On Walt Disney's Birthday, We're Reminded of the Speech He Made at the Opening of Disneyland

On December 5, 1901, Walt Disney was born. And yes, the late mogul was a complicated man from another era, with many shitty traits about him. For the most part, though, what he brought to this world was magical and so far-reaching it’s hard to even fathom.

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Disney’s impact can be felt almost everywhere in American culture, from obvious places like filmmaking and television, to less obvious places like economic growth and community development. His impact on this country, and the world, is impossible to quantify.

So, with 2017 coming to a close, and reflecting on Disney’s birthday, I immediately recalled Disney’s speech at the opening of Disneyland in 1955. It was the day a dreammaker got to fulfill a personal dream and open his very own theme park. And that day, his message of hope and the promise of somewhere to escape became kind of the ultimate snapshot of Disney. It’s a timeless piece of history. Here’s the dedication speech.

To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

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Happy birthday Walt, thanks for everything.

Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

Happy birthday Walt, thanks for everything

I second this.

It is easy to throw stones at a big target like the larger-than-life Walt Disney. Walt himself once said that he wasn’t the Walt Disney. “Walt Disney,” he said, “doesn’t smoke. I smoke. Walt Disney doesn’t drink. I drink.”

Do you think Disney today would see that his views on women and race were wrong? I don’t know (and you don’t, either); I would like to think he would. But what is far, far more important is that WE know they are wrong.

Nobody says, “It’s okay to discriminate against women because Walt Disney would have.”

Instead, some child-at-hearts remember how they felt when their parents drove them to Disneyland the first time and as they looked through the bars of the gate and saw the Main St. Electrical Parade beyond the tunnels under the train station, they felt the wonder and the awe of it all.

Thank you, Walt.