Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Has Disneyland ever closed?

Q: Has Disneyland ever closed and if it has when?
Daniel, Chicago, Illinois

A [Dave Smith]: Disneyland was closed on Mondays during the off-season from 1955 to 1957, and on Mondays and Tuesdays from 1958 to 1985. The park closed full days for rain 11 times between 1956 and 1992, for the national day of mourning for President Kennedy in 1963 and in 2001 at the time of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. There have been a number of other days when the park closed early because of inclement weather.

More to Know [Marcio Disney]

The last time Disneyland was closed for a day was 5/4/2005 in preparation for the 50th anniversary celebration with started on 5/5/2005. Although that day was officially closed to the public they still had VIP's and Media for previews.

Why May 05, 2005?

In an historic first, all 10 of the Disney theme parks around the world collectively kick off the festivities for the "Happiest Celebration on Earth" to mark the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. (The opening of Hong Kong Disneyland in September will add #11 to the 18-month long global celebration.)

In Anaheim, the opening ceremony for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary takes place in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Special guests include singer LeeAnn Rimes (singing "Remember When"), Art Linkletter (who co-hosted the television grand opening in 1955), and legendary actress-singer Julie Andrews (the Honorary Ambassador of the 50th anniversary and star of Mary Poppins). A special anniversary fireworks show called "Remember ... Dreams Come True" (sponsored by American Honda Motor Co.) debuts.

Down in Florida, Epcot's new Soarin' (a simulator attraction) officially opens as does the Disney-MGM Studios' Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Cinderellabration, a glittering stage show, officially premieres too - at the Magic Kingdom. Also officially debuting is Disney's Magical Express - a complimentary round-trip airport transfer for Disney World hotel guests

A Cast Member Called Lissa told us how was the 9/11 at Disneyland:

"Nothing was more eerie than working on and after 9/11. The parked was preparing to open that day when the news broke. Right away, all gates that were unlocked were quickly locked. All employees went to their emergency zones. Everyone was confused. Then, an announcement was made by one of our managers. Around noon-ish, it was officially decided not to open the park at all and most of us went home. Ticket booths stayed open to refund tickets while some stayed to turn away guests and break the bad news to them. Luckily, I wasn't there that day when it happened.

The next day, the parks were literally ghost towns. Only the hotel guests were really in the park. I remember working the monorail ticket booth (now a trading pin store) in the morning and I didn't sell a ticket. Just processed travel vouchers, sold Lion King tickets, and working as an information booth for the resort. Not a single guest walked through DTD, no planes in the sky, no music was playing on the walkway, and it was very difficult to keep a smile on anyone's face. Due to the low attendance, the parks closed earlier than scheduled. It was very surreal because only two days before it was packed. Something I'll never forget."

Other Dates:

When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
After the 1994 Northridge earthquake for inspection.

There is a difference between closing down early and not opening at all.

For death reasons, the most recent example of this is the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad accident in 2003. When that happened they cleared the entire frontierland area so you couldn't even get close enough to see the mountain. However, the rest of the park remained open.

August 06, 1970

A bizarre occurence takes place at Disneyland when 750 "Hippies" and "Radical Yippies" infiltrate the park, and take over the Wilderness Fort. They raise the Vietcong flag and pass reefers out to passersbys.

Later, they march in a Main Street parade, and sing their own lyrics to "Zipadee Doo Dah" ("Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Mihn is going to win..."). More conservative park guests try to drown them out by singing "America the Beautiful." Before the confrontation can heat up, a platoon of Anaheim Police officers in full riot gear pour into the park from backstage areas! A riot is adverted and Disneyland vice president of Operations Dick Nunis orders the park closed at 7:10 PM. For many years afterward Disneyland will selectively enforced a "dress code" at the park, occasionally refusing admission to "long-haired hippies".  (This unusual incident is the only time an outside security force has ever made a full-blown public appearance at the park.)

Everyday, Disney fans send dozens of questions for Disney Chief Archivist Dave Smith. Here are Dave's answers to your questions. Check back every day for a new post with a new question.

Dave Smith (born October 13, 1940) was the Walt Disney Archives founder and chief archivist which is located in the Frank G. Wells Building at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. He joined the company June 22, 1970. Forty years later, on July 2010, he retired.

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  2. I was in Disney Land on 9/11 and the park was open, it then sounded over the speaker that due to unforseen events the park must close, and then everyone left, most not knowing why until they turned on there radio.


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