Disney really knows how to throw a party, but for The Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary, they’re outdoing even themselves with a Disney100 celebration dubbed "Disney 100 Years of Wonder."
During his presentation at the D23Expo in September 2022, Disney Chairman Josh D'Amaro boldly proclaimed Disney100 would be “the biggest celebration in Disney’s history” — and, as I found out during the celebration’s recent kickoff, he wasn’t exaggerating.
Centered at The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, the centennial birthday bash includes two all-new nighttime spectaculars, the West Coast version of a fan-favorite Orlando attraction, and the return of a short-lived (but already beloved) daytime parade.
“It's a celebration of 100 years of partnership and creativity,” said Lynn Clark, vice president of Disneyland Resort sales and services. “Part of the celebration is to thank our trade partners [who] have been on this journey with us for a long time — and we really look forward to the future.”
Part of the celebration is to thank our trade partners [who] have been on this journey with us for a long time — and we really look forward to the future.
New Nighttime Spectaculars: “Wondrous Journeys” and “World of Color — One”
Known for introducing a new nighttime spectacular for every occasion, Disneyland is doubling down to mark its 100th with two: "World of Color — One" in Disney California Adventure, which marks the first time that moments, music and characters from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, the Avengers and Star Wars stories have all appeared in the same production; and “Wonderous Journeys” in Disneyland, a fireworks and projection show that presents all 62 Walt Disney Animation Studios films to date.
“Wondrous Journeys is a love letter to 100 years at the Walt Disney Animation Studios — all 60-plus films — and giving a nod to each one of them,” said Jordan Peterson, show director for Disney Live Entertainment. But, Peterson notes, clients may need to see the show more than once (and from more than one location) to find the moment from their personal favorite.
“It’s not just a chronological retelling of the last 100 years, but really an emotional journey of the artists in the studio,” said Roger Gould, creative director for Walt Disney Animation Studios. “From that initial idea when you do that first sketch on a blank piece of paper — that sense of discovery and wonder as you start coming up with an idea — and happily, triumph when it all comes together.”
It’s not just a chronological retelling of the last 100 years, but really an emotional journey of the artists in the studio.
“Wondrous Journeys” can be viewed from Sleeping Beauty Castle, Main Street U.S.A., the facade of “It’s a Small World,” and Rivers of America. A complimentary virtual queue system for “World of Color — One” is available only via the Disneyland app, with distribution beginning daily at noon for clients who have entered California Adventure with one-park tickets or have entered Disneyland with park-hopper tickets.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
When Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway debuted in March 2020 at Walt Disney World, mouse fans wondered why the first ride-through attraction themed to Mickey Mouse wasn't built in Mickey's hometown. But, on Jan. 27, the popular Orlando attraction made its way to Mickey’s Toontown as part of the anniversary celebration — because, as Walt said, “It all started with a mouse.”
The family-friendly ride takes guests into the colorful world of Disney cartoons, where “mouse rules apply.” Along for the wacky ride are Goofy, Minnie, Pluto and, of course, Mickey himself, and I guarantee clients of all ages will be humming the toe-tapping original theme song for the rest of the day. The ride’s queue experience inside the El CapiTOON Theater is unique to Disneyland and features an exhibit celebrating “all things Mickey,” curated by Minnie and the Toontown Hysterical Society with notable props and highlights from his illustrious film career.
“Something that's really special about the attraction at Disneyland is that we're in Mickey's Toontown in the El CapiTOON Theater,” said Sarah Kibler, an interior designer at Walt Disney Imagineering. “This is the space where Mickey and his friends come to watch premieres of their shorts, so being able to walk through the space to see the movie premiere is really what makes it special here at Disneyland, especially for the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company.”
Sign Up for Our Monthly Family Getaways Newsletter
This attraction has a standby queue; however, clients can purchase Individual Lightning Lane expedited entry, based on availability.
When “Magic Happens” debuted on Feb. 28, 2020, nobody could have predicted the parks would close only a couple of weeks later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But thankfully, the magical daytime parade is returning to Main Street U.S.A. on Feb. 24, 2023, as part of the Disney100 celebration.
“Guests can expect the parade (that many had to fall in love with online) to come to life in the exact same way they saw it — and that was diligently purposeful,” Peterson said. “This parade only got to run for about 14 days … so we're ecstatic for it to return in all its glory.”
The whimsical parade not only brings iconic Disney magical moments to life in fresh ways, but also introduced the first full-scale “Moana”-inspired float, the first in-park appearance by Miguel from the Disney and Pixar film “Coco,” and the first time the “Frozen 2” story appeared in a parade.
“I love that Disneyland is the heart of the global celebration,” said Philander Butler, VIP tour host. “The company started here, Walt was here — so who else but us can start this celebration? We are so honored to be able to host it.”
I love that Disneyland is the heart of the global celebration. The company started here, Walt was here — so who else but us can start this celebration?
The message Clark hopes advisors will share with clients? The Disneyland Resort is already a multi-day destination, but even more so during Disney's centennial celebration.
“There’s so much that’s new — and [more] coming out throughout the year,” she said. “We’re providing the tools [for advisors] to help plan three-, four-, or five-night itineraries … that really speak to the guest and what they’re hoping to accomplish, because we’ve got a whole lot for everyone. Plan early, and stay awhile.”
The Disney100 celebration will continue throughout the year, with The Walt Disney Company's official 100th birthday on Oct. 16, 2023.