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June 27, 2017

Disneyland Resort Updates - FastPass Scanners, Disneyland Railroad Readies for Opening

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 23, 2017. This week Jason noted that the new FastPass scanners were operational, and that the Disneyland Railroad was running tests in preparation for its reopening next month. A couple video clips of the Star Wars Construction taken from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.

The large battle escape attraction building continues to grow.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

To the right and park side of the building more forms are up.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

The Millennium Falcon attraction building: on the right you can see the curve on the front of the building.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Looking toward Critter Country.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

My first stop today was Disney California Adventure. The Summer Of Heroes Showcase has movie posters over the Award Wieners seating area.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

In the main waiting area are Four Avenger costumes and props. The film consisted of a series of clips from most of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was presented in 2D and had a running time of under 7 minutes.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Mr. Incredible in Paradise Pier, Mrs. Incredible was nearby, too.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

The new FastPass scanners are now in use. They scan your park ticket. Paper FastPasses are now considered "Reminder notices".
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Signs are up at the distribution points informing you of the new process. The guide maps do NOT note this.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Because of the low crowds and quick return times for some attractions you could hold several FastPasses at once.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

The 2017 All-American College Band was performing in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. This is the All-American College Band performing a Disneyland attraction medley.


Another section of concrete was poured on the new walkway along the Rivers of America in Critter Country, which will one day lead to the Star Wars area.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Note the walls/scrim on the second floor of the Hungry Bear Restaurant were partially removed.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017
Over on the east side of the island, the Indian Village appears to have gone backwards. On the left note plants waiting to be planted.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

More wildlife showing up along the Rivers of America.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

A beaver has joined the scene.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Back on the mainland, the view from Critter Country.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

The walls are down where the temporary walkway used to connect to the Hungry Bear lower level and water has returned to the creek.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Here you can see all the walls on the right are gone as they prepare to reopen this Hungry Bear seating area.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

A sign near the New Orleans Square station announces the return of the railroad. I also spotted this same sign in Town Square.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

From the Monorail, here's a view of the Splitsville work.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Back in New Orleans Square a poster on the return of the Rivers of America and Fantasmic!
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Stopped by the New Orleans Square station and saw the C.K. Holliday arriving. They have started to conduct test runs of the Disneyland Railroad after the construction crews finish for the day.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

A video clip of the C.K. Holliday arriving at New Orleans Square Station.


I moved over to the Big Thunder Trail to see the train go by there. Here are some video clips of the Holliday passing by the Big Thunder Trail area.


The Holliday steaming by.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

You should get some nice views of Big Thunder from the train now.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017
The Lily Belle passing by.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Spotted the Ward Kimball making the rounds too.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Some of the cars were not quite show-ready yet.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

The Lilly Belle passing by the Big Thunder Trail.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Ron Carter was a guest of the All-American College Band this evening.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Ron Carter with the All-American College Band.


The Backlot Dance Party takes place nightly from 8 p.m. to park closing.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Back to Disneyland, Scot Bruce was performing Elvis music at Tomorrowland Terrace this evening.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Toad Hall this evening. Quiet because the area is closed off for the fireworks.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017
I returned to the Rivers of America to take pictures of the projections during Remember Dreams Come True. The area is pleasant right now with no Fantasmic! running.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 23, 2017


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.






June 25, 2017

Recap: E3 2017

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So once again it's time for a look at this year's E3--the preeminent trade show for electronic entertainment. Here is where most of the major game companies make their big announcements and trailer releases for the year.

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So the big change-up this year was the addition of non-industry/media folk to the mix. For the first time anyone--even you, Dear Reader--could purchase a ticket for all three days of E3 for $150-250. That this was coming down the pike might have been anticipated from last year's E3, which also promoted a mini-E3 off-site for the general public.

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With several of the big game companies (such as EA and Bethesda) either not participating or having their focus on off-site installations, the first day on the Exhibitor's Floor was pretty much a madhouse.

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Booths were so jammed full of people, you could barely move in some of the closer passageways. Fortunately, after the first day, crowds seemed to die down quite a bit and it was actually possible to get a look around.

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As is usual for any big convention, photo-ops and selfie opportunities abounded.

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Because of the prohibitive wait times and my fondness for oxygen, I didn't shove my way into many demos this year, but as is typically the case, all the new games in the works were introduced in the various big company press conferences that took place prior to E3.

[Advisory: Games are rough, and some of the trailers depict language and activities you might not want emulated in your household. Watcher beware.]


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On the whole, the games that seemed to generate the most buzz online and around the floor were Marvel's Spider-Man,

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Super Mario Odyssey,

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Middle-Earth: Shadow of War,

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Star Wars: Battlefront II,

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and Monster Hunter World.

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Also new to this year was the addition of panel discussions to E3. Previously there was no formal programming--just demos that were often back in meeting rooms for invitation only. Perhaps because they were now charging admission they felt the need for more content and took over The Novo (a club in the L.A. Live complex) and turned it into the E3 Coliseum. Although the experience watching the presentations there was fine, logistically it was difficult as the theater was a few blocks away from the convention center, making walking it a haul that you wouldn't want to make multiple times in the day in the blazing heat. Additionally, they didn't allow you to bring your own food in, so if you planned to stay in for most of the day, you were forced to rely on the bar inside for food which wasn't much of an economical option. Because I was able to utilize the media entrance, I'm not sure how the wait was generally to get in, but I also didn't speak to any non-media people at E3 who attended any of the Coliseum talks, so possibly they weren't hugely popular.

The first panel I watched was "Swing Behind the Scenes with the New Spider-Man for PS4."

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Ryan Penagos (Marvel Digital Media,) Bill Rosemann (Marvel Games,) and Bryan Intihar and Jon Paquette from Insomniac Games discussed the upcoming web-slinging game...or at least tried to, because a few minutes into their time, the sound of a pop and glass tinkling heralded the breaking of a bulb in one of the overhead lights that promptly CAUGHT FIRE. Although they tried bravely to carry on, eventually the amount of smoke that was generated, together with the flames the audience could see from the light fixture, forced them to stop until it was put out.

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By the time they came back, they basically had just enough time to run through the trailer with commentary.

It's a good looking game, but the main things I took away were a) the Marvel and Insomniac guys displayed pretty good sangfroid about carrying on in a room that's on fire, and b) the smoke detectors at The Novo are maybe not that adequate.

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The next panel was an interview between two funny men Jack (Brutal Legend) Black, and Tim (Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, The Secret of Monkey Island) Schafer.

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Their discussion ran the gamut from what superpower they would want (Schafer picks invisibility;) what they're playing nowadays (Black: "Titanfall 2," Schafer: "Zelda," on Switch;) and favorite games (Black: "Red Dead Redemption.") The middle of the conversation was memorable for an audience member who suddenly shouted over their discussion that she wanted to come up and take a photo and get a hug from Jack Black, which would have once more proved that Q&A is a bad thing, except we hadn't even gotten to the Q&A part yet.

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Other panels I saw were basically gameplay demos of "Middle-earth: Shadow of War," and "Life is Strange: Before the Storm."

I had been hoping for some word of "Kingdom Hearts III," but there was a pronounced lack of Disney content in general at E3, presumably because they're holding everything back for Expo next month. There was a concert of "Kingdom Hearts" music performed during E3, at which Square Enix revealed a new trailer for it.

"Star Wars Battlefront II" was first unveiled over in Orlando back at Star Wars Celebration, where we got our first look at the latest installment of the Battlefront series.


[Star Wars Battlefront II panel starts at 4:27:04]

Things we learned from that panel:
--The focus they had making the game was "anyone can be a hero."
--New to this installment is the single-player campaign/storyline.
--This game tells the story of some of the elite special forces soldiers of the Empire and their reactions to the destruction of the Death Star in Return of the Jedi
--The protagonist is Iden Versio, Commander of the Inferno Squadron.
--Events in the game are considered official Star Wars canon.
--Backstory on the Inferno Squadron will be revealed in the novel "Star Wars Battlefront II" Inferno Squadron," on July 25, 2017.

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--One of the new locations in the game is Vardos, Versio's home planet.

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--In the single player mode, players will have the opportunity to play as Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren.
--For multiplayer, all eras of Star Wars will be playable, including notables such as Darth Maul.
--New classes will be introduced with new unlockable abilities.
--Combat now extends into space, with space ships again hailing from all Star Wars eras.
--Game release date is November 17, 2017.

At E3, Battlefront II had its biggest moments during the EA press conference [video above--Star Wars Battlefront II segment starts at 46:50] where Janina Gavankar, actress for Iden Versio, gave a more in-depth look at the game.
--Battlefront II has more than 3x the content of Battlefront I.
--A new battlepoint system enables players to earn points to spend on new weapons, vehicles, or heroes.
--Finn and Captain Plasma will be present as part of the first season of free content.
--All post-launch additions will be free for all game owners.

As part of the press conference, the first gameplay trailer and live multiplayer gameplay were presented as well.

So looking back, I would say that the addition of paying guests to E3 definitely made it more challenging to maneuver around and see things than in previous years, not just because of the added volume, but because the crowd behavior of people who attend things on a purely recreational basis is different from that of people who are there for at least semi-professional reasons. One example is the tote bags that they usually just have lying out in racks in the convention center lobby--typically, they sit there all three days as people occasionally grab them when they need to have something to hold their giveaways. This year, not only were they all out the first day after about half an hour, but for the rest of the days people would line up, sometimes for up to an hour, until workers came out to hand out a few more boxes of bags.

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In general, there were fewer things given out for free because now companies were allowed to sell merchandise on the floor, which they couldn't do in the past.

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All in all, this felt somewhat like a transition year for E3, with maybe not quite enough content for paying guests yet, and a need to balance out the experience for Industry Professionals. For those of us in-between, it's still a loud, noisy celebration of digital entertainment that is always attention-grabbing and engrossing, even when the room is on fire.






June 20, 2017

Disneyland Star Wars Land Progress, All-American College Band and More!

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com already shared some photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 16, 2017. In addition to those, which dealt mostly with attractions that had opened in Disneyland, he has sent us these other updates from around the Disneyland Resort. This update includes videos of the progress being made on the new Star Wars-themed land, as well as videos of the return of the All-American College Band.

Let's start off with a couple video clips showing the Star Wars-themed land construction, taken from the Mickey and Friends parking structure.


The Millennium Falcon attraction show building.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The forms and temporary supports have been removed from the concrete around the circular structure. Steel for this show building is now going up in the area nearest the parking structure.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Steel staged and ready to be lifted into place for the roof support.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The Splitsville building is taking shape. To the right they are setting up a Coke promotion. I did not make it back out there in the evening to see what it was.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

To celebrate the opening of Cars 3, buttons were available at both parks today as you entered.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017
This past week the re-launched DCA turned 5 years old. This includes Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. Also World of Color turned 7.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The Cars Land entrance is now out from behind walls. In addition to including Cruz Ramirez, the planter has been removed so you can go right up to the sign. Cruz has started to make appearances in Cars Land. I stopped by three times and did not see her out, guess I kept missing her.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The Animation Building lobby is still closed, but the Animation Academy has reopened and is using the side door.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Frozen is dark until June 26.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Knowhere Eats is open.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Pirates is gone and now a Summer of Heroes Showcase is inside. I did not have time to visit this trip though.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Over in Disneyland, Adventureland started a series of renovation projects last week to try and ease congestion. South Seas Traders and Indiana Jones Outpost have closed. Some of the merchandise from those two shops is now in Adventureland Bazaar.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Walls are up in front of the closed locations. They will become indoor seating for Bengal BBQ and Tropical Imports will relocate, too. The current Tropical Imports area will become stroller parking. The work is expected to be completed by July.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 All-American College Band started performing in the park yesterday. Here is a video from their 3:15 p.m. Sleeping Beauty Castle Set - A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017
Meet the 2017 All-American College Band


This year the band has added a Moana medley to the Castle set.

Later in the day, gathered in Town Square with the All-American College Band for the Flag Retreat.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The All-American College Band in Town Square for the 6:10 p.m. Train Station Set.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017
The 2017 All-American College Band performing Bubbles was a Cheerleader


Clips from the All-American College Band Train Station set.

At 7:15 the All-American College Band performs at the Royal Theatre in Fantasy Faire.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Normally the band will do their Jazz set here sitting down. This being the first week, they are standing and playing songs from their other sets. Here is a video clip of When You Wish Upon a Star.

The College Band arriving for their final set of the day, 8:05 p.m. at DCA.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017
The All-American College Band performing Uptown Funk at Disney California Adventure.

Caught some of the Main Street Electrical Parade from the Small World mall area. Dopey driving the mine train.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Here is a video of Remember Dreams Come True fireworks from New Orleans Square showcasing the new projection screen video.


Now a couple of cell phone pictures of the show (since I was using the SLR for the video). The projections were clearer and sharper than the previous ones and better in person than the phone captured.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.








June 19, 2017

Disneyland Attractions Reopen - 6/16/17

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the Disneyland Resort on Friday, June 16, 2017.

A number of attractions and areas at Disneyland reopened today after having been closed due to construction and renovations.

First, here's Tom Sawyer Island, which reopened today.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The Treehouse has survived the renovation work, but it is permanently closed-off now. At least it's still standing. As of my last visit to Tokyo that one was still open so if you want to climb into the treehouse head to Japan.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

A view of Adventureland from the Tree House.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Looking upriver on the east/Frontierland side of the island.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The guest areas of the island are virtually untouched.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The big change is the new view as you head toward the back of the island. This is looking upriver from the east (Frontierland) side. You can see the new trestle for the Disneyland Railroad.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

A closer look.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Looks like the beavers moved upriver and went to work on the trestle.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017


The Indian Village is back and has been moved slightly from its old location.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Here are a couple video clips of the view from Tom Sawyer Island of the construction.

The graveyard is gone and a new storage building is built on the site.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017


The new walkway to the Star Wars land will be along the water. Behind it is the extended seating area for the Hungry Bear restaurant.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The lift is on the Star Wars land side of the bridge.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The Hungry Bear
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The Big Thunder Trail has also reopened since my last visit. Here are some pictures from my first walk through heading from Frontierland to Fantasyland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

The pond has returned and looks the same, the water looks a little milky though.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017


Eventually this will be one of two walkways into Star Wars land from the Big Thunder Trail.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Further up the trail near where the Big Thunder Ranch entrance used to be there is now a large rock formation.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Working my way toward the rockwork.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Looking toward Fantasyland. To the left that wall is for the second walkway to Star Wars land.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

A new FastPass scanner at Big Thunder Mountain was visible and on, but not in use yet.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 16, 2017

Hope you enjoyed this overview of the recent reopenings. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.






June 16, 2017

"Cars 3" Press Conference

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June 16th, Disney-Pixar embarks on one more road trip with Lightning McQueen in "Cars 3."

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

While in town for the film's premier at the Anaheim Convention Center, performers Owen Wilson “Lightning McQueen,” Armie Hammer “Jackson Storm,” Cristela Alonzo “Cruz Ramirez,” Kerry Washington “Natalie Certain,” Nathan Fillion “Sterling,” Lea DeLaria “Miss Fritter,” Isiah Whitlock Jr. “River Scott,” Larry the Cable Guy “Mater,” with Director Brian Fee and Producer Kevin Reher, gathered at a press conference to talk about bringing Lightning McQueen's last chance at the Big Time to life.

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[SPOILERS FOR THE FILM AND ITS ENDING DISCUSSED. FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED.]

Select moments from the press conference video above:

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Wilson on the enduring appeal of "Cars.": "I think that it's also the animators...did a pretty good job. 'Cause I know when they were first kind of animating the cars, before they figured out where they were going to do the eyes and stuff...there's something kind of human or inviting about the expressions, and so I think that helps to kind of make the cars more relatable and life-like to people. I think that's a big part of it. And the voice! The voices! Don't forget these voices! Pump a little life into this!" (gestures towards car stand-ins.)

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Hammer on the how Jackson Storm measures up to McQueen: "It's definitely a change. He's part of this class of racers called The Next Gen, and they're faster, they're smarter, they're better looking...just saying! I mean look at that thing! (gestures towards Jackson Storm) Look at it!"
Wilson: "That does look pretty cool."
Hammer: "I want to put a motor in that thing and take it home!"

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Alonzo on whether "Cars 3" will appeal to all genders: "It's not really about boys and girls for me, personally--I actually approach it as an economic level. 'Cause I grew up so poor...that I want poor kids to know that they have a shot at doing it. So for me, I think the lesson surpasses gender and actually goes to the childhood that somebody has...

"I love that you said that this is Pixar's 'Wonder Woman,' because for me, I think that we don't have enough stories about female characters actually in a world with male characters, where they get to succeed in a way that isn't romantic or anything--it's just being empowered and succeeding. So, I think it surpasses gender for me. It's just anybody, any kid, that feels disenfranchised, disappointed, feels like they don't belong, feels like what's the point...this is the story for them. For me, this is a story about hope. And we need more stories like that, because the kids are the ones that grow up and they're the ones who take over the country."

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Washington on why "Cars 3" resonates with everyone: "What's so special to me about this film is not that the girl beats the boy, but that they win together. And I feel like that's such an important message, that she wins, but that they win together. That there's room for the Mentor and the Mentee. There's room for the girl and the boy. There's room for the Champion and the Newcomer, and that if we work together, there's room for everybody at the table. And I think that's the one of the most special things about the film."

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Fee on the message of "Cars 3:" "It was a very important movie for me, personally, and for us as a studio. Again, coming at it from a parent, you know...There are certain scenes with McQueen and finding out what he meant to Doc Hudson--to finding out that he was the most important thing in Doc's life...you know, that's a scene that I had with my kids, when I realized that being their father was the most important thing in my life. So it's a very personal story to try to get as a parent, going through transitions, right? But also, just having two daughters and again, wanting them to have the freedom and the courage to do whatever they want without any barriers. And if there are barriers, what do they need to break through the barriers? These are the things we tried to get into the film."

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Next up was the second panel of the morning with the second half of the major cast.

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Whitlock Jr. on the importance of knowing your history: "I really feel that we need to pay attention to a lot of the pioneers, a lot of the people who have come before us and some of the struggles, especially with the character that I play, Wendell Scott. We need to pay attention to that, to see how we got to where we are today and I know with Wendell Scott (River Scott that I play)...he did not have the sponsors and the equipment and especially racing in the segregated South...There were so many obstacles, and yet he was able to persevere. And I think that's the key word there is "perseverance"--overcoming a lot of those obstacles to be successful. That's sort of the heart of racing...when we think about racing, we think about the passion and the heart and what it's all about. I think the character I play exhibited that over time."

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Cable Guy on Mater:
"I think Mater has a good role in this. Mater does what he's supposed to do, you know? Just when you're about to cry, Mater says something stupid and then you laugh again. There's no "Cars" without Mater. That's what it's all about! About McQueen and Mater and what's going on in their lives. I don't care if Mater's got one line, Mater's Mater and he'll always be Mater."

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Fillion on working with Pixar: "Here's my theory: Nothing happens by accident in a Pixar movie. They tell a story one pixel at a time. So. By the time it gets to the point where I'm sitting there in front of a microphone, all the hard work has actually been done. I rely very heavily on the director, we get to play around a little bit, but in all honesty, you're looking at a Thanksgiving meal, and Nathan is the pepper. You know what I mean? The work is kinda been done. Just need a little pepper buddy! <snap> ...and you're done."

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DeLaria on having input on Miss Fritter's design:
"They used my high school on the side of the bus, which I think is amazing. And the license plate is my birthday. It wasn't like...I didn't call them up "I WON'T DO IT UNLESS MY BIRTHDAY IS THE LICENSE PLATE!" They called me and said 'what's your birthday? What high school did you go to?' and the next thing I knew, I was actually saying my high school in the script and it was on the bus, and I just think that's kinda great."

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Fee on 'Humphrey Hop:" "I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid, Disney Channel and...'Humphrey Hop' is one of those songs, now I'm 43 years old, and still a week doesn't go by that I'm not singing that tune in my head. It's just ingrained. It's a childhood favorite...it's just one of those moments where you kind of realize well, I'm directing the movie. I can do whatever I want. I want the 'Humphrey Hop' in there! I'm glad someone else recognized it and got something out of it, because I thought that was just for me."

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Reher on the Pixar method of filmmaking: "My favorite is when some...we've had a couple comments where people come up and said 'I was crying over a car! Come on! Wow, you killed me!' And then I'm like yeah, we did right. We did it right.

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In conjunction with the two panels, we were treated to a presentation on the short "Lou" with Director Dave Mullins and Producer Dana Murray.

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This was very similar to the talk the two gave at the Early Press Day that took place at Pixar previously this year (I wrote it up here.) In it, the duo described Pixar's method of developing an animated short which is as long and as painstaking as you'd expect of its quality of work.

"Cars 3" will open in theaters with "Lou" on June 16, 2017.

June 5, 2017

Disneyland Resort Updates - 6/02/17

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 2, 2017.

Starting off with a check of the Star Wars Themed Land Construction from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Starting on the left/north of the site and working our way to the right.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Steel is up on the far side of the Millennium Falcon attraction show building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

More forms and walls taking shape on the right side of the steel for the large show building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Toward Critter Country they are working on back filling and leveling off the the dirt on the right. On the left the trestle for the train.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

More steel for Splitsville is visible in Downtown Disney.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Work being done to the Cars Land entrance sign for Cars 3.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

The Animation Building is closed for renovation work.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

In the garden on Sunset near the Red Car stop was this hint of more Marvel to come.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

A quick video clip to help with location of this.

Extended queue for Guardians set up leading backstage but not needed this afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Black Widow is on the move through Hollywood Land. She comes out a half dozen times a day for a Heroic Encounter. She walks/rides through the area then stops for a meet and greet. As the truck turned onto Hollywood Blvd she got on board to ride.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Here are some video clips of the event.

A marketplace is being set up in front of Stage 12. It looked just about ready to open.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

PhotoPass photo op.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

In case you were wondering the Red Car marker now says Sunset Blvd instead of Hollywood Tower Hotel.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

The Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off! This occurs a half dozen times a day. A couple video clips from the Dance Off.

Face Painting is complimentary for the Summer of Heroes.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

The Frozen characters have moved to Stage 17 with the Animation Building closed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Over at Disneyland the crane is still parked just past the exit to Big Thunder so no view of the trail today. But in the new guide maps the trail is not listed as closed...so the opening is close.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Parked on the far bank is another crane this one doing tree placement.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Some scaffolding remains up, the light colored spots are patches for the scaffolding that was there that have not been painted yet.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Quite a few trees are in the area now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Looking through the fence.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Well my guess of a waterfall was wrong for the terraces...they are planting trees in them today.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

A closer look

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Gathered around the Flagpole with the Disneyland Band for the nightly Flag Retreat.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

The purple artichoke flowers at the entrance to Tomorrowland really popped as you walked by.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

The FastPass return structure for Matterhorn is finished.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Mickey and the Magical Map was just about to get underway so I found a seat and sat back to enjoy the show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

The permanent FastPass distribution area for the Matterhorn is now open. The machines each have a carved animal on them (the crate is the hardware for the system).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

The Galactic Grill and Season of the Force signs are all gone from Tomorrowland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Bands have returned to Tomorrowland Terrace on Fri-Sun nights. Hard Days Night, a tribute to the Beatles performing tonight.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

A couple video clips from their show.

Classic Space Mountain has returned.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Tomorrowland signs at the entrance.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Back to Tomorrowland Terrace for a second set.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Remember Dreams Come True Fireworks were cancelled due to wind (this happens frequently). In its place they ran the opening and closing sequences without the pyro...so soundtrack, projections and spot lights. Here is some video of the alternate show. They skipped the E-Ticket in the sky section. Also no Tinkerbell.

The current park maps. Inisde the maps now indicate where Wi-Fi hotspots are throughout both parks.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 2, 2017

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.






June 1, 2017

Cars 3 Early Press Day: On Writing and Racing

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"Cars 3" is rapidly approaching the finish line for release this June 16th. To learn more about it, AllEars.Net was invited up north for an early look. (I detailed the first half of the presentations here.)

[Non-attributed photos and video are courtesy of Disney.]

So the second day of the press sessions began bright and early in the morning at the Sonoma Raceway.

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To give us insight into Lightning McQueen's world of racing, we were taken in "hot laps" around the track, three cars at a time. Things I learned from this: 1) Toyota Camrys can go a lot faster than you'd think. 2) There are sheep and stuff out there around the Sonoma Raceway track. 3) Those cars come a LOT closer to each other while jockeying for position than you might strictly consider comfortable. Like really close. Like I could have stretched my arm out and high-fived the people in the car passing us.

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At any rate, it was a lot of fun! And I didn't die!

The next "Cars 3" presentation was "The Story of Our Story," with writers Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich, and Story Supervisor Scott Morse talking about the screenwriting process.

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--When we last saw McQueen, he was on top of the world, living a great life...which is good for him, and bad for a story. Their immediate problem was to ensure that McQueen had a problem.
--"Cars 3" is actually the third act of the Cars story. When McQueen was young, he was brash and fast and had limited respect for the sport of racing. Now, he faces many of the same concerns as aging athletes--feelings of obsolescence and ending.
--Some athletes make the mistake of trying to stay young. The great ones adapt and learn to use the wisdom they've accumulated to find a place for themselves.

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--Jackson Storm is the inverse of McQueen, with all the speed and swagger McQueen had when he was young. He represents the same thing McQueen represented to the older cars when he came along--the up-and-comer who can take their standing away from them.
--Cruz Ramirez was initially just a techie superfan, but failed to push McQueen to where he needed to be emotionally in that incarnation.

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--Ultimately Ramirez evolved into a personal trainer that treats McQueen as an old guy...which is exactly what he does not want.

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--The conversation that takes place between the two generations: McQueen refuses to face the truth that he is old, so he fails to accept it/move on, and Ramirez has accepted a bad "truth" about herself that she doesn't have what it takes to be a racer. As the movie progresses, the two heal each other.
--Cruz ultimately became an avatar of sorts for the lack of confidence/"imposter syndrome" that sometimes afflicts professional women both at Pixar and beyond.

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--"Cars 3" is more spiritually related to "Cars" than "Cars 2," which was more Mater's movie.
--Homage was paid to the late Paul Newman by using pieces of his old recordings for Doc Hudson in this film.

Our final panel was with Creative Director Jay Ward and Former Crew Chief for Hendrick Motorsports Ray Evernham on the "History of Racing."

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--NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.
--After the war, the illegal production of moonshine became popular in the economically-depressed South.
--To distribute their product, Moonshiners would employ Bootleggers--fast drivers with souped-up cars that could speed their booze from the stills of the North Carolina woods to big cities like Charlotte and Atlanta.
--Rivalries eventually evolved to the point where drivers would compete in dirt fields to see who was fastest.
--As people began to come and watch the races, Bill France Sr. organized and promoted them into a money-making affair.
--The initial cars raced tended to be 1938-44 pre-war Fords. Bootleggers wanted cars that didn't stand out, and these cars were plain black with back seats that could be removed to run 100 gallons of product.
--Some of the legends of NASCAR are honored in "Cars 3" by having characters inspired by them, and in some cases getting to do the voices themselves.

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From left: River Scott (voice of Isiah Whitlock Jr.), Junior “Midnight” Moon (voice of Robert Glenn “Junior” Johnson), Smokey (voice of Chris Cooper), Louise “Barnstormer” Nash (voice of Margo Martindale), and Lightning himself (voice of Owen Wilson).

After the panels we were treated to a brief walk around the racetrack in which we got to see a real-life Mack the Truck...

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...And were taught how to change tires "pit-stop" style. Since I don't even know how to change a tire "normal" style, this was pretty interesting although given that the race car tires weigh about eighty pounds, I don't think I'll be volunteering for pit crew duty anytime soon.

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But I got to use an air gun on the bolts! And didn't die!

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Guido and Luigi look on in horror at my tire changing skilz.

"Cars 3" opens in theaters June 16, 2017.

May 28, 2017

Preview of Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure

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Jeanine, Jason, and Laura continue with their coverage of the Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! opening at Disney California Adventure with this preview of the Summer of Heroes.

The Summer of Heroes promotion includes limited time food and beverage, merchandise, and entertainment opportunities featuring Marvel Super Heroes. It runs until September 10.

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Avengers Training Initiative gives youngsters a chance to interact with Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Avengers special agents. Along the lines of the Jedi Training Academy, but with an Avengers theme. Training sessions take place several times a day on the Hollywood Backlot stage. Signups are available on a first come-first serve basis - on the day we were there the kiosk was outside Stage 17. If your child wishes to participate, we recommend making sign-up your first order of the day.

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Kids are separated into several groups where they have to work as a team. The also learn a sequence of defensive, evasive, and even offensive moves, which they later demonstrate against a HYDRA villain. (The Captain America shields they used had some entertaining Frisbee-like qualities when flung at the villain.)

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Jeanine: So when I saw the sneak peek presentation on it a little while ago (seen here) I thought this looked like a pretty interesting show. I would have been impressed if it actually did show kids some basic self-defense moves, which doesn't seem like a bad thing for anyone to know nowadays. My other thought on walking up to the show a little late, was that Iron Man sounds a lot like Tom Hanks doing Woody for some reason.

Black Widow Encounter - She patrols the Hollywood Backlot in her black armored vehicle, and interacts with guests. The more traditional meet-and-greet opportunity with Spider-Man and Captain America is also still available.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off! - As you'll see in the video below, we experienced a version of this during the Grand Opening event, though this may not be quite what guests will experience. The Disneyland web site lists it as an activity for kids and tweens. The Dance Off concludes with a visit by Groot, who "sticks" around for a meet and greet afterward.

Hero Action Center - What Super Hero are you most like? Is it Captain America, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Black Widow? Or perhaps Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, or Spider-Man? At the Hero Action Center in the Hollywood Backlot you can take an interactive quiz that asks a series of questions to determine what Super Hero is most like you. The quiz is administered via a touch screen tablet. Afterward you'll receive a comic book and a sticker representing your Super Hero. There's a photo backdrop with a Photo Pass photographer, also.

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Jeanine: Considering I usually get "You are Ursula" on all these tests, this was pretty vindicating.

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Food for Super Heroes (or mere mortals)

There are a number of new food and beverages choices, in multiple locations around Hollywood Land.

Award Weiners - Three words: Funnel Cake Fries. Laura is really looking forward to these. They are available separately or included in the Angry Little Pudding Cup (below), a chocolate pudding, chocolate cookie, and whipped cream parfait.

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Schmoozies - Schmoozies will now be open in the morning, serving doughnuts in addition to smoothies and hot beverages . Doughnuts are available while they last. The Hulk-themed doughnut, filled with blackberry and black currant, will be available every day. As you might expect, it's huge. The other three will rotate. The Captain America doughnut is an apple pie doughnut, the "Spider Bite" is cinnamon spiced (think Red Hot candies), and the Groot doughnut is maple and bacon.

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Cosmic Canteen - This is located on the far end of the Hollywood Backlot next to the Monsters, Inc. attraction. It will have a variety of "Cosmic Cocktails" and non-alcoholic "Breakout Beverages". Groot-shaped bread will be available - it's sourdough bread with cheese or jalapeno cheese. The eyes are black olives. The bread will also be available at Fairfax Market.

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Studio Catering Co. - the food truck in the backlot. A number of different items here! The Super Hero sub includes peppered salami, capocollo, mortadela and provolone, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, and pepperoncini.

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Multiverse Parfait with chocolate cake, white and dark chocolate mousse and cherry jelly, topped with chocolate ganache.

Falafel pitas: Chickpea fritters served with two different accompaniments - spinach, cucumber/mint slaw and yogurt sauce or pickled red cabbage, yellow peppers and charamoula sauce. Laura worked with a Disney chef to make some fritters:

Knowhere Eats will be a food kiosk (re-purposed from the Food and Wine Festival). It opens June 6, and in the meantime these items will be available at the Cosmic Canteen and Studio Catering Co. All of the food items are available with a vegetarian version.

The Most Dangerous Tacos in the Galaxy - Barbacoa beef tacos on green tortillas.

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Obviously Nachos - Blue corn tortilla chips with mojo-marinated chicken, red pepper cheese sauce and chipotle crema. Laura tried these and thought they were very good - not too spicy at all.

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Space Outpost Tacos - chicken street tacos with chopped cilantro and onions.

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Several alcoholic beverages are also available.

Summer of Heroes Merchandise - most is available only in Disney California Adventure, much of it exclusive to the Collector's Warehouse at the exit of the Mission: BREAKOUT! attraction. Lots of cute Baby Groot items. We got an overview:

While it's not a part of the Summer of Heroes, another new attraction also opened at Disney California Adventure: Disney Junior Dance Party!. This show for pre-school kids includes some of their favorite Disney Junior characters, like Doc McStuffins, Sophia the First, and characters from The Lion Guard and Mickey and Minnie Mouse from Mickey and the Roadster Racers. There's special effects like bubbles, snow, and confetti, and the kids are encouraged to get up and dance to the music.

Jeanine: I'm not sure I ever actually saw the show that preceded this one, but the dance party seemed high energy and fast-paced enough to keep most of the children's attention engaged. I would only make the additional observation that anyone going should probably expect exposure to the sights, sounds, and olfactory stimuli characteristic of a youthful audience.

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Jeanine: So between "Mission: BREAKOUT!" and "Summer of Heroes," there's a lot coming to Hollywood Land this season. Frankly, I'm just glad the three of us were able to cover it all and get out without any mishaps.

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...Oops.





May 27, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! Grand Opening

Jeanine, Jason, and Laura all attended the Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! opening at Disney California Adventure, so the blogs on the event are going to be collaborative efforts.

Jeanine and Laura have already presented a lot of background information on the attraction in two earlier blogs:
Sneak Peek at "Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!" and "Summer of Heroes"
First Look at Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!

This time we had more time to wander around the entire queue. The exterior queue is known as the "Gardens of the Galaxy". It is also part of the Collection, and features unusual plants and audio recordings.

Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!


Laura had the opportunity to do a recorded ride-through of Mission: BREAKOUT! She says: "I really enjoyed the attraction. There are six versions, with six different songs, though I've only experienced the one. I thought the visuals - which were filmed with the actors from the movie specifically for the attraction - worked well, though I wish they could have been a little longer. While the ride seems to have more intense motion than before, it is broken up by several stops - so that we can see those scenes. While I'm still not really convinced that this attraction fits into Hollywood Land, it was a lot of fun."

Laura also says:
"After the ride, be sure to listen to some of the comments you'll hear while you're still in the ride vehicle."

"Also, as you're in the exit hallway headed towards the Collector's Warehouse (gift shop), listen to the music and to some of the dialog and sounds you hear. I had the area to myself - once the ride is open I hope you'll still be able to hear it over the voices of everyone exiting the attraction."

Jeanine: "Having more time to walk around the entry this time, I noticed a similar effect in the main collection room--some of the exhibits move or talk, although they don't necessarily do it often and they don't do the same things all the time. The Ultron Sentry occasionally sings 'I've Got No Strings,' as in 'Age of Ultron,' but when I waited around for him to do it again, he said a different line."

Later in the day Laura spoke with Estefania Harbuck, Creative Producer for the attraction:

That night we all attended the Grand Opening of the Tivan Collection.

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Bob Chapek, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was there, along with Director/Writer James Gunn.

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Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!

Several members of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast were in attendance, including Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Benicio Del Toro (Taneleer Tivan),Michael Rooker (Yondu), and Pom Klementieff (Mantis).

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The opening concluded with fireworks and lights on the Fortress.

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Video of Opening Ceremony:

Afterwards, guests wanting to tour the Tivan Collection were treated to a Groot greet out in front of the citadel.

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We'll have more on the events taking place during the Summer of Heroes promotion in our next blog.

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(Jeanine: "Try not to call him a Trash Panda.")



May 25, 2017

Sneak Peek at "Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!" and "Summer of Heroes"

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Opening May 27 at Disney California Adventure is the newly rethemed attraction "Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!."

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Taking the place of the lightning-scarred "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" in the back of Hollywood Land, GotGMB is set in the massive citadel of Taneleer Tivan, The Collector, from the Marvel comics and the MCU films "Thor: The Dark World, " and "Guardians of the Galaxy."

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Surrounding the building is a collection of totems and fauna designed to pay tribute to The Collector and his artifacts referred to as "Gardens of the Galaxy."

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AllEars.Net was invited to take an early look at the attraction, guided by Imagineer and lead Creative Executive Joe Rohde.

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Once inside what used to be the hotel lobby, guests are met by a large assortment of glass cases containing any number of unique items in Tivan's collection.

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At the far end of the room is a screen where guests touring the collection are met by a video introduction from their host, revealing some of his newer, more reluctant acquisitions.

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After making their way out of the collection room into Tivan's private office (previously the library,) guests touring the facility are met with another taped message from The Collector that is abruptly interrupted by Rocket Raccoon, a Guardian of the Galaxy (the smart one.) He has a plan to free his friends that requires your participation, some peril, and a lot of explosions.

Moving through the power room, sharp eyes (it's pretty dark) may notice a number of items in the Collection that appear somewhat familiar.

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Entering the Gantry Lift, part of The Collector's staff will seat you and have you raise your hands for scanning (coincidentally checking for seatbelts at the same time) and then your tour/breakout commences.

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As far as the actual ride is concerned, there are six different drop profiles, each with their own different soundtrack. Intermittent pauses take place where the doors open to reveal clips of the Guardians escaping their boxes, dealing with all the other occupants that have also been let free, and making their getaway. Like Star Tours, these segments can randomize separately, so you may see the same ones in conjunction with different drop profiles or completely different ones. The original cast was present for all the video which was directed by "Guardians" writer/director James Gunn.

Mechanically, as you might expect, the ride isn't intrinsically different from ToT. I did feel that the drops were generally more prolonged/intense, with more time spent hovering in free-fall off the seat than previously. I've seen complaints about the in-ride sequences being just video screens, but unless we're saying the ToT ghosts were real, I don't think that's much of a change. On the whole, I think that whereas ToT depended more on suspense and atmosphere to yield a frightening/thrilling experience, GotGMB uses loud and dynamic action, humor, and mixtape music to give riders more of a shock/surprise.

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After disembarking the lift, "backstage" corridors lead you, as usual, back to a conveniently located gift store where you can buy all the merchandise a Guardian would want.

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At the end of the ride, Joe Rohde returned for a brief Q&A, along with Dave Bushore, VP, Franchise Creative & Marketing at Marvel Studios and Brian Crosby, Creative Director of Marvel Themed Entertainment. Some things they addressed to varying degrees: Why Guardians? How does The Collector's Citadel fit in with Hollywood Land? What was the reaction of the cast to being a part of a ride?

Having broken out the Guardians, we were then taken backstage where we were given an advance look at some of the different facets of the "Summer of Heroes" event coming to DCA.

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Executive Chef John State shared with us some of the many new culinary creations that will be available around Hollywood Land to keep heroes well-fueled for crime fighting.

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The three things I was able to taste were the Promising Future Falafel, the Most Dangerous Tacos in the Galaxy, and the Multiverse Parfait. My favorite was probably the parfait which was a little on the sweet side but which incorporated an impressive number of different flavored layers. The tacos were too spicy for my palate, but I am a complete spice wimp so your mileage will probably vary.

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Finally, Dan Fields, Executive Creative Director, Disney Parks Live Entertainment, gave a presentation (accompanied by some special guests) on a few of the various superheroes that might be encountered this summer.

Whether joining Star-Lord and Gamora for "Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off!" or getting drilled by Black Widow and Hawkeye in "Avengers Training Initiative," guests will find no shortage of chances to Hero Up.

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Clearly, a lot of activity going on in Hollywood Land this summer--one thing to note is the increasing emphasis on live character interaction for seasonal events which one could speculate is preparing people for more of the same to come in "Star Wars Land." Whether or not the encroachment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on DCA signals the beginning of a more wide-spread change in theme remains to be seen, but amidst all this uncertainty, there is a constant...

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...He is Groot.

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