On July 17th 2015 Disneyland celebrated its birthday in style. There have been a lot of changes at the park over the 60 years since Walt Disney opened the park. While there have been many changes both good and bad there is one thing that still holds true. The words that Walt spoke the day that the park opened;
“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
Myself and some of my Disney Family being long time Disneyland fans wanted to be part of the magic of the day and be a part of the Disneyland history that day. We for sure didn’t want to miss the rededication ceremony that would take place at 10 am in front of the castle so they were able to get to the park super early and I was delayed getting there because I was a bit under the weather and wanted to get as much sleep the night before because I knew it was going to be a long and warm day at the park.
One of the things that had been suggested to guest was to dress up like the guest from opening day in 1955. There was no way I was putting on a suit so I wore my Mouseketeer outfit with reproductions of the ears.
Once I arrived at the park each guest got an “I Was There” button and they had made a special map for the day that had the current park on one side and the other side had the map of the park from 1955 so that was a real treat.
We had a pretty decent view of the stage but was off to the right side because one of my friends was in a wheelchair and needed to be in an area where she could sit and not be trampled by the crowds. The rededication ceremony started with Disneyland President Michael Colglazier rededicated the park and announcing a Million Dollar Dazzle program. Each month during the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, the Million Dollar Dazzle Crew will surprise one or more Southern California nonprofits with a $60,000 gift, totaling more than $1 million. Girl Scouts of Orange County was surprised with the first gift at the ceremony.
Then one of the greatest gifts for the day was Richard Sherman and Ashley Brown performed one of Walt’s favorite songs Free The Birds from Mary Poppins. It was a true goose bump moment and very touching. Richard talked about Walt and his love for the park and then the lead the crowd in singing Happy Birthday.
There were many other special guest like Dick Van Dyke, Imagineer Tony Baxter, Some of the original Mousekateers, and some of the first kids that ran through the castle when the park opened in 1955.
It was an emotional experience for all of us and one of those once in a lifetime moments. We were next to this lovely couple that had flown in from Texas just to be there that day. They dressed as Burt and Mary from Mary Poppins and were super nice and we enjoyed talking to them.
Here is a video of the ceremony one is from a guest that is the full ceremony and is one of the best ones that I have found on the event.
After the ceremony the park was very busy but nowhere near its full capacity. I went to get some of the special merchandise that they were only selling that day and it took over an hour to get though the line not because it was super long but because people took forever to decide what they wanted even though they had given us sheet with pictures of the merchandise. Once I got to the front I told them what I wanted and looked at one that I was uncertain about and bam I was out of there.
So we walked the park and there were many special events and things to do at the park for one day only. So we only found one of the giant ticket photo spots so we waited in line for that and ran into a girl dressed as Athena from the Tomorrowland movie and she wore a similar outfit that she wore during the Worlds Fair scene in the movie. It was very impressive considering the backlash against the film and we all talked about how much we loved it.
We found some of the new ride photo opportunity spots and they had just installed the one for the Haunted Mansion and we had four people so we just had to do that one. Along with the Big Thunder one too.
One of the things that Disneyland did that day was give everyone free 60th Birthday cupcakes and they must have made a ton of them because they were still giving them out until about 8pm that night and they even had gluten-free ones that was a great idea for those affected by the disease.
They also had a special parade with cast members who worked at the park on opening day along with current cast members and Disney characters. I found the irony of the Song of the South characters particularly interesting considering Disney refuses to release the film.
We also found the photo opportunities that had backdrops from Disneyland’s past and one that was close to me was the one in Toon Town that was a Fantasyland backdrop with the Skyway. That one meant a lot to me because I worked at the park back in 1989 and was a Skyway Jockey. Of course my friends had to tell everyone that I worked the ride and so I answered a lot of questions about working the ride and that was a lot of fun to share the history of the ride with them. Even the employees that were taking the pictures were asking me about it.
There were so many people that dressed up for the day but I forgot to take pictures of them. so here are some from the Disney Blog that gives you an idea of the fun that people had with it. I would say that at least 20% of the people dressed up that day.
There were giant video screens throughout the park that displayed pictures that guest and the cast members had taken that day to show the fun that everyone was having that day.
We stayed the whole day and finished the night off with the new parade. The park was now closed but the great thing if you hang around at that time you can get some great photos of things and there is not as many people who will be in the shot. So I took some shots of Cinderella’s castle and the train station out front.
It was a truly magical day and got to spend it with great friends and met some wonderful people who day. I had never been to one of the Disneyland Birthday Anniversaries before and was something that I really wanted to be a part of. I have been to Disneyland many time both as a guest and a cast member but this day was very special and was glad that I was able to be a part of its legacy.