Monday, August 18, 2014

#Disneyland60.....Today In Disneyland History......August, 18, 1958

Carnation Plaza Gardens Opens
August 18, 1958

It was the longest, continuous running swing dancing venue in the United States and possibly the world. Louis Armstrong played there. Walt Disney danced there. It was located in California’s most iconic location, Disneyland. It was the Carnation Plaza Gardens. While the stage was forever altered with the addition of Fantasy Faire Village, the memories and history of Carnation Plaza stage has been captured forever in a remarkable little documentary that we are delighted to share with you today. - The Stage Walt Built – A 1313 Documentary

On August 18, 1958 the Carnation Plaza Gardens opened in the Plaza Hub next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. An outdoor bandstand and dining locale, the Plaza became a popular site for "Date Nite at Disneyland," the following year. The Original Disneyland Bandstand was built in 1955 and was located in the middle of Town Square but a month before Disneyland opened, Walt Disney decided to have it moved just to the left of the castle so as not to block parades and the Main Street transportation cars. Later, a more permanent bandstand was built, known as Carnation Plaza Gardens. Many of the greats of the musical world over the years including the likes of Louis Armstrong, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James, The Osmond Brothers, Lionel Hampton, Tex Benecke, Cab Calloway, and Stan Kenton graced the stage of the Plaza. It was not uncommon to find Walt and Lillian Disney dancing the night away and it was Walt’s wish that swing dancing would always have a place in Disneyland. 

Over the decades, it was the Carnation Plaza Gardens that gave high school bands, choirs, and orchestras a place to showcase their talents but ultimately it was the Swing Dancing in the evening on weekends that it was most noted for. On April 30, 2012, Carnation Plaza Gardens at Disneyland park held it’s last night of dancing and closed its dance floor in order to be reimagined into the new Fantasy Faire which opened on March 12, 2013.  A To honor the original Carnation Plaza Gardens, a plaque was placed in one of the towers commemorating the site's original usage. Following a nearly 14 month long hiatus, the decades old tradition of Saturday evening swing dancing returned to the former Carnation Plaza Gardens to the newly created stage area of the Royal Theatre which features several small stage shows based on Beauty and the Beast and Tangled during the day as part of the entertainment you can enjoy at the new Fantasy Faire.

The theming of the area has changed significantly to reflect a royal, Fantasyland style, and courtyard. As a result Disney has changed the name of the dancing event to the The Royal Swing Big Band Ball“. In spite of all of the changes the area has undergone, one significant aspect of the former space was saved- the original dance floor.  Be sure to check the Disneyland entertainment schedule and bring your dancing shoes to dance the night away the next time you visit the Happiest Place on Earth. And that’s what happened today in Disneyland’s history.

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