The summer of 1955 was magical for two children living in Southern California. Like thousands of others, they visited Disneyland.
But, unlike their peers, the visit by cousins Bill Krauch and Sybil Stanton was part of a revealing peak at the Magic Kingdom weeks before the park opened to the public. Walt Disney personally served as their host and tour guide.
"It was all arranged by our uncle, Robert R.H. Krauch, who was the managing editor of the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald-Express," said Bill Krauch, a resident of Santa Ynez who was 12 years old and living in West Los Angeles at the time of the historic trip.
The Herald-Express was the afternoon newspaper. The Los Angeles Times was the morning newspaper.
"The Herald Express wanted to do a pre-opening story on Disneyland," Bill continued. "I'm not sure how they decided they wanted two kids, but it makes sense considering it was Disneyland."
Uncle Robert's children were too old, so he and his wife selected a boy, Bill, from one side of the family, and a girl, Sybil Stanton, then 9, from the other side of the family. Bill's sister, Nikki Lee, lives in Vacaville and told The Reporter about her brother's story.
"We were the favorite niece and nephew of an appropriate age. We filled the bill," Sybil said during a phone call from her home in Newport Beach. Just before the historic trip, Sybil's family had moved from San Gabriel to Tustin.
With Walt Disney, the kids spent about five hours in the park that were crammed full of activities and photo opportunities.