Amusement parks and resorts
July 17, 1955; 61 years ago (1955-07-17)
Anaheim, California, United States
Michael Colglazier (President)
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (The Walt Disney Company)
The Disneyland Resort, commonly known as Disneyland, is an entertainment resort in Anaheim, California. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division and is home to two theme parks (Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure), three hotels, and a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex known as Downtown Disney.
- Concept and construction
- 19551998 One park one hotel
- 1990s Planning an expansion
- 19982001 Resort expansion
- 20012016 Disneyland Resort complex
- Future expansion
- Shopping dining and entertainment
- Emergency services
- Ticket prices
The resort was developed by Walt Disney in the 1950s. When it opened to guests on July 17, 1955, the property consisted of Disneyland, its 100-acre parking lot (which had 15,167 spaces), and the Disneyland Hotel, owned and operated by Disney's business partner Jack Wrather. After succeeding with the multi-park, multi-hotel business model at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Disney acquired large parcels of land adjacent to Disneyland to apply the same business model in Anaheim.
During the expansion, the property was named the Disneyland Resort to encompass the entire complex, while the original theme park was named Disneyland Park. The company purchased the Disneyland Hotel from the Wrather Company and the Pan Pacific Hotel from the Tokyu Group. The Pan Pacific Hotel later became Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel. The property saw the addition of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, a second theme park, named Disney California Adventure, and the Downtown Disney shopping, dining, and entertainment area.
Concept and construction
Walt Disney's early concepts for an amusement park called for a "Mickey Mouse Park" located adjacent to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank (presently the site of the West Coast headquarters of ABC). As new ideas emerged, Walt and his brother Roy realized that the Burbank location would be too small for the project, and hired a consultant from Stanford Research Institute to provide them with information on locations and economic feasibility. The consultant recommended a remote location near Anaheim, adjacent to the then-under-construction Santa Ana Freeway. The consultant correctly predicted that the location – covered by orange groves at the time – would become the population center of Southern California. Since the location was far from Southern California population centers in the 1950s, Walt Disney wanted to build a hotel so that Disneyland visitors traveling long distances could stay overnight. However, the park had depleted his financial resources, so he negotiated a deal with Hollywood producer Jack Wrather in which he would build and operate a hotel called the Disneyland Hotel across the street from Disneyland.
1955–1998: One park, one hotel
Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, with a televised press preview event on ABC. Despite the disastrous event, later dubbed "Black Sunday", during which several rides broke down and other mishaps occurred, Disneyland became a huge success in its first year of operation. The hotel, which opened three months after the park, enjoyed similar success. Walt Disney wanted to build more facilities for Disneyland visitors to stay in Anaheim, but since his financial resources were drained, entrepreneurs established their own hotels in the area surrounding the park and hotel to capitalize on Disneyland's success.
To Walt Disney's dismay, the city of Anaheim was lax in restricting their construction, eager for the tax revenue generated by more hotels in the city. The area surrounding Disneyland became the atmosphere of colorful lights, flashy neon signs, and then-popular Googie architecture that he wanted to avoid (and which years earlier had caused the city of Burbank to deny his initial request to build his project in Burbank). The Anaheim Convention Center was built across the street from Disneyland's original parking lot, and residences were constructed in the area as part of the city's growth in the late 20th century. Eventually, Disneyland was "boxed in", a factor which would later lead Walt Disney to acquire a significantly larger parcel of land for the construction of Walt Disney World. In later years, the Walt Disney Company gradually acquired the land west of the park, notably the Disneyland Hotel in 1989 following Jack Wrather's death in 1984, the Pan Pacific Hotel (now Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel) in 1995, and several properties north of the Disneyland Hotel in the mid to late 1990s.
1990s: Planning an expansion
After Walt's and Roy's deaths in 1966 and 1971, respectively, the Walt Disney Company would go on to achieve success with the multi-park, multi-hotel resort complex business model of Walt Disney World in Florida, which opened in 1971, while continuing to achieve success with the one park, one hotel business model at Disneyland. In the 1990s, Disney decided to turn the original theme park into a similar multi-park, multi-hotel resort destination. In 1991, Disney announced plans to build WestCOT, a theme park based on Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center, on the site of the original Disneyland parking lot. Its estimated cost was US$3 billion, largely due to the high cost of land that Disney would have needed to acquire. With the new Euro Disney Resort, which opened in 1992, becoming a financial and public relations albatross for the company, Disney was unable to finance the project, and cancelled WestCOT in 1995. That summer, Disney executives gathered in Aspen, Colorado for a 3-day retreat, where they came up with the idea for a California-themed park, dubbed Disney's California Adventure Park, to be built on the same site slated for WestCOT. $1.4 billion was budgeted to build the park, a retail district, and hotels.
1998–2001: Resort expansion
Construction began in 1998, with much of the property being a construction site until 2001. The original park remained largely untouched during this time. Temporary surface parking lots were set up across West Street with tram service to the main entrance to offset the loss of the 100-acre parking lot. Parking lots were also set up on smaller parcels of acquired land Disney east and southeast of the park, primarily used for employee parking and overflow parking. Several Disneyland landmarks were demolished, notably the marquee on Harbor Boulevard, whose three versions had stood at the parking lot entrance since 1958; the last was installed in 1989. Also demolished were the Disneyland Hotel's original buildings from 1955, as well as most of the facilities outside of the three guest room towers. The remaining Disneyland Hotel facilities were extensively renovated to replace the demolished amenities.
Aside from Disney's California Adventure Park, construction on the former parking lot included Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Downtown Disney. A section of the southeast corner of the original parking lot initially remained in use as a parking area, earmarked as future growth space for California Adventure. A Bug's Land, backstage facilities, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and 12-acre Cars Land were incrementally built into this space. Seven acres remain in the southeast corner for future growth. Across West Street from Disneyland Park and the construction site of Disney's California Adventure Park, the six-story Mickey & Friends Parking Structure was built on newly acquired land north of the Disneyland Hotel as the replacement main parking area. The Disneyland Hotel was downsized to accommodate Downtown Disney and surface parking lots. The Disneyland Pacific Hotel was renovated, re-themed, and renamed to match the portion of Disney's California Adventure the hotel overlooks, becoming Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel. Streets were regraded, renamed, re-routed, or eliminated, and the traffic pattern to access Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel by vehicle was altered. Most notably, West Street was regraded, re-routed near its intersection with Ball Road, and renamed Disneyland Drive between Katella Avenue and Interstate 5.
The city of Anaheim renovated the area surrounding Disneyland and dubbed it the Anaheim Resort. The neon signs that lined Harbor Boulevard and other area roads were replaced with shorter, conforming signs. Surrounding streets were widened, repaved, and landscaped, and variable-message signs were installed to assist with traffic flow. Freeway onramps and offramps were reconfigured as part of a larger expansion project on Interstate 5 between State Route 91 and the Orange Crush Interchange.
2001–2016: Disneyland Resort complex
Most construction was completed by early 2001, and Disney's California Adventure Park held "preview" openings in January 2001. Word of mouth reviews from Disney employees, annual pass holders, and American Express cardholders were largely negative. It opened to the public on February 8, 2001, though the reviews impacted attendance and the company's initial attendance projections for the park were never met. Much of the park's early years were spent attempting to boost attendance. In the short-term, Disney brought the venerable Main Street Electrical Parade to the park, added Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It!, and offered discounted admission and other promotions aimed at boosting attendance. Long-term projects to address the park's early criticisms included the addition of A Bug's Land to add attractions geared towards children, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as another E ticket. Some of the park's unsuccessful early attractions were closed within the first year of operation, including the dark ride Superstar Limo, the live show Disney's Steps in Time, and Disney's Eureka! A California Parade.
After the park's opening, new attractions began appearing at Disneyland Park, including The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters; both were modeled after similarly named attractions at the Magic Kingdom. The original park saw a substantial renovation of the nearly 30-year-old (at the time) Space Mountain, the return of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, and the introduction of new trains to the Disneyland Monorail System.
In 2007, Pirates of the Caribbean was refurbished to bring its look closer to that of the film franchise. The resort celebrated the 50th anniversary of Disneyland Park from 2005 to 2006 in an 18-month celebration known as the Happiest Homecoming on Earth, part of the larger Happiest Celebration on Earth promotion at all Disney theme parks. It was succeeded by the Year of a Million Dreams promotion, running from 2006 through 2008. The next promotion, What Will You Celebrate?, began January 1, 2009, and offered free admission to visitors on their birthday in 2009. Disney kept this marketing theme in 2010 for its American parks, but no longer offers free admission on a guest's birthday.
In 2007, Disney announced a $1.1 billion expansion project for Disney's California Adventure Park, including construction of a new land based on the Disney-Pixar film Cars, a new evening water show—Disney's World of Color, as well as substantially re-theming and adding new attractions to existing areas. Construction began in 2008, and was completed in phases from 2010 to 2012. Disney's Grand Californian Hotel completed an expansion to add Disney Vacation Club suites, while the Disneyland Hotel started an extensive renovation in the summer of 2009 and completed in 2012. In early 2010, the park was renamed Disney California Adventure. The expansion of Disneyland into the Disneyland Resort later had a similar effect on its sister properties in Japan and France, both of which also were single parks. In 2001, Tokyo Disneyland became Tokyo Disney Resort with the addition of Tokyo DisneySea. The following year, Disneyland Park Paris became Disneyland Resort Paris with the addition of Walt Disney Studios Paris.
In January 2015, Tom Staggs, Disney Parks chair, and Steve Davison, VP of Park Entertainment, announced the upcoming changes being made to the park to celebrate the park's 60th anniversary . The changes began May 22, 2015, and ran for sixteen months. The updates included an updated World of Color water show, Paint the Night parade, and a new fireworks show titled Disneyland Forever. Disney California Adventure also received a makeover, with Condor Flats remade into Grizzly Peak Airfield and Soarin' Over California equipped with a new laser projection system. Peter Pan's Flight reopened on July 1.
On July 8, 2015, the City of Anaheim granted a 30-year ban on potential ticket taxes that would be charged to theme park visitors in exchange for The Walt Disney Company investing $1 billion in new attractions, a new parking structure, and improvements to infrastructure surrounding the resort. A condition of the city's ban requires that Disney begin construction on resort expansion by 2017, with all construction completed no later than 2024. Speculation from news outlets had made mention of potential attractions or themed lands based on Disney's Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar properties. In August 2015, it was announced that Disneyland Park will receive a 14-acre Star Wars-themed land scheduled to open in 2019. In June 2016, Disney announced plans to build a fourth hotel at the resort, slated for an opening in 2021. In August 2016, Disney announced a new Eastern Gateway for the resort, which will include a 6,800-space parking structure, transportation hub, and pedestrian bridge, scheduled for an opening in late 2018.
The Disneyland Resort is located several miles south of downtown Anaheim, in an area branded by the city as the Anaheim Resort near the border of neighboring Garden Grove. The resort is generally bounded by Harbor Boulevard to the east, Katella Avenue to the south, Walnut Street to the west and Ball Road to the north. Interstate 5 borders the resort at an angle on the northeastern corner.
Not all land bordered by these streets is part of the Disneyland Resort, particularly near the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue, and along Ball Road between Disneyland Drive and Walnut Street. Disneyland Drive cuts through the resort on a north-south route and provides access to the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure, Downtown Disney, and the three hotels. Magic Way connects Walnut Street to Disneyland Drive just south of the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure and provides access to the parking structure, Disneyland Hotel, and Downtown Disney.
Special offramps from Interstate 5 combined with a reversible flyover over the intersection of Ball Road and Disneyland Drive permit access into and out of the Mickey & Friends parking garage during peak morning and evening traffic times. The official address of the resort is 1313 South Harbor Boulevard; the address number is a Hidden Mickey.
Shopping, dining, and entertainment
Major administration and service properties (other than those integrated into park/hotel facilities) include:
Unlike the Walt Disney World Resort, all areas in the Disneyland Resort are accessible by walking. Therefore, there is very little vehicular transportation between properties. The Disneyland Monorail System transports guests between the Tomorrowland station, inside Disneyland Park, and the Downtown Disney station (formerly known as the Disneyland Hotel station). Admission to Disneyland Park must be purchased to ride the Monorail. Parking lot trams provide free transportation from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure, the main parking area, to a tram stop in front of the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney, near the Main Entrance Plaza.
Shuttles to off-site hotels and overflow parking areas pick up and drop off at the Main Entrance Plaza east of the theme parks' main entrance. Taxis are available on the west end of Downtown Disney, near the ESPN Zone. Anaheim Resort Transit (ART), a quasi-government agency designed to help improve the air quality in the city of Anaheim, also provides shuttles on a pay per ride, or pay per day basis from Disneyland's east shuttle area to various hotels and other attractions in the area, and to the local Amtrak train station. Disney has made a deal with the ART system and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to operate buses from the Toy Story parking lot, which is located south of the Disneyland Resort. Disney also operates the Pumbaa Lot on Disney Way (only for Cast Members of the resort, rarely park guests), and has the Simba Lot west of the Paradise Pier Hotel. Disney also has contracts with the Anaheim GardenWalk and Anaheim Convention Center, where Disney can use parts of their parking spaces on selected days.
Public transportation is available from OCTA and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) adjacent the east end of the property, along Harbor Boulevard. OCTA also provides service along the north and south ends of the property, along Ball Road and Katella Avenue, respectively.
The Disneyland Resort maintains a private security staff charged with protecting the company's assets and interests, including controlling access to restricted areas, detaining shoplifters, enforcing park/resort rules, and imposing and enforcing trespass warnings. Most of the time security officers working in guest areas serve as de facto information posts, and also handle guest issues such as lost children and personal property damage. Law enforcement outside the authority of Disneyland Resort Security is the jurisdiction of the Anaheim Police Department (APD), which maintains a regular 24-hour presence at the Resort.
The resort maintains its own private fire department, called the Disneyland Resort Fire Department (DFD). DFD has several fire trucks stationed throughout the resort property and has the capability to put out minor structural fires; however, its primary purpose is fire prevention and investigation. Most of the department's operations are behind the scenes; the Main Street Fire House and other emergency-response-themed facades at the Resort are for show only and are not actual operations of the DFD. The resort also maintains a staff of nurses 24 hours a day to operate first aid stations situated in each park and hotel, as well as to act as first responders to emergency situations that occur away from the first aid stations. Fire and rescue services beyond the capability of the DFD and/or the nursing staff are handled by the Anaheim Fire Department (AFD), which has a station just east of the Resort property. AFD also maintains a constant paramedic presence at the Resort.
The 2015 issue of "TEA/AECOM 2015 Theme Index and Museum Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report" reported the following attendance estimates for 2015 compiled by the Themed Entertainment Association:
Approximately 60,000 people visited the park on Disneyland's opening day, July 17, 1955, when park admission was priced at $1.00 for adults and 50 cents for children. This did not include access to rides and other individual attractions; attraction tickets could be purchased separately for 10 to 35 cents. Single attraction tickets were permanently eliminated in June 1982; access to all the park's attractions was henceforth included in the price of park admission tickets.
Admission prices have greatly increased since the gates first opened, due in part to inflation, the continuing construction and renovation of attractions, and the addition of a second theme park, Disney California Adventure. As of 12 February 2017, one-day "Park Hopper" tickets, allowing entry to both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, are priced between $157.00 (on "Value" days) and $174.00 (on "Peak" days) for adults, and between $151.00 ("Value") and $168.00 ("Peak") for children. Visitors can also purchase one-park tickets and multi-day tickets.
In addition to daily tickets, in 1984 the Premium Annual Passport was introduced to the public. The Premium Annual Passport granted daily entry for a year at a time for $65.00 for adults and $49.00 for children. As of 2017, there are four different types of Annual Passports available for purchase, including the Disney Signature Plus Passport ($1,049.00), the Disney Signature Passport ($849.00), and the Disney Deluxe Passport ($619.00).
The president of Disneyland Resort is Michael Colglazier. Colglazier reports to Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.
The day-to-day operations of the resort are overseen by a hierarchy of operations managers or "stage managers", who change with each shift. They are colloquially known by their radio call signs, which usually contain the manager's department name (e.g., "Merch", "Foods") and an identifying number. Usually "One" denotes the manager in charge of that department for Disneyland Park, "Two" denotes the same for Disney California Adventure, "Three" denotes the same for the resort Hotels, and "Four" denotes the same for Downtown Disney.