Note: This first appeared on Jim Hill Media on August 18, 2005.
Was it only a month ago that we were all at Disneyland celebrating the big 50th Anniversary?
Sure seems like it was only yesterday…
Despite comments from other quarters, it actually was one heck of a lot of fun that weekend. Yes, it truly is a special place and Walt Disney’s personal brand of magic comes to life every day there.
However, if there was one theme that I recall from that weekend, it was how much Disneyland was (and hopefully, will always be) a place for people. Whether it is families making memories from their visits or the folks behind the scenes who make the magic come to life, it would not be the same without all of those human touches.
Back in May, the festivities were truly themed more for the media to get out the word that Disneyland had a lot to celebrate for the next 18 months. But in July, it was indeed a different story.
For example, the big screen televisions located throughout the Park. Even if you couldn’t be there in front of the Castle that morning, you could see what was going on thanks to one of those screens. And if you missed the festivities, there were opportunities all day long to see them again. I didn’t think of that so much as Disney blowing it’s own horn, but a chance for everyone to take it in at their own pace. All day and night, there were plenty of people who took advantage of that to watch when they wanted to. It was nice to see the ceremonies a bit closer as well as other events from the day, including the dedication of the Cast Member window on Main Street.
And it seemed that all day long, everywhere you turned, there were plenty of smiling Cast Members with lots and lots of those celebratory cupcakes. (I even saw them for sale on eBay afterwards!) Nice idea, but they could have used about half as much frosting on each one. Okay, so I had two of them…
Even standing in line over night had people moments. Walking into Disneyland that morning, it was great to be welcomed home by cast members lining Main Street. Think of it as an extended family reunion if you will. Lots of smiles and waves going back and forth between the guests and cast members showed just how special a day it was for everyone.
If there was a single event or moment that day that truly captured or highlighted just how much this was a people event, I think it was the 4:45 pm replay of Walt’s opening day dedication speech. Fifty years to the minute as it was seen on “Dateline Disneyland”, those words echoed throughout one man’s dream still going as strong as it ever had been.
Unlike the earlier festivities that day, this time the dignitaries were the guests. As they crowded around the dedication plaque in the Town Square, there was a minimal amount of crowd control. Just a few Cast Members keeping the direct area in front of the plaque clear. Rumors of all kinds abounded as to who might make an appearance.
Right on cue, it was Mickey Mouse, all spiffy in his new 50th anniversary outfit, as the one to be there for the replay of Walt’s opening day words. Very appropriate as Walt said many times, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”
Mickey is greeted by guests for the 4:45 pm ceremony
Photo by Jeff Lange
While for some folks, the replay of Walt’s dedication speech may have been just another use of a classic moment. I saw it somewhat differently. From the area in front of the Main Street Station, there was a wonderful view of all of these people. They came to be there fifty years to the second when a place that has meant so much to each of them was dedicated. And there were a lot of people there that day.
“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome.
Disneyland is your land.
Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.
Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
When the sound of Walt saying those words ended, it was replaced by the sounds of those guests clapping and cheering with appreciation for every day that “The Happiest Place On Earth” has been there for everyone to enjoy.
As much as there may be times when it may seem otherwise, you should remember what was the inspiration for this place. It was a father looking to have a place where he could enjoy his family having a good time. And now 50 years later, that is just what Disneyland is.
But without people to bring the magic to life every day and people to enjoy that magic, Disneyland is just a big empty place. But with people, it comes to life.
More proof of just how special this particular brand of magic truly is to all of us lucky enough to have the chance to experience it.