Walt had always had a love for fairgrounds, wind-up toys and model trains since he was a child. He even had a miniature railway built in his garden at his home in California. During the weekends, he would have the whole family round to his house and he would take them all for rides on his steam trains. They all had such a good time and this got Walt thinking about his next big idea. He began to think about a place where families could go and have fun together - it would be like an amusement park, only cleaner, different, better!
Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, in Anaheim, California, to the cost of around 17 million dollars. However, the opening day did not go smoothly. Crowds, some 22,000 people stood in line in one hundred degree heat. Some of the rides weren't working and the train didn't lead anywhere! There was a serious lack of bins and water fountains, but Walt had things fixed right away. A famous movie actor at the time, and a friend of Walt's, Ronald Reagan, also attended; he would later become the President of the United States of America.
Soon, people from all over the world began flocking to Disneyland to see their favourite characters, such as Dumbo, Donald Duck, Cinderella, Snow White and of course the star of the show, Mickey! The crowds could spend time in Fantasyland with its fairy-tale castle and fairy-tale characters in uniform. They could look at wildlife such as hippos and elephants in Adventureland, or ride the riverboat or miniature railway. Disney also had a main street built just like the one in Marceline, Missouri. Walt would even walk around the park during the day to enjoy the atmosphere, although he had to wear a disguise because if he was noticed, he would be mobbed by his adoring fans. Walt had created a extraordinary place where children and their families could be part of the magic of Disney!