As Disneyland® park prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary with biggest celebration in Disney history, what better time to honor its creator and chief architect. Disneyland® is, said Walt Disney, "a world...seen through the eyes of my imagination – a place of warmth and nostalgia, of illusion and color and delight." After five decades, Walt Disney's spirit is still felt throughout Disneyland®. Explore the history of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom with the man himself.
A FAIRY-TALE CASTLE. Imagineer Herb Ryman's artwork (left) first visualized the fanciful entrance way to Fantasyland, which Walt called "the happiest kingdom of all." Referred to during early planning as the Medieval Castle and later as Snow White Castle, the main symbol of the Magic Kingdom was ultimately christened in honor of Walt's then-in-production animated feature, Sleeping Beauty. When park construction began in 1954, Walt decreed that the castle was to be built first to symbolize his vision, a role this central Disneyland icon has filled ever since. Rising only 77 feet above the moat, known as Lake of the Swans, Walt planned his fortress to be graceful and inviting, a true palace of the people – while the Disney family crest emblazoned over the entrance acknowledges this kingdom's monarch. Here (right) Walt presents the castle model, the top half of which had been accidentally turned backwards – a "mistake" that Walt liked and incorporated into the final design, creating one of the most photographed landmarks in the world.