What did it take to experience Disneyland's really-for-real 50th anniversary? To be able to say to friends & family: "Why, yes. I was inside that theme park 50 years to the day that Walt Disney actually opened the place" ?
Well, in my case, it took a little advance planning (I.E. Making sure to set the alarm clock. So that I'd then be awake in time to get on line at 3:30 a.m. Which hopefully would be early enough to guarantee me early entry into Disneyland for the park's big 5-0 festivities) plus a $3.00 air mattress. Which gave me a comfortable place to lie down we were all waiting in DCA.
Photo by Jeff Lange
Look, I know that Mr. Lange has already shown you pictures of all the celebrities who came to visit Disneyland during its 50th anniversary summer. Jeff has even shared shots with you from the May 5th press event as well as the ceremony at the castle on July 17th. So I'm not going to talk about any of that stuff.
But what I am going to talk about is what it was like be inside of Disneyland on the theme park's really-for-real 50th birthday. Particularly for someone like me who was trying to recreate what it must have been like to visit Disneyland on July 17, 1955. Relive the Magic, if you will.
Which is why I decided that I would spend that Sunday riding the O-Ticket Attractions. "O" as in the originals. Disneyland's opening day attractions.
It was a mission that a large group of people associated with JHM started but only TWO actually completed. I was successful as was my partner-in-excellence: Tammy. Through sheer determination and a battle plan that the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have been proud of, we two ladies completed our mission by 7:45pm. With no fast passes, mind you. And no whining either.
Of course, we got to see some pretty extraordinary sights along the way. Like this Disneyland security officer that we spied from the uppermost decks of the Mark Twain. Who -- in honor of the park's 50th birthday -- had chosen to supplement his wardrobe in a most unusual way.
And while we couldn't get to experience absolutely everything that Walt did back on July 17, 1955. Like Wally Boag appearing at the Golden Horseshoe ...
... We at least got to enjoy Billy Hill & the Hillbillies. Which is a pretty darned good show in its own right.
But through the afternoon and on into the early evening, Tammy & I worked our way through the list. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride ...
The Autopia ...
... The Casey Jr. Circus Train ...
Until finally all that was left was the King Arthur Carousel. And how fitting it was that -- for my last "O-Ticket" ride -- that I was able to snag a seat on Jingles. The horse that had been repainted gold in honor of Disneyland's 50th anniversary.
So let the other Disney dweebs crow about how they were right down front on the 17th and actually got to speak with Diane Disney Miller and/or how they made a killing selling that limited edition merchandise that they purchased on eBay. Me? I didn't so much "Walk in Walt's Footsteps" as I did recreate the whole 1955 Disneyland experience.
And let me tell you that it was one pretty fun way to spend the park's 50th birthday.