My first trip to a Disney Park was in the summer of 1956 when my family went to Disneyland. I was 11 years old and my brother was 13. Every year we took a driving trip in the one car we had and that year my Dad extended his vacation time and we drove to the West Coast from New York, where I was born and raised. Needless to say, my brother and I were extremely excited about the trip–but mostly about going to Disneyland. During our vacation, we camped at all the great National Parks: Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Bryce, Zion and Yellowstone. But nothing compared to our going to Disneyland. Disneyland had been opened about a year and there was already construction for new rides. We had an incredible time and went on most all of the rides that day. I have pictures of me on the mules that used to be in Frontierland, of me riding in the cars of Autopia with my brother driving. I was too short to be the driver. I have pictures of Main Street, which looks just about the same as it does today. I remember going to the Golden Horseshoe Review and being given small cups of Pepsi, which I thought was great. The Rocket to the Moon ride in Tomorrowland really stood out and could be seen from most anywhere in the Park. When I got back to New York and started school, I was a celebrity as I was the only person I knew who had been to Disneyland. Everyone was so jealous of me. I look back at my childhood and those family trips each summer (which I sometimes did not want to take) are some of my best memories. But the best trip, as far as I am concerned, was that trip to Disneyland in 1956. I have been to Disneyland and Walt Disney World dozens of times since then but noting compares to that first time as a child. I took my son to Disneyland and Walt Disney World for his first time and was so excited for him remembering how I felt. I still go to Disneyland and still feel that thrill walking through the gates and under the arch to Main Street. I hope that feeling never goes away.
- Louella Novak, 69, Calabasas, CA