We arrived at the Grand Californian Hotel on May 4th. Disneyland, as we were told, was closed that day, so we would spend it by the pool or perhaps stick our heads into Disney’s California Adventure and see the new Pixar parade. We checked in a little before 9am and to our surprise we were given FREE (since when does Disney do anything for free?) tickets to Disneyland! It was a media day and all guests of the three Disney hotels got surprise entry. Very cool.
Steve Martin was there dedicating a theater. Tim Allen was there dedicating the new Buzz Lightyear ride. Kelsey Grammar was standing in line at Indiana Jones. Julie Andrews was giving interviews on Mainstreet. Art Linkletter was over at DCA checking out the latest rides. Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Wayne Gretzky, John Stamos (who actually owns the original Disneyland sign—he has it in his yard) and the rest of ABC’s primetime lineup were riding rides, eating cotton candy, and wearing little gold mouse ears. Also, churros.
The morning of the 5th we went down to the park entrance about about an hour and a half before opening. You know, to be the first in. Yeah right. The plaza between the two parks was jam-packed. It was like Mardi Gras, but with shirts. People were dancing and singing and complaining. It was awesome. We went in the park and were able to get fairly close to the castle. Imagine rushing the stage at a concert while pushing a stroller and being shoved by little old ladies and 20,000 gay men in matching attire. Actually, you probably can imagine that if you’ve ever been to a Bette Midler concert.
Art Linkletter came out and addressed the crowd. He talked about the original opening day at Disneyland and about his friend Walt Disney. LeAnne Rhimes came out and sang a song that Richard Marx (yes, that Richard Marx!) wrote for the event. Christina Aguilara followed with a song. Julie Andrews came out and spoke. An orchestra played. The popular ‘Come Home’ commercial (below) was continued, with the little boy that was “missing” running from the castle afraid he was too late, only to be joined by all the Disney characters, straight from the ad. Stitch on his motorcycle. Genie fresh from his camel. You get the picture.
After that the large curtain covering the front of the castle was dropped to reveal the final touch, a Mickey icon in gold with the number ’50’ written inside it. Some had speculated that the curtain hid a raised drawbridge, but that was not the case.
The remainder of the day was normal, aside from new merchandise and insane crowds.
The new parade and fireworks show were both, respectively, amazing. They both covered a lot of Disney history- the parade covered the movies and the fireworks covered the park (also, literally).
Over at DCA the Pixar gang had its own new parade, which was basically Toy Story meets American Bandstand. It’s got a good beat. I can dance to it. I give it an 80.
We stuck around until Saturday morning and managed to pull ourselves away in time to make the two hour drive home, change our clothes and go to work. Talk about reality hitting you square in the arse.
The whole experience was fantastic. I highly recommend it.