Disney has been the happiest place on earth since its opening on 17 July 1955. The first day it opened must have been extremely busy. Being around hundreds of people who, like you, wanted to see and feel the magic of Disney.
And first in the Gate with ticket number 1 was Dave MacPherson, and for being the lucky 1st customer, Disney granted him a lifetime pass and he has used this pass every year since then for the last 64 years.
Back in 1955, Dave was a 22-year-old college student, studying at Long Beach State College, when he found out about the opening of a new amusement park dedicated to Walt Disney Studios. Right then he set out to be the first one in the gate. If that was his highest achievement in life, he would be fine with that.
He wanted to be the first person that was not a family of Walt Disney, or some celebrity. He wanted to be the very first paying customer through the door.
The park was opened for Walt Disney’s family and close friends and a few celebrities on the 17th of July and the next day would be MacPherson’s turn. So, he got on his Motorcycle and took on the road from Long Beach to Anaheim.
When he got there, no-one was in line and he took his place right next to the ticket booth. He was the beginning of a line of more than 6000 people and he waited a few hours till they opened and he bought the very first ticket sold to a civilian.
With his ticket, he also received a complimentary card to use when he returned during the opening weekend. Unfortunately, he couldn’t use the card as the motorbike ride from Long Beach to Anaheim would be too long.
But he received something far more valuable than that one complimentary card: he also received a lifetime pass for being the first customer. This means he could return to the park every year, free of charge, and that is exactly the kind of thing a college student wants to hear.
Now, at 86, he has used the pass 64 times – every year since 1955. The card allows him to bring 3 guests, so every year he and his wife, Wanda, and their 2 friends, Joe and Martha Ortiz go together.
He has one regret though, and that is that he never met the man himself - Walt Disney – in all the years he visited Disneyland. He saw him at the park on an opening day, but never got a chance to meet him face to face.
Most die-hard Disney fans know about the legendary man who was the first customer. When he visits and people spot him in the crowd, they happily exclaim to anyone around who will listen
“Folks, this man bought the first ticket to Disneyland in 1955!” MacPherson never expected to become such a celebrity, but he kind of enjoys it.