This Week in Disney History: Document Outlining Early Concept for Disneyland is Shared, 1948

Erin Glover

by , Director, Publicity, Walt Disney Animation Studios

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:


  • Truly a great read. Amazing how clear his vision was for Disneyland and to think of the park’s layout on opening day. Could not imagine how excited he was when his words were developed into an amazing place for all to share. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow, that was so fun to read. He truly was an amazing man. Disneyland is more than just the happiest place on earth, it’s my happy place. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this peek into the past. <3

  • Hi Erin!

    Thank you kindly for sharing this very special document. I had the opportunity to visit the Archives Room at the Frank G. Wells Building and was walking around with goose bumps while gazing at the artifacts, especially Walt Disney’s eye glasses.

    My biggest moment, in that room, however, was when the Archivist allowed me the opportunity to actually hold Walt Disney’s Oscar Award for his Nature Documentary…..I was so thrilled and will treasure that moment always because I felt as if I was holding Walt Disney’s hand.

    Thank you once again for this delightful post!

    Best regards,
    Jacqueline (Jackie)

  • This is amazing. I just moved to the west coast and am looking forward to a visit with my husband and daughter in the years to come.

  • Very neat!

  • Erin,

    All of the articles on the Disney Parks blog are wonderful but it is the history of Disneyland Park I enjoy most! It’s fascinating to see Walt’s creative thinking and the efforts of all those people that helped him bring his dreams to life.

    I just finished reading Marty Sklar’s new book, “Dream It, Do It” and it was a wonderful look at the history of the Park! I really enjoyed reading the stories about the creation of all the attractions at Disneyland that my family has enjoyed over the past 43 years.

    Thank you for sharing these historical treasures with all of us! Please share more!

    Arizona Mike

  • Wow, this is awesome. I love the history of Disney. This is a fantastic piece. Living in Ohio we have not made the trip out to Disneyland yet, but we hope too soon.

  • This is fascinating, Erin. Must be nice to have friends at the Walt Disney Archives. 😉 Thank you for sharing!

    • It is! 😀 Glad you enjoyed it.

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