A Unique Anniversary Party

Heather Hust Rivera

by , Vice President, Consumer Products

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to share a photo I recently saw for the first time. It’s from a unique anniversary party of two sweethearts: Walt and Lillian Disney. They are photographed with their daughters, Diane and Sharon, around a huge cake inside the yet-to-be-opened Golden Horseshoe on July 13, 1955, just four days before the official opening of Disneyland park.

Walt and Lillian Disney's Anniversary Party

It was the ultimate celebration. Three hundred guests were invited to celebrate Walt and Lillian’s 30th wedding anniversary. Invitees included Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper. Can you imagine getting this invitation?

WHERE: Disneyland . . . where there’s plenty of room . . .
WHEN: . . . Wednesday, July 13, 1955, at six o’clock in the afternoon . . .
WHY: . . . because we’ve been married Thirty Years . . .
HOW: . . . by cruising down the Mississippi on the Mark Twain’s maiden voyage, followed by dinner at Slue-Foot-Sue’s Golden Horseshoe!

Hope you can make it – we especially want you and, by the way, no gifts, please – we have everything, including a grandson.

Lilly and Walt

If you’ve haven’t heard the story, party guests piled into horse-drawn surreys and were taken down Main Street and into Frontierland where they boarded the Mark Twain Riverboat and sipped mint juleps. At the Golden Horseshoe Saloon (as it was called then), guests were treated to the very first, but unofficial, performance of the Golden Horseshoe Revue, created by Wally Boag, the original Pecos Bill.

Next time you visit Frontierland, step inside the Golden Horseshoe and imagine what that anniversary party might have been like nearly 55 years ago.


  • Awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing. This entire Blog is fantastic!

  • Wonderful story & picture. I love how these blogs share the magic with us. Thank you!

  • Heather your posts always inspire me to drop what I’m doing and head to Disneyland! Thanks for the WONDERFUL old picture of Walt, Lillian and their two daughters… and for filling in the history behind it!

  • Too cool — our anniversary is also July 13! This year we’ll be married 25 years. We celebrate at WDW. Maybe we’ll try DL for our 30th…

  • I always knew that Disneyland opened around my birthday, but I was even more excited to learn that the 30th anniversary party was held the day I was born! Maybe that’s why I love everything Disney, it was in the stars.

  • My husband and I are coming the end of March to celebrate OUR 30th wedding anniversary!! Somehow being at the Happiest Place on Earth for that celebration makes perfect sense to us. (We were also at the Park for our 20 year – on June 20, 2000!) Thanks for sharing that photo and the story. Wonderful!

  • Thank you for sharing these never before seen photos, this is what I love to see, please keep finding new historical items for us to see.

  • Such a lovely picture! Thank you for sharing it. I bet they had a wonderful time.

  • Awww, what a charming story. Disneyland truly is the happiest place on Earth – the place where some of the best memories are made!

  • I would have loved to been there that evening. What an experience!!! Walt Disney was truely a brilliant man. I’m so glad he gave all of us the wonderful gift of Disneyland and all the cute Disney characters. They always brighten my day and make me smile :o)

  • I love it! Just the way they worded their invitation gives so much insight to the way they thought and lived. Loved the photo, too. And I always learn something on your BLOG – for example, I never knew Walt was a grandpa when he opened Disneyland. I guess I thought of him as a Dad of young children and never really thought about it. Love what you all post! Keep it up!

  • My husband and I had part of our honeymoon at Disneyland, and will be going back for our 1 year anniversary. I can only hope I spend my 30 year there also! I love Disneyland!

  • That is too cool. I was just sitting in the front row last Saturday watching the show “Billy Hill and the Hillbillies”. My best guess would put me somewhere just behind where Walt is standing in the picture. Thanks for posting the picture and related story 🙂

  • Love the story, what an amazing time that would have been, or probably was! Love the pic, one I haven’t seen before.

  • My wonderful husband Sean & I were married on July 13th(2002) & didn’t find out until last year that it was Walt & Lilly Disney’s wedding date, too. Since we’re such big fans of Disney, we were tickled pink to find that out! We spent our honeymoon at Disneyland.
    Thanks for sharing the photo!

  • Awesome!
    That’s a great photo find.
    I love Disneyland. 🙂

  • Wow! That’s wonderful! It would be cool if the Disneyland Resort incuded the Golden Horseshoe as a location where you could have a reception!

  • This year it will be my 30th Wedding Aniversary! I think I would love to do what they did for theirs! I can’t affort to invite 100 people to come to Disneyland with me but I wouldn’t mind being there myself!

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