Disneyland Continues 60th Anniversary Celebration
by Jules E. Beuck
Photos by Jules E Beuck and Jeanne Flores 

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 started the Disneyland Diamond Celebration to celebrate the 60 years Disneyland has been around.

To continue with that celebration "Soaring" has been updated and a stage play based on "Frozen" replaces the long-running "Aladdin."

As the above paragraph indicates the celebration is not limited to Disneyland. "World of Color" in Disney California Adventure has been updated to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary. It celebrates 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 interacts as well.

The ride, "Soaring," is now covering the world instead of just California. Patrons now soar over Egypt, Switzerland, France and South America to name a few. Five-year-old Dexter Flores made his first ever visit to the Disneyland Resorts and loved "Soaring" so much he insisted on going on it again. He would lean forward in his seat staring in wide-eyed wonder.

"Frozen" takes the story of Anna and Elsa to the stage. The effects are marvelous and the singing is top notch. There are comedic moments too. Olaf and Sven are represented in puppet contraptions that were no doubt inspired by the technology that was used to bring the Lion King to live theater. The audience that we saw it with received it very well.

To recap from an earlier article 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. Every float controls all the costuming for that float.

The theme song of the parade is “When Can We Do This Again,” written by Owl City for the animated film, "Wreck-It Ralph," and incorporates some of the original electrical parade elements.

For “Cars” in addition to Lightning McQueen they have Mack the truck. The sides of the truck are huge led screens that flash pictures. "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 puppetmasters within the character. This allows the characters to interact with the crowd as the puppetmasters 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 searchlights 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.

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 paintbrush change colors in response to what is going on in the show. Dexter was equally impressed with the fireworks as he was with "Soaring."

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 soundtrack is much clearer as well. 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. One also passes 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).

Disneyland Resorts continues to pull out all the stops to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland. We would guess they might not be done.

Jeanne Flores and Dexter Flores contributed to this article

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