We’re sharing ten unforgettable moments from the limited-time Celebrating Disney100 Tour at Disneyland Resort.
At the end of September, during my first-ever trip to Disneyland, I went on the Celebrating Disney100 Guided Tour. The limited-time tour is two hours at Disneyland Resort, taking guests on a journey through the parks as they discover fascinating stories about The Walt Disney Company from the past and present.
What is the Celebrating Disney100 Tour?
The guided tour includes walking through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, with tours of Buena Vista Street, Animation Academy, Main Street Opera House, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Sleeping Beauty Castle. You’ll also get to take part in a unique drawing experience at Animation Academy, reserved viewing for the Magic Happens Parade, a Disney100 Celebration treat, and a Disney100 commemorative pin. This tour was only available for a limited time in celebration of the Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary, available for $110 per person (ages 3 and up).
10 Unforgettable Moments from the Celebrating Disney100 Tour
This was my 20th visit to Disney parks but like any Disney trip, was full of firsts: my first time at the Disneyland Resort, my first Halloween party, and my first Disney tour. After doing both the Disney100 Tour and Walt’s Main Street Story Tour, I’m officially a tour enthusiast and can’t wait to do one on my next Disney parks trip. These are 10 of the unforgettable moments on the Celebrating Disney100 Tour Guided Tour.
1. The Walt Disney Company History Brought to Life
Over the 120 minutes, we walked the full history of Disney from animation at Disney California Adventure to Walt’s dream for Disneyland. My FitBit was happy with me for once because of all the steps from our start in Disneyland on Main Street, then to Disney California Adventure and along Buena Vista Street, over to Animation Academy (more on that later), and then back to Disneyland to go down Main Street and end at the Partners Statue.
Thank goodness my friend Jamie, who researched and scheduled the tour for us, also made sure we had a Disney breakfast of champions – popcorn and a cookie! As a Disneyland Resort newbie, this was an incredible introduction to both parks. Main Street, U.S.A. is modeled after Marceline Missouri from Walt’s childhood, but what was fascinating to learn was Walt’s history with animation that is sprinkled throughout Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Lane at Disney California Adventure.
Like Elias & Co, named after Walt’s Dad. Carthay Circle is another homage, named and modeled after the theater that held the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Disney’s first animated full-length feature film.
2. Audio Clips of Walt
Does anyone else get emotional when hearing Walt’s voice? The creators of this tour were definitely going for all the feels with the sprinkling of Walt audio clips throughout the tour.
The one that really got me was the clip of Walt that played while we walked into Disneyland and passed under the sign with the quote “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.”
3. Fun Stories About Walt and Lillian Disney
A unique part of this tour is Cast Members were able to give input into its creation. Cast Members are often the biggest Disney fans and would love to know how many of the fun stories sprinkled throughout the tour came from them. I’d heard the stories of all that went wrong on the opening day of Disneyland and its nickname Black Sunday. On the tour, I also learned that workers accidentally painted Walt into his apartment prior to opening.
As a Lillian Disney fan, I enjoyed hearing tidbits about her. In the Disney100 exhibit area on Main Street, our tour guide Amanda shared a fun story about Lillian. She was hesitant about Walt picking out a dog for her because she said Walt didn’t always have the best taste. The dog Walt picked out went on to be a much-loved pet by Lillian and the inspiration for Lady and the Tramp.
4. Moving Moment with Roy Disney
Another all-the-feels moment was when an audio clip from Roy Disney’s opening day speech at Walt Disney World’s grand opening at Magic Kingdom played. This is when we hit the point in the story that Walt had passed away. It was now up to Roy, the Imagineers, and even Walt’s family to continue his legacy and work on what had been started in Florida.
In the walking portions, we were treated to soundtracks of old Disney park shows. That way we could hear when our tour guide warned us repeatedly to be careful crossing the trolley tracks. The trolley, I consistently walked in front of. At Disney World, there are way fewer vehicles and the obstacle is dodging people abruptly stopping to take pictures of the castle.
5. Closing Question
The guided portion of the tour ended near the Partners Statue, right in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. We were once again treated to an audio clip of Walt. Part of the clip included a quote I hadn’t heard before “It seems to me, we have a lot of story left to tell.” Then our tour guide closed with, “What stories will you tell?” Weeks later and I still get all the feels from that one.
6. Animation Academy Magic
During the Disney California Adventure portion of the tour, we visited the Animation Academy. Our entrance was backstage, across from the Hyperion Theatre which featured a long hallway with drawings of classic characters including Jiminy Cricket, Tinker Bell, and Alice.
We were then treated to an empty Animation Academy and a presentation from our animator on hundreds of years of Disney animation. All before they let in additional guests from the regular attraction line. Our animator chose for us to draw Dumbo. I’ll be honest, I was not excited about this portion of the tour. My crafty friend Jamie who even went to art school was stoked. I was nervous.
My kids will tell ya, that drawing is not my strength. My stick figures even look off. But imagine my surprise when my Dumbo actually started to look like something! Our animator regaled us with fun stories about the making of Dumbo and how much audiences loved seeing this film during some of the darkest days of World War II.
Next thing I knew we were told to put the finishing touches on Dumbo and to make sure we signed our drawings. For the first time in my adult life, I proudly signed my name to something I drew! Since this was in the middle of the tour, the drawings were gathered up and held for safekeeping until we went to the designated viewing area for the parade a few hours later.
7. All About the Pins
We walked away from this tour with not one, but two pins. The first had our names with the Disney100 Tour logo. The pin-collecting folks got really excited about the special tour pin featuring Mickey Mouse and the Disney100 logo.
This pin is so big it needs two backs. It was definitely not going on the backpack.
8. Special Photo Shoot
After receiving our pins, and before being free to wander the park for a few hours, it was Disney PhotoPass time. Disney PhotoPass photographers are some of my favorite Cast Members! It is a VERY tough job and they do it with a smile.
This photographer was no exception. She loved Jamie’s Disney100 ears and took one of my favorite photos of the entire trip.
9. Parade Viewing
A few hours after our tour finished we got what Jamie came for, and had a special viewing area for the Magic Happens parade. This was the first time either of us had seen this parade. It’s come and gone since its opening in February 2020. This was unlike the parades I’ve seen at Disney World.
This parade had a style and soundtrack with a song that felt more mainstream. The choreography was less big smiles and childlike and more edgy. This clip of Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen shows off the different styles of Disney parade dance moves.
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10. Celebrate with Sweets
A celebration at Disney is not complete without some sort of sugar. Enter the Disney100 Tour giant cookie. It’s chocolate brownie flavored and adorned with a Mickey, a thick coat of frosting, and celebratory star sprinkles. Between the heavyweight cookie and the commemorative pin, I am so glad we rented a locker!
The Disney100 Tour delivered on its promise of experiencing “Disneyland as a living story.” Love commemorative pins, pics and cookies. But, for me the highlight was drawing Dumbo while being regaled with stories and the rare and moving audio clips of Walt, perfectly placed to tell the story of the magic he created that lives on today.