Disneyland celebrates 50th birthday with star-studded affair

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- What was billed as The Happiest Homecoming on Earth certainly got the attention of the worlds media, as Disney launched the 50-year anniversary celebration for the theme park that started it all, Disneyland.

Disneyland and its neighboring park, California Adventure, were swarmed with TV cameras from more than 100 networks, rows of booths for more than 80 radio stations broadcasting live from the scene and reporters and photographers from hundreds of print and online media organizations around the world.

Star power was provided by Steve Martin, Julie Andrews, Christina Aguilera, LeeAnn Rimes and Art Linkletter, who appeared at the original Disneyland opening in 1955. Disney CEO Michael Eisner was omnipresent during the festivities and shared the spotlight at the opening ceremony with his successor-to-be, Disney President and COO Robert Iger, who will take over as CEO Oct. 1.

The 50th anniversary ceremony was coordinated with corresponding events at Disney parks in Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.

Disney used the occasion to announce a number of new and upcoming attractions and entertainment events, including:

  • Walt Disneys Parade of Dreams, a procession of Disney characters that will take place twice daily in the park.

  • Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years, an exhibition and film presentation of the history of the park that will be housed in Disneylands Lincoln Theater.

  • The Block Party Bash, a street celebration with musicians, dancers and acrobats that will become a nightly institution.

  • The Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, on which riders battle with aliens. 
  • Disney also announced a number of upcoming additions to California Adventure: 

  • Turtle Walk with Crush, debuting July 15, an exhibition that uses an interactive voice-activation program to give an animated turtle from the film Finding Nemo the ability to interact with audience members.

  • Monsters, Inc: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue (derived from the Disney/Pixar film Monsters, Inc.), set to debut in January. In this attraction, the characters are followed on adventures through a detailed virtual city.
  •   To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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    For more details on this article, see "In celebration: Attractions arrive at Disney World from other Disney parks."

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