During a recent dreary day at Disneyland Resort, we went on the Celebrating Disney100 at the Disneyland Resort guided tour, which takes guests through both theme parks and includes a few free souvenirs.
The tour lasts about 120 minutes and guests can check in as early as 15 minutes before their tour begins. It costs $110 per person over the age of 3. Guests require a valid ticket and park reservation for Disneyland Park on the day of the tour. Though the tour visits Disney California Adventure, guests do not need a Park Hopper ticket for the tour.
Guests younger than 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older during the entire experience.
There is a 24-hour cancellation policy. Full price will be charged and forfeited if a guest cancels within one day or is a “no-show” for the reservation.
Guests meet at the tour gardens next to Guest Services at the front of Disneyland Park, where they’re given a button with their name on it. The tour guide sets everyone up with a headphone that attaches to a pack with volume buttons.
Disney California Adventure
After a short introduction to the tour, we were brought across the esplanade to Disney California Adventure.
Here, the tour enters through a gate to the side of the regular entry.
When your guide is not talking, themed music will play through your headphones, like jazz-style instrumentals of classic Disney songs when walking to Disney California Adventure.
On Buena Vista Street, our tour guide (Aidan) told us about the beginning of Walt Disney’s career in the 1920s, the era that inspired this section of the park. The Walt Disney Company was, of course, founded in October 1923. At this point in the tour, Aidan told us about the “Alice Comedies,” Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and the creation of Mickey Mouse.
We then traveled down to Carthay Circle, where Aidan took us into the 1930s and the Golden Age of Animation.
It was in the 1930s that Walt Disney Animation Studios began to think about making full-length animated films.
To learn more about Walt Disney Animation Studios’ full-length animated films, we headed to the Animation Academy.
The Animation Academy is about half an hour into the tour.
We actually didn’t go through the main entrance, we entered through a backstage corridor directly into the Animation Academy theater. When walking backstage, no video or photography is allowed.
Here, we met up with another Celebrating Disney100 group that was touring at the same time.
Before the drawing class began, the animator walked us through the different eras of Disney’s animation and what was distinct about each one. While many Disney fans are probably familiar with the names of the different eras (Golden, Wartime, Silver, etc.), this was a more in-depth breakdown of what makes them different and how animation evolved, including with the acquisition of Pixar.
Then, more guests were let in for a full Animation Academy class. As part of the tour group, you get to sit in the first two rows.
During our class, we drew Lady from “Lady and the Tramp,” but the characters vary.
As the class wraps up, another Cast Member part of the tour team collects your drawings and takes them back to Disneyland, so you don’t have to carry them around. You get them back when you return for the parade.
We exited Animation Academy through the regular entrance.
Disney California Adventure Continued
We then returned to Carthay Circle to talk about the premiere of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” After that, it was time to travel back to Disneyland.
Now that we’ve covered animation, it’s time to talk about theme parks.
Aidan told us about the creation of Disneyland, and the iconic plaque that we would be walking under.
As we fully entered the park, we got to listen to Walt Disney’s opening day speech. In Town Square, Aidan told us all about the problems that plagued the opening day of Disneyland — although Walt didn’t initially know about any of them.
We then swung through The Disney Gallery Presents: Disney 100 Years of Wonder, an exhibit in the lobby outside Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, to talk about the multiplane camera.
Down Main Street, U.S.A., we took a few stops outside the different lands of Disneyland to talk about the park’s evolution and the other Disney Parks around the world. We ended outside Tomorrowland, pointing to the next 100 years of Disney.
Pin & Photo
As the actual tour comes to an end, guests receive this commemorative Disney100 pin featuring a purple castle and Mickey in his platinum best. The name button guests receive and get to keep is also pictured.
This is a unique Disney100 pin only found via the tour.
After receiving the pin, each group in the tour gets to take photos in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. These photos are taken from behind the Partners Statue and are not without guests in the background, but they are free to download whether you have purchased a PhotoPass package or not.
While you get the name button, pin, and photo now, you don’t get your cookie or Animation Academy drawing until returning for the parade at 3:30 p.m.
When we did return, we also got this Disney100 sticker. Cast Members will check your name on a list before giving you your sticker, cookie, and Animation Academy drawing.
The cookie is also unique to the tour. It features Mickey on an edible piece of paper and is covered in edible silver stars.
It comes wrapped in plastic, so you could save it for later — which we did.
The cookie is like a chocolate biscotti cookie, with an almost brownie-like texture and white chocolate icing.
It was good, but dry, and would go well with a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate (depending on the weather during your trip — it was cold for us).
We nibbled on our cookies during the parade, then saved them to eat for breakfast two days later, and they were still delicious.
Magic Happens Parade
Viewing for the parade is right in the center of Town Square, across from the Main Street train station. Except for a couple of circular benches in this area, this is just ground seating or standing. But it wasn’t crowded.
We arrived right at 3:30 p.m., but of course the parade took a while to reach us, so we first got to watch the Disneyland Band perform.
It’s a great view of the parade, and we were glad to get this reserved viewing instead of trying to find a spot somewhere else.
Without a crowd of people around us, it was also easier to take pictures and videos.
We were a group of two on this Celebrating Disney100 guided tour: one person who hadn’t been to Disneyland Resort since 2001 and one person who had never been. We really enjoyed the tour, but don’t recommend it for Magic Key Holders or other frequent visitors — it’s mostly stuff you would have already seen and heard before. Kids would also probably find the tour boring as it’s a lot of walking and talking.
That said, as fans who did already know much of the history described, we still liked hearing about it again and having the Disneyland Resort visuals to match with moments in Walt’s life.
The $110 price tag felt worth it, especially compared to other Disney Parks tours (Walt’s Main Street Story costs $160, for comparison), since you got a snack, exclusive pin, and reserved parade viewing. We especially recommend this tour if seeing Magic Happens is a priority for you. Not having to find a good spot and sit there for over an hour is a big plus.
If you’ve done the Celebrating Disney100 tour, let us know your thoughts in the comments!