Disneyland opened July 17, 1955, forever changing our world and making it more magical. Every year Disneyland has a birthday party to celebrate this momentous occasion. This year Disneyland celebrates its 65th anniversary! Unfortunately, in March 2020, Disneyland had to close for several months due to COVID-19. That means we will have to settle for a belated Disneyland birthday celebration in 2020 because the Disneyland reopening is still pending government approval and the parks will not be open by July 17.
Like anyone who turned another year older during the pandemic, Disneyland will have a bit of a lonely birthday in 2020. The park will not get to celebrate its 65th with all its friends (cast members, characters and guests) as it usually would. The good news is Disneyland birthday celebration merchandise is here!
Disneyland Birthday Celebration Merchandise
Downtown Disney reopened July 9, and guests flocked to the World of Disney store to purchase their 65th anniversary merchandise. We waited in a virtual queue for 90 minutes just to get a quick peek at the new items!
If you cannot make it to Downtown Disney soon, the online sales event opens on July 14 at 10 a.m. PST. Once it opens, you will be placed in a virtual queue prior to entering the order form. There are items for everyone, along with special AP items. Guests will gain entry to the order form via the virtual queue, as space allows. Quantities are limited. You can have items shipped, or, if you live locally, you can pick them up at Downtown Disney's former ESPN Zone building Thursday, July 23 through Monday, July 27. Pick-up times will be in one-hour time slots between 10:00 a.m and 7:00 p.m. Each time slot has limited capacity and may not be available at the time your order is placed. If you choose shipping, your celebration will be even more belated as items may take up to six weeks to arrive.
You can commemorate 65 years with a spirit jersey, T-shirts, a white hoodie, men's camp shirt, a Mickey plush, a puzzle, Loungefly mini backpack and of course, pins. Head ware is always an important accessory at Disneyland, and you'll find a jeweled headband as well as an ear hat. The dark blue spirit jersey has sparkles on it and the back reads "The Happiest Place on Earth." Annual Passholders have exclusive merchandise as well (pins, an ornament, T-shirt and an abominable snowman plush).
At World of Disney in Downtown Disney, we also saw mugs, photo frames and other items for Disneyland's 65th that are not shown or mentioned online. There is a 65th skirt and other apparel that looks fun.
Celebrating Disneyland's Birthday (and Your Own) at Disneyland
Speaking of birthdays, is there a better place to celebrate your own birthday than Disneyland (in a normal year)? You wear your free birthday button and everybody wishes you a happy birthday all day long. 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.
We usually try to hop over to Disneyland to celebrate its birthday. Just like our own birthdays, the bigger celebrations like 50 and 60 tend to be larger parties than those in-between years. No matter the year, it's always fun to be a guest in attendance. We enjoy taking pics with giant birthday buttons photo ops. It's so exciting to catch a birthday cavalcade with all the characters.
One the most exciting things that happened on Disneyland's 62nd birthday a few years ago was the re-opening of Fantasmic! Before the show, cast members led the packed crowd in singing Happy Birthday to Disneyland. It was the birthday of Fantasmic! too. To celebrate 25 years, new characters and technology were added along with an updated musical score. What a way to celebrate! Unfortunately, we will not get to see nighttime spectaculars such as Fantasmic! this year due to COVID-19, but we look forward to the time that it's safe for crowds to gather again. If you are planning to attend a future Disneyland birthday celebration, here’s our guide so you don’t miss out on any fun. We've hopfully added the Disneyland opening day anniversary to our Disneyland Crowd Calendar, so you won't froget!
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 people did on July 17, 1955. You might see people in their 50’s wear, homemade outfits or characters In 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 certainly see some people dressed up and others wearing past birthday celebration shirts and even some people who were born the day Disneyland opened. No matter what you wear, you are all there celebrating with Disneyland.
Take Part in Special Celebrations
When you enter the park on Disneyland’s birthday be sure to grab an entertainment guide because there could be special entertainment not listed on the official site. For example, you may catch a birthday cavalcade along the parade route with the Dapper Dans, Disneyland Band and some of Disneyland’s best character friends. Usually the number of characters equals Disneyland's age! Plan ahead if you want a close view.
For Disneyland’s 60th Diamond Anniversary Disneyland gave out free cupcakes. 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 like that, you will find souvenir anniversary wear for sale and find that the celebration lasts more than that day. But even so, the birthday itself will be extra special with entertainment and surprises that are not available the other days of the anniversary celebration.
Get Ready for Your Closeup
You’ve seen or heard about wearing the Disneyland birthday buttons (one of our favorite free things to do at Disneyland)? Well, you can take a photo with giant birthday buttons all around the park at iconic locations and rides on Disneyland’s birthday. Use your own camera or the PhotoPass Photographer’s camera. If you are interested in PhotoPass, free downloads are included with Disney MaxPass and PhotoPass+ One Week plans.
We frequently get questions about the best and worst days to visit Disneyland. The Disneyland anniversary is one that 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. In 2020, the park capacity will be controlled by having guests make a reservation to visit. You can read more about the Disneyland reopening plans and what to expect when the California theme parks reopen if you plan to attend in 2020.
Expect larger-than-usual crowds for Disneyland's birthday celebration during a large celebration year. Plan to arrive early. You just might get a giveaway pin or other treat for being among the first to enter the park. Make restaurant reservations at a table-service restaurant to avoid mealtime crowds and lines. Plus it is nice to sit down and relax midday so you have enough energy to keep going. Use free FASTPASSes to avoid lines or consider purchasing Disney MaxPass to be able to reserve FASTPASSes from your smartphone. 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 crowds during Disneyland's birthday party, there is also more merriment surrounding this special day. We see no reason to have that rain on our parade. So put on your birthday hat, pin on an “I’m Celebrating!” button and get ready to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of Disneyland!
Do you have questions about celebrating Disneyland's birthday? Have you experienced the merriment? Share your questions or your experience in comments below!