Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Then and Now:
Celebrating the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort:
The holidays have always been a special time at the Disneyland Resort with treasured traditions dating back to the first "Christmas at Disneyland" festival in 1955. While today's holiday celebrations look very different from those early years, there's one thing that remains unchanged: the warmth and joy of the season that cast Members share with every Guest.
Here's a look at some of those holiday traditions- then and now:
THEN: The first holiday parade took place Nov.24, 1955, kicking off the first annual "Christmas at Disneyland" festival. Led by Walt Disney and actor Fess Parker(who played Davey Crockett on TV), the parade featured traditional holiday elements and live animals, including camels, llamas-even an ostrich.
NOW: This tradition continues with "A Christmas Fantasy" parade in Disneyland Park, which has delighted Guests since 1995, and this year welcomes Anna And Elsa from "Frozen" into its cast.
STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT:
On December 17,1961, a 24-foot Christmas star was fixed atop the 14-story-high Matterhorn mountain. The star would become a holiday tradition through 1972.
THEN: The practice of inviting local choirs to sing during the holidays began in 1955 on the Main Street, U.S.A., bandstand, renamed the "Christmas Bowl." By 1958, the event had evolved into the first Candlelight Ceremony and Processional with 16 choirs performing at the base of Sleeping Beauty Castle. In1960, a celebrity narrator was added to read the story of Christmas. Over the years, they included Cary Grant, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.
NOW: The Candlelight Ceremony and Processional will take place December 6 and 7 this year in Town Square with hundreds of singers from choirs throughout Southern California, including our very own Cast choir.
THEN: In 1984, the popular "Country Bear Jamboree" in Disneyland Park became the first attraction to receive a holiday makeover. "Country Bear Christmas Special" featured festive new backdrops, holiday décor and new script.
NOW: Although "Country Bear Christmas Special" ended with the closure of the Country Baer Playhouse in 2001, Guests today enjoy "it's a small world" Holiday (added in 1997), Haunted Mansion (added in 2001), and Jungle Cruise, a yuletide spin on Jungle Cruise added just last year.
DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK:
THEN: The precursor to "World of Color," "Luminaria" was a holiday themed nighttime show at Paradise Bay. Taking place during the 2001 season, fountains, projections and fireworks showcased the sights and sounds of the holidays.
NOW: Disney California Adventure Park is filled with holiday fun-from "World of Color-Winter Dreams" to the Disney "Viva Navidad!" celebration in Paradise Gardens. Cars Land features homespun holiday décor, while Buena Vista Street's trimmings represent a nod to the 1920s era, culminating in a dazzling 50-foot Christmas tree in Carthay Circle.
THEN: In 1955, strings of garland framed Main Street, U.S.A., with a wreath in every window, a beautiful tree aglow in Town Square. As one family walked through the nearly empty park, Jack Lindquist (the man who would become Disneyland's first president) overheard a little girl say, "Mom, this really was better than having Santa Claus.: It was then, Jack recalls, he knew that Disneyland was a truly magical place.
"To me this one brief moment proved to be my most meaningful memory at the park because it symbolized what we mean to people," Jack wrote in his 2010 memoir, "In Service to The Mouse." "We are not going to save the world, but if we can make people that happy for a few hours or for a day, then we are doing something worthwhile."
NOW: At no time is the happiness we create as a resort more heartfelt than it is during the holidays. The magic that each Cast Member creates for every Guest, every time is our greatest-and most treasured-tradition.
Love the Disneyland Resort during the holidays...Dr Lee