On December 15, 1966 the unthinkable happened. Walt Disney, the visionary behind the Magic Kingdom of DISNEYLAND and so many other happy creations had passed away. The world joined his friends, family and employees in mourning his loss.
Many people within the company didn't know the extent of Mr. Disney's illness at the time. He seemed in high spirits on his last visit to his beloved DISNEYLAND and posed for some publicity shots with his best friend Mickey Mouse.
He did seem more purposeful on that visit, almost as though he was afraid he was running out of time. Most of his staff members thought nothing of it, however, since Mr. Disney had always been eager to see his dreams become reality. One imagineer noted, however, that Walt's last words to him were "good bye." Mr. Disney never typically bid anyone "good bye"; he typically would say "see you later". It's as if he sensed his time was almost up.
DISNEYLAND didn't close early on December 15, 1966. Mr. Disney wouldn't have wanted that. The park didn't even announce his death until it was closing time. Guests and castmembers gathered at Town Square in shock. The man who had willed the Magic Kingdom into existence was gone, yet his spirit seemed to surround them. Mr. Disney knew that he would not always be around to guide his Magic Kingdom, but he knew that he had firmly established a vision that would see the park through the years ahead. His faith and determination had gotten DISNEYLAND off to an amazing start and his spirit would always be a part of the magic, watching over the park forevermore.
As we reach the end of DISNEYLAND's 60th year, we'll continue to tell the story of the timeless kingdom of DISNEYLAND.