05/05/05 marked the start of the Happiest Celebration on Earth. All of the Disney theme parks world wide participated in a “Simulcastle.” We were at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando for this special occasion.
The area directly in front of the castle had several rows of chairs for Disney executives and invited guests. We were right behind them and had a perfect view of the festivities. As we were led into this reserved viewing area, we were given golden Mickey ears. (The emcee explained that we were to throw them up in the air at the end of the ceremony.)
The Orlando event began with Diana DeGarmo from American Idol fame. We were off to a great start. Next came Wayne Brady who hosted the event. He’s from Orlando and told us a little about his days as a Cast Member. He was very funny and suddenly standing in the hot sun wasn't quite so bad.
We were linked up with Disneyland in Anaheim via a live satellite feed. There was a huge viewing screen to the left of the castle stage. Robert Iger and Michael Eisner both spoke about the Disney heritage. Imagine the surprise when the host from the opening of Disneyland from 50 years ago was announced. Art Linkletter was at the California event! We were entranced as this 93 year old legend shared his memories about Walt Disney with us.
The “simulcastle” went on a global visit to the rest of the Disney theme parks. Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong (opening in September) as well as Disney Cruise Line were represented. You could feel the enthusiasm from each Disney destination for this first ever shared celebration.
After the segment with the other parks was concluded, we had our own festivities. Three renowned stars of Broadway performed classic Disney songs. Andrea McArdle of “Annie” and “Beauty and the Beast” fame, Tony Award winner Jennifer Holiday from “Dreamgirls” and Eden Espinoza from the current Broadway hit "Brooklyn” were escorted out on stage by Cinderella’s royal court.
The part that warmed my heart was when the Disney characters and the Prince and Princesses from Cinderellabration brought out children who were selected to participate in this unforgettable event. They had all of them in costumes. The kids were grinning from ear to ear.
Finally, the big finale arrived. With fireworks going off and golden confetti fluttering down, we threw our Golden Mickey ears in the air to officially begin the Happiest Celebration on Earth.