Anaheim park begins 50th anniversary party

ANAHEIM – Disneyland kicked off its golden anniversary yesterday with a nostalgic look at 50 years of fun and a peek into a future that promises high-tech boosts to old standbys and innovative features aimed at the video-game generation.

Outgoing Disney chief executive Michael Eisner said during a gold-carpet reception for Hollywood celebrities that Disneyland in 50 years would retain its popularity – more than 515 million people have visited so far – if the company continues churning out hit movies.

"I just hope it will keep growing and will never be finished," Eisner said.

His statement echoed Walt Disney's vow that Disneyland would keep changing "as long as there is imagination left in the world."

Disney cashed in his life insurance and diverted much of the company's cash to open a theme park that appealed to both kids and their parents. To meet the $17 million budget, he sold a stake to the new ABC television network – which 40 years later is itself part of the Walt Disney Co.