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The Happiest Homecoming on Earth

50th anniversary events at Disneyland Resort, California

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Disneyland 50th anniversary picture

Fireworks explode over Sleeping Beauty Castle as Disneyland celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Disney 2005. Used with permission.
Updated November 27, 2013
In celebration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary, the park where it all began is celebrating The Happiest Homecoming on Earth with a host of new attractions and special events. Among the 18-month (May 5, 2005 through early November 2006) anniversary highlights:

Remember...Dreams Come True

An all-new nighttime fireworks show in the spirit of Walt Disney World's lavish Illuminations and Wishes presentations, Remember…Dreams Come True is a tour-de-force spectacular. Instead of patriotic flag-waving or a more global theme, the show's focus is on Disneyland itself. Choreographed fireworks, lasers, and lights recall many of the park's beloved E-Ticket attractions and incorporate actual ride soundtracks, such as the rousing "Yo Ho, Yo Ho" from Pirates of the Caribbean and the Ghost Host's "Welcome foolish mortals…" spiel from the Haunted Mansion.

The show tugs at nostalgic heartstrings, but uses cutting-edge pyrotechnics to recall the past. The computer-launched shells are precisely synchronized--to the millisecond it appears--with the lavish soundtrack. They also use Disney's patented compressed air fireworks system to get rid of unintentional percussive blasts as well as residual black powder smoke. That leaves the sky clear for Tinker Bell to soar above Disneyland's iconic castle. Using new rigging (or is that a stronger dose of pixie dust?), Tink is able to play a more significant role than her fly-bys in past fireworks presentations. To fully appreciate the surround-sound features and the fireworks that explode over Main Street U.S.A. as well as the castle, secure a viewing spot somewhere around the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor.

Space Mountain

Closed for about two years, Disney has completely gutted the seminal indoor coaster ride in anticipation of a July 15 (2005) relaunch. According to Luc Mayrand, the Imagineering creative lead for the makeover, nearly everything has been overhauled, but the ride's essence and most of its classic elements remain intact. Using new projection systems, effects, and more elaborate themeing, he adds that riders should expect a more compelling, immersive experience. While the track itself has been replaced and yields a much smoother and quieter ride, Mayrand says its layout is identical to the original. The dark ride/roller coaster had an update a few years back that included the addition of onboard audio. Instead of the Dick Dale surf music that had been part of the attraction, the new coaster cars will now feature an "edgy" soundtrack by the composer of "The Incredibles" score.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

An essentially similar clone of the popular Buzz Lightyear attraction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, the new interactive ride sends guests to infinity and beyond. Armed with laser guns and pivoting Star Cruiser vehicles, riders attempt to zap Emperor Zurg and his "Toy Story" minions while racking up points. Think of it as a three-dimensional ride-through video game. Unlike the Florida original, the Disneyland version does not include the dizzying "speed rooms" that simulate accelerated motion by moving the ride vehicles into a projected image (left over from If You Had Wings, the attraction that preceded it). Disneyland's Buzz ride will, however, employ Web-cams to feature a first for a Disney attraction: Online gamers will be able to play along in real time with riders beginning in early June (2005).

Next page: More Disenyland Happiest Homecoming on Earth highlights
Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams, Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years, Block Party Bash, and more.

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