Disneyland Celebrates 56 Years on July 17

Michele Himmelberg

by , Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

Search July 17 as a famous historical date and the year 1955 often pops up as opening day for Disneyland park. The park’s anniversary ranks alongside prominent moments in history, such as great sports achievements and the birthdays of important political figures. Disneyland has become a cultural icon, and the park’s opening day marks a milestone in family entertainment.

This year, Disneyland celebrates its 56th anniversary on July 17. It’s a very special day for cast members as well as guests, and the resort has commemorated it over the years with a variety of slogans and salutes, with celebrations big and small. Here’s a brief look back:

Disneyland Tencennial Celebration

1965: “Tencennial Re-Dedication Day” featured the “Disneyland Tencennial Celebration Parade.”

1980: “I Was There!” birthday buttons were given to guests who attended the 25-hour anniversary party. (Those buttons are now collector’s items.)

1985: “Thirty years of Magic… the Best Has Just Begun” was the theme of a new parade. A theme song thanked Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck for “30 Happy Years.”

1990: Disneyland turned 35, “proof that the good things in life get only better.”

'The Happiest Homecoming on Earth' for Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary

2005: “The Happiest Homecoming on Earth” paid tribute to the 50th anniversary, and the park handed out nearly 100,000 cupcakes during the huge celebration.

One of my favorite anniversary stories is from the park’s 10th Anniversary. Guests of an employee party said that Walt Disney congratulated them and offered this perspective: the first 10 years were a “dress rehearsal,” and anyone thinking about resting on their laurels could “just forget it.”

This year on July 17, a celebratory moment will be held at 2:30 p.m. to commemorate the 56th anniversary of opening day. An audio recording of Walt Disney’s original dedication speech will be heard throughout Disneyland park. Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and a cast of characters will gather in Town Square to sing “Happy Birthday” to Disneyland with guests and cast members.

Were you here for any of the anniversary parties? What’s your favorite Disneyland anniversary memory?


  • Happy (Late) Birthday Disneyland!

  • July 16th, 2005. I was at Disneyland park with my family. Just spending a “normal day” there. But we knew the next day would be very different. Around 2:00pm, we went back to our pet friendly hotel, took a 5+ hour nap, showered and changed, just to return to DL, and kennel our dog at the park. About 2 hours before park closing, we left the gates of DL, checked on our dog, and proceeded to line up for re-entry on the next day.

    July 17th, 2005. At 12:00am, I returned to the DLR kennel club to register our dog for that day. (They had the kennel staffed all night for people like us) Well, turns out your dog gets a certificate, scarf, and a special location right by the cast members if it the first dog registered on a day. But this wasn’t any “normal” day. It was the 50th birthday of Disneyland. And our dog was first registered for the day! By the way, did I mention my dogs name was Pongo?

    That night I slept in front of Cruella de Vil’s trailer in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot of DCA. (Odd coincidence considering our dog) The offered hot cocoa and coffee along with other select items for purchase during our “stay” in the park.

    When DL opened, my mother was guest 31, my stepfather was 32, and I was 33. Go figure! They gave us souvenir ears that were for this day only.

    July 17th, 2005 was a very magical day for me. And while I will always cherish every trip and memory I have being at Disneyland, this memory is one I will have forever and for always.

  • I agree with:
    “Heather on July 16th, 2011 at 4:22 pm
    Wasn’t the 50th called the Happiest Celebration on Earth?”

    My last visit was for the 50th, although it was a whole year thing, and It was called “Happiest Celebration on Earth”, no?

  • Forgot to mention I am from Washington state and now have two little granddaughters I can’t wait to take and show them the castle and have them become little princesses. It is gonna be so much fun. Especially watching their eyes as they see everything. Aah to be a kid again, just go to Disneyland!!

  • This truly is the happiest place on earth, I have been there 23 times. The 1st time was in 1959, I was 11 years old and went with my family. Now I have grandkids of my own and took the 3 boys to the 25th anniversary. Have 3 more now and can’t wait to take them someday. You can never grow tired of it especially with the changes it seems to make almost all the time. My favorite ride is splash mountain. I love singing Zipadeedoodah with all the characters. I will never grow tired of it. Hope to be able to go to the one in Paris next summer.

  • Although we then lived in Omaha, Nebraska, we had to go to both the 25th and the 50th Anniversaries and my most treasured souvenirs are the “I was at the biggest birthday party in the world!” birthday party hat from the 25th party and my “I was there on July 17th 2005″ pin. When we walked into Disneyland that morning after being in line since 3 AM and seeing all the cast members lined up along Main Street waving and welcoming everyone “home”, I had tears running down my face while I was video taping that moment to keep forever. It is something I will never forget for the rest on my life.

  • Happy birthday Disneyland

  • I was at the 25th anniversary at Disneyland and it was amazing. Before the fireworks they turned off all the lights and Walt’s voice came over the loudspeakers welcoming all to Disneyland. Then you heard a heliocopter coming over the castle with a firework lit sign saying “Disneyland 25”. I’ll never forget that night.

  • I was working for Disneyland for the 50 years and it was an
    amazing year it took me back to my childhood will never forget it !!!!!

  • Happy 56th!

  • going toDisneyland in August for my Granddaughters 4th birthday and her first time, I found pics of my first time from July, 1957. I remember we had a great time

  • On July 17, 2000, my husband (then boyfriend) proposed to me at the Main Street Train Station. It was an amazing and perfect day. We also “walked Walt’s Disneyland” with souvenier maps.

    Five years later, on the 50th anniversary, July 17, 2005, I told my husband that we were expecting our first child, our beautiful son.

    We try to attend every year and remember all our magical moments at the resort, from our first date, to our engagement, wedding, children, etc. Disneyland is truly a special place for us and our family.

  • We were there for the 50th anniversary. It was a wonderful day! Walt would have been proud. LOVE the golden ears we were given that day as we entered the park! Best part – it was my husband’s first trip to Disneyland.

  • I was their for the 50th. Stayed 5days- 5nights at the Disneyland Hotel. Since then I’ve found a 50th anniversary hat at a garage sale for a quarter and about five shirts at a local thrift store. It’s funny that people would spend 25 or so dollars for a shirt then turn around and give it to a thrift shop? And I’m telling you these shirts are brand new!! And of course I still have the one that I bought that week, but it look’s like I’ve had it for 6 years and wore it everyday since. I went the first week of May so all the decorations were up but there was no one in the park yet. Very cool!!!

  • I was at the 30th birthday that started at midnight. Was fun to go all night/day to celebrate. I was 2 when the park opened and we went 3 weeks later as a family.

  • My very first visit was 17 July 1990 and I still have the paper birthday hats that were given out to the guests at the front gate. I ran to a locker to put mine up so it would not get damaged that day.

  • Followed the 50th Anniversary online in 2005, and was fortunate enough to fly out from the UK to celebrate Disneyland’s 55th last year along with my Brother and Sister’s birthday on the same day. It was an amazing experience. The day just had such a buzz about it that was even more magical then a normal ‘Disney Day’. Thank you for beautiful memories, and Happy 56th for tomorrow Disneyland!

  • Wasn’t the 50th called the Happiest Celebration on Earth?

  • I loved the 30th birthday party, got a really cool poster and still have it. I Graduated High School that year and went like 4 times that summer! The 40th birthday was cool too with the opening of Indiana jones attraction. Sometime during the 35th bday year was the last time my Grandma went with us, she just thought I was CRAZY for wanting to go like 4 times a year. Now as an annual passholder I go at least 4 times a month!!

  • I wish I could go, but I can’t afford Disneyland anymore :(.

  • Those of you who were there in 1955 are so lucky! I was about 10 and watched the Opening of DL on a tv newscast. I told my dad I was going there someday. My childhood dream never came until 2008!
    I loved walking down the Mainstreet and thinking Walt Disney walked here. It was great and I’m planning to visit again although I have been at WDW many times.

  • I always go for Disneyland’s birthday since I have been a annual passholder. I was one of the many guests who were at DCA in line over night to get the I was there pin and shirt. I always take it out to where the shirt and pin and I picked up this yrs pin to where it too On July 17th. It was so awesome to be escorted from DCA as the first guests to enter Disneyland and all the CMs who work on main street, were lined up to watch the parade of guests coming down main street and they were wearing the Mickey white gloves and saying, Welcome Home. And that brought some tears to my eyes. I was very touched by that.
    And last yr for the 55th birthday, I was there at town square where they had the celebration with the president of Disneyland and other guests. What touched me very much, they way they ended the celebration was, they had a kids choir. It started with 5 kids starting to sing, When You Wish Upon a Star in every language where there is a Disney Park. And while the rest of the choir came down the stairs, they played the opening day speech and the all the characters came out and they release a bunch of doves and a lot of confetti. It was very touching. I was able to video it all on my cell phone. Which some days, I still lay here in bed and watch it. And later that afternoon around 4:15 we sang happy birthday to Disneyland and then they had CMs doing a flash mob dance to a Dream is a wish your heart makes. And I was fortunate to see a few CMs I know who were dancing in front of me. They were wearing the costumes where they work in the park. That was so cool too. I am looking forward to being there on the 56th Birthday.

  • My daughter is so excited she has the same birthday as Disneyland hehe. For her 10th birthday it will be Disneylands 60th and we are all ready planning our trip to be there. In the mean time we are really pumped for our trip in 3 weeks 🙂 cant wait for the new rides and new food places.

  • last year’s 55th anniversary was awesome it was a huge flash mob with 55 characters including very rare characters like the Beast. It was awesome. I’m lucky since its my birthday too so I cant wait to for sunday, gonna be in the park all day from open to close 🙂

  • I was there for the 50th and 55th. The best was the 50th! I am making plans for the 60th already!!!!!

  • Wish I could have been there!

  • I’ve only been to 2 great anniversaries … I was at wdw for the 25th anniversary and it was my 8th bday and then being there 5-5-05 for the pre anniversary party and then being there for 50th anniversary was the best day ever… I got up early, got my pin and my day of 50th 50 dollar bill… That is a day I will never forget for the rest of my life 🙂

  • For the 55th the cupcakes that they ‘handed out’ cost around $5. each. Still had to charge you. This Sunday, what will they give you for the $105 admission fee?

  • My brother and I arrived at midnight to wait in line for the 50th. Met so many wonderful people! I agree it was awesome being greeted by the cast members walking down mainstreet. We were fortunate to purchase the “I was there on July 17th 2005” pin and I will never sell it!! One of my most prized pins and I have over 200 – LOL!! Can’t wait for the 75th and 100th (if I’m around) Just LOVE the disney magic!

  • Disneyland’s 50th was the best because we did that package deal where we got in early. And the live auction on July 15 was super cool. I wish that I could have gone home with Rocket Jet #1.

  • I went on the 55th anniversary!It was fantasmical! Me and my brother were the very first people on the pirates of the carribean that day 😀

  • I was there last year for the 55th anniversary. It was alot of fun and my sister’s theatre group actually performed in the Carnation Plaza that same day.

  • Yes, the 50th anniversary was awesome!

    I love Disneyland! 🙂

  • I was there for the 50th Anniversary. Was up early at 4:00am to stand in line to get into the park that day. Thought it was really cool when we finally walked into Disneyland and cast members were lined up along Main Street waving and welcoming everyone “home”. I’ve been there for other anniversaries as well, but think the 50th was the best.

  • 50th anniversary party was the best (: celebrated with the neighbors and it was there dads 50th birthday while we were there

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