The Original Disneyland Prospectus from 1953

via Boing Boing

While visiting Griffith Park in Los Angeles with his daughters Diane and Sharon and watching them ride the merry-go-round, Walt Disney came up with the idea of a place where adults and their children could go and have fun together. On August 31, 1948 he drafted a memo to his studio’s production designer Dick Kelsey with early ideas for a park with notes from his and Ward Kimball’s trip earlier that month to the Henry Ford Museum and the Chicago Railroad Fair.

After four years of preliminary planning with his studio staff, on December 16, 1952, Walt incorporated WED Enterprises to formally begin work on the project. In April 1953, Buzz Price and the Stanford Research Institute were commissioned to find a suitable location for the park and around August a 270 acre site, including a 160 acre orange grove, along the Santa Ana Freeway was purchased.

With a site secured, now funding for the park’s construction was needed. This proved difficult as Walt would later remark “I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible, because dreams offer too little collateral”. Without assistance from traditional investors, Walt believed the park could be paid for with an accompanying television program and the project began to look for partners. On September 24, 1953, Roy Disney received word that interested groups in New York City were prepared to meet the following week and requested materials to present to them. On September 26, Walt and Herb Ryman began work on a prospectus and over the next 42 hours created a treatment pitch and an aerial view of the park, reproduced here below.

On September 28, Roy showed the below pitch to executives at CBS and NBC. The two broadcasting behemoths passed. Running out of options, Roy returned to the Waldorf Astoria and telephoned Leonard Goldenson at ABC—a smaller network desperate to become a major broadcaster—who came over to view the plans and agreed to fund Disneyland. In exchange for $500,000 and a $4.5 million line of credit, at the time the largest deal in television history, ABC-Paramount would own 34.48 percent of the park (despite Disney being party to the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers lawsuit against Paramount at the time) with Walt Disney Productions also owning 34.48 percent, Western Publishing (publishers of Little Golden Books and Disney comics) owning 13.8 percent, and Walt personally owning 16.55 percent.

Construction began on July 16, 1954 and cost $17 million to complete. Or rather, until first opening as Walt insisted “Disneyland will never be completed [but] will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world”. One year and one day after first breaking ground, Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, hosting 28,000 first-day guests. By 1960, Walt Disney Productions would buy out all shares of Disneyland, an arrangement that would lead to the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of ABC on February 9, 1996.

But now, those treatment materials, by Herb Ryman, Imagineer, and Walt Disney, dreamer:

Map of Disneyland


Where you leave TODAY....
and visit the World of YESTERDAY

Prepared for
WED Enterprises

Copyright 1953  DISNEYLAND, INC.  World Rights Reserved


Please return to WED Enterprises
2400 West Alameda Ave., Burbank, Calif.




Blueprints of Disneyland


Like Alice stepping Through the Looking Glass, to step through the portals of DISNEYLAND will be like entering another world. Within a few steps the visitor will find himself in a small mid-Western town at the turn of the century.

THE RAILROAD STATION, situated at the main entrance to DISNEYLAND, is recommended as a starting point for the visitor. Here, you may board a 1/3 scale train pulled by a 12 ton steam engine, six feet high.

THE RAILROAD TRAIN, with its beautifully appointed coaches, takes you on a skyline tour around DISNEYLAND, where you will see from your window MAIN STREET, TRUE LIFE ADVENTURELAND, The WORLD OF TOMORROW, LILLIPUTIAN LAND, FANTASY LAND, RECREATION PARK, FRONTIER COUNTRY, TREASURE ISLAND, the home of the MICKEY MOUSE CLUB, and HOLIDAYLAND and back to CIVIC CENTER.

At the start of Main Street is CIVIC CENTER, with its Town Hall, Fire Station, Police Station and the old Opera House, which houses the broadcasting theatre for the WALT DISNEY TELEVISION SHOW. From Civic Center you can take a horse-drawn street car up Main Street or hire a surrey and driver.


MAIN STREET has the nostalgic quality that makes it everybody’s hometown. It is Main Street, U.S.A. Three blocks long, it is the main shopping district of DISNEYLAND. It has a bank and a newspaper office, and the little ice cream parlor with the marble-topped tables and wire-backed chairs. There is a penny arcade and a Nickelodeon where you can see old time movies.

On the corner is the great DISNEYLAND EMPORIUM where you can buy almost anything and everything unusual. Clothes, cowboy boots, toys, records, books, ceramics, old fashioned candies, jaw-breakers and licorice whips. Toys from all over the world. Gifts for the person who has ‘everything’. Or you can get the big mail-order catalogue and purchase by mail.

The MAIL-ORDER CATALOGUE will picture everything for sale in the Emporium or at any place in DISNEYLAND. If you want a real pony and cart or a miniature donkey thirty inches high you’ll find it in the catalogue. Or if you want the latest Disney book or toy you can order by mail and the gift will arrive wrapped in a special Disneyland paper, bearing the postmark DISNEYLAND, CALIFORNIA - direct from the Disneyland U.S. Post Office.

You’ll find quaint little restaurants on Main Street with family style cooking, and a bakery shop where Johnny can watch the baker write his name in icing on his birthday cake. Down one of the side streets is The Little Church Around the Corner. Nearby you will see the Mayor’s House... a boarding house for guests and a Little Old Red School House... Continuing along Main Street past the intriguing shops, you arrive at the Hub.


THE HUB is the cross roads of the world of DISNEYLAND. Straight ahead lies FANTASY LAND, to your left is FRONTIER COUNTRY, The World of Yesterday - and to your right is The WORLD OF TOMORROW. But between these central spokes of the wheel are other exciting avenues of adventure.


TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURELAND is entered through a beautiful botanical garden of tropical flora and fauna. Here you can see magnificently plumed birds and fantastic fish from all over the world, and which may be purchased and shipped anywhere in the U.S. if you so desire.

If you wish refreshments that are in keeping with your surroundings, there are fresh pineapple sticks, crisp cocoanut meats and exotic fruit punches made from fresh tropical fruits.

A river borders the edge of TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURELAND where you embark in a colorful Explorer’s Boat with a native guide for a cruise down the River of Romance. As you glide through the Everglades, past birds and animals living in their natural habitat....alligators lurk along the banks, and otters and turtles play in the water about you. Monkeys chatter in the orchid-flowered trees.


This is the home of the exciting WORLD OF TOMORROW TELEVISION SHOW.

A MOVING SIDEWALK carries you effortlessly into the World of Tomorrow where the fascinating exhibits of the miracles of science and industry are displayed. The theme for the World of Tomorrow is the factual and scientific exposition of Things to Come.

Participating in this are the Industries such as: Transportation, Rubber, Steel, Chemical, Electrical, Oil, Mining, Agriculture and Foods.

Among the exhibits, that will change from time to time, are The Mechanical Brain...A Diving Bell...Monorail Train...The Little Parkway system where children drive scale model motor cars over a modern freeway...Models of an atomic submarine, a Flying Saucer...The Magic House of Tomorrow, with mechanical features that obey the command of your voice like a Genie. You say ‘Please’ and the door opens, a polite ‘Thank you’ will close it.

There are shops for the scientific toys, chemical sets and model kits. Here the imaginative boy will find a space helmet to suit his needs for inter-planetary travel.

And if you are hungry, conveyor-belts will carry your food through the electronic cooking device of Tomorrow where you will see it cooked instantly to your liking.

When you enter the gigantic ROCKET SPACE SHIP to the Moon, and are safety-belted to your seat, the trip through ‘space’ will be scientifically correct. The roaring ride through the universe will depict the exploding stars, constellations, planets and comets exactly as charted, and be no less thrilling for being authentic.


A Land of Little Things.... A miniature Americana village inhabited by mechanical people nine inches high who sing and dance and talk to you as you peek through the windows of their tiny shops and homes.

In LILLIPUTIAN LAND there is an Erie Canal barge that takes you through the famous canals of the world, where you visit the scenic wonders of the world in miniature.

Here, a little diamond-stack locomotive engine 17 inches high steams into the tiny railroad station. You sit on top of the Pullman coaches like Gulliver, and the little 9 inch engineer pulls back the throttle taking you on the biggest little-ride in the land.

And for the little people who have little appetites - you can get miniature ice-cream cones, or the world’s smallest hot-dog on a tiny bun in LILLIPUTIAN LAND.


FANTASY LAND is a wonderful land of fairy tales come true within the walls and grounds of a great medieval castle whose towers loom seventy feet in the air. In the middle of the Castle grounds stands a magnificent carousel in the theme of King Arthur and his Knights.

In this land of fantasy we find the settings from the fairy tales.

RIDE-THROUGH SNOW WHITE’S adventures in the Seven Dwarfs mining car... through the diamond mines - the enchanted forest - past the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs reliving Snow White’s adventures.

WALK-THROUGH the wonderful experiences of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, as the White Rabbit takes you down the rabbit-hole, through the maze of doors, the Rabbit’s House, past The Singing Flowers, Dodo Rock, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, climaxing in the courtroom of the Queen of Hearts.

FLY-THROUGH the air with PETER PAN, over London...past Big Ben clock...beyond the second star to the right for Never-Never Land. Fly over Captain Hook’s ship...the Indian encampment...the Crocodile...Mermaid Lagoon...Through Skull Rock...

PINOCCHIO SQUARE... with Geppetto’s clock shop... Stromboli’s Puppet Show, a miniature traveling carnival....


A Leisure Land - a shady park set aside for reservations by clubs, schools or other groups for picnics and special outings. A catering service supplies special foods or lunch-in-a-basket. There is a little old-fashioned bandstand and a pavilion for dancing and entertainment and an area for games.


Where the STAGECOACH meets the TRAIN and the RIVERBOAT for its trip down the river to New Orleans.

Along FRONTIER STREET is a Harness Shop and a Blacksmith Shop, Livery Stable, Assayer’s office, Sheriff’s Office and the jail. You can get real Western food at the Chuck Wagon, and cowboy clothes, six-shooters or a silver-mounted saddle for your horse or pony at the General Store.

There is a shooting gallery, the Wells Fargo Express office and an old fashioned saloon with the longest little bar in the world serving rootbeer Western style.

Ride shotgun on the STAGE COACHES... past GRANNY’S FARM, a practical working farm operated with real live miniature horses, cows, oxen and donkeys... through the pine forest, fording streams into Indian country and through the Painted Desert.

Carry the mail on the PONY EXPRESS RIDE around the little track... and take a MULE PACK RIDE with an old prospector for a guide through the colorful mother-lode country of the pioneer days.

At the end of Frontier Street is the boat landing for the RIVERBOAT RIDE. The old stern-wheeler takes you downstream on a nostalgic cruise past the romantic river towns, Tom Sawyer’s birthplace, and the old Southern plantations.


Mickey Mouse, the best known personality in the world has his MICKEY MOUSE CLUB headquarters in DISNEYLAND. Located on Treasure Island, in the middle of the river, a fantastic hollow tree and treehouse serves as the Club meeting place. The hollow tree is several stories high, with interesting rooms and lookout spots for club members. There is a Pirate cove and buried treasure on the Island... and direct from this location the Club presents THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB TELEVISION SHOW.


HOLIDAYLAND is a showplace of SPECIAL ATTRACTIONS that change with the seasons. Its theme is as current as the calendar. Its decorations, entertainment or exhibits follow the flowers in SPRING with the Flower Festival...the Mardi Gras and special Easter activities. Mother’s Day... St. Valentine’s Day... Boy Scout week...

SUMMER brings the Fourth of July... and Circus Time... with a Circus Parade down Main Street... and under the big top, a one-ring circus with special acts from all over the world.

FALL ushers in the Harvest Festival... Hallowe’en.... Girl Scout week... Thanksgiving...

And WINTER with its ice skating rink, sleigh rides and Bob-Sled Hill with real snow... and Christmas Tree Lane that leads to Santa’s home at the North Pole.

DISNEYLAND will be the essence of America as we know it... the nostalgia of the past, with exciting glimpses into the future.

It will give meaning to the pleasure of the children - and pleasure to the experience of adults....

It will focus a new interest upon Southern California through the mediums of television and other exploitation...

It will be a place for California to be at home, to bring its guests, to demonstrate its faith in the future...

And, mostly, as stated at the beginning - it will be a place for people to find happiness and knowledge.


The idea of Disneyland is a simple one. It will be a place for people to find happiness and knowledge.

It will be a place for parents and children to share pleasant times in one another’s company: a place for teacher and pupils to discover greater ways of understanding and education. Here the older generation can recapture the nostalgia of days gone by, and the younger generation can savor the challenge of the future. Here will be the wonders of Nature and Man for all to see and understand.

Disneyland will he based upon and dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and hard facts that have created America. And it will be uniquely equipped to dramatize these dream’s and facts and send them forth as a source of courage and inspiration to all the world.

Disneyland will be something of a fair, an exhibition, a playground, a community center, a museum of living facts, and a showplace of beauty and magic.

It will be filled with the accomplishments, the joys and hopes of the world we live in. And it will remind us and show us how to make these wonders part of our own lives.