October 16, 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company and Disney is celebrating all year long in its theme parks.
As Disneyland in California was the company’s first park, and the only one Walt Disney was alive to see open, it’s only fitting that the 100th anniversary celebration kick off there…and we were there to experience it all!
January 27th was the big day, with the debut of two nighttime shows “World of Color – One” at California Adventure Park and “Wondrous Journeys” at Disneyland Park. The highly anticipated new attraction “Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway” also officially opened to guests.
I experienced the 100th anniversary kickoff weekend with my sisters who were first time Disneyland visitors (we were a Walt Disney World family growing up) and they were absolutely blown away by “World of Color-One”, calling it the highlight of our trip. I have seen the original “World of Color” before and I was equally obsessed with the new version of the show. Seeing Marvel and Star Wars get their time to shine were jaw-dropping moments for me. Segments from new films “Encanto”, and “Moana” got the crowd singing and dancing (I just watched the videos I took of the show and heard my painfully loud singing during “Waiting on a Miracle”. Those videos will never see the light of day).
Tip: If you are looking to view “World of Color-One” during your visit to California Adventure Park, remember that, as of writing this, it is necessary to join the virtual queue, which opens at 12:00 PM daily, in order to get a guaranteed viewing spot. Set those phone alarms!
For many Disney park fans, the highlight of the 100th anniversary festivities was the debut of the new castle fireworks show “Wondrous Journeys”, featuring projections on both Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle. This show has clips representing every single Disney animated feature film as well as an original song. I’ll admit, I couldn’t pick up on every single film (so much to cover in so little time), but I trust them that they are all there! Not to go back to Encanto again, but the casita projection was a highlight for me, as was (spoiler alert) both The Good Fairy and Baymax flying over the castle at different points of the show.
If you grew up watching Disney animated movies, bring your tissues. This show is for you. I cried within 60 seconds when they opened the show with the first sketch drawing of Mickey. I still think “Happily Ever After” at Magic Kingdom is the superior castle fireworks show, but this is a close second.
Tip: Grab a viewing spot early if you want to see the projections on the castle. There are a lot of trees blocking the view if you are too far back, and Sleeping Beauty castle isn’t huge.
Note that on weekdays at this time “Wondrous Journeys” is shown with projections only, no fireworks.
“Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway” (say that 5 times fast) is the newest attraction to open at Disneyland Park since Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in January 2020.
This attraction is located in Toontown, which is still closed for its reimagining, but the area of Toontown surrounding the attraction was open to guests for the grand-opening of the ride.
Toontown debuted a new sign and you enter underneath it to make your way to the attraction. The show building, “El Capitoon Theater”” is adorable and fits so well in Toontown. It almost feels like it has always been there.
The queue for this attraction may be the best part: An homage to the history of Mickey Mouse . No matter when you were first introduced to Mickey Mouse, it is represented in this queue – from Steamboat Willie to Fantasia to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
The actual ride kicks off with guests entering the theater to watch the latest Mickey cartoon: “Perfect Picnic”. Things (shockingly) don’t go as planned and you end up inside the cartoon with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and friends. This is a ride the whole family can experience as it has no height requirement.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but our favorite part featured everyone’s favorite sassy duck – Daisy.
In addition to new nighttime shows and a new attraction, Mickey and the gang have new outfits to celebrate! They like to hangout on Main Street in Disneyland Park wearing their fancy purple and silver outfits.
Purple and Silver are the official colors of the celebration. Throughout Disneyland Resort, you’ll see Disney 100 banners and flags. Sleeping Beauty Castle got the Disney 100 treatment too. My favorite part is Flora, Fauna and Merryweather hanging up the banner above the walkway through Aurora’s beautiful castle.
Cast members also get to join in on the fun. They have new nametags that display their favorite Disney character. We loved the fun conversations this sparked with cast members. Fun fact: The character most chosen was Stitch! If I were a cast member, I would have chosen Flynn Rider (or Eugene for those in the know).
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Disney celebration without new merchandise! Shops are filled with silver and purple Disney 100 merch, along with special “The Eras” and “The Decades” collections, which kicked off with “Walt Disney Studios” and “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit”, respectfully. We will see more of these collections throughout the year.
One thing is for sure, there will be no shortage of merchandise this year. Although, there was one specific sweatshirt I searched every single shop for, only to find child sizes.
Tip: If you see it, and you like it, buy it. It may sell out before you get the chance!
There is something so special about being part of the 100th anniversary celebration at the “Happiest Place on Earth”. If you, like me, grew up with this brand, this will mean a lot to you. There is truly no better time to visit Disneyland than 2023.
There is also more to come this year! The remainder of Toontoon will open on March 19th, and the short lived (thanks to the covid-19 shutdown) 2020 parade, “ Magic Happens” returns to Disneyland on February 24th.
Now excuse me while I go convince my husband that I need to book my next Disneyland trip ASAP!