Ever since Disneyland announced last year that they would be going all out for the 60th anniversary of the park’s opening, David and I knew that this would be a not-to-be-missed event. I mean, we aren’t a hard sell on anything Disney related, especially when it gives us a chance to celebrate the amazing legacy that is Walt Disney. This celebration, christened the ‘Diamond Celebration’, began in May and has not had an official end date announced yet. It has been wildly popular, and if we had to hedge our bets, we believe it will go on well into the spring of 2016. The mouse hasn’t been known to cancel anything prematurely that makes him a significant amount of money, and the Diamond Celebration is bringing in a lot of cheese. We just got back from spending a long weekend in the parks, and found that our already high expectations for the Diamond Celebration were not just met, but exceeded. We’ve broken our review down into the different categories of what the celebration offers, so you can have a better idea of what to expect on your ‘Diamond Day’ visit.
The parks have been given a sparkly make-over to match the name of their celebration. Buildings and lampposts are swathed in shades of glittery blue fabric, and are often adorned with large (fake) diamonds. The two icons of each of Disneyland Resorts parks, California Adventure and Disneyland, have gotten a sparkly makeover as well. The Carthay Circle sports diamond accents on its sign, as well as dark blue fabric draping. The true centerpiece, however, of all the 60th Anniversary decor is Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, whose turrets are diamond-adorned, with shining diamond accents on the shingles. I personally love the decor and theming, as I’m a sucker for anything that glitters or sparkles. Most of the time my wardrobe looks like a sequin factory exploded, so this theme was right up my alley. The parks look great and feel festive, and you can tell from the moment you walk in that a celebration is underway.
One of the biggest draws for the Diamond Celebration is the special entertainment that was brought in to celebrate the park’s 60th birthday. California Adventure has a new, special World of Color to commemorate Disneyland Diamond. We honestly had mixed feelings about this show. The original World of Color is one of our favorite nighttime shows we have ever seen at a Disney Park. This new one, with Neil Patrick Harris as its host, didn’t seem to possess the same magic. We feel like one of its downfalls was the overuse of Neil, as he dominated screen time in almost every shot. We found this to be a little distracting from the overall message of celebrating Walt Disney’s legacy that World of Color was trying to convey. It was still a beautiful show though, and shouldn’t be missed during your visit. We just feel like it could have been done a bit better. Magic Kingdom has two new nighttime entertainment offerings for the 60th Anniversary. Paint the Night is the wildly popular light parade, which people start lining up on the streets for up to three hours before it begins. Some nights have two showings of this parade, and we found that the second showing was considerably less crowded, and good seats were available right before it began. Your seat for the first parade is also where you will be watching the firework show directly afterwards, so we recommend staking out a place on Main Street U.S.A., as this is by and far the best viewing spot. Paint the Night is as popular as it is for good reason – it has stunning floats, great costumes, and an upbeat soundtrack. It’s the best nighttime parade we’ve seen since my favorite, SpectroMagic (RIP, old friend), was discontinued. The second piece of new entertainment is the Disneyland Forever fireworks show, which is innovative, inspirational, beautiful, and emotionally moving. During the show, imagineers turn the buildings of Main Street into projector screens, which correspond to music while fireworks and lasers fill the sky. The combined effect is incredibly stunning, and should not be missed.
Do you really think we would write a blog and not talk about the food? Some of Disneyland’s most famous treats are getting the diamond treatment too. We particularly enjoyed the Plaza Inn Diamond Celebration chocolate cake, The Holly Jolly Bakery Diamond Celebration White Chocolate Lemon Cupcake, and The Diamond Celebration Caramel Apples. We also enjoyed the special adult beverages at California Adventure, most notably the ones at the Carthay Circle Lounge with the diamond ice cubes.
Disneyland has provided everything from t-shirts to Diamond covered mouse ears to Duffy the Disney bear wearing his 60th anniversary best, so you can max out your credit card in celebration of the park’s birthday. Our favorites are the Diamond Celebration pins and the Starbucks commemorative cups.
When in Disneyland, spend some time on Main Street U.S.A., and find the fab five decked out in their bedazzled, celebratory best. This might be some of the cutest outfits we’ve ever seen them in, and it’s definitely worth waiting in line for a picture.
Several rides at Disneyland received the Diamond treatment, and were closed for several months before the celebration to undergo lengthy refurbishments. We found the most notable to be the beautiful re-do on the classic Peter Pan, which looks amazing with it’s new effects. The Haunted Mansion also received a new happy haunt in the addition of the 60th Anniversary ‘Hat Box Ghost,’ and significant animatronic improvements were made to the Matterhorn.
This was the most enjoyable trip we have taken to Disneyland, and we believe it was a direct result of the Diamond Celebration. We cannot encourage you highly enough to make it a priority to go to this once-in-a-lifetime event before it ends!