Looking Back for Disneyland’s 60th

Photos by Charly Shelton Paint the Night is a new electrical parade on Main Street, U.S.A.
Photos by Charly Shelton
Paint the Night is a new electrical parade on Main Street, U.S.A.


It’s finally summer! Time for relaxing, hanging out with friends and sleeping in. With all this free time, activities need to be planned. And one activity that is always sure to bring delight is a trip to Disneyland! Now celebrating its 60th anniversary, it’s time for a diamond celebration full of new sweets, new lands and new takes on old favorites. And even some old takes on new favorites. But one thing is for sure – Disneyland looks great for its age.

This week and next week CV Weekly will look at the new features at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure that celebrate this momentous anniversary. So first, let’s take a look at the granddaddy of all theme parks – Disneyland.

Projections take over Main Street, U.S.A., turning the buildings into honeycombs for the Winnie the Pooh sequence.
Projections take over Main Street, U.S.A., turning the buildings into honeycombs for the Winnie the Pooh sequence.

Opened on July 17, 1955, Walt Disney dedicated the park “with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” Now six decades later, it is still going strong with new attractions released almost every year and attendance continuing to grow. But as the park moves ever forward in its progress, the new attractions this year take a look back at where Disneyland has been, using technology to show where it’s going. Take, for example, the new nighttime parade Paint the Night, a new take on an old favorite.

Many fans were upset when the Main Street Electrical Parade said farewell in 1996 after a continuous run since 1972. The parade, for those who have never seen it, is a series of floats decked out in 500,000 lights and set to one of the catchiest songs in all of Disneyana – “Baroque Hoedown” (known to most as “that song from the Main Street Electrical Parade”). It was retired in 1996 and brought back by popular demand as Disney’s Electrical Parade in 2001 at Disney’s California Adventure, where it stayed until 2010, when it was sent over to the Florida parks. After almost 20 years of Main Street, U.S.A. being devoid of an electrical parade, the 60th anniversary celebration rectified this.

Paint the Night is an electrical parade with many favorite Disney and Pixar characters, utilizing LED and projection effects to make the floats themselves come to life. The technology is pretty impressive and, as someone who grew up in the 1990s, it was very nostalgic to sit cross-legged on the curb and watch the electrical parade on Main Street. Some of the visuals used only LED lights – not a new technology – to create effects, but the way the apparatus moves is spellbinding. Really a great way to cap off the night.

For those who still have energy after Paint the Night, the new fireworks spectacular, Disneyland Forever, really is that – spectacular. Once again utilizing projection technology, the fireworks show comes down out of the sky and onto the structures of the park to make an immersive experience. The show relives some of the best films that have come into the park in one way or another – “The Lion King,” “Tangled,” “Winnie the Pooh,” “Mary Poppins” and many more. Of course, “Frozen” gets a nice big nod in the show, as it does in Paint the Night and World of Color: Celebrate (which is coming in next week’s article). But the cool immersive aspect of the show is that it takes place all around. When Elsa sings “Let It Go,” she is on the castle and throwing snow out at Main Street, where projected flurries adorn the buildings and snow falls from above. When Burt calls all the chimney sweeps to “Step In Time,” they pop out of chimneys on Main Street and dance across the windows. In the “Finding Nemo” section, the Matterhorn becomes Mt. Wannahockaloogie as Brother Bloat adorns the castle. It is a really cool show, probably the best fireworks show to date, and it is worth repeat viewing as there are four viewing spots, each with different projected takes on the show: Main Street (recommended viewing from the center of Main Street so the buildings can be seen all around), the castle forecourt and Hub area (to see the castle and the Matterhorn), It’s A Small World pavilion (with projections on the Small World façade), and the Rivers of America (after Fantasmic, stay in your spot to watch the fireworks and the projections on the water screens).

With so much new nighttime entertainment at Disneyland, it’s hard to decide whether to stay there or head over to DCA for World of Color: Celebrate. Take a week to think on it and next week, we will cover the new improvements at DCA and some of the attraction updates to hit during your day at Disneyland. See you next week!

Scan the QR code attached to this story to see clips of Disneyland Forever and Paint the Night.