Disneyland opened July 17, 1955 — forever changing our world and making it more magical! Every year, Disneyland has a birthday party to celebrate this monumental occasion. This year, Disneyland Resort celebrates its 68th anniversary!
There are some other big birthdays to celebrate at Disneyland this year. This summer is also the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. At Disneyland, the Disney 100 Years of Wonder celebration brings special entertainment, such as the Wondrous Journeys fireworks show and World of Color — One. Mickey's Toontown turned 30 this year and received a gorgeous new look, and a new ride, to celebrate. As you can see, there is a lot to be jolly about at Disneyland this summer, even if you can't make it on July 17 to celebrate Disneyland's actual birthday.
Overview of Disneyland's Birthday
The way Disneyland celebrates its birthday each year can vary. On big anniversaries, such as the 50th and 60th anniversary, Disneyland may have large celebrations that last over a year with special decor, character outfits and entertainment. You may see Disneyland birthday shirts and merchandise during these momentous years. On the smaller birthdays in between, there may be less extravagant celebrations.
Even during larger celebration years, July 17 itself is always given special attention. On this date, the park is brimming with entertainment and surprises unavailable on the other days of the anniversary celebration. For Disneyland’s 60th Diamond Anniversary, Disneyland gave out free cupcakes exactly on July 17. The first guests to arrive received special pins that said, “I was there July 17, 2015.” Guests were greeted by cast members wearing sparkly Mickey hands, giving them high fives. Then, guests were treated to Walt Disney’s 1955 speech. On larger anniversaries, you will find collectible anniversary apparel for sale throughout the year.
Take Part in Special Celebrations
When you visit Disneyland Park on Disneyland’s birthday, be sure to look for special entertainment. For example, you may catch a birthday cavalcade or procession with the Dapper Dans, the Disneyland Band and some of Disneyland’s best character friends. For Disneyland's 63rd anniversary, 63 characters joined in to celebrate. Each year, you can experience a different kind of fun!
For Disneyland's 67th birthday, there was a birthday procession with the Disneyland Band, Dapper Dans, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy and Chip 'n' Dale. They sang happy birthday at Sleeping Beauty Castle, in the middle of Main Street U.S.A. and finally in Town Square in front of the train station. There was one procession and it traveled in one direction in 2022.
If the celebration is not on the calendar or in the showtimes, type "Disneyland Birthday Moment" into the app on the day of the celebration. You should see the time it will hoppen.
Get Ready for Your Closeup
Have you seen or heard about wearing the Disneyland birthday buttons? Well, you can take a photo with giant birthday buttons all around the park at iconic locations and rides on Disneyland’s birthday. In 2022, the button signs were at the floral Mickey landscape in front of the park and at the shops in both parks. You can borrow the sign from shops and take pictures yourself. There was a PhotoPass location at the teacup in Fantasyland as well. If you are interested in PhotoPass, free downloads are included with Genie+.
No matter the year, it's always fun to be a guest in attendance on Disneyland's birthday. We enjoy taking pics with giant birthday button photo-ops. It's so exciting to catch a birthday cavalcade with the characters, too!
Find Birthday Foods
There may be special menu items to choose from during a Disneyland birthday celebration. In 2022, there were special birthday treats available at the cookie cart in Disney's Grand Californias Hotel lobby. The GCH Grill offered a birthday cupcake.
You can also order special Walt's Chili Fries at Red Rose Taverne or get a birthday sundae at Gibson Girl. During larger celebration years, there may be year-long birthday food offerings and additional treats on July 17!
Do the Opening-Day Ride Challenge
Some people like to visit all of the attractions that were available during opening day in 1955, including:
- Disneyland Railroad
- Mark Twain Riverboat
- Main Street Vehicles
- Main Street Cinema
- Snow White's Enchanted Wish (under a different name)
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Mad Tea Party
- King Arthur Carrousel
- Jungle Cruise
- Storybook Land Canal Boats (this technically was a different ride under a different name that closed and reopened as the ride we know today)
Celebrating Disneyland's Birthday (and Your Own) at Disneyland
Speaking of birthdays, is there a more magical place to celebrate your own birthday than Disneyland?
You wear your free birthday button and everybody wishes you a happy birthday all day. You have a free pass to eat all your favorite Disneyland treats because calories don’t count on your birthday — at least that’s what we believe. OK, I need to believe that this is true.
Tips for Celebrating Disneyland’s Birthday
Know What to Wear
Most people are dressed in their theme park best: comfortable T-shirts, shorts and good walking shoes. But a few people like to dress up for the occasion just like on July 17, 1955.
You might see people in their 50s apparel, homemade outfits or DisneyBound clothes to get the essence of a favorite Disney character while staying within the “no costumes for adults” guidelines. You will see more Dapper Day and vintage wear during larger birthday celebrations. On any birthday, you’ll see some people dressed up and others wearing past birthday celebration shirts, and even some people born the day Disneyland opened. No matter what you wear, you are all there celebrating with Disneyland.
Follow Tips to Manage Crowds During Disneyland's Birthday
We frequently get questions about the best and worst days to visit Disneyland. The Disneyland anniversary does see crowds, although to be fair, the parks are already busy with summer vacationers. Most years, Disneyland's birthday is about as busy as a typical summer day. With the Disneyland theme park reservation system in place, the park never gets too crowded these days. You must make theme park reservations for Disneyland Park in advance.
The birthday cavalcade was at noon in 2022, but you can check the Disneyland app a few days before the event for this year's entertainment. You'll want to stake out a spot in front of the train station early. Arrive at the castle about 15 minutes early to catch a remarkable show moment. It's hard to predict what Disneyland will have in store since each year is different.
Plan to arrive before park opening for the lowest crowds of the day. You might just get a commemorative pin or another treat for being among the first to enter the park during bigger celebrations! Make restaurant reservations at a table-service restaurant to avoid mealtime crowds and lines. You may be able to join the walk-up list in the Disneyland app if you can't get a reservation. Upgrade to dining packages for viewing shows such as World of Color. It is nice to sit down and relax at midday so you have enough energy to keep going.
Consider purchasing Genie+ or individual Lightning Lanes to skip the lines on popular rides. We have many tips for maximizing your time at Disneyland, and Disneyland’s birthday is certainly a great day to put that advice to use.
While there may be more people joining the party during Disneyland's birthday, there is also more merriment surrounding this special day. That makes it a great day to visit. So put on your birthday hat, pin on an “I’m Celebrating!” button and get ready to enjoy the anniversary of the opening of Disneyland!
Do you have questions about celebrating Disneyland's birthday? Have you experienced birthday merriment at the park? Share your questions or your experience in the comments below! You can get your discount Disneyland Resort tickets from your favorite froggy friends to save some green!
Related: Your Guide to All of the ~Frogtastic~ Disneyland Shows