Disneyland opened its doors to the public in July of 1955, and on that very day one man was standing at the very front of the line – Mr. Dave MacPherson.
Dave was just 22 at the time. A college student at nearby Long Beach State College, he had no way of knowing just how popular the new theme park would become. Or, that being the first person to ever step foot inside the wondrous world that is Disneyland would be quite an accomplishment, although he had a hunch.
This is 22-year-old Dave MacPherson grinning for the camera just before he was let inside.
Dave made the decision the night before that he wanted to be the very first person to step foot inside of the park, and he worked hard for it! He got in line at 2 AM on opening day.
He was the very first common person to enter the park, following Disney’s family members and a few choice celebrities who entered the park the day before.
The idea to be the very first person to ever enter the park came to him just one day earlier, on July 17, 1955.
He was watching the opening festivities on TV, marveling at all of the celebrities enjoying the park’s amenities when he devised a plan to get in line as early as possible and become the first commoner to enter the park.
In the wee hours of the morning, he hoped atop his motorbike and made the 10-mile trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.
He got in line at 2 AM, long before anyone else was on site. He started his own line and patiently waited for the ticket booth to open, at which point he purchased the very first ticket ever sold.
He has since lost track of his original admission ticket, but he did preserve a copy of the complimentary card that came along with it.
Along with the honor of being the very first commoner to enter the park, Disneyland gifted him a lifetime pass that he continues to make good use of.
He hasn’t lost his love for the park ever since. In fact, he comes back every single year to enjoy all that the park as to offer.
Here he is at the park with his wife Wanda and a couple of their friends. I’m sure they love to hear stories about what the park used to be like, since few would know better than Dave.
These days, he usually brings his wife Wanda and their good friends Martha and Joe Ortiz.
Interestingly enough, Joe was also at Disneyland’s grand opening in 1955, but the two didn’t get to meet on that day. Instead, they met decades later when common interests brought them together.
Even when he’s not at Disneyland, he still shows off his love for the park.
Here’s a photo from Disneyland’s official grand opening on July 17, 1955 when just celebrities and Disney’s family members had a chance to visit the park.
The following day, on July 18, Disneyland officially opened to the public.
It was quite an incredible place back then, but of course, it couldn’t even compare to the magical wonderland it has transformed into over the years.
Walt Disney dreamed up the theme park after visiting many amusement parks with his kids between 1930 and 1940. He was able to bring his vision to life nearly a decade later.
The park cost 17 million US dollars to complete. In today’s dollars, that would be around $116 million.
In 2018, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts reported an operating profit of $4.5 billion – an increase of over 100 percent from five years prior. Just goes to show, Disneyland is only getting more popular with time.
Dave was lucky enough to enter the park before all of these overly-excited children…
He has told media outlets that he will never forget seeing the line of 6,000 people stretched out behind him.
6,000 people sounds like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to how many people attend the park nowadays. Park experts estimate that around 44,000 people visit the park each day.
On average, around 12 million people have visited the park each year since it opened.
People were looking forward to seeing Walt Disney in the living flesh on opening day, but he disappeared shortly after the gates were open to the public.
Many visitors, including Dave, were disappointed that they didn’t get a chance to see him.
Interestingly, other things went wrong that day as well. According to History.com, the park wasn’t quite ready for so many visitors, with workers hammering and painting right up until the moment ABC television network aired the opening.
Regardless, Dave said it was still the most amazing day.