1. Roy O. Disney arranged to buy the very first ticket to Disneyland, but if you don’t count him, the first person to buy a ticket and enter the gates was David MacPherson. The first two children were Christine Vess and Michael Schwartner. All three of them received lifetime passes to Disneyland which was later upgraded to lifetime passes to any Disney park anywhere in the world.
2. The public opening day was July 18, but the press day was July 17, which is the day Disney recognizes as its opening.
3. The press day sucked. Disasters included counterfeit tickets, 101°F temperatures, broken drinking fountains, vendors running out of food, and a gas leak that resulted in Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland being closed for the afternoon.
4. It was originally going to be called “Mickey Mouse Park”.
5. For the first few years, the shops on Main Street were occupied by outside vendors who rented the space from Disney.
6. You won’t find alcohol anywhere at Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom, with one exception: the private, members-only Club 33 that’s tucked away in New Orleans Square at Disneyland.
7. The monorail that opened in Tomorrowland in 1959 was the first daily-operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere.
8. Mickey himself (and his posse) used to climb the Matterhorn every day, several times a day. This no longer occurs.
9. Tickets were different than they are now – a park ticket now gives you access to whatever ride you want to ride, however many times you can manage to ride it. But until 1982, guests paid to get in and also purchased a coupon book of tickets. Tickets were labeled A-D (E was added later). A tickets were small rides, B tickets were a bit larger, C tickets were pretty typical rides (such as the Tea Cups), and D tickets were the thrillers (the Matterhorn). These were later upgraded to E tickets. Sometimes, you’ll still hear people refer to roller coasters and exciting rides as “E-ticket rides”.
10. Disneyland has had three unscheduled closures since it opened 53 years ago – when JFK was assassinated, when some Vietnam protesters took over Tom Sawyer’s Island, and the day after 9/11.