Page 1 of 5

January 17, 2018

Disneyland Resort Updates from January 12

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 12, 2018.

In this picture set I take a look at the many projects going on around the Disneyland Resort this winter. For a more in depth look at these as well as other random pictures be sure to visit my full update.

Preparation work for the new parking structure and tram stop at the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure is underway. Planters are being removed so they can re-route the trams. The new structure will be built on the Pinocchio Parking lot.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

New billboards at the tram stop featuring the new marketing slogan on them.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Now onto the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge check. Here is a video overview from the roof of the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.



A long shot of the side facing Disneyland Drive. Notice the exterior siding is now all installed on both buildings.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The peaks in the distance and to the left more support steel for rock work taking shape.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Panning right to the shorter of the peaks visible over the Battle Escape Building. The scaffolding is up and it looks ready for concrete.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Further right the taller of the shorter peaks has most of its wire mesh installed so you can see the shape and scaffolding is going up.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Continuing to the right toward Critter Country. They are sealing the roof of the concrete structure that was recently created. Dirt will most likely be brought in all the way to the top of the black.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Most of the Chip and Dale level of the parking structure is blocked off as they prepare for tram stop changes.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Here you can see the current route to the left and a fenced in walkway from the stairs to the crossing on the right.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

In Downtown Disney, Ride Makerz has closed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The Build-a-Bear is closed too, but The Dress Shop remains open for now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Finishing touches continue on the exterior of Splitsville. No opening date has been announced.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Furniture is now visible inside.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

New winter plantings throughout Downtown Disney.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Arriving at Disneyland. Most signs of Christmas are gone from the parks now. Only a few random decorations and Small World Holiday remain. A large project has taken over Main Street. The horse-drawn streetcar tracks are being completely replaced for the first time in the park's history. Several of the rails and tracks are original from 1955. So as you enter the park you are greeted by construction walls that block off Town Square.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The view from the train station. They are working on the perimeter of Town Square, the center portion is untouched.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Plastic and boards are down to protect the concrete and areas that are not being worked on.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The straight portion of the street is not behind walls yet. They are working on the two ends first.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The hub is also encircled with construction walls.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

One piece of equipment was visible working over the wall.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Sleeping Beauty Castle. The Christmas decorations, lights and icicles are all gone. Snow remains.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Walls up along the grass opposite Small World.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

A check of the Star Wars peaks from the Miss Daisy.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

A winter Annual Passholder popcorn special has started.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The AP bucket.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

In Fantasyland Dumbo is behind walls. In addition to a regular renovation they are moving the queue and adding a new shade structure to it.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Walls ring northern edge of Fantasyland around Dumbo.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Haunted Mansion is closed for a couple weeks for removal of the holiday overlay. It looks like they may be working on the queue for Haunted Mansion. A lot of plastic covers up in the area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

A check of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge from the Mark Twain. More wire mesh and scaffolding being added.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Over at Disney California Adventure, the Festival of Holidays marketplaces and signs are all gone.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

A different AP popcorn bucket is for sale at DCA, the one on the left.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Grizzly River Run is closed for its annual renovation work.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

A Fastpass cart out in the Bay Area being used for Toy Story FastPass distribution since the regular area is behind walls. This saves a lot of steps. No indication of return times though, so you have to ask, check the app, or look at someone's ticket.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Walls are also up around the Sonoma Terrace area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Christmas decorations are removed from the Pier entrance sign but not the Paradise Pier sign yet. Beyond the sign notice the canopy is gone and Treasures in Paradise sign is removed too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Ariel's Grotto is closed and the signs on the left side are gone.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

All the gondolas on the Fun Wheel are removed for renovation.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Walls are up around Screamin' as it is being transformed into the Incredicoaster.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Walking toward Toy Story Mania, which remains open.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The walkway narrows a bit as you go further along.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Walls up at Toy Story blocking the rest of the pier. The line on the right is for Stand-by. FastPass return uses the regular handicap access path adjacent to the store.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Scaffolding is going up around the launch hill of Screamin.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

King Triton's is also still open.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The top of the loop has been removed from the coaster for renovation and guessing access.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The queue cover for the Fun Wheel has been removed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

No visible change to the stores yet.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Walls are up from Boardwalk Pizza to the swings forming a dead end.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The Bakery Tour is closed until February, the cafe is still open though.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Route 66, Cars Land. Christmas is removed but the poles on the right have not been removed yet.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The current park maps feature the same images as the banners and billboards with the new marketing campaign. I prefer the attraction or entertainment covers to some random kid.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Returned to Disneyland. This gives an idea of how narrow the entry is now with the construction.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

Small World holiday runs January 21.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The flags in Town Square stay up all night due to the construction. There is a spot light on them.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

The back portion of the Chip and Dale level was in use today.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 12, 2018

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.









January 9, 2018

Disneyland Resort Updates from January 5

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 5, 2018. In this post there's a look at the Three Kings Day Celebration in Disney California Adventure, as well as some new Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Merchandise & Trading Cards in the Star Wars Launch Bay. For my full picture set visit disneygeek.com For Dia de Reyes (Three Kings Day) a small cart/sign has been added to the left of the entrance to Paradise Gardens.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

A sign up for Dia De Reyes at the Bandstand but no mention of the Storytellers or show times for them (they were in the printed times guide)

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

The area right next to Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta had a photo op and arts/crafts for Three Kings Day.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018
The Three Kings Photo Op

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018
Coloring and stickers at the tables.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018
A sign talking about the holiday.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

There were also crowns available to decorate.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Caught the 2:30pm Three Kings Day Storytellers performance.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018
Video of the Three Kings Day Storytellers. I missed some of the beginning because I was waiting for a seat to become available.


Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Merchandise is now available inside the Star Wars Launch Bay as well as Star Traderes. Here are some pictures from the Launch Bay.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

A couple new Lego statues have been added from the Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the Launch Bay.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018


Trading cards for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge are being passed out inside the Star Wars Launch Bay. Here is a look at the pack I received.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018
The reverse side of the cards forms a map of Batuu.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, January 5, 2018

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.









January 7, 2018

“Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" Now Open at Downtown Disney

jeaninebanner.jpg

Recently "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" opened up at a new VOID Experience Center in Downtown Disney at the Anaheim Disneyland Resort. It is a hyper-reality, multi-sensory experience created in tandem by Lucasfilm's ILMxLAB and The VOID to immerse you in the Star Wars universe.

In the interests of not being responsible for any perceived spoilers, here's the official story overview for the experience:

"A galaxy far, far away needs your help. In groups of four, be transported with family and friends into Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire.

Under the orders of the budding rebellion, you and your friends will travel to the molten planet of Mustafar. Your mission is to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. Alongside the pragmatic droid K-2S0, your team must navigate through an enemy facility walking into danger at every turn. Disguised as Stormtroopers, grab your blaster, solve puzzles, and fight giant lava monsters in an effort to complete your mission."

IMG_1907a.JPG

The story takes place between Star Wars Episodes III and IV, and features "Rogue One" characters K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk,) Cassian Andor (Diego Luna,) and Sam Witwer as Athex.

SWSOTE_Still_3_preview.jpg

Prior to opening, we were given the opportunity to go through the experience. It takes approximately 30 minutes from start to finish, with about 10 minutes spent filling out waivers and getting suited up. Participants buckle themselves into a vest and helmet and choose colored accents for their Stormtrooper appearance to distinguish each other within the group.

THE-VOID-Group-Shot_preview.jpg

After watching a short film in which Cassian entrusts you with a mission vital to the Rebellion, you enter a small loading area where your visors go down and your group is magically transformed into stormtroopers. On entering the ship with K-2S0 and Athex, they begin filling you in on the plan, and you are off on your adventure. On the conclusion (hopefully successful) of the campaign, you return your gear and exit out into the lobby where souvenir apparel and in-attraction photos can be purchased.

IMG_1901a.JPG

I thought the whole thing was remarkably impressive and a lot of fun. The first minute or so is basically taken up by everyone marveling that they can look down at themselves and see nothing but stormtrooper. It seems amazing that you can look at your own armored hands moving around and grabbing things without having to hold anything or wear sensor gloves. While there are some moments where you might appear to be in peril, such as crossing a bridge over lava or feeling vibration when someone shoots you, there is no jumping, running, or climbing permitted throughout the experience. The main people who might have difficulty with this are those who suffer from claustrophobia, as the quarters are pretty close at some times, both virtually and physically, with the helmet covering the top half of your face.

SWSOTE_Still_2_preview.jpg

One thing that surprised me was how almost everything you see actually exists in some physical form. From doorframes to guns to control panels, you actually manipulate and interact with objects with your own stormtrooper hands in a pretty convincing manner. Even more impressive was the thought which only occurred to me in retrospect, that your whole journey which takes you onto ships and space stations, out onto balconies and into elevators--it all occurs in the space of what used to be about two Downtown Disney shops. The manipulation and distortion of your sense of space is really amazing, considering there are more than one group going through at the same time and you never run into each other in that small space.

SWSOTE_Still_1_preview.jpg

[For those five of you that read my blog on SIGGRAPH 2016, you may reflect on my moment of prescience when I went on about how amazed I was at the display of the rudimentary beginnings of this sort of technology, and how great I thought the potential was for theme park attractions.]

Afterwards, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Cliff Plumer, CEO, The VOID; Curtis Hickman, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, The VOID; Vicki Dobbs Beck, Executive in Charge, ILMxLAB; Mark Miller, Executive Creative Producer, ILMxLAB; and Disneyland Ambassador Mikey Trujillo.

IMG_1910.JPG

Of course, it's not a Disney celebration without confetti cannons.

IMG_1914a.JPG

And after a group photo of all the people involved with the creation of "Secrets of the Empire," the attraction opened and the Mustafar tourism department just got a lot happier.

DSC06531.JPG
[Sharp-eyed readers may be able to pick out Sam Witwer in the photo who was also present.]

"Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" opened at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA January 5, 2018, having previously opened at both Disney Springs at WDW in Orlando, FL and Westfield in London (Shepard's Bush) on December 16, 2017. Tickets may be purchased from The VOID website (www.thevoid.com) for $29.95. Guests must be at least 10 years old and those requiring mobility assistance may be accommodated depending on their ability to transfer/size of their wheelchair.






December 28, 2017

Disneyland Resort Updates from December 21

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Thursday, December 21, 2017.

In this picture set I pay a visit to the Disneyland Hotel to check out the Christmas decorations and then since it was the first day of winter thought I would share some of the Disney snow events around the park.

Let's start off at the Fantasy Tower (the main lobby) of the Disneyland Hotel. There are two Christmas trees across from the front desk.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Right inside the main door (in front of the large Disneyland map) is the gingerbread castle.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fantasia Gift Shop is flanked by Christmas trees

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mickey and Minnie plus some Christmas lights in the planters outside.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Inside as you walk to the convention center.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

A group of carolers wrapping up a performance near the restaurants.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

The tree outside Goofy's Kitchen
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Looking inside. They were preparing to open for dinner.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Frontier Tower lobby has a couple of Christmas trees.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Moving on to the Adventure Tower lobby and their trees.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

During the holiday season, Disneyland has several "snow moments" in various areas of the park each night. The first snow opportunity of the evening is at the 6:00pm Wintertime Enchantment at Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Snow starting to fall on Main Street USA.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Projections accompany the snow.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Rivers of America hosts a holiday celebration featuring the Royal Street Bachelors this evening since there is no Fantasmic! scheduled. They played three sets and each ended with snowfall along the Rivers of America.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

For the finale of their set snow falls along the Rivers of America.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

A video clip from the finale of the Royal Street Bachelors set.



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

For the 7:30pm Wintertime Enchantment moment I was in the "small world" mall area. Here is a video and some pictures.



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

The final snow fall event of the evening is the finale to Believe in Holiday Magic. On nights like Thursday when the fireworks are cancelled due to high winds the snowfall is the main event.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Thursday, December 21, 2017

Here is a video clip of the substitute for Believe in Holiday Magic this year.

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 23, 2017

More Festival of Holidays Marketplace Sampling

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

I've made a couple more visits to the Festival of Holidays this year, where I sampled some of the other new Marketplace items. Here are my thoughts and some photos.

On a very warm November day (we had some really hot days in southern California this past month) I tried the Backstreet Raspberry Sour beer from the "Brews & Bites" marketplace. It was so refreshing! A lot of raspberry flavor, but I didn't think it was particularly sour.

Festival of Holidays 2017

From "Classic Crocks & Casseroles" I sampled the Chana Masala with grilled garlic naan. This is one of a number of vegetarian offerings. It was pretty good - a little bit spicy. The spice level was higher this year in a number of the dishes.

Festival of Holidays 2017

One of the dishes I'd seen a number of people recommend was Braised Lamb Cheeks with Mediterranean Cauliflower from the "Blissfully Braised" marketplace. I thought it was just ok...I had some fatty/gristly lamb pieces. The riced cauliflower had too many green and red peppers in it, and I didn't like it at all.

Festival of Holidays 2017

From "Festive Holiday Extras" I tried the Brussels Sprouts with goat cheese, cranberries, and bacon. The brussels sprouts were roasted, and there were a LOT of them...it was a very generous serving. They were great if you like brussels sprouts...I thought they were good but I just couldn't eat them all. Part of the reason was the goat cheese made them much richer.

Festival of Holidays 2017

On a different day I sampled another beer, this one from "Winter Sliderland". It was Modern Times Fruitlands Passion Fruit and Guava Gose. Really good - a little tart from the passion fruit. Tasted almost more like a hard cider than a beer to me.

Festival of Holidays 2017

Also from "Winter Sliderland" I tried the Holiday Ham Slider. It was really piled high with tasty ham covered with a pineapple relish. The slider bun was excellent, also. This was a favorite.

Festival of Holidays 2017

At "Spicy Celebrations" I ordered a Nashville Fried Hot Turkey open-face sandwich with a pickle on top. Whew...it was spicy! I wished I still had some of that beer left! It was good, but I think the spice level should be dialed back. At least the pickle helped to cut the burn. The coating was nice and crunchy and the turkey inside was moist and flavorful.

Festival of Holidays 2017

From the same booth my friend tried the Beef Corn Tamale a la Plancha with spicy rojo sauce. She said this was also quite spicy, but good.

Festival of Holidays 2017

I ordered a Seared Salmon Filet from "Joy to the Sauce". It was surprisingly good - maybe one of the best pieces of salmon I've had from a food booth. The lemon caper sauce was quite good - the tang of the lemon and the salt from the capers enhanced the dish. It was served with several small potatoes, though I found them under-seasoned and not warm enough.

Festival of Holidays 2017

My friend tried the Beef Brisket with brown sugar-glazed carrots from "Grandma's Recipes." The brisket was not bad, but her husband makes excellent brisket and this didn't measure up. It was also a small piece for the price. Of the two beef dishes she had she preferred the Beef Tamale.

Festival of Holidays 2017

My favorite is still the first Marketplace item that I tried back in early November - the Butternut Squash and Almond Pakora Fritters. Different, but really good.

Festival of Holidays 2017

I won't make it back to the Festival of Holidays before it closes on January 7, but I'm looking forward to the Lunar New Year Celebration that will run from January 26-February 18. There will be more food items to try with several food booths offering Asian cuisine, as well as a special menu at Paradise Garden Grill.






December 18, 2017

Disneyland Resort Updates from December 15

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, December 15, 2017.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge construction overview video clip from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.

The Battle Escape show building now appears to be enclosed, all the visible exterior panels are installed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

The last section of exterior siding has been added. Just what appears to be a service entrance is left uncovered.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

A closer look at the rock work taking shape on the far side of the Battle Escape building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

The peaks three peaks in the distance have received their first coat of concrete.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

A better view toward Critter Country.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

As you entered the park you were given a Star Wars: The Last Jedi button to commemorate opening day.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

A look into the Trolley Treats window.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Spotted a new BB-8 Balloon in Grizzly Peak Airfield area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Ariel's Grotto Christmas Tree

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Time for the Viva Navidad! Street Party.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

A video clip from the Viva Navidad Street Party.



Goofy's Sky School is still closed for renovation, but the scaffolding is all down. And ride vehicles were being cycled today

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Next stop Disneyland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

First stop it's a small world holiday.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge construction from Toon Town.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Another view of the new BB-8 balloons

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Here is a video clip of the opening group from A Christmas Fantasy Parade.

The music box leading off the parade.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Snow people.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Clarabelle Cow

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

The view from my table at the Hungry Bear, Disneyland Railroad train passing by.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Next up time to use a FastPass for Haunted Mansion Holiday

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Main Street USA this evening.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

The Star Wars Launch Bay has had a couple of updates since my last visit. The first is part of the large model that was on display at the D23 Expo has taken the place of Rey's Speeder and BB-8 in the area right next to the video.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

A closer look around the model.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

A new Lego area has been added to one of the pods.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

And a small retail location.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

The Dark side had both Darth Vader and Kylo Ren available.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

The two display cases when you first enter the Launch Bay feature some items from the Last Jedi film.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Walked out to the small world mall area to watch the 6:00pm Wintertime Enchantment. Unfortunately the projections did not come on and the lighting was not 100% correct either as the clock sequence merged into the Enchantment moment. Here is a video clip of the scene.

Snow did fall though.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Then a few minutes after the regular quarter hour projection show ran.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

The Dapper Dans of Disneyland performing a couple Christmas songs in Town Square.

Phat Cat Swinger performing the sunset concert for Festival of Holidays today.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Back to Disneyland for the 7:30pm Wintertime Enchantment. A video clip from the Wintertime Enchantment Moment on Main Street USA.

Projections are used along Main Street USA.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Mater pulling out of the Cozy Cone

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Took in a showing of World of Color Season of Light from the Blue section.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

I moved very quickly over to Disneyland and got caught up in a slow moving and long line to enter the park so I arrived on Main Street just as the lights went out for Believe in Holiday Magic. So I was in a less than ideal location.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

The projectors are used throughout the show.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Here is a video of the finale to Believe in Holiday Magic and some of the snow fall from Main Street USA



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 15, 2017

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









December 11, 2017

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" Press Conference

jeaninebanner.jpg

TheLastJedi59dd0a672dae3.jpg

This week the eagerly-anticipated second chapter of the third trilogy in the Star Wars saga opens--"Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

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

On hand recently (accompanied by their Praetorian Guard and droids) to talk about the latest entry in the media phenomenon that is Star Wars were the main members of its extensive cast: John Boyega “Finn,”Daisy Ridley “Rey,” Andy Serkis “Supreme Leader Snoke,” Adam Driver “Kylo Ren,” Mark Hamill “Luke Skywalker,” Oscar Isaac “Poe Dameron,” Laura Dern “Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo,” Gwendoline Christie “Captain Phasma,” Domhnall Gleeson “General Hux,” Kelly Marie Tran “Rose Tico,” and Director Rian Johnson.

IMG_1671.JPG

555983824%2CB4932FD99A63CB20A95.jpe

555983249%2CAD0CE8987866E00B5EB.jpe

555983079%2CFBE5D3C0EAD4CDB5C9A.jpe

Select moments from the press conference video above:

555983484%2C528009168F0E69499A5.jpe

Serkis on how "The Last Jedi" distinguishes itself: "I was blown away when I saw the movie. I just was so caught up with it, not least because it was really intimate and very emotional and I wasn’t expecting that at all. I mean, I knew obviously that it was going to go that way, but it was very, very powerful and it touches you and what Rian’s done incredibly is make this dance between...these great kind of epic moments and hilarious antics, you know, literally flipping on a dime and then going right into the heart of these beautiful characters."

Driver and Gleeson on Hux and Ren's relationship:

555983151%2C3DF06A95DE7F3E524A7.jpe
Driver: "I think...definitely there’s a competition and it’s maybe yet to be discovered where that comes from. If anything I think that’s more of a testament to kind of what everyone has been saying of Rian’s inability to not mind a character in every moment...So I love playing those scenes, especially with Domhnall, ‘cause he’s a great actor and there’s nothing...taken for granted where, you know, oh, this happens and it moves on. If anything, Rian slows the pace and there’s not a moment that’s taken for granted. It’s always broken up into little pieces and the story in our mind comes first before an explosion."

555983186%2C98E45B99C0ED36F957D.jpe
Gleeson: "I think it’s funny, you know, like there’s just such a huge amount of drama going on in that group of people but then also just a huge amount of bitchy infighting as well, which I think is really fun to see them kind of really hurt each other from the inside as well as from the outside. You know, the united front thing is difficult for them sometimes."

555983469%2C3CB6230DE13E2CFB4F7.jpe

Tran and Dern on representing women in Star Wars:

DSC08634.JPG
Tran: "...It feels like both an honor and a responsibility at the same time. I feel like from the beginning when I initially found out I got this role, I just felt like I wanted to do the whole thing justice, and I’m so excited that guys, the girls in this movie kick some butt! Every single one is so good, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it."

555983071%2C29C07A678041AEE7205.jpe
Dern: "I just want to pay tribute to Rian for being one of the most brilliantly subversive filmmakers I’ve ever been able to bear witness to...in the case of the look of my character, I was moved by the fact that he really wanted her strength to first lead with a very deep femininity. To see a powerful female character also be feminine, is something that moves away from a stereotype that’s sometimes perceived (that) strong female characters must be like the boys. I thought that was a really interesting choice to get to witness."

555983746%2C73C12238432D751FF54.jpe

Johnson on the perils of meeting your heroes in Star Wars: "You know, I think these movies to some extent are always about...to really boil it down, you know, if you look back at Lucas...famously drawing from The Hero’s Journey myth that Joseph Campbell wrote about...the hero’s journey is not about becoming a hero, it’s not about becoming Hercules, it’s about really adolescence. It’s about the transition from childhood into adulthood, and finding your place in the world, and having these new powers that you’re feeling inside yourself for the first time. You don’t know what to do with them, you don’t know who it is you’re going to get help from, who’s going to be unreliable, who’s not. Navigating those very tricky waters that we all have to navigate--that’s why it’s so universal. So part of that is, you know, your relationship to heroes and people you thought were your heroes, people you don’t expect to become your heroes. And that’s definitely something that plays out in this film."

555983086%2C6F5572FA0F69305B7F9.jpe

Hamill on returning to Luke Skywalker: "I don’t think any line in the script epitomized my reaction more than 'this is not going to go the way you think.' And Rian pushed me out of my comfort zone, as if I weren’t as intimidated and terrified to begin with, but I’m grateful, because you have to trust someone and he was the only Obi Wan available to me, not only in my choices as an actor, but my choices in sock wear."
555983705%2C16414019C2B52A9432F.jpe

Boyega, Isaac, and Ridley on their characters after Han Solo's death:

555983099%2C496113789E634A4C98F.jpe
Boyega: "I think we’re just keeping it moving, to be honest with you, man. It’s true, the pressure’s on man, you know, there’s no time. I think that’s the one thing that’s unique to me about watching this movie was just the commentary on war. I think there hasn’t been a Star Wars movie yet that has explored war in the way 'The Last Jedi' does. It’s very messy, the categorizing of good and evil is all mixed together, so you know, in terms of Han, there’s no...you know, I’m sure we all feel sentimental if someone was to sit Finn down or sit Rey down, but Rey’s off training, she’s got stuff to do. I’ve got back injury, I’ve got stuff to do. I can’t think about Han at the moment. He died."

555983224%2CE9E4CC6F3E5117FFF21.jpe
Isaac: "I mean, I think it’s reverberating but he’s right. You know, it’s a dire situation, it’s critical. The Resistance is on its last legs. You know, they’re trying to survive. First Order’s right on top of us. You know, it is like war, where you go to just keep moving to try to survive, and so you feel, I think, the momentum of everything that happened in 'The Force Awakens' just pushing and getting to a critical mass in this film."

555983501%2C193CE4871540676D68D.jpe
Ridley: "I will interject there, and I think this is the beauty of having storylines that are sort of happening in tandem and affecting each other, ‘cause I would say that Rey at least is very much affected by it...Rey, as a character, has been alone for a really long time and she’s really open to love and friendship, so Finn and BB-8 come along and it’s like this amazing adventure. And then Han, like without trying to...she seeks something from him because there’s an intimacy and there’s a sort of figure of something she’s never dreamed of for her, that gets, you know, snatched away...
"So for Rey at least there is some time. Everything’s moving forward, but she has some time to ask questions and wonder what it is that would have led someone to do something like that, and also how that directly affects the world around her...and then you know, she’s worried about Finn at home, so I would say she’s maybe a little more affected, at least emotionally on screen, than the others."

555983234%2C9EE074DCF27C5B8B08F.jpe

Christie on what Carrie Fisher as Leia meant to her: "Well, she was very significant because I was first shown 'A New Hope' when I was six, and I remember thinking, wow, that character’s really different. I watched TV and film obsessively from such a young age but it stayed with me throughout my formative years, of she’s really interesting, she’s really smart, she’s really funny, she’s courageous, she’s bold, she doesn’t care what people think, and she isn’t prepared to be told what to do. And she doesn’t look the same as a sort of homogenized presentation of a woman that we had been used to seeing--so that was really instrumental to me, as someone that didn’t feel like they fitted that homogenized view of what a woman was supposed to be, that there was inspiration there, that you could be an individual and celebrate yourself and be successful without giving yourself over, without necessarily making some sort of terrible, huge compromise. So it was a big inspiration for me. And you know, to play a character as well from what we’ve seen in 'The Force Awakens'...I was very excited when I was shown just the basic element of the costume, and here we were seeing character whereby a woman wasn’t--her femininity was not delineated in terms of the shape of her body, in terms of her physical attractiveness. Those elements, that weird random group of elements which we’re born with in some kind of odd lottery and then we’re judged on in society. And I was just delighted to be able to have that opportunity."

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" will open in theaters December 15, 2017.






December 4, 2017

Disneyland Candlelight Processional, 2017

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2017

The Candlelight Processional originated at Disneyland in 1958 when Walt Disney first held it to thank community partners for their support. With a full orchestra and a mass choir it celebrates the Christmas season with songs and passages from the Bible that tell the story of the birth of the Christ Child. A celebrity guest narrator reads the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke.

The event takes place in front of the Main Street train station, and begins with the orchestra playing as the choir, carrying candles, walks down Main Street to the risers in front of the train station. The choir is made up of guest choirs from churches, schools, and community groups, as well as the Disney cast choirs.

In recent years the Processional has been held on the first Saturday and Sunday of December, with two shows each evening. There is limited seating, and it's reserved for community leaders, VIPs, and media, with some tickets also available to the participating choirs. Disneyland does not advertise it, but it is very popular with guests who are "in the know," and people start staking out their spots very early in the day.

It's really a very special event. I wish I could describe the power and the beauty of hearing all of those voices in the mass choir. I was an invited media guest, so I was one of the lucky people who had a seat, but I think that the music is so powerful that it is a moving experience to anyone on Main Street who hears it.

Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2017

There are a few featured soloists, but most of the songs are performed by the choir as a whole. That's one thing that I really prefer about Disneyland's Candlelight Processional as opposed the the one at Epcot - I think the Epcot version puts too much emphasis on the Voices of Liberty who perform with the choir.

In addition to the choir and orchestra, performances by bell choirs and herald trumpets (that's Lee's favorite part) are included.

Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2017

Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2017

This year the guest Narrator was Chris Hemsworth, perhaps best known for his role as "Thor". He has a great voice for this, and read the selections of scripture with appropriate gravitas.

Chris Hemsworth Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2017

I didn't record the entire Processional, but this video includes excerpts from several of the songs, as well as some of Hemsworth's narration.

This year the identity of the guest narrator was not publicly known until the day of the event. My personal opinion is that Disney kept it quiet to try to prevent even more people from trying to see the Processional. As it was the Disneyland parking lots were filled to capacity by late afternoon on both days, and Main Street was very difficult to navigate.

I understand why Disneyland only holds the Candlelight Processional one weekend a year and why they don't publicize it. It really makes for all kinds of logistical headaches on Main Street. Because of the risers for the choir the "A Christmas Fantasy" parade has to be re-routed around Town Square, and after the second parade the middle of Main Street is kept clear of guests, making it hard to enter or exit the park. At one point in the afternoon the backstage passageways on either side of Main Street were in use to try to alleviate the congestion. The cast members tried very hard to keep the crowd contained and moving - I know it had to be a very difficult couple of days for them. The good news was that most guests seemed to know what they were in for - I didn't see anyone who was really frustrated. Most people were patient and accepting of the situation.

Disneyland Candlelight Processional 2017

I'm not going to try to offer any viewing tips - but I know there are other sites out there where you can find them if you're interested in trying to see it next year.

In the future I would love to see the Disney Parks Blog live stream the Candlelight Processional as it does so many other holiday events, though I must admit it wouldn't be the same as actually being there.


Disclaimer: I was an invited media guest to the Candlelight Processional. The opinions expressed are my own.






November 29, 2017

A Look Behind the Making of Pixar's "Coco"

jeaninebanner.jpg

Coco59b807c1a7720.jpg

"Coco," Pixar's 19th animated feature, was released Thanksgiving week in the US. As part of an early press day back in August, AllEars.Net was invited to take an advance look at some of the footage and get introduced to some of the places and people of "Coco." (I wrote a bit about the first part of this day here.)

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

Another panel we were treated to was "A Universal Story Of Family" with Adrian Molina (Writer and Co-Director) and Dean Kelly (Story Artist) discussing how the production team did research on the specifics of Día de los Muertos in order to make the film both culturally authentic and respectful.

20170802CocoLongLeadPressDays044_MarcFlores-001.JPG

--The origin of the film began in fall of 2011 when director Unkrich and Story Supervisor Jason Katz presented an idea for a story set in Mexico based on a young boy getting trapped in the Land of the Dead on Día de los Muertos and his journey to get out.
--It would explore universal themes of family, and what it means to be part of a family.
COCO-RGB_ccs_FamilyHuman1_101.per16n.101-001.jpg
--Researchers went to Mexico to experience the Day of the Dead and the culture first-hand.
--Part of the celebration is that the souls of the dead are welcomed back to the world of the living to reunite with their families.
--An ofrenda ("offering" in Spanish) is an altar decorated to greet the spirits as they return for Día de los Muertos. It contains the foods and objects the dead enjoyed in life to nourish them when they come home.

Coco59fb66c5a5946.jpg

--All of this keeps present the idea that your ancestors watch over you and are connected to you.
--The marigold paths are created so that their distinctive smell will guide the spirits back.

COCO-RGB_c330_15g.pub16n.122-001.jpg

--Early in development, they decided the conflict that would drive the story forward would be Miguel having a dream of which his family disapproved.
--Examples of the conflict's visual manifestations include Miguel getting literally trapped under the ofrenda (representing his family traditions) and his family figuratively shackling him by dropping a cobbler's apron on him.
--In order to convey Miguel's dreams of becoming a musician, story writers went through various revisions where he both discussed and later sang about what he wanted.
--Ultimately, the same things were conveyed simply by showing Miguel's secret room, decorated completely in Ernesto de la Cruz memorabilia. This makeshift ofrenda reveals Miguel's longing for connection to someone outside of his family who understands his dreams.

Coco5a060614612b0.jpg

--The montage of video clips Miguel assembles of different de la Cruz performances and interviews are reminiscent of the old World of Color segments they used to do on animators and made people feel the depth of Miguel's passion instead of just understanding it.

Next up were Harley Jessup (Production Designer), Danielle Feinberg (DP-Lighting), and Chris Bernardi (Sets Supervisor) talking about "The Land Of The Living And The Land Of The Dead."

20170802CocoLongLeadPressDays035_MarcFlores-001.JPG

--Miguel's environment is based on a typical rural Mexican town, with the shoe workshop intended to feel oppressive with the tools and materials of generations of shoemakers.

Coco58531071d4f68.jpg

--The Day of the Dead displays use flowers for daytime decorations, and hundreds of candles to light up the cemeteries at night.

3_ABJN_ErnestosTombConcept_2013_01_09-001.jpg

--The Marigold Grand Central Station in the Land of the Dead, with its cast-iron, Industrial Revolution ties, was inspired by several buildings including the Palacio de Correos de Mexico.

Palacio Postal, México D.F., México, 2013-10-16, DD 52.JPG
By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

3_ColorScript_HN_gcs_atrium_01-001.jpg

--The Land of the Living is whitewashed walls with accents of brilliant color and dusty streets. The Land of the Dead, by contrast, is nighttime, lit with artificial/theatrical lighting.
--There is no living vegetation in the Land of the Dead, except for the marigold petals they bring back from the Land of the Living.
--The vertical architecture in the Land of the Dead reflects the passage of time, with Mayan pyramid influences on the bottom and progressively modernizing to the present day at the top.

4_EN_LandoftheDeadSP_02.tif-001.jpg

--The Land of the Dead is marked by skull motives and lit by 7 million lights.

Coco59a0917a0a349.jpg

--The lighting is designed to not only enhance the impression of Mexico, but to adjust the mood of a scene as well.

Coco5a00a0625e03a.jpg

Finally, "Coco" would not have been complete without the music that pervades the entirety of the film. Michael Giacchino (Composer), Germaine Franco (Orchestrator), Camilo Lara (Consultant), Adrian Molina (Writer and Co-Director), and Federico Ramos (Guitarist) came together to talk (and play) "The Music of Coco."

20170802CocoLongLeadPressDays028_MarcFlores.JPG

--The goal was to create music for the film as if it came organically from a small town in Mexico.
--They recorded with many musicians in Mexico to develop the sonic landscape of Miguel's hometown, Santa Cecilia.
--Both well-known traditional music from throughout Mexico was used, as well as music composed by Giacchino in various Mexican styles, such as Mariachi.
--Giacchino wrote Miguel's theme to embody his youthful buoyancy and confidence in his dreams.
--Hector, Giacchino envisioned as a traveling salesman of sorts, who only cared about getting what he wanted out of a deal. His theme is a waltz.
--The song "Remember Me" (by "Frozen" songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) is an iconic song that is played several different ways and encapsulates the many themes that run throughout the movie.

2_RKHJ_LosMuertosFantasticsDES_2013_04_01-001.jpg

--"Un Poco Loco" serves the needs of the story as a song Miguel sings at a talent show, but also reflects the conflicts he has with both Hector and his extended family. The idea is that even if you love someone and want to get along with them, they can occasionally drive you crazy.

Coco5a0efb73b39bb.jpg

"Coco" opened in theaters November 22, 2017, along with the featurette "Olaf's Frozen Adventure" which I wrote about here. Now playing! Go!

Shanghai Disneyland Trip Report: Getting There Wasn't Half the Fun

jeaninebanner.jpg

So this month I finally unlocked the achievement of visiting all Disney Parks worldwide for the second time by visiting Shanghai Disneyland.

IMG_0420.JPG

In this report, for the edification of those who might be considering a trip out there, I thought I'd go over the process I went through to arrive at Shanghai Disneyland. Spoiler: It didn't go exactly as I had planned. There is an old saying in which someone who has been "Shanghaied" has been coerced or drugged or kidnapped and conscripted into a ship's crew, presumably then headed to a foreign port like Shanghai. Those people had a smoother time than I did getting to Shanghai.

IMG_0709.JPG

To begin with, I was going to spend about four days in Shanghai. This qualified me for the relatively-recent "144-hr Visa-Exemption" which states roughly that as long as you are coming from one country and leaving to different one, you don't need to purchase a visa to visit Shanghai provided your visit is less than 144 hours. (https://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/free-transit-144hour.htm) My flight there, that I had booked with miles, was on JAL and I had a ticket leaving there for Tokyo on the cutely named Peach Airline. I had some concerns that people at my departure airport, LAX, wouldn't know about the whole "not-needing-a-visa" policy, but I had all my documentation, so I went, hoping for the best.

It turned out that my fears about the airport agents not knowing about the visa were groundless. What I should have been worried about was the fact that my flight connected in Narita, which then made it look like I was coming and going from the same country, so they wouldn't check me into the flight without a visa. The visa that I didn't have.

IMG_0479.JPG

The JAL agents said they couldn't do anything about finding me a different flight because I had booked it with American Airline miles, and said I should contact them. I called, and the phone agent could only find a flight that left later that evening (my original flight was for 1pm) and connected in Dallas and then left the next day for Shanghai. After switching to that flight, I figured I would walk over to American Airlines and see if the desk agent could find anything better than that.

Turns out now was the time where no one had ever heard of the 144-visa exemption. The people at the desk there were positive that there was no such thing and that perhaps I had made it up. I showed them webpages and they said those were probably unofficial pages that had made it up. I showed them the official Shanghai Immigration webpage (http://www.sh-immigration.gov.cn/listPageEn.aspx?lx=40&id=4414) and they didn't want to read the whole thing but they said it probably didn't apply to me. They asked a manager who had also never heard of it. They checked a webpage that they said was their definitive source for information and it didn't list it. I asked them to contact JAL and China Eastern Airlines because they knew about it. They called them and then said that those airlines would take it and then said "well go book on those airlines then." It was a very long discussion that eventually got to the point where they said "why are you even going if you're only going for a few days?"

IMG_0480.JPG

It turns out, if an airline lets you go to China without a visa and you needed one, they apparently just shove you on the next plane back home and then fine both the airline and the agent who let you go more money than either one wants to get fined. Consequently, there isn't a huge incentive for anyone to give you the benefit of the doubt on this. In spite of this, they finally agreed to let me go, and then actually found me an easier flight that left around midnight and connected through Hong Kong (which counts as a different country) and arrived around noon, the day after I was supposed to get there.

So at this point, I figured I should contact the Toy Story Hotel where I had a reservation, and tell them that I was going to be a day late. I figured they'd probably end up charging me for the night anyway, since it was already less than 24hrs before I was supposed to check in. Unfortunately, with the time difference, the reservation phone lines (while you can book a hotel reservation at Shanghai Disneyland online, you can only cancel or change it by calling) weren't going to open for another five hours or so.

IMG_0387.JPG
The pitiful salad I had at the Wolfgang Puck's in the Tom Bradley terminal while I sat around for like ten hours. Don't eat there.

When I finally got through, they said they needed me to go get a letter from the airlines saying that they needed to change my flight to a different day and then email it to them. By this time, it was around 5:30pm and there weren't even the same airlines at the same desks as when I was originally checking in. I said I could try, but asked if I could just bring it when I checked in, and the phone agent said "no, if you don't show up on your date of arrival, we cancel your whole reservation and don't refund your money."

IMG_0425.JPG

So the best I could end up doing was writing an email describing the whole sordid affair, including my original flight itinerary and my latest itinerary and then sending it off and hoping for the best. It's a good thing I can sleep on planes, or it would have been a long flight to Hong Kong, wondering if I was going to be homeless in Shanghai. Fortunately, by the time we landed in Hong Kong, Disney had emailed me back and said they would let it pass.

IMG_0390.JPG
What it looks like for ten hours from the back of a Cathay Pacific plane.

A brief connection in Hong Kong in the wee hours of the morning gave me just enough time to check out the Disney Store there, and consider that I would probably have brought some Hong Kong dollars with me, if I had woken up that morning thinking that I was going to Hong Kong.

IMG_0400.JPG

At long last, I finally made it to Shanghai, and except for the part where I fell off a bus onto the tarmac (I'm telling you, it was a tough trip) everything went relatively smoothly going through immigration and collecting my baggage.

IMG_0417.JPG

Although there was a shuttle bus that would apparently take you to the Shanghai Disney area, it wasn't leaving for another half hour and I sort of felt like I had filled my quota for sitting around in airports for the time being, and caught a cab at the cab station. After being directed to get into a cab and showing him the hotel address I had printed out in Chinese, the cab drove about a car length before stopping and taking all my stuff out and putting into the cab in front of me, who was simultaneously kicking out his passenger and putting him into my cab. My best guess is that the cab I got had no idea where Shanghai Disney was, and handed me off to someone who was more of a fan, judging from the Duffy pin on his dashboard. Ultimately, with only a little random driving, we arrived at the Toy Story Hotel.

IMG_0697.JPG

So what have we learned from this? Well, if you're thinking of making the trek over to Shanghai Disneyland (or even just Shanghai,) here are some things I'd recommend:

--If you have any doubts about doing the 144-hour visa thing, you might consider running your specific itinerary by the airline in advance. If you can get to the airport before your departure date to do it that would probably be safer, but unless you can guarantee that the same people will be there when you check in, you should still be prepared for the possibility of debate.
--Have printouts of everything to show people: Your hotel confirmation, your departure flight information, your hotel address in Mandarin, etc.
--If you can, try to book these big flights with miles. If I had just paid for the flights with cash, there's a good chance the whole trip would have ended with the first vetoed flight, because they probably wouldn't have made much of an effort to rebook me, and to get a new flight out that same day would have been exorbitant. At least with reward trips, you can move them around without a change fee, subject to availability.
--Google Voice is a good choice when you have to call Shanghai several times in a day. It cost one cent a minute and the sound was about as good as anything sounds in the middle of a busy airport terminal.
--Inside the Pudong Airport, there are people who will approach you dressed just like airport employees offering to get you a cab. Don't do it. A cab from the official cab station to Shanghai Disneyland should cost around $15-20 (I paid around $24 but I think we got lost once.) A private/sketchy cab not from the cab station could cost you anywhere up to around $60.
--At the end of the day, don't stress over it all too much. Even though my experience was reasonably traumatic, other people went through the same procedure at the same desk a couple days afterwards, and their agents barely looked at their paperwork before checking them in. Could this have been because everyone there heard about a crazy person who spent a whole day arguing about it some days earlier? We'll never know.





Page 1 of 5

Return to Blog Central

Categories

Archives