July 17, 2010
Day 1. July 17, 1955. Fifty-five years ago today.
It was no walk in the Park. The mishaps, miscues, and mistakes of Disneyland's first day are legendary. Ladies got their high heels caught in still-soft pavement. Walt had to choose between restrooms and drinking fountains. But by the end of that day, there was a real live Magic Kingdom, and it really did go on to become "a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."
This is how Disneyland's long-lasting magic was created. Not with pixie dust, forced perspective, or audio-animatronics. But with hard work, dedication, a genuine desire to make others happy. Qualities inherent in people with the ability to make the dream a reality, polished by traditions and training that began all those "normal operating days" ago.
The principles taught to the very first Disneyland Cast made possible everything that came afterward. The more July 17ths that come between Day 1 and the present, however, the easier it is to lose sight of those principles. This video focuses on Walt Disney World, but the lessons aren't different. It doesn't take many slips—a rude employee, peeling paint, lack of value—for the "Finest in Family Entertainment" to fall painfully short of its well-deserved high expectations.
Today's a great day to review these important lessons. After all, when it's your job to create happiness, you can't take your birthday off.