Disneyland 101: An Overview of Disney’s First Theme Park

Castle construction


The land in Anaheim was purchased. It was lush with orange groves that had to be cleared, and fifteen homes had to be moved from the land to make way for what would come to be known as the “happiest place on Earth.”

Construction began in 1954, only one year before the proposed date for Opening Day. It was quite the ambitious goal, but Walt was dedicated to his dream. He regularly visited the construction site to monitor progress and give insight and clarity to his dream as it was taking physical shape right in front of his eyes. Five lands were created inside the park—Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Frontierland.

As Opening Day drew near, The Mark Twain riverboat was moved—deck by deck—down the Santa Ana Freeway. The Rivers of America, however, ran into a snag as it wouldn’t hold water. It was dug into the sandy California soil, which absorbed much of the water, instead of holding it. Designers and contractors quickly found the solution:  they would lay clay at the bottom of the river—one inch thick—and the clay was like cement. Water held. Problem solved.


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