Happy 50th Birthday, Disneyland!

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 17, 2005) – Exactly 50 years after its gates opened for the first time, Disneyland honored the occasion of its actual golden anniversary with a re-dedication ceremony featuring California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Eisner, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company and Robert Iger, president, chief operating officer and CEO-elect, The Walt Disney Company. Broadcast legend Art Linkletter (who hosted the live opening day telecast on July 17, 1955) and Walt Disney’s eldest daughter Diane Disney Miller also joined the festivities to pay homage to the world’s first Disney theme park.

Thousands were on hand as Governor Schwarzenegger arrived through the gateway of Sleeping Beauty Castle to participate in the milestone event. Michael Eisner presented Schwarzenegger with a gold motorcycle (provided by American Honda) to commemorate his participation (the motorcycle will be auctioned off to benefit the California After School All Stars program). “Disneyland is a California dream and a true original,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’s the place everyone wants to go and the place you never forget once you’ve been there.”

Michael Eisner reminded everyone of Disneyland’s humble roots and its global impact. “Rising out of orange groves and Walt Disney’s fertile imagination, Disneyland speaks the international languages of fun, laughter, smiles and family,” said Eisner. “As stewards of Walt’s creative vision, we have taken his dream around the globe and introduced the magic of Disneyland to countless millions who have embraced it as their own.”

Robert Iger spoke of the historic and far-reaching aspects of the celebration. “Disneyland is such an important part of our Company that today it stands at the center of an unprecedented global, 18 month celebration of its 50th anniversary, stretching from California, to Florida, Japan, France and soon Hong Kong,” stated Iger. “With the newly re-Imagineered ‘Space Mountain,’ the opening of ‘Turtle Talk With Crush’ at Disney’s California Adventure and the addition of ‘Finding Nemo Submarines’ in 2007, Disneyland reminds us that growth and innovation remain the cornerstones of our creative legacy.”

The re-dedication ceremony began with Art Linkletter who — 50 years earlier — hosted the live opening day telecast along with eventual U.S. President Ronald Reagan and actor Bob Cummings. “Fifty years ago today, the opening of Disneyland was a complete disaster as witnessed by this spry 43 year old,” noted Linkletter, who shares a birthday with Disneyland. “Over the past 50 years both Disneyland and I have worked hard to reach near perfection!”

To conclude the ceremony Robert Iger introduced a very special guest to help close the ceremony – Diane Disney Miller, one of Walt Disney’s two daughters. “It is truly wonderful to be here to celebrate this milestone occasion with everyone and to honor my father’s world changing vision, and his dream come true, Disneyland,” said Disney Miller. “The creativity and skill of those who develop the attractions, the talent and dedication of every cast member, the goodwill and good spirits of everyone who has been a part of this wonderful experience through these past 50 years have brought it along, and will carry it on.”

The finale of the ceremony was culminated by Diane Disney Miller reading the original dedication of Disneyland, just as her father did fifty years earlier:

“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, 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.”

Walt Disney, July 17, 1955

The sky was then filled with white doves, daytime pyrotechnics and thousands of voices throughout Disneyland singing a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.” The singing throng of guests on Main Street, U.S.A. seemed to form a sea of golden Mickey Ears, a perfect beginning for such a momentous day.

Thousands of Guests were already lined up at the Main Gate of Disneyland when it opened this morning at 8:00am. Many Guests had even spent the night, hoping to be among the first inside the park as it commemorated its anniversary today in grand style (Disneyland was officially dedicated by Walt Disney on Sunday, July 17, 1955, during an invitation-only grand opening). Although the anniversary celebration festivities continue through 2006, die-hard fans just wanted to be a part of history as Walt Disney’s original park (and the first Disney park to reach the milestone 50th mark), celebrated its golden anniversary.

The day began early as a specially created window on Main Street, U.S.A. was unveiled to serve as a lasting tribute to Disneyland Resort Cast Members past, present, and future who have created Disney magic for millions of Guests over the past 50 years. Throughout the day Guests received complimentary, commemorative gold Mickey Mouse Ears (a regular gold version is currently available at the Disneyland Resort and is outselling the traditional black “Ears” 8-to-1), a souvenir program and free birthday cake (it is estimated that an astounding 100,000 cupcakes will be served by the time the park closes at midnight). Gigantic jumbo-trons were positioned throughout the park, as well as the Sun Plaza of Disney’s California Adventure, in order to provide all guests with views of the ceremony and nostalgic images throughout the day.