The day was set as a 'press preview.' Only a select group of reporters, celebrities and dignitaries were invited. Unfortunately MANY forged tickets were also being distributed causing the park to be overrun with UN-invited guests.
Estimates say that over 28,000 people were at the park, far more than could be accommodated. Restaurants ran out of food, there was a gas leak that closed Fantasyland and the Mark Twain Riverboat almost sank.
Walt Disney himself did not witness any of this. Walt was busy co-hosting Dateline Disney, the live TV broadcast of the event. The program is now available on DVD.
The show had a few different hosts: Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings and Future President Ronald Reagan. Art started the event off by warning us that there may be 'problems' with the televised broadcast. He said if they tell you they are cutting to a "snapping crocodile in Adventureland" they may accidentally cut to "Irene Dunne adjusting her bustle." Sadly, Dateline Disney did not deliver it's promised 'bustle adjusting.'
As Art takes us down Main Street USA, he tells us that that we could go to the music shop to buy a "banjo or mandolin" so we could serenade the gal we were courting on the "Sunday afternoon canoe ride." Within minutes I was off to the find a banjo! Wish me luck this Sunday; I am going to Irene Dunne's house. I'll play my banjo on the canoe, then I will adjust the hell outta her bustle.
Art seems to be killing time because Walt is on his way. Walt is riding on the E.P. Ripley train and is hanging out with Mickey Mouse. Mickey had a sad looking costume. Actually ALL of the costumes on opening day were kind of lame. They looked like the homemade costume that poor kid no one liked wore in second grade. If this Mickey Mouse came to my door, he would get loose change. No candy, just loose change.
Then, it is time for the dedication ceremony Ronald Reagan is providing commentary. In his hand he holds a sheet of paper. If you look REALLY closely, you can read it. It says:
TO DO LIST:
introduce dedication ceremony
check out Irene Dunne's bustle
rule the world
tell Gorbachev to 'tear down the wall'
brag to Gorbachev about seeing Irene Dunne's bustle
The dedication goes well, and then we are told to bow our heads in silent prayer for God to bless Disneyland. REALLY!
My, how things have changed. Today the only praying you hear in Disneyland is from Michael Eisner.
Soon, we go to Tommorowland, where we are told it is showing the future. The future of 1986!
Yup. That is what Tommorowland is supposed to be. 1986. 1986 also seems pretty boring, since all we do in this part of the show is learn about the anatomy of a rocket and how an atom works.
Then Walt screws up his cue on air ands pretty angry. Calm down, Walt. Don't get your bustle in a wad.
After the dedication we see Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. driving on the Autopia miniature car attraction. I thought for sure I was dreaming. This was like when I saw that movie where Mary Tyler Moore was a nun and Elvis was an abortion doctor. Or that TV show where that kid was able to channel Rodney Dangerfield.
Things only get stranger as we get to the parade. The parade shows characters from each themed land. Bob Cummings tells us that this is the greatest 'man made parade' ever. Uh huh. As opposed to the parades that happen in nature. I guess that whole giant balloons on Thanksgiving is a natural phenomenon?
As the parade goes down the street, we see Aunt Jemima. She starts dancing like Minnie Pearl on speed. Listen carefully, you can hear the civil rights movement get pushed back 5 years.
Finally, It is time for Tommorowland's cast of characters. I turned away from the TV at this post, but being 1986 in Tommorowland, I can only imagine it included Boy George, Alf and Remington Steele.
The show ends with Walt talking to Art about the wonderful future for Disneyland. Then, they both try to put their arms around each other and end up with the most bizarre pseudo-wrestling hold ever.
I, myself, hope to put that move on Irene Dunne's bustle this Sunday.