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October 8, 2010

Mickey's Halloween Party 2010

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This year the Disneyland Resort's Halloween party has moved from Disney California Adventure over to Disneyland Park. And it has a new name: Mickey's Halloween Party. While the name location and different, most aspects of the party remain the same as what we've experienced in previous years, with some exceptions that I will talk about later. The party is being held on 10 nights in October - every Tuesday and Friday, plus Sunday, October 31. There's more detailed information on the ticket prices, dates, times and events on the Mickey's Halloween Party page.

Lee and I went to the very first party of the year, which was on Friday, October 1. One thing that is new this year: party guests may use their party ticket to enter Disneyland up to three hours in advance of the start of the party. (At DCA the park was closed and cleared of day guests before party guests were allowed in.) There is a separate set of turnstiles that party guests must use - these were all the way over on the right side (furthest from the Mickey & Friends tram stop, of course!). Once inside we obtained our wrist bands - and these were checked multiple times during the evening, especially during the first hour or two. This year's treat bags, featuring an ad for Toy Story 3 on one side and Beauty and the Beast on the other, were also available just inside the turnstiles.

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Halloween party maps were available at the turnstiles as we came in - I assume they were available at the usual map stations elsewhere in the park, but I didn't specifically notice them. These gave the locations of the treat stations, character greeting areas, and dance parties, as well as giving the times of the "parade" and fireworks show. They also listed all of the attractions and restaurants that were open. (Toontown and Tom Sawyer Island were closed, and part of Fantasyland was closed until after the fireworks.)

One of the big (perhaps the biggest) draw of the Halloween Party is that it's the only way to see the Halloween Screams fireworks show this year. The show is only showing on party nights. I know that disappointed a lot of people - it's really a great show, and for those of us who are Annual Passholders, it's kind of tough to have to pay an additional $44-$59 for a party ticket to see something that was "free" last year. But I have to say that it was a LOT easier to see it this year since there were a lot fewer guests in the park for the party than there are on a typical October night, so we weren't crammed into Main Street like we were last year.

We arrived just before 6:00. The park was open to day guests until 7:00, so we were surprised at how many of the restaurants were already closed (other than the ones that would be open during the party) - we wanted to eat at Cafe Orleans, but they had stopped seating before 6:00. :-(

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They were still setting up for the party at that time - putting up decorations and treat stations and that sort of thing. By the time we finished dinner at the Plaza Inn it was about 7:00, which is when the party started. It was interesting listening to the background music change over to Halloween-themed music.

We both thought that there were more people in the park than there ever were for the parties at DCA. Which makes sense, since Disneyland is a lot bigger and can handle more people. Attraction lines weren't too bad once the day guests had cleared out, and got shorter as the night went on. But the treat lines were VERY long in most places - generally a lot longer than we were willing to deal with. Several locations had a "treat trail", where there were 5-6 treat stations within 20' or so of each other. We found the ones along Big Thunder Trail and back in Critter Country had fairly short lines but the ones around the Matterhorn had long lines every time we went by them. One tip: the treat trails are two way, so if the line is long on one end, try going to the other end. There are two cast members at each station, each one serving guests coming from one direction. (One thing I noticed: this was the first party of the year, and at the beginning of the evening cast members all said "Happy Halloween!" as they gave us our candy - by the end of the evening they were generally silently dropping it in the bag. Can't say I blame them - I think I'd be hoarse if I said "Happy Halloween" to thousands of guests in an evening!)

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This year's treats were pretty similar to last year (which was quite an improvement over the first few years): LOTS of chocolate candies, including Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, Reese's, Nestle Crunch Bars, M&Ms, and Tootsie Rolls. Also Skittles (I got a lot of those), Tootsie Pops, and non-chocolate-flavored Tootsie Rolls. For healthier options there were packets of baby carrots, raisins, and apple crisps. As an extra treat there were one or two treat stations (I only found one) that had Ghirardelli Chocolate squares. Yum. (No, I did not get in line over and over again...)

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We didn't do a lot of attractions, but did get to the two Halloween-themed ones: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy (25 minute line at 8:45), and Haunted Mansion Holiday (5-10 minutes at 7:30, though it was longer later in the evening). Ghost Galaxy was unchanged from last year as far as I can tell, but they were still doing the "show" on the outside of it (you can read more about that and see some video in this blog entry from last year. Lots of smiles and happy people coming off the ride. One of the other attractions we did was the Jungle Cruise, hoping that it would have some party-themed jokes, but we were disappointed.

Haunted Mansion Holiday is also basically unchanged, though as usual the gingerbread creation in the ballroom is different - this year it's a "Haunted Tombstone". There's an interesting piece on how it was created on the DisneyParks Blog.

There's a new Mickey's Costume Party character cavalcade this year. Not quite enough there to classify as a "parade" yet, apparently, but it's more than we've had in the past. It features new music this year and three new floats, and several "push-along" themed jack'o'lanterns. Along with lots of dancers and costumed characters. It was short, but I thought it was a lot of fun. The parade leads off with the Vampire Mickey float - he opens and closes his cape.

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Then there's the Costume Shop float:

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And the final float is the Haunted Castle:

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In between are the pumpkins - I thought these were really cute - my favorite was the Monster pumpkin!

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The cavalcade runs twice a night.

The decorations were about what we've seen in the past - lots of the pumpkin and ghost Mickey lights (though they had done away with the blowy air-filled thingies - that's a good thing):

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There's of course a fair bit of decorating that's there in the park anyways because it's Halloween Time, like the jack'o'lanterns on Main Street and the carved pumpkins in Big Thunder Ranch.

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Most of the party decorations are done with light projectors. They really need to get their pest control people working, though - there were giant spider webs all over the buildings, including the castle, which also had giant spiders crawling on it! :-)

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The party logo was on the Matterhorn:

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And on the "small world" facade:

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And a variety of projections were on the walkways and on buildings on Main Street.

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The Rivers of America was filled with mist, with eerie lighting:

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There were two dance parties - Buzz Lightyear's Integalactic Space Jam at Tomorrowland Terrace, and Club Skellington at the French Market. both parties had DJs playing various dance music. Buzz and some of the Green Army men were dancing with guests at that area - I didn't see any characters at Club Skellington, but it had quite an interesting entrance!

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There were a lot of character greeting areas, but most of them had very long lines - especially the Princesses back at Princess Fantasy Faire and Mickey and Minnie at Big Thunder Ranch. There were short lines for Pirate's Wharf and the Pooh characters in Critter Country, though. I really liked what they did with Pirate's Wharf - it was at the Frontierland dock, and they pulled in the Columbia behind it. It would have been really cool if they'd done the greeting area on board the ship itself, but I suppose the logistics of that are too difficult.

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Halloween Screams is still one of my favorite fireworks shows ever, and I like it more every time I see it. The fireworks, the music, the effects, are all just terrific. (How can you not like a fireworks show that includes a scream-a-long?) Disney blocked off the area between the hub and the castle until after the first parade (about 8:30), and at that point there were people who started staking out spots for the 9:30 fireworks show. There really was no need to do that to have a decent viewing spot, though - we went off to ride Ghost Galaxy, and didn't get back until about 9:20, but were still able to get a really good spot at the entrance to Tomorrowland, and we weren't packed in like sardines. So that's definitely a benefit to showing the fireworks only on party nights.

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Have I mentioned how much I love this show? :-)

There was some exclusive party merchandise, like t-shirts, Mickey Mouse ears and so on, but I didn't photograph any of it. It was available in multiple locations so it didn't seem too hard to find.

This is the first year that the party has been held at Disneyland and Lee and I both thought that it actually fit a little better at Disneyland than at DCA. For one thing, there are several attractions there that go with the Halloween/villain/ghost theme, like Pirates of the Caribbean, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and of course Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. And since so much of the "decorating" is done with lighting, Disneyland actually already has the existing infrastructure to do something more interesting than simple projections, such as the colorful lighting on the castle and "it's a small world". And of course the Halloween-themed fireworks show is a HUGE point in Disneyland's favor...though I think we all hope that in the coming years there will be a Halloween-themed version of World of Color (please????).

We really had a good time - and it was very nice to have the extra time in the park before the party - gave us a chance to have dinner and not waste valuable "party time" to do it. I think the extra hours and the fireworks and expanded parade make up for the hefty price increase (about $18 more than last year, but still cheaper than the party at the Magic Kingdom).

We saw a fair number of adults in costume this year - Jack and Sally were very popular, and pirate costumes are a perennial favorite. Lots of kids dressed as the Mario brothers this year. And of course lots of little girls dressed as princesses.

The party lasted for five hours, but we didn't actually stay all the way to the end since we'd done what we wanted to do by 11:30 and we still had to drive home that night. We really didn't make an effort to get a lot of treats, but my haul was still pretty good anyway!

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Additional photos of the event are available in our photo galleries:

General Party Photos

Parade and Fireworks Photos



October 11, 2010

D23's Destination D - Making of Star Tours

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(Lee, who is the really big Star Wars fan in the family, put this together from his notes on the "Making of Star Tours" session at Destination D. Thanks, Lee!)

Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald, writer and producer for the original Star Tours and for the upcoming "Star Tours: The Adventures Continue" spoke mostly about the creation of the original attraction but also briefly about the update.

In the mid-80's there was not much new successful Disney movie content to base new attractions on, so the Imagineers got the idea to approach George Lucas about doing something based on Star Wars. They felt that Star Wars had many "Disney" qualities (family focused, adventure, comedy) and it turned out that Lucas is a big Disney fan - he says he was at Disneyland on the second day it was open.

Lucas toured Imagineering and saw a flight simulator ride concept and thought that would be a good approach for a Star Wars attraction. The British company Rediffusion Simulation had been building flight simulators for training commercial pilots and invited the Disney Imagineers to try out a large size simulator using some rough game footage and less-than-perfect motion programming. The simulator broke on the first ride and the mismatched visuals and motion made them all queasy, but they liked it enough to use it as the basis for the new attraction.

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The original concept for the attraction was a Jedi training center where the guests would participate in a training session to prepare them to battle the Empire. However, President Reagan's use of the nickname "Star Wars" for his missile defense system, plus Disney's sensitivity to topics like "war" lead to the development instead of the more light-hearted tourist concept used for the attraction.

Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic made the movie - shot on 70mm film and all done with practical models since this was before widespread use of CGI. The film was a challenge for ILM since it required a single point of view (so no cuts like a normal movie) making it effectively a four minute and 30 second "effects shot." Once they had the film, Imagineers spent months programming the motion sequences for the simulator to match what you see in the film.

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Other tidbits from the talk:

- Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) is the voice of the pilot droid Rex. Disney needed someone with a really great scream and Paul's work in "Flight of the Navigator" was similar to what was needed for Star Tours. Tom showed concept art that showed the progression of the pilot droid from the original Crazy Harry to Rex.

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- The simulators were lifted by crane and lowered into place through the open roof of the attraction.

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- Disney actually rejected first trench scene from ILM because it didn't give the same feel as the movie - that was nervous moment for the Imagineering team.

- ILM employees (not professional actors) are the human cast members in the film.

- Disney didn't have enough budget to build working robots in the Droid Room. But the Imagineers really wanted them, so they used the geese audio-animatronics from the decommissioned "America Sings" attraction, stripped down to their bare frames. (He called them the "goose droids".)

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- The droids in the Droid Room were supposed to speak in clicks and beeps (more like R2-D2), but Lucas liked the English dialog Tom Fitzgerald had provided to explain the concept better. What you hear is dialog never meant to be heard. It was recorded in one day with Tom Fitzgerald and another Imagineering employee doing the voices.

- The attraction score was composed specifically for the attraction, based on the John Williams movie music. They had to be careful to have the score not sound like a movie since the guests are experiencing it instead of just watching it.

- The Mighty Microscope from Adventure Thru Inner Space is in the opening scene - sticking out of the wall low down on the right as the Starspeeder pulls up from the initial fall.

- The attraction had several different names, including Cosmic Winds, before they finally settled on Star Tours.

- Anthony Daniels wrote and recorded the public address dialog you hear in the queue - it's in Ewok. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

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- Disney and Lucas agreed to do Captain Eo as a quick "placeholder" while they took time to build Star Tours.

From the beginning it was expected that since the attraction could be changed with new video and motion programming that it would be updated every couple of years. Instead, it's taken twenty-five years to get to the first update. The reason for the delay was partly because once Lucas started the prequel trilogy, Disney waited for it to finish.

Tom Fitzgerald is blogging (on the DisneyParks blog) every couple weeks on the creation of the new Star Tours so he didn't want to give too much away. He did provide a few details on the update:

- The "tour" will visit Bespin, the forest moon of Endor, Alderaan and Coruscant.

- The update is set between the two Star Wars trilogies, so the vehicle is an older Starspeeder 1000 and the pilot Ace is an earlier model pilot droid than Rex from the original attraction

- George Lucas has been much more involved this time since he has more free time.

- There is a new robot spokesperson name "Aly San San" voiced by Allison Janney.

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- Ace is the pilot of the Starspeeder 1000 (as opposed to the Starspeeder 3000 in the original attraction, which was set in a later time period).

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Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is currently scheduled to open in May 2011.


October 13, 2010

D23 Destination D: Day 1, AM

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So going on the theory that you cannot have too much Destination D coverage, here are some of my thoughts on the weekend's events.

For one thing, it was a huge relief to find that they had a venue that could accommodate all the people who wanted to be in it. Unlike the Expo of last year, where you could count on a wait of at least an hour to be assured of getting a seat in a given panel, there was sufficient space here for everyone. Of course, people were still waiting hours ahead of time to get a good seat, but you can't have everything.

Steven Clark gave the Welcome, which, with its examples of "rejected D23 advertising campaigns," really set the tone for the weekend: Totally irreverent.

Afterwards, Becky Cline and Paul Anderson were hysterical as they showed slides and recounted anecdotes of the more off-beat episodes of Disney history in Weird Disney.

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Starting back in the 1930's, they showed some of the more...curious attempts that were made, mostly by the local theaters, to publicize the characters and their movies. While a lot of the costumes appear borderline frightening, it's interesting to speculate how people will look back in 70 more years, laughing about how we thought blinking eyes were a big deal.

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In the 1940's, they related how RKO had hired 11 midgets to wander around on the marquee for Pinocchio as publicity. Unfortunately, the actors proved to be slightly intemperate, becoming inebriated and ultimately taking off their clothes to play dice. Interested onlookers were then treated to the sight of the police chasing the drunks around the top of the theater sign with pillowcases, in order to suppress them.

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By the 1950's Disneyland was around, and they highlighted some of the esoteric attractions/spectacles that were created, largely to meet sponsorship needs: The Crane Bathroom of Tomorrow; The Wizard of Bras; The Kaiser Hall of Aluminum Fame; Hollywood-Maxwell's Intimate Apparel Shop; Monsanto Hall of Chemistry; Dutch Boy Paints; and American Dairy Association's "Dairy Bar." Other attractions were eventually eliminated because of logistical problems--live mermaids in the submarine lagoon (too many "admirers" swimming out to meet them) and real fishing off Tom Sawyer's Island (what do you do with the dead fish, the rest of your day at Disneyland?)

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Finally, they ended with a variety of weird parades and presentations that had taken place at Disneyland--from the Christmas parade of different nations, featuring a bunch of English guys carrying a real boar's head down the street, to the America on Parade witch-dunking float, to archival footage of the Aunt Jemima Pancake Races--which looked a lot harder than you would have thought. The women had to run down the street with a pancake in a frying pan that they had to flip over lines mounted fairly high over their heads. If they failed to catch it in the pan on the other side, they had to go back and do it over until they succeeded...all in traditional 1950's-1960's housewife garb.

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The next panel was the Mickey Mouse Club 55th Anniversary, hosted by Tim O'Day.

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This was something of a surprise for me--not being (quite) old enough to have watched the Mickey Mouse Club in its early years, I wasn't really sure what to expect about how the cast members would interact. Truth be told, I was actually really hoping that I was going to find it totally boring, because they were all going to be signing autographs during lunch and I knew if I liked it, I would be stuck sitting in an autograph line for the whole of the lunch break.

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Sadly, it was awesome. Tim O'Day was a great moderator who kept the dialogue moving smoothly between all the different members. They showed a lot of archival footage both from the show and from the Mouseketeer performance at Disneyland's opening day, some of which the Mouseketeers had never seen before.

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All of them had extremely vivid memories of the whole time they were on the show, and had nothing but good things to say about it. In general, they tended to feel that it was hard work, but that it was the most fun they could have imagined possible.

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They talked about their audition process, and noted that the show was not looking for kids that looked too professional, and quickly eliminated any children who behaved poorly (or whose parents behaved poorly.) Fond memories of Jimmie Dodd and Roy Williams (who invented the Mickey Ear hat) were related, as well as of Annette, who was unable to be there due to her well-known battle with Multiple Sclerosis.

It was a terrific look into a time where child actors seemed to legitimately be having fun performing, and didn't immediately implode into behavioral disasters on reaching puberty. No, I did not get lunch that day.

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We moved quickly along into the last talk of the morning, one on various quirky merchandising opportunities you would have had, if you lived in Anaheim in the 50's, and were possessed of a lot of forethought.

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Again, not being a serious collector, I wasn't initially sure how much appeal this would have for me, but our hosts Stacia Martin, Paul Anderson, and Rob Klein put on a very entertaining presentation.

They presented a large collection of ticket books, some of which were valuable because of their scarcity, like the #1 opening day ticket belonging to Roy Disney, and some of which were just desirable because of the cool graphics they sported.

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They also showed a collection of their "top 5 strangest Disneyland collectibles," including the ubiquitous gold nuggets every child pans for at some amusement park or other.

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There were various music collections available with park audio, including this LP of America Sings that I remember one friend having when I was little, and I was SO ENVIOUS I pretty much made them play it continuously while I was there on a sleepover.

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Among their favorite toys was this shooting game in which Mickey's head is the primary target. Hard to think this would be that marketable today.

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And of course you can't forget the Viewmaster--the YouTube of a different generation.

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Finally, they displayed some of the rarest collectibles, one of which was the original parking permits issued for Disneyland's opening day. These were intended to adhere to the windshield, so the majority of them were stuck on, and then scraped off after the day (or when you sell the car, if you're in my family.)

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Finally, they ended with a category called "If We Only Got A Time Machine..." in which they showed some of the objects they'd most like to retrieve from the past. A biography you could mail order from the park was one of the favorites, given that for $4.30, you could get your own book written by Diane Miller, and personally autographed by Walt himself. Sob.

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With that, it was lunchtime. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find the Mousketeer's autograph line...

Disneyland's 2011 Ambassadors

On October 12, 2011, Disneyland held its annual ceremony to announce the 2011-2012 Disneyland Resort Ambassador Team. It was held in the Sleeping Beauty Castle Forecourt, and was hosted by 2009-2010 Ambassadors, Quinn Shurian and Danielle DuBois.

After an initial opening,in which this year's Ambassadors related some of their duties of the last year, they commemorated the 45th Anniversary of the Ambassador program by introducing former Ambassadors representing each decade of the program. A musical character number then commenced, ending with the introduction of Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis. After asking each of the current Ambassadors to recount a memory of the last couple years, he introduced all of this year's candidates and had them share a memory of the Disneyland Resort.

The candidates were:
Jolie Hales from Guest Talent Program & Characters
Allie Kawamoto from Disney's Grand California Resort & Spa and Guest Services
Allison Montanile from Westside Attractions
René Torrico from Partners Federal Credit Union
Kristin Williams from Entertainment

Finally, in a surprisingly not-drawn-out fashion, Kalogridis announced that the new Ambassador team would be Jolie Hales and René Torrico. After numerous photo opportunities, the two were paraded down Main Street in the Fire Engine to the Train Station, where they were set up for interviews.

One of the most charming moments of the morning was when we had a chance to speak briefly with Connie Swanson, the second Ambassador appointed, and the last to work personally with Walt Disney. She spoke of how exciting it was to hear "Code W," as the cast members passed along the news that Walt was in the park, and how even the memory of it gave her goosebumps today. When asked how the role of Ambassador has changed since she was in the program, she noted that the company is so much larger than it was, and so globally ubiquitous, that the Ambassador no longer has the burden of being the sole representative of the Company to the world. With the Company's reputation so much more uniform than it used to be, the Ambassadors have more emphasis on community service and outreach than before.

She further shared a memory with us of Walt telling her of different plans he had for the park, one of which was of constructing a show where pictures were projected on water. Although it didn't seem possible at the time, he was a fine spray would allow light to be projected on the mist...

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Gracious, personable, and extremely enthusiastic about the company even today, Ms. Swanson is everything you would hope a Disneyland Ambassador would turn out to be. If our new Ambassadors find the same happiness and satisfaction in their new position as she did in hers, they will have done very well indeed.


October 19, 2010

Destination D: Day 1, Early Afternoon.

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So after lunchtime, the schedule continued with "A Long Time Ago...The Making of Star Tours," presented by WDI Creative Executive Tom Fitzgerald.

He detailed the inception of the ride as coming from George Lucas, and then related his trip to London to investigate the motion simulators with Tony Baxter. The simulators there were apparently a great deal rougher than what they ultimately were out here, and after watching them for awhile, the Imagineers began taking bids for whatever tablets of Dramamine they had with them.

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The original name they came up with for for the ride was "Cosmic Winds," and like the title, the concept for the droid driver changed a bit as the development process continued.

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He talked a little about the voice they ended up with--they originally demoed Billy Barty for the part of Rex, however they wound up feeling that the part called for someone who was less child-like, and heavier on the screaming (a reflection, perhaps, on the shared experience of Tom and Tony of failing their DMV tests.) They became acquainted with Pee Wee Herman's performance ability as he was appearing in his show at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles and had recently done the voice of another robotic driver in "Flight of the Navigator," and a match was made.

In an interesting note, he reminded people that the ride was created in a time prior to CGI, and consequently much of the special effects shown on the film were actually achieved by the use of models, including the trip through the comets.

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Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic company did much of the film, and consequently most of the actors seen in it are ILM employees.

As the project continued, the budget for the droid room suffered; in an attempt to salvage the concept, they were able to recycle the Goose Quartet from America Sings, who were reincarnated there.

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There was also some debate over whether the guests should see the outside of the speeder or not. Hench drew this rendering of one potential setup where the speeder was not visible.

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Ultimately Hench suggested that with warm light inside the speeder, and cool light outside, entering guests would likely never notice the outside in their enthusiasm, and he was largely proven correct.

Anthony Daniels was brought in to record the voice of C-3PO and also acted out the part in the preshow to aid in the animation of the audio-animatronic. In addition, he wrote and voiced the announcements in Ewokese ("ku channa, ku channa...")

Tom Fitzgerald went on to discuss the new changes coming to Star Tours in the currently-ongoing re-imagineering of the ride, but all the announcements in that vein have been pretty well covered by him in his disney blog at http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/author/tom-fitzgerald/.

The next panel, hosted by Paul Anderson, was "The 1964 New York World's Fair and the Development of Audio-Animatronics." This was one of the presentations to which I was most looking forward, as both the 1964 and the 1939 World's Fair are on the top of my list of "first places I'm going when Time Machines are commercially available."

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Of the four pavilions Walt produced for the World's Fair (Carousel of Progress, It's a Small World, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, and Magic Skyway,) Anderson mostly discussed the Magic Skyway as the other three have survived in some form or another to the present day.

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Initially planned as a "Symphony of America," the scope of the ride was broadened out to the history of the world, as seen from the comfort of your Ford automobile. You would board your car and be whisked effortlessly on multiple levels and tracks through both the primeval and the future world.

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[Seriously. If this picture doesn't make you want to sell your soul to the Devil to go back for a ride, you and I can never be friends.]

The narration came in different languages, and if you picked English, you were lucky enough to hear Walt Disney himself, coming in through the car radio.

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You initially went through a time tunnel, back to a Primeval World that may seem fairly familiar to those who have gone around the Disneyland Railroad, by way of the Grand Canyon dioramas.

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The cavemen depicted in later scenes were largely drawn by Marc Davis, and sculpted by Blaine Gibson. They bear something of a resemblance to their descendants who later peopled the first couple scenes in Spaceship Earth.

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After leaving prehistoric times, the cars drove outside onto elevated highways, where the various levels and directions of tracks gave the outside the busy, kinetic appearance that always signaled the Future to Disney. The route took the cars past a futuristic city, and then back to the unloading area.

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Anderson then showed some brief photos of the other pavilions, such as this one of GE's Progressland:

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As enticing as it seems, to see the original Carousel of Progress, I think I'd be a little concerned about the Nuclear Fusion Demonstration going on in the center...

Finally, he spoke a little of the Roland Crump's famous Tower of the Four Winds that stood outside It's a Small World, and how Walt looked into transporting it back to California after the Fair, but found the shipping costs to be prohibitive.

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Ultimately, the fact that the Tower and all the other pavilions were destroyed after the Fair is considered part of the impetus for Disneyland--Walt found it such a shame, that he was even more driven to create a permanent location for his creations.

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In addition, Disneyland owes the Fair for contributing to the development of the Omnimover and Peoplemover, Audio-Animatronics, the canal boat ride (Pirates,) and the entire Walt Disney World resort as it proved Disney could pull in an East Coast audience as easily as a West Coast one.

The Fair continues to stand as a beacon of that era's space-age, optimistic and forward-thinking views of the Future as an unending vista of marvels. Ultimately, waves of change would come with the Vietnam War, civil rights struggles, and various other cultural revolutions that would dim that vision a little...but for 1964-1965, it was a world of singing children, electric ovens, and Ford automobiles that could take you to the stars.

October 30, 2010

Cars Land "Topping Out" Ceremony

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On Friday, October 29, I was invited to attend the "Topping Out" ceremony for Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. If you're not familiar with that term (and I wasn't), it's a traditional ceremony for construction workers that usually takes places when the highest piece of steel is installed on a building. The beam is painted white, signed by the workers and adorned with an evergreen before it is lifted into place. In the U.S., an American flag is placed on top.

On Friday the highest piece of steel in Cars Land, which is atop Ornament Valley's Cadillac Mountain range (behind the Radiator Springs Racers attraction), was put into place.

(Thanks to Lee for editing the video - he took the audio from an earlier part of the ceremony, which talked about the Topping Out tradition, and overlaid that on the video of the placement of the beam.)

(Just a note - though we were permitted into the construction area for Cars Land, we were only allowed to photograph the Radiator Springs Racers area. Though that takes up about half of Cars Land!)

After the ceremony, Mary Niven, Vice President of Disney California Adventure, spoke about the expansion. You can see/hear it in this clip, but one of the things she announced is the addition of the first "encore" to World of Color. The "Tron Legacy" encore was featured as a "sneak peek" to audiences on Friday night - it will be featured nightly starting Sunday, October 31.

Kathy Mangum, executive show producer of Cars Land, and Jim Kearns, Cars Land project manager spoke about some of the things that will be happening in Cars Land. The mountain range is called the "Cadillac Range", and the different peaks are actually the shape of Cadillac tail fins over the year, with the tallest representing the 1959 Cadillac.

In this clip Kathy gives us a "tour" of Cars Land. By the way, we are standing on the site of the "Court House" that she initially refers to.

There's more information on the history of the "topping out" ceremony as well as some Fun Facts about Cars Land, in this press release.


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About October 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in October 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2010 is the previous archive.

November 2010 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.