|By Keith Mahne|
On the morning of June 17, 1971, a petite, New Brunswick, N.J., payroll clerk, made history by becoming the 100 millionth person to visit Disneyland in its 16 year history. Learn who the lucky guest was and the story behind that special day in today's new article...
Valerie Suldo, accompanied by her sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Stan Wyluda of San Diego, walked through Disneyland's turnstile at 11:13 AM to begin her first visit to the Park. No sooner had she done so than she was greeted by popping flashbulbs, groups of newsmen, and a crowd of several thousand Disneylanders.
"I just couldn't believe it and still don't" Valerie said in a post-ceremony interview. "It's by far the biggest thing that's ever happened to me."
|Valerie was officially welcomed by Jack Lindquist, Disneyland's Director of Marketing at that time|
Valerie's arrival was announced by Jack Lindquist, Disneyland's then Director of Marketing, in ceremonies in front of Town Square Station at the Park's entrance. There, it was announced that she would receive a "Silver Pass" to Disneyland and Florida's Walt Disney World (good for admission to both Parks and all their attractions, being that this was the time of the ticket books, for a party of four), as well as numerous other gifts from such Disneyland participants as Bank of America, United Air Lines, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Frito-Lay, the Bell Telephone System, and others.
After the ceremonies, Valerie was accompanied by bands, Disney characters, and news personnel during her triumphant ride up Main Street to Sleeping Beauty Castle, where she was the first signer of a special guest book prepared for the occasion. Her signature and all others collected during the day were later placed permanently in the Walt Disney archives.
|Disney characters update Disneyland's population sign to 100 million in June 1971|
People from 50 states and all 136 nations of the world have enjoyed visiting "the happiest place on earth" in the past 16 years that Disneyland had been open at that time. And Valerie's June 1971 arrival not only brought Disneyland's population-to-date figure to nearly twice that of France and one-half that of the United States back then, it even made the Park's 200-acre realm the 8th largest nation in the world, only 2.3 million behind Japan.
What a great experience to have on your very first visit to Disneyland!
Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.