30 Days and 30 Blogs
WARNING: This blog is long and ends with a “to be continued”
Editing and posting the latest Kingdom Comedy has reminded me that I don’t believe I’ve ever documented my experience at Disneyland’s 50th birthday celebration kick off event. I’ve talked about it in bits and pieces here and there, but I thought it’d be a good idea to get it all down in one place. It was easily one of my top 3 best trips to Disneyland ever. (And that’s saying something) Because I was “media,” I got the VIP treatment…and it was pretty darn sweet. Not even my trip to Club 33 can compare to how sweet this was. So if you’d like to get lost with me in a sea of Disneyland awesomeness, read on…
To set the scene, I was working for a radio station in San Jose at the time. Disneyland brought our morning show down to broadcast live two days in a row for the 50th celebration kick off on May 5th. Technically, Disneyland’s 50th birthday wasn’t until July 17 but…
a) why waste half the summer when you can start celebrating in May?
b) May 5th that year was 05-05-05
So they flew us in the night before the first show. I got this cool packet waiting for me in my room. I still have most of the stuff…press releases, a reprinting of the Life magazine from when Disneyland first opened, commemorative lithographs. I actually took a half hour going through all this stuff between the last sentence and this one.
That night, we were treated to a big presentation in the Hyperion Theater (the theater in California Adventure that now shows Aladdin). It was pretty cool for a Disney fan like me to hear the stories from the past and some of the plans for the future. But the biggest memory of that event was when Kelsey Grammar took the stage and…
I think I’ve talked about this on the show before, but when it happened the whole audience was stunned. I remember a few seconds before he fell thinking, “Wow, he keeps getting awfully close to that weird, jagged edge of the stage. I wonder if he might fall.” The moment he did, I took no joy in it. I was, as was everyone around me, concerned that he really hurt himself. But after a few moments, he jumped back on stage and finished his speech. He even made a joke, “…and I’m NOT walking back that way again.”
After it was over, they gave us free dinner over by what is now the Monsters Inc. ride. A few minutes into eating, I could not stop laughing. I don’t know why it was suddenly so funny, but I was hysterical laughing. Frasier just took a dive off the stage and I got to be there to watch it happen.
After that, we were treated to a sneak preview of the Block Party Bash parade (again at California Adventure…I think this has morphed into the Pixar Play Parade). I remember waiting for it to start and they were playing random pop music while we waited. One of the songs was Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone.” The girls around me lost there minds. Jumping up and down, singing along at full voice…I feel the need to point out that Kelly was not there. They just pressed play on the magical Disney iPod, but these girls went nuts. I didn’t get it. Then the parade started. It was nice enough…until one of the floats caught fire. Not like the whole thing was engulfed in flame, just a little fire at the top of this giant traffic cone thing. (I was asked not to mention that the next day when we were on the air…I think enough time has passed now). I must say, Disney knows what they are doing. The performers kept calm and kept performing and a stealthy team of people got that fire out quick.
After the parade, we got to explore Bugs Land all we wanted. They had set up little tables with all sorts of deserts…cookies, brownies, candies, cupcakes. Tons of stuff…all free and all for us. Which was especially cool since most radio morning show people don’t like to stay up late, it was pretty much just me and a few other people crazy enough to stay up past midnight when they had to be on air at 5am. So it was like our own little private party in Bugs Land. To top it off, I passed by a churro stand and the guy working it said, “Want a churro?”
“No thanks, I’m fine,” I say.
“…say what now?”
Every concession stand in Bugs Land was just giving away their stuff. Free churros! Free slushies. Free popcorn. Free soda. I had ALL of it, son. I knew I was gonna turn into a donkey soon and be shipped off into the salt mines, but it was totally worth it!
The next morning I dragged my sorry tired butt out of the hotel room before the sun was up and went down to California Adventure for our live broadcast. It was pretty sweet. We had an official Disney representative to answer our questions, but 9 out of 10 of the morning show’s Disneyland questions…I knew the answers. That’s how I roll in Disney, son! We got to interview Tony Baxter and Marty Sklar…which sadly, I did not fully appreciate at the time. I did very much appreciate the surface fact that they had lots of great stories. But the greatest part of that morning broadcast was meeting Bill Farmer…THE VOICE OF GOOFY!!! I was beside myself. Goofy is my favorite of the fab five. To get to talk to him and tell him how much I appreciated his work was an amazing thrill. But THEN, after my morning show was finished interviewing him and Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), I got to do an interview with them both! It was plenty cool at the time, but now that I have a 2 year old son, it’s even a step cooler. My son found the CD I saved the interview on a while ago. He asked me to play it. Now he’ll often say “I want to hear daddy talk to Goofy and Donald Duck.” MAJOR dad points! This was, of course, the source of my latest Kingdom Comedy video.
After the show, we got to go into Disneyland park. Oh…I forgot to mention…it was closed. Yes, Disneyland was closed to everyone but media and invited guests that day. But I had the golden ticket! (Literally. The tickets were gold because the 50th is the golden anniversary). After riding on rides for a while, I got to do something I never thought I’d do; watch Steve Martin perform comedy…LIVE! My 3 biggest comedy heroes are Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, and Steve Martin. I’d seen Cosby live twice by this point and I would see him once more after. I’d seen Robin Williams at San Francisco’s Comedy Day in the Park (with Andy). But Steve Martin had very publicly given up stand up. So I didn’t think Id ever get to see him perform. In fact, I wasn’t expecting it when it happened. I was at the grand unveiling of “Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years,” a movie that was taking Mr. Lincoln’s spot during the 50th celebration. It was hosted by Steve Martin and Donald Duck. For the unveiling, some Disney folks were there with Donald Duck who mentioned that it was unfortunate that Steve couldn’t be there to introduce the new film. All of a sudden Steve Martin walks out of the crowd and says, “I heard my name. Are you introducing this film without me? Donald said it wasn’t happening ’til tomorrow.” Steve and Donald proceed to riff back and forth for a while and I mentally checked something off my comedy bucket list. Then we saw the film itself, which I thought was amazing. I could have been swept up in the moment, but I really liked it and I still do.
Can you see him? Yeah…the world was a hard place before the iPhone
Then we went to a wine and cheese party on the upper floors of Downtown Disney. As someone who is not a fan of wine nor cheese, this was not my favorite event. However, it got us out of the park so that we could come back in again for the evening’s festivities. And the re-entrance to Disneyland was pants poopingly amazing! They laid out a gold carpet along the entire length of Main Street. And they had cast members stationed all along the street to cheer you on as you walked in. They were yelling for us, reaching out for high fives, snapping pictures…it was so cool. I realize my description of it may not seem that great, but to be there and to experience a wall of people cheering for you as you walk in the park…it was quite an experience!
Okay…this is getting longer than one of Andy’s rants. I’ll talk about the rest of the night and the next day in tomorrow’s blog. I gotta get some sleep!