It’s been just over a year since my first REAL trip to visit you, and I am homesick for you now as you celebrate your 60th birthday! You see, I had visited Disneyland three times previous to last year’s week-long trip, but only in passing. Once for a day during a high school marching band trip, once for a day during a college theatre convention, and about a half a day on the last morning of my D23 trip in 2013. I’m heartbroken that I can’t be there to celebrate with you today, and that I will also miss out on this year’s D23 Expo, due to a little bundle of joy set to arrive in just over a month. For some reason my doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to travel this close to my due date. Perhaps I need a doctor who loves Disney as much as I do.
You may recall that while preparing for my trip to visit you last year I wrote a few posts about being a Walt Disney World snob, and having lower expectations for my trip to visit you than a trip to your sister in Florida. I could not have been more wrong. Thank you for showing me the magic that exists in Walt’s Park. Thank you for being a constant reminder of dreams, creativity, vision and passion. Thank you for relighting a spark within me that had been dwindling in recent years. Walking through the gates of Disneyland is an experience unlike any other. You can feel Walt’s presence as you exit the train station and step out onto Main Street. There is truly something indescribable about knowing that this magical place was designed with such care and precision by a man with such a desire to entertain the people of this world. It is beautiful.
As I reflect back on the past 60 years of your history, I think long and hard on your opening day. Boy, you did not have an easy start. Your pavement hadn’t quite set yet, your water system wasn’t quite ready, and you were a bit unprepared for the mess that would occur when counterfeit tickets would push your capacity far above intention. But you recovered, and you showed the world that you would be great. What a lesson to teach our society! We are never fully prepared for how quickly life can change, but we can always try again and again until we succeed. Thank you for that lesson.
And you and Walt continued to teach us over the next decade. You were never finished, always being adapted and “plussed” and added too. Always striving to maintain a shine and sparkle that would keep your public coming back for more. Even now, long after the passing of Walt Disney himself you are ever changing. Evolving with the times we live in to incorporate new technologies and experiences, yet always remembering to embrace and respect your past. A true American icon that has become a symbol of joy and happiness throughout much of the world.
So, as you celebrate your Diamond Anniversary, I just want to thank you. I want to thank you for showing me what imagination can do, and for putting a smile on my face even when times are difficult. I want to thank you for shining out as a symbol of joy and hope in a world that is constantly full of dark and depressing news stories. I want to thank you for giving me the chance to walk where Walt walked, and to see things Walt saw. I just want to thank you for being you. In all your beauty and splendor.
Happy Birthday Disneyland.