Just over 64 years ago, in the week of July 17, 1955, Walt Disney’s new theme park, “Disneyland,” opened to the public in Anaheim, California. Disneyland reportedly saw a million visitors pass through its gates in the first few weeks.
Seven years later (50 years ago), American astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon and uttered those immortal words: “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Those who witnessed the event say it was a rare moment of global unity – as though the world held its collective breath at the enormity of the achievement.
There have been other moments of ‘creative unity’ but these two struck me for two reasons. The first is they brought together humanity across borders. The second is they are both great examples of creativity that inspired, and still inspire, people – they both started something that still captures our imagination.
While very different endeavours, they both still bring hope and joy to many people.
Anthony Phillipson – the director of 8 Days: To The Moon and Back, said the moon landing was the last time humanity was one, with no borders or boundaries, and people were unified by a common achievement.
The same can be said for the impact Walt Disney and Disneyland. Walt Disney’s goal was to connect with people’s hearts and to give them a break from their lives that were full of work and stress, and to give them the opportunity to just relax and have a god time, irrespective of culture.
The Atlantic.com just published images of Disneyland from when it opened. If you have been there, or even if you haven’t, the images quickly remind you of the magic that is Disneyland. Take a little time-machine tour through the earliest days of the park here.
The recent media coverage and stories about the moon landing have also reminded people about the ‘magic’ that made that happen. Many of the stories that have emerged illustrate the creative minds that made something so incredible be successful.
As Walt Disney said “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” He always intended there would be new experiences and attractions to keep generations after generations coming back year after year.
In a similar vein. mankind is still looking to the moon and beyond. As NASA’s chief scientist said “for me, I’m in the Apollo generation… but … when we landed Curiosity down on Mars, we had the world’s attention. It was just unbelievable, and I immediately recognised there is a new generation in town, and it’s the Mars generation.”
I’m not sure if Walt Disney’s vision of Tomorrowland ever included the new Star Wars attractions, or the likes of Buzz Lightyear (rather than Buzz Aldrin), but there is no doubt Disney’s continued creativity is still bringing people together, and we are all holding our breath for the next achievement.