Sunday, July 17, 2005

Celebrating Disneyland's 50th Birthday

Someone recently commented that every time she turns around, I'm at Disneyland. Well brace yourself for one more time, because I was there again today. This time to celebrate the historic 50th anniversary of the park's opening day on July 17, 1955.

The line inside California Adventure, walking to Disneyland. (07/17/2005)
The line inside California Adventure, walking to Disneyland. (07/17/2005)

It's significant since this is Walt's original park, the one that set the tone for everything else. Since I wasn't born yet on the original opening day, obviously, I really wanted to attend on the golden anniversary. In fact it was one of the reasons we renewed our annual passes last October after originally deciding to take a break for a year. So in a way, I kind of felt like I had already paid my $300, so I was determined to go.

After three-hours, I got into the park just before 8am. (07/17/2005)
After three-hours, I got into the park just before 8am. (07/17/2005)

Tim, however, wasn't so keen on the idea. He really dislikes going there on days when it's too crowded. Nor did he want to wake up at 4am to get there early enough to make sure we got in. But our friends Keith and Everet were planning to be there that day, so I planned to hook up with them there.

Castmember greeting on Disneyland's 50th Birthday. (07/17/2005)
Castmember greeting on Disneyland's 50th Birthday. (07/17/2005)

By the time I got ready, drove over there and parked, it was 5am on the dot. Already thousands of people were already there (many of which had been there since midnight the night before). By 5:45, I made it through the gates ... to neighboring Disney's California Adventure that is. That's where they lined up the first 10,000 people or so until Disneyland itself opened.

Cast members lined Main Street to greet us. (07/17/2005)
Cast members lined Main Street to greet us. (07/17/2005)

Two hours later, they escorted us into Disneyland itself. Walking into the park was thrilling, especially since there were so many cast members welcoming everyone in. The first thing I did was ride the newly re-opened Space Mountain, which said it only had a 5-minute wait. The last time I tried the wait was 3 hours. Space Mountain is freshly renovated ... and just as exciting as ever.

Waiting on Disneyland's 50th Birthday. (07/17/2005)
Waiting on Disneyland's 50th Birthday. (07/17/2005)

By 9:00 I heard from our friends Everett and Keith who were struggling to find the end of the line. They heard it was at least a four-hour wait to get into the park. Needless to say, they decided not to wait around.

Daytime fireworks on Disneyland's 50th Birthday. (07/17/2005)
Daytime fireworks on Disneyland's 50th Birthday. (07/17/2005)

By then, I was already staking out my spot for the opening ceremony at 10, which was really fun. It featured: Art Linkletter, the TV host of the opening day ceremonies (today was also his 93rd birthday); Robert Iger, President and CEO-elect of the Walt Disney Corporation; Michael Eisner, outgoing CEO; Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; and Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller (who repeated her father's famous words at the 1955 opening: "To all who come to this happy place, Welcome!").

Iger, Schwarzenegger, Mickey, Disney, Art Linkletter, Eisner & Minnie. (07/17/2005)
Iger, Schwarzenegger, Mickey, Disney, Art Linkletter, Eisner & Minnie. (07/17/2005)

The ceremony ended with a release of 50 white doves, followed by fireworks (once the doves had a chance to clear the area). Afterward I watched Mickey climb the Matterhorn, grabbed a bite to eat (including a free birthday cupcake) and walked around the park a little more until I got tired of dodging the crowds.

Closer view of Iger, Schwarzenegger, Mickey, Disney, Linkletter & Eisner. (07/17/2005)
Closer view of Iger, Schwarzenegger, Mickey, Disney, Linkletter & Eisner. (07/17/2005)

I tried getting to the commemorative 50th anniversary merchandise area, but the line was so long, it would have taken easily two hours or more. And I didn't need a t-shirt that bad. By that point it was noon, and I had already been there for seven hours, so I decided to go back home and sleep.

Some of the free souvenirs I got on this historic day. (07/17/2005)
Some of the free souvenirs I got on this historic day. (07/17/2005)

Amazingly, when I left, there wasn't a single person in line. Inside Disneyland, it was packed! But just outside the gates, it was a ghost town. Strange how it works that way.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you got there so early!! It sounds fun though.

-Christine

Butterfly Queen said...

I don't know if I should be more shocked that you waited in those lines, or that Christine commented on your blog...lol...
Sounds like a lot of fun - I would have been there, but I decided to camp out for 3 days to get the new Harry Potter book. I like younger, well-read men, so thought the crowd would be better suited to my tastes. Kidding.

Laura Gonzalez said...

Hah!

TIM said...

Imagine my shock and dismay when I awoke at 8am that morning to find James not asleep next to me. I wandered out to the living room and fully expected to see him asleep on the couch.

Now, if anyone knows James, he's not a morning person. I actually had to go into the garage and verify that the car was gone because I still couldn't believe he left so early.

But James established a really bad precedent. Just imagine the next time the house needs to be cleaned or the gardening done on a Saturday.... ;)

I'm actually glad I didn't go. I get a little "crowd phobic" and probably would have freaked out and ruined his good time.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you got there so early considering you helped us move!

That's awesome.

-Laura (and Ryan)

Loren Javier said...

Sigh...I want to be at Disneyland everytime somebody else turns around. Sounds like a great time and what a lucky beeyotch you are to have gotten all that cool stuff. I'm jealous!