My very first visit to Disney World in Orlando, Florida coincided with the park's 25th anniversary celebrations. It was our first vacation with our 4.5 month old daughter so we hadn't done much research ahead of time and had no idea that the celebration was underway until we arrived and discovered that Cinderella's Castle had been transformed into a giant pink birthday cake. It made for some memorable photos! As luck would have it, I had the opportunity to experience another Disney celebration this fall when I visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California during the park's 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration.
Disneyland has been a magical destination for families since Walt Disney first opened the gates to Disneyland Park on July 17, 1955 and welcomed visitors with the following words:
"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."
There has been much to celebrate since that day as the original park has expanded into a resort destination that includes Disneyland Park, California Adventure Park, the Downtown Disney entertainment district and three resort hotels. Disneyland Resort is marking this anniversary with a celebration that will last for over a year and will include special events and entertainment as well as daily and weekly prizes. The Disneyland Diamond Celebration began on May 15, 2015 and will continue through to September 5, 2016 which means there is almost 16 months to visit and enjoy all of the celebratory events.
I spent a wonderful 2 days at Disneyland earlier this fall experiencing the park during the Diamond Celebration and these are the 5 things that I enjoyed most.
Special Diamond Anniversary Decorations
As soon as you arrive you will notice that the parks are decked out for the celebration. Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park, Carthay Circle Theatre at California Adventure, Main Street USA in Disneyland Park and Buena Vista Street in California Adventure are all sparkling with 60th anniversary banners and celebratory decor. I loved seeing all of the special decorations and could have spent a substantial part of my day trying to capture the beauty in photos. Chances are your family won't allow you to dawdle on the way in so plan to spend some time when leaving the park to take special family photos with the Diamond Celebration decorations in the background.
'Disneyland Forever' Fireworks Show
I have always loved a good fireworks show and Disneyland Forever is like nothing that I have ever seen before. In fact, it's so much more than just a fireworks show that there really needs to be a better word to describe it. The multimedia show which is nearly 15 minutes long pays homage to Walt Disney, Disneyland and timeless Disney stories by combining spectacular fireworks with incredible music and with digital projections of images from classic Disney movies on the front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, the Matterhorn, the buildings on Main Street U.S.A. and It's A Small World. Special touches include Tinker Bell and Nemo flying over the Castle and snow falling from the sky at the end of Elsa's anthem Let It Go from the movie Frozen. The show even includes two new songs - the theme song "Live the Magic" and the closing song "Kiss Goodnight" written by Disney legend Richard M. Sherman. There's so much going on during Disneyland Forever that you would have to see it several times to actually register it all but whether it's the first viewing or the 10th you will be seriously impressed by this display of Disney magic.
Paint the Night Parade
Paint the Night is the spectacular new electrical parade that was introduced earlier this year for the Diamond Celebration. More than 1.5 million flashing LED lights are used to illuminate a procession of stunning floats led by Tinker Bell spreading her pixie dust as Mickey Mouse uses his imagination to "paint the night". Even the costumed performers are glowing with lights on their costumes. I loved every aspect of this parade, however, if pressed to pick a favourite from among all of the incredible floats, I'd have to go with Anna and Elsa in their shimmering ice palace.
World of Color - Celebrate!
At the Paradise Pier lagoon in California Adventure Park, actor Neil Patrick Harris joins Mickey Mouse to narrate a new presentation of World of Color. World of Color - Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney tells the story of Walt Disney and Disneyland using music and imagery from Disney films in a 28 minute long choreographed show of soaring water fountains dancing to the music, laser lights, fire and other special effects. The show is designed to make everyone feel nostalgic about Disney - and it works! (Be aware that if you are close to the lagoon then you will get wet from the fountains.)
Characters in Diamond Celebration Outfits
Regardless of whether I'm visiting one of the Disney parks or sailing on a Disney cruise, seeing the characters in unique costumes has always been a highlight for me. Mickey Mouse and friends (Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Chip and Dale) all have fancy new bright red and blue sparkly outfits for the Diamond Celebration and can be found wearing them at certain times of the day around Town Square. I was thrilled to run into Mickey, Minnie and Goofy in their fancy duds at the main entrance on my way to dinner one evening. I couldn't get a photo with them because the line had already been closed off but at least I saw them!
In addition to all of this, if you are visiting during the Diamond Celebration period you will also discover new food and drinks as well as Diamond Celebration themed souvenirs for purchase. Musical groups such as the Disneyland Band will also be adding special Diamond Celebration moments to their performances. There's also a possibility of winning fantastic daily and weekly prizes as part of the Diamond Days Sweepstakes. Prizes include individual tours of the parks and VIP viewing for the nighttime spectaculars, custom-engraved diamonds, a crystal Cinderella slipper, a tailgate party in Cars Land and an overnight stay in the Disneyland Dream Suite in New Orleans Square. To win a daily prize, entrants must be physically present at the Disneyland Resort, however, weekly prize drawings are open to anyone (in the U.S., Mexico or Canada excluding Québec) and can be entered online. If you are a Disney fan then the Diamond Celebration is an event that you definitely don't want to miss!
Are you planning to visit Disneyland during the Diamond Celebration? If so, then which special events are you most looking forward to? If you have already been then let us know which events you enjoyed most.
What You Need To Know
- The Disneyland Diamond Celebration runs from May 15, 2015 through to September 5, 2016.
- A limited number of FAST PASS tickets are available for the World of Color show each day. World of Color dining packages can also be booked up to 60 days in advance. Both FAST PASS and World of Color dining packages include access to reserved viewing areas for the show. See the Disneyland website for additional and up-to-date information.
- Anyone who is planning to visit multiple theme parks in the area should consider purchasing the Southern California CityPASS which includes admission to Disneyland Resort & California Adventure, LEGOLAND California, and SeaWorld San Diego. Southern California CityPASS is the only multi-park admission pass that includes the 3-Day Park Hopper Ticket for Disneyland® and Disney California Adventure® plus a Magic Morning for Disneyland®. One day at San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park can be added to your CityPASS, exclusively on citypass.com.
- Download the official Disneyland App to check wait times, find favourite characters, use GPS enabled maps and more.
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I visited Southern California as a guest of CityPASS and Disneyland. My opinions are, as always, my own.