As we celebrate 55 years today, I look back on my nearly 40 years with The Walt Disney Company and countless memories, and I feel privileged to be back in Anaheim – where it all began.
When I was a little boy, I remember watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” and especially a show entitled “Disneyland After Dark.” I loved seeing the Mark Twain Riverboat come around the bend on the Rivers of America, with all of its lights and a jazz band playing on the deck, and I used to imagine how wonderful it would be to experience something so magical. Now I have the privilege of leading the place where the Mark Twain Riverboat still travels the Rivers of America.
I want to take a moment today to thank all of you – our guests and fans – for the support and loyalty you’ve shown Disneyland park for the last 55 years. I also want to thank and recognize the 20,000 cast members who work hard every day to make the Disneyland Resort a place of “joy and inspiration for all the world.” You truly create happiness, and I am proud of the work you do.
I will be celebrating the day surrounded by guests and cast members, including some of the original cast members from 1955 who worked with Walt Disney as he created Disneyland park. I look forward to hearing their stories and adding to my memory bank today. I hope that you are also able to look back on great memories of your visits to Disneyland park and know that your memories are cherished pieces of our history.
July 17, 1955 – That’s the day Walt Disney opened the gates to Disneyland park. Now, here we are, 55 years later still celebrating his amazing dream. I remember celebrating the 50th Anniversary. I had just began my job a few months before in public relations and was assigned to produce some podcasts for the celebration. My all-time favorite in my 18-year career as a producer is the historical piece you are about to see. I love the vintage footage with Art Linkletter hosting a live broadcast with Ronald Regan at the grand opening – the official opening day for guests was the next day. A-listers like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., can be seen taking a drive in the Autopia cars. Only 15,000 guests were invited to the “invitation only” event, but 28,000 showed up! The lines were long and the day was hot, and not everyone thought this new Park would be a success, but it didn’t matter. The guests loved it and Disneyland park forever changed how Americans vacationed.
I hope you enjoy this video. It was originally released on Disneyland.com in 2005. It not only entertains you with clips from opening day, but shows construction of Disneyland park and some old footage of some pretty important people who visited. Watch how Disneyland park evolved from Walt’s dream of a place “where the parents and children could have fun together” to an additional four Resorts around the world and a world-famous cruise line.
As we celebrate the 55th anniversary of Disneyland this weekend, we’re giving guests, cast members and “World of Color” fans one more thing to celebrate.
We are adding a third “World of Color” show at 11:15 p.m. every night through Labor Day. The show has been extremely popular, and we’re hoping our guests will be thrilled with more opportunities to see this amazing display of water, music and Disney storytelling. (Please note: The time for all shows are subject to change. Please check Disneyland.com for the most up-to-date schedule and tips to reserve viewing).
We also will extend Disney California Adventure park hours until 11 p.m. through Sept. 6, 2010. This will give guests even more time to experience all of the exciting nighttime entertainment at the Disneyland Resort.
And if that’s not enough, we are also thrilled to announce that Toy Story Mania and Mulholland Madness will remain open during performances of “World of Color” while the park is still open to guests.