When Disneyland Was Being Built: Rare Color Video (& Narration) Of Disneyland’s 1954-1955 Construction

Disneyland took exactly one year to build. Yep, the entire park. Times are, of course, very different now but if you think about how long it takes to build just one attraction nowadays (Seven Dwarfs Mine Train took 4 years), to say nothing of a whole land or park (hello, 6 years each for Pandoraland and California Adventure), the fact that it was done in 1 year is just amazing.

There’s been some footage that’s been shown time and time again, like Walt walking around the construction area.

Screen Shot 2019-12-01 at 9.29.34 PM

And even Disney Parks official website has posted some circa 1954 footage, like this:

That “official” video was just a minute or so of the hundreds of hours of “Disneyland Construction” footage that was discovered in Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. Yep; it was a film canister with the word “Disneyland” scribbled on the front, and someone found it and returned it to Disney.

Instead of archiving the footage somewhere where it would never see the light of day again, Tony Baxter of Walt Disney Imagineering was given the OK to go through it all and pick out the best of the best.

The resulting video he pulled from the 400 hours he watched became a 37 minute long “Easter egg” video that was included in the Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic DVD of the Walt Disney Treasures set in 2007.

The documentary is no longer readily available but sealed copies can sometimes be found for between $100 and $200 on Amazon’s secondary market.

Meanwhile, some forward-thinking YouTubers have put the Easter egg footage onto YouTube. It’s a fascinating view into the construction of Disneyland.

As the description in the video says,:

The material is presented in three parts: first, an opening section where we get to see Walt walking the property. Second is the time-lapse footage, one segment for each land. And finally, there is some video of Walt, Harper Goff and company overseeing the construction of the Jungle Cruise. Walt was famous for preserving his and his team’s thought processes (he hired stenographers to take detailed notes in every story meeting during the creation of the animated movies, and saved as many original sketches in the archives as he could), and here he realized that the construction of Disneyland would one day be something to study and reference back to. So, he set up numerous cameras and observation towers around the property to film the construction footage in time-lapse as it was happening. What we see here is an American historical landmark in all stages of construction. It’s like going back in time and seeing the building of the cathedral of Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower.

The footage itself is, of course, incredible. The video presented here is a full 37 minutes of the literally hundreds of hours of material (Tony says he sat through 400 hours. And you thought a Hobbit/Lord of the Rings marathon was bad!). This is Disneyland construction footage in full color. Time-lapse for each land. With color footage of Walt, Roy, Davy Crockett and Joe Fowler walking around. It is truly a fine treasure for the Disney history hunter.

Enjoy!

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually about 3 or 4 times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

Leave a Reply