Disneyland Celebrates 60th Birthday Early With Many Stars

Though Walt Disney first opened his first theme park, Disneyland, on July 17, 1955, the park will start celebrating its Diamond Celebration on Sunday, February 21, with a televised special on ABC. The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 will celebrate 60 years of the “Happiest Place on Earth” with special musical performances and star appearances that might make viewers forget that the special is a thinly-veiled marketing campaign for tourism.

Hosted by Dancing With the Stars‘ Derek Hough, Disneyland 60 will feature many stars ready to party. Hough himself will sing and dance to the song, “Step in Time” from the musical film, Mary Poppins. Legendary actor and dancer Dick Van Dyke, who appeared in the film as Bert the chimney sweep, is scheduled to make an appearance during the number as well.

“I can’t believe it’s 60 years,” Dick Van Dyke told ABC News about Disneyland’s birthday. “You know, I went there when it first opened with my kids — who are now, like, in their 60s!”

Hough will also be doing a dance number with fellow Dancing With the Stars dancer, Witney Carson. Other performances include Idina Menzel singing her iconic song from the animated film, Frozen, “Let it Go,” Fall Out Boys will perform “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book, Little Big Town will sing “Steve McQueen” in Cars Land (of course), Pentatonix will sing “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast during the parade portion of the show and The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, will perform “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from Fantasia.

Disneyland 60 will hold festivities in both the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and various locations at the Disneyland Resort will be highlighted as well. Actor Josh Gad will show some of the more hidden spots in Disneyland like Walt Disney’s private apartment housed above the fire department building on Main Street, the Disneyland Dream Suite located in New Orleans Square, the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland and others.

Just to spice things up a bit, Disneyland 60 will also sample two of the main celebratory shows currently performing now in the parks: The “Paint the Night” parade down Main Street and “World of Color-Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” water show in California Adventure Park.

The special won’t only celebrate the park’s past but also it’s future as Harrison Ford will show the extensive plans for the new Star Wars-themed areas coming to both Disneyland and Disneyworld.

Other guests making appearances include Jessica Alba, Kelsea Ballerini, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Sabrina Carpenter, Sofia Carson, Priyanka Chopra, Viola Davis, Hilary Duff, Fall Out Boy, Kermit the Frog, Ginnifer Goodwin, Nolan Gould, Neil Patrick Harris, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sarah Hyland, Jessie J, Elton John, Tori Kelly, Jimmy Kimmel, Little Big Town, Dame Helen Mirren, Ne-Yo, Lupita Nyong’o, Pentatonix, Pink, Alfonso Ribeiro, John Stamos, Eric Stonestreet, Kiefer Sutherland, Kerry Washington, Ariel Winter, Zendaya, and Maddie Ziegler.

Tickets were just $1 each on Disneyland’s opening day in 1955. Today, ticket prices are $99 for a single day. However, today’s prices include most of the attractions. Back in the ’50s, guests needed separate tickets for the attractions. Some were more expensive than others and were divided into three and then later, five sections. “A” ticket attractions were the least expensive and usually, the least thrill-seeking. An “E” ticket allowed access into the theme park’s more coveted attractions.

Of the park’s 20 attractions that were available to guests on opening day, 13 of them still operate on a regular basis including King Arthur’s Carousel which was featured in 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks which starred Tom Hanks playing the role of Walt Disney. In that particular scene, Walt was trying to show Miss Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, just how magical a place Disneyland was. While she was a tough skeptic, most others disagree. Many families regard a visit to Disneyland as a requirement of childhood.

It is fitting that ABC is hosting Disneyland 60 as the network had a large role in promoting the park before it opened. The TV series Disneyland aired in October of 1954 and each week, Walt Disney would tempt audiences with insights on the various attractions being built for their future enjoyment.

Disneyland 60 will are on Sunday, February 21, at 7:00 p.m. on ABC.

[Photo courtesy of ABC]