Sunday, July 17, 2005

Black Sunday at Disneyland

There is an interesting article published by the Associated Press describing what took place at Disneyland on the day it first opened, often referred to as "Black Sunday". Despite all the fanfare, the writer recounts all the stuff that went wrong:

Long lines formed at the rides, forcing visitors to stand in the sweltering sun. Later it was discovered that counterfeit tickets had been used by the uninvited. Adding to the congestion, crashers scrambled over fences and berms in remote areas of the park.

Several of the rides shut down because of overuse, and by the end of the day all the "Autopia" cars had been sidelined. The deck of the river boat Mark Twain was awash; too many passengers had climbed aboard. And a gas leak was discovered in Tomorrowland, forcing evacuation of the entire area.

Refreshment stands quickly ran out of food and drink, and there were few drinking fountains. Women's spiked heels sank into the newly laid asphalt on Main Street. Families waited in long lines to use toilets. A saboteur snipped electrical lines in Fantasyland, bringing all rides to a halt.
I remember my first time visiting Disneyland, though I don't remember the date. It was like 1974, or something. I remember Monsanto's "Journey Through Inner Space". That was my favorite ride at the time. More recently, my wife and I would enjoy resting our feet on the longer rides like Disneyland Railroad, or the People Mover. Actually, I think the People Mover was the best ride they had!

The last time I went to Disneyland was a couple years ago, and it was on a Wednesday. Man, there were SO many people crammed into that park, and it wasn't even a weekend!

I'd like to read what you have to recall about Disneyland "back in the day". Click on "Post a Comment", and share it with us.


  1. My first visit to Disneyland was in 1966. I remember the Matterhorn the most, because I was too frightened to ride. I waited in line with my parents and older brother, but the closer we got, the more frightened I got! I was only 5 at the time. We went to Disneyland every year after that at least one or two times a year. I remember when I was in high school, our marching band and drill team performed in the Christmas parade. We were excused from school - had free admission to the park, and got to stay until 10pm at night! I remember when Space Mountain opened up. We were there, and they were just testing it before the actual opening. We all went on it at least 5 times in a row with no waiting! What a hoot! I continued to refer to "E" ticket rides as the "best of the best" for most anything. I used to take my children every year until we moved to Arizona in the 1990's. I haven't been back to Disneyland since. I know it has changed, but I like my memories best.

  2. I remember horses and mules. I know, shocking! :-) Where Space Mountain is today, there used to be a horseback ride. I have a picture on a horse with Tigger standing next to us. I must have been about 4- it was sometime around 1974. They took it out shortly afterward, and we were relegated to riding the mules at Knotts where Jungle Island used to be. I also used to love "Adventure through Inner Space", where you were supposedly shrunk down to the size of an atomic particle. It was a very educational ride, as well as fun. Star Tours is there now. What I really miss, though, is the Submarines. I've heard that there have been so many inquiries about them, that they are planning to upgrade and reopen them instead of removing them. I haven't been there in years, though, so i don't know if that happened.

  3. July 17, 2005

    I was there too. At 5:45am my friends had dropped me to hold a space for them. I expected it to be like May 5th and I made the mistake of bring a folding chair. At the yellow checkpoint I was given the choices to trash the chair or take it home (Right) or not enter the plaza between DL and CA. I trashed the chair. I was then forced to buy a ticket to go any further. Luckly, I had the $50.00 cash to buy a ticket. I didn't mention I was just holding a place for my friends. I had other more important plans but was an early riser unlike them. So for my $50.00 ticket I received an escort into California Adventures where I was made aware that if my friends weren't in line already they wouldn't make it into the park (Passholders or not). The casemember then gave me a wrist band and a pair of Gold Mickey Ears with a sticker on the front and the July 17, 2005 date embrodered on the back. I was then told to get in line. The line went from Bakersfield Bakery around to California Screaming and back to Greetings from California after winding throught the Hollywood back lot. They didn't post one of those signs stating "Your waiting time from this point will be". I wonder why not?
    After finding out the front of the line had arrived at 3pm on July 16, 2005. (I bet they had chairs.) I took some pictures and spoke to my friends once again about them getting in the park. I then decided to leave with my arm band, Mickey Ears and wondering if I should've just stayed. Well, Thank you for letting me know I was right in collecting my $50.00 ears and wristband as well as my souvier program and leaving to have a wonderful breakfast at Bakers' Square. Steve, did you stand in the rain on May 5th un- able to see anyone or thing due to all the risers for the VIPs? I did!You would think I would have learned then. But at least I can say I was there on 05/05/05 and 07/17/05. Would I do it again?Probably so, but with different expectations of the Happiest place on Earth. (Anniversaries not Included) Wasn't that on the bottom of the program in small print? R Taylor - Anaheim, Ca

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  5. I was born in 1956 (yeah; I'm OLD!!! ) and visited the Disneyland park MANY times during my early youth (early 60's) and SO much has changed through the years. Main Street has been (basically) the same the whole time, but that's where the park "changed" through the years... and decades!!! Sleeping Beauty's Castle sat at the end of Main Street USA (as it still does) and the "gates" that surrounded the Castle were "doorways" into other times and places! To the left was the "Fronteer Land" I spent many a summer playing in! The wooden "stockade" type structure harralded the entry into the "western" setting; complete with shops and a "shooting gallery" leading to the old Horseshoe Cafe & Theater - and past that lay ONLY the wonderous place called "Tom Sawyer's Island" surrounded by the Rivers of America where one (or more) could take the "Raft ride" to the Island proper, or next to that was the mighty "Columbia Sailing Ship", and then the "Indian Canoe Ride" (actually everyone "paddled" that ride and the "operators" - park personel - would give "the spiel" in the front, and steer in the back) that was one of the few attractions that was on a set course "tracks" under the water. Right next to those were the "Daniel Boone Fronteer Boat(s) Ride" patterned after a specific Daniel Boone (Disney) Movie - boxy-looking ships/boats and a wonderful "spiel" about the "locals" (Indians - statues on the shore of the "back-side" of the Island and other side too! ) and wildlife that enhabited those unchanging shoreline for years on end! Towards the end; there was an authentic "settler's cabin" set (stage set) and was always "on fire" (as if the Indians had attacked it) and never seemed to actually burn down!

    If you took a sharp turn to the left at the Fronteer Land Gate; you'd run smack-dab into the "Jungle Land" area, and the Tiki Room - where the FIRST "animatronics" were employed and developed by Disney and his staff, himself!!! "Oh, The birds all sing and the plants can croon, in the Tiki-tiki-tiki-tiki room!" were the words, but the "parrot" perched over the entrance would "taunt" the passers-bye into entering the attraction, too! Then while you waited to enter the Tiki Room itself - the various "Tiki Gods" of the Pacific Islanders would (in turn) "spring to life" and display their particular "legends" and asthetic "qualities" that they were about; saving the "Tree Of Life God" for the very end, when the flowers would open (and lower down) to reveal little "peoples" inside them!!! After that were the many open-air "shops" which seemed like a Jungle Trading Post (authentic) and then the FAMOUS "Jungle Cruise" ride!!! Another great animatronics wonder to behold, and the "spiel" given by the boat-men (women too, later - remember; this was the early 60's? ) was both "not set" and not repititious, but also quite FUNNY, too!!! Always (towards the end) they would say "Uh-OH! Those natives (the statues that moved slightly - like African Tribesmen) are getting restless!!! We better get OUT of here, or we may all get killed!!!" and then rev up the boat's motors and haul out of there "shooting" as they went... until they rounded the final bend where the ride ended!!! What fun!

    After that, there was NO Pirates Of The Carribean, Haunted Mansion NOR New Orleans Square, no Country Bear Jamboree; just the familiar "Train Station - Fronteer Land" depot, and then free-space, unused (except as "wilderness" for the Fronteer Land rides) and undeveloped - as of yet!

    Back at The Castle... just to the right of the "gate" going inside (leading into Fantasy Land section) was the "Wishing Well" from the Disney movie; complete with the "song" with the words "I'm wishing... for the one I love... to find me... some day." playing continuously. There was even a "tour" you could take "inside" the castle itself; featuring the story of Sleeping Beauty, complete with little statues and miniture "sets" depicting the story!!!

    Once through the Castle, you entered the Fantasy Land proper! Dumbo's Ride, The Tea Cups, and such "carnival rides" (typical, but MUCH more elaborate - with "black-light" lighting and flourescent colors) as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Alice In Wonderland, SNow White's Ride, and the OLD-style Carrousel in the middle, then the Gondola-type "Sky-way to Tomorrow Land" ride - that went right through the top of the Matterhorn!!! Behind that all was the Storybook (kiddy) Boat Ride that took you through the mouth of the whale from Pinnoccio story, and displayed Brothers Grimm stories and Mother Goose tales, etc. The street ended there, but later they put in "It's A Small World" ride and then the Toon Town Adventures areas; YEARS later!!!

    Next to that (towards the right - eastward) was the edge of my favorite area of the park... Tomorrow Land!!!

    In the beginning (early 60's) the entrance to that section (off Main Street USA) was started near the left-flank (on the right looking from Main Street) by an attraction called "G.E.'s The House Of Tomorrow" which was a space-staion looking, white material, porthole windowed, curcular structure; filled with all the latest electrical (G.E. displays from some World's Fair, no doubt) fixtures, appliances, and gizmos (like the RARE "color" T.V.) that were only available to scientists developing these new products, and the very RICH!!! SO cool!!! Then; there were these "bumper cars" ride that were basically "air" carts suspended on a jet system that shot from the ground beneath the riding area itself through small holes!!! Wow! Then there was (if I recall correctly) a "Theater" where one could watch a "360 degrees" projection (inside a curcular room, standing) of scenes of America, as if taken from a plane!!! It was almost like being there; turning to watch the beautiful landscape pass around you, looking forward to see what's coming, and then turning around to watch it go away!!! It was "dizzying" to be in there!!! Then there was the "Rockets Ride" where you'd climb the stairs (or was it an escilator? ) to await being seated in these little Rockets, suspended from the middle "spindle" by hydrolic boom-arms that each "rocket" had a "joy-stick" controller allowing the "driver" to control the height the boom-arm would move up and down!!! Then the ride would start spinning around and the joy-sticks became operational!!! Woo-HOO!!! It was like flying!!!

    Then there was the OLD "Rocket To Mars" ride; where you sat in a curcular (I guess the future is BIG on "roundness", huh?! ) room with chairs, and in the middle of the room (on the ceiling AND the floor too! ) were projection screens showing "where you were going" and "where you were leaving behind" simultaineously!!! From "lift off" to landing, the screens showed all the action, in tandem!!! The only problem was (determined by the constant "chatter" from "ground control" and the faceless pilot somewhere else aboard the ship) that EVERY "mission" seemed to develope "a problem" so we never got farther than the Moon, before we "had to" turn around and come back" to Earth!!! They had (on the way out) displays showing space suits and equipment that WAS being used by NASA at those times (Mercury & Gemini Projects - before Apollo missions started) and the "seats" were attached to the floor by an ellaborate Hydrolic system that simulated "G forces" and movement; so the ride was fun, anyway!!! Then at the far East-end of Tomorrow Land was the other end of the Sky-Way Cable Ride, and next to that was the FAMOUS "Autopia" (go carts on a track, guided by a steel bar down the middle - the only controls one had were the gas and the brakes) Ride that simulated the futuristic Freeways, winding through the countryside!!! Heading West and right next to that was the "Submarine Ride" that was so cool!!! A little known fact is; those submarines WERE real subs - taken from US military surplus, and pressed into duty at Disneyland, after being refitted to ride on tracks, partially submerged! In fact; it was the 5th (or was it the 7th? ) largest "operational submarine fleet" in the WORLD!!! Deisel engines, air pumps, air tight, and water-proof too!!!

    Just "above" the entrance to the Submarine ride was the Disneyland Monorail System that had a "over-ground" track that lead out of Tomorrow Land, turned south up the outside edge of the Park along Harbor blvd., turned west into the HUGE parking lot, past the front gates, and on straight to the Disneyland Hotel depot. It stopped there to exchange passengers, and then went north up past the back-side of the park, and then turned right (east) back into the Park to the Tomorrow Land depot/station; in a loop!!!

    That was usually (because I was a "hyper kid" (later given the medical term "H.A./A.D.D." or Hyper-Active/Attention Deficit Disorder) and would get violently ILL, after too much excitement, see?!!! In later years (after 10 or so) I didn't get sick like that, except on rare occasions, and was able to stay all day and night!!! YEAH-EE-EE...!!!

    Those are just SOME of my earliest memories of "The Happiest Place On Earth" built one year before I was born!!!

    I spent many a summer there (with my family) and watched "The Mickey Mouse Club" show on T.V., and then the occasional (every Sunday on channel 7 - ABC, I recall) "Wonderful World Of Disney" show too!!! We saw the many Disney films and previews of developments (like the creation of the rides/attractions already there, and the NEW ones coming out! ) at the one-and-only Disneyland, in Anaheim!!!

    The sad thing is... I haven't been back to the "Park" since they were building California Adventure, in the middle of their parking lot!!!

    Terrell T. Himmelheber (O.C. resident since 1959 - 4 yrs. old)

    P.S. I became familiar (SH-sh-sh... don't tell! ) with the elaborate "underground tunnel systems" that link ALL the different parts of the park to eachother, and are used basically for Park Services stuff... and park security forces that occasionally caught us down there!!! "YICKS! RUN for it, guys!!!"

  6. Hi, I remember my first visit to Disneyland was in 1980. My favorite ride then was the small world ride. I remember when I was in high school when we went to play on the main street with Valley High School during Christmas. I think we went like 2 times. I can't believe how much they cost now!! I remember $20 was entrance fee and that was a lot. I live out of state now, but will go back soon to visit.

  7. I remmeber Ralpha or Alpha Beta had a promotion during the 80's that if you bought like $50 in groceries you got a free pass into the park. Well, with 4 kinds in our family $50 in groceries was chump change. So we have 4 kids with free passes. The only kicker was that each child would have to be accompanied by a separate adult. My parents dropped us off in front of the park at like 8 am and we each had to approach an adult entering the park and ask if we could pretend to be their kid. Oh yeah, Tom Sawyer island rocked. Injun Joe's cave was bottomless.

  8. To this day the BEST Disneyland ride of all time is MR. TOAD'S WILD RIDE.

    What other ride can you think of that takes you to hell and back?

  9. One of my earliest memories of Disneyland was around '72 or '73 and my sister and I in our matching pink crocheted ponchos. We have pics of that day somewhere. I remember it was getting dark and time to go and I was very sad at not getting to see Mickey in person, when one of my parents said "there he is!" and I took off at a dead run to catch him and I gave his nose a kiss. I was 6 or 7 years old at the time. It was one of the best days of my life!
    I was a little older when I had the holy you-know-what scared out of me on the Matterhorn with my dad, and the hung person on the Haunted Mansion. I still can't look at it to this day! My sister freaked out at the huge eye at the end of Inner Space, it was hilarious!
    Later memories include school trips there and trips with my family where I got to take a friend... and taking off to find boys to make out with on the 'dark' rides...LOLOL... Inner Space, Haunted Mansion, Pirates. Such fun, goofy times.


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