A Sketch of Tomorrowland in 1955

Tomorrowland Sketch

Tomorrowland Sketch

By Koseli. Image found here via Work

Like so many of you, my first time at Disneyland was a magical experience. I don’t remember long lines, sticky rides, or impatient  employees — I remember sprinting into the park at 7:30 AM, wearing matching Mickey Mouse overalls and purple JCPenny fanny packs with my little sister, and tirelessly riding ride after ride in a euphoric haze. We were not the family that ate the roasted turkey legs or overpriced icey pineapple drinks — our family of nine worked the heck out of Disneyland for seven solid hot days, from open until close everyday. We maintained our energy with only peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars, and Tang stuffed in our backpacks and pockets. And it was absolute, complete heaven. To this day, those seven days in Disneyland are some of my very happiest and most vivid from my childhood.

These gorgeous sketches of Tomorrowland from a1955 pencil layout for a newspaper capture that magic and childlike optimism that I think we all crave, and find in tiny pieces in places like Disneyland. This particular text in the sketch stuck out to me: 1955 becomes 1986 as you enter the new era — Tomorrowland where our hopes and dreams for the future become today’s realities. 

Let’s talk about Disneyland. What are your favorite memories? Or, have you never been? Any first-timers planning a trip this summer? I should note: I have friends who have a real distaste for theme parks. Perhaps you fall in that camp and Disneyland holds no appeal for you?

P.S. — Did you know Gabrielle was born in Southern California and is also a big Disneyland fan?

18 thoughts on “A Sketch of Tomorrowland in 1955”

  1. I *am* a fan. But I miss the days of supreme customer service and *reasonable* pricing. : ( Nothing breaks my heart like seeing a family I know has saved to make this “very special vacation”, folks who have driven a day or more to get here, only to see them standing in very hot very long lines, insuring they must stay 2-3 days to get it all in.) We live in SoCAL so we go there for things like dinner and people watching. Because we are “regulars” we also notice the lack of maintenance that used to set them apart. Back in the day, you never saw wear or rust, you never saw an actual mouse (shudder), you never had to say “ugh, let’s walk past *this* restroom, knowing that there are a few places where the restrooms are always unkempt and icky.

    Walt and Roy and definitely missed.

  2. I am a huge Disneyland fan. It is where some of my best childhood memories were made. I grew up in Southern California and my family would save our pennies and plan a trip to Disneyland. I now live on the East Coast and take my family out west to visit Disneyland, rather than Disney World. I stay loyal to my West Coast roots.

  3. I’ve never felt the desire to go. It turns me off and seems like just an overpriced tourist trap. I’d much rather spend the day at a smaller, local amusement park. The kids have so much fun without the hassle of hours online! Of course, this disappoints my mom to no end! :-)

  4. I’m an East-Coaster, so I grew up with occasional trips to Walt Disney World in Florida, and even though we don’t have children, my husband and I still go every year. So you could say I’m a big Disney parks fan. Okay HUGE Disney Parks fan.

    But I have to say, in 2005 I got to see Disneyland as an adult with my mother (who cried, because that was the castle she saw on TV as a child) and it’s 100x more adorable than the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Add in the knowledge that Walt himself walked those streets and it’s magic!

  5. I lived in Florida and have visited Disney World as a kid more times than I can count, but my first visit was to Disneyland at age 5. I still have the hand-drawn caricature of me reading a book – it’s framed and hanging in my son’s room. I love that I have that special souvenir. And I got to go with my cool California cousins, which made it even more special (They had long hair! And rode skateboards!)

  6. I grew up on the east coast, so my very first trip was to Disneyworld. I now live in SoCal, and I find Disneyland so vintage and so charming! We avoid the vendors and pack peanut butter sandwiches and drinks. It’s pricey, but light years ahead of any other amusement park. And the SoCal weather just can’t be beat.

  7. We went to Disneyland once as a child. I still have very fond memories. Since having kids of our own, we’ve gone twice, and leave on Friday for a short trip. Both my huband and I loved it as kids, and now love sharing that with our kids.

    This will be their 3rd trip (for the older 2) and first for the baby.

    What I love about Disneyland is that it is fun for just about everyone. This time will be special as the grandparents are going with us, as well as some uncles and aunts.

  8. I grew up in San Francisco, but had grandparents in Southern California, so I was fortunate to go every couple of years growing up. I even remember the ticket booklets with A-E rides from when I was very young! Then I moved to Los Angeles for college (and the 8 years beyond that), so the annual pass was a wonderful splurge I kept up with for most of those 12 years. Now I live in Maryland with my husband and children and miss Disneyland terribly, having lived only a couple miles away for the last 6 years in California. We saved our money and last summer we took the kids for a couple days. There is no place like Disneyland! We had an amazing time.

  9. We live two miles from Disneyland and until recently, we were annual pass holders (my 11 year old son decided that he’s had enough for awhile, even with me telling him that some people wait their whole life to visit the park just once…he was unimpressed!). I have very fond memories of the ticket days and I still have some of them. The ticket days were great because parents just paid a general admission fee (I think it was less than $5.00) and then you had to spend the majority of your cash on ticket books. But my older brothers used to go on the weekends to dance and meet girls. I have even been fortunate enough to dine at Club 33, not just once, but four times! Quite an experience. As a seasoned passholder, my advice to anyone wanting a better Disneyland experience is to try and go “off-season.” Avoid the summer, if possible, and go during the week. We always found going on Tuesdays thru Thursdays were pretty good. Sunday mornings right when the park opens are really good too. Our best record was 9 rides before 11:00am!

  10. I live in Southern California – but did not go to Disneyland until I was 30! :-) We are Annual Passholders now and go about 20 times/year – always on the off days, (rainy days are the best). One year I actually went to Disneyland almost every week – it was the year that my identical twin daughters were stillborn, and I had a toddler daughter at home – and the only thing that pulled me out of my grief was to go with my daughter to Disneyland and ride the Carousel with her. True story! We went A LOT that year! Anyhoo- I have written about most of my Disneyland trips on my blog – here is the link to those entries!




  11. I love Disneyland! My grandparents live in Southern California so even though my family lived in the Midwest (growing up), we went a few times when we would visit them. I have the best memories! My husband and I have been in Phoenix for 9 years and have taken our girls to Disneyland several times, and they loved it. There is something so magical about seeing it through their eyes and somehow almost being able to slip back into being a kid again when you are there. We are moving much further away and have talked about whether we should do Disney World instead or just fly back to Disneyland. I wonder if it would even be the same or if we would just miss how Disneyland is set up.

  12. My parents took our family to Disneyland when I was 12, and my sister was 9, from Sydney, Australia! I have the best memories from that trip, and the five marathon days we spent there. No other parks compare :) My parents had also grown up watching the show, and I think my Mum was even more excited than we were to see it all in person!

  13. Never been to Disneyland, Disneyworld or any of the Disneys. I now have a 5yo son (turning 6 in two weeks) and a 7 month old and live on the West Coast, so I am sure we will inevitably go there. However, my son would really rather go to LegoLand – and we are visiting in November.

  14. My family is Disney obsessed! I, too remember my mid-80’s first trip to Disneyland with the family. My husband and I even took our honeymoon in Disneyland. Now, that we live closer (although, still plenty far) to Disneyworld, we’ve been able to take our kids twice. Those two trips are full of a lot of my very fondest family memories! We have a photo album that gets flipped through several times a week, where the kids are full of the “remember when we did that!”, type of comments. As soon as we get home, I start secretly scheming our next trip (shhh, don’t tell me husband!).

  15. Thanks so much for this post! [insert hearts and love here.] I grew up in Northern CA and went to Disneyland several times growing up. I think I was a baby when my parents first took my brother and I there. My first memory of Disney is crying because I didn’t want to go into the haunted mansion. I put up such a stink my mom took me onto It’s a Smallworld instead. :) That was my favorite ride for years. I also remember being terrified of Space Mountain and the Matterhorn. I didn’t go on those until I was a teenager, and then I loved it! We always tried to go off season when lines weren’t so long. I went there on a senior graduation trip, then many times with my best friend during college. We’d hop in the car and drive 8 hours. Go to disney on Saturday and Sunday and then get into the car upon closing and drive 8 hours home to make it back for class on Monday. So needless to say it’s near and dear to my heart. For my 40th bday this fall, I’m taking my son for his first time to disneyworld. Can’t wait!

  16. I think going to Disney is such a right of passage for a child! Sure, it’s not the same as it used to be, but oh my goodness is it wonderful. It will always be a magical place, I think.

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