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Throwback Thursday: Disneyland’s 30th Anniversary


As Disneyland prepares for its Diamond Anniversary celebrating 60 years of adventures, it’s a good time to flashback to 30 years ago in 1985 when the park was still a young 30 years old. This special report aired on CBS and features a glimpse at what was going on in the park at the time. Believe it or not, there was still some question if Walt Disney’s experiment would be a success

Disneyland’s 30th anniversary had a lot of great elements. First there was the Gift Giver Extraordinaire, a giant machine that doled out thousands of prizes to guests as they entered the gates, including a new GM car to every 30,000th guest. Disneyland had its first 24-hour day event, staying open July 17th, the parks birthday for a full 24 hours. 1985 also saw a new version of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln open on Main Street, U.S.A., complete with a new advanced Audio-Animatronics figure. Videopolis gave teens and young adults a place to dance the night away to the mega-hits of the day. 1985 was also the year that Disneyland began operating 365 days a year. Prior to then it still closed Mondays and Tuesdays during the off-season.

What are your memories of Disneyland’s 30th anniversary? Did you win a car?

3 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Disneyland’s 30th Anniversary”

  1. John, love your Throwback Thursday and your new website format. I remember visiting that summer. Because of college and travel abroad I had not been to Disneyland in 5 years (the longest time ever in my life), so I was so excited to visit. We didn’t have much money, so we stayed with a friend in Norwalk, and only brought so much money (actually traveler’s checks) with us for that day to get in. One of the free giveaways was tickets to return to the park. As we were coming in someone sold us a ticket in the parking lot at a reduced price to come in. On a whim of emotion we bought it, only to realize that the ticket had to be used a day later–it could not be used that same day. So we had to drive back to Norwalk to get more traveler’s checks out of the suitcase just to come in that day. That was the longest drive of my life. I had waited years to come back to the park, and now I had to wait another two hours to drive back to Norwalk, get money, and drive back. Ughh! We didn’t win anything big from the Gift Giver Extraordinaire but the pins. But I treasured those pins and kept them on the dashboard of my blue Chevy Nova for several years afterwards. It was the best giveaway and celebration I thought the park had ever done, only to be vied with the 50th anniversary at Disneyland. Still, I had great memories.

  2. Not liking the new format here. Not attractive at all, and harder to find the stuff I want to view.

  3. I was 13 and won a 1985 Buick Century – 300,000 person through the entrance gates. Sadly being from a large family, the car went to my family. Aside from this – that weekend was one of the funnest weekends of my life. I became an instant celebrity – receiving 30 seconds of fame. All kidding aside, how awesome is Disneyland. It is the best.

    Rich Williams
    West Haven, Utah.

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