Diamond in the Rough – What to Expect for the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the Disneyland Resort

For today’s entry, I wanted to examine what was divulged at the media event this week for the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration at the Disneyland Resort. And perhaps more intriguing or more frustrating, what wasn’t.

The kickoff date for the celebration will be May 22, 2015. It’s an interesting choice considering it’s neither the beginning of the year, nor representing the opening date of the park (July 17). But it does pretty much start off the summer season at the Resort which is probably why that timing was chosen. It is not yet known whether the festivities will conclude in December or continue for an entire year. However, they apparently will impact some of the normal annual happenings at the park including the regular Christmas fireworks show which reportedly will not be shown this year.

There were four announcements made at the event about what guests could expect to see at the Resort starting May 22:

  • A new version of World of Color
  • A new nighttime parade
  • A new fireworks show
  • A diamond-themed overlay of Sleeping Beauty Castle and Carthay Circle Restaurant along with assorted themed merchandise and food

For those who hadn’t known about any of these upcoming plans, it sounds impressive. While World of Color has had regular additions and changes since it began, the fireworks show has not been refreshed in some time, and the park hasn’t had a dedicated nighttime parade in many years.

However, for those who follow the various rumors leaked to the ‘Net, this was all “old news” and nothing really unexpected was revealed beyond a few previously unknown details. (It was supposedly partly in anticipation of larger crowds for the new nighttime shows that the project to add extra overflow walkways behind Main Street was recently completed.)

The new World of Color will be called “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney”. It will feature Mickey Mouse taking guests on a journey through the life and imagination of Walt Disney.

The new nighttime parade will be called “Paint the Night”. It is a copy of a parade recently introduced at Hong Kong Disneyland with LED-covered floats that include interactive light play with certain glowing “Made with Magic” merchandise now available at the park.

The new fireworks spectacular will be called “Disneyland Forever”. It will be capped by a tumult of projection mapping technology (like that previously used for the light shows on Sleeping Beauty Castle and the exterior façade of It’s a Small World) that will spread down the buildings of Main Street and reportedly deeper into other lands of the park including the Rivers of America, the Matterhorn, and other locations. Disney Legend Richard Sherman contributed two original songs for the new production: the theme song “Live the Magic” and the closing song “Kiss Goodnight”.

And finally it was disclosed that the visual theme for the year will seemingly be “bling” and lots of it. Both Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Park and the Carthay Circle in Disney California Adventure will be topped by and covered with diamond decorations. There will be themed merchandise and food items. I’m calling it now: cupcakes with bling.

What was more interesting to me was everything that WASN’T announced:

Any word of some of the bigger hoped-for enhancements such as new attractions or new theming for either Tomorrowland or Mickey’s Toontown (two areas of Disneyland Park in most need of attention) may now wait for Disney’s D23 Expo in August this year. That is also where big news is anticipated for additions to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

But smaller projects that are known, rumored or expected to be underway along with the new parade, fireworks, etc. were not yet touched on. These include:

  • Fantasyland dark ride upgrades to animatronic characters and adding of digital projections similar to what was recently done in the Alice in Wonderland attraction
  • Additions/changes to Innoventions
  • The highly anticipated return of the Hatbox Ghost to the Haunted Mansion attic scene
  • The return of the Christmas star atop the Matterhorn

There was also no information provided on the status of Captain Eo, whose Magic Eye Theater has lately been used for upcoming movie previews. Nor was an end date yet given for the “temporary” Frozen offerings in Disney California Adventure. In CarsLand, Luigi’s Flying Tires is still operating and was recently removed from the refurbishment schedule, despite rumors it would be closing permanently soon. (Likely it was decided to keep this open at least a few more months while so many offerings in the park are currently down for refurbishment.) And there was no word on a 24-hour or rumored 60-hour party at the park for this year.

Overall, I wasn’t enthralled by the 60th Anniversary announcements this week. While I’m happy for a new World of Color, new fireworks and a nighttime parade, I would rather have heard about more ambitious projects like the addition of new D- or E-ticket attractions or even some daytime entertainment offerings including the return of some rare characters to meet and greet (ala the 50th anniversary park celebration) or the introduction of some new ones (Peggy Carter, Hawkeye and Black Widow, anyone?). Everything promoted this week was a nighttime show.

At a time when Universal Studios parks are building themed land after themed land and new E-ticket attraction after E-ticket attraction, Disneyland’s new anniversary activities seem a bit lackluster in comparison to what other parks are coming up with in any given year.

But hopefully this is just the beginning and there will be surprises still to come to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Walt Disney’s original theme park.

Update 2/8/15: Disney has announced the closure of Luigi’s Flying Tires on February 16 with a different Cars-themed attraction planned to replace it, and they have teased the introduction of something new into the Haunted Mansion.  Peter Pan is now closed for refurbishment for the next several months with no comment from Disney as yet to the additions/changes being made within the attraction.

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