Disneyland comes to Washington
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Receives Two Ride Vehicles from Disneyland
June 8, 2005
In a ceremony today at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, The Walt Disney Company presented objects from two of Disneyland’s opening year (1955) attractions, “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” and the “Mad Tea Party,” to the museum on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. The Dumbo and Tea Cup vehicles will be on display through Labor Day. “For more than 50 years Disneyland has inspired the imaginations of families,” said museum director Brent D. Glass. “The park sparked a revolution in public recreation and is largely responsible for the creation of the amusement park industry as it exists today.” “From Main Street U.S.A. to the futuristic vision of Tomorrowland, Disneyland has always incorporated the cultural fabric of America and these two items—Dumbo and the Tea Cup—have become incredibly familiar in the lexicon of popular culture,” said Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “During the park’s 50th anniversary, it seemed a perfect time for Disneyland to officially join hands across the continent with the Smithsonian and bring these two great American institutions together.” The two objects donated today reflect the blend of imagination, technology and business acumen that makes up American entertainment. They join a rich collection of entertainment objects in the museum, including the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” and Jim Henson’s Kermit the Frog muppet. The museum already holds Walt Disney’s pencil sketches of “Steamboat Willie,” an early iteration of what would become Mickey Mouse. “This donation is a wonderful way to commemorate 50 years of Disney theme park magic,” stated Jay Rasulo, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “From the very beginning, Disneyland has communicated the quintessentially American values of freedom and optimism to the rest of the world—and many millions of families have traveled from virtually every country to experience this national treasure for themselves.” Walt Disney’s vision contributed heartily to the foundation of the American entertainment industry. His innovative theme park allowed him to translate his iconic characters and stories into three dimensional, real-life experiences that transport park visitors into their beloved movie settings. Inspired by a 1939 children’s book, the film version of “Dumbo” premiered in movie theaters in October 1941. The Disneyland attraction inspired by the film opened in August 1955 and endures as one of the park’s most popular attractions. Disney’s 14th animated feature “Alice in Wonderland” inspired the revolving “Mad Tea Party” attraction, a staple in the park since opening day. Based on the comic character Mad Hatter’s “Unbirthday Party” in the film, the oversized tea cups spin around on a large platform, providing a truly dizzying experience. Disneyland was the brainchild of founder Walt Disney, who longed to create an amusement enterprise that he could enjoy as much as his children. Together with his creative staff of “Imagineers,” Disney pioneered the “theme park,” creating an ever-evolving concept with a vision that encompasses America itself —past, present and future. Using the relatively new medium of television to build curiosity and excitement for his entirely new idea in family entertainment, Disney created a weekly ABC television series called “Disneyland” in 1954. When Disneyland opened a year later, July 17, 1955, in Anaheim, Calif., it was filled with 28,000 visitors. In the five decades since its opening, nearly two billion guests have passed through the gates of the Disney theme parks around the world. The National Museum of American History traces American heritage through exhibitions of social, cultural, scientific and technological history. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Dec. 25. For more information, visit https://americanhistory.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000 or (202) 357-1729 (TTY).