Disney Attractions From Opening Day (That You Can Still Ride!)

disneyland partners statue
Credit: Disney

This week marks the birthday of the original Disneyland Park, which opened on July 17, 1955. In the decades since then, the Walt Disney Company has built over a dozen other theme parks and multiple hotels worldwide and continues to be a leader in the tourism and theme park industry.

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When the original theme Park opened, there were multiple issues, including ride breakdowns, counterfeit tickets, food shortages, and extreme weather. But on that first day, despite the challenges, many Guests loved the original idea behind Disneyland. So in honor of the theme park’s 68th birthday, let’s explore some of its original rides and attractions – ones you can still enjoy if you visit Anaheim today!

Jungle Cruise

Walt Disney During Jungle Cruise Renovation

Credit: Renie Bardeau for Disneyland

This Disney classic exists in various versions throughout Disney Resorts. Most famous for its pun-telling skippers and audio animatronic animals, the original ride was more serious than the current version today. However, its props, storytelling elements, and overall experience mimic the same ambiance from its debut.

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The Mad Tea Party

Mad Tea Party

Credit: Disney

Although the “teacups” is a ride that various theme parks worldwide have copied, this version is the most famous. Themed to Alice in Wonderland (1951), which had only been out a couple of years when Disneyland opened, Guests can still spin themselves into a dizzying frenzy 68 years later.

Disneyland Railroad

Mickey Floral Design by Disneyland park

Credit: Disney

Inspired by Walt Disney’s backyard model train, the Disneyland Railroad transported park Guests around the theme park. Although changes have been made through the years, such as taking Guests through dioramas depicting the Grand Canyon and Primeval World, it’s still in operation today.

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Peter Pan’s Flight

peter pan's flight

Credit: Disney

Today, Peter Pan’s Flight remains one of the most popular attractions in Fantasyland. When it first debuted, it set a new standard for dark rides by taking Guests on a “flight” over London and through the story of Peter Pan. Although it has been refurbished and updated somewhat through the years, it maintains its classic structure and layout.

Main Street Cinema

Steamboat Willie animation

Credit: D23

One of Disney’s simplest original attractions, this in-park theater once played silent (non-Disney) films as an homage to the film industry. Although Guests can still stop in today for a few minutes to cool down or take a break, the cinema now shows classic Disney shorts such as Steamboat Willie (1928).

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Toad Hall Restaurant

Toad Hall Restaurant, Credit: Disney

Based on Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was one of the more thrilling rides at Disneyland when it opened (remember there was no Star Wars, Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, or Space Mountain). Although the movie from the ’40s is not as famous today as older classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) or Pinocchio (1940), the dark ride still gets a fair amount of traffic. It’s also one of the few Disney attractions without a happy ending: The grand finale literally sends riders rolling into hell.

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Credit: Disney

At the time of Disneyland’s opening, this was a futuristic take on American highways. When it opened, it was one of the most unique attractions, allowing children to get behind the wheel and drive (to a maximum of 11 mph). It, too, has been updated many times throughout the years, but it can still be enjoyed today.

Canal Boats of the World

Storybook Canals

Credit: Disney

Known today as Storybook Land Canal Boats, this opening-day attraction was intended to take Guests through miniature models of international landmarks. But due to technical issues, the ride was refurbished only shortly after opening day to take Guests through Disney movie scenes. It was also then renamed Storybook Land Canal Boats.

King Arthur’s Carousel

Disneyland Vintage

Credit: Disney

The carousel is a classic theme park attraction (and one of Lillian Disney’s favorite rides). This particular carousel was a renovated version of a vintage merry-go-round from the Sunnyside Amusement Park in Toronto. Walt Disney and his team updated the animals to be exclusively horses so that Guests could gallop like knights of the round table.

Snow White and Her Adventures

Evil Queen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Credit: Disney

Though it’s been in Disneyland since the beginning, this attraction has undergone plenty of changes. It originally debuted as Snow White and Her Adventures, but it was renamed Snow White’s Scary Adventures in 1983 to reflect better the ride’s elements that terrified children. The ride has since been toned down and was reimagined a few years ago as Snow White’s Enchanted Wish.

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Casey Jr. Circus Train

This mini-railroad attraction is based on Dumbo (1941). It takes Guests through many of the same settings in the Storybook Land Canal Boats but at a much quicker and more thrilling pace. Although it was an opening-day attraction, it was closed the next day for safety testing and reopened two weeks later. Nevertheless, it is still in operation today in Fantasyland.

Mark Twain Steamboat

This attraction, like others on the list, has since been renamed. Today, you will find it called the Mark Twain Riverboat. The 14-minute boat ride takes Guests around the Rivers of America.

Mark Twain Riverboat

Credit: Disney

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This is a sampling – not a complete list – of EVERYTHING that remains in Disneyland today from its original opening 68 years ago. Certain icons, such as Sleeping Beauty Castle and various shops, eateries, and aesthetics, are still staples today. If readers have not been to Disneyland Park – it’s worth it! Although the layout and many rides are similar to the Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando – there are many differences. Pirates of the Caribbean has extra scenes, Space Mountain has an entirely different track and layout, and there several rides that aren’t in Florida, such as an Indiana Jones thrill ride, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and an Alice in Wonderland dark ride.

Exterior of Sleeping Beauty Castle

Credit: Disney

Not to mention, it’s the original park built by Walt Disney himself, with a history and nostalgic ambiance that is hard to feel at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s a must-do for any Disney fan!

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About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)