Michael Shwarther and his cousin Kristina Graef are now in their sixties, but back in 1955, they nudged their way through a 15,000-strong crowd to become the first kids ever to enter Disneyland.
Now, a deeply poignant video has surfaced about their adventures on that day in 1955 thanks to Orange County Register. Michael and Kristina, giving off serious Jem and Scout Finch vibes, escaped from the clutches of their guardians and managed to arrive at the turnstiles to Disneyland right before they were opened.
Watch the video here
Swarther says he felt a felt a man come up to them, pull them to the side and ask where their parents were. The man was Walt Disney. It was unplanned, and to the dismay of several other kids looking on, a completely random selection.
They next hour was a daze. Michael's aunt remembers, "For one solid hour he did nothing but take pictures with these two children."
For what may have been nothing more than an extremely opportune photo call for Disney (the kids literally appeared out of nowhere), it turned out to be an beautiful memory that the two kids would always cling on to.
There is, however, a touch of melancholia to this story as well: We get the sense that the events of that day have never really left the kids alone. Their memories are fading, despite the photo that they shared with Walt Disney being forever etched in their minds. They never wanted to be the first kids at Disneyland. They just wanted to have fun and see what all the fuss was about.
Kristina recalls that it was the first time she ever rode on a train. She was five years old and still has faint memories of meeting the big man.
And after riding on the train with them for a little bit, he was gone, leaving behind proof of these events in the form of lifetime passes and that famous image which still hangs in Disneyland.
What sounds, on the surface, like a delightful Willy Wonkaesque story is also tinged with a hint of sadness.
For Disney, to pull two kids aside and take a couple of pictures was perhaps nothing more than just a promotional venture, but for these kids it was their childhood, memories of which are slowly slipping away.
Watch the telecast of Disneyland's opening here