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August 15, 2014

San Diego Comic-Con 2014: Something Good, Something Bad — A Bit of Both. [Part 2]


So the first day of San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) saw the beginning of the weekend's vast schedule of panel discussions, starting off with talks on upcoming Disney animated projects "Toy Story that Time Forgot," and "Big Hero 6."


See this poster? This was done for Toy Story by the comic book artist/writer Mike Mignola of "Hellboy" fame. I really wanted one, and they actually did gave them out, but inexplicably gave them out at the ABC booth in the Exhibit Hall, right as the panel was ending, thus insuring that virtually no one could get down there fast enough to get one before they were all out. Sigh.

That was, however, the only disappointment as Director Steve Purcell, Producer Galyn Susman, Head of Story Derek Thompson, and Moderator/Composer Michael Giacchino showed off some impressive clips and art assets from Disney-Pixar's "Toy Story that Time Forgot."




Initially planned as a six minute short, John Lasseter was impressed enough with the footage that he asked them to expand it to a half-hour Christmas special. The basic story is that Bonnie, the recipient of all the toys at the end of "Toy Story 3," takes them to a friend's house where they encounter a new set of toys--the "Battlesaurs"--who do not realize they are toys.


The leader of the Battlesaur society is the Cleric--the spiritual head of their culture.


There are a number of different types of soldier Battlesaurs, because they are constantly needed to fend off the Outland Beasts, like the Goliathon.


(All the inhabitants of the Battlesaur world have been mutated from...conventional dinosaurs, through irradiation from Zeta Rays.)


Our lead Battlesaur is Reptillius Maximus, who is of the Champion class, and wielder of the mighty Star Talon, a sacred weapon. He is voiced by Kevin McKidd.


Our lead of the familar Toy Story cast is Trixie, played by Kristen Schaal. As a surprise, when her character was introduced, Kristen Schaal herself joined the panel.


(When asked why she thought Trixie was chosen as the star toy for this outing, Schaal responded "...Tom Hanks is really busy, but I am completely available.")

As part of the Christmas setting, a new Toy Story character is also introduced, the mildly disturbing Angel Kitty. ("I am armored with goodness.")


For those who want to recreate the story afterwards, there will also be actual toys on sale of the various film characters in their battle gear.


The special "Toy Story that Time Forgot" is schedule for broadcast on ABC, December 2, 2014.


Next up was a panel on "The Art of Big Hero 6," the upcoming feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS.)


The panel, which did not allow photos or video of the displayed art, featured Producer Roy Conli, Visual Effects Supervisor Kyle Odermatt, Production Designer Paul Felix, Director Don Hall, Character Designer Shiyoon Kim and Visual Development Artist Lorelay Bove.


The project came about when Hall developed an interest in creating a project that would join both WDAS and the recently acquired Marvel properties; the relatively obscure "Big Hero 6" seemed to fit the bill, and with Marvel's blessings, became the studio's love letter to Japanese culture.


The creation of the film's setting "San Fransokyo" took an enormous amount of work, requiring the animators to start with a geographical map of San Francisco, and then increasing the hill size and skyscraper density to give it the feel of Tokyo. Combining the detailed ornamentation of a Japanese city with the Painted Lady architecture of SF, and throwing in some quarter of a million trees and one million streetlights, they created an image of a city that had both depth and energy.


Kim then described some of the process he went through while trying to find the character Hiro, the 14-year-old genius protagonist.


Looking to his own childhood for traits like perpetual bedhead, Kim also tried to incorporate elements of today's youth, making him an expert multitasker.


Hiro's inflatable robotic sidekick Baymax, a health professional turned superhero, came out of multiple visits to various robotic departments at a number of different universities. Wanting a huggable robot, Hall finally found a prototype for a robot composed of vinyl balloons that he thought was perfect. Baymax's face, a simple two circles connected by a line, was derived from the openings on a bell, his walk from a penguin, and his general shape language from a rice cooker (adorable, but with hidden technology.)


To introduce some clips from the film, the panel was joined by Hiro's voice actor, Ryan Potter.


Subsequently, we were treated to a brief description of each of Hiro's other teammates:





Of course, the Big Hero 6 experience didn't end with the panel--there was already a reasonable amount of cosplay anticipating the movie.


Attendees of the panel were also treated to a small Kaiju!Fred! as a giveaway.


Downstairs in the Exhibit Hall, "Big Hero 6" had their own booth, where a limited edition armored Baymax was for sale.


On display were other toys and figures that will be on the market closer to the film's opening.


Guests were encouraged to #MeetBaymax and take a photo with him, at which time they might be given a smaller Baymax of their own (until the booth ran out for the day.)



"Big Hero 6" is scheduled to be in theaters November 7, 2014.

August 13, 2014

San Diego Comic-Con 2014: Something Good, Something Bad — A Bit of Both. [Part 1]


Ah Comic-Con.


Nothing says the height of summer, like spending four and a half days with 130,000+ of your closest friends.


Each year, fans of virtually every genre under the sun converge on Downtown San Diego to celebrate and enjoy all different forms of entertainment. As the largest comic-con in North America, it attracts any number of companies displaying their wares and promoting their new and upcoming products, and Disney is no exception.


I started off my comic-con weekend at the Disney Infinity Preview Event.


Located a block or so away from the San Diego Convention Center, the Disney Infinity Pop-Up Shop was open each evening and provided guests with an opportunity to try out Disney Infinity 2.0, along with the new playset "Guardians of the Galaxy."


Along with gameplay time, the location also offered snacks, character artists, giveaways, special guests, and the chance to pre-purchase Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes.



Also available for pre-order was the new Collector's Edition starter pack, exclusive to the Playstation.


Subsequent to SDCC, Disney Infinity has continued to roll out new 2.0 characters such as Marvel villains Loki, Green Goblin, and Ronan.

Classic Disney characters haven't been ignored, either, with the addition of Aladdin and Jasmine...

...and Stitch and Tinker Bell.

Oh, and this guy, too.

The Disney Infinity Preview was, as last year, a really fun addition to SDCC, enabling people to escape the heat and rehydrate while getting some hands-on game time with the updated Disney Infinity universe. SDCC tickets were not required, making it accessible to anyone who could brave the traffic and the parking down there.

August 11, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/08/14


Contributing photographer Jason of sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on .

First stop today Disneyland. Cruella de Vil with the Hook and Ladder Company in Town Square.

Plenty of Frozen inspired treats now at the Candy Palace

Goofy Glaciers have moved into the far corner. Currently four flavors to choose from.

From the Monorail you can see the section the section of the entrance that is being renovation. This is the third of four sections to be worked on.

The submarine lagoon from the Monorail. The subs are scheduled to return in 7 weeks, September 27th.

On Main Street the work continues on Castle Bros, but this week the walls have been pushed back so there is a narrow sidewalk available. Last week you had to go out in the street.

The 2014 All-American College Band only has one week left. Here they are performing on the Hollywood Backlot Stage

A couple of clips of the All-American College Band performing on the Hollywood Backlot Stage.

Meet the 2014 All-American College Band as they play a medley of Disney music on the Hollywood Backlot Stage

Back to Disneyland for the 3:25pm Castle set of the All-American College Band. The band is marching down Main Street after their performance.

The Club 33 window continues to evolve in New Orleans Square.

The last section of scaffolding has been removed from New Orleans Square.

Paused at a quiet spot in Critter Country to send a couple of tweets.

Pinocchio on the Village Haus window.

The nightly Flag Retreat in Town Square

Over to DCA and a look at the Grand Californian renovation project.

The Napa Rose, which is closed during the renovation project

The Hearthstone Lounge renovation is complete and it has reopened.

At the World of Disney Halloween has taken over one of the doorways opposite the tram stop already.

The displays on the wall have been swapped to Halloween too.

The 2014 All-American College Band arriving to perform before Soundsational

Today a group of band alumni were on hand enjoying the performances.

The Frozen pre-parade float making its way up the parade route.

The construction walls in the back of Star Trader are gone. No real changes stood out to me.

The rest of the walls are gone from the exit area of Space Mountain are gone too. It is substantially brighter now.

The All-American College Band performing in Town Square at the Train Station.

A full moon was rising behind the band this evening.

Walking over to the Mad T Party at Disney California Adventure

The Mad Hatter and Alice performing.

The Disney Showcase on Main Street USA has an assortment of Halloween merchandise available too.

A Halloween Countdown Calendar

Found a spot along the Rivers of America for Fantasmic.

Then returned to Main Street for Magical to end my visit.

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, Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.

August 6, 2014

"Guardians of the Galaxy:" Press Conference with the Cast


"Guardians of the Galaxy," the latest blockbuster from the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has just opened to overwhelming acclaim. The comedy/space epic adventure stars Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, a self-interested interplanetary thief and scoundrel, who finds himself thrown together with an unlikely team of rogues in a frantic attempt to save a planet from destruction, and a race from genocide.


As part of their extensive promotional tour, the film's director, James Gunn, and cast came to Burbank for a press conference at the Walt Disney Studios. Scroll to the bottom of this blog for footage from the Press Conference.


Among the things we learned:

---One of the things that drew Gunn to the project was his childhood obsession with different planets in the solar system, for which he would draw pictures and people with different races, pets, houses, water systems, etc.


---Pratt found the idea that he might be responsible for giving men body image problems "the nicest thing anyone ever said to me."
---Pratt knows that anyone with those problems can change them around if they are willing to work hard, and get a good coach and be coachable.
---Pratt is offering a course for $4,500 up front. (No, he is not. It's a bit.)
---[I would consider signing up for Pratt's course.]


---Gunn initially did not want to test Pratt for the role, who he knew as "the chubby guy from "Parks and Rec."
---Twenty seconds after Pratt began reading, Gunn turned to his casting director and commented "chubby or not, if he's chubby, the world's gonna have to be ready for the first chubby super hero."
---Gunn says the heart of the movie is about opening yourself up to care, in a world where you're supposed to be cool and tough.
---[Say, wouldn't it be great if there was a place you could visit, to escape the cynical, snarky world? Where age could relive fond memories of the past, and youth could savor the challenge and promise of the future?]


---Zoe Saldana (Gamora) fought the stunt people who "are hard, and think that girls are stupid," for her vision that her character's fighting style would be graceful, like a bullfighter.


---Benecio Del Toro (The Collector) was the first kid in his neighborhood to have a pet alligator.
---Pratt complained that Saldana and Michael Rooker (Yondu) both kicked and hit him pretty hard during the course of the filming. "I felt my organs shake."


---Vin Diesel (Groot) said he was sent a book of conceptual art when first in talks to do the picture. When he showed it to his kids and asked them which character they wanted him to play, "they all pointed at the tree."


---Diesel noted that having recently dealt with death in both his personal and professional life, it was therapeutic to play a character like Groot, who celebrates life.
---Diesel's children now consider all trees to be his "brothers and sisters."


---Each member of the cast named a particular song from the soundtrack that was important to them, except Rooker, who doesn't know the music.


Also at the Studios, Hasbro had a display of some of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" merchandise they have available.






So for an exciting, good-hearted adventure, hie thyself to the local cinema!

Related Links:
** Jeanine's review of the movie

** Deb and Linda's review of the movie

August 5, 2014

Disney's Upcoming short "Feast"


I was able to attend an event at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank and spend the day in the Roy E Disney Animation Building (the one with the sorcerer hat pictured above). We started the day off with a screening of “Feast”. This will be the short accompanying “Big Hero 6” in theaters starting November 7, 2014.

The film shows the evolution of one man’s (James) romance with a woman (Kirby) through the eyes of their dog (Winston) in a series of short scenes covering several years in the 6 minutes of the film. The short’s director Patrick Osborne chose a different path to sharing this story. He based the shots on a technique that was inspired by his use of the 1 Second Everyday app. This application takes a second of video and then stitches it together to create a film of your experiences. Patrick used it to catalog his life by looking at the meals he ate each day. This led to the basic structure of “Feast”. As the title, “Feast”, implies food and meal situations are a key component. They are the setting and activity that the film revolves around.

“Feast” is the first short of a new program within Walt Disney Animation Studios to pitch and create shorts. As part of this program anyone at the Studios is invited to pitch to the studio's creative brain trust, made up of the studio's directors, story leads and John Lasseter. The team then picks the one to go into development. This is Patrick Osborne’s first time as director but not the first short he has worked on. He was the head of Animation on “Paperman”. He was also the co-head of animation on “Big Hero 6” prior to departing to direct this short.

In addition to this new program Patrick talked about the process to bring the short to the big screen, including the compressed time frame, about 18 months, and the many hats the director of a short wears while ushering it through the development process. He said that as soon as it was given the green light he was tossed into story development and they flushed out the story, taking his initial concept and visuals and turning it into the first treatment. Then they established the look of the film. The team started with traditional drawings then migrated to CG tests to achieve the look he wanted. Next up was shot production. One aspect that he highlighted here that interested me is the use of current technology - as they review the dailies they can annotate directly onto the frames as they are meeting. No more need for interpretation and writing it all down and you can leave visual notes/drawings as well as text directly on each frame/sequence you want to reference. The software handles everything and when he or the animators returned to their desks they could call up the footage and notes.

I found “Feast” to be very entertaining. In the span of six minutes with very little screen time devoted to the human characters, you will be taken on a roller coaster ride of human emotion and relationships as seen from Winston's perspective. The short's style and format goes in a different direction than traditional animation with the look, feel, shot selection and pacing giving it a unique feel that works well. Be sure to arrive on time for Big Hero 6 so you do not miss “Feast”. It's worth seeing.

August 4, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/01/14


Contributing photographer Jason of sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, August 1, 2014. I started my afternoon off at Disney California Adventure

Walt and Mickey, Storytellers in Carthay Circle on Buena Vista Street.

Molly catching up on the news in Carthay Circle

Still working out on the Pier

Only an 80 minute posted wait for the Racers this afternoon, the single rider line was only 15 minutes. Part of the queue received four misters/fans several weeks ago to help with the summer heat and lack of shade in that portion.

The Sheriff welcoming us to Radiator Springs

Rolling through town.

Caught a performance by the All-American College band on the Backlot Stage

A video clip of the Band performing Zero to Hero.

Over at Disneyland they have moved on to the next set of turnstiles. This is the large grouping on center right as you face the park (the far side was done a few weeks ago).

On Main Street Castle Bros is under wraps for some facade renovation. The shop is open still.

Inside the windows/doors received covers featuring pictures of the outside view.

A new guest interactive guest experience, The Adventure Trading Company, opened today. Their main base of operation is the Outfitters.

A sign out front letting you know about it.

Inside a sign that sums up the experience. You become an Adventurer. You choose an adventure and pay $5 for a publication that explains it (or a second option available for $7.50 for a beverage that comes with a juju to commemorate it). You then set off on a journey and complete the task. You return and receive a Juju to mark the event and commemorate the adventure.

Here is a closer look at three of the Jujus

A display board opposite the sign with more details.

Several Cast Members were in the store to explain the scenarios and issue you an Adventure Name. Here he is explaining about the Piranhahaha Juju. You purchase this guide then go to the Jungle Cruise to learn about being a skipper. Once completed you get the book stamped then return to get the Juju.

Next up the Tiki Bird Juju. Here you are a casting agent looking for more birds to join the show. You walk around and need to take pictures of birds to earn the Juju.

Here is a board showing the Jujus you can earn and the trait for each. You can also trade Jujus with cast members or others.

There are three Jujus that are earned by purchasing drinks. Venomade at Bengal BBQ earns you this one.

A closer look around the board.

My adventure name today as assigned by the cast member since I could not come up with one.

Walking through the Frontierland, the land for the Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush was cheap.. only 75 bits (it was 150 last Friday).

If you did not have a Western name in mind you could pick one from a stack. My unlucky draw for the day.

Billy looked lost out front of the Golden Horseshoe...guess he was waiting for his brothers?

Inside Miss Lilly was entertaining guests.

Moving on to New Orleans Square. Port Royal features new Haunted Mansion merchandise.

A new Master Gracey shirt

Temporary barriers still form a walkway by the artists.

While walking through Fantasyland there was no line again for Casey Jr so went for a ride. They were just pulling the Storybook Land boats out since the parade had ended.

Stopped by the Music of Nashville.

This afternoon Smith and Wilkes were performing.

A new sign on Main Street, on the lamp post. Because of the Castle Bros work they are routing ECVs, wheelchairs and strollers through the stores vs the temporary walkway.

The All-American College Band performing.

There goes the band...the temporary walkway slows traffic down...especially when people stop to watch the band instead of walking.

I wanted to go for a trip on the Monorail but the line/wait and my time/schedule/patience did not line up. So here is a look through the fence at the submarine lagoon.

You can see they have started to add color again. Hopefully next trip I can get an overhead shot to really show it.

If you want a specific juju from the Adventure Trading Co be sure to play early in the day as they are limited each day.

Caught a few minutes of Hard Days Night: A Tribute to the Beatles as they opened their 7:00pm set. They were marking the one year anniversary since they started performing at Disneyland.

Then back to Tomorrowland for the 7:45pm Beatles set.

A couple clips from the 7:45pm and 8:35pm sets.

Back for the 8:35pm Hard Days Night set. It features music from Sgt. Pepper.

As I arrived on Main Street for Magical they announced it may be cancelled due to winds. I looked up and the flags were blowing so I decided to head toward the car.

As I arrived at the Mickey and Friends garage Magical started as scheduled. So watched from there before heading home.

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, Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.

August 1, 2014

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy



"Guardians of the Galaxy," the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU,) introduces us to the space-faring scoundrel Peter Quinn and the rag-tag band that unites around him in his attempt to save the galaxy.


*************** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS ***************

After an initial sequence more reminiscent of the four-minute montage in "Up" than with the film's slapstick-y trailers, the movie settles in to tell the story of Quinn's efforts to obtain, and then regain, a mysterious and powerful orb. In the process of doing so, he is thrown together with four other miscreants: Gamora, an assassin with a heart of gold; Drax, a warrior consumed with regret and vengeance; Rocket, a genetically/cybernetically enhanced raccoon and bounty hunter; and Groot, a powerful sentient tree-creature.


While the group is initially bound by mutual need and dislike, grudging respect eventually turns to affection and the group evolves from a bunch of isolated beings only out for themselves, into a team willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the galaxy.


To do so, they end up opposing any number of forces, including the military forces of Xandar; Gamora's assassin sister without a heart of gold, Nebula; Quill's surrogate father, Yondu the bandit; and the story's "Big Bad," Ronan.


Based on a relatively obscure team of comic book characters dating back to 1969, "Guardians" allows the MCU to both expand their canonically known universe, and simultaneously tell a story completely new to most of their audience. Combining both broad comedy and the grandeur of a traditional space epic, director James Gunn succeeds in dishing up a satisfying adventure that often seems like the love child of Indiana Jones and Captain EO.


Chris Pratt, as Peter Quill, does a fine job of depicting the lone human of the film as a cocky survivor, still deeply wounded by his loss of both his mother and his planet. Although the ship-full of bandits who raised him may have taught him that only suckers care about others, the experience he gets working with a team shows him the value of family and brings him to the realization that it's never too late to do the right thing. While it might have been expected that Pratt would have the comedic chops from his work on "Parks and Recreation," the heart with which he imbues Quill is surprisingly effective.


My personal favorite of the movie however, is Groot--who, despite being limited to vocalizing one sentence ("I am Groot") manages to be as expressive as any of the others. Ironically, of all of them, it's Groot who comes with the least amount of growing to do, as his taciturn compassion contrasts and balances Rocket's aggressive tendencies beautifully.


Ultimately, what I find unique about "Guardians" as opposed to the other MCU films is how the characters struggle to achieve heroism. Rather than most superheroes who either spring out with fully-formed noble intentions from the beginning, or who surmount some life tragedy from a fairly privileged position, these guys are depicted as competent criminals, but vaguely penny-ante, and pretty jerky from the beginning. It's their journey to discover the potential in themselves and the strength they derive from each other that makes them both compelling and relatable (even the raccoon and the tree.)


At one point in the movie, John C. Reilly's Corpsman Dey of the Nova Corps is relaying a warning from Quill (an escaped criminal) to Glenn Close's Nova Prime, in which he says "I may be an A-hole, but I'm not 100% d---." Nova Prime asks Dey, "do you believe him?" Dey responds "well, I don't think anyone's 100% d---..." Which is probably as good an overall message as any.


“Guardians of the Galaxy” is presented by Marvel Studios. Rated PG-13, it stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.

*Always stay to the end of the credits.

Directed by James Gunn and produced by Kevin Feige. Screenplay by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman. The Executive Producers are Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Nik Korda, and Stan Lee.

The film enters general release on August 1, 2014, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

*At the screening I saw, the last moments after the credits were suspiciously blank. This is a MCU film however, and chances are that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably got an post-credit sequence.

July 28, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 7/25/14


Contributing photographer Jason of sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, July 25, 2014.

A wall up at the far end of the Mickey and Friends tram stop. As we drove around it was hard to tell what is going on. Maybe some paver work.

First stop today, DCA. Notice the light pole is still missing out front.

Walked through Condor Flats. On the GRR/Planes Billboard, the lattice work on the bottom left that was broken is now fixed.

Further along the trail they were setting up scaffolding on the side of the Grand Californian that is closest to GRR.

The covered area on the right is still behind walls and tarps. This project is taking quite a while.

Ornament Valley - Cars Land. They were just filling the queue as I walked by. The Racers had been closed for an extended period, over an hour a cast member said.

Walked through Ramone's. Some of the new pin-striped merchandise is on the shelves.

The far set of turnstiles has emerged from behind the scaffolding looking as good as new.

The normally peaceful stroll up Main Street was very loud today with what I am guessing is construction noise. It drowned out the background music and most of the other audio.

No water today in the hub.

Made my way to Adventureland to see if any of the elements for the upcoming game are installed yet.

The outdoor vending cart is gone from this area. Wonder if something to do with the game will be going here?

Some work going on by the Adventureland Traders

Curious how the game will work with the already usually congested walkway.

The work on the New Orleans Square roof tops looks to be complete.

The price of land has gone up in Frontierland for the Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush game, a 50% increase over last week when I walked by.

After eating at the Village Haus walked out and saw no line for Casey Jr. So hopped on for a ride.

Sat in the Caboose facing backwards, also had my choice of a private animal car Here is a video of the trip.

Some stills from the trip.

Interesting... the third character at the Royal Hall is just listed as a "Royal Friend". Curious who is rotating through there. I did not have time to explore this pass by.

Merida was out in the courtyard greeting guests. Her meet and greet area was temporarily closed due to the parade about to start.

Back to Frontierland.

Stopped by the Golden Horseshoe to see a performance by Miss Lilly & LB.

Spotted a former member of Billy Hill and the Hill Billies out roaming around.

Made my way up the Big Thunder Trail to the Music of Nashville to catch the final set of the day.

This week there was a different band performing: Smith and Wilkes, but one of the lead vocalists from last week remained.

A wide shot of the venue for this set. I was surprised by the small crowd. I would have thought a later set would be more crowded.

Here are a couple clips from this performance of the Music of Nashville.

This week the Frozen pre-parade was listed on the times guide.

It ran before both Soundsational Parades. Her eare pictures as it made its way through Fantasyland before the 6:30pm Soundsational.

Soundsational making its way toward the hub.

Noticed many of the props that were on the display cases are gone. Hopefully this is temporary. It smelled like wood in there, so maybe they were rebuilding/working on the display cases/racks.

Walked through the Mad T Party

Ariel was not moving/dancing in the Under the Sea scene this time by.

We stopped for several minutes in front of Ursula. So here is a video clip of her performance, including an announcement that we were delayed..

The Hearthstone Lounge at the Grand Californian is being renovated. While it is closed there is a temporary lounge set up with some tables outside.

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, Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.

July 23, 2014

Legends of Frontierland: The Adventures of Lasso Laura and Jiminy Jason


Contributing photographer Jason of and Disneyland blogger Laura Gilbreath spent some time Friday, July 18, 2014 exploring the Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush! at Disneyland.

Laura writes:
Legends of Frontierland is a new interactive guest experience at Disneyland this summer. From the information pamphlet:

"You are invited to play an immersive game in which you can create your own persona and frontier story. Start out as a friend of Frontierland or Rainbow Ridge and work your way up to become a legend."

As it was explained to us, the citizens of Rainbow Ridge are down on their luck - the gold mines are played out and their water has dried up. They've now got their eyes on the more prosperous Frontierland, and are trying to take it over, and the folk of Frontierland are trying to prevent that.

There's no charge to play and no age restrictions. The object seems to be to perform various tasks to earn "bits" so you can buy land. The bits look like wooden poker chips - each chip is 5 bits. You can exchange 50 bits (10 chips) for a gold nugget. With 100 bits you can purchase land for either Frontierland or Rainbow Ridge.

There's a land map at the entrance to Frontierland that shows the territory and who owns what. Here is the land map as we started the adventure.

You begin at the Trading Post where a cast member attempts to explain the game, and you decide if you want to play for Frontierland or Rainbow Ridge. You are given a map, a colored name tag, and a western name. If you don't have a name in mind the CM will help you choose. We chose to play for Frontierland, and our names were Lasso Laura and Jiminy Jason. Here's the inside of the map:

Jason writes: Our first stop was the Telegraph Station to see what was going on, since one of the easiest/most obvious ways to earn bits is by delivering telegrams.

Laura writes: There were several incoming telegrams at the time, but there was sometimes a line of people waiting for telegrams so they could have something to do.

Jason writes: Our first quest.. find Runaway Roseanna and deliver this telegram.

We started looking in the stores.

Having had no luck finding Runaway Roseanna, seems she ran away.. another cast member (missed her name) offered us some jobs to do to earn bits. She took us over to the Leather Shop where there were horses that needed to be ridden so Laura took the reins.

She then set off to ride around Frontierland.

She stopped long enough for a couple pictures before taking a second lap.

There are some props you can purchase to use in the game.. mustaches, hats, and other disguises.

A new outdoor vending cart along the Rivers of America. LB Enterprises, part of the Legends of Frontierland has opened a business selling various elixirs.

Laura struck up a conversation with LB and tried to convince him to join the Frontierland side.. no luck.

Laura writes: We were told that you could potentially earn quite a few bits for converting someone.

Jason writes: Each elixir has a song too.. here is LB performing the Charm song.

Stopped by the Golden Horseshoe.

Laura writes: There's a talent agency at the Golden Horseshoe, which has a "Talent Wanted" ad on the map, so it's supposed to be a way to earn bits.

The only "Talent" thing we saw was people drawing. If that's the talent they are looking for then I'm out of luck, since I can barely draw stick figures. There were some pretty nice drawings!

Another way to earn bits is by playing cards. NOT poker, though. :-) They were in between card games, so I don't know how this works, either.

Jason writes: We returned to Frontierland after taking a detour to the Music of Nashville and finally found Runaway Roseanna. Laura showed her the telegram and convinced her to switch back to Frontierland from the Rainbow Ridge side.

Returned it to the Telegraph Office to earn 5 bits.

Laura writes: The Telegraph Office was staffed by Rainbow Ridgers, who were not at all impressed that I had converted Roseanna, so I didn't get any extra bits from them. But a fellow Frontierlander gave me an additional 5 bits.

Jason writes: As part of this event there are live performances inside the Golden Horseshoe again. This week the stage show was listed on the times guide. 11:15, 12:15, 1:15, 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00. Miss Violet was performing this show.

Laura writes: The show was pretty short, and featured just a piano player and a singer. Not much to it - so don't go thinking it's the classic Golden Horseshoe show of the past.

Laura writes: There are some special menu items at the Golden Horseshoe: "Outlaw Style" chili fries, chili bread bowl, or chicken salad, and root beer with different flavors added. None of it sounded very good to me, though.

Laura's thoughts: The game seemed popular, and there were quite a few guests playing - I saw a lot of yellow and orange name tags in that area. And there were a LOT of cast members involved exclusively in the game.

I found it very unstructured and it was not clear to me what we needed to do to play. It's not like Kim Possible or Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom where there are specific places to go and things to do. For this one you have to be willing to engage with cast members and other guests - it's not something to really do on your own.

The telegrams were the only activity that seemed pretty straightforward, but as I mentioned earlier, there were usually people waiting for a telegram to come in just so they would have something to do.

Other activities that people seemed to be doing were "capturing" outlaws who were on WANTED posters, and challenging someone to a "Rock, Paper Scissors" duel. I couldn't tell if you got some or all of their bits if you won. There was a jail - I don't know if the loser went to jail, or if there was some other reason someone got put in jail. Did I mention that this whole thing wasn't very clear?

But some people were apparently getting it because there was a lot of land purchased between when we first started playing around 1:45, and when we last went through the area around 4:30. The game ends at looked like Frontierland was going to hang on as the winners of that day's land war.

So...I thought it was an interesting idea, but the execution isn't quite what it should be. I might try again on a future visit and see if it's any different.

Hope you enjoyed this look at the Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush at the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.

July 21, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 7/18/14


Contributing photographer Jason of sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, July 18, 2014.

Downtown Disney Summer Celebration continues this weekend with a Sand Volleyball tournament and exhibition. There was a youth tournament going on when I walked by.

In addition to Volleyball there is a shave ice truck by the court.

Also a DJ on hand throughout the event.

A couple of booths set up nearby selling merchandise.

I took the monorail to the parks. Thought this picture with the clouds came out well.

Passing over the sub lagoon.

The Tiki Juice Bar has a new bowl you can purchase your Dole Whip in, and the souvenir sipper is also back in stock. I caught up to Laura who was roaming the parks today while she was finishing up a Dole Whip.

The Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush and the Music of Nashville received top billing on the Times Guide this week.

Made our way out to the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree for the Music of Nashville which premiered today and will be playing Fri, Sat, and Sun for the rest of the summer.

Upon entering you were given a card with the cast of the show on it.

Laura joined the cast (well cut outs of the cast) for a photo.

The food location is moved further back and to the side now.

In addition to food it sells the Season 1 DVD set, too.

The food offerings.

Found a seat for the show. Plenty of seats still. Before the band took the stage an MC to introduce the show (both the one we were about to see and the TV show). She was giving away prizes, Season 1 DVDs.

Show time. The Kelly Rae Band takes the stage to perform music from the show as well as some other country songs. The audience was encouraged to get up and dance.

A couple clips from the performance. The Kelly Rea Band performing the Music of Nashville.

A wider shot of the Jamboree configuration for the show.

The All-American College Band performing on Main Street USA. Today a Disneyland film crew was recording their performances.

Made my way out to New Orleans Square to see it in the day time.

The new bridge/walkway over the Pirates exit.

The expanded bridge over Royal Street

The old Club 33 entrance still has its signage.

The new gates that block off the Court of Angels, there is a seam where the gates come together and you can see inside. The stairs survived but have safety enhancements (railings, lights). Also new statues at the base.

The new Club 33 entrance. It is a little more obvious now.

The new intercom features the Club's new logo.

Over the door.

Noticed there are now curtains on the now larger hallways overhead. They were all open this afternoon.

The other archway entrance to the Court of Angels. FYI this felt like plastic.

No work has been done to clean up where the balconies were cut for the new overhead walkway/bridge on this side yet.

A closer look.

On the other side some work is underway to finish it off.

A closer look

Splash Mountain turned 25 this week. To mark the occasion Disneyland Annual Passholders could stop by for a free commemorative poster.

A queue set up to distribute the posters.

A closer look at the poster.

Time for the 6:00pm All-American College Band pre-parade.

Walked through Toontown. No changes.. Roger is still missing from the fountain.

And nothing done to the Five and Dime

The 7:15pm All-American College Band set.

Made my way over to Disney California Adventure for the first time today. Carthay Circle this evening.

A seasonal smoothie at Schmoozies.

The Mad T Party was in full swing and the Mad T Party band was on the stage as I walked by.

Firewall Falls and Willy's Butte in Ornament Valley, Cars Land

Paradise Pier was busy with guests waiting for World of Color, here is Mickey's Fun Wheel.

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, Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.

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