Florida theme parks join in on Disneyland's 50th Anniversary
Friday, May 6, 2005
by Mike Scopa, with contributions from Brian Bennett and Mark Goldhaber
This story is coming to you through the combined efforts of Mike Scopa,
Brian Bennett and Mark Goldhaber. Mike, the lucky dog, is the one who
was in attendance, thanks to his selection as one of the winners of
Disney's Happiest Passholders on Earth contest (link).
Mike passed his photos and his recollection of the events on to Brian,
who got them online and passed them to Mark, who put them together into
a semblance of a story, each of them adding their own knowledge along
A billboard advertising the new stunt show sits outside the DisneyMGM
Studios. Photo by Mike Scopa.
Disney is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Disneyland
in all Disney theme parks worldwide, with Walt Disney World opening two
attractions, two shows, and an interactive experience as part of the festivities.
The Cinderellabration show at the Magic Kingdom officially premiered
yesterday morning at 9:00, after over a month of preview performances.
After more than a month of its own previews, Soarin' got its media premiere
last night in an invitationonly event at Epcot (the park closed
to the public at 3:00 to prepare for the event).
Winners of the Happiest Passholders on Earth contest check in for the
event. Photo by Mike Scopa.
Lucky the Dinosaur, who has been meeting guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom
for a couple of weeks while the performance of his companions has been
adjusted, will officially debut to the media this morning before park
opening at the same time as more information is passed along about the
upcoming Expedition: Everest attraction. And last but not least (maybe)
the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show had its premiere
in front of the media and the Happiest Passholders Wednesday night at
the DisneyMGM Studios. We'll review Wednesday night's show, then
talk a little about yesterday's events.
The laminated event badge indicates event times and locations. Photo by
Mike arrived at the park closing time of 4:00, as day guests were still
being cleared out. Those attending the event had a special checkin
area to receive their event credentials. The laminated badge had an event
schedule on one side, and a map of the park indicating the location of
events on the other.
The Toy Story Andy's Bed float drives through the stunt
show arena as part of the festivities. Photo by Mike Scopa.
The minimum age for admission was set at 21 due to the adult beverages
at the postshow party. Some arrivals were turned away for attempting
to ignore that restriction. After all contest winners had arrived, Disney
took a photo for inclusion in the next issue of the Passholder newsletter,
the Mickey Monitor. (Mike and his son will be in the top right of the
photo.) Guests were then allowed to enter the park through a single turnstile,
and everyone proceeded back to the stunt show arena.
The explosive finale brings an end to the stunt show. Photo by Mike Scopa.
Once the guests and media were in their seats, the celebrities were introduced
and floats from the Stars and Motor Cars drove through the arena. Kaptain
Robbie Knievel, 'N Sync, the cast of The Real World, the cast of
Power Rangers SPD, Boyz II Men, Alfonso Ribeiro, Paige Davis and
others made appearances. Those in the floats included Frozone, Mr. Incredible
and Elastigirl from The Incredibles, Luke and Leia in the Landspeeder
vehicle, the Toy Story Andy's Bed float, the Power
Rangers float, Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood
in a vehicle from their stunt show and Goofy dressed to the nines in Mickey's
Mike is accosted by this spy, who asks him if he has received the
message. She then instructs him to make sure to pass it to Agent
09 when he deciphers it. Photo by Mike Scopa.
The show has been tightened up since Brian reviewed the testandadjust
and now runs only 30 minutes, including the recently added personal watercraft.
However, according to Mike, the new show still fails to impress. We'll
have to wait to see what the general public thinks.
Photo by Mike Scopa.
After the show, it was time to party. The theme park had been rethemed
to a Spies motif for the event. Marquees sported spythemed
messages and spies roamed the park. Mike reports that there
was Alevel streetmosphere throughout.
Photo by Mike Scopa.
Guests and the media were plied with free pastries, fruit, champagne,
wine and other goodies. Background music in the park included the James
Bond theme and other moodsetting music. Later on, entertainment
was provided by a live concert by Ashanti and a fashion show.
Marquees throughout the park had taken on spy themes. Photo by Mike Scopa.
The evening was capped off with a short fireworks show, which Mike estimates
lasted approximately six minutes. The fireworks were good, with lots of
shells, but Mike said that it wasn't themed or matched to music. Since
we've received other reports that the Spies in the Skies fireworks
featured all new music designed specifically for this show,
we can only assume that either the fireworks drowned out the music or
the music was not audible everywhere within the park and Mike just didn't
Interesting streetmosphere characters made their presence known. Photo
by Mike Scopa.
Wednesday, Disney CEOelect Robert Iger, President of Disney Parks
and Resorts Jay Rasulo and Walt Disney World President Al Weiss were out
and about at the Magic Kingdom, talking with guests and even helping guests
by taking group photos for them. It is refreshing to know that this team
is displaying the attitude that trainers attempt to instill in rankandfile
cast members, even if it was likely staged for the benefit of the press.
Yesterday, Magic Kingdom guests arrived to find that they would not be
able to walk down Main Street, U.S.A. before 1:00 p.m. because of the
festivities. Instead, they had the choice of using the backstage overflow
walkways or taking the Walt Disney World Railroad to the Frontierland
or Mickey's Toontown Fair stops. These walkways are normally cast membersonly
territory, and go from the doors by the Main Street Firehouse and Tony's
Town Square Restaurant through parking areas and walkways to backstage
entrances into Adventureland and Tomorrowland, respectively. It is believed
that they had Jumbotron screens in those areas for guests to watch the
festivities in a manner similar to the kickoff event for Walt Disney
World's 25th anniversary in 1996.
Ashanti performs for the crowd. Photo by Mike Scopa.
Meanwhile, back on Main Street, Cinderellabrations had its official debut
on the Castle forecourt stage in front of the media at 9:00. Afterwards,
the photographers and videographers moved back to Main Street for a family
obstacle courselike event called the Vacathlon at 10:30.
Everybody reset back in front of the castle and grabbed a bite before
the satellite hookup with all Disney resorts around the world at
1:00 p.m. After that, it was time to break down all of the equipment and
prepare to head over to Epcot last night for the official unveiling of
Soarin' and the party that was expected to run until midnight.
What are the welldressed spies wearing these days? Photo by Mike
Today will bring the final event over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, where
Lucky the Dinosaur will go through his paces for the press before the
expected announcement (according to Len Testa of The Unofficial Guide
to Walt Disney World) of an actual cultural/scientific expedition
to Mount Everest to help promote the new Expedition: Everest attraction.
It is expected that an April 22, 2006 official opening date will be set
(Earth Day, and the eighth anniversary of the theme park), though soft
openings will likely start months earlier. It is also possible that artwork
from the ride will be shown or distributed.
So for now, that's the news from Walt Disney World in this whirlwind
of a global event for the kickoff of Disneyland's Golden Anniversary.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.
Mike Scopa first visited Walt Disney World almost 30 years ago. Planning a trip was simple back in the 1970s, with only the Magic Kingdom and a few Disney-owned resorts in Orlando.
Over the past 11 years, Mike has been perfecting his WDW trip-planning skills as he has hosted chats and bulletin boards about Disney for a Fortune 100 company.
Mike brings his experience to MousePlanet in a series of lessons to help you with all the phases of planning a WDW trip.
Mike pays special attention to all the details that ensure your family has the best possible time at the Happiest Place on Earth.
You can contact Mike here.
Here are trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives:
Michael Scopa -- August 1999 -- Walt Disney World (CSR)
Michael J. Scopa -- July 1997 -- Walt Disney World (WL/CBR)
Mike Scopa -- July 1994 -- Walt Disney World (WL / CBR)
Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, The Trip Planner for more travel planning information.
Get the latest info about the resort at Park Update: Walt Disney World.