There’s been a lot of celebrating going on. But I’m afraid the real real reason for the happiness has been lost amid the corporate boardroom battles, budget issues, marketing gobbledygook, and the need to appease the behemoth your legacy has become. But don’t worry, we fans remember you. We know that it’s your birthday and we still care.
Your birth was aired nationwide on live TV. You had a ton of celebrities as guests, a future American President as MC, and Walt Disney, your father and a national icon, was there to make sure every last rail was polished and the show in ship shape. And what a show it was. It was a day never to be forgotten.
Oh yes, we’ve all heard the stories of the disaster that day became. Twice as many people entered the park was tickets were printed (good thing we have finger scanners today), the water fountains didn’t work (but hey the bathrooms did and I think that was more important), ladies heels were caught in the still drying asphalt of the park, the Mark Twain nearly sank before it was even officially dedicated, and the Autopia barely made it through the day with any cars left to drive.
You’ve come a long way since those early days. You debuted the first tubular steel roller-coaster – The Matterhorn, built the House of The Future, led the world in fireworks, launched stage shows that landed on Broadway, and amazed the world with an Audio-Animatronic President Lincoln. Those are just a few of the many highlights to chose from as you strove to maintain your status as the Crown Jewel of Disney Theme parks, and all themeparks around the world.
Yes, you’ve had a lot of help. From the earliest Imagineers (Ryman, Hench, McKim, Anderson), to the first great cast members who developed the innovative programs that Disney is now known for from Scratch (Van France, Nunis, Sklyar), to the thousands of Cast Members who have past through those gates with the simple mission to make someone smile and put on the show for their guests.
But it was only made possible through the vision of one man. One man who wanted to have a place where families could vacation and enjoy activities together. A place where the simple truths and hard facts about America and what it means to be an American could be explored and enjoyed. One man whose dream became reality and whose vision is now in our hands.
It’s been an amazing first 50 years. But it’s just the beginning. America is likely to experience change, rough patches, and adjustment
as we meet the new economic forces from Asia and face the challenges of
the war on terror. Today’s youth are weened on video games and schooled in multi-tasking. Technology is changing so fast these days it is impossible to keep up with the pace of change. It’s easy to see that meeting the needs of the future will keep Walt Disney’s Imagineers busy for generations to come.
So here’s to the next 50 years, and then the 50 after that, and so on. I wish I could be there to share this magical birthday with you. I’ll be at your younger sibling in Florida instead. But I’ll blow out a few candles in your honor and make a wish that today will be great, and tomorrow even better.
So, Happy Birthday Disneyland and Thank You Walt.