We probably aren't going to be able to post the rest of the video for a while (we don't have very high bandwidth internet service right now), but I wanted to post a few more thoughts and impressions about the press event.
Here's a photo from the Little Mermaid opening. From left to right: Tom Staggs, Alan Mencken, (Ursula in the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid), Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll, George Kalogridis, and Al Weiss.
Seeing Jodi Benson perform again was one of the highlights of the ceremony for me - there's something just so genuine about her, and such joy in her singing.
I think they always do some nice work in decorating the Media Center for these events - this time we felt like we were under the sea!
And we also took a little side trip to a galaxy far, far away. :-)
Here's one of the Mermaid ride vehicles (the front closes down like the vehicles on the Haunted Mansion do).
And this is one of the two wheelchair/ECV accessible vehicles - King Triton's Chariot. The back lowers to become a ramp, and the loading belt is long enough that typically they can load the wheelchair/ECV without slowing down the ride.
Thursday evening they had several of the suites at the Disneyland Hotel available for us to tour - the Mickey Mouse Penthouse, The Pirates of the Caribbean Suite, the Adventure Suite, and the Big Thunder Suite. I have LOTS of photos, which I will put up in the hotel photo gallery when I get a chance.
The suites are quite elaborately designed and decorated, but the thing that people found the most fascinating were the bathrooms - and they were ALL different. Here's one from the Big Thunder Suite:
And one from the Adventure Suite (I would find this rather intimidating! :-) )
This morning (Friday) I had an interview fairly early in the Star Tours queue. There were LOTS of eager Star Tours fans aready lined up outside the esplanade. No photo of that, but I did get a photo of the (almost) empty Esplanade looking towards DCA. :-)
Darth Goofy was hanging around outside Star Tours (somehow the Mickey Mouse boxer shorts detract from the whole "menacing" thing).
We'll post my interview with Star Tours Art Director Susan Dayne to youtube when we get a chance.
While we were waiting for the Star Tours opening ceremony to begin there were stormtroopers stationed on the Rocket Rods track above us to make sure we didn't get out of line.
Afterward much of the cast posed. I thought Angela's costume and hairstyle were a nice acknowledgment of the previous version of the attraction.
We will have video of the Opening Ceremony Coming Soon. (I know, you've heard that before!)
We rode Star Tours again, and this time we finally had a chance to see the queue - neither of us had been through it yet - they had taken us in a back door. (If you missed it, the video of our Star Tours ride-though is HERE.
One of the things that Steve Spiegel told us is that at this point in time in the Star Tours universe, Star Tours is a new start-up company, so the Starspeeder 1000s are brand new, as are their facilities. Even C-3PO is shiny and new looking.
The security droid is fun - he has a number of sarcastic comments. One exchange we heard we found quite familiar - something along the lines of "We're all fine down here...how are you?" And then he does something and says: "It was a stupid conversation anyway." :-)
We had another fun flight - though the Empire did not discover that I was the rebel spy this time. :-) We had the same opening scene and the same character interaction as yesterday, but visited two new places: Tatooine, where we were in a pod race (who knew that C-3PO had such a competitive streak?), and the Death Star. That ending is cool, you end up on the flag ship of the Rebel Fleet, and are hailed as heroes by Admiral Ackbar and othere Rebel leaders. A lot of the actors in that scene are Walt Disney Imagineers or Lucasfilm employees.
Back over at DCA they took us back into the Cars Land construction area for the What's Next presentation. It's always interesting to find out what's coming. We were actually seated just outside what will be the entrance into Cars Land from Paradise Pier.
Highlights were Kathy Mangum and Kevin Rafferty taking us on a video tour of Cars Land and showing us where the buildings are and giving us some details about what's going to be happening inside. They are really doing some pretty amazing theming. That'll all be in the video, coming soon. :-) Opening date is still "Summer 2012" - nothing more definite than that.
We also heard about the Disney Cruise Line from Al Weiss, and Joe Rohde talked about Aulani, the new resort opening in Hawaii in August.
We'll have video, really. :-)
And we're not done yet! I participated in a round-robin table discussion with other members of the media. They rotated Disney Imagineers and management through the room and we were able to ask them questions. This is always pretty interesting, since we hear things that they don't necessarily talk about in other forums.
So a few things that stood out to me:
Kathy Rogers and Tom Fitzgerald talked about Star Tours. They are obviously really pleased with it and that it's finally open for guests to experience. I asked about the simulators, and if they were any different. Tom said no, but that they are using more of the capabilities of them now than they did before. They also looked at what they were capable of, and designed some of the scenes around that.
Al Weiss talked about the Disney Cruise Line. The new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique that will be on the Fantasy is not displacing any public space that's currently on the Dream - it will be put into space that is conference area on Deck 5. And there's apparently some chance that they will be doing shorter 3-4 days cruises out of Los Angeles in the future - those of you who read my Alaska cruise blogs will know that's something of particular interest to me.
Mary Niven and Bob Weis overviewed the DCA Expansion. I asked about the future of the Food and Wine Festival - Mary couldn't tell me for sure that it would be back, but said that festivals are definitely something that they want to bring to the park when the expansion project is complete.
Of course we all had great interest in what Kathy Mangum and Kevin Rafferty had to say about Cars Land! As far as opening date, they still say "summer 2012". It's obvious from what we'd seen earlier that there's still quite a bit of construction to do, but they are getting closer to being able to start installing and testing ride systems. As you've seen from models and even the existing rockwork, Cars Land is very colorful, and they've done a lot to try to make sure that the materials and finishes they use will retain that color for a long period of time.
Last was the John and Steve show - John Addis and Steve Davison talked about the Soundsational parade. The soundtrack from the parade is very musically complex - there's many layers to it, and Steve said it took four times longer to record than any other soundtrack. He called it a "river of music" and "music in motion".
As you can tell it was a jam-packed 24 hours. Whew. We still have lots of other photos and video to go through - some of which will be used to update other pages on AllEars, or to develop some new pages on new attractions like Ariel's Undersea Adventure.