Read All About It! The Disneyland News!
A few years ago, while doing some research for an update to my book, The Hidden Secrets & Stories of Disneyland, I wanted to include a story about "The Disneyland News", the newspaper distributed on Main Street, U.S.A. when Disneyland first opened in 1955. I reached out to the very first editor of The Disneyland News, Marty Sklar, who graciously provided me with a couple of fun stories about being hired by Walt and having to nervously pitch the concept of a newspaper to him while only a Junior at UCLA. Below is one of the stories from Marty, as it appears in my book...
Did you know Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. used to have a newspaper? In June of 1955, one month before Disneyland opened, Walt hired Marty Sklar, a 21 year-old junior at UCLA and editor of the university’s student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, to come up with the design and execution of a monthly newspaper for Main Street, U.S.A., one which would capture the old-fashioned essence of the 1890s, yet all the news of today. That was a big challenge for a young college student, and Marty nervously pitched the concept and layout of "The Disneyland News" to Walt, hoping he would like it. Walt liked Marty’s ideas, and plans quickly turned into action, as the park’s opening day was now only a couple of weeks away. Fortunately, as editor of The Daily Bruin, Marty already had the resources and connections in place to print the paper, so he compiled content from the Disneyland Publicity Department, wrote new copy, laid out the pages, and coordinated with the printer. Soon The Disneyland News was hot off the press!
The front page of Vol. 1 – No. 1 featured a photo of Walt aboard the E.P. Ripley with Mickey Mouse under a headline, which read “50,000 Attend Gala Park Opening.” In addition, guests could enjoy such stories as Congress Informed About Magic Kingdom, Disneyland A 20 Year Dream, and Celebrities, Officials Join Walt Disney To Dedicate New Era In Entertainment.
Inside, numerous articles described Disneyland’s different attractions, how the park was built, the story of Main Street and Town Square, the upcoming Disneyland Hotel, and much more. Also, readers found ads for the different businesses within the park, including Swift Market House, the Wonderland Music Store, Ruggles China and Gift House, the Red Wagon Inn, The Emporium and many others.
Marty re-enrolled at UCLA for his senior year that fall, but later returned to work for Walt after graduating and rose within the ranks of the company to become the head of Walt Disney Imagineering, as well as the President and then Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive for The Walt Disney Company. One of the first important lessons he learned during his prestigious career came from Walt and The Disneyland News…
“Here it was, two weeks before Disneyland was to open, amidst the chaos of completing construction of the very first Disney park…and Walt had time for this “little thing” I was doing that would be sold for 10 cents! Why? When I figured it out, the whole business made sense: For Walt, Main Street was a real place, and every city – no matter how small – at the turn of the 20th Century, had its own newspaper – at least one. So The Disneyland News was a story point for Walt – one of hundreds – this one a detail of the Main Street story. Story-Story-Story plus Details-Details-Details equals DISNEYLAND!” – Marty Sklar