History : When King Mohammed V visited the first Disneyland park

In 1957, King Mohammed V went on an official visit to the United States, where he went to Disneyland. Posing next to Walt Disney, the sovereign’s enjoyable trip to the park was documented through a series of photos.

King Mohammed V and Walt Disney at the Sleeping Beauty park in California in 1957./Ph. DR
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One year after Morocco’s independence, King Mohammed V paid the United States a visit, and most precisely the newly constructed park known at the moment as Disneyland. During his trip to the American country, the sovereign visited Williamsburg, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Omaha, the Niagara Falls and New York before departing on December the 13 in 1957.

King Mohammed V’s trip to the USA had first a political purpose. This was made clear in President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s letter sent on May the 14th of the same year. «We have instructed our Ambassador at Rabat to inform Your Majesty's Government that the Government of the United States is prepared to participate in conversations on the subject of our military operations in Morocco», wrote Eisenhower before revealing his «desire to welcome you (Mohammed V) here in the United States».

Wandering in Disneyland

Replying to the US president letter, the Moroccan monarch accepted the invitation, arriving on the 25th of November in the United States. Although the king and his entourage have been to different states in the country, the moments that marked the internet the most are the ones the sovereign spent in Disneyland.

And although, few sources recall this unique trip and the details to it, photos on the internet reveal a big part of it. The most reoccurring one shows the King of Morocco with his typical costume, the Djellaba and terboush, standing next to the American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer by the Sleeping Beauty castle built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and opened on July 17, 1955.

In a different photo, the Moroccan monarch and Walt Disney were posing next to Pluto, the cartoon character created in 1930 at Walt Disney Productions, with a smile on the face. The sleeping beauty castle was not the only part of the park that the king visited. In a another black and white picture, Mohammed V, Disney and a number of other personalities were riding a Disneyland boat that was on its way to enter a magic tunnel. Enjoying the ride, the king was spotted next to his host, Mr Walt, on a Truck.

King Mohammed V was accompanied by princess lalla Amina, who was holding her father’s hand all while carrying a bag of chips on the other hand. The sovereign was leaning and looking at the little princess with Walt Disney in the background.

An incognito return visit

In addition to the cheerful photos online, historical sources agreed that the King enjoyed so much this wonderful visit that he decided to do it again. According to the book «The Magic Kingdom : Walt Disney and the American Way of Life» (1997), written by Steven Watts it is said that «in 1995, Moroccan King Mohammed V was so enchanted by his formal visit to Disneyland that he sneaked out of his hotel the next day to make an incognito return visit».

In a different book entitled «The Walt Disney Biography» (New English Library/Times Mirror, 1977) Bob Thomas, the writer, referred to the King’s visit to the park in California. «King Mohammed V of Morocco seemed to have trouble sorting out the real from the artificial during his tour with Walt», he wrote adding that : «When the Jungle River boat passed under the waterfall, Walt commented, 'It looks almost like real water, doesn't it?'»

By the beginning of December the King and after a long and enjoyable trip had to return to Morocco. That was the first and last official trip the sovereign made to the United States before his death, in 1961.

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