Disneyland Reaches Six Decades
Jules E. Beuck
Photos by: Keith Durflinger

On July 17, 1955, Walt Disney opened Disneyland. Since that time it has grown, expanded to different states and countries and added a new park across from the original. Starting with a 24-hour opening of Disneyland on May 22, 2015, Disneyland Resorts kicke d off its Disneyland Diamond Celebration toasting the 60 years Disneyland has been around.

The celebration is not limited to Disneyland. 'World of Color' in Disney California Adventure has been updated to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary. It honors the life of Walt Disney and his ideas that led to Disneyland. The presentation is hosted by Mickey Mouse and Neil Patrick Harris. Sayre Wiseman, an executive for parades and spectaculars, told us that when Harris was approached for the project he immediately responded “Absolutely, I'm there.”

The show not only projects images on water, it has videos on a screen attached to the Ferris wheel, there are dry ice canons and flame throwers. This year not only do Mickey ears and surrounding light globes interact with the show, but there are special Minnie ears and a magic paint brush that allows park guests to interact as well. The technological breakthroughs used on this show resulted in four patents for advanced technology, according to Wiseman.

The show features video of Walt Disney commenting on his ideas, snippets of black and white cartoons such as “Steamboat Willie,” and other Disney classics over the years and even mentioned new acquisitions "Star Wars" and Marvel.

At one point Harris poses a question to Walt asking if he would have done anything different and of course they had a video clip where Walt answers he would not have done anything different.

The Mad T party with it's live cover band is now called the Diamond Mad T Party.

There are two new prominent presentations in Disneyland itself. There is the “Paint The Night” parade and the “Disneyland Forever” fireworks show.

“Paint The Night”is a re-imagining of the old “Main Street Electrical Parade.” A live Tinkerbell Starts off the parade carrying a wand that has a rosette from the original electrical parade. “Paint The Night”has 85 performers and represents classic Disney and Disney-Pixar stories. Wiseman mentioned that each LED light is individually controlled. Every float controls all the costuming for that float.

The theme song of the parade is “When Can I See You Again” by Owl City and incorporates some of the original electrical parade elements.

For “Cars,” in addition to Lightning McQueen, they have Mack Truck. The sides of the truck are huge LED screens that flash pictures. Surprisingly Mater was not included. "Lion King," "Toy Story," "Monsters Inc.," "Rapunzel," and other Disney princesses, are also represented.

In addition to floats, there are larger than life representations of characters such as Tigger that are surrounded by LED lights and are moved along by puppet masters within the character. This allows the characters to interact with the crowd, as the puppet masters can make them turn and wave.

To end the parade Goofy, Minnie and Donald have individual vehicles, while sorcerer Mickey brings up the rear conducting the finale in his own huge float.

The “Disneyland Forever” fireworks show brings multimedia to new levels. There are 100 search lights that at one point converge over the parks to form a diamond. Peter Pan appears and calls Tinker Bell (who flies in from way out of nowhere) to sprinkle pixie dust to awaken the magic of the Magic Kingdom.

The castle and all the buildings become video screens as images are flashed on them to compliment the music. Props are are placed on top of roofs to appear as needed. Steve Davison, Executive Producer, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment maintains that the display is designed to be seen from all over the park. Depending on where you are in the park you will have your own unique experience. He claimed “It's actually better (to be viewed) down at the end of the (Main) street.”

There are times the fireworks are actually incidental to the show.

As mentioned earlier, visitors to the park can have their own props, as mouse ears and the aforementioned paint brush change colors in response to what is going on in the show.

There are also changes to some of the rides. The Haunted Mansion sees the return of the Hat Box Ghost after 45 years. There is also a wedding scene where the groom's head keeps disappearing and appearing and a shadow plays the bridal march on piano. The sound track is much clearer as well. It made for a more fun experience.

The Matterhorn Bobsleds have more opportunities to view the abominable snowman. He appears to chase you throughout the ride. You also pass a pile of broken bobsleds that the snowman has managed to snatch and a glimpse of the treasure he is guarding (although if you blink you will miss the treasure).

There are souvenirs you can purchase to celebrate the diamond anniversary that range in price from $10 all the way to $4200.

Disneyland Resorts is also having a sweepstakes where you can win one and two carat diamonds, stays in the Disneyland Dream Suite and other prizes. Go to www.disneyland.com/DiamondDays for more information.

Disneyland Resorts is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland.

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