END OF AN ERA:
Several hundred people danced the night away on April 28 2012, as Disneyland gets ready to transform the Carnation Plaza Gardens into the Fantasy Faire. This stage has hosted greats like Buddy Rich, Louis Armstrong, and The Elliot Brothers just to name a few and also holds the title of the longest running Big Band Swing Stage in the world! Stan Freese, head of the Disneyland Band was there that night, and he told me a little bit about how this stage came to be and Disney’s plans for the future.
The Big Bands started playing at Carnation Plaza Gardens in 1959, and when the original band leaders started to pass away, the bands got different people to front the band, but Disneyland kept paying the same amount of money. When these big bands played seven nights a week in the summer, the money definitely added up, so Stan was asked to form their own ‘Disneyland Big Band’. Stan also encouraged the dancers to dress up in World War II costumes, and a lot of the non-dancing guests got a kick out of seeing guys and gals in uniform letting loose on the dance floor. The Carnation Plaza Gardens stage played a key role in the resurgence of Swing Dancing in the 90’s. While this stage is closed now, the bands and the dancers will be transplanted to the Downtown Disney District every Saturday night. Also, after the Fantasy Faire is completed, the stage area will again be used to host Big Bands and swing dancers at night, so all is not lost.
There are plenty of attractions that have been replaced over the years, but it’s definitely sad to see one of the last remaining venues go away that has been unchanged since opening day. However, I have to say that the bands and the dancers gave the perfect goodbye to their beloved stage that night. A lot of people were dressed in Hawaiian shirts to wave “Aloha” to the Carnation Plaza Gardens and to the end of an era.
That’s it for now. See you at the Parks!