Guests began lining up in the Toy Story Parking Lot bus loading early in the morning. At about 5:30 am, the lines were escorted into the esplanade to line up at the gates for Disneyland. Cast Members at the gates began scanning the first few people’s tickets to let things go more smoothly for getting through. At 6:30, turnstiles were opened!
As part of the festivities, guests received special maps of the park and a button saying “I Was There.” A schedule was also handed out, but unlike the 50th it was not made up specifically for that day.
After proceeding onto Main Street, many Cast Members greeted the incoming guests with high fives…or high fours since Mickey gloves were on. A rope kept everyone back from getting to the Central Plaza until a certain time.
Once the rope dropped, some proceeded to the various lands, while many went straight to the castle, or at least where they could be in eye sight of the stage for the special 10 am ceremony. Seats and ropes blocked anyone from getting to the stage or the special guest area.
The ceremony was hosted by Michael Colglazier, who pointed out and honored the Disney family, Disney Legends, and longtime Cast Members who were there for the special event. It was announced that Disneyland would start a new donation campaign to give a million dollars in gifts to various organizations around the community. The Million Dollar Dazzle started that day with a $60,000 donation to the Orange County Girl Scouts.
After much of the announcements and honoring, Richard Sherman and Ashley Brown said thank you to Walt Disney by singing Feed The Birds. It was a touching moment that brought tears to many’s eyes. Following the performance, the two helped lead everyone in singing Happy Birthday to Disneyland as a large group of characters poured out of the castle entry. It was reminiscent of the opening day visuals of those heading into Fantasyland for the first time.
All of this, alone, would have made for a special anniversary for Disneyland, but the day was just starting!
Throughout the day at various locations around the resort were cupcakes for guests to enjoy. These delicious treats were the cake for the “birthday” celebration. Tomorrowland Theater and Big Thunder Ranch held the locations for Disneyland, while near Tower of Terror and at Paradise Gardens had them for Disney California Adventure. Even the hotel lobbies had cupcakes for hotel guests within allotted times.
At both parks were special photo locations that had either a special “I Was There” sign to hold or a backdrop marking the occasion. My favorite was the picture of the old parking lot inside Disney California Adventure for picture taking. It was these little photo locations that were fun and funny to have photos in front of.
The day also marked the premier of the revamped Disneyland Band. The band had 4 sets scheduled for the day, but ended up having 5 because right after the ceremony was a special performance for executives and television crews to record. The sets were filled with high energy and great medleys! It was fun to watch and drew a great crowd. The second set of the day was the most magical, featuring a march along down Main Street starting at Sleeping Beauty Castle. The band performed a couple songs and then proceeded down Main Street with Mickey and crew, picked up the Dapper Dans and ended at the Train Station. There the Dans led everyone in singing along with one of the 60th songs while Mickey and friends beckoned guests to dance with them. Streamers shot through at the conclusion of the song. It was spectacular for being such a short and somewhat small performance.
In the afternoon there was a special pre-parade celebrating the Cast Members who had been at Disneyland on opening day, and accompanied by characters and present Cast Members. A few Disney Legends were in this parade, along with some favorite present Cast Members that always brighten the day of guests. The pre-parade made use of Main Street Vehicles while others walked along. It was a great tribute to those who have made Disneyland what it is behind the scenes.
Over at the hotels, there was some celebrating to be had. Grand Californian held a special reception in the lobby with apple cider to toast the exact time that Walt Disney did his dedication speech. Everyone in the lobby sang Happy Birthday after the manager of the hotel repeated the dedication speech at 4:45 pm. After, a special cake was on display for pictures to be taken.
At night, the 50’s dress that Disney Parks Blog announced guests could take part in paid off as two bands presented dance parties to harken back to the era. At Disney California Adventure, a stage near Carthay Circle held the Side Street Swing Orchestra playing jazzy renditions of Disney tunes with swing dancers in the street. Over in Tomorrowland, Scot Bruce paid tribute to the King of Rock and Roll for dancing pleasure.
July 17, 2015 was a magical day for Disney fans both old and young. Many came dressed in 50’s wear to make it a little nostalgic of how things were in 1955. It was a celebration and tribute to the ingenuity of a creative man, Walt Disney. He saw what an orange grove could become and built it. We have Disneyland to enjoy and build memories for all. This was a spectacular day that will not be forgotten!