To help commemorate Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary 60 bloggers from around the country have each chosen a year (1955-2015) in Disneyland’s history to highlight the events and changes to the Park(s) as well as their memories as a park visitor. I am beyond excited and honored to have been afforded the opportunity, as a Babes in Disneyland Contributor, to be a part of this fortunate group of bloggers and even more excited to take you back in time to a most memorable year for me and my family way back in 2008!
The year 2008 marked a special time for my family and me. My son Evan, then two, had already been on numerous trips to Disneyland. With each trip I new memories were made and forever sealed in my memory. It was an absolute joy to watch him toddle around in a Mickey Ear hat, enjoy his first Mickey Ice Cream Bar, and watch my shy little boy gain the confidence to meet and take photos with the characters and even ride new rides for the first time. In addition to the growth in our little prince, 2008 brought the news that we would soon be expecting a little princess. In true Disney family fashion we marked the occasion with a trip to Disneyland. We would travel to the Disneyland Resort several more times that year to savor every last minute as a family of 3.
If you happened to visit Disneyland in 2008, and weren’t an Annual Passholder, you might recall that a one day adult ticket was $69, and $59 for a child one day ticket. The Year of a Million Dreams, which was scheduled to last only one year (2007) was extended into 2008, which meant that over one million more dreams came true that year. Monorail red, the first Mark VII train, debuted on July 3rd and featured seats that allowed guests to sit facing the windows while riding.
2008 also brought Toy Story Midway Mania! to Disney’s California Adventure and would become the first attraction in Disney history to be designed, built, and debuted in two parks simultaneously (a similar version opened later in 2008 in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida). Upon entering the ride queue guests are greeted by a large, animatronic Mr. Potato Head who interacts with guests by singing, dancing, and telling jokes. After hopping on a swiveling carnival car and donning a pair of 3D glasses, guests play a series of several short midway-style games, each of which are themed and hosted by some of our favorite Toy Story characters. Using spring-action “shooters,” guests launch darts at balloons, toss rings at aliens, and break plate targets to see who can score the most points.
The interactive nature of the Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction made the attraction an instant favorite for my family and we continue to enjoy the ride today. My kids love interacting with Mr. Potato Head while waiting in line. We absolutely love taking photos in the signature yellow 3D glasses and have enjoyed sharing in that tradition with friends and family who accompany us to the park. The best part for us, however, is competing for the highest score as well as for our own personal best scores.
Another notable event in 2008 involved the King Arthur Carrousel. The carrousel was one of the original attractions available to guests on opening day, July 17, 1955. The carrousel features 68 hand carved horses, each uniquely decorated, and with its own name. One particularly special horse named Jingles, serves as the carrousel’s lead horse and was also Walt Disney’s favorite. The carvings on Jingles are ornate with rows of gold jingle bells that hang from her saddle and collar. To add to her luster, on April 8, 2008 Jingles was ceremoniously dedicated to Julie Andrews to commemorate her contributions to Disney spanning 50 years. In honor of her contributions Jingles was repainted with several nods to Julie Andrews and one of her most beloved roles, Mary Poppins. During the ceremony Ms. Andrews was also bestowed the title of Disneyland Ambassador and Honorary Cast Member.
For my family and I, Jingles and the King Arthur Carrousel are special in so many ways. First and foremost, it has always been my Mom’s favorite attraction. The look on her face as she boards the ride is as if she has transformed back in time. Fortunately for me, my Mom’s unfettered excitement for the carrousel has been passed down to my kids. I think what makes the carrousel so special and timeless is that it’s a ride that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy together. On many occasions over the years we have had groups of 10 or more scampering to select their favorite horse and giggling along to the music as we circled Fantasyland. Shortly after Jingles was dedicated in 2008 there was quite a rush to get to her and be among the first to ride and take photos. The experience of having Evan sit in the very same spot that Julie Andrews once sat was a true Disneyland bucket list item and a memory that will last forever.
As I’m sharing these fond memories of 2008 with you, I’m reminded of the words Walt Disney once said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world,” and the last 60 years certainly have been living proof of his vision. Thank you for joining me on this trip down memory lane. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Disneyland Resort in the next 60 years, and to continue to experience the magic along the way!
This post is part of a special Disney community countdown to Disneyland’s 60th anniversary called 60 Days to 60 Years.