A TV show named “Gunsmoke” made its debut, and another named “Make Room for Daddy” won two Emmys. Elvis Presley and Pat Boone had young hearts all shook up, and for the first time, they could listen to those crooners and others on a new gadget called a pocket transistor radio. A new car cost $1,900, gasoline was 23 cents a gallon and rents averaged $87 a month.
It was 1955. On July 17 of that year — a year in which the last occupying troops left Austria and the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series — Disneyland opened its doors. If the first day was any indicator of its future, we might have expected Walt Disney’s amusement park to fade into oblivion, much like Georgia Gibbs’ No. 1 Billboard hit “Dance With Me Henry” did. (Quick, hum a few bars.)
The chaos of Disneyland’s debut played out in front of a national television audience, and predictions of epic failure abounded.