By Edgardo Acosta
So let's talk Disneyland Diamond Celebration. The Disneyland theme park has been around for 60 years. Of course, Disney has to celebrate the momentous occasion in style with a special 24 hour kickoff event. I went with a group. We had a blast but were tired at the end of it all despite our planning. So here's a rundown of how the kickoff went and what to expect for the coming year celebrating 60 years of Disneyland.
The Special Event
How else is Disneyland going to celebrate 60 years of fun? But with a 24 hour kick-off party starting Friday May 22nd at 6am. I went with my wife and group of five other people ranging in age from 13 to 34. Fans and pass holders lined up for the event as early as Thursday 5pm. We showed up at 9:45pm that day and there were already a lot of people there. The atmosphere was great. Everyone was excited for the park opening. The hardcore fans where definitely prepared for the long wait. Both park cast members and dedicated fans had all their preparations ready. We had food, snacks, charged phones for entertainment, and something warm to sleep in or at least something to brave the cold in. When it got closer to entry time, about 4am Friday, everyone was issued a wrist band to ensure entry and at the check point for bag inspection. I had walked off and barely got back in time to get my wrist band. We were all given collector Mickey Mouse ears. So once given the ears and bags check it was off to the park.
Before we were allowed to run amuck everyone was pretty much herded like cattle onto Main Street USA for a block party. It was pretty crowded and many were left standing for a while before allowed access to the rest of the park. But we were kept entertained with music and appearances from all the main Disney characters. At 6am Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto all swung by to welcome all the guest to the official opening of the park. I have to admit it was pretty cool walking down Main Street seeing all the cast members welcoming you and leading you towards the castle. After that it was pretty much a free for all around the park.
Our group headed straight for all the exclusive swag available, then for the rides. I took a brief nap to recharge, at a hotel we booked, within walking distance. Then headed back to the park to join up with my group, to eat, and enjoy the rides. The park quickly filled up and reached maximum capacity by 2:30pm forcing Disney to close the gates to control incoming visitors. The lines stretched for some rides but the cast helped those Super fans that had been there since the night before. We got to go to the head of the very long line at the Tower of Terror line because we had those special wrist bands and mouse ears. When it got dark, we ate again, rested a bit, and waited for all the night stuff to start. The group simply loved the Electric Parade and the World of Color (read below for more details). Overall, even with the crowds, it was worth spending all that time and money for a once a decade experience.
What’s New at the Park
There have been a couple upgrades to the park for the 60th Diamond Celebration. Throughout the park there are diamond and blue themed decorations. Even Sleeping Beauty’s Castle got a makeover with encrusted diamond spears and blue sparkle paint all over. A few rides got upgrades too. After nearly a 60 year absence, the Hatbox Ghost made its return to the Haunted Mansion. At the Matterhorn, the famous mountain Yeti got some new animatronics, new sounds, and actions. There are still some renovations planned for the Tomorrowland terrace, likely connected to the new Tomorrowland movie. The Electric parade is back with upgraded effects, updated characters and interactions with the new light changing wands. Also, Main Street itself becomes part of the end of the night show this year. They did this by adding projections along the faces of the buildings of Main Street. So everyone feels like they were a part of the show. If you have a soft spot in your heart, it will hit you just right with that Disney Magic.
Not to feel out, Disney's California Adventure also got some upgrades and decorations. The area around Soaring Over California got refurbished with a smoke jumpers. Carthay Cirlce got the diamond glitter paint job. You get to see the return of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Band. The famous World of Color show was completely upgraded and hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. It combined a little bit of Disney history with great Disney music and art. So don't feel it's all about Disneyland. You’ve got plenty of options between both parks.
Swag and Pins
Now let's talk swag or at least the souvenirs you are willing to pay for. So there is just about everything with the 60th Anniversary logo on it. From ears, shirts, bags, toys, decorations and of course trading pins. The hardcore collectors got in line right away for any exclusives which were mostly pins. But throughout the park you can see a little bit of everything. All the popcorn stands, food vendors and restaurants in every land had anniversary theme treats. There were even some new Marvel and Star Wars related items. One of my favorite items was this interactive wand that allows you to change the color of your own and other’s special light up mickey ears. So depending on your budget you can get anything from limited edition artwork to candy for yourself or the kids.
My group spent over 24 hours at the park (my wife didn’t want to ever leave) and while it was a great experience, we were dead tired at the end of it (see picture). We are all super Disney fans so the tiredness was part of the great long experience. For the average fan remember that this is a year long celebration. So take advantage of it, but don't wait too long or you’ll have to wait another 10 years. Go with your friends or family. There is something for everybody from the old school fan to the newbie. Just a fair warning, if you’re ever going to do a Disney trip bring comfortable clothes and shoes. But most of all it's Disney, so bring Lots of Money!