Disney Still Not Over the HILL!
...but Mickey climbs the Matterhorn
As many of you know by now, July 17, 2005, marked the actual birthday of Disneyland.
Disneyland planned to close its gates at some point during the day, fearing crowds swelling over capacity. The gates did not close, but I'm sure capacity was filled and then some. A cast member explained to us that the 80,000 allowed was actually a number established by the park and not the state, allowing for them to squeeze in a few extras. The fact that thousands of people spent the day in line for limited release memorabilia probably helped to ease the crowds elsewhere in the park.
People started lining up for the 17th before the park was even closed on the 16th. Disney took groups of people, designated by their arrival time, and issued wristbands to them, then herded them in to a closed DCA (although the bakery was open) to await the 8am open time. It was a much better system then they had on May 5, when the celebration kicked off.
I think they learned lots of things from that day as crowd control was much more efficient and they placed large screens throughout both parks in order for everyone to view the birthday ceremony.
Every guest was welcomed with a free set of commemorative golden Mickey Mouse ears and a cupcake. We were all wished happy birthday and welcomed home by cast members throughout the day. Despite the fact that many people had stood in line since 2am or earlier and the fact that the heat was nearly intolerable, there weren't many sour faces to be seen. The air was festive and people, even cast members, seemed truly happy to be there.
The actual ceremony was more subdued than I expected and I found it rather somber in comparison to the May 5th gala. There was a rumor that Phil Collins was to perform, ala Christina Aguilera and LeAnn Rhimes in May, but that didn't materialize. Iger spoke, as did Disney's daughter. Eisner was actually greeted with a relatively warm reception as opposed to the boos of his last address. We did have the opportunity to hear Gov. Arnold share his wishes and break down the economics of Disneyland and what it means to California, which was interesting. He was then presented with a very cool gold motorcycle with Mickey shaped mirrors that he said would be auctioned off to benefit an after-school charity. The whole ceremony was emceed just as the May one had been by Art Linkletter who was celebrating his 93rd birthday.