05 May 2005
In a historic first, Disney parks, along with beloved Disney characters and various celebrities worldwide, came together for one spectacular “Golden Moment” as they collectively launched the “Happiest Celebration on Earth.” This first-ever global celebration commemorates the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, which opened in 1955, and five decades of Disney theme park magic.
In an unbelievable example of showmanship, world-famous Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in California became the central focus for a most extraordinary “homecoming.” Under gold castle spires and fluttering regal banners (and with a bit of Disney magic and satellite technology) the ceremony unfolded simultaneously on three continents and at six different Disney Destinations around the word, including the Disney Cruise Line, showcasing an array of celebrities and Disney characters “Coming Home” to the once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
To the stirring sounds of an original composition performed by a live, 70-piece orchestra under the direction of Academy Award-nominated composer Alan Silvestri, a cast of hundreds made it “home” to Disneyland for the celebration kick-off. Mickey Mouse and Goofy arrived via Herbie the Love Bug, Cinderella raced across the drawbridge (just in time), Genie from Disney’s “Aladdin” arrived atop a camel, Donald Duck literally crashed landed and the irascible, Elvis-loving alien Stitch made an impressive entrance on a motorcycle with an Anaheim Police escort (complete with blaring sirens).
Michael D. Eisner, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, and Robert Iger, president, chief operating officer and CEO-elect, The Walt Disney Company, hosted the star-studded launch ceremony at Disneyland. Joining them were acclaimed Grammy Award-winning artists Leann Rimes and Christina Aguilera, Disneyland Opening Day co-host Art Linkletter, plus Broadway and film star Julie Andrews, the Honorary Ambassador of the 50th anniversary.
Joining in the festive launch were thousands of guests gathered at Cinderella Castle in Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort, including comedian Wayne Brady, Grammy-winning artist Jennifer Holliday and Broadway stars Andrea McArdle and Eden Espinosa. Famed French actor Gerard Depardieu sent greetings from Disneyland Paris while celebrities at Tokyo Disneyland and the soon-to-open Hong Disneyland helped launch the anniversary as well.
“When Walt Disney built Disneyland 50 years ago, he launched a bold innovation in family entertainment . . . he knew things like “magic” and “dreams” were timeless treasures that would strike a chord with children of all ages, in all corners of the world,” said Michael Eisner. “Disney theme parks around the world are joining together to celebrate this historic occasion and show the world where Walt’s dreams have taken us…and where we have taken his dreams.”
“During the course of the next 18 months, our Guests will be a part of the largest debut of new Disney theme park attractions and entertainment ever unveiled, reminding all of us that growth and innovation are at the heart of our Company’s longstanding heritage of creative excellence,” stated Bob Iger. “By always remembering our rich legacy, we will continue on that journey of imagination well into the future.”
The celebration launched today with the concurrent premiere of exciting new entertainment spectaculars and innovative adventures and attractions at Disneyland Resort, California; Walt Disney World Resort, Florida; Tokyo Disney Resort, Japan; and Disneyland Resort Paris, France. Joining the celebration on September 12, 2005, will be Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney’s 11th vacation destination and first theme park in China.
“We’re inviting families around the world to join us in celebrating this major milestone in Disney history,” said Jay Rasulo, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, who divided his time between Disneyland and Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort for the celebration kick-off. “For those who have made memories with us before, it’s a chance to savor once more the dreams that have come true; and for those who might be visiting us for the first time it’s a perfect opportunity to join in a magical tradition that is shared by families all over the world.”
“Disneyland was Walt’s gift to the world . . . a genuine national treasure,” stated Andrews as she introduced the finale moments of the presentation filled with fireworks, confetti and hundreds of smiling, waving children. “More than six generations of families and friends have gathered together in this happy place to experience its special brand of magic and the gifts of laughter, fun, nostalgia, fantasy and adventure.”
Art Linkletter, who emceed the park’s opening day live television broadcast in 1955, reflected on being a part of Disneyland history during the ceremony. “I enjoy being a part of the great legacy that Walt started,” said Linkletter. “Over the years, it’s been remarkable to watch Walt’s dream spread across the world.”