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A Fond Look Back at Disneyland's 50th Anniversary Celebration: Part IV

A Fond Look Back at Disneyland's 50th Anniversary Celebration: Part IV

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It's 3:15 a.m. When a normal person would usually be asleep.

But I am NOT a normal person. I am a hardcore Disneyana fan. Which is why I am standing in line outside of Disney's California Adventure. Waiting to get into this theme park, so that -- later this morning -- I can then be among the first to get into "The Happiest Place on Earth" on July 17th. Disneyland's really-for-real 50th birthday.


Photos by Jeff Lange / Montage by Nancy Stadler

It's hard to describe how truly surreal this whole situation is. You have a heavy duty police presence in Disneyland Plaza (Which is kind of unnerving). But -- at the same time -- you've got cute little kids running around in their footie pajamas (Which is -- obviously -- kind of cute). And -- as soon as people get into DCA and claim their place in line -- they pretty much collapse right where they stand. A lot of them laying down on the pavement and then going to sleep.

And the line ... You've never seen a line like this before inside of California Adventure. It literally snakes through the entire theme park ...


Photos by Jeff Lange / Montage by Nancy Stadler

... It starts in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area, then doubles back on itself. It then shoots across the length of the entire park before it loops around Paradise Pier. So obviously, we're talking about a lot of people. A lot of very tired, rather bleary-eyed people (Which explains the long line for coffee at Baker's Field).

But still it is a happy crowd. For we know that -- once 6 o'clock gets here -- they're going to starting letting us all into ...


Photos by Jeff Lange / Montage by Nancy Stadler

 ... DISNEYLAND! I really can't tell what a thrill it was -- after all those hours of waiting in the cold & the dark -- to finally be able to walk across the plaza. To march up Main Street U.S.A. and have all of those cast members standing on the sidewalk, waving and saying things like "Welcome back !," "Thank you for coming!" and "We're so glad you're here."

Mind you, after all that sitting on the pavement over in DCA and waiting, it was now time to grab a spot on the sidewalk inside Disneyland's Hub area and do even more waiting. You see, that was the only way to guarantee a great viewing spot for ...


Photos by Jeff Lange / Montage by Nancy Stadler

... the park's rededication ceremony. Which had all the pomp & pageantry that you would have hoped for. So -- after eyeballing Diane Disney Miller and Governor Schwarzeneggar (as well as "Oohing" and "Aahing" the daytime fireworks -- it was now time to ...


Photos by Jeff Lange / Montage by Nancy Stadler

... really experience Disneyland's 50th birthday. Which meant scoping out all the limited edition merchandise that was for sale over at Big Thunder Ranch. Riding some of the gold-colored ride vehicles that were scattered around the park. Signing the guestbook down at the Main Street Opera House. Giggling at some of our fellow early risers, who -- by mid-afternoon -- were already finding places to sack out inside the park.

But then -- by late afternoon -- it was time to head to the plaza area in Main Street U.S.A. To stand and listen as ...


Photos by Jeff Lange / Montage by Nancy Stadler

... a recording of Walt reading Disneyland's dedication speech was played. I can't explain why. But it was really kind of touching to hear Walt's voice echoing through the park.

Once that ceremony was over, it was time to play again. To catch another performance of the "Parade of Dreams" as well as the "Remember ... Dreams Come True" fireworks spectacular.


Photos by Jeff Lange / Montage by Nancy Stadler

And then we played & played & played & played. Until Disneyland had officially closed for the day. And all the other guests had gone home.

But even then, well after midnight, I couldn't bring myself to leave the "Happiest Place on Earth." So I loitered on Main Street U.S.A. Watching as each shop closed its doors. As Disneyland Security slowly swept the park, politely but firmly moving the remaining guests toward the front gate.


Photos by Jeff Lange / Montage by Nancy Stadler

So -- while I may not be able to say that I was the first person in line for Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration on July 17th -- I can at least say that I was the last person to leave the party .... Some 22 hours after I had first arrived at the resort.

I was (admittedly) tired. But also very, very happy. I was glad that I came all the way from Connecticut to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Though -- given how much fun I had attending Disneyland's official 50th birthday celebration -- my friends and I are already making plans to attend the park's 75th anniversary.

Hmmn. I wonder how early I'll have to get in line to attend that party?
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