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California 2009 Recap Part 3: D23 Disneyland USA Event – Bonus Video: "Magical" Fireworks Show

Hi everyone!

It’s been a week since I’ve been back from California, and am finally getting more photos and blog posts up – some photos and the text are courtesy of Mousesteps.com. This article features the D23 Disneyland U.S.A. event on July 17th, which was Disneyland’s 54th birthday. I was very fortunate to be one of 200 guests to be part of this D23 event!

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We had gotten our wristbands for the event outside of the Disneyland gates, and were given a time to meet at “it’s a small world”.

We were ushered backstage to see the film and panel discussion, hosted by Tim O’Day, that included former Disneyland President Jack Lindquist, Chief Disney Archivist Dave Smith and Imagineers Tony Baxter and Bob Gurr.  We were told that cameras weren’t allowed to be used at all backstage. It was a longer walk than I expected from Small World to the auditorium (but I could use all the walking I could get before the dessert party!) Before entering, we were treated to some information about the Disneyland fireworks, including the mention that there would be a new Hallowishes show.  Everyone was then given bags of candy, pretzels and a bottled water before being ushered inside.

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We watched the beautifully restored version of Walt Disney’s 1956 “People and Places” featurette in CinemaScope, “Disneyland U.S.A.” We were given a few things to watch for ahead of time, I was surprised that there used to be fishing at Disneyland – but that soon ended, due to guests leaving their fish behind in the park (which created an odor problem). We were told that there were 17 Disney songs in the film, and you can hear Old Yeller even though it wasn’t yet out.

After the film, each panel guest talked for a few minutes. Bob Gurr talked about how Walt had seen a monorail in Germany, but wanted Bob to design a better one. Gurr had 8 months to design the monorail, but was still learning engineering – he trained himself at Disneyland.  He said how it took 13 years to get the Autopia car just right, and that those 1968 cars are still running – and the original subs as well. Gurr also does not like roller coasters, he rode one just to be able to tell Walt that he was doing research for the Matterhorn. Gurr said of his job, “I was paid to design, not ride this stuff”.

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Jack Lindquist said that one of his most touching moments in the park was on one Christmas Eve, before the park closed at 6pm. There were only a handful of people left in Disneyland at 5pm, and he fell into step behind a family walking down Main Street.  One of the two children in the family turned to their mother and said, “You know mom, you were right.  This was better than having a visit from Santa Claus“.

One of my favorite stories of the evening was when Lindquist and Marty Sklar were throwing a party on the evening before the World’s Fair.  They ran out of ice, and Lindquist went through an apartment building looking for some – knocking on doors until he finally found a couple who had some to spare.  The couple talked to him, and then asked Lindquist if he knew their nephew – Marty Sklar. He did not tell them that Marty had been in town for months!

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Geri Bumpass was also one of the panel guests, she was a hostess that can be seen in old film footage and photos with Walt Disney. She told a funny story about how she once slapped Walt’s hand away from reaching from her chest, but it turned out that he was just wanting to take a look at a new pin he’d not yet seen. Bumpass eventually left her job at Disneyland, but returned to work there again many years ago because “I still had Pixie Dust in my blood”.

At one point, we were told that it was okay to bring out the cameras for a photo.

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The dessert party included Celebration cupcakes, along with coffee and tea. The area isn’t the best for the fireworks, but I saw Magical around 10 times during my trip with castle-front views, so I enjoyed more spending time with friends in a non-crowded setting.

Thank you to D23 for another fantastic event! I am glad to be a charter member. For my report on the D23 Flower & Fireworks event at Epcot this summer, please click HERE.

Bonus Videos – “Magical” Fireworks Show from Disneyland

“Magical” Fireworks Show – Part 1 from Disneyland

“Magical” Fireworks Show – Part 2 from Disneyland

Available Now – Latest Release:

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Jeff Lange takes you back in time to experience this first in a series of DVDs featuring vintage parades from the “Happiest Place on Earth”, Disneyland!.

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Jeff Lange takes you on a trip back in time to experience classic Disneyland attractions. This fifth volume in the series features the following:

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As always, if you want to request a future DVD idea, Photo Memory topic or comment on anything, just drop me a line at suggestions@JeffLangeDVD.com.