Disneyland Resort in Anaheim - July 17, 2004 trip report

We arrived at the resort at about 9:20am, and the lines to get into Disneyland were very long, partially because only half the gates were open. Maybe they didn't expect a lot of people to be there just because it was Disneyland's birthday, but you would think that for a Saturday in summer, it wouldn't be unexpected that it would be crowded so they'd make sure there would be enough entrance gates open so there wouldn't be huge lines just to get into the park.

As we made our way into Town Square and up Main Street, I was startled at the site of the humongous crane at the end of Main Street. I hadn't been looking in that direction, so while you could probably see the crane from outside the park, I hadn't noticed. We went to the left side of the hub to meet up with a friend who was already there and had secured a spot just behind the ropes that blocked off the crowds.


Not your normal picture of Main Street.


A large group of cast members (CMs) were gathered in front of the castle area, and we presumed these were the CMs who had volunteered to participate in the morning event. As we waited, we were entertained by the college band and the Disneyland Band, much to the delight of our band-loving friend. At about 10am, Matt Ouimet (President of the Disneyland Resort) was announced, and he entered with Mickey. He said a few words, and then the CMs did a few rounds of turning their cards up so that the cameramen perched in the crane high above could get the aerial shot needed. A lot of characters came out to help celebrate the occasion, and Matt Ouimet announced the "Happiest Faces on Earth" promotion, in which all guests were invited to submit hard-copy and digital pictures of themselves at Disneyland, and the pictures would be used to make picture collages that would then be displayed around the park. Matt then introduced the first official family to make their submission, and they kicked off the promotion by dropping off their submission in one of the mailbox-like receptacles that are scattered around the resort.


The Disneyland Band at the ceremony.


Matt Ouimet joins Mickey Mouse.


The cast members with their cards at rest.


The cast members with their cards up.


Mickey and Minnie are part of the group as well.


One of the signs explaining the collage being created as part of the Happiest Faces on Earth promotion.


Many characters are present to enjoy the celebration.


After the ceremony was over and we did a bit of walking around and a bit of shopping, we met up with other friends and headed over to the former Big Thunder Barbeque area, where a "country picnic" had been set up and which we had wanted to try for lunch. To read the review of lunch, please click here.

After lunch, we dropped by the petting zoo because one of the people in our group hadn't seen it yet. After wandering around a bit more, we headed over to DCA. On our way out of Disneyland, we happened to notice Cruella riding the omnibus, and she was gracious enough to pose for a picture.


Ms. De Ville.


After picking up fastpasses for Soarin' Over California, the next stop was Tower of Terror. The standby line was about half an hour, so the group decided to wait in the line. I wasn't up to the ride that day, so partly to get out of the fairly intense and unseasonal humidity, I decided to spend my time in the Animation Building lobby. We spend time there on a regular basis as a way to rest in an air conditioned location and because we enjoy the clips and music that are played in the lobby.

When I walked into the lobby, I was surprised to see a crowd there, as I don't believe I've ever seen that many people in the lobby. The reason for the crowd soon became clear as my eyes adjusted to the lower lighting and I noticed that there were characters, including Sorcerer Mickey and Woody, in the lobby. Guests were taking pictures with them and having them sign autographs. I sat down on the carpet in our usual place at the far end of the lobby and occupied myself for a while. I noticed Aurora and Belle coming into the lobby area from my left, and Cruella was coming in through the entrance, heading towards them. Just about that time, the sequence changed in the lobby to show the Maleficent scene from "Sleeping Beauty", and Aurora was acting appropriately frightened while Belle tried to comfort her and Cruella looked on bemused. What a perfect reaction from Aurora! I occupied myself for a bit longer, and the next time I looked up, I was surprised to see Cruella chasing Sorcerer Mickey. I looked closer to see what I was missing and noticed that the crowd in the lobby had gathered around a group of people who were seated in the middle of the floor. After watching for a bit longer, I realized that the characters were playing "Duck, Duck, Goose" with the children who were in the lobby. They were all seated in a circle, and whoever was "it" would go around the outside of the circle, tapping each person on the head. When they got to a certain point, the last person tapped would have to get up and chase the "it" person, who was to run around the circle and try to get back to the vacated spot before the person last tapped could catch the "it" person. The participants, the characters, and the onlookers all seemed to be having a great time. The only character that I saw playing the game who doesn’t speak was Sorcerer Mickey, so I'm not sure how he gestured to indicate who he was picking, but it was interesting to watch him in his flowing cape and Belle in her flowing ball gown try to navigate running around the circle.

Since I spent quite a bit of time in the lobby that day, I ended up being there for the entire circuit of animated films that are featured in the lobby. For information on that, please click here.

Shortly after they had finished their game and the characters had left, my group came in, and they were amused as I told them what I had just witnessed. We then headed off, and on our way, we passed by the sun plaza, where a band was playing. The traveling platform on which they perform has a number of surfboards on it, and the surfboards are very prettily colored.


The boards on top of the platform.


The board that's on the side of the platform.


We then headed off to see Seasons of the Vine, as some of our group had never seen it before. I've seen the film several times and do enjoy the presentation, but I enjoyed it even more this time as the CM actually had a few things to say before the film started. He talked a bit about the wine cellar and some of the implements at the front of the room that he invited us to take a closer look at after the film was over. None of the prior CMs have ever really said anything other than to simply introduce the film, so this was definitely the best viewing of the film that I'd been to.

We then headed back to Soarin so that the rest of the group could use their fastpasses, and then we headed to get some treats from Sam Andreas Shakes, followed by trips through the bread tour (they were making baguettes, which I've not seen them make before) and the tortilla tour, where at our request, the CM showed our friends the metal detector device on the tortilla maker. Towards the end of the tortilla making process, there is a sensor that all the tortillas pass through. The CM tossed a plastic card with an embedded piece of metal in it onto a tortilla just before it passed through the sensor, and the tortilla was sent flying into a separate holding bin.

After that, we wandered around a bit more and then went down the walkway behind Grizzly River Run. We've only been back there once and some of our group had never been back there before. It's a pleasant walk that's nicely themed, and it takes you past part of the queue and to the backside of where the drop is on the attraction. We watched the ride for a while, noticing that the various fountains and geysers were turned up for the hot summer weather, so we watched as random ride-goers were drenched, sometimes completely unexpectedly. We then made our way to the Grand Californian and spent some time relaxing in the side lounge that we've come to really enjoy. For dinner, we decided to head over to the Tortilla Jo's cantina. To read the review of dinner, please click here.

We didn't discover this until July 18 and only because we happened to have lunch that day at Plaza Inn, but on July 17, visitors to the Happiest Birthday on Earth celebration received a button commemorating the occasion. There were apparently some left over, so they gave them out to people with "Happy Birthday" stickers.


Disneyland's July 17, 2004 birthday button.


To read about the LaughingPlace.com annual meet celebrating Disneyland's birthday, please click here.



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