A Trip to Disneyland on its 63rd Birthday

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Disneyland 63rd Birthday

Lee and I celebrated Disneyland’s 63rd birthday with a trip to Disneyland.

It was a Tuesday, and we were pleasantly surprised that the parks weren’t all that busy. While yes, some attractions had hour-long waits, most were well under that. We arrived late enough (11:30) that we didn’t try to get any Fastpasses – return times for popular attractions were too far in the future by then.

I was disappointed that there were no special birthday buttons – not even for the cast members. The Times Guide for the week had a notation about the special Birthday Celebration on the parade route and we planned to see it later in the day.

Disneyland Times Guide

There were a couple of special photo ops available, though – the one in the photo at the top and this one.

Disneyland 63rd birthday

Our first order of business was lunch. Lee wanted to go to Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland. If you’re not familiar with it…it’s the Beauty & the Beast overlay to the Village Haus Restaurant. I think it was supposed to be temporary, but it’s into its second year now. I could have used Mobile Order here, but I didn’t actually think about it. We really didn’t need it, though – walked right up to a register and placed our order.

Lee’s favorite here is the Poutine Flatbread, with beef, French fries, cheese curds, gravy, and garlic aioli. His flatbread was nice and crisp and brown.

Poutine Flatbread

I tried the Garden Mozzarella Flatbread with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce. Mine was not crisp and brown. There was very little basil. It was just ok.

Mozzarella Flatbread

We shared the Gray Stuff Gateau – a red velvet cupcake covered with mousse.

Gray Stuff Gateau

It was a lot more chocolate mousse than I remembered – but we found a use for the extra mousse. It was delicious.

Gray Stuff Gateau

Since it was Disneyland’s birthday we wanted to experience some of the attractions that were open 63 years ago that still exist at the park. We started with the Disneyland Railroad, and took a “grand circle tour” all around the Magic Kingdom.

Disneyland Railroad

The path of the railroad track was modified from the original last year to accommodate the addition of Galaxy’s Edge. A rustic trestle and series of waterfalls were added where the train goes around Tom Sawyer Island. Very picturesque.

Disneyland Railroad

We also took a ride on the Jungle Cruise – where we saw the back side of water. The original Jungle Cruise script was much more serious and not the pun-filled patter that we’re used to now.

Jungle Cruise back side of water

Did you know that the iconic Walt & Mickey Partners statue wasn’t placed at Disneyland until 1993? It feels like it’s always been there…

Disneyland Partners Statue

The 63rd Birthday Celebration preceded the two performances of the Pixar Play Parade. We watched the first one, from the Small World Mall area. I really enjoyed it. It stopped at four different places along the parade route for a short celebration, including playing part of Walt Disney’s opening day speech and singing “Happy Birthday” to Disneyland.

Disneyland 63rd Birthday Celebration

Disneyland 63rd Birthday Celebration

There were 63 characters, and they all paraded around in a large oval so that we had a look at each one. I loved seeing the inclusion of a number of cast members who were carrying balloons. They were in different costumes from attractions around the park.

Disneyland 63rd Birthday Celebration

Afterwards we went to the Mark Twain Riverboat, another original Disneyland attraction.

Mark Twain Riverboat

Princess Tiana was aboard for our tour of the Rivers of America – after she finished greeting guests she spent a few pensive moments looking out at the scenery as we were “goin’ down the bayou”.

Princess Tiana Mark Twain Riverboat

On the way out of Disneyland we saw a mama duck and four ducklings, just hanging out in one of the grassy areas near the hub It’s always fun to see the babies in the spring and summer months.

Disneyland Ducklings

Lee hadn’t yet seen Pixar Pier over in Disney California Adventure.

Pixar Pier

Our first stop was Jack-Jack’s Cookie Num Nums. We ordered the signature “Cookie Num Num.” The line was short but it took awhile because the cookies are run through a warmer so that they can be served warm and gooey. We had to wait for them to catch up with the orders. The cookie is thick and easily serves two people. It’s yummy.

Jack-Jack's Cookie Num Num

The small Zurg statue next to the Poultry Palace kiosk was back in place… sometimes he’s there, sometimes he’s not. This was the first time I’d seen him.

Poultry Palace Emperor Zurg

It was a warm day, and we took a break at the Sonoma Terrace to enjoy some frosty beverages. There’s a number of beers on draft there now, and generally the line is pretty short, unlike the Karl Strauss beer truck and the Bayside Brews kiosk. Lee had a Mermaid Red and I had a Raspberry Sour. Very refreshing, and the Terrace is a nice place to sit and relax for a while.

Sonoma Terrace

But after beverages we were ready for dinner. Flo’s V8 Cafe has a relatively new menu that we hadn’t tried…this time we did Mobile Order via the Disneyland app. This was my best experience with Mobile Order so far – enough people were using it at Flo’s that there was a dedicated cast member for mobile orders, and our order came out fairly quickly after I pushed the “I’m Here – Prepare My Order” button in the app.

Flo's V8 Cafe Mobile Order

Lee tried the Blue Plate Special, which was Pork Ribs with choice of two sides – he chose garlic mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. The ribs were good, though I think the garlic mashed potatoes were the best part. (The mashed potatoes are hiding under the ribs.)

Flo's V8 Cafe ribs

I ordered Fillmore’s Pot Pie which is the vegetarian option. Fresh fruit is the suggested side, but I could have requested a different one. The filling was a cheesy mix of potatoes and corn with some slightly spicy chiles. It was pretty good – I would order it again.

Flo's V8 Cafe vegetarian pot pie

After dinner we went back over to Disneyland to catch a couple sets of the Disneyland All-American College Band.

Disneyland All-American College Band

If you’re not familiar with them, the band is a group of college students selected from music programs across the country. They perform at Disneyland for about nine weeks during the summer, five days a week. There are also special workshops with guest musicians scheduled in there, too. It’s a jam-packed time for them. They are so very talented, and a lot of fun to watch. I believe this is the 48th year there’s been a band at Disneyland. We saw their set at the castle at 6:45, and their jazz set at the Royal Theater at 7:45. The castle set is the same each time, but the jazz set changes each day, and sometimes their guest musician performs with them. The video below is from a castle set I saw several weeks ago.

On the way out of Disneyland we stopped to look at some of the “Enchanted Windows” in the Emporium that were installed during Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary celebration.

Aladdin Enchanted Window Disneyland

As we went across the Esplanade to Disney California Adventure we enjoyed the lighting on the Pixar Fest decorations above each park entrance.

Pixar Fest sign

Pixar Fest sign

Our plan was to see the 8:50 performance of the Paint the Night Parade, with the new(ish) Incredibles float. There were a surprising number of people along the parade route – usually I find that the further you go towards the parade gate next to Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, the fewer people there are. This time, though there were still spaces in the viewing areas, we were standing behind two rows of people who were sitting. Which was fine – we had a great view.

Paint the Night Incredibles float

I had hoped to see a couple occurrences of Jack-Jack, who pops up in four places on the float, but only saw him as the atomic green goo baby.

Paint the Night Parade Incredibles Jack-Jack

After the parade we took some time to enjoy the nighttime lighting of Pixar Pier.

Pixar Pier at night

Pixar Pier at night

Pixar Pier at night

It was a great day, and we had a wonderful time!





Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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