It’s a big year for Disney and the mouse that started it all. The Walt Disney Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary throughout 2023 and the Disneyland Resort is hosting the party.
Disney 100 Years of Wonder, aka “Disney100,” officially kicked off on Jan. 27. To mark the occasion, the Happiest Place on Earth has been decked to the nines with sparkling Disney100 medallions and banners of purple and iridescent platinum that shimmer in Anaheim’s near-constant sunshine.
As part of the global celebration, Disneyland is launching a slew of new attractions, entertainment, merchandise and food that honor the past, present and future of Walt Disney Company and its namesake founder’s legacy. This all kicks off with the debut of two new nighttime spectaculars and a new ride — fittingly starring Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Here’s everything that just launched at Disneyland for Disney100, plus a peek at what’s still to come.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Opens In Disneyland Park
Walt Disney famously said, “It was all started by a mouse,” but 94 years after Mickey Mouse was first introduced to the public in “Steamboat Willie,” Mickey and Minnie finally have their own ride at the original Disney theme park. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened Jan. 27, 2023 in Disneyland park’s Mickey’s Toontown.
A near-identical version of the ride opened in March 2020 at Walt Disney World. But Disneyland’s version, which features a completely different setting, framing story and queue, improves on the original just enough for us to say it’s better — and worth riding even if you’ve been on the Disney World version.
“To bring an experience to life starring two of our most important characters — especially at Disneyland Park, Walt Disney’s original park — is an incredible honor,” said Jeff Shaver-Moskowitz, portfolio executive producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, in a press release. “Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse uniquely embody a welcoming and comedic spirit, and celebrating that, as well as the silly antics they and their friends get into, makes this attraction one of the most fun around.”
Guests have already entered the toon world when they step into the immersive queue inside the El CapiToon theater, where they’ve been invited to the premiere of a new Mickey Mouse short, “Perfect Picnic.” Posters from toon versions of famous Disney films line the walls and a “Mickey Through the Ears” exhibit showcases “props” from nearly a century of memorable Mickey films and shorts, from “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” to newer shows like “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Mickey and the Roadster Racers.”
Once onboard the family-friendly attraction, a zany train ride helmed by engineer Goofy, you’ll zip through a series of wacky animated scenes created in the style of the newest Mickey Mouse animated shorts.
To ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, you’ll need to join a Virtual Queue via the Disneyland app or purchase an Individual Lightning Lane reservation. For tips on how how to join the Virtual Queue, check out this Instagram post.
‘Wondrous Journeys’ And ‘World of Color—One’ Light Up The Night
Every single film released by Walt Disney Animation Studios over the past century is represented in Disneyland park’s new nighttime spectacular, “Wondrous Journeys.” Projections begin as pencil sketches before swelling into moving, full-color moments showcasing films and characters through the decades, including “Snow White,” “Moana,” “Hercules,” “Peter Pan” and even the forthcoming new film “Wish.” Baymax rockets through the night sky during a climactic moment and a poignant score is bookended by a new original song called “It’s Wondrous.”
Across the esplanade at Disney California Adventure park, “World of Color — One” lights up the park’s Paradise Bay in a show that uses 1,200 fountains, a 380-foot water screen, crisp digital projections, lighting and laser effects to showcase characters, stories and music from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and “Star Wars” properties — the first time all four have been represented in a single show at Disneyland Resort.
Original song “Start a Wave,” by Grammy-nominated Cody Fry, establishes the show’s theme — how one action, like a drop of water, can create a ripple that swells into a wave of change.
Fountains become sky-high red and green lightsabers, the Millennium Falcon soars, and the Death Star explodes during the “Star Wars” segment, with animation inspired by original production art from the films and a mashup score of iconic melodies.
During the Marvel sequence, animation takes on a graphic novel-inspired design. The show recreates iconic scenes like the triumphant moment from “Avengers: Endgame” when Captain America, facing Thanos, is joined by allies like Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy through inter-dimensional portals that the MCU’s sorcerers conjure up.
During a segment dedicated to Pixar’s “Soul,” fountains move to the music like someone’s playing the keys on the instruments.
MagicBand+, Disney’s recently-launched latest generation of MagicBand wearable technology, includes color-changing lights and haptic vibrations that interact with both nighttime shows.
More Disney100 Festivities Around Disneyland Resort
A celebratory atmosphere pervades the parks — pops of purple and shimmering platinum decor catch the light and create beautiful rainbow effects everywhere from Sleeping Beauty Castle and its pair of new fountains to the iconic Disneyland Monorail, which has a new Disney100 wrap that generates breathtaking reflections over the water in Tomorrowland.
Here’s a video of the monorail from @brookegmcdonald on Instagram:
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Entertainment acts like The Disneyland Band and the Mickey & Friends Cavalcade perform new medleys and songs in new Disney100 costumes.
Commemorative merchandise and food and beverage offerings, from popcorn buckets and sippers to Spirit Jerseys and Minnie and Mickey Ears, are for sale everywhere.
Coming Soon To Disneyland And Beyond During Disney100
On the immediate horizon, Disneyland’s new parade “Magic Happens,” which debuted on Feb. 28, 2020, before going on nearly three-year hiatus following a pandemic-induced closure in March, will finally return on Feb. 24. The parade was an immediate fan-favorite when it debuted and features a catchy score of contemporary takes on Disney classics and an original song by Todrick Hall.
Mickey’s Toontown has been undergoing an extensive reimagining and has already partially reopened for guests to access Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The completed area will reopen fully on March 8. The updates introduce whimsical new interactive experiences and green spaces for families to play and relax, plus two new dining locations. Three attractions will also reopen, as will character meet-and-greet opportunities, rounding out the land’s uber-kid-friendly offerings.
Throughout 2023, the Disney100 celebration will continue around the world, including at Disney’s international theme parks, on Disney Cruise Line, and in select cities in the U.S. and Europe with a traveling exhibition.
Disney100: The Exhibition opens Feb. 18 at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, with North American stops to follow in Chicago, Illinois, and Kansas City, Missouri. An international exhibit opens on April 18 in Munich, Germany.