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.
As an aside, I’ve recently updated the calculations on this page in response to a request on our Mouse Monthly Facebook page. I’d like to give a special shout out to Autumn and thanks for reading!
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.
- The park had about half the number of attractions it now has.
- Park admission and ride tickets were sold separately, with the famous A-C tickets.
- 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-Level||Number Of Attractions|
|Free With Admission||9|
|$.50 Special Ticket||1|
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-Level||Cost in 1955||What It Would Cost in 2018**|
** 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 Level||Number In Book|
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 $.50 ticket.
3. How Many Tickets Would It Take To Visit Every Attraction In 1955?
We have established that there were 38 rides at Disneyland the year it opened. We also know the prices for both the 8-ticket book and the individual A-C tickets themselves.
Now we’ll look at how much it would cost to buy that all-attraction, all-inclusive vacation we enjoy today, but back in 1955.
Using Individual A-C Tickets
First, we’ll take a look at what it would cost if we paid the full price for admission and only bought individual attraction tickets.
|Ticket-Level||# Of Attractions||Cost in 1955||Total Cost|
|$.50 Special Ticket||1||$.50||$.50|
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.
|Item||Cost in 1955|
|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 $.10 on admission when compared with paying for everything separately like we did above.
If we bought the 8-ticket book, here’s what our costs would be for an all-attraction day at Disneyland:
|Ticket-Level||# Of Attractions||Tickets From Book||Cost For Extra Tickets|
|$.50 Special Ticket||1||–||$.50|
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.
|Item||Cost in 1955|
|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 1955||Cost in 2018||Cost Of 2018 DL Single-Park Value Ticket|
|Cost For An All-Attraction, All-Day Disneyland Vacation||$7.50||$69.37||$97|
When adjusted to 2018 dollars, the cost to do everything at Disneyland in 1955 was $69.37, or about $27 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
There are about 180% 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:
|Year||Median Household Income||In 2018 Dollars|
Between Disneyland’s opening and today, the average American family has experienced an earning increase of about $18,000 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. Also, let’s not forget about the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, set to premier in 2019.
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.
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 would cost an extra $.90, or $8.32 in 2018 dollars, bringing the modern total to $77.69!
Can you imagine some Skipper with his hand out every time you wanted to go for a trip?
What do you think about the difference in 1955 Disneyland prices compared with today? Which “park” would you rather visit? Let me know in a comment below. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!
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1955 Disneyland Attractions And Ticket Levels
Below is a list of all the attractions Disneyland had in 1955, though not all existed on opening day (July 17, 1955), as well as the ticket required to ride each:
Disneyland Attraction Grouped By ‘Land’
|1955 ‘Lands’||1955 Disneyland Attractions||Ticket-Level|
|Main Street, USA|
|Main Street Arcade||Free|
|Main Street Cinema||A|
|Main Street Shooting Gallery||B|
|Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad||C|
|Davy Crockett Frontier Museum||Free|
|Golden Horseshoe Revue||Free|
|Mark Twain Riverboat||C|
|Mike Fink Keel Boats||C|
|Canal Boats Of The World||B|
|Casey Jr. Circus Train||B|
|Dumbo Flying Elephants||B|
|King Arthur Carrousel||A|
|Mad Tea Party||B|
|Mickey Mouse Club Circus||$.50 Extra|
|Mickey Mouse Club Theater||B|
|Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride||C|
|Peter Pan Flight||C|
|Snow White’s Adventures||C|
|Dutch Boy Paints Color Gallery||Free|
|Kaiser’s Hall of Aluminum Fame||Free|
|Monsanto Hall Of Chemistry||Free|
|Rocket To The Moon||C|
|Space Station X-1||A|
|Thimble Drome Flight Circle||Free|
|20,000 Leagues Under The Sea||A|
|The World Beneath Us||Free|
Disneyland Attractions Grouped By Ticket-Level
|Davy Crockett Frontier Museum|
|Dutch Boy Paints Color Gallery|
|Golden Horseshoe Revue|
|Kaiser’s Hall of Aluminum Fame|
|Main Street Arcade|
|Monsanto Hall Of Chemistry|
|20,000 Leagues Under The Sea|
|King Arthur Carrousel|
|Main Street Cinema|
|Space Station X-1|
|Canal Boats Of The World|
|Casey Jr. Circus Train|
|Dumbo Flying Elephants|
|Mad Tea Party|
|Main Street Shooting Gallery|
|Mickey Mouse Club Theater|
|Mark Twain Riverboat|
|Mike Fink Keel Boats|
|Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride|
|Peter Pan Flight|
|Rocket To The Moon|
|Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad|
|Snow White’s Adventures|
|Mickey Mouse Club Circus|