Over the years, Disneyland has had many grand events celebrating the milestone anniversary of the Happiest Place on Earth. However, this year looks a little different. With Disneyland itself closed and many of us quarantined, I thought it would be helpful and fun to create a list of resources that could bring some of that Disney magic to our homes.
Almost every major Disney anniversary has had a television special, but there are also some fascinating looks at Disneyland even before its opening. In Walt Disney’s television show, also titled “Disneyland”, he made a habit of bringing viewers behind the scenes and showing them up and coming projects.
“The Disneyland Story”- This originally aired in 1954, a year before Disneyland officially opened. This was the debut episode of Walt’s anthology television series and provided a look at what he was planning for his magnificent park. This is a great trip down memory lane and a chance to see and hear Disneyland’s original vision described by Walt himself. This can be found quite easily on YouTube or on The Walt Disney Treasures DVDs.
“The Pre-Opening Report from Disneyland”- Another episode of Walt’s show, this aired in 1955, just a few days before the park actually opened. It looks at the final touches that need to be made for Disneyland to be ready. It was released on Disney+ today, just in time for its anniversary!
Disneyland’s opening day on July 17, 1955, was famously quite a disaster. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Some of this was captured on Disneyland’s opening day television special titled “Dateline: Disneyland” and can be found on YouTube.
There are numerous specials that have aired over the years, celebrating anniversaries of the park. The first one is one of the best. “Disneyland 10th Anniversary” aired in January of 1965 and represents what Walt did best, which was celebrating what came before and looking ahead to the future. In this special, Walt shows off his future attractions that have become Disney staples such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Haunted Mansion”. Sadly, both of these rides would come to fruition after his death, but it is wonderful to see his passion and joy for what’s to come.
Most of the later birthday specials would feature numerous celebrity guests and musical numbers such as the 25th-anniversary celebration which included Danny Kaye, Michael Jackson, and the Osmonds. The 30th and 35th celebrations were no different. These are all fun specials to look at, both for their historical value and the Disney nostalgia and magic that they provide. However, one of the best Disneyland specials is 2007’s “Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic”. This feature-length documentary originally appeared on a Walt Disney Treasures DVD and is an in-depth look at the first 50 years of the park, hosted by Julie Andrews. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 65th birthday, that by watching this film. Another excellent documentary to watch is The Imagineering Story, which is on Disney+ and details not just the creation of Disneyland, but all of the Disney parks.
In addition to the many specials and films to watch, there are other ways to celebrate Disneyland as well:
- Play Disney music in the background at home- I highly recommend the Disneyland album from The Legacy Collection, which provides familiar music and sounds from both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.
- Play Disney trivia- Tomorrow, July 18, our friends Sarah Sterling and Tiffany Mink are hosting a virtual Disney trivia game on their Twitch channel, Quiz Like Me at 5 PM PST. Join in on the fun and be ready for challenging questions!
- Make Disney treats- It doesn’t take much looking to find some great Disney-inspired recipes on the web, such as Dole Whip, churros, and beignets! Ordinary Adventures has a few videos you can follow and we recommend for those missing their Disneyland fix.
- Look through old Disneyland maps- Okay, this one may not be for everybody. But for those of us who love seeing Disneyland’s evolution over the years, there are lots of maps that can be viewed online from the last 65 years of Disneyland that provide fascinating insights into the attractions that have come and gone and those that have remained.
- End the day with a Disneyland fireworks show- There are lots of videos online of various fireworks shows from Disneyland. My personal favorite is “Fantasmic!” which captures that Disney magic for me better than anything else!
I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom, wherever you are. Happy 65th Anniversary, Disneyland!