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Friday, September 4, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: Expanding the Dream

While Roy Disney eagerly wanted to bank the riches flowing into DISNEYLAND each day, Walt saw the money as a means to expand his Magic Kingdom. He knew that the way to keep his guests happy and eager to return was to expand the park, adding new experiences and adventures. With competitors lurking, he had to set the pace.

One of the closest competitors was Pacific Ocean Park, built by a partnership that included CBS in Santa Monica. The project site was originally offered to Walt Disney as a location for DISNEYLAND. Mr. Disney rejected the site as unsuitable.

Yet another competitor opened up on the other side of the country. Freedomland, U.S.A opened in New York, utilizing many staff members who had worked for Walt Disney at DISNEYLAND. The project sought to be the "DISNEYLAND of the East".

People who scoffed at DISNEYLAND were now rushing to build their own theme parks, eager to see the same success that Walt Disney had at DISNEYLAND. While both projects had initial success (Pacific Ocean Park liked to boast that it welcomed more guests than DISNEYLAND on its first Sunday of operation) both parks eventually failed because they assumed that all they had to do was build something, then watch the money flow in. They didn't realize that DISNEYLAND was successful because Walt Disney was constantly adding to it, enhancing what was already there and emphasizing quality. It wasn't just a matter of throwing open the gates.

In 1959, Walt Disney embarked on the largest expansion up until that point. After a lengthy argument with his brother, he ended up winning the day and built the Matterhorn, the Submarine Voyage and the DISNEYLAND Monorail. It was innovation and expansion like this that made DISNEYLAND stand out and thrive.