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HAPPY 50TH FOR DISNEY

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Yes, it's Mickey hitting the postage stamp parade again.

The magic of Mickey and his friends has transferred to millions of people throughout the world an enchanting experience as noted with one of the most successful postage stamps issued last year.

The introduction of the four-stamp sequence "Art of Disney" will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Happiest Place on Earth -- Disneyland. The new sequence titled "Art of Disney: Celebration" will feature Mickey and Pluto, Alice and the Mad Hatter, Snow White and Dopey, and Ariel and Flounder. Each image depicts the ways in which we celebrate -- through music, food, drink and dance. The "Art of Disney: Celebration" stamps will be released this summer in conjunction with a host of events to kick off Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration. Looking ahead, 2006 will be the year of "Romance" -- DCP's creative staff is at work developing the new sequence which will feature some of Disney's most romantic couples including Mickey and Minnie.

With sales in the millions, Mickey Mouse and his Disney friends have become one of the most popular stamp subjects in a decade.

More then 250 million U.S. postage stamps from the "Art of Disney: Friendship" series featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Bambi and Pinocchio have been put on envelopes and postcards in the United States since the stamps were first introduced last year.

Let's look back at the past 50 years of Disney Theme Parks.

When the man best known for bringing the world Mickey Mouse and groundbreaking animated features first proposed building a grand-scale "family park where parents and children could have fun-together," critics lambasted his idea as "Disney's Folly." Indeed, when Disneyland first opened on July 17, 1955, it was something of a disaster. The landscaping was sparse, the cement wasn't completely cured, rides weren't functioning and the buzz was fairly grim. But a determined Walt Disney learned from his mistakes and polished his beloved park until it became a lustrous gem.

Fifty years later, Walt Disney's bold vision has more than withstood the test of time. Disneyland and the company's global chain of what are now known as theme parks are more than just vacation meccas, they're cultural landmarks, incubators for the technological and industrial innovations, and trendsetters for everything from retail merchandising to hotel designs.

Firmly entrenched in our collective mind, a trip to a Disney park is a rite of passage for children and families. And they're places to which we return so that we can reconnect with our past and forge new memories.

It only makes sense then, that the company would be pulling out all the stops for a 50th anniversary blowout, in the wake of Walt Disney's World's successful multimonth promotions built around the Florida resort's 25th anniversary. The company will be presenting "The Happiest Celebration on Earth," an 18-month festival that will kick off on Thursday.

First day cover of the four 2005 stamps will be available from the Fulfullment Service at the toll-free number, 1-800-STAMP-24.