ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Uncle Walt, the storyteller, saw it this way: "Disneyland is like Alice stepping through the looking glass; to step through the portals of Disneyland will be like entering another world."
And if the locals were at first perplexed -- "What's a Disneyland?" -- lore would soon have it that the magical kingdom sprang from the orange groves as if, well, by magic.
In the 50 years since Walt Disney flung open his gates on July 17, 1955, more than 500 million "guests" have stepped through his portals, willingly surrendering to his fanciful notion that "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy."
Disney's vision has transformed not just Anaheim, but the American consciousness. His creation was a story he would tell Americans about themselves, about "the essence of the things that were good and true." Yet the storyline appeals to people the world over. When Hong Kong Disneyland opens in September, it will make for a total of 11 Disney theme parks on three continents, each as much a state of mind as a destination.