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Disneyland's 50th Birthday by Diane (7/17/05)


We arrived at Disneyland on Friday the 16th. Drove 8 hours from Marysville, Ca. to Anaheim. We had a few pit stops along the way, but boy was it hot outside. By the time we reached Bakersfield it was 112 degrees outside. I went on this trip with my daughter Jill, son in law Russell and grandkids, Alix, she is 8 years old and Max, who is 5 years old. Luckily they had game boys to keep them busy. This trip was my son in law's idea. He thought it would be great to be there for the actual birthday. He is 38 and my daughter is 37. I was the old one at 63. I love Disneyland, my kids get me an annual pass for my birthday and a lot of my relatives think this is the stupidest idea ever. We were so hot on the trip, we were saying as soon as we get to the hotel we will swim., but when we got there, the weather was actually cool so we did downtown Disney on Friday night and watched the fireworks from the hotel room.

They would only sell the tickets for the 50th birthday the day "of ".. Russell had to get up about 1 a.m. to go to the front desk to get the tickets, only to find out he had to go over to California adventure land at 3 a.m. to buy the tickets, then back to bed to get up at 5 a.m. to get in line. . Everyone at the hotel told us that the monorail would not be open that day and we had to wait in line with everyone else, oh crap, this was going to take forever.. As we passed the monorail at 6:00a.m. we noticed a few people lining up there, so we asked and was told that the mono rail would open at 8:00a.m for hotel guests that had bought their tickets in the wee early hours of the morning.

About 2 hours before opening time, we found out that there were thousands of people were in line at the front gates, and most of them had been there since midnight or before. The lines went into California Adventure and around, then went out from each side of the main gate and from the Monorail entrance. While in Adventure Land, you got different colored wrists bands to show what area of the line you were in in case you left to go to the bathroom or get some coffee. We had a friend in this line and he kept us informed via cell phone. On the Downtown Disney side, the line was out to the Monorail and back almost to the tram drop off. When we got into the line at the monorail and could see the line wrapped around outside to get in the front gates, we were glad we weren't in that line.

Thousands of collectors were after a pin for $8.50 that says "I Was There July 17, 2005." There were only going to be 5,000 of them given out. At the monorail station, we were given our gold Mickey mouse ear caps and a map of the park, We were hoping to get a voucher for the pin at the monorail , but no such luck.

Once inside, we immediately headed for Big Thunder Ranch for the souvenirs and decided the line was way too long so the hell with it. The line went from Big Thunder Ranch to Splash Mountain, to Critter Country by Pooh, and back out to the Pirates of the Caribbean. . It turned out Russell had a friend that had been in line since 3 in the morning, and got into the park about 30 minutes ahead of us. He was standing in line with his wife and kids to get the pins. But more about that later.

The front of the park around main street was really crowded, and at the ceremony viewing areas, and the line at Space Mountain (with a 120 minute wait), and the line for those souvenirs that they were going to stand all day in line for. So we had plenty of space to get to and ride any ride we wanted. So we walked right onto all of the rides and then headed back toward Space Mountain, where I caught the start of the grand celebration, while Jill, Russell and the kids rode space mountain, the wait went from 120 minutes to 20 minutes while the grand celebration with Arnold and Art Linkletter was going on , watched them shoot off fireworks at 11:00 a.m.

We went back to the line for souvenirs to see how far Russell's friend Doug had moved .We just happen to be standing there talking to him, when they came along with vouchers for the "I was there" pin. I got one, Russell got one, and my grand daughter Alix got one. Oh, I forgot, Russell's friend Doug, who stood in line for so long, got "one", because his family was off riding a ride and they didn't get one. So Russell gave his friend one of our vouchers for the pin. We then left to go do other things and checked back in later with Doug and his wife in the souvenir line. As they approached the entrance to Big Thunder Ranch, Russell and I got in line with them.. Finally we get in to get the pins, Russell and I went into the pins only line and Russell's friend went into the other line because he wanted a shirt, this line was an extra hour and a half. After we secured our pins, we strolled down main street to find that you could buy the shirt in any shop. after 7 p.m. that night we found you could buy the pins in a shop on main street, after the souvenir place closed. (except for the "I was there" Pin.)

There were hardly any kids there at all, mostly it was adults and pin collectors. It was sort of weird not seeing millions of kids, but I guess these old people were kids once, they might even have been the original mouseketeers. All you could see all day were adults wearing these gold caps with ears attached. There was gold ears everywhere in the park. They say Disneyland is the only place an adult can put on the stupidest hat they can find and not feel out of place.

We made the effort to find a couple of photos that Jill submitted for the 50th anniversary collages. They used the photo-collage techniques to produce collages of various Disney characters from photos sent in by Disneyland guests There was a machine in the park where you could type in your name, so we typed in "Jill Armstrong" and all the pictures they used in these collages came up as to what picture they used and where it is located. Apparently we had 12 pictures used. The 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea one had 3 pictures, which unfortunately is 25 feet in the air in TomorrowLand so there's no way we could find ourselves, and 7 in the Steamboat Willie one near the front of the park. Unfortunately, the photos in the latter are so small that we couldn't pick ourselves out. But we did find Alix in the Bug's life one and in Cinderella. Couldn't find one low enough for Max to see his picture, so he was bummed out.

That night we went for dinner at the steak house in Disneyland Hotel, we took the kids into the bathroom after dinner and as I was looking for an empty stall for Alix, I noticed a stall with the biggest pair of shoes for a women I had ever seen, I put Alix into a stall and noticed these big feet were facing the wrong way, i moved over a bit and could see through the crack of the stall door, and lo and behold, there was a man standing there taking a leak. Alix came out of her stall and I said, "wait, you aren't going to believe what you are going to see".... just then this guy comes out of the stall next to us, Alix's eyes get really big, and a woman in the bathroom, looks at me like, "what's going on?" The guy goes over to the sink washes his hands, looks in the mirror and sees all these women in there and says, "Oh my god! I'm in the wrong restroom." he promptly left and we promptly had a good laugh.

The next day at the park was completely different, thousands of kids, you couldn't hardly push a stroller. We had to wait until late to ride anything. When the fireworks and light show was going on, you could get to the rides. We were able to ride splash mountain several times the first day, just one right after the other.....Spent more time on the ride figuring out what we were going to do for the picture, ( hands in the hair, tongue out, screaming, eyes wide open, or double guns, that is where you point your fingers at the camera like you were holding a six shooter) than we did looking at the scenery. We are weird, the picture usually doesn't turn out right anyway, someone is always blocking someone else in the picture.

The day it was so busy we decided to take the kids swimming. Russell's friend and family were staying at the California Hotel and their kids wanted to swim with our kids. So seeing we were staying at the Disneyland Hotel, instead of walking through downtown Disney to get there, we said there must be a back way to get there behind the hotels. So we put on our suits, I wrapped a little nylon cover up sarong type thing around my waist and we headed off. We started walking toward the California Hotel, and discovered we had to cross a main street to get there, street lights and all, Now I never in my life thought I would be walking through Disneyland half naked crossing 4 lane hiways in my swimsuit, but there I was. Then we had to make the trek back, same way.

We stayed in one of the Disneyland towers called the Bonita Towers, when we walked in, you cross over koi ponds and water falls and beautiful flowers, the inside has a nice foyer with places to sit and read or whatever, the kids noticed there was an ice cream machine with lots of ice cream bars and plenty of coke and vending machines, we said how nice that would come in later....that night coming back into the hotel, we noticed all the vending machines were empty, even the ice cream machine. We thought maybe there was a crowd that went through and cleaned them all out. They next morning, the day after the 50th birthday, we got into the elevator on the 9th floor and when the elevator opened at the Lobby, we were lost, it was like we were in the Tower of Terror, the whole Hotel was boarded up right next to the elevators, no lobby, no main entrance, no ice cream bars..... they were remodeling our Tower. We couldn't even walk in the front door, we were routed around to the back of the building to a door that went to the elevator and nothing else. They could have at least waited a few more days before tearing it up., should have gotten a refund for not having a front entrance or a lobby not to mention the ice cream bar machine.

That afternoon during the parade, we were sitting at the curb and a guy pulls up with his stroller with 2 kids in it, he parks it and starts to go into a store, when a high pitched shrill says "what the HELL do you think you are doing?" it is his wife, he says, " I am going to look in this store" she says, " you were just going in the store and leave them outside in the stroller, in the sun unattended?" he replies, " I knew you would be along in a minute", she then announces loud enough for everyone to hear, "you are the reason I am considering becoming a lesbian" I thought I was going to choke on my gum! Now there is a line I've never heard before.

Every night we were there, we were some of the last people to leave the park, we were always down at the far end of the park on splash mountain and so the last ones out. It was so nice to walk through Disneyland with no one around.

After we got home, I checked out eBay to see if anyone was selling the pins yet. Yep, there they were. God, maybe everything from that day is priceless. Russell's friend Doug, who waited forever to get his pins, and then we just stepped in line with him at the end, saves everything from Disneyland, His wife said that once when they were there , their daughter had a piece of her hair wrapped or braided out on the street by the monorail, and she says" that" braid is on the display shelf along with other Disney relics. They cut it off and saved it. We were laughing about it, saying by the end of the night he will be picking up discarded maps and corn dog sticks and pieces of gum.

Russell didn't turn in his voucher when he got his pin, they never asked for it, they sure asked for mine, said I couldn't have the pin unless I coughed up the voucher. I wonder what the vouchers are going for on e-bay?

I really think the hotel should have made us feel more special as hotel guests that day by at least giving us a voucher for the pin or maybe even giving every hotel guest a pin. We didn't receive anything different than the guests that came the week before got. But it was the best day ever in all of our trips. I don't know if they closed the gates or what, but it was not a crowded park , except in the early morning. Everyone told us we were crazy to go on that day of all days. We loved it.


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