Spent the afternoon at a couple of Downtown Anaheim locations. Both the Central Library, where they had the local newspaper at the time, the Anaheim Bulletin, on microfiche, and the Heritage Room at the Museo, which contains historical documents, including many donated by the Walt Disney Company. (Both are on Broadway, the central library is at Harbor, Museo is at Anaheim Blvd).
After looking at the documents and news reports, it is clear that when Walt Disney was alive, Opening Day was ALWAYS celebrated on July 18th.
The last official document i found that mentions July 18th as opening day was in 1967, a year after Walt Disney passed on.
The first document/press release I found that changes the opening date to July 17th was in 1970, the 15th anniversary. But it had some serious errors, including claiming a photo taken on Monday, July 18th, 1955 as being taken on the 17th.
This photo was taken on Monday MORNING, July 18th, 1955, when the Disneyland Marketing folks decided to bypass the first person in line, David MacPherson, and instead took the photo with two young kids when the gates opened, prior to the official opening day ceremonies, where Walt Disney did once again (the first was the 17th) read the dedication to the crowd.
I got some great photos/scans, many regarding July 18th as opening date, but also some others that are generic, but just plain neat!
Here is a link to the full album.
Darkbeer : photos : Disneyland Historical Documents/Photos - 1955 thru 1970 (11/6/08)- powered by SmugMug
And a few selected ones...
Here is a official Press Release from 1956.
This official Press Release is from July 11th, 1967. Interesting the terms they use... July 17th as "Dedication Day", and July 18th as "Opening Day"
Walt Disney cutting the 10th Anniversary cake on Sunday, July 18th, 1965.
I just LOVE this photo, hope the Circle D folks appreciate it!
And July 17th is still a VERY important day, it was at the time the biggest Live TV broadcast, and was "Dedication Day" as based on the official Disneyland documents.
But July 18th is clearly opening day, and should get as much attention as July 17th!