Disneyland at 58: Nostalgia, Change, and Inside Peeks

It's birthday time for the planet's quintessential theme park.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Paul Hiffmeyer
    HISTORIC TRIO -- Three of the most popular attractions at Disneyland - the Disneyland Monorail, Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage - all debuted on the same day, June 14, 1959. Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

    Here's a provocative and mind-bending question for you lifelong SoCalers out there, as well as those people who visited a certain Anaheim destination when they were children: When you think of Disneyland, or even go to Disneyland now, do you still see the park as it was on your first visit?

    Nostalgia is such a powerful driver for the world's most famous theme park that we do believe everyone who visits more than once will always keep a memory of how it looked when they only stood yeah-high. 

    "Yeah-high," of course, can mean many heights, but we meant it to be however tall you yourself were.

    It's a good day to reflect upon this, because Disneyland turned 58 on Wednesday, July 17. Many Southern Californians were at Disneyland on opening day -- meaning their age is just a little north of Disneyland's age -- and they remember the details: The spectacular heat, Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan sharing hosting duties, the famously sizzling fresh asphalt, the first time seeing Frontierland and Main Street and Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

    Changes have happened and additions have been made, but we're of the opinion that you always see the park, each and every time you go, the way you saw it the first time. So, for us? Yep, we remember Adventure Thru Inner Space over in Tomorrowland. You, too?

    But the new areas and features, like Fantasy Faire over by the castle, charm as well. And figure that stuff that's new to you will be the first memories of someone else's visit.

    If you're a longtimer and want a deeper peek at the park, you could have a chance. D23 -- that's the mega fan club for Disney -- is throwing a very nifty sweepstakes for its members. Enter and maybe, just maybe, win a chance for a backstage tour of the park.

    Visits will include the Lilly Belle VIP parlor train car, the Disneyland Dream Suite, the Circle D Ranch, and, wait for it: Walt Disney's apartment over the fire station.

    Members can enter through Aug. 23.

    Here's hoping that Tinkerbell waves her magic wand over your entry. Good luck!

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