Disneyland opened at Anaheim, Calif., on July 17, 1955, and now the "Magic Kingdom" is preparing to celebrate its 30th year and welcome its 250 millionth visitor.
The yearlong jubilee began last month and will showcase a variety of special events. Among them:
* The New Main Street Electrical Parade, featuring illuminated scenes from Disney productions, returns this spring after a two-year absence.
* Galaxy, a high-tech entertainment facility with live bands, opens in the summer.
* "The Mickey Mouse Club" weekends, with members of the original Mouseketeers performing live, are scheduled for October and November.
* 400,000 prizes will be awarded to visitors during the 12-month period -- primarily admission tickets, toys and watches, but including an estimated 400 new cars.
* A 30-hour round-the-clock anniversary party is being planned for the July 17 birthdate.
On opening day in 1955, there were 18 major attractions and the Disney financial investment was $17 million; today there are 55 attractions and the investment figure has exceeded $300 million. The park itself covers 76.6 acres, with an additional 107.3 acres for parking.
Anaheim is about 27 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Thirty years ago the city's five hotels and two motels had a total of 87 rooms and there were 34 restaurants; now it boasts 15,000 rooms in more than 170 hotels and motels, and more than 450 restaurants.
For residents of the eastern half of the country, however, Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., provides a closer and more varied outdoor theme-park experience than its older -- and much smaller -- sibling on the West Coast. There are obvious similarities, of course. But besides the familiar theme lands (like Fantasyland and Adventureland) and rides, Disney World at Lake Buena Vista offers unique pleasures, including boating and swimming.
Now marking its 14th year and already set to greet its 200 millionth guest this summer, Disney World has announced new attractions, an expansion of hotel and restaurant facilities, and increased capacity for visitors at Future World and World Showcase in the 2-year-old Epcot Center. Developments include:
* Mickey's Street Party, a musical procession with Disney characters, will be parading down Main Street U.S.A. throughout spring and summer.
* World Showcase, housing the international pavilions centered around a 40-acre lagoon in Epcot Center, presents a daily series of folk festivals with salutes to Canada this month, France in March, Japan in April, Mexico in May and a "Star-Spangled Summer" featuring American music. Singers, dancers, artists and craftsmen dramatize each nation's culture.
* Morocco has opened the latest World Showcase pavilion, which recreates a desert marketplace, palace and fortress.
* Accommodations are being expanded so that by July there will be more than 6,000 rooms located on the Disney property 20 miles southwest of Orlando, plus 825 campsites at the park's Ft. Wilderness.
Expansion at the Polynesian Village Resort, the Golf Resort Hotel and Walt Disney Village Club Lake Villas, all Disney-owned and operated, will make those accommodations more available. In addition, completion of the nearby Buena Vista Palace and Hilton hotel has added more than 1,600 guest rooms.
These properties join four other resorts in the Walt Disney World Village Hotel Plaza. In addition, more than 45,000 hotel rooms are available within a few miles of the grounds and in Orlando.
The entire Disney resort center, built at a cost now totaling more than $1.75 billion, covers nearly 3,000 acres of a 28,000-acre site that is twice the size of Manhattan.
For more information on both parks: Disneyland Information, 1313 Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, Calif. 92803, (714) 999-4565; Walt Disney World Guest Information, P.O. Box 40, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. 32830, (305) 824-4321. Disney World also has a toll-free number -- (800) 6-DISNEY -- that was activated Feb. 9 and scheduled to remain in service for 30 days to facilitate spring-summer vacation planning (it accepts calls from Canada but excludes Alaska and Hawaii).
* WINDJAMMER GOLDEN JUBILEE: Fifty years ago, the era of New England's windjammers was drawing to a close. Considered the backbone of the Atlantic coastal trade from the early 1800s to the turn of the century, those majestic vessels were being superseded as carriers of fish and cargo by the steamships and railroads.
In 1910, Capt. Byron Hallock felt the effects of the competition and found his ship lacked cargo one summer day. So he ordered his crew to stretch awnings across the deck, posted an advertising broadsheet in Rockland and convinced members of the town's wealthier families to pay to join him for a "picnic excursion" for the "health and well-being of the populace."
That turned out to be the forerunner of today's Windjammer Cruises. Because by the mid-1930s, when the demise of the schooners appeared certain, Capt. Frank Swift remembered Hallock. He began collecting the old sailing ships, converted them to accommodate passengers and in 1935 chartered the first Maine Windjammer vacation.
Swift eventually increased his fleet to 12 two-masted vessels; many of those original schooners are still members of the Maine Windjammer Association as working maritime museums. Today a dozen owner-operated ships offer unstructured, romantic escapes for six days along Maine's rugged coastline.
The windjammers, ranging in size from 64 to 121 feet and accommodating 20 to 38 people, sail from Camden, Rockport and Rockland every Monday from June through September. All are Coast Guard inspected and carry ship-to-shore radios. Their course is determined by the wind. Each night they anchor in a protected harbor.
This July passengers can take part in the ninth annual Great Schooner Race from North Haven to the Rockland Breakwater as the schooners compete with visiting tall ships. Rates for a one-week cruise, which include all meals and parking, range from $330 to $425 per person.
More information: The Maine Windjammer Association, Box 317P, Rockport, Maine 04856, (800) MAINE-800.
* BATTLEFIELD TOURS: May 8 -- VE-Day -- will mark the 40th anniversary of the Allies' victory over the Axis Powers in Europe in World War II. Among battlefield tours planned this year will be a number commemorating that event, including:
* "VE-Day +40," April 24-May 9. This tour will "retrace the major lines of the Allies' advance" from England through France into southern Germany and ending in Berlin. It is offered by ICTS/Inter-Continental Travel Systems, with deluxe motorcoaches provided abroad.
Participants will visit London, the Southampton staging areas for the assault across the English Channel, the D-day invasion beaches of Normandy in France, Paris, Strasbourg, Munich, Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" hideaway at Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, and both West and East Berlin. The return flight is from West Berlin -- or individuals can make their own air reservations and extend the visit. A historian/guide will escort the group and local guides will be added along the way. Land cost (accommodations and most meals) is $1,850 per person, double occupancy. (The cost does not include air fare, but space has been reserved -- and can be booked separately -- on British Caledonian Airways for the transatlantic flight to London.)
More information: ICTS/Inter-Continental Travel Systems, 4133 Taylor Street, San Diego, CA 92110, (619) 299-4217 (collect for bookings only), or (800) 227-3800, Extension ICTS, to receive a brochure. Or see a travel agent.
* "Victory Tour of Europe," a 14-day package with departures on June 13, July 11 and Aug. 8. This trip will travel "roughly along the line" marking the link-up of American and Russian forces at the war's end. The operator is Northstar Tours, the military tour arm of Boon-Erik Tours Inc., using Lufthansa Airlines and deluxe motorcoaches.
Highlights will include Nuremberg, Munich, Dachau, Innsbruck, Obersalzburg, Berchtesgaden, Salzburg, Manthausen (a concentration camp near Linz), Vienna, Prague, Dresden and both Berlins. Tours are fully escorted by Ray Cowdery, military expert and author, and both arrival and departure are via Frankfurt. Cost from New York: $1,759 per person, double (including transatlantic air fare, accommodations and all meals except lunches).
Northstar also is offering again its comprehensive, escorted 13-day "Invasion Tour," which follows the route of the Allied D-day invasion of Europe from Normandy to the Rhine River in Germany on deluxe motorcoaches. There will be seven trips between May and September. The carrier is KLM Airlines, using Amsterdam as the European gateway and departure point. Cost from New York: $1,499 per person, double (including transatlantic air fare, accommodations and all meals except lunches).
More information: Boon-Erik Tours Inc., 430 First Ave. North, Minneapolis, Minn. 55401, (800) 322-2378, or write Ray Cowdery, P.O. Box 803, Lakeville, Minn. 55044-0803.
* "From D-Day to the Rhine," June 1-14. This is another related package that does not specifically mention the 40th anniversary. The operator is Peter McLean Ltd. and the tour director is military historian Charles B. MacDonald.
A company commander in the Ardennes at 22 and an expert in that area of the war, MacDonald will accompany the group and introduce a list of guest speakers that includes Gen. John Frost, hero of Arnheim's "Bridge Too Far," and Col. Hans von Luck, commander of the 21st Panzer Division. The itinerary covers London, Normandy, Paris, Luxembourg, the Ardennes, Remagen and Amsterdam. Land costs (including accommodations and two meals daily, but excluding air fare): $2,751 per person, double.
More information: Peter McLean Ltd., 650 Poydras St., New Orleans, La. 70130, (800) 535-1869.