“35 Years of Magic”
Disneyland in 1990
35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Scan from Disneyland 1990 Souvenir Guide: © Disney

“35 Years of Magic” logo

As you approach the Yesterland turnstiles today, you discover that they lead into the Disneyland of 1990. Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, opened in 1955, so the park is celebrating “35 Years of Magic” throughout 1990.

An elaborate structure at the park entrance announces the milestone. As if that were not enough, “35 Years of Magic” marches across the turnstile canopy in both directions.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990


35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

“35 Years of Magic” at the turnstiles

Upon entering through the park’s turnstiles, you receive a commemorative “35th Anniversary Dream Machine” ticket. The ticket is pre-printed, except for the text in its prize box, which is printed on the spot.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

From the collection of Chris Bales / © Disney

Losing ticket

Most tickets show “Sorry No Win” in the prize box. You can keep such a ticket as a souvenir, but that’s all.

Some prize boxes show actual prizes, such as VHS videos, plush toys, posters, coins, collector pins, and Mickey Mouse watches. These can be redeemed at the “35 Years of Magic” Redemption Center at the exit of the Walt Disney Story. Tickets must be redeemed on the same day, but you might want to wait until you’re ready to leave. Who wants to carry a commemorative poster around the park all day?

Look at your ticket. See if you’ve won anything.

Your ticket shows “Dream Machine” in the prize box! That doesn’t mean you won some sort of machine to help you sleep. It means you need to head to the Dream Machine at the center of the Hub to learn what you won. That’s where major prizes are awarded. It could be something really good, possibly Delta Air Lines tickets or a U.S. Savings Bond.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

The Dream Machine

Maybe you’ll be that one very lucky park guest each day who wins a brand new 1990 Geo automobile. Winning a new car would make for a particularly memorable Disneyland visit.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

A closer look at the Dream Machine

The Dream Machine is a gaudy contraption. It detracts from the atmosphere of the Hub, messing up the view of Sleeping Beauty Castle. There really should be something better here, perhaps a nice statue. How about Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse? That would be great. Maybe someday.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

The lever at the Dream Machine

It’s your turn. Pull the lever.

Something is happening! The Dream Machine is rising. Lights are flashing festively. Confetti is flying. Yes! It’s a 1990 Geo!

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Illustration from Disney News, Spring 1990: © Disney

Revealing a 1990 Geo to the winner

Alas, you’re not allowed to drive your new car down Main Street, U.S.A. in a triumphant display of success. The same car rises from the “Dream Machine” every day. You’ll take delivery of your Geo at your friendly local Chevrolet-Geo dealer.

You don’t need to go to the dealer today. Enjoy the rest of your day at the park.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Tomorrowland Terrace Stage

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Tomorrowland Terrace at night

Throughout the day, you’ll be reminded of the park’s anniversary. Logos heralding the year-long celebration are everywhere. Even the Coca-Cola Tomorrowland Terrace Stage is decorated with a “35 Years of Magic” topper.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Splash Mountain, open since July 17, 1989

There are no new permanent attractions opening in 1990, but Splash Mountain is still new, having just opened the previous summer. It’s a great log ride that combines the characters and stories from Walt Disney’s Song of the South (1946) with animatronics harvested from the permanently closed America Sings. Guests love the ride.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Party Gras Parade

The highlight of 1990 at Disneyland is the park’s new daytime parade, the Party Gras Parade.

Unless you win a car. Then that’s the highlight.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Scan from Disney News, Summer 1990: © Disney

Dick Tracy

For 1990, Videopolis in Fantasyland has changed from a teen dance venue to an outdoor musical theater for stage shows.

One Man’s Dream, a musical about the achievements of Walt Disney, opened December 16, 1989. Although well received, it had a short run, closing forever on April 29, 1990.

The Walt Disney Company’s big summer movie release for 1990 is Touchstone Pictures’ Dick Tracy, starring Warren Beatty, Madonna and Al Pacino, and directed by Warren Beatty. Why continue the excellent One Man’s Dream when there’s an opportunity for Disney synergy? On June 15, 1990, a new live show, Dick Tracy Starring in Diamond Double-Cross, opened on the Videopolis stage. It will run through the end of the year.

Enjoy your day at the park, even if you’re distracted by constantly thinking about the shiny 1990 Geo waiting for you at your local dealer.

28,154 guests attended the press event for the opening of Walt Disney’s Disneyland on July 17, 1955. Around 90 million people watched on ABC television—when the population of the United States was just 166 million.

Since then, every July 17 has been recognized as the anniversary of Disneyland, even though the park didn’t open to paying guests until July 18. And every anniversary year that can be divided by five without a remainder has a special significance as a milestone—5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and “35 Years of Magic.”

In other words, there’s an anniversary-based marketing opportunity for Disneyland every five years.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1986

Promoting Gift-Giver Extraordinaire at the turnstiles

Five years earlier, in 1985 (and stretching into 1986), Disneyland had a similar promotion giving prizes to park guests. It was called Gift-Giver Extraordinaire. Every 30th guest received a prize upon entry. Those who qualified for bigger prizes, including a new car, would spin the Gift-Giver Extraordinaire machine at the Hub.

The entrance display from the 1985 promotion was reused for the 1990 promotion, with just few changes.

35 Years of Magic at Disneyland

From the collection of Chris Bales / postcard © Disney

1990 Disneyland Postcard

To make the Dream Machine spectacle possible, a hole was excavated at the Hub. A subterranean hydraulic lift mechanism allowed the Dream Machine to rise, revealing the car.

The Dream Machine was just one of the visual intrusions installed at the Hub in the 1980s. Possibly the worst was the Cage of Death motorcycle act for Disneyland’s Circus Fantasy. According to Disney historian Jim Korkis, “Those intrusions into Walt’s carefully designed architectural storytelling, that almost completely hid the intimate Sleeping Beauty Castle from the guests’ view as they walked down Main Street, irritated many Imagineers. In particular, it really upset Marty Sklar and John Hench.”

Partners Statue at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1995

Partners statue at the Hub

Disneyland installed the Partners statue in the center of the Hub in 1993. The sculpture by Blaine Gibson was an immediate hit with park guests. It not only provided a perfect photo opportunity, it also meant the end of such visual intrusions.

So when Disneyland celebrated “40 Years of Adventures” in 1995, the charm of the Hub and how it presented Sleeping Beauty Castle remained unsullied.

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Inside the Old Matterhorn
Old Fantasyland, 1974

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Updated April 7, 2023