Coming up with exact design and construction costs for Disneyland attractions would require a CPA, mountains of old public financial statement filings, or access to Disney Imagineering’s Quickbooks account–none of which we have available here at TheHappiest.com. So we’ll have to settle for fuzzy figures from a mix of “official” and random unofficial sources.
The original cost to build Disneyland was $17 Million in 1955 ($152,008,391 in 2015 dollars), an interesting benchmark to compare against. Also note that this is only for Disneyland proper; California Adventures attractions are excluded from this list (we’ll do that another day)!
Budget: $100 Million in 19941 ($161,277,820 in 2015 dollars)
Anyone who’s been on this attraction can understand why it’s on the top of this eye-popping list. More than 400 Imagineers contributed to the design and construction. The queue area is half a mile long, and the show building is 50,000-square feet. In order to make room for all that, part of the old Eeyore parking lot was demolished. The Monorail and Jungle Cruise had to be completely rerouted as well.
Budget: $75 Million in 19892 ($144,599,253 in 2015 dollars)
The concept for Splash Mountain was to take a “typical” flume ride and add a great story around it. Design and construction costs swelled so far over budget that management had to shut down the “America Sings” attraction to save money and source its animatronic characters for use in Splash Mountain.
Budget: $20 Million in 19773 ($78,992,802 in 2015 dollars)
The construction of Space Mountain at Disneyland took two years and included not just the attraction, but an entire complex including the Space Stage, Space Place restaurant and Starcade as well.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Budget: $8 Million in 19674 ($57,377,808 in 2015 dollars)
The cost of the entire New Orleans Square land was $15 Million, with over half that amount going to POTC because of the enormous design and construction complexity required to build it underground. This was also the first attraction to include so many human scale audio-animatronic figures, which greatly contributed to the final price tag.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Budget: $17 Million in 19795 ($55,965,361 in 2015 dollars)
BTMRR was pushed back several times due to budget constraints and construction of the Space Mountain complex. At the time it was conceived, the design and construction costs for this single attraction were almost the same price tag as all of Disneyland when it first opened in 1955 (although when adjusted for inflation, it was actually about 1/3 of the Disneyland construction cost).
Budget: $17 Million in 19556 ($152,008,391 in 2015 dollars)
This was an enormous sum of money in 1955, especially when you consider that the concept of a theme park had not been proven yet (Disneyland essentially created the industry). Even more incredible is that the park’s construction was started and completed within one year and one day. Such a feat would be impossible today due to regulatory, engineering and construction complexity.
1. Indiana Jones (UPI)
2. Splash Mountain (Wikipedia)
3. Space Mountain (Wikipedia)
4. Pirates of the Caribbean (Disney)
5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (MiceChat)
6. Disneyland (Los Angeles Times)