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September 22, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 9/16/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, September 16, 2016.

Since Laura posted a look at Halloween Time and the APDays last week I am going to skip those pictures from my trip. They are in my full picture set if you are interested.

To start off with this week, here's a quick video clip taking a look around the Star Wars construction site from the Mickey and Friends parking structure.



The retaining wall on the far side of the site nearest Toontown has continued to take shape.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

A section of wall on the bend in the River as I continue to pan toward Critter Country.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

In the distance you can see another wall taking shape as they excavate dirt from the former Skyway hill.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

The center of the site.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

The hole in the area nearest the parking structure continues to grow. Notice the top of the shovel just barely visible.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

A closer look where the new walkway will be. Hard to make out anything yet from this distance/angle.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
Some work in the Pinocchio lot. The hedge has been removed and looks like an extra lane has been added to the tram area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

As you ride the tram to the park, almost the entire length on the park side it appears work is going on. They cleaned out all the ground cover and have markers in the ground.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

The World of Disney entrance closest to Starbucks is covered for some renovation work.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
The Diamond Days signage is gone.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
DCA banners are back in the Esplanade. Too bad they did not go with HalloweenTime ones.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

The diamond anniversary decorations in both parks are almost all gone. Here's a look at the DCA entrance.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
The floral Mickey is now diamondless. No fall/Halloween look this year on Mickey. But around him there is orange.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Work continues on the Market House. Most of Center Street is now scaffolding free.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Not a lot of visible progress on the Columbia.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
Star Wars construction as you walk through Critter Country. You can clearly see the new wall that is along the Rivers of America bank.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Looking through the fence to give a better perspective of distance and where the wall is.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Work on the Tom Sawyer Island raft dock.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Work on the island dock looks to be wrapping up.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Walking toward the end of the Big Thunder Trail you can see the bridge that has been constructed and start to get a feel for how the walkway will line up. Assuming the train will pass over that.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Looks like they have started to add elements to the wall so they can work on the rock work.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
Mary Poppins and the Pearly Band performing in front of the castle



Season of the Force has concluded so the signage is now switched over to Tomorrowland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Same with the banners. The background music was still Star Wars though.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Some walls up around the Buzz entrance sign. The attraction was open as was the FastPass area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
Storm Troopers still roam Tomorrowland. He said he was watching me.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
The Galactic Grill signage is still up

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
The Toontown entrance is being worked on. I like how the print has the Halloween decorations on it.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Walls up around the Miss Daisy.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Some walls up on the far side of Toontown too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

At the Haunted Mansion the FastPass entry has been reconfigured. The merge point is in the bac, this cut out some queue space for the standby line.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

The bridge work in Critter Country has wrapped up and the joints are redone.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Over to Disney California Adventure. First impressions of the Backlot is of an abandon area..

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Nothing in the theater right now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

All the equipment has been removed from the rigging with power cords just hanging there. It looks to be in mid removal still.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Same goes for the rigging near Stage 12 (that line is for the AP Days)
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

A look at the Tower of Terror. It closes in January to be switched from Twilight Zone to Guardians of the Galaxy.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Stopped by Tower Gifts There are some merchandise choices to mark the occasion.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Annual Passholder shirts

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Some work outside of Rushin River Outfitters in the Grizzly Recreation Area.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

As the sun was setting it reflected off the Tower of Terror, note the diamond decorations are now removed from the Carthay Circle Restaurant.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016
Elvis, Scot Bruce, was at Tomorrowland Terrace.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Space Mountain was lit up bright white. It also appeared Ghost Galaxy Projections were on (look at the left side) The Ghost Galaxy audio was playing.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 16, 2016

Here is a brief video clip. Also note Star Wars background music still played in Tomorrowland.




A quick trip through the Haunted Mansion Holiday, a couple of video clips including the gingerbread house and new Sally figure.




Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks have returned on non-Halloween Party weekend nights this fall. Here is a video of the full show from Friday night.

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.






September 19, 2016

"Disney Enchanted Tales" Mobile Game Debut

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Recently, Disney Interactive launched their latest free-to-play mobile city-building game, "Disney Enchanted Tales."

To help introduce it, an Enchanted Tea Party was held in which Director of Studio Production & Operations Jennifer Kropko and Art Director Jon Rick talked about the game's development.

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The framing concept for the game is the idea that an enchanted quilt ties all the different Disney kingdoms together into a playable space so that their cherished stories never have to end.

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The gameplay involves placing familiar landmarks around the quilt and gradually unlocking various characters to further the story.

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Each of the characters have specialized tasks and activities they can be made to perform--Gaston can be seen stomping around wearing boots, Rapunzel lets down her hair to lift Mother Gothel up to the tower window, etc.

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The quilt patches can be unlocked as players reach more advanced levels and accumulate in-game currency, allowing for more space to place landmarks and ornamental objects, and eventually to start different stories. Additional tales besides the starting three "Beauty and the Beast," "Tangled," and "Frozen" are already in development.

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Over in the art department, a lot of care was taken to involve WDAS to insure that the game not only had its own look, but was true to the heart of the original films. To date, there has been enough animation created for the game to fill an entire feature film.

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Having played the game a bit, I would say that it's a good introduction for people new to this sort of "kingdom-building" game. The art style is cute and the animations hold some neat easter eggs for fans of the films--for example, when Belle shows the book she's reading to the sheep at the fountain, a sharp eye can see her on the same page as in the movie. It is pretty slow to take off however, as a moderate amount of grinding has to be done before the player can amass enough currency and experience to start unlocking enough characters and locales to really begin advancing the story. Prior to that, you can look forward to helping Belle buy a lot of bookmarks, and Rapunzel sweep the floors...but that may just enhance your understanding of their shared desperation for a more exciting life.

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"Disney Enchanted Tales" is now available on both Apple and Android platforms: http://lol.disney.com/disney-enchanted-tales

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September 14, 2016

Halloween Time Returns to the Disneyland Resort

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Halloween Time

Halloween Time is one of my favorite times of year at Disneyland...I might like it even better than the holidays.

But like the holidays, it seems to start earlier every year - this year it began on September 9 - just four days after Labor Day! It runs through October 31. I was there on opening day - Friday, September 9.

At the Mickey and Friends tram stop, I was a little surprised that the large signs there advertise the Tower of Terror closure and not Halloween Time.

Halloween Time

This Halloween display along the tram route is always fun to see. There's a second and longer part on the other side, but I was on the wrong side of the tram to get a photo of it.

Halloween Time

The large character pumpkins above the entrance turnstiles were back.

Halloween Time

The Mickey floral and the train station are no longer decorated for the 60th anniversary.

Halloween Time

The Mickey pumpkin has returned to Town Square.

Halloween Time

Halloween Time

The Main Street Pumpkin Festival includes lots of jack-o-lanterns peeking out from the buildings on Main Street.

Halloween Time

The candy shop has a number of Halloween-themed treats, like Mickey jack-o-lantern krispie treats, Maleficent krispie treats, skull caramel apples, and these Dia de los Muertos krispie treats.

Halloween Time

The new map and Times Guide. That night was the first showing of the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks show, which has returned now that Disneyland Forever ended along with the Diamond Celebration. Fantasy in the Sky will run (probably on weekends only) until the Holiday celebration kicks off on November 10 and Believe...in Holiday Magic returns.

Halloween Time maps

Speaking of the Diamond Celebration...an unadorned castle. It looks rather plain.

Sleeping Beauty Castle

I was there at park opening, so I hustled over to Tomorrowland to get a Fastpass for Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Hyperspace Mountain seems to be the only piece of the "limited time offerings" of Season of the Force that is no longer around - Path of the Jedi and the Galactic Grill are still there.

Star Wars Launch Bay

I was surprised to see that most of the photo ops from the 60th anniversary celebration are still in place.

Matterhorn photo op

The jack-o-lanterns themed to each land surround the Walt and Mickey Partners statue in the Hub.

Halloween Time

The Vampire Mickey popcorn bucket has been "re-vamped" this year. :-)

Halloween Vampire Mickey popcorn bucket

There's a new Halloween-themed bucket, also, with Disney characters drawn in the older style. (I think Daisy looks pretty creepy, personally.)

Halloween Disneyland popcorn bucket

Haunted Mansion Holiday opened for the season, and many of us were eager to see how Jack had "decked the halls" this year. The standby line was posted as 40 minutes, but it was less than 20.

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Haunted Mansion Holiday

The advances in projection technology have certainly changed the look of a lot of things in the mansion over the years, starting with the Stretch Room. It's always fun to see what happens when two holidays collide...

Haunted Mansion Holiday

The loading area:

Haunted Mansion Holiday

This year's Gingerbread House in the ballroom. I was fortunate to have a brief stop almost right in front of the house.

Haunted Mansion Holiday

New this year: a life-size audio-animatronic figure of Sally was added to the graveyard scene. Her eyes blink as she gazes across at Jack Skellington and she kicks her foot up and down.

Haunted Mansion  Holiday Sally

After exiting Haunted Mansion I was in my Ghost Galaxy Fastpass window so I got a Fastpass for Haunted Mansion Holiday, figuring the line would be longer later. I wandered back to Tomorrowland by way of the Mint Julep Bar, thinking maybe I'd get some beignets. But to my dismay this year there are no pumpkin beignets! The special this year is regular beignets sprinkled with butterscotch sugar. Not very appealing to me.

I also went through Frontierland and the Dia de los Muertos display outside Rancho del Zocalo. It seems the same as previous years. There's a face painting (free) station set up there.

Halloween Time

Halloween Time

The entrance to the Rancho del Zocalo restaurant is also decorated.

Halloween Time Ghost Galaxy

Lots of Halloween merchandise available - here's just a few samples.

Halloween Time merchandise

Halloween Time merchandise

I used my Fastpass for Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. I didn't notice anything new about it this year, and I found it not nearly as exciting and immersive as Hyperspace Mountain. I hope that will return...

Halloween Time Ghost Galaxy

In Town Square some of the characters were out in their Halloween costumes. They always seem to have the same costumes every year - don't they get tired of them? :-)

Halloween Time Vampire Mickey

Halloween Time witch Minnie

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is offering a Halloween Minnie makeover for the season.

Halloween Minnie Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

The entrance to Toontown has some Halloween decorations.

Halloween Time

New maps and Times Guide in Disney California Adventure. The classic World of Color show has returned to replace the Celebrate! version.

DCA map

AP Days, a special event for Annual Passholders, has begun, and will run through October 31.

AP Days

There are activities for Annual Passholders in two different areas of the park. In Hollywood Land, the AP Days Showcase is at Studio 12 (which was the Tron arcade).

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Outside were a few tables where kids (or adults) could color some Halloween-themed drawings. Inside was a special character meet and greet.

AP Days

This area looks like it recycled a lot of props and decor from the Scare-dy Crow shack at the former Big Thunder Ranch area.

AP Days

AP Days

There's a different AP button each week - they change on Mondays. My AP was scanned when they gave me a button, so it seems like they are limiting the buttons to one per passholder. They also gave me a small bottle of water.

AP Days

There were some benches outside a small demonstration kitchen - apparently there are food demonstrations that take place a couple of times a day. I wasn't around for any of that, though. The displays outside have descriptions of some of the seasonal food offerings around the resort.

AP Days

One of them is a seasonal smoothie at Schmoozies - a caramel apple smoothie. I tried it. It has apple pureed in it, and a hint of cinnamon. But most of what I tasted was sweet - too sweet for me.

Caramel apple smoothie

The second location for AP Days is in the Paradise Gardens area. Mainly an AP Days photo opportunity.

AP Days

There was a scavenger hunt-type of activity available. I don't know if the activity changes each week, but this week it was solving a word phrase. The letter clues asked questions about which was more or less, e.g. "Which is MORE? The number of gas pumps at Flo's V8 Cafe or the number of animal spirits within the Spirit Cave at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail?" There's a different letter choice for each answer. No prize for solving it - just the satisfaction.

AP Days

There are several special things going on at the Tower of Terror during its final Halloween season. The Silver Lake Sisters - also known as Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical (they own the cafe on Buena Vista Street) perform throughout the day in the lobby. Unfortunately you have to actually be in line to see them. I thought that was odd. At night there's Late Check Out, where the Tower of Terror ride takes place in total darkness. I didn't stay late enough to try that. There's also special merchandise available in the shop.

Outside the Tower is a new PhotoPass location with a few props.

Tower of Terror photo op

Trader Sam's at the Disneyland Hotel also has a seasonal item - a drink called "This Chilling Challenge" available with a souvenir Hitchhiking Ghosts Tiki Mug. They are $30 each. I went over there to see if I could get one. The line wasn't too bad (apparently it had been very long earlier in the day), but I could sit outside on the patio and order there right away. So I ordered the chicken lettuce wraps and the drink. The drink was a stronger than I expected it to be. It was made with pineapple juice and spiced rum, I think - not sure what else.

Trader Sam's This Chilling Challenge

And here's the mug. There was a limit of two per person, yet these still sold out on Friday. The Parks blog reports that another shipment will arrive closer to Halloween. I continue to be amazed at how poorly Disney estimates the demand for these sorts of items.

Trader Sam's Hitchhiking Ghosts Mug

Downtown Disney had a couple types of Halloween banners.

Tower of Terror banner

When I went back to DCA around 5:00 the bag check line on the Downtown Disney side was really long. It stretched back into the tram area on one side, and past the entrance to Downtown Disney on the other. Wow. I'd like to see them implement a "no bags" line like they do at Disney World. That wouldn't have helped me at all, but it might help things move along faster overall.

There are lots of new seasonal food items for the Halloween season. The Disney Parks blog posted this list.

Here are a few of them. Cupcake from Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe:

Halloween Time Cupcake

These poison apple mugs were first released last year, but they must have sold out quickly. They are EVERYWHERE this year - I think I saw them at most of the quick service locations in Disneyland (and some in DCA), and even at Mortimer's Market, which is more of a fruit stand. Depending on where they are purchased, they are available with a beverage, ice cream, or fruit.

Halloween Time Poison Apple Mug

The French Market has this multi-layer Cookies and Cream Mousse Coffin Cake.

Halloween Time Coffin Cake

It seemed to me as though a number of the food items were not yet available - I didn't see signs posted like I usually do. Except for the Poison Apple mugs - did I mention that those were EVERYWHERE? :-)

I had a really good day. Crowds were not too bad, and I got to ride Haunted Mansion Holiday four times!







September 12, 2016

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

Christopher Schmidt, back again to bring you a review of the 2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.

The Expo itself was a breeze this year. Admittedly I don’t spend a ton of time shopping, and do not engage in the Official Race Merchandise madness at all. When the Expo opened, there was a healthy and eager crowd, but they did not overwhelm the volunteers dispensing bibs and shirts; my primary areas of concern. Jeff Galloway was again in attendance, of course. He was, again, exceedingly generous with his time; hanging around before and after his speaking engagement to meet and talk to participants and fans.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

I confess I was disappointed to hear the Official Race Guide would not be available in print this year. I often found it a bit heavy on advertisements, but as a handy resource for park hours, race times and courses, the guides are indispensable. Maps were posted all throughout the Health & Fitness Expo, which was helpful. The time I spent trying to capture just the right photo of them was unnecessary as our bibs came with a perfectly adequate Race Instruction pamphlet. Though not as complete as in previous years, it contained all of the weekend’s relevant maps and information with none of the distracting advertisements. I appreciate the runDisney sponsors, and am addicted to Clif Bars, but the pared-down guide has to be better for the environment.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

Both the Disneyland 5K and 10K were wonderful. The 5K is still woefully brief, and had some bizarre theming this year. Liver Lips and Big Al, from Country Bear Jamboree, were the character guests of honor. I grew up on, and loved the Country Bear Jamboree. It was charming, and one of those attractions where you could consistently count on short lines. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh took over the Disneyland Country Bear Playhouse in 2001, making the bears an intriguing choice to host the 5K. Still, it is always a delight to see classic characters return. I’m afraid to ask if this portends the release of another Country Bears movie.

The 5K and 10K did not course down Route 66 this year, which was disappointing. Cars Land is a thrill at night, and also before sunrise as an exclusive part of a runDisney event. Both races did circle Radiator Springs, then cross through Cars Land. It was all well-lit and beautiful though I missed that emotional jolt of being essentially immersed in the movie.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

The World of Color light and water display in the heart of the 10K helped make up for the Cars Land abbreviation. The Aladdin theme for this year's 10K was a welcome touch. There was a bit of negative sentiment surrounding the discontinue of the popular Aladdin stage show in Disney California Adventure, even if it was to make room for Frozen. The Aladdin medals and on-course entertainment may have been a concession. There are many who would love to see the show make its way back into the Disneyland Resort somewhere soon.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

All of the 2016 races have been rerouted due to construction on Star Wars Land. This weekend’s courses omitted Frontierland, Adventureland and New Orleans Square entirely. There is still plenty of park land to cover, and in the 5K, the change was not disruptive. For the 10K and Half Marathon, the courses seemed to spend an exorbitant amount of time back stage. Often the behind-the-scenes glimpses are a major part of the appeal of a Disney race. Unfortunately, we spent little time running behind attractions and secret portions of the parks. We were relegated to less descript driveways and service roads. Still, none of this detracted from the amazing experience. It just didn’t add to it in the way circumnavigating Space Mountain and running behind Main Street have traditionally.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

There was a wealth of costumed characters out this year. RunDisney did a thorough job of highlighting the theme from each race throughout the weekend. While in previous years, it seemed they sort of just slapped a name on each race, then didn't go much beyond having XXXX wave at and high five runners at the start and finish lines, this year revealed a concentrated and intentional effort. Beasts and critters from Bear Country were on full display for the 5K. Aladdin and friends were the unmistakable highlight of the 10K. Mickey, Pluto and all the originals adorned each race, but were specifically all over the parks and staging area of the Half Marathon. Cast Members dressed in the race theme, acting in character along the course and within the parks, were a genuine highlight. The Aladdin and Jasmine look-a-likes in front of "it's a small world" were mic'd up and had an entertaining exchange going on as we passed. Bravo to the two Imperial Storm Troopers who were actively, convincingly, in character. I think the look of discomfort on the Ewok’s face above was genuine.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

Pooh and Piglet in the double-decker omnibus were a thrill, as was the lineup of Cast Members surrounding the hub and much of Main Street. But, again, the park time is over all too quickly. Before you know it, or want it to be so, the 5K and 10K courses are angling through Downtown Disney and their all-too-sudden finish.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

If you drew one of the deeper starting corrals for the half marathon, you were in for a tough slog. Among the thousands of participants there seemed a high number of early and frequent walkers. Walking is absolutely your prerogative, if that is your preferred approach. The number of participants walking at the outset this year, and throughout the race, appeared uncommon.

The half marathon had excellent on-course support. The volunteers, bands, etc., are so passionate and committed. The classic cars were present in their usual location on Cerritos Ave. They are always such a wonderful break after being outside the park for so long. Admittedly, it did feel like there weren't as many organized groups, e.g. bands, on the route this year.

I thought there were more costumes than I have ever seen for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. There really seemed to be a higher level of creativity and participation. The costumes ran the entire gamut. Tons of Minnies, Donalds and the other traditionalists. Then there was a bellhop carrying a "Looking for Work" sign vis-a-vis the closing of the Tower of Terror. One guy had an amazing Tron getup. In the dark he looked incredible, but of course it made him impossible to photograph.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

This year's medals were beautiful, sturdy and reliable. What participants have come to expect and mostly appreciate from the Disneyland Half Marathon, I believe. The Coast to Coast Medal however, shows the detail and intricacy that is going into other runDisney event medals. I do love tradition, but wish a little more creativity would spill over to the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend medals.

The weather was perfect for the entire weekend, really. There was nice cloud cover early in the race day, with pleasantly low humidity. Can’t really account for all the walking. This is not a criticism. I did, and do, my share of walking. We would all do well to pay more attention to Mr. Galloway. It’s just something different I noticed this year.

With the half marathon course circling and doubling back upon itself, something else I noticed were the elite runners finishing while many of us were just getting started. Not sure if I am more envious of those with such ability, or concerned for their emotional well-being. If I could run that fast through Disneyland, I’m not sure I would. It seems a tragic waste of the runDisney opportunity. Oh, believe me, I want to sprint through a few of those tedious middle miles. I just have to wonder if the elite runners are actually enjoying themselves. I guess being excellent at something is rewarding in and of itself.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

For the rest of us mere mortals, the runDisney experience continues to impress. It also beckons us back. I thank runDisney for another memorable weekend, as I look longingly toward November, the Super Heroes Half and the next incredible adventure.

September 7, 2016

"Moana" Press Day: Producer/Director Presentations and "Inner Workings."

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Fresh off their popular/critical hit "Zootopia," Walt Disney Animation Studios invited us last month to take a sneak peek at what will be their 56th animated feature: "Moana."

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[Non-attributed photos courtesy of Disney]

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Leading off the day was Director Leo Matsuda and Producer Sean Lurie discussing the conception and creation of their fantastic short "Inner Workings" which will accompany "Moana" in theaters. The short portrays a working man caught in the middle of his brain and heart's conflicting desires.

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Leo Matsuda on the "Inner Workings" inspiration: "As you can see, I'm Japanese-Brazilian--you can probably tell from my accent--I have a Japanese side that is very disciplined and logical, but I also have my Brazilian side who loves Carnival and parties, so I feel that I've always had this tug-of-war between the two extremes in my life, and I think this short portrays some of that."

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--Other influences on the short include the works of Jacques Tati, Wes Anderson, Ward Kimball, Golden Books, and the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
--Paul, the main character, was initially envisioned as a generic white guy, but the crew insisted that Matsuda's sketches looked like him, and after his fiancee agreed, he changed the character design to reflect that.
--The overlying shape of things in Paul's office is square, indicating the rigid world of the brain, as opposed to the world of the beach which is wavy and curved and where the heart wants to be.
--The journey to developing an art style that would make bodily organs adorable vs. disgusting took influences from aquatic animals and how they move in water.
--Ultimately, the story is about finding balance between the demands of the brain and heart as opposed to either abandoning all responsibilities or failing to live life to the fullest.

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Next up was Producer Osnat Shurer introducing "Moana."

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Shurer on the journey to making "Moana": "A few years ago, after 'Princess and the Frog,' Ron (Clements) and John (Musker)...were talking about what their next feature should be. John had long been fascinated by stories of the...South Pacific. This incredible, beautiful area of the world that many of the residents call 'Oceania.' And he read a lot of Polynesian folktales and looked at the varied and really fascinating stories of the demigod Maui, and the various stories there. Ron loved the idea, and they went together to our Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, and pitched some ideas."

--As part of the extensive research they conducted, the filmmakers went on several trips to multiple islands in the South Pacific which significantly changed the direction of the project.
--The Moorean phrase "know your mountain" became an important concept to the story: In order to know where you're going, you have to know where you come from.
--They were introduced to the concept that the ocean does not divide the islands, but in fact unites them as one.
--A variety of people they met on their voyages became regular references to them on matters of cultural representation--an "Oceanic Story Trust."
--The task of creating a soundtrack incorporating the musical rhythms of the South Pacific with a contemporary sound eventually fell to the team of Opetaia Foa‘i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
--All the leads of the film have South Pacific roots.

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Auli‘i Cravalho, voice of Moana

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Dwayne Johnson, voice of Maui

Directors John Musker and Ron Clements then took the stage.

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After a short recap of their illustrious careers at WDAS, the two recounted the story development of "Moana": "In our research trips in the South Pacific, we learned first hand the importance of navigation to this culture. So really, we built the whole story around the true fact of the Pacific Islanders being the greatest navigators the world has ever seen. 3,000 years ago, they found their way across the Pacific starting in Taiwan, going through New Guinea, working their way from West to East. And in one of the greatest feats of nautical exploration, they used dead reckoning, they had no instruments whatever, and based on their knowledge of the stars and the currents, they found their way across the ocean in a great feat. And we wanted to celebrate that.

"But according to experts that we spoke with, about 3,000 years ago, everything stopped. All voyaging stopped. For a thousand years, everyone just stayed put and they didn't migrate. And then about 2,000 years ago, it started up again. And then they proceeded to populate the Eastern Pacific, including Tahiti, Hawaii, and New Zealand. And because it was an oral culture, nothing was written down. To this day, no one actually knows why the voyaging stopped, or how it started again. It's a mystery.

"We came up with a theory, which is the basis of our movie...What if there happened to be one young girl that was responsible for things starting up again?"

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--"Moana" means "ocean" in many different South Pacific languages.
--She is 16 years old, the daughter of a chief, fearless, smart, and high-spirited.
--Her pet pig is "Pua."
--Moana's desire to explore is at odds with her father's decree that no one ever venture beyond the reefs of their island, but is fanned by the stories of her Gramma Tala.
--Her intellectually challenged rooster is "Heihei."
--Maui has a magical fishhook "like Thor's hammer."
--He is covered with tattoos, and one in particular of himself--"Mini Maui"--was supervised in 2D by famed Disney animator Eric Goldberg.

Next time, we'll be recounting presentations from animators in charge of the environments, characters, effects, story, and more.

"Moana" will be opening November 23, 2016.

September 6, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 9/02/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, September 2, 2016. Since it's been just a week since his last visit, he focused primarily on the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, along with a few scattered updates.

But first -- another video clip of the Star Wars Construction site.


Now onto this weekend's Disneyland Half Marathon and other runDisney races. The 5K race was Friday and featured a Country Bear theme. Saturday was a 10K, followed by the Half Marathon on Sunday.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

The Expo was held in the Convention Center as usual. It was fairly busy/crowded this afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Disney Vacation Club was in the center of the hall.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Some Disney-inspired shoes were for sale.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

And Honda had a car on display.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

ABC also had a booth and was hosting screenings of some new television shows.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

They had a castle photo op in the lobby.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

This was the line to enter the merchandise store. It only wrapped back on itself once, and took about five minutes to work through.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

A look around the store.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

An assortment of generic running merchandise, as well as race-specific items.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

The main location for runDisney was set up in one of the lounge areas.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

One display rack had medals from this race weekend as well as medals for the the upcoming Disneyland Paris Half Marathon, to be held later this month.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

The 5K medal:


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Some of the Disneyland Paris medals:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

A second rack had medals for the upcoming domestic races:

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Leaving the Expo, I headed over to the Downtown Disney District. In the LEGO store, the Cinderella Castle set is on display. It sells for $350.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Caught the a cappella group Vocal Trip performing.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

The walkway in front of Naples is now blocked off and is outdoor seating.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Over in the parks, the specially themed Haunted Mansion Holiday opens next Friday. Exterior decorations are being finalized.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

The Market House work on the side facing the street has wrapped up.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

The walls are down from the west side of the Main Street Train Station.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Halloween Party ad as you exit the park.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

The Opera House windows have their pumpkins out. No other Halloween decorations were out yet..

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016


Soon all the blue will be gone... when the 60th Anniversary celebrations conclude on Monday.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Walls are up on the east side of the train station now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Tinker Bell leading the way in Paint the Night. The Monsters Inc. float was not part of the parade tonight.

This parade goes on hiatus after Monday until the Holiday season.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Found a spot for Disneyland Forever.

The final show is scheduled for Monday.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 2016

One last shot of the 60th Celebration, since I'm assuming this will be gone my next visit.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, September 2, 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.





August 29, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 8/26/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, August 26, 2016.


A quick video look at the Star Wars Construction site from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.



An overview of the site


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Closer to Fantasyland the retaining wall is slowly taking shape with more wood being inserted between the steel i-beams.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

In the distance notice trucks working on the old Skyway hill. In the center of the site it looks like a maze of walls right now as the retaining walls, Fantasmic marina, and river all continue to take shape.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Excavation work for what looks to be one of the show buildings is underway.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

World of Disney rolled out Halloween merchandise.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Some renovation work on the west side of the Main Street Train Station

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Main Street USA this picture perfect afternoon.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Work continues on the Market House


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

The Shooting Exposition has re-opened.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


No real visible changes jumped out to me.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


The Columbia has moved again since my last visit. It is no longer docked on the island. The dock is still out, though.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


The Columbia is back in the harbor. Note the top of the masts and a fair amount of rigging is gone.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

The Haunted Mansion is closed for the annual transformation as Jack decks the halls.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

Walls now extend all the way to the Hungry Bear ramp. You cannot access the lower level from this area.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

You now enter using a temporary walkway that is over the small stream area. You enter to the right of the Winnie the Pooh entrance.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Looking toward the Haunted Mansion from the top of Tarzan's Treehouse

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

Gaston was admiring his reflection in the windows of Fantasyland

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

Exterior renovation work is underway on Peter Pan. .


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Captain Hook was out at the old motor boat dock.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

Halloween merchandise is out on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Stopped by the Disneyland Flag Retreat and this evening they were honoring members of the 9th & 10th Cavalry, the Buffalo Soldiers, who are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year. Several members were on hand as well as other veterans for the ceremony.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


The Disneyland Band has resumed the Flag Retreat duties now that the College Band has ended its season.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


After the ceremony members of the Disneyland Security Honor Detail came back out to present the Buffalo Soldiers with Challenge Coins.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Then they all gathered for group pictures.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Hopped back to DCA for a sunset race on Radiator Springs Racers

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

Tower Gifts has Halloween Merchandise too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


The Pete's Dragon preview has ended so nothing is showing in the Sunset Showcase Theater.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

Goofy trying to hitch a ride with 5 & Dime


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Elias & Co Halloween window.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Some Halloween Merchandise in the Five and Dime


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

This little sorcerer making his way up Main Street USA drew a lot of attention.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

Decided to continue the nautical theme this visit was taking on and go for a Jungle Cruise. (Plus it was only a two boat wait).


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016

Found another cruise to take.. .Small World was only a 5 minute wait.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Tomorrowland was not bad for a Friday night at 8:15pm


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Found a spot for Paint the Night near Coke Corner.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 2016


Mike on the back of the float


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, August 26, 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.







August 27, 2016

Survive, Even Enjoy the Disneyland runDisney Health & Fitness Expo

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Greetings. My name is Christopher Schmidt, a former Disneyland Cast Member, ongoing passionate Disney fanatic and absolute runDisney disciple. The 2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is fast approaching. Every runDisney event is an opportunity to enjoy an added, semi-exclusive, layer of Disney magic. Unfortunately, what lies between guests and their spectacular experience is an often daunting Health & Fitness Expo hurdle. With the proper approach, mostly shaped by timing and attitude as much as anything else, you may sail through the potentially troubled waters and absolutely enjoy yourself.

To experience total enjoyment at Disneyland, very little is required of you. A bit of patience and some disposable income, sure, but as far as fun and fulfillment go, you almost have to try to have a bad time. These festivities are very well attended. Participants also have to get up obscenely early in the morning. But everything else, from decorations to the course design, music and amenities, every Disney detail is carefully crafted to maximize guest enjoyment. All you do is show up and let an unbelievable experience embrace you.

Then, like a hurricane on the horizon, we have the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo. No amount of exceptional Disney-patented planning and organization seems to mitigate the potential Expo pitfalls. Whether it’s merchandise, bib-number retrieval, pins or the improperly-sized participant t-shirts, tales of Expo woe persist beyond any capacity to rectify them. Considering Disney’s guest-centric priority structure, that is saying something.

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Every single participant in every race throughout a runDisney weekend is required to attend the Expo. There is no other way to pick up your bib, shirt and sundry swag. Each half marathon attracts a minimum of ten thousand entrants. The Disneyland Half Marathon alone draws almost twice that. Throw in the 5Ks, 10Ks and Kids Races, and you are talking about a lot of needy humans passing through a crowded space in a limited amount of time.

Try to avoid limiting yourself one single, rigid window of time in which to get your stuff. If you arrive at the Expo during high tide, faced with resolute human gridlock, your best option is to come back later. The poor Cast Member assigned to direct people who refuse to read the huge, boldly printed signs is not the person responsible for the chaos or your plight. Do them and the spirit of the event a favor by not yelling at them. Do yourself a favor and remain flexible. Come back later. Chances are there will be fewer people. Worst case, if you can't come back, joining the current crush of humanity will help prepare you for the corral experience that awaits you at your race in the morning.

Once you commit to the Expo try to enjoy yourself. Negotiating the admittedly crowded convention hall can get frustrating. If you let it, matters can get off to a positively unpleasant start. So don't let it. Remember you are surrounded by people with whom you share a pleasurable interest; people who are purposely engaged in an activity that you all enjoy. Then, packing the floor and lining every wall are booths bursting with stuff to make your run easier and the whole weekend that much more spectacular. Some of it is free. Grab some cranberries and a CLIF Bar, try on some new shoes (these are not free), shop for authentic runDisney merchandise—if there's any left (see below). Let the crowd take you where it will and explore the place. At the very least, count the manifold blessing that you aren’t running yet and the Expo is inside a thoroughly air-conditioned building.

Disneyland Expo entrance

Packet Pick-Up – Your race bib is your #1 Expo priority. Yes, the Expo repeatedly runs out of commemorative pins, which is infuriating—and is why you should order one online when you register—but you can still participate in your race without one. Try to handle the packet pick-up first. This is particularly important for half marathon participants as the Expo continues to close astoundingly early on Saturday afternoon, and is not open at all the morning of your race.

Bibs are claimed on the lower level of the Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hall. Find your way there by paying attention to signs and helpful Cast Members. Following the herd will draw you directly into the Upper Level Exhibit Hall, where you will find acres of fine goodies and gear and the incomparable Jeff Galloway. Once relegated to this sprawling room, it can be difficult to make your way out and there is almost no indication how to get to the lower level, or that you are even supposed to. Even as a veteran of dozens of these specific functions, I still sometimes lose my bearings in the upper hall.

Packet Pick-Up can be a breeze, or it can be a logjam. Naturally, it depends on when you arrive. The setup is beautiful: clearly delineated entry and exit, a wide-open floor plan, separate stations for each race, even clean accessible restrooms. Again, problems arise during those periods when too many of us arrive at once. When pick-up does develop a line, the good news is it moves fairly well, assuming you already have your waiver and aren’t simply in the line of people taking photos of the huge Disneyland cutout at the bottom of the ramp.

A signed waiver and photo ID are required to retrieve your race packet. If you do not print a waiver ahead of time at runDisney.com, there is a station on the lower level for doing just that. I have always had success here on the occasions I admittedly arrived without my paperwork.

A tip for families and supporters: if you don’t want to follow your particular runDisney participant all over the Expo, while they are retrieving their bib seek out the “Runner Tracking” station on the upper level. A fun game is to count the number of people who get out of line when they realize these aren’t the waiver printing computers.

Your packet is the key to the runDisney kingdom. Inside is your race bib, voucher for your gEAR bag and the pins you should have ordered. Pull out your bib to confirm your starting position, but don’t dawdle. Those who put off getting their shirts do so at their own peril.

(Laura's Note: If you are participating in the Dumbo Double Dare, make sure you get your photo taken with your bib number before you leave the packet pick-up area.)

Expo Sparkle Skirts booth

Shirts and gEAR Bags – as soon as you get your packet head back upstairs. The volunteers handing out shirts won’t give out gEAR without the proper voucher from your packet. runDisney has established a shirt-exchange table. This is a grand courtesy, but again, the more common sizes are hard to come by as fewer people are handing them in. Don’t walk away until you’ve scrutinized your own gEAR.

10K and half marathon tech shirts are beautiful and make an exceptional collector’s item, taking a tiny bit of the sting out of the registration fee. For the 5K you get a regular t-shirt. They’re nice too, featuring delightful Disney themes and artistry, though not sure how far yet another sleep shirt goes toward mitigating the cost of registration. Shirt sizes run small, except for that year they were inexplicably huge. Throw yours on really quick when you get it. Then stand there until your 14-year-old does the same. In your hotel room a mile away, on the wrong side of Disneyland’s bag check at 7 p.m. on Saturday night is not the place to find out your daughter’s shirt doesn’t fit, and that she’s never going to wear it.

Expo booths

Samples and Shopping – once you’ve got your bib and a correctly sized shirt you have fulfilled what can be thought of as your Expo responsibilities. You are now free to wander about, shop and ease into the experience. So many of us keep a rigid checklist, if only in our heads, and move compulsively from one specific demand to the next. After I checkoff that race-bib box, I try to make a point to slow down. Try to check your own box as promptly as your own neuroses will allow, and invite your own enjoyable experience to commence.

I find the pull of the Disney Parks almost overwhelming at this point, and don’t tend to linger. I am thankful for the occasions on which I did browse around a bit, and unless you have children who already smell Disneyland popcorn, I recommend you do the same. On two successive runDisney weekends I discovered and became a dedicated consumer of Chocolate Mint CLIF Builder’s Bars and Dannon Active fruit fusion. The sample offerings alone are worth your time. Expo vendors probably wouldn’t mind if you buy some stuff, too.

runDisney medals

runDisney Merchandise – longer, slower and more baffling than the line for Storybook Land Canal Boats, shopping or rather waiting to shop - for Official Event Merchandise is a true test of one’s esprit Disney. Limited supplies, sizes and cash registers are just a portion of the problems associated with this annual aggravation. The problem itself is anchored in recursive overwhelming demand. Interested parties know the items sell out, so they have no choice but to descend upon the Expo the instant it opens, and create their own habitual nightmare. This is blasphemy, of course, but if you don’t insist upon the ultra-exclusive stuff, and you wait even a few hours, shopping at the Expo can be both pleasurable and almost similarly rewarding.

Almost everyone tries to hit the Expo first thing. It makes total sense, as you want to leave the rest of your day/weekend open for the parks, pools and pomegranate limeade. Consequently, the Expo is busy early. Try to stop by any other time. It's best, even, to arrange your day so that you aren't committed to conducting your Expo business at any set time. Swing by the Disneyland Hotel and Expo at random. If it looks busy, come back later.

Jeff Galloway at DL Half Expo

f you aren’t looking to put a bunch of extra miles on your feet, settle in and listen to one of the helpful, knowledgeable speakers. If you are not familiar with Jeff Galloway and his astounding distance running techniques, prepare to have your life and perspective on exercise forever changed for the better. Mr. Galloway draws a crowd himself, which may not be the mayhem cure you’re looking for. His wisdom will serve you well if you can get close enough to listen. Then once he’s done, the hall tends to empty out a bit. If you can beat those people to the merchandise lines, you may be able to breeze through.

The bottom line, make extra time, and take your time. Time is a precious commodity at a Disney Resort and, true, there is not a minute to be wasted. The difference between starting your runDisney Weekend off on the right foot and hurtling it down the road to frustration and disaster is a simple matter of budgeting. If you have to sacrifice an attraction or two, to make a second or third pass of the Expo, your children will never forgive you, but you open a far wider window for further enjoyment. Do that, and enjoy yourself on purpose.

August 23, 2016

San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Star Wars Publishing, D23, and the rest.

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Although Star Wars didn't have any big presentations as they did last year, for "Force Awakens," they still had some presence as Star Wars Publishing held their yearly panel on upcoming publications.

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For introducing younglings to the Star Wars characters and canon, Katie Cook has illustrated a couple of alphabet/poem/picture books.

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For the slightly older child, storybooks adapting scenes from the films or older adult-level novels will be released, complete with stickers and read-along CDs.

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Brian Rood uses a composite process for the film adaptations, in order to create art that is true to the film, but unique to the books.

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For the middle school reader, a new installment of the non-canon "Star Wars: Jedi Academy" series is out with "Jedi Academy: A New Class." These books are set in the extended universe of Star Wars, far before the events of the prequels.

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If you are among the legion that is the Poe Dameron fandom, "Poe Dameron: Flight Logs" promises to offer up more insight into Poe than any other vehicle thus far.

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Speaking of insight, didn't you ever wonder what happened to Ashoka between (spoilers) the time she left the Jedi Order at the end of Clone Wars, and her appearance in Rebels? Now you'll know when the young adult novel "Ashoka" comes out in October.

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Chuck Wendig discussed his "Aftermath" trilogy briefly, mentioning that the recently released "Life Debt" involved how the Empire dissolved and the New Republic became ascendant, and how the upcoming end of the trilogy "Empire's End" would shake out the end of "Life Debt" and bring the story into the start of "Force Awakens" by filling in the blanks of what transpired on Jakku.

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A new book out next year in the Expanded Universe, or Star Wars Legends line is "Thrawn," which joins "Bloodline" in fleshing out what might have happened between the canon plot points. "Thrawn" has recently become of increasing interest after the announcement that Admiral Thrawn will be making the leap from legend to canon in Rebels this next season.

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Finally, a slew of books introducing the world of the upcoming Anthology film "Rogue One" is expected, including an adult coloring book and a beautiful "Art of Rogue One" tome.

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Outside of the convention center there were the usual plethora of activities. Although the lately-lamented Disney Infinity pop-up shop was out of commission, we did get a D23 Member Mixer at the Hard Rock Hotel. This was pretty fabulous, because I can tell you, by the end of the day at SDCC, the things I want more than anything else in the world are food and air conditioning, and D23 came through with both of them.

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There was a macaroni-and-cheese bar and a taco bar and filled churros and I never wanted to leave.

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So once I had a chance to re-hydrate and restore my blood sugar, I was able to check out the environs and the notables D23 talked into hanging out with us. Producer Don Hahn made a break for it before I was able to snap a decent photo, but I was able to catch Legend Tony Baxter and Imagineer Josh Shipley.

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(And photobomber.)

The First Avenger was also there protecting the innocent, occasionally getting breaks from Thor.

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On the way out we were given beach towels, which I later briefly thought I would have to use sleeping out on the ground waiting for the Hall H wristbands, and posters for "Pete's Dragon." From my perspective, it was a great event, and the ice-cold soda alone was probably worth my annual membership fee. For more photos, you can check out the D23 recap of the event here.

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The annual Comic-Con International Masquerade displayed, as usual, an impressive array of costumes from all corners of pop culture fandom and, as usual, Disney and its various brands made a strong showing.

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Even a marriage proposal! I thought they were doing a bit, at first.
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Finally, after getting into whatever panels you could, and resigning yourself to not getting into the ones you couldn't, there was always the expansive Exhibitor's Floor to discover.

The kawaii-ful Tsum Tsums had their own booth, displaying the con-exclusive items and upcoming Tsums.

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Sadly, by the end of the last day, they were--you guessed it...

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Star Wars had its typical behemoth of a booth, with a variety of exhibitors selling and displaying anything and everything related to or themed towards the Skywalkers and Co.

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Disney Publishing had one booth, and Star Wars Publishing had another booth--so when they were running promotions or giveaways, you had to be pretty sure which one you wanted.

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Disney Music Emporium brought their booth back this year, along with the "Disneyland Records" t-shirt that I've been bugging them to carry ever since I missed out on getting one at the last D23 Expo.

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They also sold what Tony Baxter said was his favorite buy of the con, a copy of the "Awesome Mix Tape" from "Guardians of the Galaxy" on actual cassette tape, with a digital copy for those who might have left their Walkmans in the 80s.

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ABC Television had their booth themed to promote their new show "Designated Survivor," which I didn't experience because I feel like I get enough politics IRL as it is.

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Marvel's booth was generally so crowded it was hard to get a good look at anything unless it was closed for the day. I always think it's strange that when they have a bunch of stars doing a signing, they start frantically tweeting it out and encouraging people to come by, when you need to already have obtained a ticket to get anything signed. Further, everyone who can't get into the signing line then stands around outside of it trying to get photos and completely congesting the walkways all around the booth. Security then comes by and starts yelling at everyone to keep moving, and it's all pretty much a chaotic mess.

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However, in between celebrity traffic jams, you could see the Captain America statue on display that was dedicated in Prospect Park, Brooklyn earlier this year.

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If you wanted one for your very own, miniature versions were for purchase.

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So kind of a low-key year at SDCC for Disney, although still more panels and booth activities than one person could reasonably see for the whole weekend. Next year should prove interesting, as the current schedule has the D23 Expo and SDCC going almost back-to-back on the same week. Look forward to a LOT of blogs coming out the middle of July next year, and some very tired bloggers.

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August 21, 2016

San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Marvel TV and "Once Upon A Time"

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One branch of Disney that was pretty heavily represented at SDCC this year was its television divisions--both Marvel and ABC.

[Unattributed photos and videos courtesy of Disney, Marvel, and ABC.]

For fans of the Netflix series "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones," the new spin-off "Marvel's Luke Cage" had its own panel, complete with the main cast and crew. Unfortunately, security was so tight that they actually made me delete the photos I took of Head of Marvel TV, Jeph Loeb, while they watched...and about ten minutes later appeared to have abandoned the whole thing, as everyone else took photos of everything else afterwards with no problems. Alas.

On the panel, showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, Frank (Detective Scarfe) Whaley, Simone (Misty Knight) Missick, Theo (Shades) Rossi, Alfre (Mariah Dillard) Woodard, and Mike (Luke Cage) Colter discussed the new series, including the smartness of the script which they described as primarily a drama set in a superhero world. It will premiere on September 30.

Along with the announcement that "Daredevil" had been picked up for a 3rd season, the audience was treated to glimpses of the upcoming Marvel TV series "Iron Fist" and "The Defenders."

[It probably goes without saying, but Netflix series tend to be more graphic/intense than usual broadcast TV. You may want to review them in advance, to decide whether they are friendly for your family, is what I am saying.]

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The big panel of the weekend was the Marvel Studios presentation in Hall H, an enormous room that seats around 6,000 people. In theory, you're supposed to line up at a certain time the evening before, they hand out wristbands, and as long as you're back by 7:30am, you get a seat in the room for the day. I tried it, but it turns out that a) people actually start lining up for the wristbands like a day ahead of time, and b) people apparently started charging/cutting into the line as the wristbands started getting handed out causing enough riotous chaos that they had to stop handing out the wristbands for a considerable amount of time while they tried to restore order. Consequently, it was after 1am by the time the part of the line I was at was told that they were out of wristbands, giving everyone feelings of failure mixed with relief that we didn't have to get back in line in a few hours.

So, I didn't get to see it. If you haven't read the announcements from that panel from every other more effective blogger in the world, you can read them on the Marvel recap here.

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A panel I did get to see however, was "Once Upon A Time," in which co-creators and executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were joined with cast members Jared (Henry) Gilmore, Emilie (Belle) de Ravin, Rebecca (Zelena) Mader, Josh (David) Dallas, Colin (Hook) O’Donoghue, Lana (Regina) Parilla, and Jennifer (Emma) Morrison.

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Kitsis and Horowitz on the definition of "hope."
Horowitz: "My definition of hope is the belief that things will get better."
Kitsis: "My definition of hope is the belief that Eddie is right."

Kitsis on whether Zeus can intervene in all eternal matters: "I feel like that was a one-time only Zeus interference."
Morrison: "Thank you Zeus!"
O'Donoghue: "He could have given me back mah hand!"

Horowitz on why the Olympian Crystal worked differently on Hades and Robin: "Well...everything that was said about the Olympian Crystal was said by Hades...so I don't know. He's God of the Underworld...I don't know. Can we trust him? I would say in all seriousness, that's a question that I think some of our characters should and will ask."
Kitsis: "I would say, for a show about Hope, I would choose not to believe Hades, but we'll find out."

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Gilmore on how Henry sees himself fitting in: "I think that now that Henry is The Author, he's gained that thing that I am the hero now, and my way of helping people is by being able to give them their stories and help them figure things out. I think Henry has found his place, and he believes that now he is a part of the heroes and...I think he likes it. He loves it."

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Mader on what changed Zelina most--having a baby, reconciling with Regina, or finding true love with Hades: "I think it's a plethora. It's a cacophony if you will, of everything. I mean, it's a lot happened all at once in terms of life breaking down Zelina's heart, you know. I think the reason she got pregnant was for horrible reasons, but then it ended up really changing her, and I don't think she really expected or understood that having a baby meant having unconditional love, and I think that melted her heart a little bit. It was also hard for her to accept and believe that a man could actually love her because she had such a rubbish life, and then all of a sudden her sister gave her her trust when she really, quite frankly, didn't deserve it. So it's like these three people who loved her even though she didn't feel like she was worth it, and I think that's changed her in powerful fundamental ways that's been really fun to play."

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de Ravin on why Belle continues to believe in Rumple: "Part of that pull is him being a bad guy. She likes that. Deep down, yes--she sees the good in him, she sees the...loving person he could be, but that darkness...she likes that. There's a side of that that definitely pulls her in."

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Dallas on playing the dual roles of Charming and his evil brother James: "It was great, you know. It was a chance for Charming to see everything that he didn't want to be, or everything he didn't want to ever become. He wanted to have a relationship with his brother, and he always felt a connection with him, and he wishes he could have gotten to know him, but that just wasn't the case. But his brother was a reminder to him of everything that he wanted to avoid and stay away from and not become."

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Parilla on whether Regina is now all good: "Regina's still sassy. She's not going to lose her sass...That's Regina. She's sarcastic and that's what we love about her, so she's not going to lose that. But the Evil Queen is slightly different than she used to be, I think. She's now without a conscience, so she's pure evil. And a lot of fun."

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Morrison on Emma's relationship with the separated Regina and Evil Queen: "I think it's going to be complicated for Emma to navigate because she wants to believe in Regina, and she wants to believe that Good can win, but she also knows she needs to protect everyone she loves, including everyone in her family...and that includes Regina. So it's like, how do you separate the two mentally, and figure out where to draw the line and how do you do that in a way where you're not betraying the trust that you've developed with this friend for so long, so I think it's going to be complicated."

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O’Donoghue on whether Hook has been changed from being dead
: "I think he's still pretty much the same Hook. I mean he...now that they know that it's True Love with Emma and Hook...they're trying to figure out how to navigate being together and that sort of world now...so at the minute he's the same Hook, but who knows? I think we might find out a few things about his past..."

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Also mentioned: Hot Topic will be introducing a "Once Upon A Time" inspired collection this Fall in stores and online.

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