Celebrating Disneyland’s opening, July 17, 1955
Disneyland turned 60 on July 17th, 2015. On this date back in 1955 the opening, recorded by ABC Television, was so successful that a million visitors arrived in the next seven weeks (Disneyland Public Affairs).
Since then over 650 million guests have smiled their way through the original Magic Kingdom, and Disney-mania has gone socio-culturally viral.
It’s been an E-Ride.
Eventually, little 1955 Boomer visitors grew to adulthood, as did Gen Xers, and as Millennials are doing now. And each generation relives childhood memories as they watch the next crop of excited little tykes scurry from rides to ice cream and back to rides again.
Walt Disney famously said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” He was right, some of the most popular attractions opened decades after the launch.
- 1957 Autopia … oh, how we stretched on tippy-toes to make the height restriction
- 1959 Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Monorail
- 1965 It’s a Small World
- 1966 Carousel of Progress
- 1967 Pirates of the Caribbean
- 1969 The Haunted Mansion
- 1977 Space Mountain
- 1979 Big Thunder Railroad
- 1989 Splash Mountain
- 1995 Indiana Jones Adventure
- 2000s California Adventure Park, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania and more … there is always more.
Disneyland and Boomers: always a big bright beautiful tomorrow
It’s a mistake to think Boomers who caught Disney fever decades ago are still stuck in the past of old-time Americana; Walt balanced heritage with a self-confident focus on the future. It mirrored the national ethos down to the present day: progress as a birthright.
Just imagine the incredible progress those awestruck kids who wandered around the park that first summer have embraced since then …
America’s population doubled; sprawling suburbs and mega-cities replaced sleepy little towns – think Orlando and Anaheim.
The number of vehicles on America’s highways more than quadrupled; meanwhile, the Detroit brand share of new car sales plummeted from 95% to 45% in 2014.
In 1955 black-and-white television sets were uber-cool – wow, almost two-thirds of households had one! Color TV, at 2% penetration, was hardly a blip on the radar.
When it came to travel, domestic jet service was still three years away in 1955, and 90% of passengers were business fliers not vacationers. Americans who ever flew in a commercial airplane soared from ≅ 10% to 90+% and U.S.-based passengers rocketed from 49 million to 848 million (U.S. Department of Transportation). Best of all. today’s flight times are halved and airfares dropped by two-thirds,
Pluto is also in the news – the planet, not the Disney pup
Remote planet Pluto is also in the news after NASA released stunning pictures from the New Horizons space probe. Discovered in 1930, contrary to legend, Pluto was not named for Disney’s friendly pup, but vice versa.
As the ancient Greek god of the underworld, Pluto’s job was to prevent its residents from escaping the eternal darkness. And because Earth’s precious minerals are also hidden down below, he was incredibly wealthy too.
Ironically, around the time Disneyland opened, Madison Avenue incorporated the Greek Pluto myth into its own targeting religion: henceforth consumers over fifty would be cast into eternal darkness. Acording to adland’s soothsayers, they are no longer open to switching brands and, anyway, their ghostly presence frightens younger buyers.
The 93 million members of the Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1965 see this as weird. Owners of over 70% of U.S. household net assets, their domain – like Pluto’s – is fabulously wealthy and after a lifetime of change it’s way too late for them to stop adapting now.
It’s time for some Disney-style imagineering: brands that learn to engage a bigger, richer market than any European country will not only win Boomer appreciation but market share … we help winners.