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Posted on Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Dave!Hooray! Today is Disneyland's 55th birthday!

When I was a kid growing up, Disneyland was the be-all, end-all of my existence. I wanted nothing more to visit the place since the first day I heard about it. When I finally got to go, it was everything I dreamed it would be. From the minute I walked through the gate, got my hands on that booklet of ride coupons, and gazed upon the majesty of the E-Ticket, I never wanted to leave. And, in my head at least, I never did.

Since then I've returned to the park many times. With each visit a little more of the magic wears off, but the memories of that first visit still bring the magic. Even though Disneyland seems so small compared to when I was a kid. Even though there's no more E-Tickets. Even though everything is over-commercialized to the point of nausea. Even though they got rid of The Country Bear Jamboree and Adventure to Inner Space. Even though the cost of entry now requires selling body parts to be able to afford going.

I was going through my old Disneyland photos this morning and saw so many changes. My first visit, there was a bucket "Skyway" ride that you could take from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland that ran right through The Matterhorn. In the 1990's the Skyway closed, but the cables remained. Today they're gone, and the holes have been camouflaged or closed...

Disneyland Matterhorn Bobsleds Then and Now.
Wikimedia Commons inset photo by Carterhawk.

Tomorrowland has changed the most over the years. It used to be the "hard science of the future" that governed the look and feel of the land... but was changes to more of a "fantasy science of the future" in 1998. Some changes, like converting the NASA-inspired Rocket Jets to the more retro-futuristic Astro Orbiter were perfectly understandable. Other changes, like the covering over of Mary Blair's beautiful tile mural, were harder to take...

Disney Rocket Jet/Astro Orbiter Then and Now
Wikimedia Commons inset photo by Carterhawk.

Some things leave only to come back again. Like the Captain EO 3D Movie. I first saw it just months after it had opened in 1986. I last saw it just weeks before it closed in 1997. Now it's making a limited engagement return as Captain EO: TRIBUTE in honor of Michael Jackson's death. Something tells me it won't hold up very well, but I still hope to see it if I can squeeze a Disney trip into my schedule...

Disney Captain EO Then and Now.
Inset photo from EndorExpress.


But change is what keeps Disneyland interesting, and lives up to Walt Disney's vision of the park never being finished. It also gives us great new adventures like Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and Star Tours and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage! I can't wait to see what comes next...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey at Disneyland!

Happy birthday, Disneyland!

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Categories: Travel 2010Click To It: Permalink


  1. Crail00 says:

    Bear Country Jamboree was a great favorite of ours. Times do change. There is no progress without change; but all change is not necessarily progress.

  2. Suebob says:

    For Disneyland’s 50th, I had to do a bunch of research about the park. I discovered some cool fan sites. Hidden Mickeys is a wealth of park trivia. But the one I like best is truly a labor of love and genius. All about the haunted mansion. I mean EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know.

  3. Sybil Law says:

    Happy Birthday, Disneyland! 😀

  4. muskrat says:

    Why do you think (or do you know) the skyway closed? I liked that trip across the park a lot as a kid, too. We went in 1987.

    • Dave2 says:

      From what I’ve read…
      In addition to scary safety issues involving people jumping out of the gondolas, the support structure inside The Matterhorn was found to be cracking and they couldn’t repair it without dismantling the mountain.

  5. Hilly says:

    I do not miss those death buckets…not one bit! After getting to go on the People Movers at Disney World though, I forgot how fun it can be to sit down and take a load off!

    We need to plan another trip to the most magical mother fucking place on Earth again…West Coast style, of course.

  6. whitenoise says:

    I took my kids for the once-in-a-lifetime, sky’s the limit Disney vacation last year, but at the Grand Floridian in Orlando. Now my wife wants to do something similar in LA (more bodyparts). Is the westcoast park significantly different from the Florida park?

    • Dave2 says:

      Well… there’s a lot less of it. Might be worth waiting until renovations at California Adventure have been completed? They’re adding some more stuff. I prefer Disneyland to the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World, but there’s more going on in Orlando when you add in EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.

  7. martymankins says:

    I think I’ve told you this before, but I grew up a mile from Disneyland and have been there hundreds of times over the course of my life. The changes it’s made in my lifetime (46 of the 55 years it’s been open) have been incredible. I don’t have too many pics of me there as a kid, but I have the memories.

    Star Tours closes next week before it re-opens next year with an all new adventure. Can’t wait.

    I’ve not ridden the Finding Nemo ride yet, but loved the Submarines when they were open.

    I was there the day before Tomorrowland Skyway closed and got to ride it.

    I will be there again this October w/ Reba’s granddaughter (and my daughter, Tiffany) and experience it all over again.

    • Dave2 says:

      The Nemo ride for the submarines is better than the Captain Nemo Subs ever were… you’re in for a treat (though the line is often absurdly long).

      I really want to wait until the new rides are completed at the now-lame California Adventure before I revisit the park. But I will be in L.A. later this year, so who knows? 🙂

  8. I went to Disneyland for the first time last year. Loved it. Every kid of my generation growing up in England wanted to visit Disneyland. I was so excited to go I was like a kid. It didn’t disappoint.

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