Growing Up Disney

As the story goes, Walt Disney got the idea for Disneyland while spending time with his two daughters.

By: Kenneth Shapiro

As the story goes, Walt Disney got the idea for Disneyland while spending time with his two daughters. Saturday was his day with the girls, and after doing various activities with them, he decided there should be a new place where kids and parents could go together and both have fun. That simple idea gave birth to an American icon and the subject of our cover story, “Disneyland’s Golden Year” (page 12).

The park was opened in July 1955, and in September of that year, my Aunt Beverly visited the new attraction with her father. (The ticket books on page 13 are hers admission price, $4.95 for adults.)

“The ride I liked most was Autopia,” she told me recently. “Back then you really got to drive the car. They weren’t attached to a track. You could pass the other cars.”

Like so many native Southern Californians, over the years Disneyland became a touchstone for her.
“I remember making out on Tom Sawyer’s Island as a teenager. That’s when it used to be open at night,” she said. “Eventually I went back with each of my kids as they grew up. Next, I’ll go with my grandkids.”

Memories like these are at the heart of Disney’s success, and the reason why the resort is popular generation after generation. It’s the magic in the Magic Kingdom, and it should be central to the way you sell Disney in 2005. As Sue Pisaturo, the Disney “super specialist” in the story, said to me: “Visitors to Disneyland are looking for a magical experience. Agents should go to the park and look at the faces of the visitors there you’ll see grown adults tear up during the fireworks. As an agent you sometimes forget what it means to travel there. If I can save a family $1,000 on a Disney trip, that’s only $100 or so in commission. But you better believe they will remember me every time they go.”

Maybe even for generations to come.

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