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December 22, 2014

D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind, Day 2

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On November 22-23, D23 held its big annual event at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, "Destination D: Attraction Rewind."

Day 1 emphasized the contributions Walt Disney made to the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, which I outlined here: http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2014/12/d23_destination_d_attraction_r.html Day 2 was focused on attractions, and references to attractions, which have either been removed from the parks, or never made it to fruition.

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

The morning started off with a bonus showing of the 1982 3-D film shown at both the Imagination Pavilion in EPCOT and the Magic Eye Theater in Disneyland, "Magic Journeys." From the crowd reaction, it was evident that this long-departed visualization of a child's imagination still has its devoted adherents.

Our second surprise of the day was a virtual ride-through of the never-realized "Enchanted Snow Palace" attraction. The short film took us on a tour of the incredibly charming Marc Davis concept art, set to a score that Buddy Baker had created for it, produced by Jeff Crawford.

Marc Davis' Enchanted Snow Palace

The first presentation of the day was "Disneyland: Fond Memories of the Past," featuring the ever-charming Historian Stacia Martin and Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline sharing their recollections of Disneyland attractions that are no more.

Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline

Disney Historian and Artist Stacia Martin

Among the many fondly remembered landmarks was the Skull Rock waterfall formation that overlooked the Pirate Ship Restaurant in Disneyland's original Fantasyland. They were sadly lost in the tradeoff for a less-crowded layout in the 1983 New Fantasyland construction.

Skull Rock at Disneyland

Tomorrowland has seen its share of changes as well, with one of the more notable losses being "Adventure Thru Inner Space."

Adventures Through Inner Space

Opened in 1967 as part of "New Tomorrowland," it continued to shrink guests through its Mighty Microscope until its closure in 1986 to make way for "Star Tours."

Interview with Stacia Martin and Becky Cline:


After a short break, programming resumed with Imagineer Jason Grandt moderating a panel of Disney Legends Tony Baxter and Charlie Ridgeway on memories of past Walt Disney World this time, in "Widen Your World."

Imagineer Jason Grandt, Disney Legend Tony Baxter, Disney Legend Charlie Ridgeway

The three reminisced about some of their favorite retired WDW attractions including the Mickey Mouse Revue--once situated where "Mickey's Philharmagic" is today.

Mickey Mouse Revue

This animatronic-heavy show was the only attraction that was actually relocated to Tokyo Disneyland rather than recreated. It was replaced in 2009 there for "Mickey's Philharmagic," as well.

Another perennial favorite was the Eastern Airline-sponsored "If You Had Wings."

If You Had Wings

Fondly remembered as a free ride, in an era where most attractions cost a ticket for entry, the whirlwind tour of Eastern Airlines destinations closed in 1987, at the current site of "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin."


Interview with Disney Legend Charlie Ridgeway:



Next up, Jason Grandt returned to the stage with fellow Imagineer Wyatt Winter to talk about "Retro Rewind References"--the little easter eggs they've included in present-day attractions, that call back to their extinct brethren.

Imagineer Jason Grandt

In the Town Square Theater, Mickey is shown to have mail on which all the stamps reference past attractions, while the recently-redone queue of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad features references to "The Apple Dumpling Gang," "Those Calloways," and Discovery Bay's Jason Chandler.

Imagineer Wyatt Winter

Interview with Imagineers Jason Grandt and Wyatt Winter:


After the lunch break, Tony Baxter returned to deliver what was the highlight of the weekend for many, "The Discovery Bay Chronicles."

Disney Legend Tony Baxter

This was an in-depth look at a land (and then a separate theme park) concept conceived by Baxter and developed with Disney Legend Harper Goff. Set on the California coast in the 1800's, Discovery Bay would have been loosely tied in with the soon-to-be-released Disney movie "The Island at the Top of the World." With a heavy steampunk aesthetic, and visually anchored by the dirigible "Hyperion," from the movie, the land would have encompassed an E-Ticket flight on the Hyperion, dining experiences on the Nautilus, a fireworks themed shooting gallery, and much much more.

Artist Rendering Discovery Bay

A trailer was even produced and shown to the D23 audience for a companion TV series "The Discovery Bay Chronicles," starring Peter Renaday as Discovery Bay founder Jason Chandler. This series would have served to give backstory on the new land, while building audience anticipation for it, as Walt did on TV for the opening of Disneyland.

The concept was so compelling, Baxter was told to work it up as a separate gate altogether for Disneyland. Unfortunately, as work went forward on it, "Island at the Top of the World" opened and sadly underperformed at the box office, causing Disney management to lose all confidence in the idea.

Aspects of the land still exist here and there, however--the dirigible and Nautilus both make an appearance at Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris; The Firework Factory became a restaurant in Pleasure Island; Tokyo DisneySea has Mysterious Island, which has a marked steampunk motif; and a gallery of illusions, "Professor Marvel's Gallery," evolved into Journey into Imagination.

Professor Marvel's Gallery

Interview with Tony Baxter:


After this extensive glimpse at an amazing land concept, we then got to see Imagineers Dave Minichiello and Pam Rawlins tackle the unenviable task of following Baxter with "An Evolution of Make Believe Made Real," going over the development of the new Magic Kingdom attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Imagineers Dave Minichiello and Pam Rawlings

They made a point of showing the great effort that went into making many of the details in the ride match the original 1937 film. It was obviously a labor of love and it was not at all their fault that they were by then facing a roomful of people resentful about not being able to ride a dirigible.

The final presentation of the weekend came from the very funny Disney Legend Ron Logan, who was responsible for creating, casting, and producing all live entertainment products for The Walt Disney Company during his tenure.

Disney Legend Ron Logan

In "That Was Entertainment!" he went through some of the trials and tribulations involved in a handful of past spectacles he developed, including "Skyleidoscope," "The EPCOT Dare Devil Circus Spectacular," "Light Magic," and "Spectromagic."

Epcot Entertainment

Interview with Disney Legend Ron Logan

In between presentations, our host for the weekend, D23′s Marketing Director Kristan Rodack, introduced mini-segments which usually introduced additional experiences open to Destination D guests. In "Computer Central Reboot," iPads were set up in another room with the original World Key games and videos to simulate going to Communicore at EPCOT back in the day. In a look forward, Rodack and Carl Allen from Disney Parks introduced a new "Show Your Disney Side" app that can transform your photos into your favorite Disney characters.

Kristin Rodack and Carl Allen Show Your Disney Side

A small exhibit of related items from the Archives was on display as well, in "Treasure of the Walt Disney Archives."

Disney Archives Exhibit

Disney Archives Exhibit

On one of the days, a working Mold-A-Rama machine was set up and guests could watch it running while it churned out plastic figurines.

Mold-A-Rama machine

On the whole, and having been to all the Destination D's D23 has produced so far, I would say that I thought this one had the best programming to date (I am biased however, because the 1964-65 NYWF has always been my top destination for when we develop time travel.) The speakers were great and the concept art ride-through videos they've begun to develop for a lot of these unrealized/retired attractions are a wonderful way to experience something that does not physically exist.

Destination D: Attraction Rewind showcased some of the best the Disney Parks has historically offered. Looking back at all the amazing experiences they've developed, from Magic Skyway, to If You Had Wings, to Discovery Bay, to Skyleidoscope, there is an ambition and an optimism and a joyfulness that pervades all of them. Given how often we find those qualities missing in present day times, inside and outside the parks, it's a wonderful gift to be able to revisit and appreciate them all over again.

SPECIAL BONUS:

Here's how you can win a special Destination D Magic Band! Simply leave a comment below about Destination D Attraction Rewind OR leave a comment on one of the videos posted in this blog between now and midnight December 22, 2014. We will pick a comment at random for the Magic Band!

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December 19, 2014

D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind, Day 1

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On November 22-23, D23 held its big annual event at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, "Destination D: Attraction Rewind."

D23 Destination D Attraction Rewind Program

The emphasis on Saturday's schedule was an exploration of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair--a landmark in Disney history due to the four exhibits Disney presented there, all marvels of themed attraction innovation.

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

Early Construction at the 1964-65 World's Fair

To start us off, Historian Bill Cotter gave us a general overview in his presentation "Welcome to the World's Fair."

Worlds Fair Historian Bill Cotter

Displaying only a portion of his extensive (22,000!) collection of World's Fair photos (located online at http://www.worldsfairphotos.com/) Cotter took us on a whirlwind tour of the construction and layout of the Fair. Some of the futuristic developments the fair introduced: Phone booths, touch-tone phones, computers, carbon-free copies, and Bel-Gem waffles.

Next up were Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Bob Gurr generally discussing the Disney contributions in "Walt Disney--A Giant at the New York World's Fair."

Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Bob Gurr

With the easy familiarity born of all their cumulative years of Disney service, Sklar and Gurr shared many of their memories developing and experiencing the Fair attractions with Walt and the other classic Imagineers. Two notes they made of Walt's forethought: He had contracts drawn up to take possession of all the attractions he built after the fair for Disneyland (ending a six-year stagnant period;) and the month the Fair opened was the same month he began quietly purchasing land in Florida.

Walt Disney's its a small world New York Worlds Fair

Because neither Sklar or Gurr worked extensively on "it's a small world," video segments were played with Disney Legends Richard Sherman and Rolly Crump talking about their contributions on that attraction.

Photos of its a small world from the World's Fair

Interview with Disney Legends Bob Gurr and Marty Sklar

After a short break, Historian Stacia Martin shared with us "Disney Music Magic at the New York World's Fair."

Disney Historian Stacia Martin

Martin played a number of musical selections for us, including some of the impressive orchestral scores Buddy Baker came up with for Mr. Lincoln and Carousel, proof-of-concept recordings for the iasw roundelay, and George Bruns' many and varied musical adaptations for the Ford queue, as played by the Autoparts Harmonic.

Autoparts Harmonic Photo

The first of the Disney Fair pavilions discussed was "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln," with 2007 Disney Ambassador and Historian Michael Kelley and Imagineer Jack Gladish.

Michael Kelley and Jack Gladish

Interview with Imagineer Jack Gladish

The two went back over the history of Audio-Animatronic development from the Buddy Ebsen "Dancing Man" footage to the problems making forehead plastic crinkle when Lincoln moved his eyebrows. (Oddly enough, no thought at all was apparently given to this when Gary Sinese taped his "Mission: Space" footage right after botox.)

Artist Rendering of Mr. Lincoln

The initial presentation of the Lincoln figure was so impressive, the Illinois Commission was able to convince Robert Moses, Head of the World's Fair Corporation, to pitch in money for it--the only financial support he gave to any exhibitor--just so he could have the pavilion in the Fair.

After lunch we reconvened to hear Bill Cotter and Bob Gurr return to the stage to talk about Walt, cars, and dinosaurs in "Ford's Magic Skyway."

Bill Cotter and Bob Gurr

Sadly, this is the one ride that did not make it back to Disneyland, as Walt apparently deemed the ride system too large to take back and fit into the park. Consequently, his contracts for the Skyway were written for him to be able to take the dinosaurs and a few other small pieces, and leave the rest.

Fords Magic Skyway at New York World's Fair

The presentation ended with a video ride through reconstruction which is the closest any of us will get to riding Ford's Magic Skyway today.

[For more concept pictures on this ride, I refer you back to a blog I wrote on the 2010 Destination D, when we were still allowed to take photos: http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2010/10/destination_d_day_1_pm.html]

Marty Sklar then returned as well, to talk with Imagineer Gary Landrum about the making of "Carousel of Progress."

Marty Sklar and Gary Landrum

The two went through a brief history of the attraction, detailing its proposed origin for the unrealized Edison Square, then its first life in Progressland, and again, to its subsequent existence in Disneyland's Tomorrowland.

Carousel of Progress

Carousel of Progress

Tim O'Day, standing in for an absent Alice Davis, had a chat with Disney Legend and assistant manager of the Disney World's Fair projects, Bill Sullivan about "it's a small world," and some of the Imagineers that worked on it.

Marc Davis, Walt Disney, and Mary Blair
Artist Rendering its a small world

Interview with Disney Legend Bill "Sully" Sullivan, Worlds Fair Historian Bill Cotter and Imagineer Gary Landrum

Next up was Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline, who gave us a fascinating look at some proposed projects that did not come to fruition in "Lost on the Way to the World's Fair." The highlight was a presentation of the script and concept art (long misattributed to the Tiki Room,) for a theater show pitched for the Coke Pavilion, entitled "Legends of the Enchanted Island."

Legends of the Enchanted Island

The first day of Destination D presentations then closed out with "Tomorrowland's" Supervising Art Director Ramsey Avery, discussing the work that was done for the film to reconstruct parts of the World's Fair in "A Sneak Peak at Disney's Tomorrowland."

Ramsey Avery

While they did show some footage just for the Destination D event, you can get a quick glimpse of some of their work in the recently released trailer:

SPECIAL BONUS:

Here's how you can win a special Destination D Magic Band! Simply leave a comment below about Destination D Attraction Rewind OR leave a comment on one of the videos posted in this blog between now and midnight December 24, 2014. We will pick a comment at random for the Magic Band!

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...And that was just the first day! More from the second day of Destination D: Attraction Rewind, to come!

December 13, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 12/06/14

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Saturday, December 6, 2014.

This weekend is Candlelight weekend at Disneyland. Unlike Walt Disney World, here on the West Coast the Candlelight Processional is still in Town Square and only runs for two nights (4 shows total). This posting takes a look at the Candlelight set-up and Ceremony.

As soon as you enter the park you can see evidence of the event with temporary barriers up on the Main Street Train Station.


Town Square is partially set up this morning. The rest of the chairs will be brought in later in the afternoon.

A quick walk around the area.

Jumping ahead now from the early morning until around 4:30, an hour before the Candlelight was to begin. The line for guests with tickets to the Candlelight.

Found a spot near the Opera House about 45 minutes before show time.

A CM doing a check at the podium.

The orchestra began the processional.

The procession making its way through Town Square to the stage.

Almost filled in and ready to go.

The Disney Cast Member choir

Showtime!

The narrator this year, Beau Bridges

A video clip featuring some of Angels We Have Heard on High & What Child Is This?

A video clip of Silent Night.

Later in the evening I passed through Town Square just as the second Candlelight of the evening was getting underway. Here is the opposite view, from the City Hall side.

A quick look at the stage from this side.


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




December 1, 2014

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

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The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend was held at Disneyland November 14-16. This is a new runDisney event, which of course means it has the "I" word, Inaugural, associated with it. :-) All events sold out very quickly, but Lee and I were able to register for the half marathon.

This was the third event in what has been a very busy week for us. We ran the Wine and Dine Half Marathon last Saturday night (you can read more about that HERE), then went on a four-night Disney cruise. We flew back to San Diego on Friday, went home, repacked our bags, and drove to Disneyland that night. It was a long day, but it was nice to have all day on Saturday at Disneyland, rather than driving on Saturday and not being able to check into our hotel until the afternoon.

The events for the weekend included the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday and Saturday, the Super Heroes 5K and Kids Races on Saturday, and the Half Marathon on Sunday. We didn't arrive in time to go to the Expo on Friday night (which was one reason we chose not to register for the 5K), so we went on Saturday, around 11:30. We intentionally did not go at opening, since we'd heard what the crowds were like the day before in the merchandise area. At least this time they had a system, with a queue and cast members controlling access to the area (unlike for the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare in 2013), but still, the lines were long on Friday morning. And, unfortunately, some of the merchandise sold out on Friday morning. I don't know why Disney seems to have so much trouble ordering sufficient merchandise. But it's pretty disappointing to be a registered participant in the race, and not have a chance to purchase items. There's no reason for shirts to be limited editions. I really wish runDisney would allow registered runners to pre-order merchandise other than pins. But that's another topic.

Anyway...The Expo was held at the Disneyland Hotel's Convention Center, like all of the other Disneyland race expos. Packet pickup was a breeze - we had printed our waivers in advance (which is highly recommended - saves a lot of time), and I walked right up to the counter to pick up my number - no line at all!

As they did for Wine and Dine, there were photographers in the packet pickup area to photograph those who were going for their Coast-to-Coast medal. This didn't affect us this time but it still was not clear at all that this was something that Coast-to-Coast participants needed to do. The volunteers who give out the Coast-to-Coast wristbands need to be given better directions on this. It was in the race program - but who reads the race program in advance on-line, much less takes the time to read the printed version at the Expo?

They had some fun banners posted outside the hall.

The shirt pickup was upstairs in the Expo area - that was also a very fast process. I like the shirt fabric. It's the same softer, lighter weight fabric they have been using for other race shirts this year. The design is also nice, and I'm still very happy with the women's cut. Though these are long-sleeve shirts and the sleeves are too long.


The Expo seemed pretty small to me - not that many vendors, which meant that it felt less crowded and easier to get around. Though it wasn't really that busy when we were there. The vendors that I expected were there, and I couldn't tell you who was "missing".

There were no lines at the merchandise area when we got there - I think that really the only busy time was Friday morning. As I mentioned before, some of the merchandise was already sold out, but there was still a pretty good selection remaining, including the "I Did It" shirts, though it looked like they were running low on some of the sizes. There was a unisex version and a women's version. They were cotton this time and not tech shirts. That has received some mixed responses. I personally like the cotton shirts, but others prefer the tech shirts.

We spent the rest of the day visiting with friends who were also running the half marathon and getting a first look at all of the holiday decorations in the parks. And as usual we ended our day with our traditional pre-race favorite meal: four cheese ravioli from Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta.

One advantage to our travel schedule is that we were on east coast time. So getting up for a race that starts at 5:30 Pacific time isn't that bad when your body thinks it's 8:30. :-) We went to bed at 8:45 on Saturday night and set a wakeup call for 3:45 a.m. That's pretty close to a full night's sleep! And I know I've said it before but I LOVE the races at Disneyland because we can walk to the start line instead of taking a bus, so there's no reason to get there insanely early.

No rain in the forecast for this race (for which we were very grateful, after last weekend's rainy Wine and Dine run), and in fact the conditions looked really good, with temperatures of 55-64 predicted for the race itself. We arrived at the pre-race area about 4:40. This was a relatively small race, with only about 12,000 registered. (There were 10,449 official finishers.) The pre-race area was not crowded at all, and there weren't even any lines for the porta-potties!

Lee and I had both dressed in costume. He put together a really nice Hawkeye costume, and even carried a bow for the entire race. There weren't very many Hawkeyes in the race, so he got lots of compliments! I did a "Princess Captain America Winter Soldier" look - but there were hundreds of Captain Americas. :-) Lots of Thors, Hulks, and Iron Men, also, not so many Black Widows. Also lots of Supermen, Wonder Women, Batmen and Robins, and Spidermen. I did not see very many runners dressed as traditional Disney characters in this race.

The race started on time - we even had some fireworks at the start, which is unusual for a race at Disneyland. Lee and I were running with our friend Eddie - both Eddie and Lee were in higher corrals, but they came back to Corral D to run with me. As in the Disneyland half marathon, they sent A and B together, then C and D together, then E and F. Those were the smaller corrals. The larger corrals went off individually. As usual, the runners were pretty bunched together at the start, but we started to spread out after about 3/4 of a mile.

The Avengers Half Marathon is a new course. When I first looked at it I was surprised (and disappointed) to see that we would be out of the parks and off Disney property before we even reached mile 3. By way of comparison, the Disneyland half leaves Disney property just before mile 4, and for the Tinker Bell half it's almost mile 6! Upon leaving the parks the Disneyland half heads basically east, Tinker Bell heads north, and this course went south, then east. About mile 6.5 it turns north again on the Santa Ana River Trail for a couple of miles, exiting at Angel Stadium. From there on it's very similar to the Disneyland half, though it takes a loop around some of the off-site hotels near the park to add a little more distance. The last 1.1 miles of the race is identical to the Disneyland half, and it finishes in the traditional place near the Disneyland hotel.

The course map is HERE.

The first park was DCA, and we entered near "a bug's land" and then ran by Luigi's Flying Tires, and turned right to run through Radiator Springs, then left towards Paradise Pier. Lightning McQueen and D.J. were in Radiator Springs. The photo op for Thor was positioned in front of Blue Sky Cellar, and had a very long line. We did not do the traditional loop around Paradise Bay, which really shortened our time in DCA. But even so I was surprised that the World of Color fountains weren't running, nor was the Fun Wheel lit.

We turned right at the Little Mermaid and ran by Redwood Creek, where I saw Dug and Russell. Then we passed Grizzly River Run, and turned left just before Soarin'. Hawkeye was there, and had a relatively short line. Since Lee was dressed as Hawkeye we had to stop. Though the line seemed relatively short, it still took over 5 minutes.

We ran out of DCA and entered the backstage area of Disneyland near the Indiana Jones attraction, then ran into Disneyland itself by Splash Mountain. There were a number of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (dressed in dark suits) cheering us on. The course took us along the Rivers of America past the Haunted Mansion and Pirates. We saw Black Widow in front of The Golden Horseshoe, but that was the longest line we'd seen and we didn't stop.


We ran past Big Thunder Mountain and the mile 2 sign, and into Fantasyland.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were on the Carrousel, though they were far enough away that it was hard to pose with them.

We ran through the castle, which is all covered in its seasonal icicle lights and snow. I do have to say that one very special thing about this race was getting the opportunity to run through the parks when they were decorated for the holidays, though we weren't able to take full advantage of that since we never ran by "it's a small world".

As we ran down Main Street Mickey and Minnie were near the Plaza Inn. Surprisingly they were not dressed in any kind of special costume! I expected some kind of superhero outfit, or at least their runner outfits. Very disappointing. Captain America was near Town Square, and had a huge line - nope, not stopping for that.

From there it was under the train station and out of the park, into the Esplanade, and then left through the shuttle bus/tram area, and out to Harbor Blvd. Done with the parks and we were less than 3 miles into the race. Bummer.

Once we started south on Harbor, we really started to notice the wind. The Santa Ana winds had kicked up, and though at that point it was coming from our left, we could still really feel it. After we ran south on Harbor for about a mile we turned left on Chapman Avenue, and right into the wind. It was blowing leaves and dirt around, especially when the wind gusted, and the going was much more difficult when we were running into the wind. After not quite a mile we turned south into the Christ Cathedral complex (I remember it as the Crystal Cathedral), and that was a huge relief, since we were no longer heading straight into the wind.

The wind really took its toll on the mile markers - starting at mile 3, almost none of them were intact for the rest of the race. Several had blown over completely, and others had just the framework left. Wow.

I was wearing a cape, and depending on the wind direction it was either flowing beautifully or trying to strangle me. :-)

The wind was also a big issue for the volunteers at the water stops, since it was strong enough to blow the tables over! At some locations the tables had been taken down and volunteers were simply pouring water into the cups and handing them out as fast as they could. So it was a difficult day for the volunteers, also.

At about mild 6.5 we went down onto the Santa Ana River Trail. There was a really great mural on the wall!

But it was very windy down there, with lots of dust, even though the trail is paved. We even saw a big tumbleweed that was getting blown along. Eddie and I had given Lee a bad time about wearing his sunglasses because it was dark when we started, but we were wishing we had glasses to help keep the dust out of our eyes.

As part of the on-course entertainment Disney had put a call out for volunteers including Costumers (the more authentic, the better), military vehicles and re-enactors to go with them, and veterans.

The Costumers were placed along the Trail. I thought this was a little bit of an odd choice because it was somewhat narrow, but for morale purposes it was a wonderful location for them. They were really terrific - for one thing they looked amazing! So many different and really well-crafted costumes!

And they were also very enthusiastic, offering plenty of cheers and smiles and high-fives and encouragement. We were really happy to see them, and they made us forget the dust and the wind for a little while.

At about mile 8 we exited the trail and went into the parking lot at Angel Stadium, and then into the stadium itself.

No boy and girl scouts this time, but there were a couple of bands and flag teams, and some other groups in the stands to cheer for us.

After we left the stadium we ran by the other group of volunteers - those with military vehicles, period uniforms, and veterans in uniform. This was another wonderful group of people, and we also appreciated their support so much!

From that point on we were mostly running with the wind at our backs, and that helped, though the gusts were strong enough that I felt like I was going to get blown off my feet several times. Very odd feeling.

The last 4+ miles back to Disneyland were pretty similar to what we've experienced in the past on the Disneyland half marathon course. Lots of cheerleaders and high school bands to cheer us on. Finally at mile 11 we again saw a mile marker sign that was still standing! Mile 12 was completely gone - replaced by a cast member announcing that we were at mile 12. The mile 13 sign was surrounded by people, and it was ok. But that's when Lee decided to sprint, and I had to beat him to the finish line, so there's no photo of it. :-)


My time was 2:42:27. I was kind of surprised it wasn't better, because we didn't stop for that many photos. But the wind made for a very challenging and tiring run - it was a pretty tough day. That said, I'll still take the wind over the rain we had for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.

The medal is very nice - it's a spinner.

As usual we received the typical runDisney MRE box at the end. Someone (hello, Lori!) asked me recently why I object so much to the boxes. I couldn't put it into words at the time, but in thinking about it I realized that it's largely because here I've been out doing something healthy, running a race, and at the end I get a box that's filled with a bunch of processed food. That just doesn't seem right - it's almost insulting. Disney could do so much better, and in fact other races, that don't charge nearly so much money, do a whole lot better when it comes to post-race refreshments.

The windy conditions continued to affect things even in the finish area. The photo backdrops used by the official race photographers were missing, and most of the tents in the finish area had to be taken down. The awards ceremony was canceled, and runners were encouraged to leave the area fairly quickly. We didn't really have any reason to linger, so we headed back to our hotel.

Because of the wind, I'm not entirely sure what I thought about this race, especially the course. I expected to enjoy the Santa Ana River Trail part a lot, but because of the dust, that area was pretty unpleasant. Obviously that's not Disney's fault since they do not control the weather - not yet, at least. :-)

But they do control the park time, and I'm definitely not a fan of the very limited park time. That aspect of the course was very disappointing. But even so, there were a lot of things that I liked about this course. It was nice to see some different parts of Orange County. In the Disneyland half, I don't really like the tour of the Anaheim industrial park, so I found this course to be an improvement since it gave us a look at some business and residential areas instead. If it weren't for the lack of park time I would choose the Avengers course over the Disneyland course, but the Tinker Bell course is still my overall favorite.

The other area where I see a lot of room for improvement in future Avengers races is the characters. The lines for the characters were so long - you pretty much had to choose which one character you were going to stand in line for. I can't think of any really good way to deal with that, but one thing that I would've loved to have seen was some of the Disney characters in Avengers costumes. They do that with the Star Wars characters - why couldn't they do it with Marvel characters? Or why not bring out the Disney super heroes, like The Incredibles and Frozone? And Rapunzel, Mulan, and Merida are pretty bada$$ princesses.

Other than merchandise, I didn't really experience any issues that I associate with this being an inaugural race. Disneyland has done this before, and they have learned from previous race experiences and made improvements over the years (well, other than the runDisney MREs...).

The volunteers were terrific, and I'm sure it was a more difficult day for them than it would usually be. I really enjoyed the Costumers and the vehicles and all of those in uniform - thank you to all of you for coming out to support us, and a special thank you to the veterans for your service to our country!

We will probably run this race again next year and hope for more typical November conditions. It really is a great time of year for a race weekend, given our usual weather at this time of year.

Thanks for reading, and thank you to all of you who have taken the time to tell me how much you enjoy my running blogs - that means a lot to me. I'm especially humbled by those who have told me that my blogs have inspired them to go out and participate in a Disney race! Good for you, and congratulations on your achievements.




November 30, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/26/14

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Wednesday, November 26, 2014.

I started off my long holiday weekend spending the afternoon/evening at the Disneyland Resort. First stop today, Disney California Adventure. On Buena Vista Street Oswald joined the Community Bell Ringers. I arrived as they were wrapping up the last song.

After retrieving a FastPass for World of Color I headed for Disneyland.

Every Wednesday until July there is an Annual Passholder promotion called Wednesdays with Walt where they have a presentation and screening in the Opera House several times in the evening.

This week they are showing Classic Disney Holiday animated shorts. I picked up a wristband for the 5pm showing.

Main Street transportation rounding the hub.

First stop for me the Jingle Cruise. A posted half hour wait and it took about that this week. A snowman in the queue.


The Mark Twain has returned to service and looks like new again.

A look around the Mark Twain. No substantial changes jumped out at me. Just a lot of new paint and touch up work. The boat looks great.


New signage for the souvenir sippers...now Fantasmic! vs Halloween Time. Not sure why you would want a glow cube in a sipper :-)

Haunted Mansion Holiday time.

Anna and Olaf passing by in A Christmas Fantasy Parade (I was on my way to Small World Holiday).


The curtains appear to be gone for good so you can now get pictures of Baymax and Hiro without waiting in the long line, if you are quick or the groups slow.

The Dapper Dans of Disneyland performing at the nightly Flag Retreat in Town Square.

Lights set up for the Candlelight Ceremony in a little over a week.

Next I headed to the Main Street Opera house for Wednesday with Walt. This was my first of the series since I usually cannot make it down to the park on a Wednesday.

Baymax floating up from the front row.

Stacia Martin introduced the four shorts which were Mickey's Good Deed, Winter Storage, Santa's Workshop and Donald's Snowball Fight.

At the end she gave away a drawing that she had made to one lucky guest.

As you exited everyone received an Annual Passholder ornament.

Fun to see the Elias and Co windows on Buena Vista Street after just seeing the short they were inspired by (Santa's Workshop).

The hub cap tree has been removed from near the court house. I read it had some wind damage.

Viva Navidad! Street Party

Time to visit the three hotels and see their Christmas decorations...first up the Grand Californian.

The tree in Whitewater Snacks

They now have Coke Freestyle machines in Whitewater.

Elf Mickey Stein available for the holidays.

The tree in the lobby of the Grand Californian

This year there is a large gingerbread house in the lobby. It's 7-1/2 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Here are some other stats on it.

The gingerbread house looks like the hotel.

There are seven hidden Mickeys.

The back side of the creation.

A snack and drink location was set up near the gingerbread house.

The menu.

A quick video clip of the tree and lobby while I waited for a photo to upload.

The trees out front of the hotel have their Christmas lights.

Deer out front of the hotel.

The tree in the lobby of the Paradise Pier Hotel

Walked over to the Disneyland Hotel next. This is the Frontier Tower Lobby.

As I was walking toward Trader Sam's a pair of live musicians there were wrapping up with a Hawaiian Christmas song. Here is a clip of it.

The E-Ticket pool was closed this evening.

A tree outside Goofy's Kitchen

Santa's meet-and-greet area near the convention center is all ready for Santa.

The "gingerbread" Castle is back at the entrance to the Disneyland Hotel.

Olaf's Ice Rink was open for business at the Downtown Disney Winter Village.

The Winter Village in Downtown Disney.

This is the last weekend for the Mad T Party. So stopped by for one last performance from the band.

The snow finale...

Arrived on Main Street as the 8:30 Wintertime Enchantment moment was happening.

Goofy showed up to take some pictures in Town Square.

Found a spot for Believe in Holiday Magic....Disney warned then cancelled the show. The announcement said due to winds at upper elevations. I did not see anything moving. So had to settle for just snowfall.

Arrived in Paradise Pier about 20 minutes before World of Color was to begin and found spot in the blue section using my FastPass.

Since I was in a good spot again decided to re-record the Do You Want to Build a Snowman opening with the SLR camera. So here it is. Interesting that it featured images from some of the holiday animated shorts I had seen earlier.


Here is the Frozen Medley then finale of World of Color Winter Dreams.

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




November 25, 2014

Disney Dream Bahamas Cruise - Part 2

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Wednesday - Castaway Cay

We got up early enough so that we could have breakfast before meeting in Evolution at 8:15 for the 5K. The 5K process is much easier than the last time we did it. It's still free, but instead of signing up the morning of, you sign up in advance at Guest Services or the Port Adventures desk. They give you a ticket that you turn in at the meeting place in exchange for your bib and safety pins. The made the process a LOT faster - the 5K group was ready to leave the ship as soon as the cruise director announced that passengers could disembark.

As soon as we walked off the ship it started to rain! We just grabbed some towels and kept walking, and it stopped after less than 10 minutes. It was nice to have it overcast and a bit cooler - this is definitely the best weather I've had when I've done this race.

Stan, Pam, and Tom were again doing the 5K. Lee and Stan ran it, and Pam and I walked it together and had a good time, and Tom finished a few minutes after we did. We all got our "Winner" ribbons with the plastic Mickey head. Starting next year runDisney is doing a new "Castaway Cay Challenge" which will have a REAL medal. Runners who participate in one of the races during either Marathon weekend in January or Princess weekend in February and then take the four-night Disney cruise that starts the Monday after the race have the opportunity to sign up for the Castaway Cay Challenge where they will get that medal when they complete the Castaway Cay 5K. I hope that they will offer this after the Wine and Dine Half Marathon also, since we already plan to run that and then do the cruise next year. There were a lot of people on our cruise that had run the Wine and Dine Half, so I think there would be quite a bit of interest!

After the race we walked out to Serenity Bay.

Molly had gone ahead while we were doing the race and saved us some primo spots - including two hammocks! I enjoyed one of those for a while.

They had to leave early since they were having brunch at Palo. Brunch is so popular and hard to reserve that they have started to offer it on Castaway Cay day also.

Lee and I had lunch on the island, and enjoyed a nap in the sun. It was a little breezy and the sun felt good.

We walked back to the ship around 2:00 and stopped for some photos with the holiday decorations on the dock.

After we boarded we ran into the others who were returning from brunch. They enjoyed it.

Lee and I had another Champagne seminar in the Pink that afternoon. This one was put on by the wine team, and led by the Head Sommelier from Remy. We had four champagnes, including two rose champagnes.

There was also a bonus champagne - our favorite Moet Ice Imperial. I think the sommelier was a bit taken aback that Lee and I were already quite familiar with it. :-)

We were again leaving port after we finished, so we went up on deck to watch the sailaway. Not quite as pretty a sunset as the previous evening.

In the lobby they were still working on the gingerbread house!

That night was Pirate Night and we dressed up a little bit. Arrr...

In Pink I had one of the Tuxedo strawberries with a glass of Ice Imperial. Yum.

We returned to our stateroom in time for the fireworks - we were on the starboard side, so we could see them from our verandah.

That day's towel animal was a sea turtle.


Thursday - Day at Sea

I don't think I've mentioned the sea conditions for this cruise at all. It was very smooth sailing - I think the least motion that I've ever experienced. I felt it a little bit the evening we left Port Canaveral, but after that, I could hardly even tell we were moving.

The weather was good, too, at least after we got away from Port Canaveral. We had a fair amount of sun and it wasn't too warm.

Thursday was our day for Palo brunch, though it wasn't until 12:30. We still had breakfast in the morning. We started in Cove Cafe so Lee could get some "real" coffee, rather than the stuff they serve at the beverage stations and in the dining rooms. Cove Cafe had some holiday decorations, too.

I didn't realize that there was a piece of Enchanted Art in Cove Cafe.

After breakfast at Cabanas Lee went to a presentation on the Dream and I did another "Midship Detective Agency" case. If you keep the same card you'll get different villains, though the cases themselves done change at all - just a couple of the clues are different. While doing that I checked on the gingerbread house again. You can see the figures of Mickey and Minnie inside.

There were some holiday decorations in Palo, also. Our brunch was good, though it didn't take as long as it often does - we felt a little rushed. We've always had the first seating before, though. By the time we left very few of the tables were still occupied.

After brunch we went shopping. They had some nice "Merrytime Cruises" merchandise.

Lee found a Baymax shirt that he bought.

That night we were in Animator's Palate - there was a pretty Christmas tree outside.

We saw the Turtle Talk with Crush show. Crush got to our area of the restaurant very late, and most of the kids had already left by then, so he didn't really spend any time interacting with anyone in particular. And truth be told, we weren't paying much attention to him because we were too busy chatting with our tablemates.

We got a nice photo of everyone, plus our server, Graziela.

After dinner we went back to our stateroom to pack. We had to clear "Davy Jones" off our bed so that we could do that, though. We were planning to carry our bags off ourselves, but still wanted to get most of the packing done before we went to Pink to finish our evening.

There were a few more people who wandered in and out of Pink that night, but no one stayed long, though we heard several lament that they wish they'd found it sooner. We had a nice final evening with Don and Cinthya. We hope to see them next year when we do this same cruise again!

I wanted to check out the progress on the gingerbread house so we went to the lobby.

It was about 10:20 and the "Character Farewell" was going on. We watched that for a while, and also saw the "Dickens Carolers" group. They only performed two songs, though - we were hoping for more.

The characters came out onto the balcony for one final farewell.

Then it was back to our room for one final night in that oh-so-comfy Disney Cruise Line bed!

Friday - Disembarkation

We were early dining, so our breakfast started at 6:45 - we set an alarm. We'd had good weather for the cruise, but it was another foggy, grey day in Port Canaveral.

Breakfast on the final day is always a a very quick process - they want us OUT of there. I think we walked off the ship about 7:45, after taking one final photo of the gingerbread house. Walking off the ship is always a letdown after everything else. But all good things must come to an end, right?

The line for Customs was longer than I've ever seen it but it moved steadily and we were on a bus to the airport by 8:20, and checked in for our flight by 9:15 - plenty of time before our 11:45 flight.

So now Part 3 of our adventure was about to begin: fly to San Diego, make a quick stop at the house to repack our bags, and then drive to Disneyland so that we can run the Inaugural Avengers Half Marathon on Sunday. We were looking forward to that!

A few thoughts on the cruise...

We loved doing the cruise after our half marathon! It was a great way to relax and reward ourselves after that. We are definitely looking forward to doing it again next year! We were already planning to do it with a group of friends, and while on this cruise Stan and Pam and Tom and Molly also booked it for next year!

i was glad to get a chance to see the holiday decorations on board the ship - that wasn't something I expected when we booked this cruise. I wish they had done a tree lighting ceremony every night - the lobby just isn't big enough to hold everyone who is interested in that. And it was difficult for those with early dinner seating to make it in time.

I really loved this itinerary: two days at Castaway Cay and a day at sea. I know it's very popular with guests, so I wish Disney would do it more often. Lee reminded me that when all four ships are in the area and visiting Castaway Cay once or twice a week, that the schedule just doesn't work out. Sigh.

We didn't see any of the shows this time - but we've seen them all before. We were glad of the opportunity to see Big Hero 6, since it had just opened the previous Friday. We wanted to see Maleficent, but the timing just never worked out for that one. That's what happened on our cruise two months ago, also.

Next time I'm booking my own transfers or doing something else different so that we don't get to the ship so late on embarkation day. When we're late like that it's a rush to try and eat and get settled in our stateroom before the lifeboat drill. Besides, I want to be able to take advantage of our Platinum status!

The food blogs are still coming - I will include our experiences at Walt Disney World, including the Food and Wine Festival, in addition to our meals on the cruise ship.







November 24, 2014

Disney Dream Bahamas Cruise - Part 1

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What to do after running a half marathon in the rain...How about a Disney cruise to the sunny and warm Bahamas???

Our cruise didn't start out sunny and warm - it was raining in Port Canaveral for much of the afternoon, which is why the Cove Pool is totally empty in this photo. :-) It was still drizzling during the lifeboat drill (though fortunately we were under cover for that), and the Sailaway Party. The Sailaway Party was moved to the Atrium Lobby because of the rain.

We had a late bus from Walt Disney World, and didn't arrive at the port until almost 2:00. The "Merrytime" holiday cruises had just started, and this was the first one on the Dream, so the port terminal was decorated for the holidays.

When we booked this cruise we did it strictly because of the schedule, since it fell right after the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. When I looked at the itinerary I was really happy to find that it was an alternate itinerary, featuring two days at Castaway Cay and a day at sea. The second Castaway Cay day replaced the stop at Nassau. That was great for us - we don't get off the ship in Nassau.

Then just a few weeks before the cruise I found that Disney had moved the holiday season forward, and that our cruise would fall during the "Merrytime Cruise" season, so that we'd get to see all of the decorations and have the opportunity to participate in some of the other special events.

This was our first cruise as Platinum Castaway Club members, but due to our late arrival we really didn't get to take advantage of most of the perks, like early boarding. Oh well. Next time!

The Lobby Atrium was already decorated for the holidays with the big tree and lots of garlands. The crew was very busy, since it all had to be done between the time the previous guests disembarked, and when the new guests came on board - that's typically less than two hours!

Our first order of business was to sign up for any Tasting sessions we wanted to attend. The Navigator didn't do a very good job of describing what they were and when - we had to ask at Guest Services. The Stem-to-Stern session had already been booked by a private party, so that wasn't available at all. But there were two champagne tastings: Champagne, and Champagne Cocktails. We booked both of those. My very favorite, Chocolate and Liquor, conflicted with our Palo brunch on the sea day. I was very disappointed.

Since we were so late the staterooms were already available, so we made a quick stop to drop off our packs before heading off to lunch. This time our Castaway Club gift was already on the bed. (Last cruise I had to call three times before they delivered it to us.)

We had lunch in Cabanas - it was the usual buffet items, such as shrimp, fish, chicken, lamb, salad bar, various hot and cold side dishes, breads, and dessert. Nothing too exotic, but it tasted good.

We wandered around the ship looking at some of the new holiday decorations before the lifeboat drill.

Our suitcases both arrived before dinner, so we had a chance to unpack and change clothes before going down to Enchanted Garden for dinner. As usual, our dining rotation is Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace twice, and then Animator's Palate on the final night. It must be somehow noted on our record. :-) The weather improved as soon as we pulled out of port and there was a nice sunset as we were getting ready for dinner.

I'll have a food blog later...but I wanted to give a shout-out to our tablemates Russell and Annamarie - Russell is an AllEars fan, and he and Annamarie were on their first Disney cruise. But I don't think it will be their last. :-)

After dinner was the first of the main holiday activities: Mickey's Tree Lighting Magic.

We'd just barely finished dinner in time, so the Atrium was already crowded when we arrived. But at least we had a spot where we could see the staircase and the tree, so we could see most of it. I thought they might do it every night, but it was only the one time.

Later in the evening was Santa's Winter Wonderland Ball, but we missed that one. That was when Santa Claus arrived.

The pastry chefs were busy building a gingerbread house in the Atrium, it'll be interesting to see how far they get with it before our cruise ends.

We headed to Pink, the champagne bar in The District. It had some holiday garland - pink, of course. :-)

There were a few people in there when we arrived, but they headed out and for a while it was just the two of us and our bartender Don and server Cinthya.

Pink is a nice space, but it's not Ooh La La (on the Disney Fantasy), though Lee prefers Pink. We had a fun evening trying to convince people that were passing through that it was the Biker Bar, and that they should stay. :-)

When I'd looked at the Navigator that day I was happy to see the the new movie Big Hero 6 would be showing while we were on board. The first showing was going to be in the Walt Disney Theater that night, and we decided to go. It started at 10:30 in the Walt Disney Theater. There were quite a few guests who had stayed up late to see it. We saw the 3D version, and really enjoyed it, as well as the short that preceded it: Feast. Jeanine already posted a review of the movie, so I'm not going to say much about it, except that we enjoyed it. But we were petty tired when it was over, and ready for bed.

When we returned to our room we had the first towel animal...ssssss.


Tuesday - Castaway Cay

When we awoke around 7:30 we were already docked at Castaway Cay. As you can see it was a beautiful day!

After breakfast we walked off the ship. There are some fun holiday decorations on the pier. Some of them were just put into place that morning after we arrived.

Lee tried to hula along with Olaf. :-)

I liked how they kept the nautical theme going in the decorations.

Even the tram and tram station were decorated!

Several friends from Team AllEars are also on this cruise, and they were all doing the Castaway Cay 5K that morning. We saw some of the early finishers come in and saw our friend Stan finish the race - the others were walking and were still behind him. I headed back to the ship since I had a massage coming up, but Lee stayed on the island and went to Serenity Bay with Stan, Pam, Molly, and Tom. They had a good time.

As i walked back to the ship I took a few photos - I was surprised that the Family Beach was still not crowded at all. But maybe because were were visiting Castaway Cay twice, most people didn't have the same sense of urgency to get out there early to get a good spot.

A nice holiday farewell as you leave the island.

I enjoyed my massage, and had lunch at Cabanas. Then went to deck 5 to one of the Midship Detective Agency stations and solved The Case of the Stolen Artwork. This is a little easy for the adults, but you get your exercise going all over the ship if you use the stairs like I do. There's a second case also: The Case of the Stolen Puppies, and you choose which one you want when you start. On the Fantasy, in addition to these two cases, there's also a Muppets version. That one is also a lot of fun, and more challenging for the adults.

Lee was back on board when I returned to our stateroom, There was a knock on our door later - it was room service delivering our complimentary fruit plate. Another of the benefits of Platinum Status is a free "edible gift" - I'd received a phone call the night before, and we had a choice of a fruit plate, sparkling wine, or a box of chocolates. I'd chosen the fruit. It was a really nice assortment, with fresh berries, grapes, tangerines, and apple, and a banana. The berries were quite good.

Later in the afternoon Lee and I went to Pink for the first of the Seminars we had booked - Champagne Cocktails. Our bartender Don was leading the seminar, and we were delighted when he told us that we would be making the cocktails ourselves! There were 12 of us in the seminar, and three of us behind the bar at a time, each preparing four of the same kind of cocktail. Since there were four different cocktails, everyone who wanted to was able to participate. It was fun to go behind the bar and work with all of the shakers and bottles! We really enjoyed the experience, and Don was an excellent teacher. And it was fun to taste the different cocktails, though most of them we had already tried before.

And we had to check out the progress on the gingerbread house in the lobby.

We were juat leaving Castaway Cay when we returned to our stateroom. Even though we'd be back the next day, we couldn't stay docked there over night. There was a colorful sunset as we left.

It was "optional dress-up" night, ad we looked pretty good, if I do say so myself. :-) We were in Royal Palace for dinner, and enjoyed our meal. After dinner we went to Pink again, but didn't stay really late, since we had to get up in time to run the Castaway Cay 5K the next morning.

Tonight's towel animal! This cabin steward made much more use of the bed throw than we'd seen in the past. We didn't see him very much, but he did a good job, and our stateroom was clean and neat.

Coming Up: Another day at Castaway Cay, including the Castaway Cay 5K.







Big Hero 6 - Jason's 1st Impressions

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com shares his first impressions of Disney's latest animated feature, Big Hero 6.

Los Angeles Premiere Of Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Big Hero 6" - Red Carpet

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 04: (L-R) Director Don Hall, producer Roy Conli, actors Daniel Henney, Maya Rudolph, Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Chief Creative Officer at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and DisneyToon Studios John Lasseter, actors Genesis Rodriguez, T.J. Miller, Director Chris Williams, Katie Lowes, Damon Wayans Jr. and Head of Disney Animation Andrew Millstein, attend the Los Angeles Premiere of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Big Hero 6" at El Capitan Theatre on November 4, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Disney has another solid film on their hands. While quite different than Frozen you will still find an engaging story as well as interesting and entertaining characters.

Big Hero 6 is about the relationship between a boy, Hiro, and his robot Baymax, and the adventures that ensue as Hiro, Baymax and their four friends (Go Go Tomago, Honey Lemon, Wasabi, and Fred) work to solve a mystery of what is brewing in San Fransokyo. At its core is a story of personal loss and working through it. To learn more about the who, what, and where check out my introduction/tutorial on the film here.

BIG HERO 6
"BIG HERO 6" Pictured (L-R): Baymax & Hiro. 2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I was really surprised by the film. I thought the story twists made for unexpected storyline and unanticipated depth to the film. I think Roy Conli (Producer) described it succinctly - “It’s a Disney movie with Marvel DNA”. It is not a stereotypical comic book/action film, but instead a Disney take on it. It stands alone somewhere between the Marvel films and Pixar’s Incredibles and a traditional Disney animated film. It is hard to pigeonhole/define this film.

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"BIG HERO 6" Pictured: Baymax. 2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Big Hero 6 is visually detailed. The film continues the Disney heritage of creating ground breaking tools for animation dating back to the early days of the Studios when they experimented with such aspects of film making as synchronized sound and the multi-plane camera. The new creations for Big Hero 6 were a new rendering engine called Hyperion which allowed for more realistic handling of light as well as Denizen which revolutionized how crowds were created and animated. For a computer geek like me it is really impressive the level of detail, lighting, and movement in this film. The number of action scenes, sets, and San Fransokyo itself are amazing to look at. It is very easy to sit back and enjoy the film and forget that everything you are seeing was created by artists and programmers in a computer. But for us geeks we like to really dig into this and the work the team put out with Big Hero 6 is impressive.


Winston from Disney's Feast

Two tips for viewing Big Hero 6. Be sure to be seated on time so you can catch the short that precedes the film. It is entitled Feast and is really enjoyable. I have seen the short twice now, once in 2D and once in 3D and I thought the 3D added some extra fun/dimension to it and worked very well with the style of Feast. You can read my first impressions of it here. And secondly as has become a tradition in many films recently be sure to stay all the way through the credits, especially if you are a Marvel fan. There is a bonus tag at the end that is a great closing note for the film.

In conclusion I would highly recommend Big Hero 6. I was entertained and I think Big Hero 6 appeals to a wide audience and age spectrum. Do not write it off as a traditional comic film or just another Disney animated film: there is more to it. Disney continues its tradition of creating dialog and scenes that work for both kids and adults at the same time. And a bonus for parents this time around...it is not a musical so you will not be hearing the songs sung by kids endlessly. Keep in mind it is a different kind of film from Frozen...it is not a fairytale so I think comparing the two is a little apples to oranges and is not entirely fair.


Related posts on the Geek's Blog:


Be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from Disney as well as on my site http://disneygeek.com




November 22, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/14/14, Part 2

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, November 14, 2014, the first weekend for all of the holiday decorations and activities at Disneyland.


Returning to Disney California Adventure. The window of Off the Page.

Inside the Animation building the Character Close-up area is closed. Internet rumor is the Frozen sisters will be moving in here.

Time for the Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers.

A couple clips from their performance.

One more clip from their performance.

Viva Navidad! has returned to Paradise Gardens. The Street Party was in full swing when I arrived in the area.


Viva Navidad offerings

Goofy was out for pictures when I walked by.

The 2014 logo on merchandise.


This Route 66 sign along the parade route seems new to me. It is hung like the snow flakes.

Time for the lights and neon to come on along Route 66. This week Winter Wonderland was played.

This evening Santa Mater rolled by as the event was happening.

The setting sun and new Route 66 sign, notice the snow flake lights in the background.

The citizens of Buena Vista Street gathering for the tree lighting.
The event was the same as the last couple years.

Here is a video from last year of the Tree Lighting.

The Christmas tree in Town Square lit up.


A Christmas Fantasy Parade making its way up the parade route.

If you were interested here is a look at this section from the old Very Merry Christmas Parade. I recorded this in December 1993.

As expected the jungle does not have a lot of lights...so the pictures are not very good.

The villagers had the generator they found going so their lights were on.

The projection show from last year has returned to Small World Holiday.

I returned to Main Street for Sleeping Beauty Castle Wintertime Enchantment. Here is a video I took last year of the show. It appeared to be the same this year.

Some Hanukkah items for sale.

Over to Buena Vista Street and Trolley Treats. Holiday cookies.

A look around Carthay Circle this evening.

The Mad T Party Band was performing when I arrived. They are concluding their sets with holiday/snow songs and snow fall.

The Mad T Party Band finale from 2012 leading to snow fall.

Snow Flakes lead the way to Paradise Pier.

Time for the 2014 edition of World of Color Winter Dreams.

It now features more Frozen. Included is Do you want to build a snowman?

Here is a video clip of the opening.

Olaf is still the host.

There seemed to be more of Tinker Bell and her friends in the video this year.

A clip from the middle of the show.

Big Hero 6 made the clips package this year. Here are Baymax and Hiro.

In Summer has a new finale

Santa Mater




Here is a video clip of the new Frozen additions and it runs through the finale.


After the finale for the exit music they use a studio recording of Glow (the song that opened the show last year)

A brief clip as I was exiting the park.


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




November 21, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 11/14/14, Part 1

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, November 14, 2014, the first weekend for all of the holiday decorations and activities at Disneyland.

There is a lot going on, so this update has been split into two parts.

I arrived at the Disneyland Resort before park opening Friday and spent a full day, staying until after World of Color, so I clocked in around 14 hours at the parks.

First stop today Disney California Adventure. I was in the park just after 8:30am, it did not open until 9:00am so had some time to roam around Buena Vista Street.

Walked through Condor Flats. Soarin' was open, with a 10 minute posted wait, no signs of a line yet and the area was nice and quiet.

Picked up a FastPass for World of Color Winter Dreams then made my way over to Disneyland. The Christmas tree and garland are both up this week.

Main Street was alive with activity. Cars, people, horses all moving about.

The sky looked threatening.. it drizzled on the drive to the park, but no rain the entire day.

A video of my ride through Snow White's Scary Adventures.

Next up Pinocchio's Daring Journey

Passed through Frontierland on my way to Adventureland.

The Jingle Cruise has returned for its second year.

Signs up in the queue explaining the reason for all the jingle in the attraction.

Looking up river this year there are more decorations. Here you can see garlands in the jungle.

Here is a video of our trip.

A couple pictures from the trip, the tiger has gotten into some of the shipment.

More of the lost shipment down near the elephant bathing pool.

The family of baboons found the hats and boots.

Down in the camp the gorillas were trying to bake some holiday treats

The African Elephants managed to decorate themselves a little.

The outdoor decorations found their way into Africa.

The lions enjoying the reindeer.

The villagers found Christmas lights.

And a generator.

As well as some Christmas sweaters.


Trader Sam ready to celebrate the new year.

Went for a cruise on Small World Holiday. Here is the Europe room.

A video clip of the Latin America room - Feliz Navidad

Hiro and Baymax are now greeting guests in the Starcade.

Mickey and the gang arriving in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle

Some of the characters boarded the fire truck for a ride to Town Square.

The Big Thunder Ranch is hosting the Jingle Jangle Jamboree again this year.

Here are a couple video clips of the new melodrama: The Plight Before Christmas.



Mrs. Claus Tasty Treats menu

Mickey in his holiday gear.

Santa was back in his seat meeting guests.

Chip in his gingerbread outfit.

Dale in his matching outfit.

Pluto pulled up a bench to color for a while.

Stopped for lunch at the Stage Door Cafe and picked a table with a great view of the Rivers of America.

Jack and Sally out for pictures.

A walk through Critter Country to check out the Christmas decorations.

The Dapper Dans of Disneyland performing on Main Street USA.

The Town Square Christmas tree

Mickey signing autographs in Town Square in his holiday sweater.

Walked through Downtown Disney.

The winter village is set up in front of the AMC as well as Earl of Sandwich.

The Christmas tree sits in the middle of the ice rink again this year.

Olaf was stationed near his ice rink

The hat near the Disneyland Hotel received a new color scheme recently.

This weekend is the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. This is the finish line.

The 5K was Saturday morning and Sunday is the half marathon. Laura will have a full report from the race festivities so I will skip them in this posting.

Part 2 features photos from Viva Navidad and some of the nighttime activities, like World of Color Winter Dreams, and Sleeping Beauty Castle Winter Enchantment.

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




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