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Disneyland is a theme park, arguably the first of its type, and resort in Anaheim, California, created by Walt Disney. Walt wanted to create a kind of family park where kids and parents could have fun together in a safe and clean environment. The original plans called for the park to be built on three hectares (eight acres) next to the Disney studios in Burbank, California where his employees and families could go to relax.

After World War II, it became clear that more area would be needed, and in the 1950s, difficulties in obtaining funding caused Walt to investigate other ways of raising money. He decided to use television to get the idea of the Magic Kingdom into people's homes, and so he created a show called "Disneyland." Walt was finally able to acquire about three-quarters of a square kilometer (180 acres) of orange groves and walnut trees south of Los Angeles. (The soon-to-be constructed Interstate 5 was built nearby; it became obvious to planners that Walt's new world of fantasy would be so popular and create so much traffic that two more lanes were added to the freeway even before Disneyland was finished.)


Disneyland was inspired by Fairyland built in 1950, and Tivoli Gardens, built in 1843.

Park layout

When the real planning began, Walt turned to his movie studio staff, who designed a park with five different "lands."

Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street, U.S.A. relived the stereotypical turn-of-the-century city Main Street. Walt said, "For those of us who remember the carefree time it recreates, Main Street will bring back happy memories. For younger visitors, it is an adventure in turning back the calendar to the days of grandfather's youth." It would, of course, be "great-great-grandfather" now.

The old-town shops that line Main Street appear to be full two-story buildings. In reality, however, they implement forced perspective to achieve the illusion that they are full height. In fact, the second levels of the buildings are a few feet short of being full size. If the Disneyland architects had made the buildings a full two stories high, they would have towered above the park's Matterhorn and looked incongruously tall compared to Sleeping Beauty Castle.


Adventureland was an "exotic tropical place" in a "far-off region of the world." Walt said, "To create a land that would make this dream reality, we pictured ourselves far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa." One of the oldest attractions in Adventureland, is The Enchanted Tiki Room.


Frontierland recreated the myths of the pioneer days of the American frontier. Walt said, "All of us have cause to be proud of our country's history, shaped by the pioneering spirit of our forefathers. Our adventures are designed to give you the feeling of having lived, even for a short while, during our country's pioneer days."


Fantasyland was created with the goal to "make dreams come true" from the lyrics of When You Wish Upon a Star. Walt said, "What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice's nonsensical Wonderland? In Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone's youth have become realities for youngsters-of all ages-to participate in."


Tomorrowland was a look at the "marvels of the future." Walt said, "Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future."


Walt Disney had a longtime interest in railroads and transportation in general, and therefore a number of different modes of transport were incorporated into the park. The vast majority of visitors spend most of their time walking, of course; the transportation systems are in some respects more entertainment rides than primary means of transporting people around the park.

Disneyland Railroad

Walt Disney was an avid railfan who had built a miniature steam railway in the grounds of his own home. It was therefore hardly surprising that Disneyland incorporated a steam-powered railroad. Laid to 3 foot gauge, the most common narrow gauge measurement used in North America, the railroad was laid in a continuous loop around the park, on a raised roadbed so that pedestrian walkways could pass underneath.

Originally, two trains could operate on the railroad, running in opposite directions. A passing track was incorporated at Main Street station where the trains had to wait and allow the other to pass. Later on, for safety reasons and to allow the use of more than two trains, the line was changed so that trains in normal service run in a clockwise direction only. The passing track was disconnected and now is only used to display a handcar.

Disney constructed the original two locomotives in its own workshops. These were models of classic 'Wild West' style American [[4-4-0]s built to three-fifths scale. No. 1 was given a big wood-burning 'balloon' stack and large, pointed pilot (cowcatcher) while No. 2 was given the straight stack and less protruding pilot common to East Coast coal-burning locomotives.

Three more locomotives were acquired from outside sources, since this was cheaper than building new (many narrow-gauge lines were closing down and selling their equipment). No. 4 is a Forney locomotive (a type of tank locomotive) and as an 1898 product of the Baldwin Locomotive Works is the oldest locomotive in service at any Disney property. All three were given extensive renovations before entering service, including new boilers.

All the Disneyland steam locomotives burn diesel fuel, which is less polluting (though more expensive) than the coal, wood or heavy oil normally used.


Disneyland incorporates a monorail system, of the Alweg design. The monorail shuttles visitors between two stations, one in Disneyland itself (in Tomorrowland) and one at the Disneyland Hotel across the street. It takes a circuitous route designed to show off the park from above and give a longer, swooping ride. Three generations of monorail cars have been used in the park, since their necessarily lightweight construction means they wear out quickly.

The monorail caused a rift between Disneyland and the Santa Fe railroad that was to eventually cause the breakdown in their relationship and the removal of Santa Fe sponsorship of the Disneyland Railroad. Disneyland signed a contract with the Alweg company that provided the monorail which required the Alweg name to be used. This conflicted with the contract with the Santa Fe that only their name could be associated with railroad attractions at the park.

Main Street vehicles

A number of vehicles, including a double-decker bus, a horse-drawn streetcar, an old-fashioned fire engine and an old-fashioned automobile are available to take rides along Main Street.

Construction and changes

Construction began on July 21, 1954. After spending US$17,000,000, Walt opened the "Magic Kingdom" on July 17, 1955. Since the opening, the park has been revised and updated several times. Three new "lands" have been added since the park's inception: New Orleans Square, Critter Country, and Mickey's Toontown. Recently, a strong trend toward political correctness has been seen: animatronic pirates that had chased women from sheer lechery now chase them because they are carrying plates of food, and not only have the formerly-hostile Indians in Frontierland been thoroughly pacified but the settlers also have no need of firearms.

In the 1990s major construction began to transform Disneyland from an amusement park into a vacation resort. This resulted in the addition of new hotels; Disney's California Adventure, a separately gated area of rides and attractions inspired by California's natural and historical features; and Downtown Disney, a shopping, dining and entertainment area similar to one previously constructed at Disney's Florida resort.

Other parks

Disney has built several similar parks elsewhere in the world based on Disneyland's success: Walt Disney World near Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Disneyland Resort Paris in Marne-la-Vallée, France, and Tokyo Disney in Urayasu, Japan. A new park is under construction in Hong Kong (see Hong Kong Disneyland).

See also