Disney World’s Anniversary Had One Big Problem. How Disneyland’s New Celebration Doesn’t Fall Into The Same Trap

These days it feels like Disney Parks are just one endless celebration after another. From Epcot’s year long International festivals to Disney California Adventure’s Lunar New Year and Food & Wine Festival, there’s always something new happening to get people to visit the parks. Disney World is getting ready to wrap up its 50th anniversary celebration in the same year that the Walt Disney Company celebrates its 100th anniversary. 

The 100 Years of Wonder celebration, while company-wide, is primarily focused on Disneyland. And while it technically hasn’t started yet, even having only previewed it, there is one significant difference: Walt Disney is front and center.

Disney World’s 50th Was Lots Of Disney, Not Much Walt

When the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World began at the end of 2021, there was an expectation, since it was an anniversary, that there would be a lot of nostalgia for the park itself. Disney World had gone through many changes in 50 years, and people have fond memories of the parks of yesteryear. 

But that didn’t really happen. While there was a lot in the decorations and new nighttime spectaculars to remind people of Disney history in film, especially animation, there was very little about the history of the resort Walt built, and also almost no mention of Walt Disney himself. There were even rumors that Walt Disney World might change its name. That such ideas could even be believed showed that fans didn't feel the company respected the man.

The fan out cry was significant enough that we eventually saw a running change made to Disney Enchantment, the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. A new segment was added, celebrating Walt and Roy O. Disney, the brothers who made Disney World happen.

Disneyland’s 100 Years Of Wonder Merch Celebrates Walt Disney

Whether you’re talking about celebrating Disney World or the Disney Company, it all comes back to Walt Disney eventually. And a look at some of the brand new merchandise being released on Friday when the 100 Years of Wonder celebration officially begins, shows that this party is not forgetting Walt.

A new coffee mug is adorned with a copy of Walt Disney’s first business card as a professional animator, complete with a simple drawing of Walt and work that was drawn by Walt himself. A couple of journals that are available are a throwback to the Disneyland of an earlier era, but Walt’s name is right there alongside the name of the park he founded.

Disneyland journal

(Image credit: Dirk Libbey)

A hat that lists the original lands of Disneyland also calls it Walt Disney's Disneyland, just as the voice over did for the original Disneyland TV show that was created to market, and help fund, the construction of the park itself. An especially cool item, a pair of ears, include inside them the Walt Disney Studio’s flowchart, which shows how the movie studio, the theme park, and the merchandising side of the company all support and feed each other, just as they do today.

flowchart Minnie ears

(Image credit: Dirk Libbey)

World Of Color - One Begins And Ends With Walt

But it isn't just adding Walt to a few merchandise items that makes the 100 Years of Wonder feel different. Walt also makes a noticeable appearance in the newest version of Disney California Adventure's World of Color nighttime spectacular. In fact, one bookends the show with Walt Disney. He is the first and the last voice that you hear during the show.

Walt Disney used to say that it was "all started by a mouse" but we know that's not actually true. It was started by a man, a man named Walt Disney. And while that man wasn't perfect, he deserves the credit for the work that he did, and it seems clear that nobody will be leaving the 100 Years of Wonder at Disneyland without knowing that much.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.