Yesterland
Mickey & Minnie
in the Parking Lot
Pose with Disney characters.

Encountering Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in the parking lot—before you even buy your ticket books—is a great way to start your day at Yesterland.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland, 1961

Meet Mickey Mouse in the parking lot.


Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland, 1961

Touch Mickey’s nose for good luck.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland, 1961

You can’t shake hands with Mickey. His arms just dangle.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland, 1961

Minnie holds a small umbrella with her immovable arm.

Don’t bother to get out your autograph book. Mickey and Minnie don’t have usable arms and hands. Mickey’s arms just dangle at the side of his body. Minnie holds an umbrella with her left hand—although it’s more accurate to say that Minnie’s left hand is attached to the handle of the umbrella that’s attached to Minnie’s hat.

Speaking of hats, Mickey has been to the haberdasher for a formal top hat. Minnie has been to the millinery shop for a stylish pink hat, which she wears in place of the usual bow at the top of her head.

Considering that these two famous mice seldom wear hats, why are they wearing them here? Well, if these were costumes with people in them—and I’m not saying that they are—the hat would be a good place for the person’s head (each hat has a cloth panel at the person’s eye level).

These characters will put a smile on your face. That’s good because it will make the prices of a ticket books a little easier to take. A ticket book with general admission and ten rides or attractions is $2.75 for children (under 12), $3.25 for juniors (12-17), and $3.75 for adults. That’s a lot of money.


The photos above are from December 1961. The ticket book prices are from summer 1961.

The monorail track across the parking lot was new. The extension of the Disneyland Alweg Monorail to the Disneyland Hotel opened in June 1961. The other new attractions of 1961 were the Snow White Grotto (April 1961), Flying Saucers (August 1961), and Babes in Toyland exhibit (December 1961).

It was the first summer that Walt Disney Productions had full control of Disneyland, Inc., after buying out the 37% stock interest owned by American Broadcasting (ABC)-Paramount Theaters, Inc. in July 1960.

Disney characters took on a major role at Disneyland for the first time in the summer of 1961. Walt Disney revealed his plans to add characters to his park In a Los Angeles Times article by Don Alpert on April 30, 1961:

Doing things in a different way—that’s probably the Disney secret. For instance, this summer visitors to Disneyland will see life-size figures of 40 Disney cartoon characters roaming the park.

“I’ve always been conscious of the people waiting in line,” Walt said. “There’s not much to do and they can only handle so many people at a time. So I’ll use these figures to entertain the crowds.

“A lot of people don’t realize it but my entertainment budget this year was $1.3 million. We’re fighting to keep costs down, and we’ve yet to raise the prices—but boy, it’s a tough battle.”

A few months later, “New Fun for ’61 at Disneyland” advertisements in the Los Angeles Times proclaimed: “New! Meet 37 of your favorite Disney characters IN PERSON!”

Spending a day at Disneyland costs far more now than 1961—at least for single-day guests. Using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index calculator to adjust the 1961 dollars to 2012 dollars, the tickets books would be $20.94 for children, $24.75 for juniors, $28.55 and for adults.

However, today’s Disneyland annual passholders who visit frequently can spend less per day in inflation-adjusted dollars than frequent park visitors in 1961, when there were no annual passes.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland, 1961

No hats these days

Also it’s a different Disneyland these days, with more attractions and bigger attractions—and much better character costumes.

 

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© 2012 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated April 13, 2012.

Historical photos of Mickey & Minnie: 1961 by Roger J. Runck, courtesy of Robin Runck.
 
Photo of Mickey & Minnie standing in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland: 2008 by Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland © Disney Enterprises Inc.