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December 7, 2016

7 Things I Learned from 28 Minutes of "Rogue One"

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This last weekend, Lucasfilm and director Gareth Edwards screened 28 minutes of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" up at Skywalker Ranch. While the footage seemed deliberately cut to avoid major spoilers, it was enough to get some preliminary impressions.

*If you want to go in completely spoiler free, now is the time to cut out.*

1. As a move likely intended to distinguish the anthology story "Rogue One" from the main legacy movies, the film does not begin with the usual Star Wars title crawl--just the traditional "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.."

2. What I gather: Our heroine Jyn Erso's story begins when her family is fractured by Director Orson Krennic and his Death Troopers who need her dad, Galen Erso, to work on a secret Death Star project. In a jump forward, we then see a Rebel Alliance desperate to get the plans for the Death Star from Galen. In a bid to contact him, they recruit an adult Jyn to help them assemble the people they need--Bodhi Rook, a defector pilot, and Saw Gerrera, a militant rebel offshoot leader and Jyn's old protector.

3. Asians! For those of us who remember when JJ Abrams was asked at SDCC when Asians would figure into Star Wars, and his response was "go Asians!" Lucasfilm finally delivers with Donnie Yen's Chirrut Imwe--a blind monk who is one of the few remaining believers in the Force. As you'd expect from the martial art star, his fight scene in the clips we saw was suitably impressive.

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4. "Rogue One" is clearly designed to show a grittier, morally complex side to the Star Wars Universe. Far from the black-and-white 1930's film serial view of heroism that influenced Episode 4, the rebels here have apparently accepted that war means occasionally distasteful compromise.

5. Alan Tudyk continues to earn his keep as Disney's good luck charm--his K-2SO droid is a hilarious CGI blend of HK-47 from "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" and Marvin the Paranoid Android from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Easily my favorite part of everything I've seen so far, he is BB-8 for the disaffected set.

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6. Things continue to be grim if you are a mom in a Disney movie.

7. Stormtroopers are still questionable shots.

"Rogue One" enters general release December 16, 2016.

December 6, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 12/03/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Saturday, December 3, 2016 .

A look at the Star Wars Construction site this crisp morning (it was about 50 degrees out).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016


A video look around the site. For a more detailed set of photos check out my full picture set on disneygeek.com



Work continues on re-configuring the Mickey and Friends Tram Stop to move security screening out here.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Canopies and rigging are being set up on a portion of the former Pinocchio lot.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday was a Candy Cane day at Trolley Treats. So guests rushed to get in line for wristbands to buy handmade candy canes. They are $12.99 each this year and wristbands are distributed on a first come first serve basis. The line is on the right.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Bugs have reclaimed their theater for the time being. The Moana preview has concluded.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

At Disneyland Town Square was set up for the Candlelight Processional that evening.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

First attraction of the day for me, the Jingle Cruise. Wait time was only a couple minutes.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Doughnuts are available for purchase at the Coffee stand in the hub.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Those are chocolate chip cookies on top

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Peanut butter cups on top of these.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A look at the new rock formations taking shape along the Rivers of America.Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Moana was greeting guests near the Oasis. Hard to get a picture without waiting in line.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mickey was in front of the fire house.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Back at Trolley Treats the first batch of Candy Canes were being worked on.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

For the holidays a new song has been added to the rotation at Luigi's. Jingle Bells. Here is a video clip of it.

A look at the Tower of Terror as it becomes Guardians of the Galaxy Breakout.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A line of guests for the Visa photo this morning.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Award Wieners has a new menu.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Caught the 12:05 performance of the Holiday Toy Drummers. Video of the Holiday Toy Drummers show.

Princess Elena of Avalor Meet and Greet.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Three Caballeros

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Disney Viva Navidad! time.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

RAISE performing at the Pacific Wharf Stage as part of Disney Festival of Holidays They perform a variety of songs. Here is a clip from their Lion King Medley.

Grand Californian Gingerbread Houses for sale.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Stopped by Storytellers and was greeted by a friendly face.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A gingerbread house inside Storytellers Cafe.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

The main lobby Christmas tree at the Grand Californian.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A large gingerbread replica of the hotel is on display in the lobby.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A video clip of the fireplace in the gingerbread hotel.

The back side.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

In Downtown Disney the Pandora signage is now up.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Back to Disneyland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Candlelight preparations were in high gear with less than 3 hours till show time.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

My plan was to go watch the 3:15 parade and then find a spot but the first rows were already filled so I went to sit for Candlelight 2.5 hours before the show. Time for the Flag Retreat. Due to the Candlelight they just played a recording.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

At about 5:25 Nancy started the orchestra for the procession.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

The start of the procession entering Town Square at 5:30pm, then the cermony got underway.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Here are some video clips from the Candlelight.

The guest narrator this year was Ginnifer Goodwin

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A young girl performing a solo, I missed her name and only invited guests get programs.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Silent Night sung by Drew Tablak

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Main Street USA after the performance.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A video clip of Main Street.

Looking back.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

On the weekend they are having a Holiday Celebration on the Rivers of America. It features the Jambalaya Jazz performing.The finale features snow fall during White Christmas.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Guests gathered in the snow.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A couple video clips of the Jambalaya Jazz performing at Rivers of America Holiday Celebration.

The Royal Swing Big Band Ball at the Royal Theatre

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A couple video clips from the end of Main Street and walking down Main Street during the Candlelight, notice the audio is piped into the area.

Returned to DCA to close out my evening. A video of Luigi's Jingle Bells at night.

At night the Grizzly Bear Holiday sweater lights up.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

A video clip of the sweater in action.



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Show time for World of Color - Season of Light.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mele Kalikimaka Segment

Goofy decorating segment is a highlight of the show.

That wraps up my long day at the Disneyland Resort.

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.






December 4, 2016

"Destination D: Amazing Adventures" Day One Continued

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Continuing on the first day of D23's "Destination D 2016: Amazing Adventures," film producer Don Hahn and Becky Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives took the audience on "A Look Back at Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures."

(No photography or recording was permitted during the presentations. All photos thereof are courtesy of D23.)

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Through a variety of rarely-seen photos and video clips, Hahn and Cline gave us a glimpse at the many challenges of filming and producing the nature series that was one of the key inspirations for the original Adventureland at Disneyland.

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Breaking the topic up into categories of "C's," they spoke of the filmmakers' concerns with
Companions: 50% of the photography was done by couples;
Camera equipment: One team developed what appeared to be an armored Winnebago where they shot footage and lived from, for three years;
Courage: Photographers were seen in all manners of horrific circumstances, from having to dress as bison, to being attacked by swarms of bees;
Climate: Many shoots were in less-than-hospitable environments such as the Arctic, and required any number of innovative living conditions;
Contraptions: In order to get the shots they needed, they would periodically invent devices, such as a camera that resembled a rifle to improve their accuracy in obtaining footage of birds in flight.

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Hahn also spoke briefly about DisneyNature's upcoming film "Born In China," and showed the trailer for it. Referencing an early video clip they had shown of Roy Disney's troubles manufacturing a funny nature bit for Walt, Hahn pointed out how far they had come from the early days of Nature documentaries: "This is no longer the era of 'throw-a-duck.'"

Next up was Disney Legend Marty Sklar describing some of the giant contributions Imagineers Harper Goff and Bill Evans made to realizing Disneyland's Adventureland in "The Wonderland of Nature's Own Design."

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From a recounting of how they first met Walt, to their involvement with concept art and practical construction design, Sklar showed some of the genius the two men put into the creation of Disneyland's most lush and mysterious land.

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Destination D regular Jason Grandt moderated the next panel on "Disney Adventurelands Around the World," with fellow Imagineers Tony Baxter and Luc Mayrand.

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Although they touched on the Adventurelands at all the parks, given Baxter's past role as executive producer of Disneyland Paris and Mayrand's recent position as creative lead on Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland, it was kind of a "salute to all Adventurelands, but mostly Paris and Shanghai."

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--Imagineering research revealed a big Western Europe interest in the tales of the Arabian Nights, leading them to retheme the entry to DLP's Adventureland in that vein.

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--Similarly, they found few people there connected to the tales of Tom Sawyer, resulting in the substitution of the pirate-infested Adventure Isle.

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--Over in Shanghai, a tepid response to their proposals for Frontierland caused the Imagineers to reallocate its space and integrate it with their initial Adventureland into two large lands--Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove.
--Camp Discovery, with its dramatic Challenge Trails just won a TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) Outstanding Attraction award for 2016, along with Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.
--The area's signature snack, turkey legs, became so popular the lines sometimes ran up to two hours, with people who worked their way through the front of the line selling them to people at the end for profit.

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A look at the lighter side of Adventure came with former Jungle Cruise skippers Archivist Justin Arthur, Skipper Canteen’s Trevor Van Dahm, and Imagineers Chris Merritt, Wyatt Winter, Kevin Lively, and Alex Grayman who recounted some of the history of the legendary attraction and its jocular narrative in "Tales from the Jungle Cruise."

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Afterwards, in "Disney's Polynesian Resort 45th Anniversary," D23’s Steven Vagnini, Disney Vacation Club’s Ryan March, and Disney artists Casey Jones and Richard Terpstra commemorated the occasion by giving us a glimpse into the iconic resort's genesis and development.

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--The first concept of a South Seas resort was shown on the map of the EPCOT project Walt displayed on television.
--Welton Becket, designer of landmark structures such as the Pan Pacific Auditorium, the Ford and GE pavilions for the 1964 World's Fair, and the Contemporary, also designed the original look of the Polynesian Village.
--A John Curry memo from 1969 reveals that "Contemporary" and "Polynesian" were originally working names that eventually stuck with minimal additions.

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--Although the resort started operation on October 1, 1971, the opening ceremony for the Polynesian was October 24th. The occasion was marked by the premier of the Electric Water Pagent and the Fantasy in the Sky firework show.
--Some early guests to the resort were Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, and Fred MacMurray.

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--The Polynesian Tiki was designed by WED in the late 1960s, likely based on a carving from an Oceanic Arts shield.
--It was originally considered to be Maui, but after various different representations of Maui were created, it became known as the Polynesian Tiki.

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--In a particularly nice homage, original Polynesian cast member Auntie Kau’I, cultural representative Ku’ulei, and musician Kalei joined the group onstage to reminisce about Kau'l's history at the resort and give a brief hula lesson.

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To finish off the day, Screenwriter Jared Bush spoke on WDAS' latest blockbuster "MOANA: Building a Legend."

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Always a dynamic speaker, Bush reiterated much of what has been discussed in some of the presentations I've written about earlier, in the film's pre-release:
http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2016/09/moana_press_day_director_prese.html
http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2016/10/moana_press_day_designing_the.html
http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2016/11/moana_press_day_filmmaker_pres.html
http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2016/11/moana_press_junket.html

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The Moana theme continued later that night, as guests were treated to an advance screening of "Moana" out under the stars on the Polynesian beach.

...And that was just the first day! More from the second day of Destination D: Amazing Adventures," to come!

December 1, 2016

"Destination D 2016: Amazing Adventures" A Conversation with Bob Chapek

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On November 19-20, D23 held its second biennial Destination D at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, "Destination D: Amazing Adventures."

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The weekend's emphasis was on Adventure, in all its many incarnations throughout Disney properties around the world, and with a particular eye towards new and upcoming exotica.

(No photography or recording was permitted during the presentations. All photos thereof are courtesy of D23.)

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To start us off, D23’s Jeffrey Epstein opened the weekend with Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, to talk about some of his fond Disney Park memories (pickles in bags!) and upcoming additions to the parks.

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As part of the weekend's swag giveaways, attendees received their own MagicBand 2--a redesigned version with a removable center button that can be taken out (regular MagicBand 2's will come with their own custom screwdriver) and placed in a variety of personalized bracelet and non-bracelet wearable options.

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Chapek then spoke in fairly nonspecific terms about what he's eagerly anticipating from "Pandora – The World of AVATAR." Some new concept art of the in-story dining and shopping areas was also released, as Deb Koma reported on here.

With the announcement that Star Tours would, as it was with the release of "Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens," be refreshed with scenes from "Star Wars: Episode VIII," Chapek again teased some concept art of the Star Wars expansion currently underway at both Disneyland and Disney Hollywood Studios.

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Beyond that, Chapek again spoke generally about a major transformation in the works for EPCOT, that will make it more Disney, timeless, relevant, and family-friendly. He also expressed a wish to encase WDW guests in even more of a Disney bubble during their stay, mentioning on-property transportation as something that "is functional, when it should be magical!"

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The next day, we saw an example of what he might have been talking about--a "Sorcerer-Class Concept Bus" not currently planned for production but an attempt to further differentiate the Disney transportation experience.

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Inside, the bus featured mood lighting, and an audio track similar to the WDW resort hold music.

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Finally, Chapek closed his part of the presentation by revealing a plan to make the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (SEA) an overarching mythology that will thread through all the different Disney Parks of the world.

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Of note, SEA already makes an appearance in Fortress Explorations and Tower of Terror in Tokyo DisneySea, Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland, the Oceaneer Lab on the Disney Magic, and the upcoming Miss Fortune Falls in Typhoon Lagoon. It also features heavily in the themes of Disney Spring's Jock Lindsay's Hangar Bar, the defunct Adventurer's Club, and the Magic Kingdom's Skipper Canteen.

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November 29, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 11/23/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his pre-Thanksgiving trip to the parks on Wednesday, November 23, 2016.

There is now a preferred parking option at Disneyland. They had the first 20 spots of the 4 or 5 rows closest the escalators blocked off on each floor.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The preferred parking area on the roof. Only one car in it when I arrived.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Looks like they are prepared for a busy weekend, a sign up, guessing to inform guests of the parks at capacity. It just said welcome on Wednesday.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Holiday popcorn bucket.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A photo spot for Moana is set up in the courtyard between the Oasis and Jingle Cruise Exit.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Toy Soldiers were in A Christmas Fantasy Parade today. They were just about to wrap up their march when I arrived in Town Square.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Santa has moved into Redwood Creek

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

And his elves have decorated the area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A map showing the holiday activities.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Santa is in the small theater, so getting a clear picture of him without waiting in line was a challenge.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A photo op along the trail.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thought this was a nice detail -- carrots and a landing strip on the roof for the reindeer.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jingle Bridge

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Decorations on the Fly With the Reindeer.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Camp Notices board features pictures of the elves.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I spent a couple hours of my visit walking around the Festival of Holidays and taking in the entertainment. I found the Stilt Circus performers near a Bugs Land.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Country Bears are part of the Festival with a Meet and Greet. Wendell out greeting guests when I walked by.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Liverlips coming out to join him. It is great seeing the bears out. Too bad they do not perform anymore in Anaheim. I had to go to Tokyo to see their Christmas show! (Which, by the way, is great -- the Country Bears sing Christmas songs in Japanese!)

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mostly Kosher is one of seven groups performing as part of Festival of Holidays on Friday. They were at the Sonoma Terrace

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

RAISE is performing at the Pacific Wharf Stage during Festival of Holidays.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Blue13 Dance Company is performing in Paradise Park.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Here's Princess Elena arriving.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


A couple video clips of Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival.



Near the finale, kids are invited up to be part of the show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

After eating, I found a spot for Viva Navidad!

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The show is the same as last year... which is great!

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

One change is the updated Mickey and Minnie characters this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Minnie Mouse

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Blue13 Dance Company was out again as I walked by.

I made it to Buena Vista Street in time for the Tree Lighting. Do not blink or you miss the lighting this year. It clocked in well under a minute and was disappointing compared to the production number of the past few years.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A video of the Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting (which happens at 4:55pm nightly).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stopped by for a second Viva Navidad! -- this time under the lights with a better view.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Video clip from the finale of Viva Navidad!

Paint the Night has returned for a holiday run.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Here's a video clip of the Toy Story section of Paint the Night.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Looking back toward Town Square.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Partners Statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle

>Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Ready for the Winter Castle Transformation. After the transformation the snow is lit.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sleeping Beauty Winter Castle Transformation happens twice nightly. At 7:30 and 8:30. Here is a video of the 7:30pm transformation.

Small World Holiday lit up for the holidays.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

On most quarter hours after the clock sequence a short projection show occurs. Here is a video of this year's (seems the same as last year).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Back to Main Street USA

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016


A video of the second transformation of Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle.

Believe in Holiday Magic has returned this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This year, projections on the castle were used throughout the show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I closed out my evening with World of Color - Season Of Light. Laura Gilbreath did a post on the new show, but thought I would include some video clips:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Feliz Navidad segment.



Video of the finale number for World of Color Season of Light.

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.




November 21, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 11/19/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Saturday, November 19, 2016.

A quick check of the Star Wars Construction from the Mickey and Friends parking structure, for a more in depth look check out my full picture set.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The backstage marina is moving along. Notice the white trestle structure on the right, that marks where the Disneyland Railroad will cross over the walkway that leads in from Frontierland.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


You can see the rock work wire mesh now sticking up above the dirt. Assuming the smoke is from welders working on it this morning.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Work is moving along in the former section of the Pinocchio Parking lot. They are re-configuring the Mickey and Friends Tram Stop to move security out here.The current cross walk to reach the Pinocchio lot and walk to the parks.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Under wraps is the new tram way, it was poured recently.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The planters and barriers have been removed from the load/unload stop closest to the elevator.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Work underway in the Downtown Disney valet area. Assuming preparations for the new security check point.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Fencing up between Earl of Sandwich and ESPN. Assuming for the security checkpoint in this area. No ice rink or winter village this year.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The Christmas tree is in front of the DVC area. AMC has Moana banners up.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Sprinkles has arrived at Downtown Disney. It opened last week.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


A sign up for Pandora on the construction wall now.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


One for the new Curl shop too.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Tickets for the rest of my group as we prepare to start our day.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


First stop this morning Disney California Adventure. The bear by GRR is in the holiday spirit.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Christmas decorations on Paradise Pier.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Holiday Treats at Trolley Treats.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Cards advertising the candy canes.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The back side has the dates for this season.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Next stop Disneyland, marking my 4th park on 2 continents since Thursday, I returned home from Tokyo on Friday. Main Street USA Christmas tree.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jingle Cruise, our first stop here.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


The boats have been renamed for the season.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


From Critter Country, a check of the Star Wars work. The steel supports are taking shape. The rock work should be going in soon.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Pin trading on the Mark Twain dock.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Approaching the end of the Big Thunder Trail. Through the trees you can just barely make out the new trestle.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016

Scaffolding is down from the rock formation.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the holiday version. There are a half dozen hidden 20s throughout. We found a handful on our trip through.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Can you spot the 20?


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


In the gift shop there is a portable charging dispenser now.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Time for a Christmas Fantasy Parade.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Snow Person
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Gingerbread men


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Goofy baking


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Made my way back to DCA. The Country Bears were wrapping up a photo op as I walked up the parade route.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Almost all of the Tower of Terror is now surrounded by scaffolding.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


Holiday Toy Drummers performing near the Boudin Bakery as part of the Festival of Holidays. Laura has a blog on the festival.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Saturday, November 19, 2016


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.







November 20, 2016

Disney California Adventure Celebrates the Holidays with New World of Color - Season of Light and More

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World of Color - Season of Light

There's a new version of World of Color for this holiday season: World of Color - Season of Light. It combines favorite holiday musical numbers with heartwarming scenes from Disney and Disney-Pixar movies, choreographed with fountains, lasers, lights and even flames.

World of Color - Season of Light

We saw it Saturday night, and I have to say that it's my favorite version of the show. The fountains are not so much the main focus of the show now, and all of the different effects are much more integrated and complement each other. I thought the lasers were used especially well.

And I loved the music. I'm old enough to remember my parents playing Christmas albums by Nat King Cole ("The Christmas Song"), Bing Crosby ("Mele Kalikimaka"), and Dean Martin ("Let it Snow"), and I enjoy hearing them again. But it's also great to hear contemporary artists such as Michael Buble and Idina Menzel ("Baby It's Cold Outside"), and Amy Grant ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"). And Pentatonix's version of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies", followed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Wizard in Winter", had everyone cheering.

World of Color - Season of Light

The animation clips were very well chosen. Who can forget the heartwarming moment from "Lady and the Tramp" when, on Christmas morning, "Darling" opens the box and Lady's head pops out?

World of Color - Season of Light

And I had to laugh when Sadness from "Inside Out" appeared - to the music of Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas." :-)

During the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth", giant soap bubbles, shaped like hearts, rise into the air and float away.

World of Color - Season of Light

My camera battery died partway through, but here's the first 16 minutes of the show, including the Pentatonix and TSO numbers.

As I mentioned, we thought it was a terrific show. In reading Disney's "Fact Sheet" about it, I found a few items that explain some of the new aspects.

  • Five newly installed barges in the lagoon erupt in a brilliant lighting effect to punctuate the grand finale.
  • More than 800 individual light fixtures are needed to illuminate the show.
  • Six laser projectors are deployed to create a variety of entertaining effects.
  • Nearly 20 high-definition projectors convey imagery to the screens of water.

You'll need a Fastpass to access the viewing areas for the show. These are available at the entrance to Grizzly River Run beginning at park opening. Fastpasses for the areas that are more centered are distributed first, so go early. There is some standby viewing, but it's further back and tends to fill up early.

World of Color - Season of Light

In addition to the regular Fastpass option for the show, there are options for Premium viewing experiences. Lunch and Dinner packages are available at Carthay Circle Restaurant and Wine Country Trattoria, and a Dinner Package at Ariel's Grotto. The newest option, introduced earlier this year, is the Sparkling Dessert Package. Lee and I did that one on Saturday. It's unique because you actually get to sit for the show - everyone is seated at small tables. A plate of cheese, fruits and desserts is served to you, along with beverages. At $79 plus tax it's the most expensive of the viewing options, but it's my favorite way to see the show.

World of Color Dessert Package

We have more information on Dining packages on our World of Color page.

We took a quick look around the park at some of the other holidays options. This year Santa Claus has moved from his Elias and Co. department store Santa setting to a more rustic area along in the newly named "Redwood Creek - Santa's Holiday Visit".

Redwood Creek Santa's Holiday Visit

Santa is tucked away in the Ahwahnee Circle (the small amphitheater). I was wondering if guests would be less interested in visiting him there, but the line was long, so that's apparently not an issue. Without standing in line there was no way to get a good view of Santa Claus, so this is not a very good photo.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I thought it very amusing that this is the roof of Santa's greeting area. :-) A place for the reindeer - but only eight of them - to hang out.

Redwood Creek Reindeer Landing  Zone

The Redwood Creek area itself has decorations, which I don't recall seeing in the past. The Jingle Bridge is hung with bells that ring when people bounce on it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The "challenge" aspect of the Redwood Creek area is now "Elf Games". Some additional elements have been added at some of the apparatus, like a sack of gifts at the slides for the "Pack the Presents" game.

Redwood Creek Elf Games

There's also a meet and greet spot with Chip and/or Dale.

Disney California Adventure Chip

Guests seemed to be enjoying the area - as I mentioned the line for Santa was fairly long and there were a number of kids enjoying the various challenges.

This isn't a holiday thing, but right now DCA is showing an extended preview of Moana in the Bugs Land Theater. Using all of the available effects. Including lots of water. We really enjoyed the preview - the movie looks very good.

Disney California Adventure Moana preview

The rest of the park seems to be decked out in its usual holiday style. The Christmas tree is in Carthay Circle, and there's a tree lighting show every night. The residents of Cars Land have also decorated the town of Radiator Springs - Seasons Speedings to all! :-) (I'm certainly enjoying the Passholder benefit of free downloads of PhotoPass photos!)

Cars Land Seasons Speedings

Here's the new popcorn buckets being sold in both parks. The Santa Mickey was VERY popular and we saw lots of people carrying them around. Getting them before they sell out.

Disneyland 2016 Santa Mickey Popcorn Bucket

I believe the Elf Mickey Stein is only available at Disneyland. That was also popular.

Elf Mickey Stein

There's also a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs refillable mug that seems to be available resort wide.

Snow White Holiday mug

To close, even though this isn't DCA, either, the construction of the enormous gingerbread house in the Grand Californian was underway. This year it's a gingerbread version of the hotel itself. There's even a fire in the fireplace.

Grand Californian Gingerbread House

Grand Californian Gingerbread House

A smaller version of the gingerbread house is available for purchase - $85.

Grand Californian Gingerbread House







November 19, 2016

2016 Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

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Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

After a 10K/half marathon race challenge weekend at Walt Disney World followed by a four night Disney cruise, what would you do? How about running a 10K at Disneyland? At least this year we did only the 10K and not the half marathon, too!

We had initially not planned to run any of the events of the Super Heroes Half Marathon weekend at Disneyland. But when runDisney announced the theme of the 10K was Dr. Strange, then Lee really wanted to do that. And I love 10Ks - it's my favorite distance.

Friday, November 11

We got off the Disney Dream on Friday morning, took a bus to the airport and caught a flight to John Wayne Airport. As we did last year, we'd flown out of that airport instead of San Diego, and left our car there. (By the way, I recommend snagaspace.com to find good prices on airport parking. The last two years we have parked at the Marriott near John Wayne Airport and had an excellent experience - the parking and shuttle staff at the Marriott is so nice!)

We had an earlier flight this year and arrived at the airport earlier than we did last year. So we did not have the horrible Friday afternoon traffic that we experienced last year. We arrived at Disneyland a little after 4:00 and went straight to the Expo.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

It felt strange to only be picking up a 10K bib and not a Challenge bib. We didn't need to get our photo taken this time. As usual, the bib pickup area was not too busy and we were in and out quickly. As in Florida the week before there wasn't a big printed race program, but this time they gave us a brochure at bib pickup that had all of the really useful information like course maps and time schedules.

The main part of the Expo was upstairs in the Disneyland convention center. There were some new super heroes added to the banners this year.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We picked up our shirts...yet another maroon long sleeve shirt. With a large rubber graphic on the front. Come on, runDisney - most of your race participants live in California and Florida! PLEASE give us some short sleeve shirts!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Nesquik was one of the sponsors this year (Nesquik chocolate milk was available to runners at the end of the half marathon on Sunday), and the Nesquik bunny was in the booth when he wasn't posing for photos with guests.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The Expo seemed to have most of the usual vendors, though there were a few new sponsors this year, like Nesquik and Misfit.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We heard an announcement about a special offer for Annual Passholders at the runDisney booth, so we went to check that out. They looked at our passes and then put a sticker on our bibs and told us there would be a special AP tent in the finish area of the 10K and half where they would have a special gift for us. Interesting!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The runDisney booth also had the medals for the upcoming Star Wars - the Light Side weekend in January. Everyone seems to be very excited about the BB-8 10K medal! He spins!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There was no line to get into the Official Merchandise area. And it seemed as though they still had everything left - I didn't see a lot of space that had been filled by generic merchandise as I often do. All of the items that I usually look for were still there.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There were lots of different shirts - even more than in the photos below.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

All of the "I Did It" shirts were available, though a cast member told me that in the 10K shirts they were out of small-sized shirts and only had a few mediums left.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There were a number of Infinity Gauntlet items available, though most of the shirts were (as usual) for women.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There wasn't as much 10K merchandise - the mini medal pin, a hat, and a couple of shirts.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Lee really liked this shirt so he bought it and wore it the next day for the 10K.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Nice to see Black Widow get some attention. Now, when does SHE get her own race?

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We were surprised to see a few items from the previous weekend's Wine and Dine Expo.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

For dinner that night we went to Disney California Adventure and checked out the food booths at the Festival of Holidays (as I wrote about in this blog). Maybe not the best pre-race dinner, but it was only a 10K the next day. :-)

For once jet lag worked in our favor - we'd come from the east coast and were tired from a long day of travel. So we went to bed at 8:30 and actually fell asleep quickly.

Saturday, November 12 - Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We'd set the alarm for 4:15, but we were both awake before that. This might be the first time I've ever gotten a full night's sleep before a race!

I know I say this every time, but if you're new to my blog you won't have seen it before: I love race weekends at Disneyland. The race logistics are SO much easier! Everything is within walking distance of the hotels (even many of the neighboring hotels), so there's no need to catch a bus at an insanely early hour. We pushed it more this year than we usually do - the race started at 5:30 but we didn't get up until 4:15, and left the hotel at 4:45. And we still had plenty of time to get to the start corrals. Short/no lines for the porta-potties, too.

I wore my Agent Carter costume again, and Lee wore his new Dr. Strange tech shirt.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Dr. Strange is one of Lee's favorite super heroes, but to be honest I'd never heard of him, and didn't know anything about him until we saw the movie on the Disney Dream a few days before the race.

I was hoping that there would be some photo ops in the pre-race area before the race but there wasn't anything other than some race banners.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We were in Corral A, but I thought this collection of balloons for the other corrals was pretty.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Dr. Strange actually came out on stage before the race. We hoped that meant that we would later see him on the race course. After that they showed us the preview for the movie - and reminded us that it was showing at the AMC Theaters in Downtown Disney. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

While the talented Disneyland cast member was singing the national anthem I noticed that there was a special pattern on some of the lights!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The race started about a minute late. No fireworks at Disneyland - just some colored puffs of smoke.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The course was different this year, thanks to Disneyland construction, though the first part of it was the same with the first two miles off Disney property. We ran down to the Convention Center on West Street, then cut across and over to Harbor Blvd, and back north to Disney Way, then went backstage at DCA. That was about mile 2. Having the first two miles outside the parks really helps spread the runners out. We didn't find that the course felt crowded at all.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

While we were winding around backstage there were some interesting projections on some of the buildings.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The first character we saw was Thor, near the Wine Country Trattoria. The line was a little long, so we didn't stop. We were hoping for shorter lines further on, since we had started so far forward.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We ran around Paradise Bay, and past the mile 3 sign. Almost halfway done! There's that symbol again on California Screamin'.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Captain America was just outside Soarin'. The line was maybe 20 deep, but it was Captain America! I got my hug again, but I didn't get swept off my feet like I did last year. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we ran down Hollywood Blvd near the Animation Building a cast member was telling us that Spider-Man was ahead to the left. The race course turned right, and since he was on the other side and kind of hidden behind a building I think a lot of runners didn't see him. The line was pretty short.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We ran backstage next to the Tower of Terror. The sun was coming up and there was a beautiful sunrise!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

A high school band was performing back there. The majorette was doing some pretty good baton tricks, but I didn't manage to get a photo of that. There were just a couple of bands along the course - since so much of the course was on property there wasn't really any place for them to set up.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

For most of the next mile we were backstage - we ran through the tunnel that goes under the bus area and connects DCA and Disneyland, and then wound around backstage at Disneyland, finally entering the park in Toon Town.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Mile 5 - only 1.2 to go. We were still feeling really good. A 10K is so much easier than a half marathon!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

It was getting light out, but we could still see the lights on "it's a small world" Holiday.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Black Widow was in front of "small world", and there was almost no line!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Not too much further away was Hawkeye. That's been Lee's costume in previous years. There was one person in front of us. I think we were in the sweet spot where the serious runners who don't stop for characters were ahead of us, but we were running fast enough that we were ahead of most of the other people who do stop for photos. However it worked out, it was a great place to be.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we ran around the Matterhorn, we saw Dr. Strange!!! There was a line there, but only about 10 people in it. We were really happy to get our photo with him. He was very much in character, and SO serious.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We really didn't spend much time in Disneyland at all - didn't run through the castle, Frontierland, or Adventureland. After seeing Dr. Strange we ran to the hub and down Main Street and out of the park. As we ran under the train station the villain from the Dr. Strange movie, Kaecilius, was standing on the bridge above us. He had a microphone and was making in-character comments to the runners, though I don't remember what he said.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The course finished through Downtown Disney and ended at the usual finish line near the Disneyland Hotel. I got lots of cheers for my Peggy Carter costume throughout the race, and especially towards the end where there were more spectators, and that's always fun.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We finished in 1:09:38, which I thought was really a good time considering we stopped for five character photos plus a few other shots. This was a smaller race than the Wine and Dine 10K. Less than 10,000 entered, with 8245 finishers. I thought it was interesting that the male-female ratio was not quite so skewed as it is in many Disney races. There were still more females, but it was 4861 women to 3384 men.

Since as Annual Passholders we get free downloads of our race photos, we stopped to get our post-race photo taken.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We went to the Annual Passholder tent to get our gift - it was small cans of Coke with several of the Avengers on them. We were told they would have Iron Man the next day after the half marathon.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

One not-so-good thing about the Disneyland 10Ks: trying to get back to your hotel afterward. Since the courses finish through Downtown Disney you have to cross the race course. Even though they have cast members controlling the crossing points it can take some time. One thing we learned is that when staying at the Grand Californian, you do not want to try to go through Downtown Disney to the usual hotel entrance. If you do you'll have to cross the course three times! So we cross the course once and go right towards the Paradise Pier, then cross Disneyland Drive and go into the hotel via the main entrance. If you're staying at one of the hotels on Harbor Drive then you don't have much of an option, though.

I really enjoyed this race! It was nice to see six character stops on the course instead of just the four they've had for this race weekend in the first two years. And we really lucked out with the character lines not being too long.

I think my biggest issue with the race was the limited time in Disneyland, and that so much of what we did have was backstage. Still, for the most part I liked this course. I'd much rather have the miles outside the park be at the beginning of the race rather than at the end. I think having that two miles for the runners to spread out really helps with the congestion and the overall enjoyment of the course.

The rest of the day felt a little strange (so to speak) because we weren't preparing to run a half marathon the next day. So we didn't have to worry about what we ate or drank, or about trying to go to bed early - which was why I'd scheduled the World of Color Dessert Party for that evening. :-)

That night for a change we actually had to pay attention to the road closures map that was left on our door, and the phone message about the race that had been left on our phone. We were planning to leave around 8:00 on Sunday morning - the half marathon wasn't going to be over until about 10:30. Everything we read indicated that we should be able to get out of the parking lot by 8:00, though. And that proved to be the case. The only issue we had was getting our room key to work to open the automated parking gate. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we drove down Disneyland Drive we went under the start line...that was as close as we got to it. I thought I might be more bothered that we hadn't done the half marathon, but I really wasn't.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We had no problems getting out of the resort, but the same was not true for those trying to get to the resort. Traffic was backed up on I5 both north and south - it was quite a mess. But some of the freeway exits were closed because of the race course, so I think there was only one way in, and everyone was trying to use it.

It was nice to do only one race - and a shorter one at that - and we really enjoyed the race weekend. If you haven't done a race weekend at Disneyland, then I highly recommend that you try it. I find that it's just a lot easier. There are fewer runners than in most of the Walt Disney World races and everything is closer together - walking distance, really. No buses required unless you are staying way off property. Think about it!








November 16, 2016

"Moana" Press Junket

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On November 23rd, Walt Disney Animation will debut its next Disney princess in "Moana"--a story of a young girl who must cross the ocean on a quest to save her island from a withering death. To accomplish this task, she must surmount any number of impediments, including a reluctant, egotistical demigod, coconut-wearing pirates, a shiny crab, a demon of earth and fire, and an intellectually challenged rooster.

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

At a recent press junket, a collection of the impressive talent behind "Moana" gathered to talk about the film's creative process. In attendance was Dwayne (Maui) Johnson, Auli'i (Moana) Cravalho, Lin-Manuel (Original Songs by) Miranda, Ron (Director) Clements, John (Director) Musker, Opetaia (Original Songs by) Foa'i, and Osnat (Producer) Shurer.

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Select moments from the video above:

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Miranda on getting The Rock to sing: "I get a lot of questions from reporters this week being all 'how did you get The Rock to sing?' That's not what happened here. When Dwayne accepted the role, he said, 'so what are you giving me to sing?' He was really excited for this, and for me--I went to YouTube, where the answers always lie, and...I'm a big fan of his wrestling days and there was a time...where he would pull out a guitar and taunt whatever town he was in. And so I got a really good sense of his vocal range from that ten minute supercut, and then the rest of it was just writing lyrics that embody the spirit of Maui, who is this amazing demigod/trickster god...and once I had the title 'You're Welcome," which only Dwayne can pull off and still have you love him and root for him, we were off to the races."
Johnson: "...One of the best times I've ever had in my career was working on this project and certainly working on that song, because also like--we all love challenges, and this was a challenge that the bar's set so incredibly high in a Disney film to sing!"
Musker: "Dwayne's the new Angela Lansbury."

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Cravalho on what it means to be Moana: "This is my first job. It's been an incredible journey for me. I'm fifteen going on sixteen, and I'm working with the best people in the entire world of whom are making a film inspired by my culture--a culture I have lived every day of my life. That is something so incredibly special for the rest of the world to see...for me, as someone who is hoping to continue in show business (now that I'm in 'show biz,' which is really exciting)...I was wondering how would I continue in this and still be Polynesian? And that might be an interesting concept...As I might potentially leave my home, what does that make me? Does that still keep me Polynesian? Am I still grounded and rooted in the way that I want to be? And I can honestly say 'yes." Because being surrounded by my family and by the Hawaiian culture every day, it seems as though I would never lose it. But to have a film like this that will inspire me, and to have a character that will inspire others as well to become rooted in who they truly are...that's something that inspires me and that I hope will inspire others as well."

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Foa'i, Johnson, and Cravalho on what they hope Polynesians get out of "Moana:"
Foa'i: "My journey has been from the village to the city...There are many other cultures that will see this movie and be interested in it, but there are also, there will be Polynesians who were born in the cities who will then start the journey back to the village. That's what I'm thrilled about."
Cravalho: "I'm really excited for everyone to see this film. I know my friends are thrilled, my family is thrilled and I think we're all very proud of this film. I will admit, and I will admit this truthfully, that before I was working on this film, I was a bit wary of it. Because I think when anyone thinks of someone making a film inspired by their culture, they want it to be done right. And Disney has done a wonderful job--the Oceanic Trust that has been put together, as well as the research trips that Ron and John and Osmat were on as well. All of that has created such a wonderful well-rounded film that I'm excited for my people to see and for everyone else to see as well as they'll hopefully be inspired to research on our culture. Because our culture is, like, awesome!"
Johnson: "What Opetaia said, I think, is very resonant in the pride that they will have in the film. And there were a lot (and understandably so)...there was some hesitance from a lot of people in our culture about 'well, what's going to happen if our culture's going to be showcased for the very first time on this level, this capacity from Disney? What's going to happen?'

"I feel like the Polynesian people are going to be incredibly proud of this movie. Overall, all cultures by the way...I think what's going to touch upon all of us, regardless of where we're at in the world, where we're from, cultures, class, religion, is the voice. So, our world today, so relevant in this moment, so full of noise, there's so much noise that's happening in our world, but
the little voice that you've always gotta listen to, your gut, your intuition...you can do things. You can go beyond boundaries. And you have to trust that gut and instinct. So those are the things I think our people are going to take away and the rest of the world will take away."

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After the "Moana" presentation, Director Leo Matsuda and Producer Sean Lurie gave a short presentation on "Inner Workings," the terminally adorable short that will play in theaters before "Moana." Taking a stylistic reference from the acetate anatomy diagrams that used to figure heavily in encyclopedias back in the day, the short demonstrates the perpetual battle between the responsible anxieties of the brain, and the careless hedonism of the heart.

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"Moana" will open in theaters November 23, 2016.

November 15, 2016

New Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

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Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure gets a holiday makeover this year with the presentation of the first Festival of Holidays at the park. The Festival celebrates holiday traditions around the world with food, beverages, and entertainment. Princess Elena of Avalor makes her Disneyland debut in Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. The popular ¡Viva Navidad! street party also returns to Paradise Pier along with special food offerings and a character meet and greet.

Also new for the holiday season is World of Color - Season of Light. The show combines water, animations, projections and laser effects choreographed to both classic and contemporary holiday music. Selections range from Nat King Cole performing "The Christmas Song" to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Pentatonix.

World of Color - Season of Light

Santa Claus has moved to the Redwood Creek area this year - his greeting spot is tucked away in the Ahwahnee Circle. The elves have been busy setting up Elf Games for guests, such as the "Jingle Bridge" and the "Pack the Presents" slide.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Our weekend visit to DCA was much too short for us to experience everything that the park has to offer now. We concentrated on the Festival of Holidays - more specifically some of the fourteen Festive Food Marketplaces.

This aspect of the Festival is a food and wine festival - and there are even more marketplace booths (14) than there were for the return of the Food and Wine Festival to DCA earlier this year. The holiday booths also have much more of an international flair, with offerings inspired by Asian, Mexican, Jewish, Indian, Middle Eastern, German, and Swedish traditions as well as American favorites like sliders, Southern specialties and the classic turkey dinner. There's even a "Treats for Santa" booth with cookies and cookie decorating, peppermint bark, fudge, and panettone.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

All of the booths have special beverage offerings, also. There are booths dedicated to both beer (Brews and Bites) and wines (Making Spirits Bright) which offer flights or selections by the glass. Other choices include holiday eggnog cocktail, pomegranate margarita, iced mint tea, cranberry sweet tea, and chocolate beverages such as pumpkin spice hot chocolate, white hot chocolate, and frozen chocolate milk.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Our first taste of the Festival was Friday night - it opened on Thursday. We were surprised that the food lines were short/non-existent. Very different than the opening weekend of the Food and Wine Festival back in April. The only real lines were at the beer and wine booths.

First Lee tried the Brisket Potato Croquette with horseradish cream from Nosh and Nibbles for $7.50. He said it was very good.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Next we went to Good Fortune's Feast and tried two items. First the Adobo Pork Bao, $8.00. It was excellent, though I thought it a little heavy on the pickled onions. I didn't taste much "adobo" in it, though.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Smoked Duck and Vegetable Spring Roll with cabbage and sweet plum sauce was really good! But at $8.75 it was very expensive for the serving size.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We were at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival the week before, and I think we understand why the lines at the booths were so short. The prices for food booth items in California are significantly higher than those in Florida - where most Florida items are in the $5-$7 range, most of the California items are $7-$9.

At Spice Salutations we sampled the Carrot and Chickpea Fritters for $6.25. They were served with a coriander almond sauce, but they really didn't have very much flavor.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Chicken and Potato Curry, with kefir cream and grilled naan for $6.50. This was a more generous serving than anything else we'd tried, and it was very tasty. The curry was not too spicy. And the naan was good.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee sampled the Holiday Bright Seasonal Beer Flight from Brews & Bites. Spaten Brewery Oktoberfest from Germany, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Celebration, 21st Amendment Brewing Fireside Chat, and Karl Strauss Seven Sharks A-Circling. He wasn't wild about any of them.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

From Winter Sliderland we tried a Roasted Turkey Slider. It was expensive - $8.00. The turkey was nice carved slices, and it also had dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. It was very good, but it's not that much different than Earl of Sandwich's Holiday Turkey, which is twice the size for less money.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Kalua Pork Slider. $7.50 for this one. Pieces of nice roasted pork topped with pineapple jam and cider slaw. I liked this one better than the one that they have at Epcot.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

By then we were ready for some dessert at the appropriately named Yuletide Yummies. We chose the Gingerbread Bundt Cake, but requested that they leave the orange-vanilla sauce off of it. It was a dense gingerbread but very flavorful and we both liked it a lot. It was served cold but I think it would have been better served warm. For $4.25 I thought it was a decent-sized serving.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Mocha Yule Log for $4.75. This one definitely gets the award for the prettiest dessert! It was really nicely decorated. And it was also a generous serving. Lee didn't care for the cream, but the cake was good. I mostly liked it, but it was a little too sweet. We couldn't finish it, and ended up taking half of it back to the room with us.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

One word of advice - you'll need to get a knife to cut both of these - they are too dense for a fork by itself.

For the Food and Wine Festival the booths were set up on the parade route between Carthay Circle and the Pacific Wharf. But with the additional six booths they extend all the way to the Golden Zephyr, with one booth location next to Grizzly River Run near the restrooms.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Yuletide Yummies booth was in front of Ariel's attraction, and there were some metal tables - some of them with chairs - set up next to it. It was a very nice spot to sit and enjoy some of the entertainment that takes place in Paradise Park. We heard parts of performances from the Mariachi Divas and the Blue13 Dance Company.

The Food and Wine Festival had covered "arbors" with bar-type counters so people could stand and eat. Those aren't out - instead there are the typical round black metal standing tables like we see at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, along with a few lower tables and chairs. There seemed to be more low tables than there were chairs to go with them. It didn't seem to me as though the tables offered as much space for people to eat as the arbors did.

Saturday evening we went back to try more of the food offerings. The park was pretty busy, so I was expecting longer lines at the food booths, but that was not the case. We asked cast members if it had been busy that day and they said not really. I definitely think the prices are an issue. Just across the parade route from a couple of the food booths is a hot dog cart where you can get a hot dog and chips for $7.00 - more food than you'll get at the neighboring booths.

From Abuelita's Kitchen we sampled the Chicken and Cilantro Tamale with roasted tomatillo salsa. That was quite good. $7.50 for it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee also tried the Chorizo Bean Sope with Cotija cheese and crema for $7.00. He enjoyed that, too.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Back at Yuletide Yummies again I had the Mini Turkey Pot Pie with cranberry drizzle for $8.00. I was disappointed that it was mostly crust. It was a nice flaky crust, but there was way more of that than there was the turkey and vegetable filling. Not worth $8.00.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee wanted to try their Joyful Flavors Beer Flight, but they were out of one of the beers (and of course the one they were out of, Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar, was the one that he really wanted to try). And rather than substitute the cast member said they weren't allowed to sell the flight at all. We though that was odd - they substitute at Epcot all the time.

From Fiesta en Familia we tried the two pozole dishes. The Green Chile Pozole was a vegetarian dish, and was $6.25. It was very good and we both enjoyed it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Red Chile Pozole contained tender chunks of pork and was $6.75. It was also very good. Both pozoles had quite different flavors - it was interesting to taste what a difference red versus green made. I wish they had been more generous servings or that the price had been $2 less.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee tried the Southern Mac and Cheese from Southern Home Holidays for $7.50. It was topped with jalapeno cornbread crumbles - he said it needed more of that. He liked it. I had a taste but thought it was just ok - I'm not much of a mac and cheese fan, though.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

From Winter Sliderland we got another Kalua Pork Slider, which was much more generous with the pork than the first one.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

This time we also tried the Praline & Bourbon Whoopie Pie for $4.25. The whoopie pie was bigger than I expected and had a pretty good flavor - lots of cream inside.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We made pretty good progress in sampling the food offerings, though there were still five of the booths we never got to. Still, I think we sampled almost everything that really sounded good to us. In addition to the food booths, there are full-size seasonal offerings at Paradise Garden Grill: Torta al Pastor, Street-Style Tacos, and Chicken Mole. I like chicken mole, so maybe next time.

There is entertainment going on at multiple locations during the Festival of Holidays. In addition to Paradise Park, there's also groups performing at Paradise Gardens, Pacific Wharf, and Sonoma Terrace. The latter was a surprise to me, but we heard part of a performance by Raise, an R&B a cappella group, and they were very good.

There's several entertainment offerings that we did not get a chance to experience - like Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. There's also the Stilt Circus, and the Holiday Toy Drummers. The latter sounded like they might be a lot of fun to watch.

There's also some craft tables - the one we stopped by had Diwali paper lanterns that you could make. Diwali is the Eastern Festival of Lights.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

In the Festival areas there was really interesting music playing - it was modern and upbeat arrangements of songs for celebrations like Hanukkah. The loop was too short, though - we heard the same songs multiple times.

We found a cart that had some Festival of Holidays merchandise. Not much of a selection - there were t-shirts, including one specifically for Annual Passholders, and hats.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I was disappointed in the designs. All of the food booths and parade route banners had the Mickey-head logo below, which I really liked! I would've bought something with that logo on it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I'm sure the main idea behind the Festival of Holidays is to pull guests from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure - and especially to convince guests to buy a one day ticket to DCA rather than Disneyland. We were in Disneyland on Saturday and it was very busy. DCA was less busy, but to me it still felt busier than it would on a typical Saturday. The standby line for Soarin' was longer than I've seen it for a long time. While the marketplaces were not particularly busy (except those that specialized in alcohol), there still seemed to be a lot of people enjoying the other holiday offerings in the park.

We enjoyed the parts of Festival of Holidays that we experienced - I would like to see more of the entertainment. My only real complaint is the prices at the Festival Marketplaces - I think they are just too high.








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