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First Day in Disneyland #50YearsAgoToday #CaliforniaTrip

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

Wednesday, June 9, 1971 was our first of two days in Disneyland. It looks like we managed seventeen rides and at least briefly visited all the lands except for Frontierland, which was a big focus of our second day.

The day began perfectly with a meet and greet with Mickey Mouse himself. Don't you dig that red poncho? And, it coordinates with Mickey's outfit.

First Day in Disneyland #50YearsAgoToday #CaliforniaTrip

Our first ride, and to this day I consider it the only proper way to start a theme park visit, was the Disneyland Train around the park.

On our first pass through Main Street, we went to "Great Moments with President Lincoln," an audio-animatronic show. This was a precursor to the more well-known attraction in Florida, Hall of Presidents.

In Fantasyland, we rode three British-themed rides in quick succession. I have no real memories of them, so I did a bit of research and wrote about them in a blog post last Friday.

Dale and I both remembered It's a Small World. It was Mother's favorite. Her souvenir collection included a postcard, a booklet, and a record album. Because of that album, a collection of folk songs from around the world, I learned several songs that provided relevant references to understand allusions in later life - Oranges and Lemons, Comin' Thru the Rye, Alouette, Funiculi Funicula, Kookaburra, and Aloha Oe.

Dad and I rode the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Mother didn't like rollercoasters and Dale wasn't tall enough for the ride. He remembers watching the bobsleds move in and out of the mountain, something to do while waiting for our ride to finish.

The Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland was one of my favorites. It was moved to Disney World in Florida in 1975, but I first saw it at Disneyland. I loved how the audience revolved around the stages in the middle and I liked watching the changing domestic scenes and family life through the decades.

While we were in Tomorrowland, we also took a Flight to the Moon and I drove my very first car in Autopia.

Dale thought he must be confused because he remembered so many transportation types. But, besides the train, we also rode the People Mover, Main Street Horse Car, and the Skyway on the first day and the Monorail, plus lots of boats, on the second day. Here's Dale's memory of the Skyway:

I remember riding something like a sky lift, but with the little cars all enclosed up to elbow high as you sat, and the whole family in one car. Much less scary than the Clarksville one.

The Clarksville Sky Lift, less than ten miles from our house in Missouri, used ski-lift chairs.

After visiting Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, we made it clear over to the other side of the park for The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans. Many of my memories of The Haunted Mansion have been completely overlaid by intervening visits to that attraction in both Disneyland and Disney World. But I have one firm memory from that first trip. At the end of the ride, the Doom Buggy passed hitchhiking ghosts and, then, turned around to face a mirror to reveal a ghost riding between me and my mother. I imagined that ghost in the tattered top hat riding with us all the way home in our station wagon.

In nearby Adventureland, we climbed the Swiss Tree House. I'm not sure if we'd seen the movie. I do know that it inspired me to buy the book, The Swiss Family Robinson, at the next Scholastic Book Fair.

On the way out of the park we stopped at the Sleeping Beauty Castle. I remember being entranced by the dioramas and stained-glass windows - I still believe Sleeping Beauty to be one of the most beautiful films ever made.

Dale had a confusion in his memory about the Castle.

I have a strange memory of the big castle. I know it's called Sleeping Beauty's castle because it's everywhere and it's literally the Disney logo, I think. I remember it was on the beginning / theme of the Disney TV show we watched every Sunday night for years. I don't know if I knew that was its name when I was 7. But I have a strong association with that castle, and Jiminy Cricket's song, and I can't explain that. Maybe there were screens inside the castle that played snippets of various Disney movies including Pinocchio? A few years later I figured out that Jiminy Cricket had no part in the Sleeping Beauty story and was confused because I associated him and that song, with the castle.

That mystery was solved by Wikipedia's entry on the Sleeping Beauty Castle:

Beginning April 29, 1957, the visitors were able to walk through the castle and view several dioramas depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty. The voice of Jiminy Cricket from Walt Disney's Pinocchio (1940) singing "When You Wish Upon a Star" is piped into the castle.

First Day in Disneyland #50YearsAgoToday #CaliforniaTrip

About Joy Weese Moll

a librarian writing about books

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