Well, for those interested here is a long and tedious breakdown of what I enjoyed about the “50 Years of Magical Memories” Event held at the Disneyland Resort over the 50th Anniversary weekend.
I have to say, this was the BEST event ever put on my WDES that I have ever been too! Worth every penny of the $644 I spent for the "Lillian" package. I think it was the best value; the "Roy" package was $1,000.00 more, and the ONLY difference was 1 small gift (a "nightlight" with the Disneyland Castle on it) and 2 nights at the Disneyland Hotel. I stayed at the Super8 Motel on Katella ($144 total!) and spent maybe 8 hours there sleeping over three days (that's total for all three days combined)!! The event itinerary was SO full of stuff to do we didn't have any time to spend in our rooms. The "Walt's" Package might have been worth the extra experience and price (just $200 more than Roy), plus they got a really gorgeous acrylic/crystal clock with Tinkerbell on it. I’m totally happy with my choice of the Lillian package and still think it was the best value.
*The Auction preview was set up like a mini museum, and was really great! The big surprise: They had a bunch of "undersea" artifacts from the original submarine ride! Including the giant sea serpent at the end of the ride with the funny face. There were two divers carrying a treasure chest; An octopus battling a shark and two big lobsters on a rock (these were combined in one lot); an individual shark; and a smaller "angle fish" with big teeth from the dark part of the ride. That's REAL Disneyland history, designed and hand made by real imagineers, so for me it was the highlight of the auction pieces.
*The "Taste of Disneyland" dinner on Friday was fantastic! They had a HUGE ballroom set up at the Disneyland Hotel with restaurants from all over DLR giving out (big) samples of selected dishes. My faves: the curry soup from Napa Rose and of course the little "mini" Monte Cristo's from Blue Bayou! Really incredible desserts. Complaints heard: not enough tables to sit at. They had a lot of little cocktail size tables strewn about with chairs and some high ones you could stand at. I found a place, no problem, and it encouraged meeting of other guests so I liked it. It was a really large room though so I guess they could have put in more tables.
*The Auction Friday night was SO much fun!! The only other Disney auction I had been to was at ‘04 HHE in WDW. There it was just a conference room set up with rows of chairs. At the 50YOMME, they used a beautiful room with a huge stage and two-tiered seating area. The floor seats were surrounded by an elevated outer area the same height as the stage. Mickey Mouse came out for an appearance at the beginning and the end. And it started out with a bang as the jewel emblazoned Swarovski Mickey Ears went for $9,000.00! The woman who won them was SO excited, it was great. Auction highlights included a special Marie Osmond Cinderella doll that she was auctioning for charity. She went out into the audience and worked the two guys over who were bidding against each other at the end, trying to get one more bid out of them. They didn’t have a chance! She offered them a kiss and a hug, and after it sold for $14,000.00, she followed through and gave him a really big kiss! The Submarine Ride artifacts went for much less than what I had expected. I think they were the bargain of the night (so much so that I bought two of them myself!!). I think part of the reason that there wasn't a big bidding frenzy is the fact that they were not included in the pre-auction catalog or list of items, they were just revealed on that day, the very first day of the event. No one knew about them! Like I said: as far as I’m concerned, they’re a REAL piece of Disneyland history. I feel really lucky to have won the bidding on my items.
*Saturday morning bright and early (after a wonderful and simple continental breakfast of coffee, juice, and pastries) there was a panel discussion of Disney legends held in the same room where the auction was held. It was really great, it started with a small “production number” introducing each guest. Two hosts came out and sang a song. Then, they introduced each guest with a small story about them, their backgrounds, and what they did for Disneyland. The great part was that during each intro, a costumed Cast Member came out, dressed as a “young” version of the guest and stood in a pose as sort of a “portrait” of them. Then, the real legend would walk on stage.. it’s hard to describe but the effect was really neat and rather touching. It wasn’t hard to imagine them as when they were very young. The whole production was just very well done, and unexpected; it showed that real effort and time was put into making the whole thing very special and memorable. What followed was a great bunch of stories told by each guest and moderated by Disney expert Tim O’Day. A great experience overall, and the only thing wrong was that it was too short! I could have listened to those stories all day long. And it was all over before 9:00 am!
*The seminars (two each day in the morning) were interesting, if not all that exciting for many. I have no idea about some of them, since of 8 different ones, you could only attend 4 total. My favorite was the Napa Rose cooking demonstration by the executive chef Andrew Sutton. He was fun, charming, witty, and very personable (and very handsome, too!). He made a mango/lobster “martini” that was out of this world fantastic, and of course everyone got a generous portion to “sample.”
*”Lillian’s Lunch in the Garden” followed at noon on Saturday, and was outside but still very pleasant. I think they could have offered more shade, but I had no trouble finding a cool spot. It was basically a “bag” lunch pre-packaged with a sandwich, chips, fruit, pasta salad, and cookie that you picked up on your way in and took to your seat. A nice surprise (just one of many throughout the event) was that each lunch came in a neat insulated blue nylon cooler/lunch tote with the 50YOMME logo on the front.
*The pin fair was quite a large and fun event, but as a recovering pin addict I didn’t spend too much time there. There was a HUGE game of “pin bingo” going on, and also trade boards posted at all four corners of the room. I heard there were quite a few nice pins available. I only made a quick trip to two of them.
*The celebrity meet/greet/signings were going on at the same time (at least the line up). I was very happy to meet Diane Disney Miller and have her sign my book. She had two CM “handlers” and there were pre-set “rules” about her appearance (such as no signing of other items or books). Also, personalized inscriptions were only to consist of a name added. She was very nice, though and when I approached her (and the CM announced my name for the inscription) she held out her hand and warmly greeted me. As she was signing I asked her if she could put the date, and “Disneyland” at the bottom and she happily obliged so this is how my inscription reads:
Diane Disney Miller
July 16, 2005
I thought this was really cool, as she wasn’t writing it on all the inscriptions!
*The “Orange Grove” party Saturday night in Disneyland–all I have to say is WOW!! It was in the back of the park in the Festival Arena at 7:00pm. In the center of the area there is a round stage, and they had set up four ramps leading up to the stage on four sides. All around the stage were tables, and on the outer edge a large stage with a huge band was set up. Large TV screens were set up on either side of the stage as well. The food was ready to go when they let us in, with each of us pre-assigned to one of four areas for seating. They told each table individually when to go get the food, so the lines were not that long. Roaming around the area while we were waiting to go to the food line, a troop of costumed CM performers wandered around entertaining and interacting with the guests. They were dressed like farm hands/farm girls and generally just acted silly and clowned around. The buffet was lavish and delicious with two kinds of salad, roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, and a choice of three main courses (of course I chose them all!): grilled steak, bbq chicken breasts and halibut. We relaxed and ate our dinners and chatted... until the show began about 8:15 or so if I remember. And WoW, what a show! One great musical number after the next, with many paying tribute to each of the five original “lands”: Main Street singers, Tahitian Terrace Polynesian dancers, it just went on and on! One great bit had the cast dressed as the family in the Carousel of Progress!! It was hysterical. The absolute highlight of the show was when four of the original Mouseketeers came out and did a really great number and brought down the house! It was a standing ovation for days afterwards. A fantastic “Broadway Quality” show put on just for us, it was really amazing. There were some remarks by Martha Blanding about the event services crew also, and they deservedly received a very rousing cheer. Afterwards, even after many left, in another surprise the lights went out and they pumped in and cranked up the “Remember” fireworks show music! We got to sit in comfy chairs and watch the fireworks! It was awesome to be that close. Even though there was no “castle” show, it’s a whole new experience seeing the show from that vantage point. When we left, they presented us with another gift, a beautiful glass tray in the image of a golden replica of an opening day park ticket. I didn’t get back to my room until almost midnight!! (we had to get up to be in the park at 5am).
*Breakfast at Dawn in Disneyland Park. This would be special on any day, but to be able to experience this unique event on the 50th was really special. We gathered at 5:00am and were escorted to the DD monorail station. It took them a good 30 minutes to get the monorail trains cranked up, but they brought out two of them and we fit in one trip. Walking through the park in the wee hours watching all the CM’s clean and polish everything was fun. We went the back way through Fantasyland, as the hub was of course being prepared for the ceremonies later. Walt’s package attendees stopped at the Mark Twain loading dock for their buffet. The rest of us continued on to the French Market. What a wonderful breakfast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries, and interesting “baked cinnamon french toast” which was more like bread pudding! But yummy just the same. We gathered at the edge of the restaurant and watched the Mark Twain go by, then came a few announcements (see below). Our final surprise and gift, which is REALLY special was handed to us on the way out of the breakfast. It's is a GORGEOUS certificate/scroll, which reads:
In Joyous Celebration of the
50th Anniversary of Disneyland Park
This certificate verifies and authenticates
that the bearer of this proclamation was in fact present
and did add to the Magical Memories
set forth on this
the Seventeenth Day of July in the Year Two Thousand and Five.
Signed by Matt
President of the Disneyland Resort
In the center of the certificate is a large picture of the Event logo. It's printed on nice parchment paper and it has a pretty border all around the edge. One of my favorite parts is that it is signed simply "Matt" (and he actually signed each one). It really is pretty cool, and I can't wait to have it framed!
About our release into the Park on Sunday morning.
This is one of the main reasons I bought into this event at this level: the opportunity to be one of the first into Disneyland on the 50th! It was worth it for this part alone for me. This is how it worked:
Martha explained we were going to be let go right at 7:00am. We could go to the merchandise area or to the hub to get viewing for the ceremony at 10:00. Most chose the Festival Arena of course! We were escorted to a rope just past the Mark Twain loading dock on the way to Big Thunder trail. Just to the left, the “Walt” package folks were waiting behind a gate from the loading dock. Just to the right, we would find out the first guests through the gate came up just minutes before 7:00am. I’m guessing they opened the front entrance right at about 6:45am, because the first ones started rushing up about 7:50a. So, there were three ropes with big crowds behind each one waiting... at just after 7:00, the CM in charge of the operation explained that he was going to WALK us over to prevent any rushing/running. Smart move! He led us up the trail and warned that if anybody passed him, he would stop the whole crowd! We all followed his instructions as he walked us to the beginning of the roped off line area. I was lucky enough to be 4th in line to get to the merchandise table where they gathered your items. I was out of there by 7:30am. When I got out and walked back down Big Thunder Trail, I just couldn’t believe the amount of people lining up. The line had already reached the Mark Twain and was quickly building past New Orleans Square. I walked over to the hub and got a good spot on the Tomorrowland side of the hub to watch the ceremony. I met some cool people waiting so the time went fast. Having missed the 5/5/05 festivities, I was really happy to see the re-dedication ceremony.
Wow, what a great weekend of spectacular fun. WDES really out did themselves. I have been to many events at DLR (including each and every HMH Event) and this was simply the best. A big thank you to Event Services! What I really noticed was that they were REALLY working hard and REALLY putting effort into everything. I could tell they wanted this event to be great as much as anyone. I’ll probably write a letter to them.
I have to admit, that after I got my stuff and saw the ceremony, I quietly left the park at 11:30am. I think anything else that day would have been anti-climactic. Besides, I was headed to Vegas to rest for two days (needed a vacation after last weekend!), and man was that fun but that’s another story!