On Sunday, July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates with an official dedication ceremony attended by more than 25,000 guests and witnessed across the nation by hundreds of thousands more. The event was televised by ABC, beginning as the E. P. Ripley train made its first official trip along the Santa Fe Disneyland Railroad tracks, previewing the five main areas of the park and ending at Fantasyland where all the characters stood in wait.
Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney, and California Governor Goodwin Knight led the show as the trains engineers, and were accompanied by Fred Gurley, president of the actual Santa Fe Railroad.
An upcoming auction, from New Hampshire based RR Auction
will feature the original engineers cap worn by Governor Knight on the inaugural train ride that welcomed the world on the parks opening day.
A one-of-a-kind fitted striped engineers cap is accompanied by a photo of Knight wearing the cap, next to Walt Disney.
Also included is a one-paged typed letter, signed by Walt Disney, on Disneyland letterhead, dated December 20, 1958. Disney writes to California Governor Goodwin Knight, presenting him with a Gold Pass. In part: It is my pleasure to send you your 1959 Gold Pass to Disneyland and by means of this letter to give my personal welcome to you and your guests. We have scheduledto be ready by Junesome new attractions that were quite excited about.
Smiling ear-to-ear and wearing the cap, which matches his companions, Knight stood by Disneys side as he offered his first words of welcome to the audience. In his speech shortly following the train ride, Knight described Disneyland as "a wondrous community with all the charm of the old world and all of the progress and ingenuity of the new world."
Remaining close with Disney well beyond Disneylands opening day, Knight and his family were at the top of the list to receive a Gold Pass to the park every year.
On its own, this is a desirable, charming letter from Disney to his good friend Governor Knight from an important year in the growth of Disneyland; offered with the engineers cap worn by Knight on the parks opening day, makes this lot extraordinary, says Bobby Livingston, VP at RR Auction.
The hat has been on display at the Disney Museum in Disneyland until now, and has never before been on the market it truly captures the spirit of Disneyland, adds Livingston.
The auction runs through August 15th, at 7:00PM Eastern.