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The Happiest Place on Earth is bedecked in platinum and purple for an epic 100th-anniversary celebration. Disney 100 Years of Wonder, aka "Disney100", a celebration of the 100-year history of The Walt Disney Company, launched with nostalgic fanfare - and three major new offerings - on Jan. 27, 2023, at the Disneyland Resort, which will be the hub of the global celebration.
Two new nighttime spectaculars - "Wondrous Journeys" at Disneyland Park and "World of Color - ONE" at Disney California Adventure Park, and a new ride, "Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway," all debuted Jan. 27 and have far surpassed expectations, cementing Disneyland as a must-visit destination for Disney fans in 2023. Here's what's debuted for Disney100 at Disneyland so far and a look at what's to come, because this party is just getting started.
Disney has rolled out the purple carpet, draping the parks in purple and platinum banners and Disney100 emblems. The parks feel festive and celebratory - characters wear shiny new Disney100 costumes and the Disneyland Band and other performers and the Mickey and Friends Cavalcade play new music and medleys. Cast Members get in on the fun too, with sparkling Disney100 name tags that list their favorite Disney character beneath their name.
Sleeping Beauty Castle is topped with a wishing star and a center Disney100 medallion that has a sparkling light effect when the lights go down. Two new fountains add kinetic energy and prismatic rainbow effects when the light hits just right, as does the Disneyland Monorail, thanks to a stunning platinum wrap that becomes even more shining, shimmering, splendid as the sun hits it, especially when traveling over water.
It's been 94 years since Mickey Mouse starred in his first animated short, "Plane Crazy," and he finally has his own ride at the House of Mouse. Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway opened Jan. 27 as part of an extensive reimagining of Mickey's Toontown. The updated land, which will fully reopen March 8, is an ideal home for an attraction that takes guests "inside" an animated Mickey Mouse short.
The ride itself is almost identical to the ride of the same name that opened at Walt Disney World in March of 2020, but is set in inside the toon world - at El CapiTOON Theater in Mickey's Toontown, where guests are invited to a premiere of the new film, "Perfect Picnic." Inside the attraction's queue, Minnie has worked with the Toontown Hysterical Society to create an exhibit, "Mickey Through the Ears."
"The special 'Mickey Through the Ears' exhibit in the attraction queue was Walt Disney Imagineering's way of letting guests walk through Mickey Mouse's evolution from the black-and-white 'Steamboat Willie' to the highly stylized 'Mickey Mouse' cartoon shorts," says Jonathan Friday, Senior Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering. "It features iconic props, costumes and set pieces from Mickey's long career in a way that only residents of Mickey's Toontown would."
From clever posters of toon takes on live-action films like "Toonsies" ("Newsies") and "Meeska Mooska" ("Hocus Pocus") to props like the steamboat helm from "Steamboat Willie," overgrown beanstalk from "Mickey and the Beanstalk," and the Handy Helper from "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," to a faux concession stand bursting with Easter eggs, the smell of fresh-popped popcorn and even hidden characters in the popcorn itself, the queue is an attraction worth the wait on its own.
To experience the full queue, guests will need to join the Virtual Queue via the Disneyland app, which grants guests who secure a Boarding Group timed entry into the ride's standby queue (there is currently no walk-up option). Guests can also purchase an Individual Lightning Lane within the Disneyland app for a fee that varies by date. Lightning Lane access bypasses the standby queue, shortening the wait but also skipping a hefty portion of the queue's most charming moments.
A surprise moment puts guests inside "Perfect Picnic" and on the family-friendly, trackless ride through a series of animated scenes in the style of the latest generation of "Mickey Mouse" shorts. Good luck getting the ride's catchy original theme song, "Nothing Can Stop Us Now," co-written by award-winning composer of the "Mickey Mouse" shorts, Christopher Willis, and his wife, Elyse Willis, out of your head.
'Wondrous Journeys,' Disneyland Park's new nighttime spectacular, is - quite simply - wondrous. The show uses music, projections and lighting effects to showcase every single film released by Walt Disney Animation Studios over the past century. While that might sound like it could make for a chaotic show, it comes together as a poignant, cohesive symphony of music and visuals that will resonate with Disney fans from every generation.
"'Wondrous Journeys' honors the legacy of Walt Disney Animation Studios through a story that mirrors the journey of an artist: starting out with big dreams, buckling down to do some really hard work and finally seeing something that you dreamt about for so long come true," says Jordan Peterson, Show Director for Disney Live Entertainment.
The score, made up of 18 different Disney songs, including the fantastic original song "It's Wondrous," was recorded by an 80-piece orchestra with 16 lead vocalists and a 33-voice choir.
Projections can be viewed on Main Street, U.S.A., Rivers of America, "it's a small world," and in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, with fireworks accompanying the show on select evenings.
Guests should consult the Disneyland app for times during their visit.
"World of Color - One" at Disney California Adventure park brings a new story and soundtrack to the park's iconic nighttime spectacular. The show uses 1,200 fountains, a 380-foot water screen, lights, lasers, fog and flame effects and leans into the show's water medium with a visual and musical story about how a drop of water creates a ripple that can grow into a wave of change - an homage to the 100 years of impact Walt Disney has had on the world.
A new original song, "Start a Wave" by Cody Fry, bookends the 18-song score. "World of Color - ONE" is the first Disneyland Resort nighttime spectacular to feature characters, music and stories from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Avengers and Star Wars in the same show.
"You can be standing there with your friends and family and you can have different favorites and you're all taking something from this," said Jennifer Magill, Producer at Disney Live Entertainment.
The new additions of Star Wars and Marvel segments to the show have been met with some of the most effusive praise.
"Whether you're a casual or a diehard Star Wars fan, you hear those first few notes of that music and it hits you -and then you hear it out here with all of the projections, the lighting, the lasers - it's next level," Magill said.
Both nighttime shows also interact with MagicBand+, Disney's newest generation of wearable tech, causing bands to light up and vibrate in synchrony with the show.
Multiple Disney100 merchandise collections have debuted to commemorate the momentous milestone, with many pieces available at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and online at shopDisney. The Disney100 Platinum Celebration Collection is all about platinum and purple, with jeweled and platinum Mickey and Minnie ears, Spirit Jerseys, Loungefly bags, sweats, home decor, MagicBand+ and more.
Disney100 The Eras Collection is reminiscent of Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary Vault Collection, featuring nostalgic vintage logos and artwork. The three-part collection includes a Walt Disney Studios collection, a Disneyland collection, and a forthcoming surprise third collection.
Around the parks, souvenir popcorn buckets, sippers and limited-time menu items have popped up everywhere in eye-catching hues of purple and reflective platinum. Snack on specialty dishes from celebration cakes to platinum trifles and try nostalgic sips and treats like Old-Fashioned Cream Soda, Steamboat Willie Shake and Disney100 churros.
A new exhibit inside the Main Street Opera House in Disneyland park showcases Disney films that inspired attractions ("Alice in Wonderland," "Snow White," "Sleeping Beauty") and, on the flipside, Disney attractions that inspired films ("Haunted Mansion," "Pirates of the Caribbean," etc.).
If Disney history is your thing, you'll want to check out Disney100: The Exhibition, a traveling exhibition that opens Feb. 18, 2023, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, with North American stops to follow in Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri. An international exhibit opens April 18 in Munich, Germany.
On Feb. 24, 2023, Disneyland park's "Magic Happens" parade finally returns, almost three years after debuting on Feb. 28, 2020, only to pause less than two weeks later for the park's pandemic-induced closure in March.
On March 8, the rest of Mickey's Toontown will reopen and will include new spaces like Goofy's How-To-Play Yard and CenTOONial Park, an open green space to lounge and play, and new dining spots Café Daisy and the Toontown Farmers Market at Good Boy! Grocers.
For more on everything coming to Disney parks, resorts and Disney Cruise in 2023, check out our comprehensive roundup.
Brooke Geiger McDonald is a Chicago native who has worked for O, The Oprah Magazine, Shape magazine, Simplemost.com, and...
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