Saturday, June 15, 2019

Editor's Note: Looking for D&M article about the Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure ride now open at Universal Islands of Adventure Wizarding World? Jump to the page two after the article below or go directly HERE, plenty of videos await you including THREE Daylight On-Ride POV Videos!

Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland Matterhorn, Submarine Voyage and the Monorail with Rare LIFE Disneyland 1959 Opening Event Pictures !

It's the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland Matterhorn, Submarine Voyage, and the Monorail which all three opened during the legendary Disneyland 1959 event, often considered as Disneyland second "Grand Opening". What could be better to celebrate this 60th Anniversary of the opening on the same day of three E-Tickets attraction -  something we won't see again anytime soon - with a fantastic set of pictures shot by LIFE Magazine photographers who were there during the whole event, which started by a memorable parade before the inauguration of the three attractions.

It was for this event that Richard Nixon, at that time vice-president of Ike Eisenhower, was invited by Walt and Nixon came with his wife and their two daughters. Walt was of course there with Lilian and his grand children. The LIFE photographers who were there shot almost each minute of the event, from the parade to the new rides inauguration, and of course Nixon and his family. As you might think, i'm not at all a fan of Nixon, but here the pictures have a historical value and also you will discover dozens of new pictures with Walt that you've never seen before. You probably have seen pictures of this 1959 event and even the video of it, but not these pictures, and some of them with Walt are even unique as you will see. I've selected 110 pictures, definitely click on each picture to see them in big size!

Let's start with the 1959 event parade, and Walt and Nixon were opening it in vintage cars, each in a different vehicle with their children / grand children. I tried to put the pictures in chronological order  but as i wasn't there i'm pretty sure that the pictures order is sometime wrong, which is no big drama.

Below, the arrival backstage of Nixon with his wife Pat and their daughters Tricia and Julie, for the start of the vintage cars parade;

There we go!

Walt was right behind with his grand children, and one of them apparently didn't give a damn' about all these people applauding his grand father!

Arrival of the vintage cars on Central Plaza!

Walt is now out of his vehicle and walk towards the stage from where Nixon and VIP guests will watch the parade.

Walt talking with Nixon daughters Tricia and Julie...

Nixon moving to the stage...

Walt bringing his grand children to Diane Disney Miller. Right behind the Nixon Family, you can see Roy O. Disney and his wife Edna. 

All-right, everyone is in place, after a little talk between Nixon and Walt, the 1959 Disneyland event parade can start!

There is something new in the picture below: Nixon now have a stetson in his hands! And i suspect it was given to him because of the next parade scene, coming now.

A parade float with a saloon gun fight, believe me, you won't see this again  at Disneyland anytime soon!

Yes, the great Guy Williams as Zorro was there too!

No kidding, a fleet of Autopia cars part of the parade and moving on Main Street! Here is something else that you won't see at Disneyland ever again!

On the left, the man who was king, looked on the right with envy... by the man who wanted to be king! Nixon will have to wait 10 more years before becoming President.

Below in the center, Art Linkletter, sitting next to the notorious gossip columnists Hedda Harper!

Lilian, taking care of her grand children.

Unbelievable, Clint Eastwood was there too during this memorable day! At that time Clint was already very popular for his role in the Rawhide TV Series.

After the parade, Nixon and family went to enjoy a drink and ice cream at what seems to me to be Disneyland Plaza Inn...

Apparently it was time for them to move for the rides inauguration...

We'll start with some pictures of the Matterhorn opening ceremony with the dancers, singers and mountaineers climbing to the top of the mountain!

Then, it was time for the Submarine Voyage Inauguration to happen and guests could also discover for the first time the Disneyland mermaids in the submarine lagoon!
Hi girls, how are you doing?

And now, here are the pictures which i think are truly unique. Walt and the Nixon Family did of course the submarine ride and, although we've seen before pictures of Walt outside the submarine for the attraction grand opening, i may be wrong but i think this is the very first time that we can see pictures of Walt INSIDE the submarine and enjoying the ride with others guests. As i considered these pictures exceptionnals i've put the whole series with pictures of the ride scenes shot the same day by LIFE photographers through the sub windows.

The Submarine Voyage ride was over and it was time to go out to inaugurate the Disneyland Monorail...

...filmed by cameras of the ABC network!

Arrival of the Nixon family on the monorail platform...

Some talks before the arrival of the monorail...

Here comes the Disneyland Monorail for his first official trip around Disneyland, but not outside or up to the Disneyland Hotel yet as the Monorail track expansion will come only in 1961.

Richard Nixon performing his Monorail grand opening speech...

Then came the famous sequence with Tricia and Julie Nixon trying desperately to cut the ribbon with giant scissors which will never cut...

Walt starts to realize the scissors problem and in a few seconds he will jump to help Nixon daughters...

No way to have these bloody scissors cutting the ribbon! Walt had no other choice than to tore up the ribbon with his hands!

That's it, the Nixon family is inside the monorail with Lilian Disney...

...and Walt has joined them!

Yoi don'tknow it but those photographs also capture an incident that Disneyland Monorail designer/conductor Bob Gurr likes to tell, jesting about “kidnapping” Nixon, because his security men did not expect the monorail to leave the station yet! They were very upset being left behind on the loading platform! The story goes that Nixon was having so much fun about it, that they went around twice just to tease them more. Bob, who built the train was driving it, because it had never quite worked yet (having only gone around -once- without failing before!), he thought it was all just for photos, not an actual ride through that day, but Walt of course wanted to show off his new toys said, ‘let’s go’!

Back to Tommorowland it was time for the Nixon family and Walt and Lilian to step out of the monorail, and it's with this picture that we will end this great article, with all my thanks again to LIFE Magazine photographers!

Pictures: copyright LIFE Magazine