Disneyland Resort More Disneyland Resort Stories

Happy New Year, 1966

George Savvas

by , Director, Public Relations, Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney was the Grand Marshal of the 1966 Tournament of Roses Parade, and together with Mickey Mouse, he brought in the new year with thousands of fans along the five-mile parade route in Pasadena. The theme that year was “It’s A Small World.”

This photo has always been a special one to me. It’s unique in several ways; it’s a color photo of Walt, and there really aren’t too many of these, and it’s a photo of Walt with Mickey, and there are surprisingly few of these in our archive. It’s also a photo taken outside of Disneyland park. We don’t see that many of these either.

But, it is a bittersweet photograph, also.

We couldn’t have known on that celebratory morning 45 years ago that we would lose Walt by the end of that same year.

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at the Tournament of Roses Parade

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter. With the laughs, comes the tears…” – Walt Disney.


  • I did not realize the parade went by Disneyland – does it still do that or had the route changed over the years?

  • Oh, wait, that’s a Chrysler Imperial, not a Lincoln. It was hard to tell with all of those roses draped over it. Still a very classy ride though!

  • A great photo and great tribute to several SoCal icons; Walt Disney, the Tournament of Roses Parade, Mickey Mouse, and Disneyland.

    And a snazzy ’66 Lincoln convertible to top it all off! Classy ride Walt!

  • This is such a special picture! The quote is perfect, especially when no one knew he would leave us on December 15 of that same year.

  • …..and my birthday is July 17th…….the same as Disneyland’s. It opened on July 17th, 1955. I was born a few years before that, though! 😉

  • I was there!

  • I love this pic and the quote. I was born January 24,1966 so its sad knowing he left us around the time I was born. But he left us with so much, but I still wish I could have ment his acquaintance.
    My brother and I made our first trip to Disneyland back in 1986 I think it was. We had a great time. Sense then I’ve gotten married and have had two sons. Evert since my first born, I made a vow to take them to the best place in the world. But its been tough with money. Now…at 45(soon) I hope to finely make it. Yes my kids are now 19 and 13 but it doesn’t matter. Good Lord willing, we will make there by July. Me and my hubby and kids are Disney fans We really hope to do this. Mr.Disney, if you’re listening, please say a prayer we make it. My family and I have never been on a vacation trip before.

  • Doesn’t Walt look dapper! 🙂 Great photo.

  • What a touching tribute. And, the quote from Walt is very nice. Very fitting.

  • What a beautiful pic… thanks so much for sharing!

  • Love the picture. Wish I could have met Walt.

  • Too perfect, loved it! *-*
    Walter Elias Disney, a hero.

  • Wonderful photo!

  • What a wonderful picture, and a fitting quote from Mr. Disney.

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