Of rides and revelry

Disney celebrates its 50th

HOLLYWOOD — Disneyland celebrated the public kickoff of its 18-month celebration of it 50th anniversary Thursday with appearances by top execs, songs from recording stars and the unveiling of two new interactive attractions — both based on Pixar films.

Bowing July 15 at Disney’s California Adventure is Turtle Talk With Crush, featuring the surfer-dude sea turtle from “Finding Nemo.”

Turtle takes questions from the audience; a real-time animation system matches the character’s face to the voice of the actor answering questions.

Coming in January is a so-called dark ride based on “Monsters, Inc.” that will take auds into pic’s Monstropolis.

Pixar’s John Lassiter attended the announcement but did not participate.

There was no mention of any plans for new attractions based on Disney’s own new toons, including the upcoming “Chronicles of Narnia,” though one exec said “a film property doesn’t get produced (by Disney) that we don’t concept as an attraction.”

An early-arriving throng of park attendees cheered through light drizzle at the 10 a.m. “Happiest Celebration on Earth” kickoff ceremony.

Event featured perfs by LeAnn Rimes and former Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera, accompanied by a live orchestra conducted by Alan Silvestri.

Disney CEO-in-waiting Bob Iger and head Mouseketeer Michael Eisner made remarks thanking park cast members worldwide and honoring Walt Disney and his vision.

Conspicuous by his absence was Walt’s nephew Roy Disney. No members of the Disney family participated in the Thursday ceremony.

Art Linkletter, the emcee at Disneyland’s 1955 opening, returned to fill the same role, quipping, “50 years is a long time to be waiting for a call.” He introduced a virtual tour of celebrations at all the Disney theme parks worldwide plus the cruise line, shown on giant video screens in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Castle itself got a makeover after Wednesday’s invitation-only festivities, and ceremony unveiled its new anniversary look.

Julie Andrews introduced a throng of Disney characters that converged on the square, keeping with the “Come Home” theme of the anniversary promo campaign.