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February 25, 2015

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/20/15

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 20, 2015.

Here's the list of closures from this trip to the Disneyland Resort. Interesting note: during my last visit, Luigi's Flying Tires were on the list even though they were still open. Now that they are closed, they are not listed.

Some of the rocks at the entrance to Condor Flats/Grizzly Peak Airfield have been removed.

A closer look at the work.


Taste Pilot's Grill now sports a green roof. In the background you can see scaffolding covers the Soarin' building.

Half of the Junkyard Jamboree is walled off. I assume they are resurfacing again.

I heard a band playing and noticed the Ellis Island Boys in the terrace area.

Work continues on Paradise Bay and the World of Color fountains. Water should be returning to the bay soon, as the show is scheduled to be back on March 13.

A lot of repainting and touch-up work going on around the bay. Some recently repainted elements.



The supports for the projector housings have been repainted/sealed.

A closer look.

Work continues on and under the fountain platform.

Repainting the light tower housings and waterfront areas.

The Flying Tires had their last flight last Monday. There's now a cast member and sign out front, but no indications of what is coming here.

A closer look at the sign.

Construction walls line Cross Street.

Some of the backstory of the new attraction in this postcard on the construction wall.

A look at the Grizzly Peak Airfield work from the Monorail.

The Dream House has closed in Innoventions, so now you enter and exit up the ramp to the second floor. Two-way traffic flow at the top.

Looking down, the Dream House has been cleared out.

Only a couple items remain and are tagged.

Scaffolding up in the Snow White Grotto area near the Castle.

This evening the Herb Ryman artwork was lit and looked great.

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, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.




February 24, 2015

Lunar New Year Celebration at Disneyland Resort

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 20, 2015 taking a look at the Happy Lunar New Year Celebration! at Paradise Gardens in Disney California Adventure. This event ran from Thursday, February 19 through Sunday, February 22.

A description of how some how some families celebrate the event:



The tablecloths in the arts and crafts area

Arts and Crafts: making a lantern

Character greetings: The line was between 45-60 minutes when I was there and they were rotating Mushu, Mickey/Minnie and Chip/Dale through. There was no guarantee which character you would meet.

Mushu was greeting when I first walked by.

A face-painting area near the grill/restrooms.

There was an outdoor vending cart with some special food offerings for the event.

Decorations and props around the bandstand.

I returned to the entrance to find a spot for a guest performing group - the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Association Lion Dance performers.

A video clip from their performance

Video of most of their performance.


A video clip of the guest performer on the bandstand. I missed his name.

Mickey and Minnie were greeting guests

Bayside Brews had some decorations and special offerings.

A t-shirt for the event on sale at the kiosk near Corn Dog Castle.

Chip and Dale arriving for photos.

The back of a Cast Member's shirt.

Another guest performing group at the Bandstand


A processional featuring Mulan, Mushu and performers, making its way to the performance area.


Mulan and Mushu

Fan Dancers


A dragon dance is performed





A ribbon dance performance



Video of the full performance.

Hope you enjoyed this look at the Lunar New Year Celebration at the Disneyland Resort. For my full photo set and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.




February 22, 2015

Disneyland Food Reviews

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I wanted to share some of the dining experiences Lee and I have had at the Disneyland resort over the last few months. The big one was the Blue Bayou Fantasmic! Dinner Package, but you can read about that HERE.

We tend to go more for quick service dining than table service...while we have some favorites, we try to sample some different things sometimes...though in looking back over the past few months I see we've mostly stayed with the tried and true. :-)

If you read this blog before, then you probably know that we are really into running Disney races. And of course what we eat before (and after) the races is very important! :-)

Our favorite "night-before-the-race" dinner is the Four Cheese Ravioli from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta at Disney California Adventure. This restaurant tends not to be as crowded as Redd Rocket's in Disneyland - and the latter doesn't offer ravioli. :-) The ravioli is served with pesto sauce and topped with chopped tomatoes and pine nuts. The cast members serving ask if you want the tomatoes and nuts, so it's easy to omit them. I find this to be about the right portion size for me. I do wish that bread came with it. I have sometimes purchased a loaf from either La Brea Bakery or Pacific Wharf Cafe and brought some pieces with me to dinner.

One note on Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta: it used serve individual flatbread pizzas, but around last September switched to more traditional pizza slices with a thicker crust. Lee was very disappointed in that - he really liked the flatbread pizzas.

But you can still get flatbread pizza at one of our other favorite places: Trader Sam's. Or Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, to give it the full name! It's located at the Disneyland Hotel next to the pools in a building shared with the Tangaroa Terrace quick-service restaurant. Trader Sam's has seating both inside and out on the patio. To really experience all of the fun things you have to be inside, but there's often quite a line for indoor seating. It's usually faster to eat outside.

Trader Sam's is known for its specialty beverages that are served in various different souvenir tiki glasses (you have the option to purchase the glass to take home if you wish, but you don't have to). I love the names - things like: Hippopoto-Mai tai, Uh-oa (pictured below), Shrunken Zombie Head, and the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum. (Some of the servers will make you say all of that last one when you order it. :-) )

The food is good, too. Some of the items are the same as those at Tangaroa Terrace next door, but some are only at Trader Sam's. One of my favorite Trader Sam's exclusives is the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. This can be most of a dinner for me. The sauce is spicy (but not hot-spicy) and flavorful. You put it together yourself - it comes with 4-5 butter lettuce cups and then you spoon in the chicken, crispy rice noodles, and sauce and roll it all up. It's messy, but good!

Lee's favorite is the Kalua Pork Flatbread, with pulled pork, red onion, and bbq sauce. I agree that this is very tasty!

We also enjoy the Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans. I had no idea what these were the first time we ordered them, but they are really good.

Trader Sam's is a table service location. Our experience is that service is often slow, but it's also been very busy when we've been there, and they always seem to be understaffed. I've had good service when I've been able to sit right at the bar.

Once we've finished one of our Disney races we get cleaned up and are ready for a good breakfast. Our favorite park breakfast is Cinnamon Roll French Toast from River Belle Terrace at Disneyland. It's served with scrambled eggs and choice of bacon or sausage. It's really a good amount of food and it tastes great after running a race!

Another popular choice at River Belle Terrace is the Mark Twain: scrambled eggs, potatoes, biscuit, and choice of bacon or sausage. I don't like the potatoes because there's peppers in them, but they'll substitute extra bacon or sausage for the potatoes.

Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land offers some different breakfast items. It's not my top choice, but if we're eating there I usually get the Chicken Tamale with scrambled eggs, salsa verde, and pico de gallo. The tamale is good but the eggs at Flo's have a weird consistency - they seem to be cooked in big casserole pans and they don't really seem like scrambled eggs.

The Brioche French Toast is more like a bread pudding. It's served with salted caramel sauce and bananas, and it's very sweet - too sweet for me.

There's also the traditional American Breakfast with scrambled eggs, potatoes, biscuit, and choice of bacon or sausage. Again, the eggs are a bit odd, and they also put peppers in the potatoes. This is a decent-sized breakfast, at least, whereas I find the tamale and French Toast to be not quite enough food for me.

I really like sandwiches, and Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney makes some very good ones - including breakfast sandwiches. I really enjoy their seasonal holiday turkey sandwich, with cranberries, stuffing, and gravy. Earl of Sandwich is a very popular place and the line is usually long, though they move people through pretty efficiently.

But we were talking breakfast. The last time we were there we both ordered the bacon, egg, and cheddar breakfast sandwich (though I requested Swiss instead of cheddar). The sandwich was good but not great. It's also about half the size of their regular sandwiches, so keep that in mind. Of course the price is lower, too - $3.99.

One of our favorite afternoon spots is the Alfresco Tasting Terrace at the Golden Vine Winery in Disney California Adventure. It's open very limited hours, though - doesn't open until 2:00 in the afternoon, and sometimes is only open on the weekends. The seating area is outdoors, and while it's covered with an open lattice-style patio cover, it's not totally shaded, and can be very warm. There's really a wonderful view from some of the tables, though, and it's a very relaxed and quiet spot.

The Disney Family of Wines is featured there: all of the wines that are offered are from wineries with some kind of Disney connection. So that includes wines from Diane Disney Miller's Silverado Vineyards, Kurt Russell's GoGi, the Lasseter Family Winery, and Fess Parker Winery, among others. Wines can be purchased by the glass or as part of designated wine flights (no substitutions in the wine flights).

They also serve a selection of appetizers inspired by wine country. These are upscale offerings, things like Beef Tenderloin Sliders and a Charcuterie and Cheese Board.

One of our favorites is the Aged Cheddar Risotto Bites. Balls of risotto and cheese, rolled in something crunchy and deep-fried. Not at all healthy, but SO good! They come with two dipping sauces - a garlic-herb aioli and a marinara. The marinara is more like a very flavorful tomato chutney. I love it - I'll eat it by the spoonful after all of the risotto bites are gone.

Our other favorite is the Flatbread Two Ways. Have you noticed the flatbread theme in our dining choices? :-) I think this is supposed to be seasonal, but we've had it three times over the last 6 months and it's always been the same - not that we're complaining, because we like it! It's a half-and-half - one half is fig, arugula, and apple sticks, drizzled with balsamic, and the other half is tomato, olive, and crisp prosciutto. Really good.

While the wines and beverages are served quickly here (the bar is on the terrace), the kitchen tends to be very slow. The last time we were there our order got messed up - another table, who had arrived after us, but apparently ordered the same thing, received it. Our server wasn't paying much attention to us and didn't know it until we asked her what was taking so long. We got lots of apologies, and one of our appetizers was comped, but it was not a very good experience. Had it been our first time there, we might not have returned.

Also at the Golden Vine Winery is the Mendocino Wine Bar. Lots of different wines available by the glass - a much larger selection than at the Alfresco Lounge upstairs. If I'm indulging I usually order one of the sparkling wines, like a prosecco or the Rosa Regale. A somewhat small (and I think overpriced) cheese and fruit box is the only food option. There's some outdoor seating available there on the patio between the Wine Country Trattoria and the Blue Sky Cellar.

If I'm just looking for something sweet...Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop is my first choice. You get a chocolate sample just for walking in, though lately they've switched to their "minis" rather than the full-size chocolate squares. Of course there's all kinds of treats on the menu here - ice cream sundaes, cones, milkshakes and floats, cookies and brownies, hot and cold coffee beverages, and several types of hot cocoa, too. My favorite is the Midnight Reverie sundae: chocolate ice cream, dark chocolate fudge sauce, semi-sweet chocolate chips, whipped cream and a cherry. Oh, and a dark chocolate square on top. Heaven if you love dark chocolate! I've always found the service here to be pretty quick. The only time it wasn't was a very cold evening when almost everyone was ordering hot coffee and cocoa, and they just couldn't make them fast enough.

Another sweet indulgence is the Mickey-head Beignets from the Mint Julep Bar in Disneyland. The regular ones are good, but I prefer to get them in the fall when there are usually pumpkin or gingerbread beignets available. The last time we got these we had a long wait - we were in line for 10 minutes just to order, and then had to wait another 10-15 minutes for our beignets. They were really good, but maybe not quite worth that much of a wait. One word of warning: Do Not Inhale! You can't actually breathe powdered sugar. :-)

One snack item that I haven't tried but I have to mention: the Crunchy Snowman Veggie Cup, available for $3.99 at some of the fruit stands. It's got slices of jicama, black olives, carrots, and celery, and a cup of ranch dressing.

I had an early dinner at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland recently. I tried their Specialty of the House - Jolly Holiday Combo - a toasted cheese sandwich with tomato basil soup and a small side salad. Now, when you call something a "specialty of the house", I have higher expectations, so I was very disappointed in this. The sandwich was only barely warm and the cheese was definitely not melted - just a little bit soft. I enjoyed the soup and the salad was also very good - it had feta, spiced pecans, tomatoes, and craisins on top of the greens.

We had lunch at the Carthay Circle Restaurant a couple of months ago. The menu there changes seasonally, so what I enjoyed is probably not still on the menu, but is still an example of the types of selections that are available. I started with the Carthay Autumn Salad - mizuna, pears, spiced pecans, and a charred orange vinaigrette. It was very good.

I also ordered the Carthay Soup of the Season - roasted apples with wild rice, kohlrabi, Nueske's ham and duck confit. I couldn't tell you what kohlrabi is, or what it tastes like, but I really liked the soup. Lots of interesting flavors, so maybe one of those was the kohlrabi. :-)

Lee ordered the Carthay 8 oz Angus Burger - with cheddar cheese, pepper bacon and grilled onions. It's served with French fries. Lee says it was a really good burger - and I thought the fries were excellent.

It was a very nice dining experience - it's a beautiful restaurant, and doesn't feel like it's in the middle of a theme park.

If you've dined at these or any other Disneyland Resort restaurants, please share your experiences in our Rate and Review section.






February 12, 2015

Disneyland - Fantasmic! Dining Package

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Back in December, the viewing procedure for Fantasmic! changed - instead of first come-first serve, where people could stake out spots hours in advance (and many did just that), it changed to a Fastpass system, similar to the way World of Color is done at Disney California Adventure. There are different viewing areas set up around the Rivers of America, and a Fastpass allows access to one of them.

Fastpasses are distributed along Big Thunder Trail, near the exit of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. You can only get one per day, but they do not count against any existing or future Fastpasses, so you can get another attraction Fastpass immediately, or if you hold an attraction Fastpass already you don't have to wait until it's valid to get a Fantasmic! Fastpass.

There are also Fantasmic! Dining Packages available, which offer premium viewing options. Participating locations are Blue Bayou and River Belle Terrace (dinner), Aladdin's Oasis (Grab and Go meal), and Hungry Bear Restaurant (dessert).

We had wanted to do the dessert package but it was not available because the Hungry Bear Restaurant is closed for refurbishment, so we chose to dine at Blue Bayou. There were five of us, and we made a reservation (credit card guarantee required) several weeks in advance. Our restaurant seating time was 8:00, which meant we'd be seeing the 10:45 show. Most of us had run the Star Wars half marathon that morning, so we were a little tired and a little concerned about staying awake. :-)

Blue Bayou offers a three-course menu for the dinner package for $61, plus tax and gratuity. Choice of appetizer (soup, salad, or shrimp cocktail), entree and dessert, plus beverage. A bread basket with sourdough dinner rolls and cheese biscuits is also included. The entree choices are the same as those on the regular dinner menu.

Our meal began with the bread basket. The "cheese biscuits" were quite popular at our table. I wouldn't call them "biscuits", though - they were still more like bread.

As an appetizer I ordered the Blue Bayou Salad with tomatoes, caramelized pecans, and cranberries. It also comes with blue cheese, but I requested that it be left off. While nothing special, it was still a very nice salad.

Lee and most of our tablemates tried the New Orleans Gumbo with chicken, Andouille sausage, Tasso ham and served with Cajun-style dirty rice. Everyone enjoyed that.

As an entree Julie and I ordered the Herb Panko-crusted Rack of Lamb. I thought the serving of lamb was small, and mine was a little tough, even though it was not at all overcooked. I probably would not get it again.

I was surprised that the Surf and Turf was available as part of the dinner package menu. Lee and Mike both ordered that and said it was very good - the lobster was tasty and the steak was well-prepared.

Joelle had the vegetarian option: Portobello Mushroom and Couscous Macque Choux , which she really enjoyed. She likes mushrooms, and there were a lot more of them than she was expecting, which made her happy.

My dessert was excellent- I had the Chocolate Hazelnut Cake. One of the best chocolate desserts I have ever had in a theme park. Creamy, chocolatey, but not too rich - it was very good.

Lee loves Creme Brulee, so ordered that for dessert. It must have been pretty good, because I was never even offered a bite. :-)

Mike tried the Apple-Cranberry Galette, and also gave it a thumbs up.

Lee and I hadn't dined at the Blue Bayou in a number of years, but this was a much more pleasant experience than we'd had the in the past. We had good service, and the food was significantly better than on previous visits. It's still very expensive, but at least this time I felt that I received value for my money. Considering the normal menu prices, the $61 wasn't really that bad a deal for the Fantasmic! package, especially if you ordered the Surf and Turf.

After we paid, our server gave us our Fantasmic! Fastpasses.

We also received a Fantasmic! seat cushion - the Blue Bayou dining package is the only one that includes these. Since the viewing area for Blue Bayou requires sitting on the ground (and I believe the viewing area for all of the dining packages is that way), this was a very nice added benefit.

Our Fastpass ticket advised us to arrive between 10:15 and 10:45 for the 10:45 show. By then the crowds from the first show had cleared out. Plus, it didn't appear there were really that many people waiting to see the second show anyway. It was a little unclear where we were supposed to go to enter the viewing area. Though once we got there, we were really pleased to find that we were right at the center, looking straight at the stage area on the island. There were just a couple of rows of people seated in front of us, and as the viewing area is on a slight incline, we had no problems seeing anything. As it turned out, the area we were in never filled up - there were maybe another dozen people who came in after we did, and our section was less than 1/2 full. I don't really think that's right - I would've had no problem with allowing standby people in once it got close to showtime.

Because of the previous hassles in getting a spot for Fantasmic! we hadn't seen the show in a couple of years, and we'd never seen it from such a prime location! It was really great to be able to see everything so well. Usually my view of the smaller floats (the monkeys and princesses) has been obstructed, but I could see all of that this time. This was much better than the viewing that they had for the old dessert package, which was more off to the side. Though with the dessert package we had real chairs to sit on.

My understanding is that the viewing areas for River Belle and Hungry Bear (though that one is not currently offered, as the restaurant is undergoing refurbishment) are to either side of the Blue Bayou, so viewing from those areas should be excellent as well. Guests are required to remain seated for the show in those areas, though some of the other Fastpass viewing areas are standing only.

Mike, who is not local, and therefore not a frequent visitor to Disneyland, had these thoughts about the Dining Package:


I think it was worth it, especially if you don't make it to Disneyland very often. First of all, eating at the Blue Bayou, the food was good and it was a very iconic experience. Along with that you get to see Fantasmic! in its original park, without the hassle of worrying about a Fastpass. And, you get the cushion as well as great seats. Sure people have to balance out budgets when going to a place like Disneyland, but in my mind, the value is there.

And Julie commented:


I found the meal to be a little pricy for what I got, but I'm a quick service kind of gal.

Overall I found this to be a positive experience, and I would do it again, though I'd really like to try the dessert option once it becomes available (hopefully in April). But I will bring my Blue Bayou seat cushion. :-) Because we saw the second show I'm not sure that our experience was typical, as I believe there's much more of a demand for the first show. And many guests who do not have Fastpasses are in the area trying to determine where they can go to watch the show from a Standby area. Jason tried that recently, and describes it here:

Jason: I finally made it out to the Rivers of America to experience Fantasmic with the new Fastpass system in place. I did not have a Fastpass since they were already distributing for the late show when I passed by the machines so I had to use the Standby area for the first show.

The Rivers of America area had no signage or indicators of what was going on. Guests seemed confused. Some were trying to go under the ropes as they used to and cast members were spending their time moving them out. From what I saw there were no signs to help guide you to a spot. For example the Standby area I used had nothing at all. There was a barrier set up and a cast member standing there checking Fastpasses. If you had a Fastpass you went down the walkway on the right. No Fastpass and you could go on the left to Standby but this was not well-communicated.

I was disappointed to see so much open space in the Fastpass and Reserved areas. Many areas looked to be less than 3/4 full. I am really curious how attendance has been at Fantasmic! with the new system. It appears to me that fewer people are seeing the show now, but this is based on a couple walkthroughs and seeing a lot of open spaces.

The Standby area I used was on the far side and stretched from the exit to the smoking area toward the Harbour Galley. This is just down from where I frequently used to watch the show from - near the Tom Sawyer Island dock. The view from here is extremely poor. You are way off to the side. The Fastpass area next to me had quite a few openings so it was frustrating to have a poor view and see a lot of open space with a better view.

About half way through the show I decided to go for a walk and see what else I could see. I was surprised to see a large of guests being allowed to stand in the walkway in front of the Haunted Mansion. The view from there was better than the Standby area I was originally in. I also walked around to New Orleans Square and there was a small Standby space there too. As I walked I took a look into the reserved and Fastpass areas and many had quite a few spaces available.

Overall my first impression was not positive. I hope to get there early enough some day to try Fastpass to see if that improves the experience. I do not see myself shelling out the money for the reserved spaces though, so guess my chances of seeing the show from a prime location have gone down substantially for the time being.

Since neither Jason nor I have experienced Fantasmic! using a regular guest Fastpass, we can't comment on whether or not there is still excellent viewing available to guests who do not purchase an additional package. I hope that it is. I like the fact that there are packages available now, since it gives more options to people who are not frequent visitors, and doesn't require them to spend several hours of what might be their only day at Disneyland staking out a spot for Fantasmic!. I don't think that the packages should be the only way to get a decent viewing spot, though.

If any of you have experienced Fantasmic! at Disneyland under the new system, please let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment using the comment form below.







February 9, 2015

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 2/6/15

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 6, 2015.

A look at the posted closure list as you go through security. It is not correct, the Flying Tires are still open.

Valentine's Day decorations are up in Town Square.

Inside the Market House they are sold out of the You Are Here mugs. The cast members said the next shipment is due in after Valentine's day.

Walt and Mickey are surrounded by tulips this week.

The scaffolding around Sleeping Beauty Castle as it is prepared for the 60th anniversary now features a print of the original concept drawing Herb Ryman created.

The walkway on the East side, by the grotto, has reopened.

The Fantasyland side of the Castle features a photo print.

Peter Pan is closed for refurbishment.

A check on the Condor Flats -> Grizzly Peak Airfield work from the Monorail

"it's a small world" has reopened after a quick removal of the holiday overlay. The facade work continues though.

Some pictures from my cruise through. Nothing really jumped out at me as being changed.

Not much visible change as you pass Critter Country on the Mark Twain.

The Disneyland Railroad is still closed.

La Mascarade d'Orleans has reopened. The store now features Pandora jewelry.


Next stop DCA. Not a lot of visible progress on the entrance to Condor Flats/Grizzly Airfield.

The Pacific Wharf Cafe has reopened. The former entrance is now exit only (no door handles on the outside to stop you from using it).

The tables that were against the building are relocated and that is now the queue to enter.

Once you step inside there are two queues that wrap around to the registers.

Crossed paths with Lightning on my way into Cars Land

Scaffolding up in Paradise Bay

Ariel's Grotto is closed for refurbishment.

Dug out for pictures near Grizzly River Run.

Disney officially announced that the Flying Tires will be closing Feb 16th and will be replaced with a new attraction.



Here is a video of most of the flight (I cut out 30 seconds or so where I was not really moving due to being stuck and needing to turn around).

Passed through the gift shop at the Tower of Terror (note the attraction wait was 65 minutes). There was a full wall of Minnie merchandise.

Some Tower of Terror specific merchandise

The back of the women's shirt

Fight On Mickey!

Sleeping Beauty Castle after dark.

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks was partially obstructed due to the wind blowing the smoke back on the show.


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, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.




February 8, 2015

"The Story of Disneyland" Exhibition and Sale

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The Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, California is currently holding an exhibition of "The Story of Disneyland" collection from February 7 through February 27, to be followed by a live and online auction on February 28 and March 1.

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The collection, which has been amassed over 30 years, contains memorabilia from both Disneyland and Walt Disney World from the 1950's up to the 1980's and contains over 1000 items.

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The pieces up for sale include some impressive tokens of Disneyland history, such as early layout plans and concept art.

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Also on display are a wide range of costumes, from Haunted Mansion cast member outfits to an original Slue Foot Sue dress from the Golden Horseshoe.

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Folks wanting a slightly more substantial keepsake from the park have an embarrassment of riches, from Enchanted Tiki Room birds, to a skeleton from the Pirates of the Caribbean, to dolls from it's a small world.

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Here to tell us a little about some of the pieces personally crafted by Walt Disney and his Imagineers, are gallery owner Mike Van Eaton, and indomitable Disney Legend Bob Gurr:

The breadth and depth of the collection, and the interest it has garnered, is an amazing testament to the power Walt Disney and the early days of Disneyland still have over people, and the desire fans still have to form a tangible connection with them.

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"The Story of Disneyland" collection is currently available for viewing at the Van Eaton Galleries at 13613 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, California 91423. More information about ordering catalogs (which should be online in a few days,) or participating in the auction can be found at http://www.vegalleries.com/storyofdisneyland.html

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February 3, 2015

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/30/15

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 30, 2015. In this posting I am going to take a look at the ongoing projects around both parks. I will have a separate posting for a couple of the new offerings at Disney California Adventure that opened this past week (the Boudin Bakery Tour & Cinderella Sneak Peek). As always you can view my full pictures update on my site disneygeek.com.


The attraction closure sign is going to need to be expanded... it is almost full.

Scaffolding is going up around Sleeping Beauty Castle in preparation for all of the work to prepare it for the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration that starts in May.

With the scaffolding secure they have refilled the moat.

A recent addition/replacement on the walkway to Tomorrowland.

The Starcade is closed for some renovation work. Interesting they removed the Big Hero 6 Meet and Greet before the closure.

A check of the Condor Flats work from the Monorail. Quite a few holes dug this week.

Looking toward Carthay Circle. Notice the rock work on the right is being removed.

"it's a small world" attraction is now closed for the holiday overlay removal and the facade work continues too.

The Toontown Train Depot is closed (the entire Railroad is closed right now)

The Fantasyland side of Sleeping Beauty Castle

Landscaping being replaced on the Mountain. Not a lot of other visible work from this vantage point aboard the Mark Twain.

All is quiet in Critter Country. More scaffolding awaiting set up in the truck parked near the Hungry Bear entrance.

More scaffolding has gone up all around the Hungry Bear and some tarps too.

Over to Disney California Adventure. The Condor Flats entrance area. They have started to work on the rock work.

The Soarin' sign has been removed from the attraction building.

Work continues on the World of Color platform to ready it for the new show coming in May.


Looks like some new squares have been installed (and cleared) on the platform.

Some new signs letting you know Grizzly River Run is closed.

Not much visible progress

Walking through the Grand Californian. Storytellers Cafe is closed for renovations through February 6. During this time breakfast is available at Napa Rose, and there's a dinner buffet in the Trillium Banquet Room in the Convention Center

At the Disneyland Hotel, work continues on what looks to be fall protection enhancements overhead.

The Monorail Slides and E-Ticket pool are closed for renovation.

I will close with a look at Sleeping Beauty Castle after dark.


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, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.




February 2, 2015

Cinderella Sneak Peek -& Boudin Bakery Tour Reopens

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 30, 2015. In this posting a look at the recent additions to Disney California Adventure. First up a look at the exclusive sneak peek of the upcoming Cinderella film. The movie opens in theaters on March 12. Then a look at the newly reopened Boudin Bakery Tour in the Pacific Wharf. I have a separate posting looking at the renovation projects around both parks and the hotels. Or you can visit my full picture set on my site disneygeek.com

As you walk down the parade route in Disney California Adventure there are banners directing you to the Cinderella Sneak Peek in the "Bugs Life" theater.

The sign reminds me of the Maleficent sign.

The waiting area inside has nothing about the film...well I guess the background music may have been from it...but I do not recall now what was playing. It was not the regular Bugs music.

The preview itself is in 2D and just under 10 minutes. It features the transformation scene and a couple montages of other clips. No video, pictures, or recording allowed during the screening.

In the Pacific Wharf the Boudin Bakery Tour re-opened this past week. (Laura adds: I went through this area Wednesday evening so will add some of my comments.)

You can now enter through either the traditional entrance or the exit. If you use the regular entrance there is still a cast member passing out bread samples. (Laura adds: The tour also makes more sense if you use the regular entrance since it starts at the beginning of the bread-making process.)

Stepping inside it is much more open now. It's a self-guided tour now so the large door is gone and you can see right into the bakery.

The original introduction video with Colin Mochrie and Rosie O'Donnell remains. (Laura adds: The other videos inside have been removed and replaced with signs.)

Here is a look at the video.

There are informational displays to read along the way, which replaced the videos.

Time to head into the bakery area.

An interactive Q&A has been added to the Mother Dough area (as well as new signage throughout). (Laura adds: I played with this when I went through. It's all true/false questions. Who knew there was so much sourdough bread trivia?)

The bakery itself looks the same. The screens are removed and some new signage are the main changes that stood out.


The wall opposite the bakery.

Some limited indoor seating has been added along the wall too. So you can eat and watch them bake. (Laura adds: I predict that these tables will be very popular, especially on cool days. They were empty when I was there since the Pacific Wharf Cafe is currently closed for refurbishment.)


Looking back before walking out.


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, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.




January 31, 2015

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary - Additional Details

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If you watched the Diamond Anniversary Q&A video that we posted (below) then you already know most of this. If you didn't, then this blog is a collection of facts, musings, quotes, and other things that I found interesting in that session.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I think this anniversary is all about silicon and not diamonds. :-) Which I think is terrific, since I'm a geek at heart, and I love that Disney uses the latest technology, and develops their own cutting edge technology, to create magic. What's the saying? "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." (Arthur C. Clarke) Not to diminish magic, but technology has always been an integral part of many of Disney's "magical" experiences. But at the heart of all of that technology is endless imagination, and what's more magical than that?

And there's so much technological magic in these new anniversary events! It was really fun to hear Steve Davison, Executive for Parades and Spectaculars (and how cool a title is THAT?) speak not so much the technology itself, but how they will use it to tell the stories. John Addis, show director for Disneyland Forever, said this: "Story is up there foremost. Innovations, the technology, everything else, but if it doesn't have that heart in the story - that's what we're striving for so that there's a narrative that we all believe in, that everybody can understand, that touches everyone's heart."

Another thing that I took away from the announcements: Disney recognizes that they are dealing with a new generation of tech-savvy kids. Davison had this to say about Paint the Night: "To have it come down Main Street USA again for this new generation, but really inspired by the original...we're taking it to that next level for today's kids." And with that in mind, most of the characters and floats are from newer movies familiar to this generation of children.

So now a few random things...

"Immersive", "dazzling", and "brilliant". We're going to hear those words a lot. :-)

The Diamond Celebration opens May 22, but has no closing date. It will be "a long celebration." :-)

As the three new shows are nighttime offerings, Mickey's Soundsational Parade will continue to operate as the daytime parade. Fantasmic! will also continue performances on the Rivers of America. In November and December the evening holiday shows, "Believe...in Holiday Magic" and "World of Color - Winter Dreams" will not be offered this year, but the "A Christmas Fantasy" parade will return as usual.

Disneyland Forever will be 12-14 minutes long and World of Color - Celebrate! will be 22-24 minutes long. The new World of Color show will be "very different" according to Executive Producer Sayre Wiseman, though she did not elaborate on that.

Tracy Halas, choreographer for Paint the Night, when asked what people should expect, said "Brilliance." :-) Steve added: "It's very bright", and indicated that they had to turn it down. Tracy went on to say: "What's really interesting and inspiring about this parade is that every person, every float, every part of it is seamless from beginning to end. Everything is a beautiful, spectacular, visual sight."

I'm really fascinated by some of the things we heard about the parade - apparently the floats are smart and interact with the costumes, everybody has a computer on board, and everything communicates with everything else.

Steve Davison said he really wanted to bring the Electrical Parade back to Disneyland. Other than the drum there are no returning parade elements from the original parade, but it's the "biggest, coolest drum you've probably ever seen." And the "Baroque Hoedown" music will be back: "It's wild" and "fresh" - I have to admit that makes me a little nervous. The parade will be similar but different than the one that is already running at Hong Kong Disneyland since they were developed in tandem. We were assured that the Disneyland version will have some surprises - which they wouldn't tell us about.

Disneyland Forever seems to be the least developed of the three at this point, though the story is complete and they will be going to London in a couple of weeks to record the music at Abbey Road. The little sample that we saw during the announcement (unfortunately I only captured about half of it) was very rough and just "all weird little test footage", since the Main Street projection mapping just started.

One of the things I am most intrigued in is the idea that this fireworks show is actually intended to be watched from different areas of the park. As Steve Davison said: "There was this big thing about the 50th [anniversary fireworks show] 'you have to watch it from the hub', and I'm like 'we're not doing that again.' And that's why I'm putting it out there from the beginning, we're going to make this stuff so cool everywhere that you will want to go and see it and have little things hiding here and there."

And Davison, regarding the finale:"The finale that we just got made everyone cry. And that's the #1 thing. When you hear that music for the finale you totally cry. And I won't tell you the opening, but it's truly fabulous. I really wanted to bring Walt into this in a big way. We might or might not see him in the orange groves..."

"So we're going to do things that I think will play on many different levels. That kind of tell you the history of Disneyland, but in fun ways. And then we're going to LAUNCH it into the future."

And speaking of the future...I'm looking forward to seeing what May 22 has in store for us, in this year of silicon surprises!







January 30, 2015

Disneyland's Diamond Anniversary Announcement

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On Wednesday, January 28, Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, accompanied by Steve Davison, VP for Parades and Spectaculars, announced some of the plans for Disneyland's upcoming 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration this summer. This has been long anticipated, and ended months of speculation and rumor.

You can read the full press release HERE.

It was no surprise that the announcements included a new fireworks show, Disneyland Forever, and a new parade, Paint the Night, both at Disneyland. We've come to expect a new parade and fireworks for any of these big anniversary events. But there's also a new World of Color show coming to Disney California Adventure in honor of the anniversary: World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. All three will start on May 22, 2015.

The new World of Color show is fittingly centered on Walt Disney: his legacy, imagination, and his dream of Disneyland, apparently as told by Mickey Mouse using fountains, animation, projections, lasers, and other special effects.

I personally am very happy that they are tying this all back to Walt Disney, and I'm looking forward to seeing it.

(A mouse and his lasers - let's all be very relieved that this story isn't being told by Stitch.)

And that Mickey is one busy mouse, since over in Disneyland he'll be "painting the night" in "dazzling Disney dreams" in the new nighttime electrical light parade. Though it harkens back to the beloved Main Street Electrical Parade, and will feature a new take on the iconic Baroque Hoedown music, Paint the Night is an all-new parade, presented with 1.5 million brilliant, individually controlled LEDs. Parade units will include characters from both Disney and Pixar movies such as "Toy Story", "Monsters, Inc.", "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", and, of course, "Frozen."

When we visited Tokyo Disneyland last year my favorite thing was their amazing Electrical Parade, so I'm very excited to see a state-of-the-art light parade coming here. Though I'm glad I'm not responsible for programming 1.5 million LEDs!

The new Disneyland Forever fireworks show will integrate pyrotechnics, special effects, and image projection to immerse guests in scenes from classic stories like "Peter Pan" and "The Jungle Book." With the use of projection mapping technology, Sleeping Beauty Castle, "it's a small world", the Matterhorn, Main Street USA, and the Rivers of America all become part of the story. And the best part is that it means the show is designed to be viewed from all around Disneyland, and not just from Main Street. In fact, according to Steve Davison, the "story" will be slightly different depending on the viewing area, encouraging guests to return and see it again from another location. Davison also hinted that Walt Disney will also be brought into this show "in a big way. We might or might not see him in the orange groves?"

In addition to the new shows, the entire Disneyland Resort area will be decorated with Diamond Celebration decor and banners. Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle and Disney California Adventure's Carthay Circle Theater will be "diamondized", each with its own diamond medallion. New lighting effects and additional diamond accents will create even more sparkle after dark. And of course we can expect new food offerings and merchandise that follow the "diamond" theme.

Though given all of the new technology we're going to be seeing, I'm not sure that "Diamond" is quite right, and I think this should be called the "Silicon Anniversary: Disneyland Gets its Geek On!" :-)







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