Disneyland, 1965

The happiest landscape on Earth.

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Disneyland was built in Anaheim, California, next to suburbs and orchards. It opened in 1955. Ten years later, a man flew over in an airplane and took photographs of the new park. You can see it in the photograph above: it's the large blob southwest of the freeway offramp loops. Its parking lots extend for acres to the south. The cars, neatly lined up into rows, look like Morse code from the sky.

To the north and east, we see suburbia. To the west, orchards and a golf course.

Let's zoom in on this artificial landscape.

From here, we can begin to see the pieces of the park. The fake waters of Frontierland in the upper left. The circles and ships of Tomorrowland to the bottom right.

Everyone came in via Main Street, of course, right at 6 o'clock, closest to the parking lots.

A 1965 map of Disneyland (Jim Cofer)

Around this time, perhaps a few years earlier, a Boy Scout troop went to Disneyland. They brought a camera with them, and someone shot a series of scenes that eventually found their way into the hands of film archivist Rick Prelinger.

The film is silent. We watch Mickey lead a parade. A band plays. There's a scene filmed from a boat in Frontierland, drifting on the fake waters of American history. An animatronic Native American waves from the shore. A real human simulates a native dance. There are rides and more ships. The teacups. The teacups! Then a simulated submarine enters a cave. It all ends with a fireworks show.

This was Disneyland in 1965: a permanent World's Fair, an artificial ecosystem, a confused historical fiction, a grab bag of stereotypes, a continuous celebration of physical entertainment technology. All of it sitting in Anaheim, between orchards and tract homes.