Lonely Planet Writer

Own a visual history of Disneyland with this stunning new book

What do you get the Disney fan who has everything? Possibly a copy of the new book Walt Disney’s Disneyland, a detailed and beautiful visual history of the world’s most famous theme park in Anaheim, California.

A spread in the new book. Photo by Taschen

The book explores the incredible conception and development behind the attraction and continues on to chart the six decades of the park’s history since its grand opening on 17 July, 1955. The author, Chris Nichols, had access to what he calls a “treasure trove of original Disney documentation.”

Some inspiration for ‘It’s A Small World’ ride. Photo courtesy of Taschen

Inside the hardcover book, you’ll find posters, original designs and unique photographs that help trace the park’s development from acres of orange groves and walnut trees to the “happiest place on Earth”. Now Disney has theme parks all over the world but the original California park is the only one to have been personally overseen by Walt Disney himself.

Walt Disney’s Disneyland goes on a deep-dive through each of its lands, including Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street, U.S.A. There are plenty of photos from the day of the opening and some fascinating behind-the-scenes anecdotes about how the theme park came together.

Behind the scenes at Disneyland. Photo courtesy of Taschen

While the book is perfect for history aficionados and some 1950s nostalgia, the story of Disneyland is certainly not finished yet. The long-awaited Pixar Pier opened earlier this year while there are plenty of new openings to look forward to, most famously the new Star Wars Land in 2019.

For those looking for the darker side of Disney myth, however, the book is unlikely to reveal any  ‘secrets’ of Disneyland. Fans were taken by surprise earlier this year when park officials confirmed a persistent rumour; it’s a surprisingly popular place for people trying to scatter the ashes of their deceased loved ones.

Opening day at Fantasyland. Photo courtesy of Taschen

5 unusual facts about Disneyland

– It’s home to a private club called Club 33. It has a waiting list of about 15 years and a fee of $25,000 to join but on the upside, it’s the only place in the park with a fully stocked alcohol bar.
– Many feral cats live there. They are kept well fed, neutered and cared for in exchange for dealing with any rodents (apart from Mickey and Minnie). According to history, they were originally found at the site of the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
– There’s a ‘lost land’ at the park. Holidayland lasted just over four years and is now the location of backstage facilities for other famous attractions.
– Pirates of the Caribbean is the last ride at the park that Walt Disney personally oversaw and helped develop.
– The price of admission to Disneyland has risen from $10.75 in 1981 to up to $135 today, depending on demand at the time.

Walt Disney’s Disneyland is available to purchase online now.