October 1954, Walt Disney’s Disneyland television show debuted on ABC with its first episode - The Disneyland Story. The episode gave American viewers their first preview of Disneyland and allowed Walt to share with them his big, magical plans for the land he recently purchased in Anaheim.
The Disneyland television show was a key component of a deal struck by Roy Disney that was essential for financing Walt’s theme park project. Under the terms of that deal, Disney agreed to produce a weekly show for ABC and in exchange for a 35% ownership stake in Disneyland, ABC would invest $500,000 in the park as well as guarantee loans up to $4.5 million.
The premiere of the Disneyland show aired on a Wednesday night between 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. Around 30 million American households, roughly half of all televisions in the country at the time, tuned in to watch the debut episode.
In the episode, Walt gives viewers an overview of his vision for Disneyland then proceeds to provide greater details about each of the four themed lands. After a description of each land, a related themed production film is shown. To give viewers a glimpse of what Disneyland held in store for them the show included a mixture of scale models and concept art. Disneyland would open less than 10 months later with a live broadcast on ABC.
The Wonderful World of Color aired on NBC with Tinkerbell.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".