The crowds at Disneyland were surprised to see a parade of women in glittering ball gowns and gentlemen in tuxedos sauntering through the California Adventure Park on a recent Sunday night. They were not part of a new Disney performance spectacular, but were in fact donors coming together in support of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra for a 2010 fundraising gala themed “The Colorful World of Disney Music.”
Guests arrived 5 p.m. at the Grand Californian Hotel and were directed to the Disneyland Resort Animation Studio for a welcome reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. As they walked through California Adventure, tourists stopped and took pictures of them. One could only imagine that the out-of-towners went home after their Disneyland vacation to share with friends and family photos of Minnie and Mickey and the people from Orange County that went to Disneyland in formal attire. Yes, Californians are indeed a strange breed unto themselves.
After the reception the crowd was directed to the Disneyland Resort Stage 17 in the Hollywood Pictures back lot for a spectacular gala evening. It was produced only as Disney could possibly have endeavored. An intoxicating aroma of sweetness overtook the senses, and people were trying to figure out where the scent was coming from.
Turns out that each dining table was centered with a large white-chocolate replica of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, precise in every detail, ringed in a magnificent wreath of multicolored spring blossoms. The abundance of white-chocolate castles combined with the fragrance of all the spring blooms produced the sweet aroma that invited the crowd in for one of the grand parties of the spring social season.
The Pacific Symphony gala has a reputation for over-the-top extravagance. Each year the party planners go to tremendous lengths to outdo the surprises of the previous year. Last year the gala theme was created around taking the crowd under the sea to a mythical world of heroes, pirates and mermaids. Decorators managed to transform the hotel ballroom, using fabric, lighting and props that created the sensation of actually being on the bottom of the ocean. It was magical.
This year the magic was beyond description as the Disney creative team turned the soundstage into an illuminated kaleidoscope, a wonderland of constantly changing colors. As the live orchestra performed, singers and dancers brought the cavernous room to life. Guests paid $1,000 per ticket and more to attend the party, which was sold out, at 400 people. Some dedicated symphony patrons paid as much as $100,000 for a table of 10 at the Disney event.
Co-chaired by symphony board members Jill Bolton and Michelle Horowitz, the evening welcomed honorary Chairman George Kalogridis, president of the Disneyland Resort. Also honored was Pacific Symphony patron Jim Driscoll and his wife, Jane. Jim Driscoll is vice chairman of major donations for the symphony.