Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, opened on July 17, 1955. It is the only theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. It was originally the only attraction on the property; its name was changed to Disneyland Park to distinguish it from the expanding complex in the 1990s.
Walt Disney came up with the concept of Disneyland after visiting various amusement parks with his daughters in the 1930s and 1940s. He initially envisioned building a tourist attraction adjacent to his studios in Burbank to entertain fans who wished to visit; however, he soon realized that the proposed site was too small. After hiring a consultant to help him determine an appropriate site for his project, Walt bought a 160-acre (65 ha) site near Anaheim in 1953. Construction began in 1954 and the park was unveiled during a special televised press event on the ABC Television Network on July 17, 1955.
Since its opening, Disneyland has undergone a number of expansions and major renovations, including the addition of New Orleans Square in 1966, Bear Country (now Critter Country) in 1972, and Mickey's Toontown in 1993. Opened in 2001, Disney California Adventure Park was built on the site of Disneyland's original parking lot.
Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with over 650 million guests since it opened. In 2013, the park hosted approximately 16.2 million guests, making it the third most visited park in the world that calendar year.According to a March 2005 Disney Company report, 65,700 jobs are supported by the Disneyland Resort, including about 20,000 direct Disney employees and 3,800 third-party employees (independent contractors or their employees).
In September 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev spent thirteen days in the United States, with two requests: to visit Disneyland and to meet John Wayne, Hollywood's top box-office draw. Due to the Cold War tension and security concerns, he was famously denied an excursion to Disneyland.The Shah of Iran and Empress Farah were invited to Disneyland by Walt Disney in early 1960s. There was moderate controversy over the lack of African American employees. Since 1963, civil rights activists pressured Disneyland to hire black people, with executives responding that they would "consider" the requests. Despite a lack of black employees, the park hired people of Asian descent, like Ty Wong and Bob Kuwahara.
As part of the Casa de Fritos operation at Disneyland, "Doritos" (Spanish for "little golden things") were created at the park to help use old tortillas that were being discarded. The Frito-Lay Company saw the popularity of the item and decided to sell them regionally in 1964, and then nationwide in 1966.
In the late 1990s, work began to expand the one-park, one-hotel property. Disneyland Park, the Disneyland Hotel, the site of the original parking lot, and acquired surrounding properties were earmarked to become part of the Disneyland Resort. At this time, the property saw the addition of the Disney California Adventure theme park, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex named Downtown Disney, a remodeled Disneyland Hotel, the construction of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and the acquisition and re-branding of the Pan Pacific Hotel as Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel. At this time, the park was renamed as Disneyland Park to distinguish it from the larger complex under construction. Because the existing parking lot (south of Disneyland) was built upon by these projects, the six-level, 10,250-space Mickey and Friends parking structure was constructed in the northwest corner. At the time of its completion in 2000, it was the largest parking structure in the United States.
The park's management team during the mid-1990s was a source of controversy among fans and employees. In an effort to boost profits, various changes were begun by then-executives Cynthia Harriss and Paul Pressler. While their actions provided a short-term increase in shareholder returns, they drew widespread criticism for the lack of foresight. With the retail background of Harriss and Pressler, Disneyland's focus gradually shifted from attractions to merchandising. Outside consultants McKinsey & Company were brought in to help streamline operations, resulting in many changes and cutbacks. After nearly a decade of deferred maintenance, the original park was showing signs of neglect. Fans of the park decried the perceived decline in customer value and park quality and rallied for the dismissal of the management team.
Matt Ouimet, the former president of the Disney Cruise Line, was promoted to assume leadership of the Disneyland Resort in late 2003. Shortly afterward, he selected Greg Emmer as Senior Vice President of Operations. Emmer is a long-time Disney cast member who had worked at Disneyland in his youth prior to moving to Florida and held multiple executive leadership positions at the Walt Disney World Resort. Ouimet quickly set about reversing certain trends, especially with regards to cosmetic maintenance and a return to the original infrastructure maintenance schedule, in hopes of restoring the safety record of the past. Much like Walt Disney, Ouimet and Emmer could often be seen walking the park during business hours with members of their respective staff, wearing cast member name badges, standing in line for attractions, and welcoming guests' comments. In July 2006, Matt Ouimet left The Walt Disney Company to become president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Soon after, Ed Grier, executive managing director of Walt Disney Attractions Japan, was named president of the resort, though he retired from his job on February 8, 2008.
The "Happiest Homecoming on Earth" was an eighteen-month-long celebration (held through 2005 and 2006) of the fiftieth anniversary of the Disneyland Park, also celebrating Disneyland's milestone throughout Disney parks worldwide. In 2004, the park underwent major renovations in preparation, restoring many classic attractions, notably Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Attractions that had been in the park on opening day had one ride vehicle painted gold, and the park was decorated with fifty Golden Mickey Ears. The celebration started on May 5, 2005 and ended on September 30, 2006, and was followed by the "Year of a Million Dreams" celebration, lasting twenty-seven months and ending on December 31, 2008.
Beginning on January 1, 2010, Disney Parks hosted the Give a Day, Get a Disney Day volunteer program, in which Disney encouraged people to volunteer with a participating charity and receive a free Disney Day at either a Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World park. On March 9, 2010, Disney announced that it had reached its goal of one million volunteers and ended the promotion to anyone who had not yet registered and signed up for a specific volunteer situation.
In May 2015, Disneyland celebrated its 60th anniversary. The Diamond Celebration does not yet have an end date announced. Disneyland Park introduced the Paint The Night parade and Disneyland Forever fireworks show, and Sleeping Beauty Castle is decorated in diamonds with a large "60" logo.
Disneyland Park consists of eight themed "lands" and a number of concealed backstage areas, and occupies approximately 85 acres (34 ha). The park opened with Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland, and has since added New Orleans Square in 1966, Bear Country (later Critter Country) in 1972, and Mickey's Toontown in 1993. In 1957, Holidayland, opened to the public with a 9 acres (3.6 ha) recreation area including a circus and baseball diamond, but was closed in late 1961. It is often referred to as the "lost" land of Disneyland. Throughout the park are 'Hidden Mickeys', representations of Mickey Mouse heads inserted subtly into the design of attractions and environmental decor. An elevated berm supports the 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge Disneyland Railroad that circumnavigates the park. A new 14-acre land to be constructed at the park, Star Wars Land, was announced on August 15, 2015, at the 2015 D23 Expo by Disney CEO Bob Iger.