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December 11, 2017

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" Press Conference

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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.

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Select moments from the press conference video above:

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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:

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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."

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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."

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Tran and Dern on representing women in Star Wars:

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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."

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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."

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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."

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

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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"

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"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.

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--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.
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--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.

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--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.

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--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.

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--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."

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--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.

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

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--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.

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By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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--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.

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

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

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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."

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--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.

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--"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.

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"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

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

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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.

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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.

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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?"

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.





November 22, 2017

The Holidays at Disneyland, 2017

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Disneyland Holidays 2017

The holiday season is a very festive time at the Disneyland Resort. There's a lot going on at both theme parks with decorations and entertainment, merchandise, special foods, and character greetings.

My most recent park visit was November 18 - in addition to the holiday celebration, it was also Mickey Mouse's birthday! All park guests received a birthday button upon entering either theme park. There were also lots of photo opportunities with this larger version of the birthday button.

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There was some special merchandise available (sorry, no photos). Also a special birthday cake crispy treat.

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At 11:45 was a "character cavalcade" as Mickey's friends gathered to wish him "Happy Birthday".

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I didn't have the best spot to see it, but here's the video of the ceremony.

In other non-holiday news...Star Tours now features two new scenes plus a new character hologram. The first new destination is the planet Crait, which will be featured in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi film. At the end of the ride the Star Speeder lands on Batuu - a remote outpost at the Galaxy's Edge (see what I did there?). There is more detail than we've seen in the concept art so far. The current version of Star Tours also re-visits the planet Jakku, in the same scene that was introduced last year, and includes an appearance by a new holographic character: Maz Kanata. Guests seemed quite enthusiastic about the new scenes the two times I experienced it on Saturday.

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But back to the holiday celebration...

"it's a small world" Holiday is back, now in its 21st season.

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It's especially beautiful at night when all the lights come on.

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After dark, there's a projection sequence on the facade every 15 minutes, set to music. This takes place a couple of minutes after the clock sequence that occurs on each quarter hour.

Lots of holiday entertainment in most areas of the park.

"A Christmas Fantasy" Parade is always fun to watch. I didn't notice any big changes this year.

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Disneyland Holidays 2017

Disneyland Holidays 2017

I always enjoy the Sleeping Beauty Castle Wintertime Enchantment lighting. It generally occurs twice each night, at 6:00 and 7:30.

The Believe...in Holiday Magic fireworks show takes place each night during the holiday season.

There's a Rivers of America Holiday Celebration this year. The Royal Street Bachelors perform on the river several times each evening. The "Believe" fireworks show can be viewed from there, and there's snowfall at the end of the show.

On Main Street, the Dapper Dans, in their candy cane-striped vests, perform a number of sets of holiday music throughout the day. The Dickens Yuletide Band also performs on Main Street.

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Disney characters in holiday attire are available for meet-and-greets in Town Square, and Santa Claus is taking Christmas wish lists in Critter Country.

Though not all parts of the park are decorated, there are some fun decorations in Toon Town.

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I like Roger Rabbit's Santa hat.

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The holiday popcorn bucket this year features Pluto. They've been very popular, but fortunately there seem to be lots of them available.

Disneyland Holidays 2017

There's a new Ornament Stein this year. Depending on where it's purchased, it might come with a beverage or food like grapes or pineapple.

Disneyland Holidays 2017

There are lots of holiday foods this year, though I haven't sampled any of them yet. I'm disappointed that the seasonal beignets at Mint Julep Bar are candy cane dusted this year...the gingerbread ones were always my favorites. There's also Santa's mittens macaron, praline cheesecake, a yule log, candy apple cotton candy, and even savory items like Enchanted Maize Flatbread (Red Rose Taverne) and Bison Blue Cheeseburger (Hungry Bear Restaurant). Lots of different cookies and crispy treat items available throughout the resort. I thought these new crispy treats, which look like gingerbread, were very cute.

Disneyland Holidays 2017

There's a lot going on at Disney California Adventure, also. You can read about the Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure in a previous blog post.

New this year are two different attraction overlays in Cars Land: Mater's Jingle Jamboree and Luigi's Joy to the Whirl. Both feature new holiday songs by Mater and Luigi.

I'm sorry that the audio is hard to hear - there don't seem to be speakers placed very conveniently in Luigi's attraction, and the sound of the cars themselves is pretty loud.

World of Color - Season of Light returns for its second season. This is my favorite version of World of Color - it seems like the show designers have taken everything they've learned over the years about what the fountains and lasers and projections can do, and brought it all together. I think it looks great, with lots of "Wow!" moments and I love all of the holiday music - everything from classics by Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, and Jose Feliciano to more contemporary music by Pentatonix and Transiberian Orchestra.

Disneyland Holidays 2017

Again this year Santa Claus and his elves can be found at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, aka Santa's Holiday Visit, where kids can try out the "Elf Games".

Disneyland Holidays 2017

And Santa is there, too, of course.

Disneyland Holidays 2017

There's a Treats for Santa vending cart selling a cookie decorating kit and beverages.

Disneyland Holidays 2017

Over at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa there's a huge gingerbread house in the lobby.

Disneyland Holidays 2017

Next to the gingerbread house is a stand selling treats like gingerbread cookies and ornament cookies, hot chocolate and hot cider - and adult versions of the beverages with RumChata, Peppermint Schnapps, or Spiced Rum added.

Disneyland Holidays 2017

I've visited twice, and I still haven't seen everything this holiday season. Guess that just means I'll have to return again before the holiday season ends on January 7.






November 15, 2017

Celebrate the Holidays with "Olaf's Frozen Adventure"

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"Olaf's Frozen Adventure," one of Disney-Pixar's holiday offerings for this season, is a 21-minute featurette scheduled to play in conjunction with “Coco,” opening on Nov. 22, 2017.

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

Set some six months after the events of "Frozen," the newly reconciled Anna and Elsa eagerly anticipate celebrating the holidays with everyone, only to find their years of isolation have left them solidly out of their citizens' seasonal rituals. To help salvage their spirits, Olaf takes it upon himself to investigate what the holidays mean to people and to bring the best of the Arendelle traditions back to the sisters.

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Along the way, Olaf meets with various upsets that ultimately challenge what defines traditions and family as he learns what the holidays are all about.

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At a recent press day, Producer Roy Conli, Josh Gad “Olaf”, and Directors Stevie Wermers-Skelton & Kevin Deters met to discuss the making of "Olaf's Frozen Adventure."

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--Gad on returning to sing as Olaf: "It's difficult when they write it as high as they keep writing it. Bobby Lopez, who wrote 'Book of Mormon'...he would always write it about an octave higher than I deserved to sing it, and carried that tradition over to 'Frozen.' So when the brilliant songwriters Kate and Elyssa came in and did this, I was like 'oh great, they've been speaking to Bobby and Kristen.'"

--Gad on singing "That Time of Year" at the 2017 D23 Expo: "It's a tongue-twister, and we had to sing it live at D23. So, before I got there, they're like 'we're gonna have a monitor right in front of you and you'll be able to lip-synch to Olaf's animation.' And I get there and I'm like 'that's great because I've never sung this live,' and they're like 'by the way, that monitor that we told you about? That doesn't exist. You're just gonna have to do it. You're going to have to wing it.' And I'm like 'wait...what?!' So we did it...my heart was beating through my chest, but it was surreal, like we actually landed it. Once in a lifetime. I promise you, nine out of ten times that would have been a disaster."

Conli on attaching "Olaf" to "Coco:" "Yeah, I think it's interesting because it's the thematic connection. Both films have to do with tradition and have to do with family. And we actually showed this up at Pixar about a year and a half ago at a summit, a marketing summit, and that's when they said 'this is such a great pair.' So it became a very natural fit, a very easy thing."

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Gad on what he would like kids to take away from the film: "I would love--it's funny because these holidays are so wonderfully rich with memories for me, growing up. Memories I have of these holidays. Holidays in general have become really commercialized, right? There's a lot about holidays now that's driven by we gotta go shopping, we gotta go do this, we gotta go do that...this movie is, I think, I hope, an emotional reminder about the bond of family...that to me is the power of 'Olaf's Frozen Adventure.' It is about traditions, but more than that, it's about family. And I love that. I hope that my girls, when they see this movie, they start to think about the traditions that they want to make with each other."

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After the panel and screening, guests were treated to a variety of Olaf-themed snacks, photo-ops, and activities.

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Finally, as a special treat, songwriters Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson were introduced and performed "When We're Together."

"Olaf's Frozen Adventure" opens with "Coco" in theaters November 22, 2017.

Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays

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Festival of Holidays 2017

The Festival of Holidays has returned to Disney California Adventure for its second year. Like last year, the Festival celebrates holiday traditions from around the world: Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Navidad, and Diwali. There's entertainment, character greetings, crafts, and of course FOOD!

This year there are twelve different Festive Food Marketplaces as well as special menus at the Paradise Garden Grill and the Sonoma Terrace. The Marketplaces are located along the parade route from Carthay Circle to the Golden Zephyr in Paradise Pier.

Festive Food Marketplace Menus

There are a few returning marketplaces (Making Spirits Bright, Brews & Bites, Winter Sliderland) and some returning food and beverage items, but most of the 60+ selections are new. Food prices range from $3.75-$5.00 for dessert items to $5.00-$7.75 for savory items. I was pleasantly surprised that some of the prices were lower this year, as much as a dollar, though most were $0.25-$.50 decreases. Wine and beer flights also had a modest price decrease. While prices for individual glasses of wine were generally unchanged or slightly up, the price for individual servings of beers was down $0.75 (though I think $9.00 is still high for a less-than-full-size serving of beer).

Annual Passholders can purchase a Sip and Savor Pass for $45. The pass has 8 tabs that can be redeemed for food and most non-alcoholic beverages at the Marketplaces. If used for items priced at $6.00 and higher it can provide a significant savings. Passholders must present their AP to purchase the passport, and most cast members at the order kiosks require you to show your AP when using one of the tabs.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Sip and Savor Pass

When using a tab at the Marketplaces, AP holders receive a small AP button. There are 11 different colors available (no button for Making Spirits Bright, since there are no eligible items there).

Festival of Holidays 2017 small AP marketplace buttons

All guests can pick up a Festival of Holidays Tasting Passport. They should be available at the ordering station of any of the Marketplaces. The passport lists the menus of each Marketplace along with some photos, and there's also a spot for a different sticker that is available at each Marketplace. No purchase necessary for the sticker, and it's helpful if you open it to the correct page before giving it to the cast member at the ordering station. After getting all of the stickers a Stamp of Completion is available at several locations.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Tasting Passport

I tried several food and beverage items on my visit earlier this week. When I first read the list of menu items, the one that most intrigued me was the Frosty Frosé - frozen rosé, blue Curacao & white cranberry juice from the A Twist on Tradition kiosk. $At $13.00 it's expensive, but it was very refreshing.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Frosty Frose

From the same place I also tried the Butternut Squash & Almond Pakora Fritters. $6.00 for these, and the best bite that I had all day. The fritters were soft and warm inside with a good flavor.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Butternut Squash and Almond Fritters

At Blissfully Braised I tried the Braised Pork Belly Adobo with garlic fried rice and sliced green onions. Wow...so tender! The pork belly was a bit too fatty, though. I think the crunchy bits on top were fried pork rinds, but I'm not sure. I thought it was a reasonable portion size for $7.50 - especially since I used one of my tabs and it cost me less than $6. :-)

Festival of Holidays 2017 Pork Belly Adobo

Grilled Chicken Sausage with Red Beans and Rice was my selection from Grandma's Recipes. Whew, that's one spicy grandma, and this dish was too hot for me, especially the beans. I couldn't eat them. Too much chili powder for me. $7.25 for this one.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Chicken Sausage with Red Beans and Rice

From Winter Sliderland I had one of the returning items from last year: Roasted Turkey Slider with Cranberry Sauce ($7.50). It's like Thanksgiving dinner on a bun: dressing on the bottom, then lots of sliced turkey, covered in gravy with a drizzle of cranberry sauce. Yummy, though it's very similar to the Holiday Turkey at Earl of Sandwich, and that one is bigger and cheaper.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Turkey Slider

Last was the Baked Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes from Festive Holiday Extras. $6.50. Good-sized serving, and very cheesy and filling.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
There are special holiday drinks available at the Hollywood Backlot area. I tried the Fireside Cider for $12.00. It's hot apple cider with a shot of cinnamon whiskey. It tasted good on a cool evening.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Fireside Cider

There's also a special menu at Paradise Garden Grill. It's basically the same as last year: burritos, street tacos, chicken mole. I haven't tried any of it yet. The Sonoma Terrace has a new menu for the Festival, offering chicken caesar and portobello mushroom and zucchini grilled "piadina" wraps.

In addition to all of the food and beverage offerings there's a variety of entertainment available during the Festival. I spent much of my time at the Festival just wandering between the entertainment venues - and I still didn't see everything.

The Sound is new to the Festival this year, performing on a stage next to the Pacific Wharf Cafe. They are an a capella group, performing holiday favorites as well as a song about Kwanzaa. I really enjoyed their performance.

Festival of Holidays 2017 The Sound

The Mariachi Divas also perform at the Pacific Wharf stage, but I didn't see them that day.

Mostly Kosher and Blue13 Dance Co. are returning groups, both appearing on the stage at Paradise Pier Park. Mostly Kosher is a klezmer band, though they also perform in several musical styles such as Latin, R&B, jazz, and rock. "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" was one of their numbers - quite unexpected, but very well done.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Mostly Kosher

Blue13 Dance Co. celebrates Diwali with traditional folk dances, in addition to a Bollywood-inspired disco party.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Blue13 Dance Co

This video contains short clips from performances by The Sound, Mostly Kosher, and Blue13 Dance Co.

The Holiday Toy Drummers, my favorite from last year, have also returned, but to a new location. They are performing at the Paradise Pier Obelisk (I'd never seen that term before - it's the entrance to Paradise Pier next to Ariel's Undersea Adventure). I don't like the new location because the sun is behind them which makes them hard to see/photograph unless you're off to the side. The drummers always look like they are having as much fun as the audience. I've seen them a number of times now, and they still make me smile every time.

New this year is the Holiday Sunset Concert. Each evening at either 6:00 or 6:30 there's a 40+minute show. Phat Cat Swinger performs Friday-Monday, and the Mariachi Divas perform Tuesday-Thursday. I saw Phat Cat Swinger, and they really put on a great show. They are a "Little Big Band" and performed a lot of swinging music in the style of the "Brat Pack" - Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. Mostly holiday music, but there were a few other songs like "Bella Notte" and "Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was my favorite of the evening. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and hope to see them again this holiday season.

Also returning this year to the Paradise Gardens area are !Viva Navidad! street party and Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. Holiday foods and character meet and greets with Princess Elena and other Disney characters are also available there.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Viva Navidad

Other Festival offerings...there's several tables set up in front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure where guests can do some holiday-themed crafts like coloring a Diwali lantern.

Festival of Holidays 2017

Festival merchandise is available at several kiosks along the parade route. A Festival of Holidays souvenir hot/cold mug is available at many of the Marketplaces.

Festival of Holidays 2017 beverage cup

For Annual Passholders, the AP Corner is located in the Sonoma Terrace this year. Passholders can get a Festival button (only one design this year, rather than a new one every couple of weeks) and purchase AP-exclusive merchandise. There's also a special AP photo op.

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP Corner

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP button

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP merchandise

OK. I think that covers all of the Festival of Holidays activities! There's a lot more holiday fun going on at Disney California Adventure - but that'll be for another blog post.







November 13, 2017

First Look: Holidays at Disneyland Resort

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, November 10, 2017, for a first look at the holiday offerings around the resort.

I arrived to find a very busy parking structure at the Disneyland Resort. The line of cars to enter the parking structure stretched beyond the Disneyland Drive overpass.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A couple of video clips giving an overview of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Construction site this afternoon.



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The exterior siding is almost all installed along Disneyland Drive now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A closer look at the rock work.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Buena Vista Street Christmas decorations.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A long line for Smokejumpers Grill.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The FastPass return for Soarin was backed up and curved toward Smokejumpers

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The hot item today appeared to be the Pluto Holiday Popcorn bucket.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The Country Bears are back this year. They are meeting between Grizzly River Run and the Bay Area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Some new Toy Soldier decorations in the planter near Paradise Pier.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Mostly Kosher performing in Paradise Park

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A video clip of Mostly Kosher performing.

Festival of Holidays Marketplace Kiosks are all open. Laura will be doing a full posting on the food...so here is just one menu picture to show what the format is.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival has returned to Paradise Gardens this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The Sound was performing in the Pacific Wharf area when I walked by. They are a new group this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

More Toy Soldiers

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A Festival of Holidays photo location - Pluto was there as I walked by. Clarabelle Cow also appears there.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Next stop Disneyland. The hub has its Holiday plantings

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Partners Statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Ornament Steins were for sale at various locations in both parks. Here is the offering at the coffee cart in the hub.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Found a spot on Main Street in the hub for A Christmas Fantasy Parade. Before the Parade Taffany's Dance Academy Twinkle Holiday Parade

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A video clip of the Twinkle Holiday Parade.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade making its way up Main Street USA.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The Mailroom scene features Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Donald again this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The Winter Wonderland Group is next.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Gingerbread Treats, Clarabelle Cow has been updated this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Santa and his reindeer finale to the parade

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Made my way through the crowd after the parade to Town Square for the nightly Flag Retreat. A good size crowd gathering for the kick off to Veteran's Day weekend.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

it's a small world holiday

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

it's a small world finale room video

Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Moving back to Disney California Adventure...Disney Viva Navidad! is back in Paradise Pier again this year.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Disney Viva Navidad! Finale Video Clip

Phat Cat Swinger performing at the Holiday Sunset Concert at Paradise Pier

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Phat Cat Swingers - Sleigh Ride Video Clips

Phat Cat Swingers - Belle Notte Video Clip

Phat Cat Swingers - It's Beginning to Look a Like Christmas

Phat Cat Swingers - Run Run Rudolph Video Clip

Stormtrooper sourdough bread being made at the Boudin Bakery.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Luigi is celebrating the holidays with the new "Joy to the Whirl" holiday overlay.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Hollywood Land has minimal decorations again this year. Santa and his reindeer are back.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Buena Vista Street Christmas Tree

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Disneyland Town Square Christmas Tree

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Believe in Holiday Magic final and snow fall clip



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Back to California Adventure

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Mater's Jingle Jamboree Video Clip of one the songs

Mater's Jingle Jamboree Video Clip of one the songs plus some jokes he told between cycles.

World of Color - Season of Light

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 2017

World of Color - Season of Light - Goofy Decorating video clip



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 10, 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.









November 8, 2017

First Look at Holiday Decor Around Disneyland Resort

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos and videos from his trip to the parks on Friday, November 3, 2017, including a first look at the holiday decorations going up around the resort and a few updates on the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge construction progress.


A couple video clips of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Construction from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure

The Battle Escape Show Building.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Inside the building they are preparing to pour the concrete ground floor.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Toward Critter Country more electrical equipment is installed and beyond it more forms are up.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

The Millennium Falcon show building with the mountains rising above it.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
A closer look at the mountains this week as they continue to install the wire mesh that gives them shape.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

The tram stop billboards are switched over to Christmas, Holidays.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

The Christmas tree is assembled backstage and ready to move to Town Square in the coming days.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Downtown Disney has Holiday banners up.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
The center section of World of Disney features Christmas merchandise. Here is a look around.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Garland up on the train station, but Halloween plantings still. Christmas officially begins Nov 10th at Disneyland.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Main Street USA buildings have garlands.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

The annual snow fall has taken place on Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Small World is behind walls, the holiday version opens next Friday.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

The residents of Toon Town have decorated for the season. Here is a look around.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Pluto was leading a group of kids in a came of musical chairs. He was supplying the beat.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Walking through Frontierland, Christmas decorations are up.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

New Orleans Square is decorated for Christmas too.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Critter Country was preparing for Santa.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Tigger was bouncing around Critter Country.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Over to Disney California Adventure. Buena Vista Street is partially decorated too.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

No menus yet but the Marketplaces for Festival of Holidays are in place.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

A sneak peek of Coco opened today in Bugs Land. They moved some of the signs and props from Paradise Gardens over. Paradise Gardens will feature Festival of Holidays decorations.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

A cart with Coco merchandise.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Ariel has decorated.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

A clip of Dream a Little Dream of Me performed by the Ellis Island Boys... all I could think of was the Muppets though.


Christmas decorations are up on the Pier.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Screamin at sunset.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Pacific Wharf decorations.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Grizzly Recreation Area decorations are up. Rushin' River Outfitters features Christmas merchandise.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Next stop the Grand Californian The gingerbread house is under construction in the lobby.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

A check of Splitsville in Downtown Disney.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Downtown Disney Christmas decorations and plantings.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

A Coco window in the World of Disney
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

With no night time parade the second Soundsational Parade is under the lights. Here is a video clip of the opening group.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Inside the lobby they have the displays that were in Paradise Gardens.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Sleeping Beauty Castle
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 2017

Fantasmic! from a standby location.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 3, 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.









October 31, 2017

"Thor: Ragnarok" Press Junket

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November 3rd, Marvel Studios will continue its slow march towards "Infinity War" with the next tale in the God of Thunder's narrative, "Thor: Ragnarok."

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

On hand at a recent press junket to discuss the current state of Thor were Chris Hemsworth / Thor, Tessa Thompson / Valkyrie, Mark Ruffalo / The Hulk, Jeff Goldblum / Grandmaster, Tom Hiddleston / Loki, Taika Waititi / Director / Korg, Karl Urban / Skurge, Rachel House / Topaz, and Kevin Feige / Producer.

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Select moments from the press conference video above:

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Feige on picking Waititi to direct: "We wanted a new sensibility. We wanted to take Thor--and if you look at everything Chris has done as this character, there have been moments of humor--and we wanted to build on that. And if you look at the movie, it’s got the epic action. It’s got Thor arguably more powerful than he’s ever been in any of the films, with his powers going up against the Hulk, but at the same time embracing what Mr. Hemsworth does better than anyone up until now has ever been able to see, which is his acting chops expands to comedy in an amazing way. And Taika gave them the confidence to explore that, and to try things."

Urban on preparing to take on Thor: "The working out schedule was rather intense. In fact, Taika came to me and he said, ‘Listen, you need to tone it down. You can’t be bigger than Chris, okay?’ So I did, you know."

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Feige and Waititi on what happened to Lady Sif:
Waititi: "Kevin."
Feige: "If she had been on Asgard, she might not be alive, so that's one of the advantages."
Waititi: "Lady Sif is an actor in New York, on a TV show at the moment."
Feige: "Oh, that's true."
Waititi: "She was busy."
Feige: "I've been quoting; I've been using 'A Force Awakens' quote today when people ask me that, which is to say 'that's a good question for another time.'"

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Ruffalo on doing a Hulk movie: "I would love to do a Hulk movie, and I think we all would love to do one. But about a year ago, before I even had this part, or were talking about doing this--it was well over a year ago--Kevin had asked me to come over and have a script meeting. And basically he sat me down and he said, ‘What would you like to do if you had a stand-alone Hulk movie?’ And I said, ‘I’d like to do this, this, and this; and this and this--and then this. And then this, and this, and this, and then it would end like this.’ And he’s like, ‘I love that. Let’s do that over the next three movies, starting with Thor 3 and carry it on through Avengers 3 and Avengers 4.’ And so that’s my stand-alone Hulk movie."

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Thompson on playing an originally white character: "You know, the things that I thought about the particulars of Valkyrie had more to do with, like mass and size. For example, I thought, like ‘Oh, I’m short,’ you know. Or like, ‘I’m not buff enough.’ Or how...you know, she’s arguably as strong as Thor. How do I stand, you know, next to a person like Chris Hemsworth and feel, and feel like that’s true, you know. So I didn’t think so much...I mean, satisfying Norse mythology, it’s mystifying, and fantastical, and glorious, and also very confusing and doesn’t make a lot of sense, you know. And I remember someone online saying like, ‘You know, Tessa Thompson playing Valkyrie is white genocide.’ Which is just as mystifying as Norse mythology. I just figured like, you know, this thing that I’m tasked to do with any character that has its own iconography is to capture the spirit of the character, and I think the spirit of all of us, at the risk of sounding, you know, cheesy, has very little to do with what color we are. So I just didn’t really invest in that."

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Goldblum on joining the Marvel Universe: "...you know, Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito, and Victoria Alonso, and Brad Winderbaum--the whole upper tier of creative leaders--do something unique. They know how to make these epic productions, and popular movies, but they want to make good movies. And they somehow uniquely know how to do them, that feels to me like an actorly, workshop-y, character-y, improvisatory, delightful experience...and to make a movie that I think skins the cat like this is just...I’m grateful, overwhelmingly grateful."

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Blanchett on fight with Hemsworth: "I didn't do enough of it. I kept wanting to do more."
Hemsworth: "You wanted to hit me."
Blanchett: "...Look, it was, it was hugely enjoyable for me. And apart from working with these guys, obviously, the chance to finally, in my deep middle age, to get fit and to wear that much lycra was really exciting for me."

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Hiddleston on Loki's ability to change: "...In a way, in this film, it is about, I think--I’m not spoiling anything--but the development of the relationship between Thor and Loki... Thor has evolved, and grown, and matured; and Loki in a way is stuck in his struggles of the past. And that’s, in a way, that’s the challenge for Loki in this, is that he’s got to confront the fact that time is moving on, and people change, and...so I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see, we’ll see. There’s room to grow, and I’m still here. And we’ll see where he goes next."

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Hemsworth on whether he misses his hammer: "It just helped to kind of shed anything too familiar. You know, I feel like, well, holding the hammer, or even the wig in the previous costume, certainly just put me in a place, and set me on a path of what I already knew. And I wanted it to be unfamiliar, and so everything from the hammer, to the costume, the hair...made me, and allowed me to move differently, and (the lack of them) forced me to move differently, and so that was a great thing. And--I don’t really miss it, no. I’ve got one at home."

"Thor: Ragnarok" will open in theaters November 3, 2017.






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