Happiest Homecoming on Earth

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The Happiest Homecoming on Earth was the eighteen-month-long celebration (May 5, 2005 through September 30, 2006) of the fiftieth anniversary of the Disneyland theme park, which opened on July 17, 1955.[1] The Happiest Celebration on Earth commemorated fifty years of Disney theme parks, and celebrated Disneyland's milestone throughout Disney parks all over the globe.

Happiest Homecoming on Earth (Disneyland)[edit]

Sleeping Beauty Castle with its 50th Anniversary Overlay
Lamp post with 50th Anniversary decor.
Flowers outside Main Street, U.S.A. train station during 50th celebration

Disneyland's 50th anniversary was July 17, 2005, but the celebration was launched on May 5, 2005 in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

May 4, 2005[edit]

Disneyland Park was actually closed to the public on this date, the first planned closure of the park in decades for a special media preview. Disney allowed guests staying at the three Disney owned hotels to become "extras" for the all the media filming going on, though they only were notified by a letter delivered in the middle of the night, so they had no advance notice.

May 5, 2005[edit]

The Happiest Homecoming on Earth ceremony officially began with a dedication from then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner. The ceremony included fireworks; speeches from Julie Andrews (official ambassador for the 50th anniversary celebrations), and Art Linkletter (original TV anchor for the opening day broadcast); a performance of "When You Wish Upon A Star" by Christina Aguilera; and LeAnn Rimes singing the 50th anniversary theme song "Remember When", composed by Richard Marx. A video conference featured celebrities at the Magic Kingdom (the only live video conference, with Wayne Brady, actor and former Walt Disney World Resort cast member), Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and the construction site of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Before the Ceremony, at a media presentation in Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort president Matt Ouimet announced the new attractions Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sully to the Rescue and Turtle Talk with Crush.

July 17, 2005[edit]

The actual day of Disneyland's 50th Dedication Day/Press Preview was an event marked by fans' enthusiasm. The first person to enter the park that day was Madison Steigerwald, a 16-year old girl from Old Greenwich, CT. She and her grandmother, Mary Madison, began to line up at 3 p.m. the day before. Due to the thousands of fans that continued to line up through the night, Disney California Adventure Park was opened and housed everyone until the next morning. A second line formed outside the security checkpoints as thousands more arrived in the final hours before the park opened. Disneyland Park opened at 7:00 a.m., although it took several hours to admit the crowds that showed up that morning.

Preparations[edit]

In 2004, Disneyland Resort President Matt Ouimet and hundreds of cast members posed for an aerial photo above Disneyland, with each person holding a nine square foot photograph of a Disneyland cast member. When seen from above the placards formed an image of Mickey Mouse, making it the largest photographic mosaic ever created. This initiated the Happiest Faces on Earth in which over thirty giant mosaics of Disney tableaus were displayed at locations around Disneyland and California Adventure composed of photos submitted by guests from the past fifty years. All the mosaics were created by California artist Roy Feinson.

Many classic Disneyland attractions re-opened in 2005 after lengthy refurbishments, such as Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Cruise and Space Mountain. A new fireworks show, Remember... Dreams Come True, replaced the former Believe... There's Magic in the Stars. Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams replaced the Parade of Stars and featured elaborate floats with lighting that allowed daytime or nighttime performances. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters opened in Tomorrowland (at a ceremony with Tim Allen, the voice of Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear), and a new parade featuring Pixar characters, Block Party Bash was featured at Disney California Adventure Park. Comedian and ex-Disneyland cast member Steve Martin opened the Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years exhibition and film, in which he features with Donald Duck. The original attractions which opened with the park also had one of their ride vehicles painted gold for the celebration. The park also contained 50 Hidden Mickeys, golden Mickey Mouse heads with "50" displayed in the middle, sometimes disguised as part of the surrounding theme.

Other refurbishments took place around Disneyland with many areas being re-painted and refurbished to their former glory. The second phase of the re-paint of Tomorrowland commenced after the base silver and blue scheme was laid. Main Street USA and Sleeping Beauty Castle were repainted, and the castle was specially decorated for the celebration. Disneyland has always been known to display an amazing firework show and it didn't let down during the 50th anniversary celebration. The fireworks started what was a shooting between the ride Matterhorn and Splash Mountain. With Tinkerbell coming to the rescue and flying across the park, the celebration ended with what seemed as real snow, coming out of the light posts. It was definitely a beautiful sight to see. The celebration brought record numbers of guests to the parks, numbers unmatched since the fall of 1996, when mass crowds flooded the park to catch a glimpse of the Main Street Electrical Parade before it went into permanent retirement.

Into 2006[edit]

In the second half of the celebration, in 2006, Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sully to the Rescue opened at Disney's California Adventure. On July 7, 2006, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest had its world premiere on the Rivers of America, as did the first film in the trilogy in 2003. On the same day of Dead Man's Chest premiere, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction officially reopened after lengthy refurbishments to include characters from the movie trilogy in the attraction's storyline. The 50th anniversary celebration at Disneyland ended on September 30, 2006, and was succeeded by the Year of a Million Dreams.

Theme Song[edit]

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland, the official anthem song was written by Richard Marx, and was performed for the first time live by Grammy Award winning artist, LeAnn Rimes. The song reflects on how you can never be too old to enjoy life and childhood dreams you had. The song was played immediately after the “Remember... Dreams Come True” fireworks spectacular presented throughout the 18-month anniversary celebration at Disneyland.

Happiest Celebration on Earth[edit]

Beyond simply celebrating the 50th Anniversary at Disneyland alone, festivities were held at all Disney owned Theme Parks and cruise throughout the world.

Walt Disney World Resort[edit]

The Walt Disney World Resort introduced at least one new attraction or show at each of its four theme parks:

Tokyo Disney Resort[edit]

  • Tokyo Disneyland: The Rock Around the Mouse stage show in front of Cinderella Castle, a tribute to rock 'n' roll and Californian culture from the period that Disneyland opened; and a Golden Fiftieth Mickey at the base of the Partners statue in the hub, acknowledging its sister park's milestone.
  • Tokyo DisneySea: The Raging Spirits roller coaster opened in June, and the new Tower of Terror opened (it has its own new back-story, and is not themed to The Twilight Zone).

Disneyland Resort Paris[edit]

  • Disneyland Park: Space Mountain received a makeover, and is now known as Space Mountain: Mission 2, with new effects and ride configurations throughout. A version of The Magic Kingdom's Wishes fireworks display premiered.
  • Walt Disney Studios Park: A new land, Toon Studios, and a Tower of Terror opened.

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort[edit]

  • Hong Kong Disneyland Resort - The fifth worldwide resort opened as part of the celebration, in September 2005, with one theme park and two hotels.

Disney Cruise Line[edit]

The Disney Magic sailed to the West Coast in the summer of 2005, where it offered 12 one-week cruises from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera with port calls at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas. Afterward, the ship returned to its original Caribbean itinerary alongside the Disney Wonder.

Attraction duplication[edit]

Walt Disney World Resort advertised the celebration by noting that the Florida property imported popular attractions or shows developed for Disney's other parks around the world.

  • Magic Kingdom received an abridged version of Cinderellabration from Tokyo Disneyland.
  • Epcot received Soarin' from Disney's California Adventure.
  • Disney-MGM Studios received Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show from the Walt Disney Studios Paris.

Three Walt Disney World Resort attractions recently have been duplicated at four of the other Disney parks, and the Disneyland Resort has inspired an attraction found in Japan.

  • Tokyo DisneySea has opened its version of the Tower of Terror.
  • Disneyland Paris duplicated The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror from Disney's California Adventure.
  • Disneyland Paris staged a compressed version of the Wishes fireworks developed for the Magic Kingdom for two weeks in July 2005.
  • Disney's California Adventure duplicated Turtle Talk with Crush from Epcot.
  • Disneyland duplicated Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters from Tokyo Disneyland.

Season timeline[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Disneyland Celebrates 56 Years on July 17 « Disney Parks Blog". Disneyparks.disney.go.com. Retrieved 2012-05-26.