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One President’s Day at Disneyland Park

George Savvas

by , Director, Public Relations, Disneyland Resort

Former President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower at Disneyland Park in 1961

This is a fairly well-known photograph of former President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower which was taken at Disneyland park in 1961 during a visit with their grandchildren. Being one of only five former U.S. presidents to visit us so far, it’s to be expected that a photograph of this kind would become familiar over time. So what would the chances be that, nearly 45 years later, we would discover more pictures from this memorable day in our history?

In preparation for our 50th anniversary celebration in 2005, I uncovered a photo negative from this visit that I had never seen before. No one I shared it with had seen it either. It is similar to the black and white photo I had seen for years, only this one was in color.

Here is that rarely seen photo of Ike and Mamie meeting the press outside the Disneyland Fire Dept. Every time I see “Engine No. 1” in the park, I think of President Eisenhower and this photo.

Ike and Mamie Meeting the Press Outside the Disneyland Fire Dept.

Another photo we discovered around the same time was one that has likely never been released, as the former president appears slightly blurry in it, but I thought this seemed like a good time to share it. Taken at the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad, this photo also features his granddaughter Mary Jean and grandson, David; the namesake of the presidential retreat, Camp David.

Granddaughter, Mary Jean and Grandson, David with Ike and Mamie at the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad

President Eisenhower was an admirer of Walt Disney and once described him as someone “who has spread more understanding of the fun-loving American than anyone else and has brought joy to the hearts of many people, both young and old.”

He also saluted Walt for his “contribution to the pleasure and understanding of the world community and your genius as a creator of folklore has long-been recognized by leaders in every field of human endeavor including that most discerning body of critics, the children of this land and all lands. As an artist, your work has helped reveal our country to the world, and the world to all of us. As a man, your sympathetic attitude toward life has helped our children develop a clean and cheerful view of humanity, with all its frailties and possibilities for good.”

Comments

  • Has any president been an AP holder to any Disneypark

  • What a free country, USA! Even the presidents are fans of Disney.

  • There is also a great photo of Eisenhower on the Jungle Cruise. Looks like he’s having a great time. Big smile.

  • Very cool find!

  • I like Ike too!

  • The article references that he was one of only five former U.S. presidents to have visited. Who were the other four?

    I did a few searches online and didn’t find an official list but a few speculative forums about visits from U.S. presidents. Of the presidents that did visit Disneyland were any of the visits while they were in office? And the opposite of this is did any visit prior to becoming president?

    • Hi Brian. It can be a little confusing, but to the best of my knowledge, the following is accurate. The other four are: former President Harry Truman, former President Jimmy Carter, former President Ronald Reagan and former President George H.W. Bush. In addition, Vice President Richard Nixon, Senator John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush also visited us before becoming president. To date, no president has visited us while in office and only one (that we know of so far) actually visited us as a child; Barack Obama.

  • I knew there was a reason I like Ike! Thats a great post and great pics.

  • very cool pictures

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