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The concept for Disneyland began when Walt Disney was visiting Griffith Park in Los Angeles with his daughters Diane and Sharon. While watching them ride the merry-go-round, he came up with the idea of a place where adults and their children could go and have fun together, though his dream lay dormant for many years. He may have also been influenced by his father's memories of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago (his father worked at the Exposition). The Midway Plaisance there included a set of attractions representing various countries from around the world and others representing various periods of man; it also included many rides including the first Ferris wheel, a "sky" ride, a passenger train that circled the perimeter, and a Wild West Show. Another likely influence was Benton Harbor, Michigan's nationally famous House of David's Eden Springs Park. Disney visited the park and ultimately bought one of the older miniature trains originally used there; the colony had the largest miniature railway setup in the world at the time. The earliest documented draft of Disney's plans was sent as a memo to studio production designer Dick Kelsey on August 31, 1948, where it was referred to as a "Mickey Mouse Park", based on notes Disney made during his and Ward Kimball's trip to Chicago Railroad Fair the same month, with a two-day stop in Henry Ford's Museum and Greenfield Village, a place with attractions like a Main Street and steamboat rides, which he had visited eight years earlier.

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