Disneyland’s First Customer Still Uses His Lifetime Pass Every Year — 64 Years Later

In July 1955, Dave MacPherson was a 22-year-old college student who happened to be the first person in line at Disneyland’s California park ticket window at 2 a.m. on opening day. That made him the first person to buy his ticket on July 18, a distinction that earned him a lifetime pass to the theme park. Now, 64 years later, he still uses it.

  1. Dave set out to be the first through the gates. While the opening of Disneyland was a major event, Dave didn’t want the day to be overshadowed by celebrity guests. He wanted to be the true star and the first to experience all the fun the park had to offer. “I decided I wanted to be the first in line,” he said. “The first person to go into the park who wasn’t a relative of Walt’s or some celebrity. The first regular guy to go in through the front door.”
  2. To be fair, others did get to go into Disneyland before him. On July 17, Disney family members and celebrities were allowed in the park for an “international press preview.” It didn’t go very well, however, as the hot weather and long lines, not to mention the extreme crowding and more than 20,000 counterfeit tickets created a not-so-fun atmosphere. Things went much better on Dave’s big day.
  3. Dave sadly didn’t get to meet Walt Disney himself. He says that is his only regret about the experience, as Walt all but disappeared once he welcomed guests to the park.
  4. Every year, Dave gets a renewed annual pass. Now 86, Dave still looks forward to getting his Disney pass every year and he’s still quick to put it to use. “Each January I eagerly await the arrival of the next installment of the pass which is then good for another year at any Disney park, and I have received these annual passes since 1955,” he said. The passes he receives say “VIP MAIN ENTRANCE PASS” on the front as well as his name. They also instruct anyone looking to “Admit Passholder and 3 Guests.”
  5. He has to show photo ID whenever he comes. Because it’s such a special perk, Dave always has to prove he is who he says he is. He always brings along some photocopies of his scrapbook full of previous visits as well to prove that he’s the infamous Dave MacPherson.
  6. He’s a bit of a Disneyland celebrity now. People who go to the park a lot notice Dave and regard him highly. “It isn’t unusual after I give a copy of that scrapbook page to anyone manning the entrance gate, to have that official shout to the crowd, ‘Folks, this man bought the first ticket to Disneyland when it opened in 1955,'” Dave said. “You can’t believe how many folks from different parts of the world have then come over and asked for my autograph or shot a picture of my wife, Wanda, and myself!”
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill