Disneyland: Celebrating Fifty Magical Years!
By Rick Millikan
Built on former orange groves sprawling along a new
freeway, Anaheim’s Disneyland opened with enormous fanfare in 1955. Amidst
today’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, we once more enjoy innovative adventures
and playful activities.
Walt designed a family-oriented amusement park. Whether
sailing aloft to Peter Pan’s Neverland, taking Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, zipping
around Roger Rabbit’s Toontown, mounting caterpillars following the Mad Hatter
into Alice’s Wonderland, chugging through Storybook Land’s canals or journeying
in dolled up ‘It’s a Small World’, rides accommodate children of all ages.
Seeking bigger thrills, families bobsled the Matterhorn, rocket through Space
Mountain, rollick through the western frontier on Thunder Mountain Railroad and
boat into Brer Bear’s cheery Splash Mountain domain, ultimately plunging through
a briar patch.
Staying at the Grand Californian Hotel, we stroll the
bustling mall, cross Park Plaza to Disneyland’s Mainstreet and board a
double-decker omnibus. Soon we re-explore a tomb with Indiana Jones,
re-encounter those swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean and re-experience a
cryptic trip through the Haunted Mansion. Purchasing sarsaparillas at Golden
Horseshoe, we applaud and whistle as Billy Hill and the Hillbillies entertains
with an array of bluegrass, classical, heavy metal, rap and rock.
Walt Disney said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It
will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
Growth is evident. Tarzan’s family has moved into the former Swiss Family
Robinson Tree-House. Where Bear Country Jamboree once jammed, we journey into
blustery fun with Pooh Bear and friends. Dining in a New Orleans bistro, we
behold the dazzling evening ‘Parade of Dreams.’
Next morning we enter the adjacent California Adventure
Park for ‘Soarin’ over California.’ Feeling the wind, smelling orange blossoms
and pine forests, we bank and swoop over scenic wonders.
Theatres line the Hollywood section. After guffawing at
merry mayhem caused by Kermit and his beastly cast in a 3-D Muppet movie, we
explore a nearby edifice to animators. Interactive screens allow development of
my cartoon personality. I dub Aladdin’s characters loving renditions of showy
songs and villainous lines. Pausing for lively street theater, we then attend
‘Aladdin’, an extravaganza musical with a blue jovial genie, bejeweled
elephants, camels and actual flying carpet. Hollywood Tower Hotel looms near.
Chris bids me farewell as I take an eerie erratic elevator trip into the
twilight zone in the Tower of Terror.
Falling back to earth, we trek into the Sierras to raft
raging Grizzly Bear Rapids. Towed just below Wolf Rock, we twist under
waterfalls, through howling caverns and over boiling white rapids. Foregoing
nearby Paradise Pier’s genre of loop-de-loop rides, including a humungous
rollercoaster and Ferris wheel, in faux San Francisco we opt to see
prize-winning ‘Golden Dreams’ featuring inspired vignettes of state history.
Then in Bug’s Land, we feel the light-hearted earthy revenge from unloved
insects in Flik’s multi-sensory flick ‘It’s Tough to be a Bug’. I later
encounter Flik complimenting him on his comical antics and bugging in this
On our last day, the futuristic Disneyland Hotel monorail
whisks us into Tomorrowland. Where once we encountered the giant squid on
Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, stylish submarines will soon track down that elusive
fish, Nemo. Across from Star Tours’ ongoing battles with Darth Vader, Buzz
Lightyear recruits us as space cadets to fight evil Emperor Zurg. Chris pilots
our whirling rocket while I fire lasers, acing our way to stellar promotions.
Presenting ‘Disneyland: The First 50 Years’ Mainstreet
Opera House entices a visit. The lobby overflows with fascinating memorabilia.
Steve Martin, an early Magic Shop employee, hosts a five-decade tour of ‘his’
Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney’s foresight and imagination is truly impressive.
Wearing smiles and mouse ears, we head homeward with fun-filled memories.
If you’d like to visit what can well be the happiest place
on Earth, Disneyland’s special 50th anniversary celebrations continue through
by Rick and Chris Millikan
Back to TravelLady Magazine