Approaching the park through Fantasia Gardens, the rush of guests was already much stronger than the day before, with extra ‘Guest Flow’ Cast Members even positioned out front to direct guests. At the top of the gardens, it immediately became clear Disneyland had been very busy overnight, with the new, recorated, Lumière entrance adding a new touch of gold and blue to the 15-year-old Disneyland Hotel.
The banners seen on the resort hub and around Central Plaza had also now made their way to the gardens, surrounding the Disney Legends statue whose wand pointed upwards to a blue sky… that wouldn’t last (look out for another article with slightly sunnier pictures than 31st March soon!).
The entrance itself is a brilliant overlay of the 1992 original, replacing the old Euro Disney-years’ castle silhouette with a new 3D Lumière and two new oval plaques displaying the 15th Anniversary logo and castle. The plaques appear as if they’ve been on the entrance for fifteen years themselves, the design is so in tune with the entrance. For once, seasonal decorations that won’t make an Imagineer cringe!
The surprises didn’t stop with the new entrance. Stepping through the turnstiles, guests were greeted by one of the rarest sights from the resort’s history – a live dixie brass band performing at the foot of Main Street Station! Fresh from their brief appearance at the earlier Red Carpet Ceremony for the press, they gave a hint of the things to come during this day of new surprises and returning favourites…
Not everything in the park for the anniversary was quite so complimentary to the theme, though at least they were trying. The huge white press platform erected a day earlier was given a new covering of “15” logo symbols, to make clear it was only a temporary feature for the anniversary press event. Lights surrounded the platform, important for the cloudy day, whilst film crews already began to prepare their waterproof camera covers for the afternoon’s launch ceremony.
Lights were also positioned along the length of Main Street, as were large blue and white balloons containing confetti, to be burst during the launch ceremony later. A temporary projection and filming booth on the roof of North-East Main Street provided the location for many of the official press photos to be featured in later articles, as well as the source of the startling projections seen during the night’s special performance of Candleabration.
Walking further on, right down the middle of Main Street USA, as it happened, and suddenly another lost favourite from the past strolled into view – turn-of-the-century townspeople! Fresh from their appearance in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, they took a stroll back along the street and clearly relished the chance to meet and greet with guests… and the Emporium statues.
At the end of Main Street, standing to one side from the press cameras and presenters still on the cobbles, the rarely-seen mayor took the chance to chat with guests after the opening ceremony. The entire park opening ceremony and much of the events to follow were all surprisingly traditional and almost entirely in tune with the park and its lands. This anniversary is clearly about the classic magic of Disneyland, rather than giant birthday cakes and ill-fitting Jester hats.
Finally, how to top-off one of the most exciting and bustling early-morning walks down Main Street for years? Can you say… marching band?! Originally a daily feature at the park upon its 1992 opening – much like the original Disneyland – they were lost amongst the financial choas that ensued. The most recent memorable performance of a Disney marching band in the park was perhaps as far back as the 5th Anniversary. But, for one day only, Disneyland Park once again had its very own marching band.
The video below shows a glimpse at their walk around Central Plaza, but their star performance – with an even larger group of muscians – was without doubt during the special pre-parade at 14:45, to be featured shortly.
1. Park Entrance
2. Main Street Station Band
3. Mayor of Main Street & Press
4. Marching Band
An exceptional welcome to what would become an exceptional day. Love or loath the press invasion, their power to kick the park into full motion is always appreciated!