Disneyland Cinderella Festival 1971

by Jim Korkis, contributing writer

When Michael Eisner came on board as the CEO of the Disney Company in 1984, he found that while attendance swelled at Disneyland, as it always did during the summer season and the Christmas holidays, it had fallen slightly during the other months.

Eisner thought that introducing limited-time events, which was less expensive than building new attractions, would increase attendance in the "off seasons." He was absolutely right. He introduced Circus Fantasy (1986), State Fair (1987), and Blast to the Past (1988), special promotions that resulted not only in financial success, but public enthusiasm for them.

On the East Coast, Epcot was also experiencing much lower attendance than the Magic Kingdom, so Eisner decided that introducing limited special activities there would produce similar results. Unfortunately, his first attempt, the Epcot Daredevil Circus Spectacular in 1987, was ill conceived and delighted neither audiences nor the operating staff.

However, Eisner's basic idea of special promotions to increase attendance was solid and eventually led to the highly successful The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (1993) and later The Epcot Food and Wine Festival (1995), which significantly increased revenue and attendance for the park even to this day.

While Eisner certainly was able to leverage these park promotions, before him there were some attempts at limited special park-wide events.

Disneyland's Cinderella Festival took place March 3, 4, and 5 in 1971. A special elaborate and beautiful 24-page pamphlet was produced for the event and, in this column, I will be quoting liberally from it to help readers better understand this once-in-a-lifetime event, which I only recently discovered even existed.

Over the decades, I have spent time and money accumulating many oddball books, magazines, brochures, and more. I fully realize that readers of this column are not as fanatical, but would still enjoy a glimpse of this material that I find so fascinating, without having to track down and purchase the material themselves.

Why a Cinderella Festival? Cinderella Castle would be opening in Walt Disney World in about six months and Disney had just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of the original animated feature in 1970. In addition, Cinderella has always been one of the most fashion conscious of the Disney princesses.

A souvenir program from Disneyland's Cinderella Festival in 1971, which helped boost attendance during "off-peak" times.

The Cinderella Festival Program

The pamphlet begins with this statement:

"A Royal Proclamation. Be it known throughout the land…To all loyal subjects…That every maid and matron entering the Happy Kingdom of Disneyland for the joyous Cinderella Festival shall be eternally a Cinderella in her own personal realm and shall be afforded all due homage and affection from her subjects.

"And be it further known that every Cinderella at this Festival named in her honor is hereby invited to attend all special events, including fashion shows and garden tours, described herein.

"She is also granted the royal privilege of bearing the Secret Palace Recipes, also published in this document.

"And finally, by royal command, every Cinderella of the realm shall, from this day forward, retain as personal possessions all the joy and merriment of the Kingdom of Disneyland…and she shall live happily ever after.

"Signed and sealed by Prince Charming of the Blood Royal."

Isn't that wonderful? I am surprised that Disneyland did not continue the event annually. It was obviously meant to promote Disneyland sponsors and their lines of clothing.

The festivities included the following:

  • Cinderella '71 Fashion Show presented by Bullock's (Tomorrowland Stage: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.)
  • The Way-Out Cinderella Fashion Show presented by Monsanto (Tomorrowland Terrace: 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.)
  • The Casual Cinderella Fashion Show presented by Pendleton Mills (Golden Horseshoe, Frontierland: 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.)
  • Cinderella's Small World of Fashions presented by Children's Wardrobes by Sears, which focused on Winnie the Pooh (Plaza Gardens, Main Street Plaza: Noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m.)
  • In Cinderella's Garden, Guided Tours of Landscape Settings (Fantasyland Theater: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.)

In addition, prior to noon each day at the Main Entrance and Main Street U.S.A., every day of the Festival a female guest was crowned Princess Cinderella.

Her Royal Treasury included: Choice of five outfits from the fashion shows, $500 dollars to the organization of her choice, landscaping services for her own "castle," coronation luncheon for her and her guests and from Bullock's La Habra, a new "coiffure," and a special Polly Bergen make-up kit.

Cinderella's Royal Feast

"From kitchens in all parts of the Kingdom of Disneyland…from exotic places over the horizons…even from the realms of Make-Believe…have come irresistible culinary specialties to grace the banquet tables before Their Highnesses. By Command of the Palace, secrets of these delicacies are being made known to all loyal subjects and are herein published for their benefit and enjoyment.

"Since every one of these delights is served everyday throughout Disneyland, it is the expressed wish and hope of The Regal Couple that families everywhere will find some of Disneyland's happiness and joy served regularly at their tables whenever these mealtime mementos of visits to the Happiest Kingdom are served."

The pamphlet included recipes for Shrimp Tempura and Tempura Batter, Cantonese Fried Rice, and Chow Yuk (Adventureland); New Orleans Square Clam Chowder, Seafood Jambalaya, Seafood Creole, and Monte Cristo Sandwich and Batter (New Orleans Square); Spaghetti Meat Sauce (Main Street U.S.A.); and Fantasia Cheese Cake, Magic Kingdom Burger (including, interestingly enough, both a half ounce of Thousand Island dressing and an ounce of French dressing on its toasted sesame hamburger bun), and German Chocolate Cake (Fantasyland).

Free recipe books were available during the three-day festival, however, I have none of them in my personal collection. Guests could get a complimentary recipe book from the Carnation Company (offered at the Main Street Carnation Ice Cream Parlor and Carnation Plaza Gardens); one from Frito-Lay (at Casa de Fritos in Frontierland…and we all know that Doritos were created at this location in Disneyland); one from Sunsweet Growers Inc. and Quaker Oats (at the Main Street Market House); one from the Sunkist Growers Inc. (at the Sunkist Citrus House on Main Street and the Sunkist—I Presume— in Adventureland); and, finally, one from Welch Foods Company (at the Welch's Grape Juice Bar in Fantasyland).

I know you are dying for a sample so here is the one for Fantasia Cheese Cake:

"Fit for a King! His Majesty's own favorite is just as popular with his son and daughter-in-law…and the whole realm!


  • 2 pounds cream cheese
  • 1 pound Sugar
  • 4 whole eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of lemon flavor

In a mixing bowl, blend together the cream cheese, sugar, salt and lemon flavor until smooth. Beat in the eggs until well mixed.

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 ounces graham cracker meal
  • 2 ounces butter or margarine

Mix together and form into 9-inch cake tin. Pour cheese mixture into graham cracker crust and bake at 350F for 50 minutes.

Disneyland's Garden Kingdom

What was the garden tour like? Well, it met in the Fantasyland Theater and then proceeded as a walking tour using information from the book Disneyland World of Flowers by Morgan "Bill" Evans (originally published 1965 with a foreword by Walt Disney) and available for sale at Disneyland Park in the Main Street Flower Market.

Here is a glimpse of the tour:

"His Highness, Prince Charming, has ordered the royal gardens of Disneyland opened for inspection and public tours to all who enter his kingdom during the Cinderella Festival.

"For the first time, the Disneylandscape artists—the men who pamper and nurture this botanical wonderland—will conduct the special tours, pointing out highlights of the horticulture spectacle."

Royal Garden Dimensions

  • Size: Disneyland's six theme lands occupy 72.6 acres, while another 107.3 acres are devoted to guest parking for 11,500
  • Garden Species: In all there are more than 750 different plant species and varieties from 40 nations. Nearly 95% of Disneyland's plant material is foreign to California. The Disneylandscape is valued at more than $3 million.
  • Plants: Every year, more than 800,000 bedding plants are placed throughout the Kingdom. In addition, the landscape includes more than 40,000 shrubs and bushes. Park shrubbery includes the 22 prized topiary bushes in the forecourt of "it's a small world."
  • Growth Retardants: Even the trees are "actors" on Disneyland's stage and must be proportionate to their "stage sets". To keep many trees from growing too large and out of scale with their surroundings, the Disneylandscapers spray a special growth retardant on the leaves. This spray transports the tree into a form of suspended animation where it remains healthy and vital yet grows only two inches in a year.
  • Trees: There are in excess of 4,000 major trees in the Park, including more than 300 large shade trees. Largest of all trees are the 75 foot pines which ring the Disneyland perimeter.

Garden Highlights

Adventureland: Gracing the entrance are 25-foot bamboo shoots, while a bright bougainvillea frames the elephant tusk Adventureland sign. Principal trees in this land include the Buddhist "tree of knowledge" or the ficus religiosa, which is located just inside the entrance. Brazilian pepper and coral trees embellish the promenade area outside the Adventureland Bazaar while cyclamens growing at their base, offer a colorful contrast.

Shading The Jungle Cruise's dock is a unique erythrina caffa (coral) tree which is native to South Africa. When in full bloom it sports bright orange and red blossoms. The tree weighs more than 12 tons and was transplanted from another Park location to its present position as a bare-root tree.

Without a doubt, the "rarest" form of plant life in Disneyland is the towering Swiss Family Treehouse. This massive tree stands 70-feet tall and weighs more than 150 tons. For botanical identification, it has been labeled "Disneyodendron Semperflorens Grandis" which translated means "the large ever-blooming Disney tree".

Although not part of the tour itinerary, the five-acre tropical paradise surrounding the Jungle Cruise is a must for any garden buff. In a major landscaping achievement, Disneylandscape artists have collected plants from far corners of the world, heretofore believed impossible to grow in the California climate.

With them, they have created a conglomerate of jungle wildness from Asia, Africa, and South America. Found in the jungle are prime specimen of kapok trees, jacarandas, palms, philodendrons, rubber trees, orchid trees, giant bird of paradise, papyrus, umbrella trees, elephant ears, coral trees and hundreds of other interesting plants.

Fantasyland: Towering 50-feet above the ground, deodars from Himalaya create the Alpine setting around the Swiss Chalet, home of the Skyway to Tomorrowland. One of the most interesting examples of Disneylandscaping is found in the miniature garden surround Storybook Land. To help retard the growth of plants in this garden, so that they remain in scale with the mini surroundings, much of the greenery is left in gallon cans. By carefully fertilizing and watering, the plants thrive for up to three years in these cans.

A noteworthy specimen in the Storybook Land garden are the small pines flanking the Snow White village. These pinus bolanderi are between 100 and 150 years old and despite their small size, are quite healthy and vital. They hail from Northern California where a mysterious volcanic soil condition has become a natural growth retardant. Soil from this Northern California area was transported to Disneyland when these trees were transplanted and, in 15 years, they have grown only 6 inches.

Disneylandscapers make frequent use of plant material as a sign or marquee. The lettering at the entrance to the Casey Jr. Circus Train is replaced three times a year, and depending on the season, is done with santolinas, alternantheras, begonias, pansies and marigolds. Two unique specimens are located near Skull Rock. The phoenix reclinata, a date palm from Senegal in West Africa, and philodendron grow out of the small pockets in the rock formation.

They have very little soil to bury their roots and seem impervious to the chlorine in the water around the Captain Hook Pirate ship. An effect used to soften the structure of buildings, ficus repens grows on the side of the castle. This plant climbs rapidly, but must be kept thinned out.

A highlight of the Disneylandscape is the topiary garden in the forecourt of "it's a small world." Two or three years of constant care and maintenance are required to develop these unique plants which take the shape of animals or objects. The topiary-shaped elephants are constructed from arborvitate (Thuya) bushes and are the easiest to care for because of their year-round greenness. Junipers and Arizona cypress have been used to create other imaginary topiary figures. Other plant material which may be used in the future for the topiary garden are podocarpus and dodonea.

Ground cover in Fantasyland and elsewhere in the Park varies with the season. Some of the more popular materials used in winter are snapdragons, pansies, calendula, phlox, stocks and Iceland poppies.

Tomorrowland: Creating the Alpine scene around the Matterhorn are Colorado spruce, junipers, Norway spruce, European birch, Chinese tallow tree, Japanese honeysuckle and California baccharis. Many of the plants in this area require very little maintenance, especially those growing out of small pockets on this 146-foot mountain.

Two eye-catching trees in Tomorrowland are the phoenix reclinatas growing outside the Flight to the Moon and Submarine attractions. These magnificent multitrunked trees are indigenous to Senegal and are quite rare in the Northern Hemisphere.

Giant Washingtonias flank the General Electric Building while massive Bird of Paradise plants stand outside the "America the Beautiful" and Adventure Thru Inner Space attractions. Butia palms embellish the planter near the Space Bar. Always a splash of vivid colors, bright ground cover plants are used in the planters leading into Tomorrowland.

Frontierland: To maintain the wilderness atmosphere, Italian and Monterey pines have been used to highlight the panorama. Other notable tree species in Frontierland include cork oaks, olive trees, coral trees and a red flowering crape-myrtle.

On the shores of the Rivers of America are pines, alders, maples, cottonwoods and willows. A botanical haven, the Tom Sawyer Island scenery is dominated by Canary Island pines, elms, ficus, pittosporum, sycamore and maple trees. European iris flourishes on the river banks.

Extensive use of cactus, California juniper, Joshua trees and other desert-oriented plants creates the arid-out-of-doors effect in the Nature's Wonderland.

New Orleans Square: Lining the perimeter of the famed Queen City of the Mississippi are massive Magnolia trees. Throughout the Park are trees and plants, which gardeners have saved from destruction, but the most noteworthy are the three trees outside the Creole Café. These ficus microphilla were scheduled to be razed along with Pershing Square in Los Angeles. Disneyland had the trees boxed and moved to their new home in New Orleans Square, where they have flourished.

The hearty ficus mcarophylla outside the River Belle Terrace offers welcomed shade during the summer. Another unique tree is the ficus rubiginosa which is adjacent to the French Market. The root structure on this tree is exposed and quite distinctive.

Main Street U.S.A.: Greeting guests as they enter Disneyland is the ever-smiling face of Mickey Mouse etched out of alyssum and santolinas. The plants are changed four times a year to insure freshness.

Providing shade in the Town Square and Plaza are is a wide variety of trees including Brazilian pepper, ficus nitia, olive, Southern Magnolia, bauhinia, flowering peach, flowering pear, Chinese elm and kapok.

Although beautiful and green virtually the year-round, the olive tree can present a maintenance problem when the fruit begins to drop on the ground. To prevent this, a special chemical is sprayed on the tree's flower. This does not harm the tree, but does prevent production of fruit.

Begonias, sweet alyssum, golden feather, pansies and other bedding plants keep Town Square and the Plaza teeming with color 12 months a year. A particularly bright carpet is rolled out during the Christmas Holiday Season when 2,500 poinsettias are planted throughout the Park creating a vivid red backdrop for the Holidays.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if Disney still produced these types of free informative pamphlets for guests visiting the current promotions at the Disney theme parks? I would even be willing to purchase the pamphlet. As you can tell, this particular brochure is a wonderful physical souvenir of this special event.