Review: Disney100 celebration pays glittering homage to company’s legacy


Photo credit: Siena Ferraro

Platinum and purple banners, along with a sliver crest reading “Disney 100,” adorn Sleeping Beauty Castle while fountains spray out of its moat. The decor is displayed in honor of the Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary celebration, which began Jan. 27.

By Siena Ferraro, News Editor

One hundred years ago, the Walt Disney Company was born out of a small office in star-studded Hollywood, California. Then came the company’s — and the world’s — first colorized animated feature film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, securing Disney a coveted spot in history books and the hearts of millions. With 124 films, four luxury cruise ships, one private island and seven theme parks, Disney is, simply put, dominating the bustling realm of pop culture.

During last autumn’s D23 Expo, a biennial convention hosted in celebration of all things Disney, Chairman of Disney Parks Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro gave convention attendees a glimpse into the upcoming Disney100 celebration held in honor of the titular company’s centurylong legacy of magic-making.

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, kicked off the 100th anniversary festivities Jan. 27 with numerous food offerings, decor in hues of the Disney100 celebration’s signature platinum and violet and a new line of merchandise — from bejeweled Minnie Mouse ear headbands to a $400 Mickey Mouse figure studded with gems. The festivities are anticipated to extend through the remainder of the year, though Disney has not yet released an official ending date.

As for the celebration itself? After spending a day at Disneyland, this writer found it nothing short of dazzling.

The celebration’s festivities unfolded from the moment I passed through Disneyland’s front gates. Platinum and purple banners adorned lampposts and building facades, while fountains misted out of either side of the moat surrounding Sleeping Beauty Castle. Atmospherically, these subtle touches were a recipe for success and created an inviting environment for park guests.

The Disney100 churro is rolled in cherry-flavored sugar and topped with icing and sugar pearls. However, this dessert is more eye candy than palatable treat. (Photo credit: Siena Ferraro)

Where the atmosphere and decor excelled, the food offering I sampled for the Disney100 celebration was mediocre at best. The Disney100 churro, which was dusted in cherry-flavored sugar, drizzled with a simple icing and finally topped with metallic sugar pearls, was overwhelmingly sweet and certainly more pleasing to the eyes than the tastebuds. It was especially lacking in comparison to the classic cinnamon sugar churro which park guests are familiar with. But if you’re in search of an Instagramable treat, this churro is the perfect one.

There was one specific offering introduced by the Disney100 celebration that was especially exciting: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This new attraction, which opened its doors  Jan. 27, sweeps riders away into the colorful, cartoony universe of Mickey Mouse and his pals Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck and more.

The ride is located in the topsy-turvy Toontown area of Disneyland Park, which has been under renovation for a year and is set to fully reopen March 8. The attraction follows Minnie and Mickey Mouse as they embark on the “perfect” picnic — which is promptly interrupted by a runaway train conducted by Goofy. Riders board the train and are whisked through animated deserts, under the sea and across cities. The inherent silliness of the attraction juxtaposed with the technological genius used to bring the ride to life was an exciting harbinger of the Disney100 festivities yet to come. However, there is one major setback for park guests anxious to board the attraction: Disney’s Virtual Queue system.

In a scene from the brand new attraction Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, alongside their trusty pooch Pluto, enjoy a perfect picnic under moonlit (and projected) skies. (Photo credit: Amedeo Ferraro)

The Virtual Queue system, which Disney employs for the majority of large-scale attraction openings, is entirely luck-based. In the case of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the system opens at either 7 a.m. or 1 p.m. and requires both nimble thumbs and undivided attention in order to click the “join queue” button in the Disneyland mobile app, thus securing a spot to ride the attraction that day.

Queue spots vanish within seconds, and the only alternative method to access the attraction is by purchasing a Lightning Lane pass. The pass costs $20 per rider and is also available to purchase for both Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, though both attractions have since abandoned the use of a Virtual Queue and now offer an in-person standby queue in lieu of purchasing a Lightning Lane pass. My party and I were quick enough to snag a Virtual Queue spot for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but many park guests, who were turned away from the attraction entrance, were not as fortunate.

Though both the Virtual Queue system and Lightning Lane passes are put in place as a way of soft-launching the attraction to avoid it breaking down from an overwhelming number of riders, both options greatly limit accessibility to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Many park guests, some of who are Magic Key Pass holders and payed up to $224 (as I did) per ticket to access the park, are only attending Disneyland for the day or maybe even making the trip solely to ride the new attraction. So the added layer of difficulty created by the Virtual Queue system coupled with the price tag on an individual Lighting Lane pass is certainly undesirable.

However, as a sparkling finale to the day, the Disney100 celebration boasted a new nighttime spectacular titled “Wondrous Journeys.” During this 13-minute-long show, snippets of various Disney films and television series were projected onto Sleeping Beauty Castle, while a glittering display of fireworks exploded just behind it. The popping pyrotechnics and nostalgic projections garnered an influx of “oohs” and “ahhs” from crowds, but heads turned more abruptly and hands clapped even harder when both the mystical Blue Fairy from “Pinocchio”and the lovable Baymax of “Big Hero Six” took turns flying over the castle during each character’s respective segment of the show.

All in all, the Disney100 celebration may have its flaws — from subpar cherry churros to nerve-inducing virtual queues — but  you should not ignore its strengths.

The decor was pleasing to the eye (and to the camera), “Wondrous Journeys” was a tender, nostalgic tear-jerker of a fireworks display and, even in the case of a $20 ticket to ride or a minor anxiety attack, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway was a joyous example of not only the evolution of theme park technology, but of pure Disney magic park guests have kept coming back to for years.

Each facet of the celebration pieced together effortlessly — and that was truly magical.  

Disney100 Celebration
  • Atmosphere
  • Food
  • Entertainment
  • Enjoyment
  • Attractions
  • Affordability
  • Quality


The Disney100 celebration does have minor flaws, but those flaws certainly do not have the power to subdue the event’s strengths. The celebration — complete with food, decor and even a brand new ride — pays honorable homage to the century-old Walt Disney Company, a company that has inspired and touched the hearts of generations.