Although aging would most likely bother the most of us, “The Happiest Place on Earth” is apparently very happy as it approaches its 60th birthday. And Disneyland, which opened on July 17, 1955, spawning a theme-park empire, is going to be celebrating its Diamond Jubilee in style.
Beginning May 22, there will be a nightly parade reminiscent of the much beloved Main Street Electrical Parade, along with a new high-tech fireworks show that will synchronize with video displays of various Disney movies projected onto Main Street building facades.
“Disney will share a milestone 60 years in the making,” Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs told The Orange County Register. “This year we are celebrating where it all began …. We’re bringing Walt’s dream to life.”
The “Paint the Night” parade will feature computerized floats that will light up with 1.5 million-plus LED lights. Expect to see famous figures such as Mickey Mouse, as well as characters from Disney’s mega-hit films such as “Cars” and “The Little Mermaid.” The fireworks show will be called “Disneyland Forever.” And even Sleeping Beauty Castle will get an overhaul, as it will be decked out in fake diamonds.
Along with the new parade and fireworks show, Disneyland is refurbishing some of its most popular rides, such as Peter Pan’s Flight and the Matterhorn—both of which are expected to reopen in time for the actual anniversary and the summer crowds. The park also is revamping Soarin’ Over California, an adventure ride that imitates a hang-gliding journey.
When Disneyland opened 60 years ago, it was the first of its kind. There were other smaller parks nearby, such as Knott’s Berry Farm, which was developed in the 1940s, but never had anything been built to the scale of Disneyland. On the day it opened in 1955, more than 30,000 people flocked to the park—including Roy Rogers, Lana Turner and a then-obscure actor named Ronald Reagan. Today, more than 700 million people have visited the “The Happiest Place on Earth”, 16 million just within the last year.
In all, there are parks in California and Florida (DisneyWorld and Epcot in Orlando), as well as three parks in Asia, in Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.