Inside Disneyland’s Innovations

Inside Disneyland’s Innovations

Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration provides a festive opportunity to honor a legendary past – and a limitless future.

Walt Disney’s vision of an innovative, magical park where families could have fun together became a reality when Disneyland Resort opened on July 17, 1955. The beloved California theme park kicked off its Diamond Celebration this year, and the 60th anniversary festivities won’t be winding down anytime soon.

Disneyland is now featuring three new, spectacular nighttime events. The first, the “Paint the Night” parade, incorporates 1.5 million LED lights and startling new technologies. The “Disneyland Forever” fireworks show also includes projections and other special effects. And, in Disney California Adventure, Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse co-host the memorable “World of Color — Celebrate!”

“I love the fact that we’re really pushing the storytelling envelope,” said Steve Davison at Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment. “It’s great fun to… create these immersive worlds, knowing guests will see our classic stories in mesmerizing new ways. It’s going to bring Disneyland to life in ways they couldn’t even imagine.”

The magic of the Diamond Celebration extends well beyond the nighttime extravaganzas. Guests visiting the original Magic Kingdom will see extra sparkle everywhere they look, from Sleeping Beauty Castle to Carthay Circle Theatre to the Esplanade, as well as through Downtown Disney and on the streets of Anaheim itself.

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Over the course of six decades, Disneyland has explored the frontiers of immersive storytelling and entertainment technology, bringing exciting attractions and inventive entertainment to life for guests around the world. And, it has steadily grown to incorporate Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, three on-site hotels and Downtown Disney.

Since Disneyland opened in 1955, it has welcomed nearly 700 million guests, and it launched a worldwide family vacation phenomenon. Two billion guests have spent time in Disney parks around the globe, and the company is preparing to open its newest resort in Shanghai. Clearly, Disneyland’s founding was the beginning of something much bigger than anyone could have possibly imagined.

For one, Disneyland transformed the amusement industry with an entirely new concept in family entertainment: the “theme park,” where rides, shows and characters become part of a total storytelling environment. When the park first opened, one of its most anticipated attractions was the Jungle Cruise; the buzz reached a fever pitch when Walt Disney showcased exclusive behind-the-scenes footage on the “Disneyland” TV show by mounting a camera on top of a car and driving it through the trenches of the soon-to-be river canal, giving audiences a taste of how innovative the Magic Kingdom would be.

Other great innovations from the early years included the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which was the first tubular steel roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1959 and set the standard for modern roller-coaster design; the Disneyland Park monorail, which was the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere when it opened in 1959; and the Enchanted Tiki Room, which was the first attraction to feature Disney’s Audio-Animatronics technology when it opened in 1963.

Disneyland hasn’t stopped innovating. In 2010, it introduced the nighttime water spectacular “Worlds of Color,” which uses a submersible platform that’s bigger than a football field, incorporates more than 18,000 points of control and revolutionary lighting that infuses nearly 1,200 fountains with color, and is one of the largest show systems ever built.

And, in 2012, it opened Cars Land. At nearly 300,000 square feet and 125 feet tall at its peak, the mountains of Cars Land’s Ornament Valley make up the largest rock structure in any domestic Disney theme park. When guests first arrived three years ago, they were immediately transported into beloved Radiator Springs, complete with attractions, merchandise and food offerings.

“Few companies have both a legendary past as well as a limitless future,” said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “But we had the great fortune to be founded with a spirit of creativity and innovation — one that continues to define this phenomenal company, allowing us to keep moving forward to meet the future without ever losing sight of who we are and where it all started. We’re thrilled to usher in Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary and celebrate the triumph of imagination in a place where dreams really do come true.”



  • Dining Reservations – To make the most of vacation time, guests can make dining reservations in advance at the resort’s award-winning restaurants. Guests have several options: call 714-781-DINE, send an email with date, time and contact information to, or use the Check Availability tool on
  • Social Media – Keep up with the latest official information about the Disneyland Resort at, where guests may also get behind-the-scenes looks at the parks, resort hotels and Downtown Disney. For planning tips and fun facts, follow @Disneyland on Twitter. The official Facebook Page of the Disneyland Resort includes park updates, news and special backstage info at
  • In-Park Social Media – When you’re at the resort, follow @DisneylandToday on Twitter for in-park information about Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney and the resort hotels with live updates and answers.


  • Extra Magic Hour – Early Admission to the Parks – Guests staying at any Disneyland Resort hotel may enjoy Extra Magic Hour entry into Disneyland or Disney California Adventure one hour before the parks open to the public. This opportunity is good for the length of a guest’s stay, with designated days for each park. To check availability, daily times and additional information, visit and click on “Park Hours.” (Valid theme park admission and active hotel room key required.)
  • Storybook Vacation – At Disneyland Resort hotels, guests have the opportunity to share a meal and laughs with favorite Disney characters, relax by sparkling pools and enjoy a night on the town complete with dinner at one of several award-winning restaurants.
  • Convenience and Legendary Service – Guests who stay at Disneyland Resort Hotels are treated to exclusive conveniences throughout their stay, including a Keys to the Magic card for charging meals and merchandise to the guest room. The Package Express service delivers resort merchandise purchases right to a guest’s hotel. Hotel guests are treated to the legendary Disney guest service throughout their vacation.


  • Disney FASTPASS Service – FASTPASS allows guests to maximize their time in the park by reserving a specific time window to enjoy their favorite attractions. When guests return during that time, they enjoy a shorter line reserved for FASTPASS holders.
  • “A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” Tour – Guests may follow in the footsteps of the man whose vision and creativity brought Disneyland park to life, Walt Disney. This 3 ½-hour guided tour covers the life of Walt Disney and stories behind the magic of Disneyland. To book this, or other tours offered by Disneyland Resort, call (714) 781-TOUR (8687).
  • Charging Lockers – Guests re-charge their batteries and get back to the fun in no time when using special lockers on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure Park that include options for traditional AC outlet or specialized chargers for electronic devices.
  • Parent “Rider Switch” – A theme-park “rider switch” policy gives both parents a chance to enjoy their favorite attractions without double the wait. A parent who waits with a young child while the other parent rides the attraction may board the ride with minimal wait time once the first parent exits. Guests may ask a cast member about this option.

To start planning your Disneyland vacation, visit or contact your travel professional.
As to Disney artwork, logos, properties: © Disney

Heather Steinberger

Heather Steinberger is a Contributing Writer for Here & Beyond, where she writes feature stories, interviews experts for in-depth Q&As and insider articles, and covers a variety of news items and vacation trends. Heather holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she has been a professional magazine editor/writer for nearly 20 years, with articles appearing in nationally circulated titles such as Backpacker, Boating, Cabo Living, Islands, Sailing and Sport Diver. Her work has taken her from the United Kingdom and Germany, to the Mexican Caribbean and the Sea of Cortez, to Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga.