Sleeping Beauty's castle in Fantasyland is overrun by children crossing drawbridge over moat. Inside, Disney plnas a model torture chamber.
Caption from LIFE. Sleeping Beauty's castle in Fantasyland is overrun by children crossing drawbridge over moat. Inside, Disney plans a model torture chamber.Loomis Dean—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Sleeping Beauty's castle in Fantasyland is overrun by children crossing drawbridge over moat. Inside, Disney plnas a model torture chamber.
One of Disneyland's boat rides, Anaheim, California, 1955.
Rides at Disneyland in 1955.
People riding the teacup ride at Disneyland Amusement Park, 1955.
People riding a riverboat at Disneyland Amusement Park, 1955.
Disneyland Parade done as a preview for national television, 1955.
Planted flowers forming design of Mickey Mouse's face, with Disneyland train in background, 1955.
Mickey Mouse riding the Circus train at Disneyland which is a replica of Casey Jr.'s train used in the movie Dumbo ,1955.
Disneyland rides in 1955.
Children scared during Snow White ride at Disneyland Amusement Park, 1955.
Cups and saucers filled with squealing children as paying guests while through park's Fantasyland at Disney's "Mad Hatter's Tea Party."
Showgirl performers taking a break and having a drink at Disneyland Amusement Park, 1955.
People resting by TWA rocket at Disneyland Amusement Park, 1955.
Disneyland rides, 1955.
A family at Disneyland in 1955.
Disneyland rides in 1955.
Caption from LIFE. Sleeping Beauty's castle in Fantasyland is overrun by children crossing drawbridge over moat. Inside,
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Loomis Dean—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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See Photos of Disneyland When It Opened in 1955

Updated: Aug 10, 2018 4:35 PM ET | Originally published: Jul 17, 2015

If a dream is a wish your heart makes, then Disneyland was, as LIFE declared one month after it opened on July 17, 1955, “the stuff children’s dreams are made on.” The brand new park featured a Frontierland complete with Davy Crockett museum, an Adventureland with hydraulically operated jungle animals and, of course, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, which would soon include a model torture chamber.

The $17 million park, built on a 160-acre site, was “the most lavish amusement park on earth,” but its opening day was a disaster. Traffic was backed up for hours, delaying celebrity guests. The temperature crept above 100 degrees, causing heels to sink into soft asphalt, while a plumbers’ strike decommissioned all water fountains. Oh, and there was a gas leak, too. Practically everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

Some parents also expressed dismay at the prices. “Disney had expected that $2 would see a child through enough of his $17 million wonderland, but mothers said twice that was needed to keep any enterprising small boy pacified,” LIFE wrote. Today, admission for a child under 10 is $93—not including the Mickey ears, Frozen wand or Goofyroni & Cheese.

But, said those mothers back in 1955, “as they emerged spent and spinning… it was probably well worth it.”

Walt Disney standing in front of Fantasyland Castle at Disneyland. Allan Grant—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images 

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

Correction, Aug. 10, 2018:
A caption in the original version of this gallery misstated the name of a train ridden by Mickey Mouse. The photo shows the Disneyland Railroad, not the Dumbo-inspired Casey Jr. Circus Train.

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