland Stage as a fast-paced musical comedy revue with more than 120 costumes and impressive backdrops built just for this show.
1969 – Haunted Mansion opens after 15 years of planning and features a doom buggy tour through a mysterious ante-bellum home complete with 999 ghosts. Also in 1969, a new Disneyland Monorail station is completed to accommodate a larger, new generation of Monorail trains, the Mark IV.
1968 – Following a massive year of new projects in Tomorrowland and New Orleans Square in 1967, construction in this year concentrates on the Main Entrance complex for improved guest ticketing and major changes in the guest parking lot. Special events include a record-breaking New Year’s Eve Party, Spring Fling, Old Fashioned Easter Parade, Angels-Disneyland Funday Doubleheader, the first Cinco de Mayo Fiesta and first St. Patrick’s Day Parade at the Park.
1967 – On March 18, Pirates of the Caribbean opens in New Orleans Square as the first mega-scale, indoor ride-through adventure and it gets rave reviews. The Blue Bayou Restaurant featuring Cajun-inspired cuisine also opens inside the attraction. Later in the year, Club 33, Walt Disney’s private dining establishment, opens to members for the first time, and that’s not all! Tomorrowland adds SIX new attractions to the park: Rocket Jets, the centerpiece of the new Tomorrowland; Carrousel of Progress, a show featuring the memorable theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow;” America the Beautiful, an all-new film journey across the United States; People Mover, a perpetual-motion transportation system of the future; Flight to the Moon, a reality-based simulation of flight into space, and Adventure Through Inner Space, an omni-mover trip exploring the inside of molecules and atoms.
1966 – Walt Disney brings an attraction first developed for the 1964-65 World’s Fair to Disneyland park and presides at the opening of “it’s a small world.” A spectacular new geometric facade and giant animated clock with figures representing the children of the world parading each hour are designed for the attraction’s new home. In June, the Disneyland Hotel adds the Sierra Tower annex with 150 rooms and The Plaza Building shopping complex opens a few months later. In July, Primeval World Diorama, a world of gigantic dinosaurs, is unveiled as a major addition to the diorama along the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad. Also in July, the first new land in Disneyland park – New Orleans Square – opens its initial phase with a re-creation of New Orleans’ French Quarter, featuring typical belle-epoch architecture for shops, restaurants and musical stages, in addition to a new waterfront area along the Rivers of America. The colorful dedication is one of Walt Disney’s last official ceremonies before his untimely passing in December.
After you’ve told us your favorite attraction from this time period, take a look at our previous posts in this series by clicking the “Countdown to 55” tag just below this post.