Disneyland 60th Diamond Celebration

Yesterday was the first official day of the 60th anniversary celebration at Disneyland. While D-land’s actual 60th birthday isn’t until July 17th, if you go now, you can take in the festivities starting today. Every major anniversary comes with a theme and for the 60th, its their Diamond Celebration. I worked during the 50th celebration (I still have my golden Mickey ears) and I’m so bummed that I’m all the way over in NYC missing it! I’ll be there in August but it’s too far away!

The celebration is including a ton of changes in the park including:

Characters in adorable new outfits!

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Diamonds everywhere ooh lala!

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The hatbox ghost is making his return to the Haunted Mansion for the first time since opening day!

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A new parade!

TINKER BELL LIGHTS THE WAY IN 'PAINT THE NIGHT' (ANAHEIM, Calif.)ÑTinker Bell gathers all of her pixie dust to paint the night in dazzling Disney dreams in this all-new new after-dark spectacular at Disneyland park inspired by the iconic 'Main Street Electrical Parade.' 'Paint the Night' is full of vibrant color and more than 1.5 million, brilliant LED lights and features special effects, unforgettable music, and energetic performances that bring beloved Disney stories to life. Celebrating 60 years of magic, 'Paint the Night' is one of three new nighttime spectaculars which will immerse guests in the worlds of Disney stories like never before. The Diamond Celebration at the Disneyland Resort begins Friday, May 22, 2015. (Disneyland Resort)

TINKER BELL LIGHTS THE WAY IN ‘PAINT THE NIGHT’ (ANAHEIM, Calif.)ÑTinker Bell gathers all of her pixie dust to paint the night in dazzling Disney dreams in this all-new new after-dark spectacular at Disneyland park inspired by the iconic ‘Main Street Electrical Parade.’ ‘Paint the Night’ is full of vibrant color and more than 1.5 million, brilliant LED lights and features special effects, unforgettable music, and energetic performances that bring beloved Disney stories to life. Celebrating 60 years of magic, ‘Paint the Night’ is one of three new nighttime spectaculars which will immerse guests in the worlds of Disney stories like never before. The Diamond Celebration at the Disneyland Resort begins Friday, May 22, 2015. (Disneyland Resort)

And a whole lot more!

Since I couldn’t be there for DAY 1 of the celebration, I’m going to share why Disneyland holds such a special place in my heart. Disneyland has been a part of my life from the beginning. All my play dates were at Disneyland, my first loves were at Disneyland (hello Peter Pan and basically every single prince). Disneyland is more than a photo of Snow White and I grinning from ear to ear. It’s more than my first work location. It’s more than everything. Disneyland was the place where I was always allowed and encouraged to be myself. Myself being a dreamer and believer that anything was possible.

To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land.

I try explaining to my boyfriend or my New York friends what it was like working there. Being away from Disneyland and living on the other side of the country breaks my heart almost daily.

Disneyland was the happy place my mom would take my brother and I. We would eat Mickey Mouse pancakes and watch the morning sun kick in over Tom Sawyer’s island and watch the people walk by. We would go on the Peter Pan ride and put our arms out, and every single time, just as we were flying out the Darling nursery and over the skies of London, my mom would scream, “We’re flying!” It was a perfect place of joy for us. I still remember the day the Indiana Jones ride opened in Adventureland. The line was a couple hours long and it was raining that day. My mom had bought my brother and I Mickey ponchos and snagged us a couple decoder cards that cast members were handing out to folks in line. We decoded the walls of the temple we navigated through the entire time we were in line, not even realizing we were actually waiting. I had a childhood of sitting on restaurant floors with the Mad Hatter and Alice as they played games with me and camping out waterfront to be close to the pirate ship in Fantasmic!

When I turned 18, I sprinted to Team Disney Anaheim (TDA), which was the massive yellow casting building just off the freeway and right next to Disneyland. I wanted to work in my dream job, which to me, was any job at Disneyland. I didn’t care if I had to pick up trash, I just had to be there. There were auditions to be a character host in the entertainment department. Our audition was to say the words, “Welcome to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth.” I was too over-the-top. I didn’t get the job. What the heck was next for me? As it turns out, there were other auditions for Innoventions (may she rest in peace). I immediately got hired to be an interactive hostess and talk about technology all day with an amazing group of people. We were the leaders of the future (wearing very vintage looking trousers and talking about the wild technology of the keyboard and mouse, but still!).

When I got that job, I had no idea that it was just the beginning of an adventure that would span a couple years for me. From there, I went on to work Fantasyland attractions (I hold the record for breaking down Snow White’s Scary Adventure 3 times in one hour because I liked talking to guests too much and the cars would backup). I stalled the Casey Jr. circus train on the track more than once and had a very real fear that I would strike one of the infamous Disneyland cats on a daily basis. After a summer of working attractions, I finally got that job as a character host in the entertainment department. We were the hosts of the characters, but furthermore, we were out there to tell their story and see it through. One day, I was in Fantasyland with the Queen of Hearts, the tweedles, mad hatter and alice and we found this perfect nook next to a pond and played duck duck goose with a group of kids. Another day, I was helping children hide from the hide from Snow White or going over fashion advice with Cruella. I was happy. I was surrounded by a world that made me happy. I went on to be a padawan in the Jedi show. Star Wars as my 9-5 job?!!! YESSSSSS. I got to wear a tunic and carry a lightsaber and see the faces of kids from all around the world light up when they finally defeated Vader. I could write a book on what it was like working at Disneyland, and there isn’t enough time this morning to explain how incredibly wonderful it was…but I’ll leave you with this. Go check out the 60th celebration. Let yourself be young again. I promise you…you’re going to love it.

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