Disneyland Park was opened to the public on Monday, July 18
. However, a special "International Press Preview" event was held on Sunday, July 17
which was only open to invited guests and the media. The Special Sunday events, including the dedication were televised nationwide and anchored by three of Walt Disney's friends from Hollywood: Art Linkletter
, Bob Cummings
, and Ronald Reagan
The event did not go smoothly. The park was overcrowded as the by-invitation-only affair was plagued with counterfeit tickets. All major roads nearby were congested. The summer temperature was over 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and a plumbers' strike left many of the park's drinking fountains dry. The asphalt that had been poured just the night before was so soft that ladies' high-heeled shoes sank in. Vendors ran out of food. A gas leak in Fantasyland caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland to close for the afternoon. Parents were throwing their children over the shoulders of crowds to get them onto rides such as the Dumbo Flying Elephants.
The park got such bad press for the event day that Walt Disney invited members of the press back for a private "second day" to experience the true Disneyland, after which Walt held a party in the Disneyland Hotel
for them. Walt and his 1955 executives forever referred to the first day as "Black Sunday," although July 17 is currently acknowledged by Disney as the official opening day. On July 17 every year, cast members wear pin badges stating how many years it has been since July 17, 1955. For example, in 2004 they wore the slogan "The magic began 49 years ago today
." But for the first ten years or so, Disney did officially state that opening day was on July 18th, including in the park's own publications.
On Monday, July 18 crowds started to gather in line as early as 2 a.m., and the first person to buy a ticket and enter the park was David MacPherson
. Walt Disney decided to have a photo taken with two children, Michael Schwartner
and Christine Vess
instead, and the photo of the three always carries a caption along the lines of "Walt Disney with the first two guests of Disneyland." MacPherson, Schwartner and Vess all received lifetime passes to every single Disney-owned park in the world.