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Jennifer and Dave 05-14-2004 01:18 PM

Disneyland\'s 50th Birthday
Disney’s original theme park will turn 50 on July 17, 2005, and we’ve waited a long time for the celebration’s details. Disney unveiled them in grand style on the morning of May 5, in front of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Fireworks, live stage performers, video hook-ups with Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, the Disney Magic, and Hong Kong Disneyland… You may have already read the reports of the festivities elsewhere, so we’ll keep this part of our report short. Certainly most touching, though, and well worth mentioning, were the appearances by television legend Art Linkletter and Disney’s Honorary Ambassador for the 50th anniversary celebration, Julie Andrews. Art Linkletter reminisced about the day Walt Disney showed him the orange groves that would become Disneyland, and about his role as television host for Disneyland’s opening day broadcast. At 93 years old, Mr. Linkletter still has a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step – it must be a bit of Disney magic. And what can we say about Dame Julie Andrews that hasn’t already been said? We’re sure this ambassador will be practically perfect in every way.

Jennifer and Dave 05-14-2004 01:19 PM

Re: Disneyland\'s 50th Birthday
So, on with the details! The celebration will be known as “The Happiest Celebration on Earth,” and will be observed at every Disney theme park worldwide and on the Disney Cruise Line. It starts on May 5, 2005 (05/05/05, a nice easy date to remember – watch for TV commercials that play on that number) and will run 18 months – all the way until Christmas season, 2006. We asked 2004’s Disneyland Ambassador Becky Murphy about plans for the actual July 17, 2005 anniversary. While she didn’t doubt that something of note might happen on that special date, she stressed that Disney was planning the celebration so that folks wouldn’t miss a thing, no matter when they visited during the 18 month celebration.

Now, before you get overly-excited, not everything listed here will debut on 05/05/05. Many of the listed rides will still be under construction at that time, so if you have your heart set on Expedition: Everest or Space Mountain, check the latest theme park news before you select your vacation dates.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland will be dressed-up for the occasion, in what seems to be much more tasteful style than the “cake castle” treatment given to Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle some years ago. The turrets of the castle will be encircled by golden crowns, and the castle will be “gowned in swaths of richly colored royal banners…” and “bejeweled with precious stones.” At night, special lights will play on the battlements to set an even more enchanting scene.

Walt’s original magic kingdom will also have a brand-new parade, an ultra-glorious new fireworks show, and several new/revamped attractions. Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters will be similar to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin at Walt Disney World, but with some new twists. Thanks to web cams and other Internet technology, folks at home can play along with guests in the park. Space Mountain will return from rehab with all-new everything, from the track itself to the Space Port, ride vehicles, an on-board audio soundtrack (Rock ‘n Roller Coaster-style), and the special effects. The rumor mill claims (with some disappointment) that the new track follows the same path as the old, but press materials suggest the ride will have a high-speed launch, and while the building’s shape does help determine the overall flow of the ride, it’s hard to imagine that the track layout won’t reflect the advances of the intervening decades. Finally, Disneyland gets a historical exhibit, “Disneyland – The First 50 Years” in the Main Street Opera House. The attraction will include a film, the original Herb Ryman concept-sketch of the park, and an exhibit of Disneyland concepts that might-have-been or may-yet-be. If it’s anything like “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream” at Disney-MGM Studios, there won’t be a dry eye in the house. And, to add some speculation of our own, we can probably expect several not-to-be-missed art exhibits at one of Dave’s favorite attractions, the Disney Gallery.

A Disney celebration isn’t a celebration without a new parade and fireworks, and this is certainly no exception. “Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams” will offer a huge cast of characters and performers, and “Remember…Dreams Come True” promises to up the ante for all Disney fireworks spectaculars.

By the way, Disneyland will have its own special name for its celebration – “The Happiest Homecoming on Earth.” Presumably, Disney wants you to celebrate at your local Disney park plus make a pilgrimage to Disneyland. Can anybody say, “Record revenues for Disney Parks and Resorts?”

Across the plaza at Disney’s California Adventure they’ll still be basking in the glory of this month’s Tower of Terror opening (not officially part of the celebration). What will be new in ‘05 is “Block Party Bash,” a not-quite-parade that will feature a differently-themed street celebration in each of five locations around the park. Presumably, you’ll want to visit DCA at least five times to take in the entire party. We bet that Imagineer got a promotion!

Finally, Disney Cruise Line sails into the Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) during ’05, to give the West Coast a taste of the Disney Magic (see DCL West Coast Cruises, later in this article).

Across the continent at Walt Disney World, a variety of previously-announced attraction openings are being folded-into the celebration, and a couple of newly-announced imports will give folks a taste of Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disney’s California Adventure. Each park gets at least one new attraction: Magic Kingdom’s Castle Forecourt Stage gets Cinderellabration, the very popular show straight from Tokyo. While it’s not officially listed by Disney as part of the celebration, It’s a Small World has just gone into extensive rehab, slated to open in March ’05. Seems like it’s destined to be folded into the party, too. Epcot gets the currently-under-construction Soarin’ (Over California), a headline attraction from Disney’s California Adventure. Epcot also will play host to the Hong Kong Disneyland Preview Center, featuring a huge scale model of the new park. Disney-MGM Studios gets the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, an import from Walt Disney Studios Paris. Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be visited by Lucky the Dinosaur, the “first-ever free-roaming Audio-Animatronics creation.” Lucky made a big splash during his/her relatively brief debut at Disney’s California Adventure, and folks on the West Coast are already clamoring to get him/her back. (Do you think someone will try to put Lucky into one of the Dinosaur attraction’s Time Rovers and return him/her to California before the asteroid hits?) Also at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be the late ‘05/early ’06 opening of Expedition: Everest, Walt Disney World’s newest thrill coaster.

The celebration continues around the world. Disneyland Paris will get its own version of Walt Disney World’s “Wishes” fireworks show (lucky them!). Tokyo DisneySea will get a still-unnamed looping coaster featuring fire and water special effects, located in the Lost River Delta area of the park (in keeping with that park’s theme, they’re called “ports” rather than “lands”). The American Waterfront will add its own Tower of Terror. The Twilight Zone theme will fall by the wayside, though, as Japanese audiences aren’t familiar with Rod Serling’s journey into imagination. Tokyo Disneyland will get a second, yet-to-be-described attraction based on Toy Story. The first, Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters, is set to debut later this year. A bit farther west, in Hong Kong, they’ll be getting more than an attraction or two – they’ll be getting a whole new theme park. Hong Kong Disneyland is slated to open in December 2005. Are you ready to cash-in your frequent flyer miles?

Altogether, Disney’s managed to package together a dizzying lineup of temptations for the celebration, and it’s still a year away. You can be sure that there will be additional, mostly smaller goodies added as the big date approaches, so stay tuned!

Californiakids 05-14-2004 10:57 PM

Re: Disneyland\'s 50th Birthday Thanks for the great info. You guys are awesome, taking time from your honeymoon for us Disney addicts. We really love the Sour'in over California ride at DCA. Would'nt it be great if they made the new Epcot ride Soar'in over Florida?

minnie68 11-20-2004 08:15 AM

Re: Disneyland\'s 50th Birthday
Wnen can we expect the Disneyland Passporter?

Dave Marx 11-20-2004 03:44 PM

Re: Disneyland\'s 50th Birthday
Our current target date is April 2005 - so we're ready for the start of the 50th anniversary celebratrion.

JeanCA 12-19-2004 03:47 PM

Re: Disneyland\'s 50th Birthday
Every attraction in the park for the celebration, which was there on opening day,
will receive a special treatment. One of the ride vehicles will be transformed into a
GOLD vehicle to symbolize its place in the park for 50 years. A gold teacup, Dumbo,
Train Car, Jungle Cruise boat, Canal boat, Casey Jr. Circus Train car, and of course
and Autopia car!

arielrocks 12-20-2004 02:15 PM

Re: Disneyland\'s 50th Birthday
Sadly for us we will miss the 2006 Xmas celebration, but know that a year later we will still see a lot of it after the fact. I am still shooting for 2007 CA Disney Land 2 week Xmas vacation. Still paying off this WDW trip. But would do it all over again. Thanks for a great detailed description of events and still looking forward to the passporter. It really helped us plan this WDW trip.

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