Feature: Happy 60th Birthday Disneyland!
I just turned 30 a few days ago and unlike most people, I didn’t dread it. I didn’t fight the fact that I’m no longer in the “20-something” category. Instead I looked to one of my favorite places in the entire world: Disneyland! Walt Disney’s original park turns 60 years old today (It opened on July 17th, 1955.) and that’s incredibly impressive considering it’s significant attendance and the people still coming back in droves. Look at any local amusement park. There is no comparison. What’s in it’s success? Why do people continue to flock back to the park they’ve seen for six decades now? Simple! The park only grows and gets better. Disneyland has taught me to grow and become better with age.
If you were to get into your DeLorean (We all have them right?) and travel back to that opening year at Disneyland, you wouldn’t find the same park. I know it’s difficult to conjure up how different it could be. Yes, Sleeping Beauty castle was there and several attractions like Dumbo the Flying Elephant or Mad Tea Party were there as well, but you might be surprised to know that it wasn’t until the 1990s that Disneyland’s iconic statue of Walt and Mickey, “Partners”, wasn’t a part of the hub or that Main Street USA was made up of stores like a meat market or a lingerie shop in those early years. Even though I lived in a time period where I saw it and walked it many times, I can’t even imagine Disneyland’s ridiculously huge parking lot anymore. A giant slab of nothing but concrete was bulldozed and turned into a second park which I also love, but that park isn’t even 20 years old yet.
Like anyone else that’s a fan of the Happiest Place on Earth, I know it has faults and it’s had changes that I haven’t agreed with, but we all have and all of us are of different opinions. I could have died when they pulled the Country Bear Jamboree out and replaced it with Winnie the Pooh, but that’s my personal opinion and I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would love to see Winnie the Pooh have an attraction over some singing bears that were never in a film. (That Country Bears film doesn’t exist to me okay!)
Despite those rough changes from time to time, like any speed bump in life, the park gets past it and for every flub that happens, there is an addition that turns heads and makes the park much more interesting. The concept of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique did that for so many girls and has become a staple of the park these days. Reimagined attractions have become something of a delight. I love being able to see things like additional effects on Peter Pan or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It takes a perfectly fine attraction and makes it a must see again. I enjoy seeing new attractions and lands come to the park. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see Toontown open or to ride the Indiana Jones Adventure for the first time.
At age 60, Disneyland continues to grow and change and I’d like to take my cue from the park. I’m not growing older and weaker as I turn 30, I’m changing, adapting, and learning to be a part of the world I’m in now and I would like to think that I’m the best version of myself. I’ve never been happier with where my life is and I’ve never seen a better version of the park I call my other home. Happy 60th birthday Disneyland!