Looking Back at 40

by Frank Anzalone, staff writer

Walking into Disneyland, the 40th anniversary logo sets the tone of the décor for the special celebration. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Monday, July 17, 1995

This morning started for me at 5:30 a.m. The weather was perfect for the festivities. Just the morning before, there were thunderstorms in the early morning and then it constantly rained until about noon. This 40th birthday Monday morning weather was by special order: Warm, clear, and not a cloud in the sky—absolutely beautiful! We had heard earlier on the news that the morning traffic around Disneyland was absolutely terrible. The traffic turned out to be from all the cast members, past and present, trying to get to the park before the photo shoot.

Disneyland castmembers and alumni gather and prepare to say “cheese” for Mickey and this Disneyland memory photo. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Disneyland Cast and Alumni anniversary photo

As you entered into the park down Main Street, you could see multi-colored balloon arches lining the building tops and huge Mickey–shaped balloons suspended in the center of the street. Loud music filled the entire Main Street area. People we singing, dancing, and just having a great time as they made their way down the street. There was pixie dust in the air! The street was set for a cast member photo that filled Main Street, U.S.A., to be snapped at 7 a.m. There was an estimated 3000–plus former cast members in attendance along with current Disneyland cast members. The crowd was as wide as the width of the street starting from the Penny Arcade (midway down Main Street) all the way to the Castle forecourt. A wall of people, a sea of cast members!

A sea of happy faces pose for the photographers at this historic photo opportunity. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

“Oh Mickey, you're so fine. You're so fine, you blow our mind. Go Mickey!…” An energetic Disney DJ led this huge crowd in song and chants between the photo shooting events. Cast members, Disney characters and, of course, Mickey and Minnie, were joined by Walt Disney Attractions President Judson Greenand and Disneyland Resort President Paul Pressler to complete this historical photo opportunity.

An energetic 3000-plus cast members smile for the camera at 6:55 a.m.. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

The photograph was taken to record and commemorate the event of the day. Later that morning, a special enlargement of this gathering was printed and placed in the “Time Castle,” a time capsule in the shape of Sleeping Beauty Castle. It was wonderful to see that many people were there just because they wanted to be there and involved. Similar to the famed swallows that return to the mission at San Juan Capistrano every year, these people felt the internal, instinctive call to return to Disneyland. The excitement and energy of these cast members was intoxicating.

Russell Means (voice of Pocahontas' Chief Powatan) and Irene Bedard (voice of Pocahontas) were among the honored Disneyland guests. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

The Time Castle ceremony was scheduled for 11 a.m. Among the invited guests observing the ceremony were David Smith from the Disney Archives, Russell Means (voice of Pocahontas' Chief Powhatan), Irene Bedard (voice of Pocahontas), John Hench (the Time Castle designer) and Fess Parker (Davy Crockett).

Imagineer John Hench stands next to the “Time Castle,” which he designed and crafted for the anniversary memories. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

The ceremony began with the Disney characters appearing from Sleeping Beauty Castle dancing and singing the Disneyland 40th anniversary theme song. Michael Eisner, Roy E. Disney, Marty Sklar, Judson Green, Dick Nunis, and Paul Pressler (all assisted by Mickey Mouse), put special items into the capsule… safe for the next 40 years and not to be opened until July 17, 2035.

Roy E. Disney places a hand-painted cel of Disney's “Fab Five” characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Plulto) into the Time Castle. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Among the items placed inside the capsule were photos of the early Disneyland years and many items of 1995 logo-themed merchandise. The capsule also has a document (a scroll of thoughts and quotes) that was signed by each of the executives who placed items for future discovery.

Also included in the Time Castle were photographs and information from the new Indiana Jones Adventure attraction dedication in February 1995, a 1995 Disneyland publicity press kit and a copy of the Disney Magazine (an issue that has one of my pictures published in it, too!).

The Time Castle is lowered into its 40 year resting place. Mickey helps the workers guide the process as Roy Disney and Michael Eisner observes the moment. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

After sealing the capsule, a crane guided the “Time Castle” into a hole located in the forecourt of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. An aggregate walkway pad was placed over the hole to seal the Time Castle. Mounted on this cement pad is a dedication plaque, which reads:

Placed beneath this marker on July 17, 1995:

The Disneyland 40th Anniversary Time Castle

A “Time Castle,” containing Disneyland memories, messages and milestones, lies beneath this spot. The Disneyland Time Castle is dedicated to the children of the 21st century, who may unlock its contents on the 80th Anniversary of Disneyland: July 17, 2035.


Judson Green, Michael Eisner, Mickey Mouse, Roy Disney, and Richard Nunis celebrate the Time Castle's successful placement in the Sleeping Beauty Castle forecourt. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Michael Eisner and Roy Disney mark the occasion with a “Do not open until July 17, 2035” sign… when the Time Castle will be opened on Disneyland's 80th birthday. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

At noon, shortly after the Time Castle ceremony, the festivities continued with a “Song heard 'round the Park.” Special musical guest Randy Travis led the entire Disneyland population of park guests and cast members in song. The Matterhorn, dressed with an extremely large “Happy 40th Birthday—Disneyland” banner, was the focal point, and Randy's podium was at the top of the mountain! You could hear from all points a cheerful rendition of “Happy Birthday” to Disneyland!

Atop the Matterhorn, Randy Travis leads the park population in a special version of “Happy Birthday” for Disneyland as Mickey performs the duties of conductor in the foreground. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Disneyland… 1995… 40 years of magic and pixie dust. Disneyland marked this day with all the energy it could gather. Park guests were many, but not packed to capacity—a very comfortable crowd. Everyone was in a joyous mood and it was felt as you made each step through the lands. I spent the entire day wandering the park after the press events enjoying the atmosphere. With all the special dedications, singing, and even birthday cake, there was no mistaking—at that moment, Disneyland was truly the Happiest Place on Earth.

The Time Castle… a beautiful work of art and design by Imagineer John Hench. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Today, if you go to the front area of Sleeping Beauty Castle and look down, you, too, can find the plaque dedicated to the Time Castle. Photo by Frank Anzalone.