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March 5, 2018

2018 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival First Impressions

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DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Lee and I visited this year's Disney California Food and Wine Festival on opening day, March 2. It was an overcast day, with rain predicted for late morning, but fortunately it held off until that evening.

When we walked in, cast members on Buena Vista Street were distributing paper chef's hats. I took one and wore it for a while.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Most of the marketplaces are located along the Festival Corridor - which is the parade route from "a bug's land" to Paradise Garden. A lot of the marketplaces are new this year, but there's a few returning from last year, with some returning dishes as well. A lot of them are themed to a particular ingredient, like peppers, garlic, corn, avocado, artichokes, and strawberries.

Festival Marketplace Menus and Prices

We picked up a Tasting Passport at the Welcome Center booth at the start of the Festival corridor. It's a handy reference to figure out which items are available at which booths, though it does not list prices. Inside the back cover there's also lists of items that are Gluten Free, Kid-friendly, Vegetarian, and Vegan.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

The Sip and Savor Pass is again available to Annual Passholders. It's $45, and comes with 8 tabs, which can be redeemed for food and non-alcoholic beverage items at the marketplaces. We didn't get one this time, but it's a good deal if you stick to items valued at $6.00 or more (which is most of the non-dessert food items).

The first item we sampled was Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese with Bacon from the Peppers Cali-ente marketplace ($7.50). It was quite a generous serving in comparison to items we've tried in the past. Not too spicy, and pretty filling.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Lee also tried a Bottle Logic Kingdom Common beer from California Craft Brews. Beer prices were up $0.75 this year - $14.00 for a flight of four, and $9.75 for a 12 oz. pour. This marketplace also offers White Cheddar Lager Soup in a mini sourdough boule for $6.00. Sounds really good, but we didn't get a chance to try it - yet. :-)

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

The Sonoma Terrace was behind construction walls on my last visit, but it's now open, and has been remodeled. There are tables on the street level right along the parade route now - no doubt in preparation for the upcoming Paint the Night Parade, and the viewing package that will be offered at Sonoma Terrace.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

The main entrance to the area is now from the parade route, instead of on the far left side.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

The inside seating looks different. There's also a new menu with two Italian flatbread sandwiches: Grilled Chicken Caesar and Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Zucchini, in addition to the Bavarian pretzel and pull apart bread offered before. Draft beer is also available in addition to bottled beer and hard cider, and a small selection of wine by the glass.

Sonoma Terrace Menu

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

I love avocado, and wanted to try something from the Avocado Time marketplace. Though I was NOT tempted by the Avocado Ice Cream Bar ($4.50). If any of you try it, please let me know what you think.

Instead I ordered Spiced Oumph on Pita with avocado hummus and garlic sauce ($6.00). This was a vegan dish - Oumph is some kind of soy based product. The consistency was kind of like dark meat chicken. I liked the dish as a whole, though it seemed garlicky to me. Lee thought it was just ok, and he didn't think there was too much garlic. I should mention that the dishes we tried were all beautifully presented. Most of them are plated as they are ordered, since they contain multiple components.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Next up was Citrus brined Pork Roast with tangy barbecue sauce and lemon pepper slaw ($7.00). This was Lee's favorite of the day. It was pulled pork that was flavorful and not overly fatty. I didn't care for the slaw - too much dressing. Neither of us really figured out what the crunchy things on top were.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Time for a little entertainment - we watched those culinary percussion virtuosos, the Jammin' Chefs: Frank Beans, Sloppy Joe, and Betty Spaghetti, led by Executive Chef Mac Aroni. With assistance(?) from Chip and Dale. Fun show, and there's an opportunity for the kids to participate.

From Off the Cob Lee tried the Sweet Corn Nuggets with Beef Chili ($6.75). Lots of big chunks of beef in it. We also enjoyed the nuggets - fried corn and cheese. Very tasty, and another generous serving. This is a returning dish from last year, though it is 50 cents more this year.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

From Garlic Kissed we ordered Black Garlic Soy-braised Pork Belly Banh Mi ($7.50). The pork belly wasn't too fatty, and had a good flavor. I didn't find it had as much garlic flavor as the avocado dish I'd tried earlier (that's not a bad thing). It was a pretty small sandwich for the price, though.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Paradise Gardens is the home of the Festival Beer Garden. Lee commented that the sign must be the most changed sign in the park - last month it was Lunar New Year, before that was Viva Navidad... :-) The area is certainly put to good use!

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

There are a number of beers on tap in a nice variety of styles from micro breweries in California, as well as Illinois and Belgium.

Lots of these interesting "chalkboard" signs in the area with Facts on Tap.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Paradise Garden Grill has its own Festival menu. It's the same as last year, with the addition of a No "Meat" Ball Sandwich. Brew pub fare - beer-battered cod, sausages, beer-braised pork tacos, soft pretzel. Two beers are on tap which are not available elsewhere - and they are only $9.00 instead of $9.75.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Live entertainment is featured in the afternoon and evening at the Paradise Garden Bandstand, but it was too early when we were in that area.

The larger live entertainment venue is the Palisades Stage in Paradise Park. I was really happy when I looked at the times guide and saw that Phat Cat Swinger was back - I really enjoyed them during Festival of Holidays. They are only performing on Fridays and Sundays, but since it was Friday we had the chance to see them. Unfortunately we had a wine tasting to go to, so we weren't able to enjoy their entire set. They perform "Big Band" swing music, and musical selections in the style of Frank Sinatra, Louie Armstrong, and Sammy Davis Jr.

Because of the threat of rain the Wine Seminar was moved from the Sonoma Terrace to the second floor of the Wine Country Trattoria (which used to be the Vineyard Room restaurant). The sight lines weren't as good up there and the tables of six were a bit crowded together. But hey, at least we were going to stay dry if it had rained. We saw a presentation by Eden Canyon Vineyards. Pretty typical for this type of thing - we received three red wines to try. The presenter told us more about their growing practices than the actual winemaking, and that was interesting. Their grapevines are on their own root stock and not grafted, like most vines are. I'd reserved this seminar far in advance - they tend to sell out like this one did. They are $20/person.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

We did not get a chance to check out the Culinary Demonstrations, which take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at the Palisades Stage at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. Though given the weather they might have been canceled. I hadn't booked the $30 VIP package which would have given us a seat and food sample - we would've just walked up to view it.

There's additional Festival events taking place in Hollywood Land. The Backlot Stage is used for the Junior Chef program (multiple times each day) and the family-focused seminars that take place Thursdays-Sundays. Next to the stage is the kids craft area.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

While there are a couple of merchandise carts along the Festival Corridor, most of the merchandise is available in Hollywood Land at the Studio Store and the Festival Gifts kiosk. There were some clever kitchen towels, with sayings like "Stop and smell the Rose", and an apron with "Don't go bacon my heart".

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

We visited the AP Corner, which is tucked back on the left side of Stage 17. Not one of the usual locations and not a very big area. There were signs directing people where to go, but I also heard three different people ask cast members where it was. No line, so we had our photo taken with the special backdrop.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

There are also two other marketplaces there, and the bar next to Monsters, Inc. is now The Brewhouse.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

In wandering around the park we checked out the new menu at Cocina Cucamonga. No more tamales :-( The new menu offers Cocina Bowls and Street Taco Plates both with cilantro-lime rice and black beans and choice of carne asada, pollo, al pastor and papas. There's also a chicken salad, half chicken plate, and al pastor torta. The kids menu offers a cheese quesadilla in addition to kid-sized portions of the tacos and bowls. (Prices for the kids menu items are now $7.49 - up 50 cents.)

Cocina Cucamonga Menu

That does it for our opening day experience at the Food and Wine Festival...my overall impressions:

I'm very pleased with the variety of live entertainment options.

There's a lot of interesting choices available in the marketplaces. I liked what we tried, and thought the portions (other than the banh mi) were more generous than in the past. The presentation was very nice. The prices are slightly up since last year.

The beer marketplace always has the longest line, so I hope people remember that they are offering beer in two additional places - and it's also available at the usual Sonoma Terrace, Karl Strauss Beer Truck, and Bayside Brews locations.

It seemed like there isn't as much wine this year, though. No separate Wineology booth in Hollywood so the Mimosa flights are in the Nuts About Cheese marketplace (which is in Hollywood).

We will be back at least once more, since we're attending one of the Winemaker dinners.







March 3, 2018

2018 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival Overview

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DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

The Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival runs from March 2 - April 12 this year. It's almost a week longer, and surprisingly ends on a Thursday instead of a Sunday - but Pixar Fest starts the next day, on April 13.

Festival events take place both along the "Festival Corridor" (from the entrance to "a bug's land" to Paradise Gardens), and in Hollywood Land.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

This year's Festival Guide, available at the Welcome Center, is a nice fold-out pamphlet with a map of the Festival and a listing of all of the Festival offerings. Consult the regular Times Guide for specific information on the entertainment schedule.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Festival Marketplaces
There are fourteen Festival Marketplaces, which serve a variety of foods, beers, wines, and cocktails. Many of the food Marketplaces showcase a different ingredient, such as cheese, peppers, garlic, artichokes, strawberries, avocados, or corn.

Marketplace Menus and Prices

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

With over 900 breweries in California, there are two different marketplaces dedicated to beer, as well as a beer stand in the Paradise Pier Beer Garden.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

There's also a wine marketplace, and a number of the other marketplaces offer wine as well as food.

A souvenir tumbler is available with purchase of a specialty beverage at a number of the marketplaces.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival souvenir tumbler

A free Tasting Passport available at the Festival Welcome Center and the Marketplaces. There are different stamps available at 12 of the marketplaces (no purchase required). After getting all 12, the Stamp of Completion is available at the Festival Welcome Center or the AP Corner.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Annual Passholder Offerings

Passholders can purchase a Sip and Savor Pass for $45 at Festival merchandise locations. (Must show AP at time of purchase.) Each of the eight tabs can be used for marketplace food and non-alchoholic beverage items. It's a good deal if you stick to items valued at $6.00 or more (which is most of the non-dessert food items).

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

The AP Corner is located in Hollywood Land next to Stage 17, rather than in the Paradise Gardens area, which is the more usual location. There's an AP-exclusive photo backdrop and Photopass photographer. There's also an AP-exclusive Festival button - one per AP holder.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Passholder merchandise: shirts, hat, pin, and beverage cup, is available at the Studio Store in Hollywood Land.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Seminars and Demonstrations
Thursday-Sunday at the Backlot Stage in Hollywood Land there are a series of family-friendly seminars and cooking demonstrations. The topics are Farm to Table, Family Time (easy to prepare dishes), and Festival Favorites (favorites from the Festival Marketplaces).

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Merchandise
Festival merchandise is available at The Studio Store and a kiosk in Hollywood Land, and merchandise carts along the Festival Corridor. There's items for the home and kitchen in addition to cookbooks, Festival-logo attire, and pins.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

For Kids
There's a craft area for kids in Hollywood Land next to the Backlot Stage. Kids can color a chef's hat there.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

The Junior Chef program takes place on the Backlot Stage. Kids split up into teams and under the guidance of Chef Lilly and Chef Goofy they mix up a batch of dough...and with a little Disney magic receive a treat to take home. The event is free and available on a first come-first serve basis - interested kids and their parents should proceed to the Backlot Stage area in advance to participate.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

At the Paradise Pier Obelisk, cast members occasionally bring out a cart of culinary items that kids can play with, bang together, etc.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Entertainment

Live entertainment is offered throughout the day in the Paradise Pier area. The Jammin' Chefs, along with Chip and Dale, perform in front of the Paradise Pier Obelisk. Kids get a chance to join in the fun.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival Jammin Chefs

The Paradise Stage hosts a variety of music groups throughout the Festival. Unlike the Festival of Holidays, there's only one group performing on the stage each day. Currently on the schedule is Phat Cat Swinger (West Coast Swing), Adelaide Tropical (Caribbean Salsa), Grilled Cheese Soundwich (Pop Rock), and Smith (Country).

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

There's also live performances at the Paradise Garden Bandstand, again a single group per day. Featured are The Tina Aldana Band (Latin Rock), Five Got Rhythm (40s Jazz), LALA Brass (Brass Funk), Adelaide Tropical (Caribbean Salsa), and Island Reggae Band (Reggae/Calypso).

Signature Events

These are the events that are available at an additional cost. While there might be same-day availability, many events are already sold out, and advance reservations are recommended. Prices listed do not include applicable tax and gratuity.

Culinary Demonstrations

Demonstrations featuring a variety of celebrity chefs, including Jet Tila, Alex Guarnaschelli, Cat Cora, Jamie Gwen, and Maneet Chauhan, take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. at the Palisades Stage in Paradise Park. While the demonstrations are free, they are standing room only. A VIP Package is available for $30/person which offers reserved seating for the demonstration as well as a meet and greet with the chef and a sample tasting following the demo.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Wine, Beer, and Spirits Education & Tasting Seminars

Take place daily at the Sonoma Terrace, and featuring visiting winemakers, brewmasters, and mixologists on weekends, and Disney Sommeliers Monday-Thursday. $20/person.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Celebrity Chef Live! at the Hyperion

Guy Fieri and Robert Irvine appear on stage on March 9 and 30, respectively, during a 60-minute show and cooking demonstration. Following the show, music and sample tastings are available. The event runs from 8:00-10:30, and is $99. The $250 VIP Experience is already sold out - a limited number of guests sit on stage and also receive a private meet and greet.

Sweet Sundays

This year Sweet Sundays moves to the Napa Rose restaurant at the Grand Californian. These events ($99) are also sold out. The featured chefs are Keegan Gerhard (March 4), Emily Ellyn (March 11), and Duff Goldman (April 8). This event includes a light breakfast, sparkling wine, and a baking demonstration with the opportunity to sample the finished products.

DCA 2018 Food and Wine Festival

Winemaker and Brewmaster Dinners

These two-three hour dining experiences include a multi-course meal paired with wine or beer . A guest winemaker or brewmaster presents each course.

Karl Strauss Brewmaster Dinner - March 8, 6:00-9:00 p.m., Steakhouse 55, $150/person.

Flora Springs Winemaker Dinner - March 15, 6:00-9:00 p.m., Steakhouse 55, $175/person.

Disney Family of Wines Winemaker Dinner - March 29, 6:30-9:00 p.m., Napa Rose, $250/person.

David Arthur Vineyards - April 5, 6:30-10:00 p.m., Carthay Circle Restaurant, $300/person. Limited to 24 guests.







March 1, 2018

Disneyland Resort Updates from February 23, 2018

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 23, 2018.

A video overview of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge construction site.

This visit more steel and wire mesh continues to be added to the park side of the site to cover the two large show buildings.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Steel wrapping around the Battle Escape Building now for rock work support.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The Mickey and Friends Tram stop reconfiguration is moving along. You can see where the two new stops will be, back to where the original two stops were.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The Pinocchio lot is now closed and demolition work has started.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

A closer look. The light poles are down and some concrete removal has started.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

All the landscaping is being removed. As well as the curb.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

On the Chip and Dale level, the new tram route is starting to be marked off. In the distance you can see yellow indicating another stop.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

World of Disney is now half closed. From the center doors to the right toward Starbucks is walled off for renovation. It is slated to be closed into July then the other half will be closed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The Disney Home Store opened since my last visit.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Took a look inside the World of Disney. A new wall goes from floor to ceiling dividing the open portion from the renovation side.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Over to Disneyland. The walls are gone from Town Square unveiling the new track and brickwork for the streetcars.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The view from the train station. Walls still stretch along the straight part of the street.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Walls are now up on the spur line section leading backstage.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Moving down to ground level. Notice the popcorn cart in Town Square was not back yet.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The one walkway through the fence on the spur line.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The walls are down in the hub too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Spring blooms already, even though the weather was winter today...high was just over 60 with a cold breeze.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Looking toward Tomorrowland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The Partners statue in the hub.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Moving on to Adventureland. It was announced last week that Aladdin's Oasis will be removed and it will become the Tropical Hideaway.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The Storybook Land Canal Boats have returned to service, Casey Jr is still closed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Snow White and the Evil Queen were in Fantasyland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Spring balloons are now available throughout the park featuring Thumper again.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

From the Monorail you can see concrete has been poured for the parade route near it's a small world.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

In Disney California Adventure the Food and Wine Festival begins Friday (March 2). Marketplaces are now in place throughout the park.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The Black Panther has set up shop for a meet and greet in the lobby of Stage 17. A video clip of the Black Panther leaving the area.



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Next stop the Pier to see how the Pixar Pier transformation is moving along.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Scaffolding now goes all the way up the main hill of the roller coaster.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The billboards are removed now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

The scream tubes on the coaster are being enclosed, here is a portion without scaffolding so you can see the enclosure.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Closed out my evening with Fantasmic! at Disneyland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 23, 2018

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









February 17, 2018

Review: "Black Panther"

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"Don't freeze."
"I never freeze."
--Okoye and T'Challa

"Black Panther," the latest brick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe monolith, follows T'Challa shortly after the events of "Captain America: Civil War," as he struggles to adapt to his new role as King of Wakanda. The already-complicated political dilemmas of ruling a nation are compounded by his additional role of Black Panther; his slow-burning relationship with War Dog/Wakandan spy Nakia; a world that hungers for vibranium--the source of Wakanda's wealth and technology; and a man with an axe to grind who intends to use Wakanda as a whetstone.

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While Coogler delivers plenty of action in the film--there are so many fight scenes, Wakanda's second major resource must be Bactine--the characters are where the movie shines. All the people in the world of "Black Panther" feel real and dimensional and capable of having opposing views while still treating each other with respect. It's a bizarre thing to say about a superhero movie, but I wish the action had been cut back a little so we could have spent more time building up the various interpersonal relationships.

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Ironically, the supporting characters are so strong, Black Panther himself ends up being the least interesting one in the film. While Chadwick Boseman does a nice job of portraying the smart and decent T'Challa, he comes off a little bland compared to the dynamic Women of Wakanda.

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From the coolly intimidating Okoye (Danai Gurira,) head of the Dora Milaje all-female fighting force, to the brave and empathetic Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), to the brilliant scientist Shuri (Letitia Wright who is pitch-perfect as the sister to whom T'Challa is both King and dorky older brother,) to the regal Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett,) it is in many ways the strong, independent women who drive the movie and embody the best of Wakanda.

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Wakanda itself is a main character in the movie--beautiful and multifaceted, it is built up as a utopia of sorts, with equal parts environmental harmony and supernaturally advanced technology. Founded on the vibranium that landed there in a meteorite long ago, Wakanda enjoys a lifestyle rich with culture and tradition, supported by all the advanced science and medicine an enlightened society freed from the shackles of colonization or the paranoia of war might develop.

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It is Wakanda's good fortune that brings about one of the main conflicts of the film: Does Wakanda have a right to keep all of its resources to itself, knowing how many suffer throughout the world they might help? Or does Wakanda's responsibility to keep its own people safe and preserve the purity of their lifestyle take precedent? The three main men of the film, T'Challa, W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya,) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) all have different visions of where the future of Wakanda lies. Poignantly, all three have suffered similar tragedies, pointing out again that heroism or villainy lies not so much in what life hands you, but in your response to it.

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Ultimately, Coogler has managed to make "Black Panther" a fun ride with a meaningful core. It's the superhero movie that feels the least like a superhero movie, which is a breath of fresh air in a genre that's in danger of getting a little played out recently. The characters seem more realized and the issues more topically relevant than most movies out there, which is a big accomplishment in a film where drinking a flower gives you superpowers.

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Because of the rarity of a superhero film written and cast with a predominately black viewpoint, it is difficult to discuss "Black Panther" without mentioning the significance of race in film. I am not a black person, and consequently it seems presumptuous to think that I could adequately express what it might signify for one to see a movie like "Black Panther." I am Japanese-American however, and I can tell you definitively what it would mean to me to see a tentpole blockbuster like this with a largely Japanese cast including even one empowered woman who doesn't either die in the first ten minutes of the film or spend the whole storyline helping/pining over a hero who never thinks of her as more than a swell kid: Quite a bit.

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"Black Panther" is presented by Marvel Studios. Rated PG-13, it stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.

*Always stay to the end of the credits.

Directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige. The Executive Producers are Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Jeffrey Chernov, and Stan Lee. Screenplay by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole.

The film enters general release on February 16, 2017.

** With Infinity War coming down the pike, Shuri probably hasn't healed her last broken white boy.





February 13, 2018

Disneyland Resort Updates from February 9, 2018

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 9, 2018.

Starting off with a video overview of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge construction from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.

A wide picture of the site this afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

More steel is visible as a structure takes shape in front of the Battle Escape building on the park side.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

A closer look at some of the new steel on the roof.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

The fences have shifted at the Mickey and Friends tram stop. The planters and load ramp have been removed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

The Pinocchio Parking lot is not in use today. It will soon be blocked off for construction to start.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Concrete work at the Mickey and Friends Tram Stop in Downtown Disney.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Walls for the Naples renovation leave just a narrow walkway right now to reach Downtown Disney from the end of the tram stop.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

First stop Disney California Adventure. Work continues on the Sonoma Terrace

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Grizzly River Run has returned from annual renovation, the walkways and attraction are reopened.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Next stop Disneyland. More signs up on the construction walls that fill Main Street.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Checking out Town Square from the Main Street Train Station.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

The new track is in and looks ready for concrete and bricks in this section.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Walls now span all of Main Street. There are three crossings set up.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

From ground level, looking up Main Street. There is a narrow walkway on the street (plus the regular sidewalk)

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Posters for Main Street shops/attractions are on the walls.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Looking back toward Town Square.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

There are three crossings set up. This is the second one at Center Street.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

The CK Holliday steaming by with Star Wars construction towering behind.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Casey Jr. & Storybook Land Canal Boats have joined the list of attractions closed for renovation since my last trip.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

A look at the concept art on the wall for Casey Jr.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

"it's a small world" has returned to operation since my last visit. Due to the queue and parade route work the current queue snakes around the wall and mall area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

The queue becomes single file to reach the bridge.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

A reverse view from the Monorail, it appears the new parade gate will be shifted back quite a ways. It used to be up where the small world facade ended, assuming it will be in line with these two new pillars.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

At Disney California Adventure the transformation of Paradise Pier to Pixar Pier is moving along. Disney announced earlier this week that the first phase will open on June 23. The Paradise Pier sign is gone and the loop is back.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

The former entrance and signage for Ariel's is removed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

The Silver Dollar Six performing in several sets inside the Golden Horseshoe now.

A LEGO BB-8 has replaced the other figures in the Star Wars Launch Bay.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Splitsville is in a soft opening phase. The Patio and Lower level were open this evening. The upstairs was not.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

A sneak peek of A Wrinkle in Time is now playing in Sunset Showcase Theater

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

Three costumes from a Wrinkle in Time are on display in the lobby.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 9, 2018

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









February 12, 2018

"Black Panther" Press Junket

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This week the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to theaters: "Black Panther."

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

At a recent press conference the cast and creatives for "Black Panther" met to help introduce the world to Wakanda. In attendance: Chadwick Boseman “T’Challa / Black Panther,” Michael B. Jordan “Killmonger,” Letitia Wright “Shuri,” Lupita Nyong’o “Nakia,” Danai Gurira “Okoye,” Martin Freeman “Everett K Ross,” Daniel Kaluuya “W’Kabi,” Winston Duke “M’Baku,” Angela Bassett “Ramonda,” Forest Whitaker “Zuri,” Andy Serkis “Ulysses Klaue,” Director Ryan Coogler, and Producer Kevin Feige.

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Select moments from the press conference video above:

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Jordan on the film's effectiveness: "I call Ryan...the night before, or the day before, or the day of, and I was like, ‘Man, I’m anxious; I’m nervous, man. I don’t know...what to expect.’ And he says, ‘Look, man, just look at it and try to be a fan. Just watch it, you know what I’m saying, and try to enjoy it.’ And in the back of my head I’m like, yeah, that’s never gonna happen, but I’m gonna try. And when I sat down with my family and the audience...I had that same type of reaction. It was like, man, this is what it feels like. There’s nothing that I could have--I couldn’t describe that feeling before actually sitting down and watching that film...people who looked like you...empowered, and having those...socially relevant themes, but in a movie that you want to sit down and watch, and you can enjoy, that Marvel does so well. So I think it was a really good balance, and everybody won; everybody did amazing, amazing jobs in performances.."

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Bassett on portraying a powerful woman on screen: "In African culture, you know, they feel as if there is no king without a queen...and I think in this story, it highlights the queen...the warrior...the general...the young sister, you know. So I was so proud to have my daughter, and my son there last night, because in their faces, and in their spirit, they were feeling themselves. And they stood taller after last night."

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Gurira on having her head shaved for her character: "This pride around it, and this sort of embracing of this--this sort of symbol of power in these women. And then the beauty of how he wrote that moment; I loved that moment where she like, doesn’t want a wig. She doesn’t want to cover up. This is her joy, and her pride, is in walking in with that...with that bald head with that tattoo on it. And I was like...it was so subversive, you know, and it’s so subversive in the right way, to say what’s not necessarily beauty. You don’t have to have hair to be beautiful."

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Wright on whether Shuri is smarter than T'Challa: "I think what I love about it...with how it was written, is that the men are always behind the women, as well. So no one’s like undermined--the men are not, you know, ‘you shouldn’t be in technology, and you shouldn’t be in math,’ they’re like, ‘no, go ahead.’ So T’Challa is like, ‘go ahead, Sis. This is your department. This is your domain. Like--kill it.’
"But she's cooler than him, but not smarter than him."

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Coogler on making a blockbuster film that also has meaning: "...I grew up loving comic books. I love not just comic books, but I love pop culture. I love toys, actions figures, you know, video games, all of that stuff. When I got older and...realized that I wanted to make movies, that’s how I fell in love with internationalism, and, you know, cinema that...left you with something to chew on, with something to think about. But I never fell out of love with those types of films, you know, and those types of stories. And I think the best versions of those stories, you know, do both things."

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Feige on having the courage to address societal issues: "Well I think it’s happened for the comics, so it’s happened with the movie. Ryan wrote this for the most part, you know, a year and a half ago, two years ago, so things have happened in the world which makes the film seem more relevant. There are other things in the film that have been relevant for centuries, but the truth of the matter is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the whole Marvel bullpen created Wakanda and created T’Challa and created Black Panther and made him a smarter, more accomplished character than any of the other white characters in the mid 1960s. So they had the guts to do that in the mid 1960s. The least we can do is live up to that and allow this story to be told the way it needed to be told and not shy away from things that the Marvel founders didn’t shy away from in the height of the civil rights era."

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Serkis and Freeman on being in a movie with a predominantly Black cast:

Serkis: "Actually we were just talking about that earlier on and it was very funny ‘cause you reminded me of a story of Ryan saying to us before we were about to do our scene. Ryan came up to us and said, you know, I’ve never actually directed two white actors before.
"No, it was just an incredible experience, you know, and to be part of it was...I just think this film is so important and to be able to be part of something that is so groundbreaking and yes, should have been made many years ago, you know...But now is the time and now is a brilliant time because things are changing rapidly in every single aspect of filmmaking and so it should and the needle should swing right the other way because we need to really change things."

Freeman: "...That was lovely and I have spoken to Ryan a bit about that sort of in the process before filming. And we both agreed that we didn’t want (Agent Ross) just to be a schmuck, you know, and we didn’t want him just to be a comic foil; that it needs to be a little bit more 3D than that and I was very pleased when I was reading...bits of the script and then new bits of the script that were coming in. They were making it more emphatic, more sympathetic, and a bit more can do...because clearly it’s not Agent Ross’s film by a long way, but he plays his part. There is sort of an ambivalence about Ross I think...‘cause you’re not quite sure if he’s gonna be down with T’Challa or not, but he ends up having his eyes opened by this country that he knew nothing about and a civilization that he knew nothing about and realizing that it had something to offer and he went away learning a bit from it, you know. So I was very pleased that Ross had his kind of moment of heroism at the end...He gets in his plane and he gets to help out. He has his little Hans Solo moment. So I was really pleased and I thought that was generous on the film’s part...‘cause like Andy says, you know, we’re not short of white heroes in movies, so I thought to make one of the two white characters...a bit of a hero, I thought spoke very well of them actually."

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Boseman on having T'Challa speak with an African accent: "You know I think as actors this is separate from the movie, but...when you’re trained you’re trained very often from a European perspective. What is considered great or classical is very often British and its certain writers and I happen to come from a background that does not believe that, you know. I went to Oxford to study, but I went to Howard and we were taught to respect our writers and our classics just as much and believe that it takes the same skill level and same technique and sometimes techniques that are a little bit different to pull that off. And so I think you have to be, you have to tell the stories and be true to yourself as an artist. And, you know...there was a time period where people were asking me questions about whether or not an audience could sit through a movie with a lead character who spoke with that accent. (And it was not Kevin by the way, so just making sure you know that.) And so I became adamant about the fact that that is not true. That the intonations and melodies inside an African accent are just as classical as a British one or a European one and that all of the emotions and aspects of a character can be shown and expressions can be shown through that accent and we have to take this opportunity to show that and he just wouldn’t, if he had never been conquered, if his ancestors had never been conquered and he’s never been conquered and Wakanda is what it is, he doesn’t have to go to Oxford to study. He doesn’t have to go to Cambridge or Yale or any place to study. He actually got his education at home and he would not then assimilate a language that is the colonizer’s language in order to speak to his people. So he had to speak with an African accent."

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Kaluuya on how a country balances self-preservation vs. altruism.: "I don’t think there is a right and wrong. I just think is the cause just and if the cause is just you just do what you need to do...and then sometimes there’s sacrifices, but there’s also sacrifices if you don’t do it, and that’s the battle that we’re in. We’re putting it out there and everyone makes their own decisions."

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Nyong’o on the film's takeaway message: "Well I would say what I love about the way this film represents women is that each and every one of us is an individual, unique and we all have our own sense of power and our own agency and we hold our own space without being pitted against each other. And I think that’s a very, very powerful message to send to children, both male and female this idea. I think often times in movies we fall into that trap where women, there’s very few of us and then we are against each other. There’s a competitive spirit and stuff like that and this film freezes all that. And we see women going about their business and supporting each other, even arguing with each other, you know; having different points of view, but still not being against each other. And I think that’s extremely important and...the fact that in this film there’s so many of us, we really get a sense of the fabric of Wakanda as a nation and we see women alongside men and we see how much more effective a society can be if they allow women to explore their full potential, yeah."

A variety of merchandise for all ages is available in conjunction with the movie's release:

"Black Panther" will open in theaters February 16, 2018.






February 7, 2018

Anime Los Angeles 2018

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For those interested in getting an early start on convention season this year, Anime Los Angeles headed things off last month, oddly enough in Ontario.

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While kind of a drive from the LA/OC locations major conventions are usually held, the relative remoteness made it a breeze to find and access parking which was pretty cheap for convention center standards--$7 versus the $25 LA Convention Center usually charges. The bulk of the programming took place at the Ontario Convention Center, however there were also some satellite locations at nearby hotels as well where people could indulge in manga or karaoke or any number of related activities.

Over in the convention center, there was the usual extensive Exhibitor's Hall with merchandise representing a myriad of anime/manga/visual novel franchises.

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(A side note: Am I the last person to have heard of the ita bag concept? In case I'm not, the ita bag is a backpack or tote that features a windowed area where people can display pins and keychains and stuffed animal "straps" on their bag but have them protected by a clear plastic outer covering. I thought this was genius, because I can't tell you how many cute pins and buttons I own that I'd never think of wearing to the parks for fear of losing them or getting them damaged.)

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While there were a number of interactive activities such as fashion shows, idol competitions, and dance competitions, the bulk of the guest panels seemed to revolve around voice acting and cosplay. The highlight of the weekend was the 20th Anniversary panel for "Cowboy Bebop," widely regarded as one of the most influential anime titles of all time.

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Virtually all the voice cast from the English dubbed version was there, including series star Steve Blum, who can currently be heard as Zeb Orrelios on "Star Wars Rebels," Attila on "Tangled: The Series," and Makucha on "Lion Guard;" Mary Elizabeth McGlynn who also plays Governer Pryce on "Star Wars Rebels" and has been Dialogue Director on "Penn Zero" and "Tangled: The Series;" and writer Marc Handler, presently Executive Producer at The Walt Disney Company-China. The panelists each told how they got involved with the project, and marked on how grateful they were to have been a part of something that's ultimately become important to such a large audience.

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The other major panel I attended was "Forging Epicness!" with Grant Imahara (Robot Builder/Engineer for Lucasfilm, "Mythbusters," Walt Disney Imagineering;) Fon Davis (Model Maker for Industrial Light and Magic;) Tony Swatton (Blacksmith/Swordsmith for Euro Disney, Walt Disney Studios;) Steve Winsett (Special Effects Makeup/Specialty Costuming for Walt Disney Studios;) and Bryan Forrest (Actor/Blacksmith for "Black Sails" and "Man at Arms.")

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This was a pretty fascinating discussion on the often-hazardous process involved in creating much of the special effects we enjoy in movies, TV, theme parks, etc. By the end of it, you had to admire the level of proficiency apparently required in these fields just to keep all your fingers attached.

Outside of the panels the four days were otherwise filled with almost non-stop live performances, anime video, manga lounges, Japanese cultural presentations, and workshops on anything from stuntfighting to cosplay technique.

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So if you have an interest in anime and are looking for a convention experience less stressful than the usual suspects happening later this year, I'd encourage a look at Anime Los Angeles which has an impressive amount of content but a small con feel. You can find more information at their website: http://www.animelosangeles.org/

[While most anime shares the Disney "big-head-big-eyes" standards of cuteness, unlike in the US, Japanese animation is not primarily considered the province for children, and many of them revolve around adult topics and imagery. Viewers of all ages sensitive to such subjects may be forewarned.]

While on your way out to the Ontario Convention Center, you might also want to stop by one of the two Disney Store outlets left around the LA area at the Ontario Mills Mall. They only had a couple of racks of things from the parks when I visited, but I was told that the volume they stock from there fluctuates, so you might get lucky.

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January 29, 2018

Lunar New Year Food Offerings at Disney California Adventure

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One of the highlights of any holiday event at the Disneyland Resort is trying some of the special foods and beverages that are available. For Lunar New Year, these offerings celebrate the cuisines of China, Korea, and Vietnam at three festive marketplaces and the Paradise Garden Grill.

Each marketplace features appetizer-sized portions of traditional dishes, as well as a dessert item and beverage. At the Media event I attended I had the opportunity to try several of the dishes, including a couple that are new this year.

Lunar New Year 2018 food

Korea Marketplace

* Kimchi Bokkeumbap - Kimchi-vegetable fried rice. $6.00 * Yachae Mandu - Steamed vegetable dumplings with sesame-garlic soy sauce. $6.50 * Yang Gaeng - Sweet red bean and raspberry jelly. $4.50 * Banana Milk (non-alcoholic). $5.00 * Mae Shil Ju - Plum wine cocktail with a rose petal garnish. $12.00 * Hite Pale Lager - $9.00

The Kimchi Bokkeumbap did not have a very strong kimchi flavor - pretty mild. A good selection of vegetables, though unfortunately it contained small pieces of red bell pepper. Yuck. I was able to mostly eat around it.

Lunar New Year 2018 kimchi bokkeumbap

I really did not like the new Yang Gaeng at all. It was like eating sweet gritty jello. Not a pleasant texture, and much too sweet.

Lunar New Year 2018 Red Bean and Raspberry Jelly

China Marketplace

* Pork Soup Dumplings with black vinegar and ginger. $7.00 * Three Cup Chicken. $6.75 * Egg tart. $4.25 * Five-Spiced Peanut Brittle. $4.50 * Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea with lychee popping pearls (non-alcoholic). $5.50.
-- Add a glowing lotus flower $5.00 * Tsingtao Lager. $9.00

The Three Cup Chicken is new this year. Chef John State, whose culinary team is responsible for the food and beverage offerings, told us that it's a traditional recipe, made with 1 cup each of rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil. It was served over rice, and I thought it was very good.

Lunar New Year 2018 Three Cup Chicken

The Pork Soup Dumplings returned this year - they were a guest favorite last year. They weren't as soupy as I expected, and they cooled off before I had a chance to eat them. Tasty but not amazing. I wish the bowl had included some of the broth and been more of a soup.

Lunar New Year 2018 Pork Soup Dumplings

Another returning item is the Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea. I had also tried this last year and thought it was too sweet. It seemed less sweet to me this year, though I'm not sure I could've told you it was passion fruit-flavored without knowing that. The light-up lotus flower is a $5 add-on.

Lunar New Year 2018 Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea

Vietnam Marketplace

* Sticky Rice Cake - with pork. $6.50 * Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer - with sweet and sour sauce. $7.00 * Purple Sweet Potato Macaron. $5.25 * Vietnamese Iced Coffee. $5.00

There were no changes to this marketplace menu. I sampled one of the Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewers. I was expecting a whole shrimp, but it was a mixture of chopped shrimp that had been lightly breaded and fried. It was very good, probably my favorite of all of the items that I tried. I would've chosen a different sauce for it, though.

Lunar New Year 2018 sugar cane shrimp skewer

According to Chef State, the Sticky Rice Cake is very labor intensive to prepare. It's also not something you can be in a hurry to eat, since it has to be untied and unwrapped!

Lunar New Year 2018 Sticky Rice Cake with pork

I was a little concerned about it at first - the wrapping (banana leaf?) had an unpleasant aroma, but fortunately that didn't affect the contents. I found that it was very filling - there was a good amount of tender pork in the middle of the rice. The carrot "slaw" that came with it was quite good: vinegary with a little bit of heat from the jalapeno.

Lunar New Year 2018 Sticky Rice Cake with Pork

The Purple Sweet Potato Macaron is beautiful to look at. Purple buttercream in the middle, and some gold leaf on top. I don't get the appeal of macarons in general, so while this was probably a fine macaron (and it was larger than most macarons I've seen) it seemed typical to me. Which is to say chewy and overly sweet.

Lunar New Year 2018 purple sweet potato macaron

There's a small food cart in Paradise Gardens that sells pork bao ($5.50) and almond cookies ($4.00). I tried the pork bao. It was very small for the price and the filling was dry. It was served with a sweet chili dipping sauce, which was sticky and too thick - almost gelatinous. I've had much better (and cheaper) bao from my local 99 Ranch Market.

Lunar New Year 2018 pork bao

The Lunar New Year menu at the Paradise Garden Grill restaurant offers complete meals inspired by several Asian countries. It's the same menu as last year with one new item added - a banh mi with grilled marinated pork belly. I would've liked to try this, but I was too full from everything else.

Lunar New Year 2018 pork banh mi

Though Paradise Garden Grill is a quick service location, in this incarnation it's serving food that is prepared to order like a table service restaurant. So there's been a change in the way the food is served this year. After placing their order guests receive their beverages at the window, along with a number card to place on a table in the seating area. Once the food is ready, cast members will deliver it to the table.

Paradise Garden Grill

* Whole Crispy Tilapia - tilapia lightly dusted with rice flour and deep fried, with citrus-chili vinaigrette. Served family style with soup, vegetables, and rice. Meal for two $24.99

* Kalbi Beef Short Ribs - marinated and grilled Korean-style beef short ribs with green onions, served with steamed rice and kimchi. $14.99

* Vegetable Japchae - sweet potato noodles, onions, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, spinach, snow peas, broccolini and lightly sauteed tofu, tossed with sesame oil and a sweet and spicy sauce topped with toasted sesame seeds. $10.99

* Beef Noodle Soup - rich seasoned beef stock, thinly sliced tri-tip, rice noodles, with classic accompaniments of onion, jalapeno, basil-lime and hot sauce. $11.99

* Banh mi with Grilled Pork - marinated pork belly, pickled carrots and daikon, with cucumber, cilantro, seasoned mayonnaise and jalapeno on a crisp baquette. $11.99

* Mango Pudding - $3.99

* Almond Milk Tea with Pudding - $4.99 Add a glowing lotus flower $4.59

* Black Beer Stout - $7.50

The booth prices are typical for a food festival at DCA - which is to say that they are high. Two samples will run $12-$14, which is about what you'll pay for a counter service meal - but it's not nearly as much food. Still, the quality is good, and some of the items are also very attractively presented. If you view it as an experience, and an opportunity to try something different, it's easier to justify the expense.

In contrast, the prices at Paradise Garden Grill are on par with what you'll pay for a counter service meal around the Disneyland Resort, for a food selection that you won't find at any other resort restaurants. I know where I'm eating if I return to DCA during Lunar New Year.

* I was an invited guest to a Lunar New Year Celebration Media event. My opinions are my own.






January 27, 2018

Disney California Adventure Lunar New Year Celebration - the Year of the Dog

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Since moving from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure in 2013, the Lunar New Year Celebration has expanded every year. In 2018, in addition to new entertainment and food offerings, the event will take place over the course of 24 days, from January 26 through February 18.

This short interview with Mirna Hughes provides an overview of what's happening this year.

The celebration takes place in the Paradise Park and Paradise Gardens areas. A large gateway near the entrance to Ariel's Undersea Adventure marks the beginning of the event area.

Lunar New Year 2018

This is the Year of the Dog, so Pluto gets his moment in the spotlight. His image is featured on the decorative banners in the park, as well as on some of the merchandise.

Lunar New Year 2018

Lunar New Year 2018

Lunar New Year 2018

Some of the merchandise, such as the Minnie flowered hat ears and the Mickey plush, came from Shanghai Disneyland. Mickey's foot has the Shanghai logo.

Lunar New Year 2018 Shanghai Minnie Ears

Lunar New Year 2018 Shanghai Mickey plush

Lunar New Year 2018 Shanghai Mickey

It's not a festival without food, of course! There are three food marketplaces in the Paradise Park corridor, offering representative dishes from Korea, China, and Vietnam. I'll have another blog on the items that I tried.

Lunar New Year 2018 Korea Booth

Only a few of the items are new this year, including "Three Cup Chicken". Never fear: the popular Pork Soup Dumplings are back. (I have it on good authority that these are Mushu's favorite! :-) )

Lunar New Year 2018 pork soup dumplings

The Paradise Garden Grill restaurant also offers a special Lunar New Year menu. The Crispy Fish Dinner - a whole tilapia served family style - returns this year, along with the Galbi (Korean style pork ribs). The Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwich is new this year. Also new this year: food is delivered to guests at their table. After ordering guests will receive a number along with their beverages and accompaniments, but the dishes will be brought to the table.

Lunar New Year 2018 Crispy Tilapia

There are a lot of activities for guests. Near Ariel's Undersea Adventure is a free face painting kiosk. A number of designs are available.

Lunar New Year 2018 face painting

Most activities are in Paradise Gardens. Kids (and adults) can color and make a paper lantern featuring Pluto. There are also calligraphy artists who will write a New Year wish or your name - it's a nice free souvenir.

Lunar New Year 2018

Lunar New Year 2018

At the Lucky Wishing Wall guests can write their new year wish on a Mickey-head-shaped card and tie it on. The Mickey cards are new this year. My wish for last year came true, so I hope for the same result for this year's wish.

Lunar New Year 2018 Lucky Wishing Wall

There are some static displays with information on how Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese families celebrate. This is the Year of the Dog, but another sign tells about the other animals, and you can find what year you were born in.

Lunar New Year 2018

The character meet and greet is at the gazebo in Paradise Gardens. Pluto, Mickey and Minnie, and Mulan and Mushu, all in New Year attire, alternate in that location. Interestingly, there is no PhotoPass photographer there. There is a cast member who will take photos for guests with their own camera.

Lunar New Year 2018 Mickey and Minnie

Lunar New Year 2018 Mulan and Mushu

Chip and Dale, also in New Year attire, roam around the area, creating their usual playful chaos.

The AP Corner for annual passholders is located between Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta. There's a special photo backdrop (with a PhotoPass photographer), and AP holders get their own Wishing Wall.

Lunar New Year 2018 AP Photo backdrop

There's also a special Lunar New Year button available to Annual Passholders.

Lunar New Year 2018 AP button

There are several exclusive pieces of merchandise available to Annual Passholders at Elias & Co. or the festival merchandise kiosk in front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure.

Lunar New Year 2018

There's even more entertainment offered this year, with performers from around the world.

Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession returns with a few changes. Goofy, as the God of Good Fortune, joins the procession, along with a dance group from Taiwan. The show is performed four times a day. It's a beautifully colored and energetic show and I think it's worth seeing, but unfortunately the prime viewing is pretty small. I'd recommend arriving 30 minutes early to get a front row spot.

Lunar New Year 2018 God of Good Fortune Goofy

Lunar New Year 2018 Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession

Full video - one of my favorite parts is when Goofy gets his groove on at the end.

New this year is GuGu Drum Group from Shanghai. They are a group of drummers who tell traditional stories with percussion. There are six shows a day in Paradise Park - the shows are about 30 minutes long. Visually I found them very interesting, but since I don't understand the stories or traditions, I thought the show was too long.

Lunar New Year 2018 GuGu  Drum Group Shanghai
Dat Nguyen returns to the Paradise Garden stage for the third year. He sings and plays several different instruments: guitar, lute, and melodica.

Lunar New Year 2018 Dat Nguyen

Also appearing on the Paradise Garden stage is Korean musician Luna Lee. She plays a Korean stringed instrument called a gayageum. She was not performing the day I visited.

This video is an entertainment overview, including a short interview with Mulan and Mushu on their favorite thing about Lunar New Year.

Each night preceding the first World of Color show, the Hurry Home - Lunar New Year Celebration is presented on Paradise Bay. It's the story of a little lantern making his way home so he can celebrate with his family. It features animation, lights, and fountains, and ends with a fireworks display. It's a cute show.

Lunar New Year 2018 Hurry Home

Lunar New Year 2018 Hurry Home

This is last year's video - the show is the same except that now it's the Year of the Dog.

Just to give you a general idea of the schedule, here's a copy of the opening weekend's Times Guide. (Click on the image for a full-size version.)

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Like last year, I was impressed by all of the different offerings available during the Lunar New Year celebration - Mulan's Procession in particular is a "don't miss". It's easy to spend a good portion of a park visit enjoying all of the different entertainment and some of the food. Right now with so many construction walls in Disney California Adventure because of the Pixar Pier project and other seasonal refurbishments, the festival provides some needed additional entertainment alternatives to guests.

Lunar New Year 2018

* I was an invited guest to a Lunar New Year Celebration Media event. My opinions are my own.






January 17, 2018

Disneyland Resort Updates from January 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Downtown Disney, Ride Makerz has closed.

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

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

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

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

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

Furniture is now visible inside.

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

New winter plantings throughout Downtown Disney.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hub is also encircled with construction walls.

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

One piece of equipment was visible working over the wall.

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

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

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

Walls up along the grass opposite Small World.

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

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

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

A winter Annual Passholder popcorn special has started.

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

The AP bucket.

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

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

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

Walls ring northern edge of Fantasyland around Dumbo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grizzly River Run is closed for its annual renovation work.

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

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

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

Walls are also up around the Sonoma Terrace area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking toward Toy Story Mania, which remains open.

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

The walkway narrows a bit as you go further along.

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

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

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

Scaffolding is going up around the launch hill of Screamin.

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

King Triton's is also still open.

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

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

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

The queue cover for the Fun Wheel has been removed.

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

No visible change to the stores yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small World holiday runs January 21.

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

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

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

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

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

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









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