50th Anniversary Attractions, Merchandise, and Stuff
For its 50th Anniversary Celebration, Disneyland made a variety of improvements throughout the park and offered new and improved entertainment and attractions. Although many planned improvements and entertainments (such as the and return of the Monsanto house, filling of the Rivers of America with liquid gold, and real flying elephants) did not come to pass, the following did see the light of day:
Floral Mickey: The floral Mickey Mouse head that graces Disneyland's entrance was replaced by a floral 50th anniversary logo, but the mouse was still present in the form of a 3D topiary Mickey made of flowers. The 500 flowers that made Mickey included 10 that sprouted from seeds in each of Disneyland's 50 years. Apparently Disneyland gardeners have been planning this for a long time.
Remember... Dreams Come True fireworks spectacular: The biggest fireworks display in Disneyland history, Remember featured not only fireworks but also lasers, smoke effects, film projections, confetti cannons, a massive balloon release, cream pies rocketed into the crowd, and a new, high-energy overflight by an audioanimatronic Tinker Bell who dove, twirled, looped, spun, did barrel rolls and Immelmans, and sprayed the crowd with "pixie dust" made from real gold.
Parade of Dreams: This new parade was the biggest to hit Disneyland since before the now-gone days when most of the park's budget went to misguided entertainment events, making up for past mistakes, spindoctoring, and generating PowerPoint hype for executives. With 50 floats, 500 performers, and show stops at several points along the route, the Parade of Dreams runs exactly 50 minutes.
Disney Gallery: The Disney Gallery featured a selection of Disneyland production art that fans fondly remembered having seen time and time again, but this time everything was available for immediate, high-pressure purchase via print on demand.
Cast member badges: Cast members all had new gold-colored badges that listed their names along with an additional piece of personal information. Some of the additional messages may be a little hard for guests to understand, because of the special vocabulary Disneyland employees use (e.g., "cast member" = "employee," "costume" = "uniform," "class of" = "paroled on," etc.)
Disney Vacation Club: A cart was set up near the park's hub to sell Disney Vacation Club (DVC) memberships. Guests approaching the cart were "encouraged" by a team of very large cast members not to walk away until they have heard all about the program, watched a promotional video, and agreed that this is a great deal that they would be insane to pass up. Rumors that the government is considering officially branding DVC a cult are completely true.
Gold vehicles: One of each ride vehicle from attractions that opened during the park's first year was painted gold. These included a Dumbo elephant, a Mad Tea Party teacup, a Jungle Cruise boat, the King Arthur Carousel horse known as Scarface, an Autopia car, a Skyway bucket, a Peter Pan ship, and a Main Street vehicle horse. In keeping with the spirit of the event, the cartoons in the Main Street Cinema were switched from black and white to gold and white, and the Pirates of the Caribbean "redhead" animatronic figure looked like she just stepped off the set of Goldfinger.
Golden Mickey ears: Traditional Mickey Mouse ear hats were available in gold. Made from real gold thread, these hats weighed about eight pounds. Their price varied in sync with commodity markets. For an extra $200, guests purchasing a pair of golden Mickey ears could have their names put on the back in traditional tapestry fashion by a team of underpaid little girls who were young enough that the eyestrain and painfully delicate hand work hasn't gotten to them yet.
Cookie baking: Kids could bake real cookies along with a Disneyland chef at the Plaza Pavilion. They could take one cookie home, and the rest were available for sale throughout the resort. Later in the year, kids were also be able to really help plant flowers, mend costumes, or polish a gold vehicle.
Free plates: Disneyland gave away gold-trimmed china plates to anyone who purchases a select snack item from a variety of vendors throughout the park. Guests got one plate with each purchase of churro, turkey leg, chimichanga (spelling may vary), or popcorn plate (formerly bucket). Although the plates are free, the price for each of these items has been raised to $30.
Official drink: The "Tinker Bell Twist" was a new drink available throughout Disneyland, specifically for the park's anniversary. It was a concoction of grapefruit, unsweetened lemon, and cantalope, with just a hint of Tinker Bell.
Tinker Bell Magic Straws: For the usual additional fee, guests could purchase special Tinker Bell Magic Straws to go in their Disneyland beverages. The figure of Tink on these straws could be removed and used as a hair clip, bag fastener, or noisy child lip fastener (its preferred usage). The magic straws glowed in the dark due to a Disney innovation called "radiumagic isotopes." Guests were encouraged not to look at the "pixy rays" emanating from Tink for too long a period of time, or to put magic straws anywhere near growing children or their brain or reproductive organs.
Popcorn buckets: Nine different popcorn buckets were released during the course of the celebration, each with a different picture of a Disneyland costumed character interacting with guests. The first bucket showed a giggling child on hands and knees behind Pluto while another child shoves the hapless dog backwards. This bucket sold out almost immediately, and was replaced by one depicting two little boys yanking on Eyore's tail. The third bucket showed an adult male guest being escorted out of the park after "interacting" with one of the princesses.
Photo montages: Before the anniversary festivities began, Disneyland asked guests to send in personal photos that the company could use in murals, print advertisements, films, and other products without paying any royalties whatsoever. These photos were shrunk down to the size of a pea and used as tiles to create photo montages that cloged intersections and disrupted sight lines all over Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. These montages depicted Disneyland icons, such as a vending cart and a "wait time from this point" sign. If you looked carefully in the 47th row of photos on the montage of the organ from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, you could see, 84 photos in, part of someone in the background wearing what might be a DisneyLies t-shirt. We're so proud! By the way, it is rumored that the man who was charged with selecting each of the millions of photos so that they created perfect montages didn't find out until the completion of the project that computers can be used to select the photos at a time savings of several million percent. He is currently recuperating at the Michael Eisner memorial home for the insane.
Merchandise: All manner of 50th-anniversary merchandise was released. Everything from cufflinks to books, toys to postcards, napkins to super-tight "Annette" sweaters, was available as a limited edition with accompanying pricing.
50th merchandise stores: Two stores -- one on Main Street and one in Fantasyland -- had their normal merchandise ripped out, destroyed, and replaced with 50th anniversary merchandise. This merchandise spread across the park like a virus until was all that tourists could buy.
Pins: A series of commemorative pins was been released as part of the anniversary celebration. This large, limited edition, pin series was special in that the pins were designed to interlock. A complete collection of pins could, with instructions available at City Hall, be assembled into an incredibly detailed HO-scale replica of Disneyland.
Paper and plastic: Bags, cups, straws, ketchup packets, garbage-can liners, paper towels, and anything else plastic or paper and disposable was recast in the 50th anniversary's image. In a special nod to the park's copious paper napkin collectors, a new napkin was released each week during the anniversary celebration, with a full set of napkins in a special collectible gold napkin dispenser available at the end of the promotion for $100. By the way, Disney trivia buffs will be interested to know that the anniversary retheming of paper goods marks the first time that Disneyland has allowed its logo to be put on toilet tissue.
Coke bottles: Throughout Disneyland, bottles of Coca-cola had a little note on the label saying that it's Disneyland's anniversary and that this makes Coke bottles really collectible so you should buy a bunch of them.
Sleeping Beauty's castle: The castle was completely redecorated with gold trim, jeweled accents, and hydrocephalic-sized crowns atop its spires. The walkthrough diorama attraction -- now sporting red carpets, velvet drapes, hand-carved frames around all scenes, and intricate miniature audioanimatronics -- remained commemoratively closed indefinitely.
50 Magical Years exhibit: The Main Street Opera House hosted an exhibit on the history of Disneyland. This exhibit, the delight of Disney geeks everywhere, took the place of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, formerly the delight of Disney geeks everywhere. The audioanimatronic Abraham Lincoln was been moved to a booth (no pun intended) overseeing the Golden Horseshoe Stage.
Park tickets: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure admission tickets featured art of attractions from the Disneyland's past. This created a small amount of confusion among guests unfamiliar with the park who thought these were current attractions and bugged cast members about "what time does the 6 o'clock Mickey Mouse Club Circus show start" and "where's the nearest Bathroom of Tomorrow?"
Disney dollars: Special 50th-anniversary Disney Dollars were released, featuring Tinker Bell on the $1, Davy Crockett on the $5, and Stitch on the $10. The limited edition printing of one million Mickey Mouse $50 bills sold out instantly, but there were plenty of $2 Eisner bills to go around.
Jungle Cruise improvements: The beloved Jungle Cruise was been significantly revamped and made more serious. Guests could feel the heat of the explosions, sustain minor injuries from flying shrapnel, and maybe even get wet!
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: This new attraction featured space creatures and realistic violence that guests can participate in. Because the ride vehicles' shooting ability makes the attraction technically an arcade, it is not included with park admission.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In a move applauded by guests, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction was only operating on weekends.
Price Discounts: In honor of the park's 50th anniversary, Disneyland lowered the price for all tickets by $50. -- Ha! Gotcha! Just kidding! Actually, everything costs more than ever.
All of these additions drew massive crowds for the official May 5, 2005, anniversary kickoff. At 8:00 that morning, the line to get into Disneyland stretched from the main gate, to the entrance to Disney California Adventure, down Downtown Disney, and into the main parking lot at Knotts Berry Farm. Once the park opened, it got really crowded. It is estimated that those at the end of the line were able to enjoy the festivities some time in late June.
As soon as Main Street shops opened, 50th-anniversary merchandise began to sell like hotcakes, creating instant shortages. For example, the special 80-CD set of every sound ever recorded in Disneyland was limited to a quarter of a million sets and priced at $900, but it sold out within minutes of park opening. Later that evening, traffic on eBay increased 1,800%.
And the fun didn't stop there. On July 17, Disneyland's actual anniversary, there were additional celebrations, including:
Get a book!
Get another book!