Sunday, April 24, 2016

22 Photos of the Old Disneyland Heliport

By Keith Mahne

Prior to Disneyland's opening day, Walt Disney made a decision to grant his guests the option of arriving to his Park by helicopter. Naturally, Walt took the initial test flight back in July of 1954. As he departed from the studio lawn in Burbank out to the Disneyland construction site in Anaheim, Walt realized the air commute was significantly shorter than the land commute, "a mere 20 minutes by helicopter" as Walt told viewers during one of his Disneyland TV specials. Walt immediately signed off on plans to open a heliport on undeveloped land just outside the park and a helicopter shuttle service to Disneyland was born. Join us today as we take a look back at the old Disneyland Heliport with these 22 MUST SEE photos...

Walt aboard a helicopter to Disneyland that inspired his Disneyland Heliport idea

After Walt signed off on the Disneyland Heliport project, plans for the helicopter terminal progressed along side Disneyland. When Disneyland finally opened in 1955, a helicopter flight to Disneyland cost roughly $4 per person.

1956 photo of the backstage heliport entrance behind the Tomorrowland Skyway Station. Notice the sign reading “Helicopter Passenger Check In” on the guard shack.

Los Angeles Airways "Helicopter to Disneyland" ticket

The original Disneyland helipad was located just outside Tomorrowland near the intersection of the 5 Freeway & Harbor Boulevard...

A 1956 aerial view looking north at Disneyland that shows the original location of the terminal shack and helipad

Disneyland's heliport service was initially provided by Los Angeles Airways using piston-engine Sikorsky S-55 helicopters that carried up to 12 passengers...

1950s photo of a Los Angeles Airways S-55 arriving at the Disneyland Heliport

Two 1956 photos of a Los Angeles Airways Sikorsky S-55 being loaded with passenger luggage at the Disneyland Heliport

Walt greeting VIPs as they arrive at Disneyland

In 1957, the original location of the Disneyland Heliport that was located just outside of Tomorrowland was relocated to a new location 140 yards to the south after just 2 years...

A 1960 Disneyland aerial photo that shows the 2nd location of the Disneyland Heliport

In 1960, the heliport would relocate to its 3rd and final location at the opposite side of the park, just north of the Disneyland Hotel...

1961 photo of a Sikorsky S-62 departing from the 3rd Disneyland Heliport location

1961 Los Angeles Airways advertisement to Disneyland

In 1962, Los Angeles Airways began to utilize the civilian Sikorsky S-61L airliner, expanding passenger capacity to 28...

Disneyland guests headed home board a helicopter at the Disneyland Hotel Heliport location

Here we see a still shot from the 1962 Tony Curtis romantic comedy 40 Pounds of Trouble as they board a helicopter to Disneyland

Landing at the Disneyland Hotel Heliport

Disneyland Hotel Heliport

Taking off from the Disneyland Heliport

A 1968 Disneyland park map featuring the Disneyland Heliport location near the Disneyland Hotel

The view of Disneyland as guests arrive to the Park by helicopter

Unfortunately, there were a few major events that led to the demise of the Disneyland heliport. The first issue that arose was in 1962, when the Anaheim city council informed Los Angeles Airways that they would need to construct a large scale air terminal to remain in business. It would have to be built with an indoor waiting area and public restrooms in order to continue its service to Disneyland. The next issue occurred six years later when a group of Anaheim motel owners got together to protest the low-flying helicopters, calling them dangerous and protesting that their noise disturbed their guests. Nevertheless, the biggest tragedies that occurred that really sealed the fate of the heliport were two crashes that took place only a few months apart...

May 22, 1968 - A helicopter flying from the Disneyland Heliport to LAX crashed into a Paramount dairy farm, killing all 20 passengers and three crewmen.  The passengers had all spent the day at Disneyland.

After the tragedies, operations at the Disneyland Heliport came to an end. Walt's idea of having helicopter flights to the park became just a lovely memory of early Disneyland history. Not only was a helicopter ride to Disneyland convenient, but judging from the photo below, the views were absolutely breathtaking...

And now, see the views for yourself with this bonus footage. Using the short, vintage film below, we'll take a virtual helicopter ride as we get picked up by helicopter from the Disneyland Heliport, take in the views of Disneyland below, and arrive safely at the airport for our return flight home. Enjoy friends...

Sources: Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields & Disney History Institute


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.

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