Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Happy 65th Birthday to Disneyland

July 17, 2020, 9:47 AM · Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. turns 65 years old today - the traditional retirement age in the United States. So perhaps it's fitting that the park is taking the day off.

This wasn't the anniversary celebration that anyone imagined for Disney's original theme park. Today was supposed to be the day of Disneyland's grand return - the park's first day back since closing on March 14 in response to the Covid pandemic. But the infection rate kept getting worse in California, and the state declined to approve plans for theme parks' return.

So today, 65 years after future President Ronald Reagan welcomed America into into Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom, its gates remain closed.

What kind of world has this become, with Disneyland closed? It's a bit ironic to ask that, because Disneyland was designed as a place where we could step out from today's world, to enjoy a different time and place.

"Here you leave today and enter the world yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy," the sign says as you walk under the Disneyland Railroad and on to Main Street USA. Yes, the modern Disneyland has grown far beyond Walt's initial vision. These days, Disneyland is as much a collection of IP as anything else.

But an IP, at its heart, is a story. And the stories that resonate - the stories that make the cut for inclusion in Disneyland - are the ones that tell us something about ourselves. They show us our longings, our fears, our hopes.

And it's that hope that sustains us in trying and confusing times... even when Disneyland is closed. So let's celebrate this birthday, wherever we are and however we can. Because Disneyland exists, even if you only can visit it online right now.

To that end, let's do it. Please enjoy some of our in-park POV videos from Disneyland. Let's start with the top-rated ride in the park, the new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Enjoy a Grand Circle Tour of the park on the Disneyland Railroad.

And a trip around the new Rivers of American on the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes.

Time for the wildest ride in the wilderness, on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Need more roller coaster thrills? Let's go with the OG, on the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

Time to relax with a performance from the Disneyland Band.

Did you get to see the new Magic Happens parade, which only got a couple weeks in the park before everything closed?

Let's wrap the day with a performance of Fantasmic!

But don't forget to eat! Here's how to make Disneyland's classic Monte Cristo sandwich at home.

Replies (8)

July 17, 2020 at 9:58 AM

It's surreal to know that Disneyland is closed on such a special day, but I understand the reasons (although this would have been a perfect time to live-stream a celebration from within the park). I was a little surprised to read that not even Downtown Disney (which is partially open) wouldn't be commemorating the date. Here's hoping we can all at least have the opportunity to celebrate the 70th in person.

On the plus side, the Walt Disney Family Museum is holding a celebration online starting at noon PDT (I don't know about it being allowed to include links in comments here, but y'all are smart enough to find it through your search engine of choice or by going directly to the museum's site). I work graveyard shifts so I won't be able to watch it, but I'm glad the Disney family is celebrating in a safe way that they can share online, as they are also still closed to the public in person.

July 17, 2020 at 10:49 AM

There are far more important and worrisome things happening these days but I'm still sad to see Disneyland having to remain closed. It's an indictment on our lack of leadership in this country that we are continuing to have to take these measures.

My fiance and I are hoping to do a 2+ week trip to Los Angeles for Halloween season 2021 to celebrate our one year anniversary and are holding out hope that the 4 days we want to spend at DL will be able to happen. Or that any of it will be able to happen since we also want to include HHN Hollywood (we're regulars at HHN Orlando), Dark Harbor, and Knott's Berry/Scary Farm.

July 17, 2020 at 12:10 PM

It's sad it has to be closed now. Actually, my last trip was back in 2003, never got around there again but would love to as something about that place just feeling so special....

July 17, 2020 at 1:10 PM

That's all well and good, except that July 17th, 1955 was a preview for the media and VIP's. The park opened for the general public the next day, on July 18th.

You can read about how the park itself advertised its opening day during the summer 1955 to the public as being on July 18th:

Another way that the Disney company has re-written its history over the years.

July 17, 2020 at 4:39 PM


Thank you for continuing to lift spirits and provide virtual diversions.

July 17, 2020 at 5:57 PM

I'm glad I was there for the 60th anniversary.

July 18, 2020 at 7:49 PM

So happy you posted the Canoes video. That's one of my favorites. It's low-key, but feels so special, and I'm truly hoping it will come back one day.

Also caught the tail end of the WDFM piece yesterday with Chris Crump. It's so refreshing to hear how folks really feel about decisions and projects they worked on. He had some interesting thoughts on Mermaid's lighting (for what it's worth, I think the ceiling, not the lighting, was what needed improved in the Under the Sea scene).

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