Disneyland 60th Anniversary Overview & Planning Guide

Partners night 60th castle

Last summer Disneyland began their 60th anniversary celebration.  Launching new shows and refurbished attractions, the celebration was a smashing success and is now continuing into 2016.  With the end date being September 5th, 2016 many guests will still be able to experience the celebration.  Here is an overview of all that’s offered during the 60th anniversary and some strategy on how to best experience each attraction.

Disneyland Forever 

Disneyland Forever is Disneyland’s new nighttime spectacular.  Cassie and I reviewed the show a few months ago (check out the link) so I won’t get into a long review here.  In short, I think the show is fantastic.  I believe Disneyland Forever showcases the future of fireworks shows, use projection mapping on the buildings of Main Street U.S.A.  The technology is enough reason for the show to be considered a success but the shows theme works, as well.  Using animated features throughout Disney’s past to narrate, the show is nostalgic while jumping into the future.

Colorful Disneyland Forever

Like its predecessors, Disneyland Forever is insanely popular.  Main Street is packed to the brim every night.  To be able to get a good spot for the show, guests should find a spot as close to the Partners Statue as possible at least half an hour before the show begins.  If you have a bigger group, you may want to look for a spot more like 45 minutes ahead of the show.  In the summer months, increase those time by 15 minutes or so to insure a great spot on Main Street U.S.A.  With Fantasmic! being down for the year I expect Disneyland Forever to be even more popular.

Walt Disney Disneyland Forever

There are other spots to watch Disneyland Forever.  There are projections shown on the Matterhorn and in Frontierland.  If you find a spot somewhere other than Main Street, just make sure you have a clear view of behind the castle and the backside of the park.  That way you’ll have a good view of the fireworks.

Paint the Night Parade 

Cassie and I reviewed Paint the Night, as well.  This parade is astounding and another technological marvel.  Paying tribute to the Main Street Electrical Parade before it, Paint the Night is the biggest and brightest parade I’ve ever seen.  With a nice assortment of classic Disney characters and new treasures, Paint the Night is the biggest success of Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Celebration.

Slinky from afar PTN

To find a prime location for the parade, guests should look for a spot at least half an hour before the parade.  If there are two showings of the parade in one night, I highly recommend seeing the second one as the crowds are much lighter.  Also, the further you can get away from Main Street U.S.A. the easier the crowds will be.  There’s no huge benefit to seeing this show on Main Street.  Last time I watched it, I was near It’s A Small World and had a great view.  As far as where to stand when you find a spot, get as close to the curb as possible.

World of Color – Celebrate 

While many of the 60th Anniversary offerings are just in Disneyland, Disney California Adventure did offer a new version of World of Color.  They added ‘Celebrate’ to the name, so you know it’s an upgrade.  Actually, it wasn’t an upgrade.  I thought the show was pretty choppy and there was a lot of forced aspects of it (I’m looking at you ‘Let It Go’.)  Still there are some memorable moments.  The portion of the show that talked about Disneyland is great and I love the soundtrack.  Here is our full review of it.

World of Color lots of colors

We talk about it in the review but Cassie and I both highly recommend standing in the ‘splash area’.  Or ‘splash zone’.  Or ‘you may get wet’ area.  I don’t know what it’s called.  Why isn’t there a universal phrase for these areas in theme parks?  Anyway, this area is the closest section to the show.  To get a spot for World of Color you do need to get a FastPass ahead of time near Grizzly River Run. (At least that’s where it is at the time of writing this.)  That FastPass will get you a spot for the show and will grant access to the splash zone.  The earlier you get the FastPass the better section you will be in.  The earlier you show up to the show the better spot in your section you will get.  Pretty basic logic there.  In past experiences, showing up to World of Color 15-30 minutes early is plenty of time, assuming you have a FastPass.  As with the other shows, if there is a second showing then that is likely to be less crowded.

Matterhorn and Peter Pan’s Flight

To celebrate the 60th Anniversary, a few classic Disneyland attractions went through major refurbishments.  The Matterhorn was spruced up and the story inside of the attraction was slightly altered.  Friend of the blog, yeti Harold, is now making more appearances in the attraction.  While it’s good to see him more, I’m not sure the changes were a huge improvement inside of the attraction.  The lighting was a bit strange and the ‘pile of garbage’ (or the wreckage caused by Harold) at the beginning of the attraction wasn’t done very well.  I don’t think the story or actual attraction is worse, I’m just not sure that it’s better.  With that being said, the outside looks as good as it has in years.  With Disneyland Forever using the Matterhorn for projections, I wonder if they’re forced to keep it looking fresh.

Matterhorn night waterfall

The other attraction that got ‘plussed’ was Peter Pan’s Flight.  I like the changes made to Peter Pan’s Flight for the most part.  Scene one looks incredible as they upgraded the technology used.  The other sections look cleaner and crisper (again, advanced technology) making the attraction generally better.  I do think the changes they made lack a little bit of texture but the flight to Neverland clearly looks better.

Peter Pan Sign

These attractions were popular before their refurbishments and are even more so now.  I would recommend riding them as soon as you get to Disneyland in the morning, as neither of them currently have FastPasses.  If that’s not an option then riding them as your last attraction of the night is the way to go.  If the park was to close at 10 PM, you could get in line at 9:59 PM and they’d let you ride an attraction regardless of the wait time.  So, if you don’t mind it getting too late than that is a good option.

Other 60th Anniversary Entertainment

While I’ve covered the attractions and shows now (unless I’m completely blanking on something) there are still a few special parts of the 60th anniversary.  One of those being that the park icons are decorated for the occasion.  The castle is adorned with blue ribbon and becomes even more sparkly than usual at night due to this being the ‘Diamond Celebration’.  The ribbons may be a tad over the top but this isn’t anything like the Birthday Cake catastrophe in Walt Disney World.  Disneyland still looks classy and the castle looks great, especially at night.

Carthay Circle old fashioned

The added decoration to Carthay Circle in DCA is more up my alley than what they did to the castle.  The ribbons and royal blue are more subtle and really tastefully done on Carthay Circle.  While it’s not the spectacle that the castle is at night, DCA’s icon looks sharp and the white of the building perfectly contrasts the blue of the ribbon.

DL entrance 60

There are other decorations throughout the park that are fun to look at and photograph.  Going on an anniversary is fairly special, knowing that the parks probably won’t ever look like this again.  There are also several photo opportunities around that celebrate the 60th.  I’m not really into these framed cut-outs but it’s nice to give guests the chance to take photos that celebrate Disneyland’s milestone.

Overview

With the construction going on at Disneyland, the crowds may be a bit daunting in 2016 (especially in the summer months) but it’s worth it to see the park celebrate its 60th Anniversary.  As I mentioned again, the parks will likely never look like this again.  That combined with the new shows make this celebration worthy of attendance.  Get to the parks early, as usual, to get in as many attractions as possible.  If you do that then waiting for the shows won’t feel like such a hassle.

Belle purple rose

If you have any questions then please leave them in the comments!  Also, if you noticed me missing anything please let me know.  I plan to do this sort of post as an overall planning guide for 2016 in the coming weeks as I hope that will be helpful to people trying to plan a vacation.

– Andrew

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