How Much Did Disneyland Cost When It Opened Compared With Today?

Disneyland 'A' Ticket

Disneyland ‘A’ Ticket

Ever wonder what it would be like to visit Disneyland back in 1955? To stroll the barely solidified pavement and see the park in its infancy?

Maybe you’d bump into Uncle Walt having lunch at the Chicken Plantation Restaurant before checking out the Indian Village? How about forking over a C-ticket to ride the Jungle Cruise?

Today, we’re used to the modern all-day, all-attraction type of Disneyland. As a die-hard Disney fan, I know all about the famous A-E ticket system that used to rule the park, but it was phased-out before I was even born.

While working on The Ultimate Guide To Disneyland Annual Passports, the thought occurred to me:

If I could go back in time and visit Disneyland the year it opened, how much would it cost for me to ride everything at the park like I expect to do now?

On this page, I’ll walk you through the steps I took to make an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison for tickets to Disneyland in 1955 and Disneyland today, including some interesting things I learned along the way.

1. How Many Attractions Did Disneyland Have in 1955?

It’s hard to compare the price of admission to the park today with what it cost in 1955 for several reasons.

  1. The park had about half the number of attractions it now has.
  2. Park admission and ride tickets were sold separately, with the famous A-C tickets.
  3. There was only one theme park, Disneyland, and no place to ‘hop to’ like we have today.

When it opened, Disneyland had a number of temporary rides and shows that passed rather quickly. Other attractions followed shortly afterwards that same year, the last being the Mike Fink Keel Boats near Christmas of 1955.

The first step for our comparison is to count the number of attractions that we could visit/ride the first year. Simplified, here’s what was open in 1955:

Ticket-LevelNumber Of Attractions
Free With Admission9
A-Ticket7
B-Ticket9
C-Ticket12
$.50 Special Ticket1

As you can see, there we 38 attractions open by the end of 1955. If you’d like more detailed information, I’ve included several tables at the bottom of the page showing which attractions were open and at what ticket-level. You can jump down and take a look if you want.

2. How Much Did Disneyland Tickets Cost In 1955?

Now that we know how many attractions we could have visited, the next step is to figure out the price of tickets.

When Disneyland first opened, and for many years after, guests were charged separately for admission to the park and attraction tickets, similar to a travelling carnival. Adults could get in for $1 and rides cost between 10-30 cents each.

Ticket-LevelCost in 1955What It Would Cost in 2015**
A-Ticket$.10$.87
B-Ticket$.20$1.74
C-Ticket$.30$2.62
8-Ticket Book*$2.50$21.80
* The 8 ticket book included one adult admission.
** All inflation calculations on this page courtesy US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Then in October 1955, the famous A-E ticket system was created, though at the time D and E-ticket rides had yet to be invented. Tickets could be bought individually throughout the park or in an 8-ticket book that included an admission discount of $.10.

1955 Disneyland 8-Ticket Book
Ticket LevelNumber In Book
A-Ticket3
B-Ticket2
C-Ticket3

You didn’t have to pay extra for everything though. Some venues, like the Golden Horseshoe Revue and Dutch Boy Paints Color Gallery were free with admission. Another show, The Mickey Mouse Club Circus, required a separate $.50 ticket.

3. How Many Tickets Would It Take To Visit Every Attraction In 1955?

We have established that there were 38 rides at Disneyland the year it opened. We also know the prices for both the 8-ticket book and the individual A-C tickets themselves.

Now we’ll look at how much it would cost to buy that all-attraction, all-inclusive vacation we enjoy today, but back in 1955.

Using Individual A-C Tickets

First, we’ll take a look at what it would cost if we paid the full price for admission and only bought individual attraction tickets.

Ticket-Level# Of AttractionsCost in 1955Total Cost
Free9
A-Ticket7$.10$.70
B-Ticket9$.20$1.80
C-Ticket12$.30$3.60
$.50 Special Ticket1$.50$.50
Sub-Total$6.60

As you can see in the table below, to buy separate tickets for everything and pay for admission, the cost would come to $7.60.

ItemCost in 1955
Attraction Tickets$6.60
Admission$1.00
Cost For All-Attraction, All-Day 1955 Disneyland Vacation$7.60

Combining The 8-Ticket Book With Attraction Tickets

Thanks to our friends at the Disney History Institute, we know that the original 8-ticket book from October 1955 sold for $2.50, saving you $.10 on admission when compared with paying for everything separately like we did above.

If we bought the 8-ticket book, here’s what our costs would be for an all-attraction day at Disneyland:

Ticket-Level# Of AttractionsTickets From BookCost For Extra Tickets
Free9
A-Ticket73$.40
B-Ticket92$1.40
C-Ticket123$2.70
$.50 Special Ticket1$.50
Sub-Total$5.00

As the table below shows:

Towards the latter half of 1955 it would cost $7.50 to experience an all-attraction Disneyland vacation like we have today.

This would save us $.10 over paying for everything separately and this is the number we’ll use to compare against the current price.

ItemCost in 1955
Attraction Tickets$5.00
8-Ticket Book (Including Admission)$2.50
Cost For All-Attraction, All-Day 1955 Disneyland Vacation$7.50

4. How Does A 1955 All-Attraction Disneyland Vacation Compare To Today?

Cost in 1955Cost in 2015Cost Of 2015 Disneyland Single-Park Ticket
Cost For An All-Attraction, All-Day Disneyland Vacation$7.50$65.40$99

When adjusted to 2015 dollars, the cost to do everything at Disneyland in 1955 was $65.40, or about $33 cheaper than it is today. We now have a baseline ticket cost with which to compare all future price changes.

So why does it cost more today? Here are a few quick answers I can think of:

A. There Are More People On The Planet

YearWorld Population
19552.7 Billion
20157.2 Billion

There are 160% more people on the planet than in 1955. And the area of Disneyland has not increased substantially in many years.

More people in essentially the same space = Overcrowding

B. People Have More Disposable Income

Based on the most recent US Census Bureau statistics:

YearMedian Household IncomeIn 2015 Dollars
1955$4,400$38,370
2013$52,250$52,250

Between Disneyland’s opening and today, the average American family has experienced earning increase of about $14,000 per year. While other household expenses have certainly increased as well, a chunk of this excess certainly qualifies as disposable income. Income that makes is easier for more people to visit Disneyland more often.

C. Disneyland Has More To Do Now

We concluded that the park had 38 attractions in 1955. Today it has over 60, not to mention a sister park (Disney California Adventure) sitting next door.

And not only have the number of rides and shows increased, many are superior to anything that existed in Disneyland’s first year (I can hear the outrage that last sentence will cause). There was no Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Matterhorn, Star Tours, or Audio-Animatronics of any kind in 1955.

Better rides = Higher value = Increased price.

I talk about these issues a lot more in my article 5 Reasons Disneyland Doesn’t Want More Annual Passholders, so check it out and let me know what you think. Also, take a look at the tables at the bottom of this page for the specifics on 1955 attractions and ticket-levels.

Conclusion

It certainly does cost more to visit Disneyland today, but not as much as you’d think. And these numbers are not entirely complete. For example, they don’t include the increased cost of parking or food. They also cover a very finite period in the history of the park.

Nor do they take into account multiple visits to the same attraction on the same day, like today’s all-inclusive tickets allow. If you were to do everything we discussed above and ride the Jungle Cruise 3 more times the same day, it could cost an extra $.90, or $7.85 in 2015 dollars, bringing the modern total to $73.25!

Can you imagine some Skipper with his hand out every time you wanted to go?

What do you think about the difference in 1955 Disneyland prices compared with today? Which “park” would you rather visit? Let me know in a comment below. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

[Disney AP Guide Blurb]
[Mail Chimp Post-Bottom Signup Form]

1955 Disneyland Attractions And Ticket Levels

Back to the top

Below is a list of all the attractions Disneyland had in 1955, though not all existed on opening day (July 17, 1955), as well as the ticket required to ride each:

Disneyland Attraction Grouped By ‘Land’

1955 ‘Lands’1955 Disneyland AttractionsTicket-Level
Main Street, USA
Fire WagonA
Main Street ArcadeFree
Main Street CinemaA
Main Street Shooting GalleryB
Santa Fe & Disneyland RailroadC
Street CarsA
SurreysA
Adventureland
Jungle CruiseC
Frontierland
Conestoga WagonB
Davy Crockett Frontier MuseumFree
Freight TrainB
Golden Horseshoe RevueFree
Indian VillageFree
Mark Twain RiverboatC
Mike Fink Keel BoatsC
Mule PackC
Stagecoach RideC
Fantasyland
Canal Boats Of The WorldB
Casey Jr. Circus TrainB
Dumbo Flying ElephantsB
King Arthur CarrouselA
Mad Tea PartyB
Mickey Mouse Club Circus$.50 Extra
Mickey Mouse Club TheaterB
Mr. Toad’s Wild RideC
Peter Pan FlightC
Snow White’s AdventuresC
Tomorrowland
AutopiaC
Circarama, USAC
Dutch Boy Paints Color GalleryFree
Kaiser’s Hall of Aluminum FameFree
Monsanto Hall Of ChemistryFree
Rocket To The MoonC
Space Station X-1A
Thimble Drome Flight CircleFree
Tomorrowland BoatsB
20,000 Leagues Under The SeaA
The World Beneath UsFree

Disneyland Attractions Grouped By Ticket-Level

Ticket-LevelAttraction
Free
Davy Crockett Frontier Museum
Dutch Boy Paints Color Gallery
Golden Horseshoe Revue
Indian Village
Kaiser’s Hall of Aluminum Fame
Main Street Arcade
Monsanto Hall Of Chemistry
 A
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Fire Wagon
King Arthur Carrousel
Main Street Cinema
Space Station X-1
Street Cars
Surreys
B
Canal Boats Of The World
Casey Jr. Circus Train
Conestoga Wagons
Dumbo Flying Elephants
Freight Train
Mad Tea Party
Main Street Shooting Gallery
Mickey Mouse Club Theater
Tomorrowland Boats
C
Autopia
Circarama, USA
Jungle Cruise
Mark Twain Riverboat
Mike Fink Keel Boats
Mule Pack
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Peter Pan Flight
Rocket To The Moon
Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad
Snow White’s Adventures
Stagecoach Ride
$.50 Extra
Mickey Mouse Club Circus