Happy 58th, Disneyland! and the Barstow Family’s “Disneyland Dream”

The Barstow family in Disneyland, 1956
The Barstow family in Disneyland, 1956.

Disneyland’s 58 years old today! To celebrate, here’s the Barstow family’s 1956 D-Land adventure! One of the kids won the trip – a dream vacation to the then-one-year-old theme park – through a 3M cellophane tape contest.

The film – titled “Disneyland Dream” – is a great record of early Disneyland, but it also includes glimpses of old school Knott’s Berry farm and 1950s SoCal in general. These days, it’s hard to imagine northern O.C. covered by anything but pavement and buildings…

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Robbins Barstow, the dad and filmmaker, was a great guy, a man of many interests and accomplishments, and an internet friend of mine. The Library of Congress added “Disneyland Dream” to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2008, along with notable titles like “The Asphalt Jungle,” “Terminator,” and “Deliverance.” As a “home movie,” the film is a bit of a rarity on the registry; “Disneyland Dream” and the famous Abraham Zapruder footage of John F. Kennedy’s assassination are two of a handful of amateur pieces selected for the registry. This shows how culturally relevant his work – and Disneyland – really are.

A wonderful friend to all classic Disneyland enthusiasts, Dr. Barstow once wrote me, “We have always felt that being a fan of Disney and Disneyland in this sometimes dark and depressing world, is a mark of special quality.” I don’t think anybody could put it better.

Dr. Barstow passed away in 2010.

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