The wonderful thing about being flexible and keeping your eyes and ears open when you travel is the fun, sometimes once in a lifetime, events you can stumble upon. Even with Disney vacations, there can be an element of the unexpected if you are willing to ‘go with the flow’ and make changes to your plans when something comes up. We’ve been able to attend Annual Passholder events including special movie screenings, meeting the ‘voice of Mickey Mouse’, and enjoying the first ‘Glow with the Show’ performance of Fantasmic a few years ago. Sure, we did have to adjust our plans a little but the memories we made were worth it.
This week was another of these moments. We had planned to drive down the coast on Sunday but didn’t think twice about changing our plans and spending the day at Disneyland when we heard that there would be a 90th birthday party for Dick Van Dyke at Disneyland that day. I had the opportunity to fulfil a childhood dream – to ‘meet’ Bert the chimney sweep in person.
One of only 250 limited edition poster cards made for the event (I will treasure it!)
OK, I know Bert is an imaginary character and no, I was not quite close enough to shake Mr. Van Dyke’s hand, but I did get the chance to see him up close during the special dedication at the Jolly Holiday Bakery and Café. As one of the many fans who arrived early, I was able to nab a prime spot right near the steps where he demonstrated a few of the nimble dance moves he is so famous for.
Mary Poppins has always been one of my favourite movies. I remember our elementary school used to run movies in the gym one weekend a month and every month I would vote for Mary Poppins. Of course, this was back before we had Netflix, DVD players or even VCRs so you had to actually access the film reels to watch your beloved characters come to life. I do love Julie Andrews and wanted to grow up to sing just like her, but Mary Poppins would not have been the movie it was without the performance of Dick Van Dyke. Walt Disney certainly knew what he was doing when he asked him to play the part.
A group photo of us waiting for Mr. Van Dyke from the Facebook event page
Following the dedication, there was a birthday serenade from the balcony of the Dream Suite. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get any pictures of this one since the crowd had gotten huge by then. I decided to focus on getting over to the parade route in anticipation of the Birthday Cavalcade Pre-Parade event on Main Street.
Knowing that I wanted to get a good spot, my husband staked out a bench at the end of Main Street, near the statue of Walt and Mickey Mouse. It was a terrific spot and the day was sunny and warm. Disney Parks cast members visited with the children in the crowd, handing out postcards and crayons so they could write letters to Santa. There was a festive mood all along the street.
The Disneyland Band entertains the crowd prior to the afternoon parade
The huge crowd was dotted throughout with a variety of chimney sweeps and others, like myself, waving paper kites that a lady had made for the group. A cheer went up when it was announced we would be celebrating Dick Van Dykes 90th birthday. Even with the people in assorted costumes, not everyone had figured out what was going on.
Mary Poppins on her carousel horse from Mickey’s Soundsational Parade led the cavalcade
Dick and Arlene Van Dyke in Walt’s runabout
Dick and Arlene Van Dyke arrived on Main Street in one of Walt’s runabouts, followed by a group of dancing penguins and a very energetic crew of chimney sweeps. It’s wonderful to see how popular this very talented man continues to be. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised since our eight-year-old grandson loves to watch DVDs of the old Dick Van Dyke show (the one where Rob brings home a pair of ducks left over from a show is one of his favourites!)
The afternoon ended with the crowd singing Happy Birthday to the man of the hour before he boarded the train at the Main Street Station. But the day wasn’t done for me yet. I still had to head back to the Jolly Holiday for one of their special cupcakes! No birthday party is complete without the cake!
Special cupcake celebrating Dick Van Dyke’s 90th Birthday from the Jolly Holiday