http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=4632330

Disneyland turns 50 this year, and the world's first theme park has already begun what it bills as the "happiest homecoming on Earth."

Over the decades, pioneering animator Walt Disney's family-oriented park has become an American icon, inspiring spin-offs in Florida, Europe and, coming soon, in Hong Kong. As Mandalit del Barco reports, Disneyland has a lively history and a devoted worldwide following -- and they know how to throw a good party.

Walt Disney built the entire first phase of the park in just one year, on what used to be an orange grove. The trees gave Orange County its name, but today there are few reminders of that agricultural past -- Disneyland has expanded to become a city unto itself, with new hotels and resorts and even a separate theme park with a California theme.

In front of live television cameras in a special hosted by then-actor Ronald Reagan, Disney opened the park to an over-capacity crowd on July 17, 1955. He dedicated his dreamed-up land to families, to enjoy together.