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September 2011 Archives

September 1, 2011

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon Preview

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The 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is this weekend - September 2-4. Events this weekend include the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday and Saturday, the Star Tours 5K and Kids' Races on Saturday, and the Half Marathon on Sunday. There will be a record number of people in the half marathon this year - over 15,000 are registered!

I will be participating in the 5K on Saturday and the Half Marathon (my fourth Disneyland Half Marathon) on Sunday. Disney recently released a photo of the newly-designed half marathon medal for this year.

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Ooooh...pretty!!! I really like this one.

I'll be doing something a little different this time - instead of running the 13.1 miles I will be walking it with my friend Kristine. We've been training to walk fast (ok, those of you who know me know that I don't have to train to walk fast, but I'm not used to walking fast continuously for 13 miles!), and it's been an interesting experience - it takes longer, but I enjoy it a WHOLE lot more than running and I'm not nearly as hot and tired at the end. Of course part of that is walking with Kristine - we have a great time chatting as we're walking. We just did our final training walk - 8.3 miles in 1:55:04 - that's a 13:52 minute/mile pace. We were very happy with that!

Of course the disadvantage of walking is that I will have to be more conscious of the 3.5 hour time limit, so I won't have time to stop and have my photo taken with all the characters like I am used to doing. I hope we can still find time for a few character photos, though.

Assuming I finish as planned not only will I be taking a Disneyland Half Marathon medal home, but a Coast-to-Coast medal as well. In addition to Lee and me there are about 2750 other people who are doing Coast-to-Coast, including a number of my fellow Team AllEars members!

You might remember that Lee and I were part of Team AllEars 2011 when we did the Goofy Challenge earlier this year - I'm pleased to say that we are also part of Team AllEars 2012, along with 98 fellow Disney runners. For those of you who might not know about Team AllEars, you can read about us here:
Team AllEars 2012

But the main thing to know is that we support the incredible Deb Wills and her dedication to fighting breast cancer and raising money for the Avon Foundation. We have all pledged to raise at least $500 each and that's where we could really use your help. No donation is too small, and I would ask you to please consider supporting us in this.

If you would like to contribute, please visit Deb's Avon Breast Cancer page and click on the pink "Donate Now" box. On the "Personal Note", please put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" so they can track our fundraising efforts. If you wish to remain anonymous, just put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" in the "How would you like your name to appear" box.

Thank you for all of your support - I'll be blogging this weekend and will let you know how we do.


September 4, 2011

True Legends of the Golden Horseshoe

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On August 18th, the day prior to the start of the D23 Expo, a tribute was held to two Disney Legends, Wally Boag and Betty Taylor. Both long-standing stars of the Golden Horseshoe Revue passed away this year, within a day of each other.

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Press, Expo members on the Sorcerer's package, various Disney Legends, and past Golden Horseshoe performers were invited to the Big Thunder Ranch, where the stage was set up to replicate the old saloon venue.

The show was divided up into five acts, introduced by virtual Vaudevillian title cards up on the monitors.

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It began, as the original show did, with an abundance of Can-Can dancers, performing to "Hello Everybody."

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After the opening number, Tom Staggs came out and said a few words about the night's events, and recounted that he held his rehearsal dinner at the Golden Horseshoe (yes, he said he was able to have alcohol.)

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He then introduced, from the audience, many of the legends important to the Golden Horseshoe, such as Miriam Nelson, the original choreographer.

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Our host for the evening was then introduced: Dick Hardwick, who was Wally Boag's understudy, and who later took over the role of Pecos Bill when Boag retired in 1982.

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At this point, the second act began, which was essentially a clip show of photos and video of the original show.

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The energy and high activity level of the stars were related, as they were shown performing outside the parks on USO tours and on one occasion, in a command performance for President Nixon.

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The third act celebrated Betty Taylor's long years with the show--over 30 years and nearly 45,000 performances.

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Moving on to Wally Boag, there was a video clip of Diane and Ron Miller talking about how much Walt enjoyed the Golden Horseshoe Revue, and the many famous visitors he took there. Afterwards, Dick Hardwick gave the audience a taste of the show by performing Boag's famous "teeth spitting" number.

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After expectorating out a truly prodigious amount of dentition, Hardwick then introduced a video tribute by Steve Martin, longtime fan of Boag since his early days working in the Magic Shop on Main Street. He related how he used to watch every show and picked up many performance tips from Boag that he worked into his comedy acts later in life. He said he had memorized all the lines and all the timing of the act, in hopes that one day Boag wouldn't be able to go on, and the stage manager would come out onto the stage and ask if there was an eleven-year-old boy in the audience that could take his place "and I would be that boy!"

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The fifth and last act of the evening showed the enduring memorials created by Disney for the two performers. Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis presented Ralph Opacic, Executive Director of the Orange County High School of the Arts, with a $10,000 donation in Wally Boag and Betty Taylor's names, in the hopes that it would help enable young performers to achieve the same longevity as the Disney legends.

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Framed copies of a playbill, showing Boag, Taylor, and their co-star in the show, Fulton Burley, were given to the families of the stars, with the assurance that a copy would be mounted in the Golden Horseshoe to acknowledge their part in the Revue's Guinness-World-Record run of live performances.

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The show ended as it began, with a loadful of Can-Can girls who did one raucous dance, and then encouraged all the past performers to come up on stage and join them in singing a closing number.

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It was a great tribute to a pair of unforgettable performers. While I myself never got a chance to see the original show in person, the World of Color TV special celebrating the 10,000th show has been made available on the Walt Disney Treasures DVD set, "Disneyland-Secrets, Stories, & Magic." Clips, of course, are readily searchable on YouTube as well.

It's hard to know, after all, if this charming, lighthearted, innocent show would be successful in today's hard-edged, sophisticated, impatient society. I like to think so--I like to think that the longest running stage production in show business history continues to play somewhere, whether or not the curtain's closed here.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

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The first event of Disneyland's Half Marathon Weekend each year is the Health and Fitness Expo, which takes place on Friday and Saturday. It's held at the Disneyland Hotel.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We actually pick up our registration packets downstairs, in what is usually a parking garage. I always get a kick out of the race track-striped carpet they use on the entry and exit ramps. :-)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

You can print your race waiver in advance at home, and it's a really, really good idea for you to do that - because otherwise this is the kind of line you face if you try to do it at the Expo! (This was the longest line we saw - everything else about the packet pick-up process was a walk-up.)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

You also need to know your race number, because all of the packets are organized by race number and not last name. There were four separate pick-up areas - for the 5K, the Kids' Races, the Half Marathon, and the Coast-to-Coast Challenge. When I did Coast-to-Coast two years ago I had to check-in at two counters - it was nice to only have one this year. So I got my bib number and my Coast-to-Coast wristband all in one place this time. And I also had to pick up my 5K bib as well.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

They had a few decorative things down there, but not as many as last year.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

With all of the construction going on at the Disneyland Hotel it was a little harder to get around this year, but they had lots of signs and cast members out, and that helped.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

There were no lines for the t-shirt and goody bag pick-up. I like the Star Tours 5K shirt (it's cotton), but the half marathon tech shirt is black and heavy for a tech shirt. Not nearly as nice a design as last year's blue shirt. :-(

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

After we'd picked up our goody bags and shirts we wandered around the Expo floor. We chatted with one of the coaches from our West Coast Road Runners running group who was working in The Stick booth. (We have Sticks - we swear by Sticks!) The Expo wasn't really crowded (it was about 6:00 by then), but there were still lines for the freebies that were being given away at various booths. (The runDisney booth had some kind of Tinker Bell wand they were giving out that was quite popular.)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We checked out the official merchandise, too. They had a nice Coast-to-Coast Challenge t-shirt but we didn't buy anything.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

For a change there wasn't a huge line for this photo opportunity, so we had someone take our photo.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

Having Expo'd it was time to head back to our room and unpack a little bit before going into the parks in search of dinner. Lee hadn't tried either of the new Paradise Pier restaurants in DCA yet, and we went to both. Starting at Paradise Garden Grill he got the Grilled Steak skewer (with all four sauces). He said the beef was really good. And he enjoyed the pilaf and the cucumber salad, too, because he cleaned his plate.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I tried the Greek Salad. I forgot to tell them dressing on the side, and there was little too much of the lemon-oregano vinaigrette - which was tasty, there was just too much for me. The salad was very good - lots of olives, cucumbers, onions, chopped tomato, and pepperoncini. And it came with a piece of pita bread, also. I'd get that again (dressing on the side, please!).

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

And I finally had the chance to try the baklava - the other two times I'd been here were for lunch, and they don't get their delivery that early. So was it worth the wait? No, not really. Sometimes baklava is too sweet - this wasn't sweet enough, and it was a little dry. It was a generous piece, though, and the nut filling was nicely spiced. I see the menu now has a new dessert that was not there a few weeks ago - a Chocolate Brownie and Strawberry Skewer - with caramel, chocolate sauce, and mini marshmallows. That sounds pretty good.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

From Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta we tried the Four Cheese Ravioli. That was really good, though the first bite I had the pesto sauce seemed very salty. Once I had another bite with a bit less sauce it was delicious. I liked the pine nuts and chopped tomatoes on top, too.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

So this morning (Saturday) I had to get up early for the Star Tours Family Fun Run 5K. Though not AS early - it started at 6:45 instead of 6:00. (Lee got to sleep in.)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

There were no corral assignments - we were supposed to group ourselves according to pace - Podracers for the under 8 min/mile pace, Air Speeder for 8-9, Speeder Biker for 9-10 and Landspeeder for 10+. Since I passed people who were walking within 10 steps of my crossing the start line, you can imagine how well that worked...

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

My fellow Team AllEars members Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Dave Dunkowski were waiting in the same area, too. You can see from behind them that we weren't crowded and packed in like sardines at all - it was very pleasant.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

Before the race started we got a pre-show featuring several Jedi masters, Darth Vader and a couple of Storm Troopers, and even the voice of Yoda. Ok, so it was really mostly the soundtrack from Jedi Training Academy, but it was cute. Though I think the consensus among a lot of the adults was that they'd be happy to go over to the Dark Side if Vader was offering coffee...

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I found it interesting that the Star Spangled Banner was played on a trumpet instead of sung - he did a great job with it. And once he was done there was a shower of R2-D2 colored confetti (blue and white) and we were off!

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We started in the Mickey and Friends tram area, and followed the tram route a short distance before going backstage. Not much to see back there (and there were cast members asking that people not take photos), but pretty soon we came out next to Splash Mountain, and then past the Haunted Mansion to New Orleans Square. Where Tiana, Naveen, and Louis awaited us.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

There were some scurvy pirates (and a saucy wench) outside the Pirates attraction.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We ran past Thunder Mountain and Thunder Ranch, and took a left into a backstage area just before Fantasyland. We were in a tunnel, and we heard the distinctive sound of Vader breathing in the tunnel! And just after that was the 1 mile mark.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We came out near Princess Fantasy Fair and went into Toon Town, then backstage again for a bit before coming out the parade gate next to "it's a small world", then around the Matterhorn and into Tomorrowland, where the Storm Troopers are still looking for the Rebel Spy.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We didn't get to run through the Castle like we do for the Half Marathon, but we ran down Main Street. Chip and Dale were at Town Square - I told them I'd be running their race (the Chip and Dale Marathon Relay) in January.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We went out the front gates of Disneyland and turned left, and ended up on the perimeter road that goes around the back of Disney California Adventure. Not much to see back there - a few glimpses into Cars Land, but nothing that I stopped for. The mile 2 mark was near the beginning of that section.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We came into Disney California Adventure at the parade gate next to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, and the Jedi Master was there at the Mile 3 sign - giving some runners a "Force push" if they needed it.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

Mickey and Minnie were near the finish line!

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I almost crossed the finish line (in front of the Little Mermaid building) before I realized I hadn't taken a picture of it, so I had to backtrack a few steps. The Jedi Master/race announcer at the finish didn't say anything, but he rolled his eyes. :-)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

My time was 34:49 for 3.1 miles - not bad considering the photo stops. I ran a little faster than I would have if it had been a longer race. The race medal isn't actually metal, it's plastic, but a nice design.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I was wondering how they were going to get everyone out of the park since it needed to be ready to open within less than two hours of the race finishing - they did that by not giving us anything to do. :-) From the finish near Little Mermaid they funneled us out to the area in front of Grizzly Rapids, which is where the refreshments were. There was no entertainment, so there was really nothing more to do except to walk out the gate into Downtown Disney.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I got back to our room and the race was still going on for another 40 minutes after that - we could see them near the Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta restaurant. I hadn't noticed that they had the World of Color fountains going when I finished!

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I have to say that I really enjoyed the 5K. It's a much more civilized and pleasant experience! It didn't start so insanely early (6:45 instead of 6:00), and there were a lot fewer people (5,000 as opposed to 15,000), which made the course a lot less congested. The course was largely in the parks, which is always the most interesting part of any Disney race. It was definitely a family experience - I saw lots of families running it together, including some with some 6-7-year-olds (who were ahead of me!) And it was nice and short - 3.1 miles - and I was done and back in our room less than an hour after it started! It was a lot of fun - I'd do it again.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

By the time you most of you read this we will be doing the half marathon - I will post a quick update here with our times after we finish, and a more detailed report Monday or Tuesday.

We're done - Lee finished in 2:16, and Kristine and I finished in 3:07:58 - I was very happy with that time. I feel great - actually less tired after walking 13.1 miles than I was after running 3.1 yesterday. Go figure. :-)



September 5, 2011

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - The Results

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I'll have a more detailed half marathon report tomorrow - it's been a long and busy day. After the race this morning we spent time in the parks and saw World of Color tonight, so I haven't had time to write anything up yet.

The important part is that Lee and I both finished the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon and earned both our Disneyland medal and our Coast-to-Coast medal! His time was 2:16:04, his best Disney time ever (since he wasn't running with me I wasn't slowing him down by taking photos!) And, very important, his knees didn't bother him. My time was 3:07:58, but since I was walking it (mostly - we ran a little bit), I was very happy with that - and I felt great the whole time - better than I've ever felt when I ran an entire race. But we're both pretty tired tonight.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - The Results



Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

The "All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland" blog is pleased to welcome guest blogger Jason of www.disneygeek.com. Jason will be a continuing contributor here - we hope that you will enjoy his photos and updates as much as we do.

About Jason:

Greetings. I'm Jason and I will be popping up from time to time to update you on various projects or events happening around the Disneyland Resort.

I am an engineer by trade and have always been fascinated with how things work and are created. I live in Southern California and visit the Disneyland Resort a couple of times a month. I spend quite a bit of my "Disney time" observing the construction and changes around the parks and resorts.

I have had an online presence since my college days in the mid-90s. In 2000, with the pending expansion of the Disneyland Resort and the relative affordability of digital cameras, I updated my site and relaunched it as disneygeek.com. Over the years the site has continued to grow but the focus has stayed relatively the same, chronicling my experiences at the Disney themeparks mostly through photography.

I hope you enjoy the perspective I bring and if you ever have any questions, tips, comments, or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment here.

Enjoy,

Jason


Labor Day weekend traditionally marked the end of the summer season and a time for the parks to take a short breather. Not any more at the Disneyland Resort, though. Preparations are well under way at Disneyland for the kickoff of the HalloweenTime season on September 16th with merchandise and decorations finding their way onto Main Street and around the park. Over at DCA the final construction push has begun and the main entrance to the park has been diverted. You now enter and immediately turn and walk down a formerly backstage alley to enter the park so construction on Buena Vista Street can kick into high gear. Over at the Disneyland Hotel they are entering the home stretch of the renovation project as they work to finish the Fantasy Tower, Lobby areas, and E-Ticket Pool. This weekend the Disneyland Resort played host to two running events (I am sure you all saw Laura's posts on the subject). Below are a subset of pictures from my visit. Enjoy!

We start off with what you see when you enter California Adventure. This is the wall that greets you after you pass through the turnstiles. Notice the minimal space between the wall and turnstiles.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

A temporary guest relations trailer since their other locations are in the construction zone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

One of the nicest backstage walkways I have seen. They spent some time, effort, and money to make it look pleasant to walk through (to the left is Soarin to the right is the backside of La Brea bakery at Downtown Disney).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

The construction walls have been painted and finished to match the new entrance. They are lined with attraction posters, concept art, and signs like this one.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1
There is a corridor of walls to guide you through the center of the park. This is great that there are no dead ends, but there are some narrow /curved walkways.
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

A CM stationed at a crossroads to answer questions. Notice the Red Car Track.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

A look at the guide map to help you visualize what is walled off.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

An interesting shot that never existed before. A long look into the Backlot. Before there were trees/planters, etc in the way.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

On to Cars Land. The scaffolding is slowly disappearing and the mountain range is being unveiled.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

A look down Route 66.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

Scaffolding up around the Court House and light poles are going in.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

A closer look at one of the tail fins:

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

From the Fun Wheel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

The fence around the Flying Tires is up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

Looks like a bumper is up around the ride surface as they are preparing for ride testing.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

Over to Disneyland. The Disney Visa kiosk that was outside of the Bank on Main Street is gone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

The stores on Main Street have Halloween decorations and merchandise now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

A shot from the Monorail at the Buena Vista Street work, looking towards the Carthay Circle Theater.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

Looking the other direction towards the park entrance.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

The finish line for the half marathon, this is down the road from ESPN Zone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

A quick look at the Health and Fitness Expo - here is some of the merchandise for the race.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

Plenty of booths that you would expect to see, like this one for shoes.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

But some odd ones like this one for the ABC Prime Time TV lineup.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

And this one for DVC.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

At the runDisney booth - an interesting twist on the glass slipper.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

The front desk area work at the Disneyland Hotel has not begun yet.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

The exterior of the Fantasy Tower looks to be complete.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

The courtyard side, in the foreground work on the E-Ticket pool.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

Still working on the restaurant facades over Goofy's Kitchen and the Coffee House.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 1

Part 2, with additional photos from Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, will be coming soon. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://www.disneygeek.com



September 6, 2011

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

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The 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon started bright and early at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 4. The nice thing about the Disneyland race as opposed to the Disney World races is that most of the hotels (certainly all of the Disney hotels) is within walking distance of the start, so you don't have to get there quite as insanely early because you're not depending on the buses. Our wakeup call was 4:15, and we were at the pre-race area at 5:00.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Unfortunately we missed the Team AllEars photo by a few minutes...By 5:00 the DJ was encouraging everyone to start heading to the start corrals. Another nice thing about the Disneyland race is that the start corrals aren't very far away, unlike at Epcot, where it's at least 1/2 mile (I think it's even longer than that).

There were lots of porta-potties, and the lines weren't too long.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Kristine and I said goodbye to Lee - he was in Corral B and we were in E.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

We were on one of the road ramps on Disneyland Drive - across from us was Corral G, which was on the ramp that goes the opposite direction.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

We did get to see a nice sunrise (no the corral didn't have bars - it's the fence along the side of the ramp). It was really a nice morning - still cool, but warm enough that I didn't need to don the very fetching trash bag that I had brought with me. :-) It was probably 65 or so.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

The race went off right at 6:00. They sent the corrals off 5 minutes apart, so Corral E went off at 6:20. We could hear what was going on at the start though we couldn't see it, and we heard a nice shoutout to Team AllEars when Corral D went off. There were no fireworks for the starts, but each corral got its own "Get Ready, GO" countdown.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

And Mickey and Minnie were there, too.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Kristine and I started off running a nice warm-up pace, but pretty soon went back to a (fast) walk. Mile 1 went pretty quickly, and we went into Disney California Adventure (by the Tower of Terror) not long after.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

With all of the construction going on there we didn't spend as much time in DCA as usual - we went down Hollywood Blvd, turned left towards the Golden Vine Winery, then right in front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure, past Grizzly River Run, and out into Downtown Disney near Soarin'. Usually that's where the mile 2 marker is, but it was in Disneyland on Main Street!

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

It didn't seem to me like there were as many characters out this year, and since I was walking and not running I didn't really want to take the time to stop. The only one I really regret not stopping for was Darth Vader in Tomorrowland. Pretty long line for him, though.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Because of the construction in DCA they had to make the Disneyland part of the course longer so that we'd still get out onto the city streets at about Mile 4. So it was pretty circuitous - we ran up Main Street and into Tomorrowland, then went counter-clockwise around the Matterhorn and turned left into Fantasyland. We ran past the carousel, and then through the castle.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Then we were off into Frontierland and past New Orleans Square and out through Critter Country where we went backstage by Splash Mountain. The Mile 3 mark was back there. We came back into Toon Town by Mickey's house (I think this is the first time the half marathon course has gone through Toon Town), and around "it's a small world" to the parade gate there.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Backstage again for a while until we came out onto Disneyland Drive again - not too far from where we'd started almost an hour before! - near Mile 4.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

At that point I told Kristine: "Well, the fun part is over now." There's not very much that's "Disney" about the rest of the race. And it's too bad that all of the park stuff and character interaction takes place so early in the race when everyone is still so bunched together and the lines are so much longer.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

I guess the good part is that all of that makes the first four miles go really fast, and so for me it's like the real race doesn't even start until mile 4. I really enjoyed walking the race with Kristine - because we were walking and not running it was still easy to converse and that made the miles go a lot faster. She started having fun with posing for my mile marker sign photos - she cracks me up.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

The people of the city of Anaheim really do their best to make our tour of the industrial park a little more entertaining - there are mariachi and Polynesian dancer groups that we see every year, and lots of high school bands and cheerleaders to encourage and motivate us. I think the cheerleaders might burn as much energy as the runners do!

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day


My second favorite part of the race (after running in the parks) is the section near the Honda Center where we drop down onto the Santa Ana Trail and run along the riverbed for a while. The dirt feels really good after all of the asphalt. It's narrower there, though, so that makes it a little more of a challenge when there are so many people. Kristine and I went single file there. (We tried to be considerate to others and do that in places that were narrow.) Lee called me then and told me that he had finished in 2 hours and 16 minutes. I was very happy to hear that because he's had some knee problems recently and hasn't been able to train very much. But he did really well and his knees didn't bother him during the race (and so far, so good afterwards).

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

We came up out of the riverbed at Mile 9, and then were on to Angel Stadium. This year the course again took us onto the dirt part of foul territory all the way from right field around to left field, and we could see ourselves on the Jumbotron as we got to third base. Running through the stadium like that is always a thrill, and there's always people in the stands cheering us on.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Mile 10 is not far outside the Stadium, and that's always a milestone for me - at 10 miles I KNOW that I am going to be able to do the last 3.1 miles. But it's kind of a slog from there - there's not really anything to see, though there were still lots of bands and cheerleaders. At Mile 12 we went backstage at DCA along the perimeter road that runs behind it. Not much to see there, though they had two of the big puppets out.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

But by then we knew we were getting REALLY close! We crossed Disneyland Drive and went behind the Paradise Pier - I was jogging and Kristine was skipping at that point. That last .2 miles has metal railing on either side of us to separate the runners from the cheering crowds, and we smiled and waved at the lady holding the sign saying "Complete stranger, I'm cheering for you, too!" :-)

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Chip was standing just in front of the finish line greeting runners as we finished. Our time was 3:07:58, which I was very happy with, since we were walking the course and not running. That's a 14:20 min/mile average pace, but includes photo stops (mostly very short ones) and two restroom stops. We trained at a 13:55 pace, knowing that we wouldn't be able to sustain that through a half marathon, given stops and all. I actually expected our overall pace in the race to be closer to 15 minutes/mile, so I was really thrilled about 14:20! We jogged some - not more than a couple minutes at a time, though, and probably not much more than a mile overall. It did help us make up some time.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

The sun was out so it felt a lot warmer than it was - we were very grateful for the packages of moist towels that they were handing out to the runners.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Kristine got her very first medal - and she went from saying "Never again" at the beginning of the race to "Next time..." at the end. :-) She did great, and I really enjoyed doing this with her. And yes, I would love to do it again with her!

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

After we'd gotten our half marathon medals I went to get my Coast-to-Coast medal! Quinn Shurian, who was one of the 2010 Disneyland Ambassadors, put it around my neck. It was a great moment! I was a little disappointed that the medal doesn't have the year on it like the previous ones have had.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

It was another great Disneyland Half Marathon - this was my fourth. Disneyland, the City of Anaheim, and runDisney put on a terrific event. I wish they could have some Disney character interaction at later points in the race, but that's really the only thing I can think of to improve it.

I have to say that I really enjoyed walking the race instead of running it - yes, it took longer, but I felt so much better during the race (particularly at the end) and after the race than I usually do. I was not nearly as hot and uncomfortable as I would have been if I had run it. I'm seriously considering doing more walking than running in distance races - going to a 4 minute walk/1 minute run rather than vice versa. Being a walker instead of a runner this time gave me a little bit different perspective, too. Going slower I had a chance to see things that I think I would have missed if I had been running. As a walker I tried to be courteous and aware and NOT do the things that walkers do which always drive me crazy when I'm running. For example, Kristine and I stayed mostly to the side (except when passing slower walkers) and we went single file when the course was narrow.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

There were 15 of my fellow Team AllEars members who ran the half marathon, too. Congratulations to: Dominic Abram, Jill Bent, Jessica Brach, Dave Dunkowski, Helen Dunn, Dan Fulk, Stan Harris, MaryJean Kancel, Kerry Lenny, Jamison Reynolds, David Schaefer, Mike Scopa, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, Laura Torok, and Tim Tosten. Everyone finished and did great - several personal bests in there. Most of the team posed with their medals in Disneyland later that day (unfortunately Lee and I were in DCA and missed it). This photo courtesy of Helen Dunn:

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Lee and I are pleased to be part of Team AllEars 2012. For those of you who might not know about Team AllEars, you can read about us here:
Team AllEars 2012.

But the main thing to know is that we support the incredible Deb Wills and her dedication to fighting breast cancer and raising money for the Avon Foundation. We have all pledged to raise at least $500 each and that's where we could really use your help. No donation is too small, and I would ask you to please consider supporting us in this.

If you would like to contribute, please visit Deb's Avon Breast Cancer page and click on the pink "Donate Now" box. On the "Personal Note", please put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" so they can track our fundraising efforts. If you wish to remain anonymous, just put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" in the "How would you like your name to appear" box.

Thank you, and I hope you've enjoyed my blogs about the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend! If you have any questions about running (or walking!) Disney races I'd be happy to try and answer them. Our next race is the Inaugural Chip and Dale Marathon Relay at Walt Disney World on January 8, 2012.


September 9, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

The "All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland" blog is pleased to welcome guest blogger Jason of www.disneygeek.com. Jason will be a continuing contributor here - we hope that you will enjoy his photos and updates as much as we do.

Guest blogger Jason of www.disneygeek.com continues with Part 2 of his photo tour of the Disneyland Resort.

In Disneyland, the back portion of the Emporium is walled off.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

The front part of the store is open now. It has been reconfigured to allow for better guest flow.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

No noticeable changes to the displays overhead.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Halloween Merchandise.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

This is where the cash registers used to be in the middle of the room.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Where they are now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

The back of the Penny Arcade is walled off.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Some signs on the walls of the Plaza Pavilion advertising the new bakery.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

I swung through Plaza Gardens to get some "before" shots since work on the new Fantasy Faire should be starting soon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

The wood walkway through Frontierland is walled off.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

The new balcony extensions are installed in the Golden Horseshoe

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

A closer look. It was still closed today, but guessing it will reopen soon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

More Halloween props, this time in Frontierland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

The Haunted Mansion is closed until September 16th for its annual transformation.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Speakers and projectors are visible around Space Mountain in preparation for Ghost Galaxy.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Matterhorn is back in operation. Same old sleds.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2
A look at more of the Fall/Halloween windows on Main Street.
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2
Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Back to DCA to end the evening. The sign over the temp entrance/exit is like
a road sign to help you find your way.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Some light-up Halloween merchandise spotted at ElecTRONica.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

All the lights look to be on now in Paradise Garden. Here is a quick shot of one of the seating areas.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Work lights were on over at the Radiator Springs Racers.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

The exit crowd after World of Color. It moved fairly well considering the large number of guests trying to funnel through the small opening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Thought this was an interesting shot with the fireworks at Disneyland in the distance.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/2/11, Part 2

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://www.disneygeek.com



September 14, 2011

Touring Disney Parks with a Baby

Guest blogger Becky Breiland of the Mousetalgia podcast (www.mousetalgia.com) shares her experiences at Disneyland and Walt Disney World as a new mom.

Whenever I told people that we were headed to a Disney park with a 3-month-old in tow, they looked at me like I was crazy. During our first hour at the Magic Kingdom, I was almost convinced that all the naysayers were right. We made it to the hub (coming from our room at the Contemporary) before the precious girl decided it was time to eat. I sat down on a bench to feed her. About 5 minutes later a very loud street show began, resulting in a screaming, frightened child. Minutes later, a diaper issue of epic proportions presented itself. Not having figured out where the closest bathroom was, and not knowing how close we were to the Baby Care Center, I decided to just change her in the stroller while she continued to scream because of all the noise. By the end of all this, we were all exhausted and sweaty.

I'm happy to report that this is where the difficulty ended. The rest of the trip was an absolute breeze (for the most part). In fact, I'm almost convinced that 3 months might be the easiest age to take a child to a Disney Park. At 3 months, they still sleep anywhere, don't ask for souvenirs, and feeding them is pretty simple. We've taken our daughter to Disney World at 3 months old, and Disneyland at 5 months and 7 months old. So what's the secret to staying happy with an infant in tow?

First off, consider the wonders of Disneyland over Disney World. While I love both resorts, I tend to be more charmed by Disneyland. This is especially true when carrying an infant around the parks. The size of Disneyland is much more manageable than what I found Disney World to be. We could walk to both parks from our hotel, and were never more than 15 minutes away from the peace and quiet of our hotel room. This was a huge advantage over the sometimes 30-40 minute commute from the parks to a hotel room at the World, depending on what park we had chosen to visit.

I credit a large part of our happiness in touring the parks with an infant to a good baby carrier. It quickly became clear that viewing the parks from a stroller was very overwhelming for our little one. Baby wearing has become quite trendy in the last few years, and is also very practical. The basic idea is that the baby is strapped to the adult, using any number of products, allowing baby to feel close and secure, and giving the wearer two free hands and a ton of mobility. Once I put our child in the carrier, she could not have been happier. During our first two trips, we used the Baby Bjorn Active, and have now graduated to the Ergo Performance Carrier. Both have been excellent. Our baby absolutely loves going to the parks because it means that she gets to hang out close to mom all day and there are always people to look at. Additionally, she'll sleep in both carriers. We have continued to tour the parks while she slept because we could still visit the shows and attractions. I love that there is no stroller to park or retrieve, and crowds are not nearly as overwhelming because she is kept close to me. When our Mouseketeer was three months old, I ate almost every dinner of our 14 day trip with her asleep in the baby carrier. It was very convenient.

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While our baby does sleep well in the carriers, the importance of an afternoon nap should not be overlooked. Many people have sung the praises of the afternoon nap. This is not only important for baby, it is also important for mom. While I tend to be a napper at the parks, even without the baby, this 1-2 hour break (minimum) from carrying her around and time to relax was a necessity. Our daughter also seems to enjoy the time to spread out and she needed the quiet, climate controlled room at the hotel.

This brings me to my next point, a little more space may be worth a few extra dollars out of your pocket. I really enjoy having a couch in the hotel room. It provides an additional place to nurse and is a great makeshift changing table (we always travel with changing mats to put over the couch). We also find that everyone sleeps better if the portable crib can be placed further away. A good night's sleep helps to make a more enjoyable vacation and so I'm willing to pay a little more to make sure that happens.

Finally, use the Baby Care Centers. I found the Baby Care Centers, especially in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, to be extremely nice. The Baby Care Centers (in all 6 U.S. Parks) provide a place for moms to nurse, high chairs, large changing tables, places to rinse cloth diapers, and small toilets for potty training kids. They also sell a variety of baby items from food to diapers. Disneyland's Baby Care Center is located on the right side of Main Street (when facing the castle), just before you get to the Plaza Pavilion. Disney California Adventure's Baby Care Center is a little more out of the way, at the "back" of the park near to what has been Mission Tortilla Factory. I have no problem nursing in public. However, the air-conditioned quiet of the Baby Care Centers always breathes new life into both me and my baby. Because of the size of Disneyland and the location of the center, it gets my vote for best Baby Care Center in the U.S. Parks. It is completely worth the extra five minute walk it may take you to get there. I've been offered glasses of water by the friendly attendants, and they always coo over my child. Anything I could possibly need I can find there, and my daughter really appreciated the softer changing tables that they provide.

All in all, these trips have been a blast. I love that my daughter laughs out loud on Pirates of the Caribbean, and that the minute Minnie shows up she wants to eat her nose. While visiting the Disney Parks with an infant may be different, it is still special and worth doing. I'm glad I didn't let other people's intimidation stand in my way.

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About the author: Becky Breiland has been traveling to Walt Disney World and Disneyland since she was three. One of her fondest memories is getting Mickey Waffles for breakfast on those early Disney trips. Becky, her husband, and two friends comprise the Mousetalgia.com podcasting team. Mousetalgia is a show dedicated to the exploration of Disney's past, present and future, emphasizing the theme park culture and the people who have imagined Walt's happy place into existence. Go "Carpe Kingdom!"


September 17, 2011

Aulani - Preview

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As you may have read in this week's AllEars Newsletter, I will be attending the Grand Opening of Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii next week. (Yes, I know, but someone has to do it. ;-) And there have to be a few advantages to living on the left coast!)

I love Hawaii, it's probably my third-favorite vacation destination (after Yosemite and Disney). It's so beautiful - the colors of the water and the sky and all of the wonderful tropical flowers and plants are so different from any other place that I've visited. Even the air in Hawaii is unique - I think you could plop me down blindfolded in Hawaii and as soon as I was outside I'd know where I was. My dad calls it "soft air". And I think that's a good way to describe it - it just caresses your skin in this wonderful way.

Ahem, back to the preview...Disney had made available a fair bit of information on Aulani even before it opened to the first official guests on August 29. Throughout the resort's construction there have been a lot of posts on Aulani to the Disney Parks Blog, as well as discussion of it in various press events. At the Disneyland press event in June there was an extended presentation on Aulani, which included the impassioned remarks of a very enthusiastic Joe Rohde, creative director of Aulani. This is a man who loves his job.

How can you watch that and NOT be excited about visiting Aulani?

And I am - excited, that is. Some of the things I'm most looking forward to:

Experiencing the restaurants:

At 'AMA'AMA, "The gourmet chefs use fresh local ingredients and island flavors to create distinctive Hawaiian dishes that juxtapose the traditional with the contemporary." The restaurant features seasonal ingredients and sustainable seafood.

Makahiki - The Bounty of the Islands, features a buffet with "tastes from around the world". On select mornings guests can dine with their favorite Disney characters at "Aunty's Breakfast Celebration at the Makahiki."

The 'Olelo Room looks like a lot of fun - apparently all of the staff there speaks Hawaiian, and guests are encouraged to order in Hawaiian. I'm looking forward to learning some Hawaiian beyond "aloha", "mahalo", and "wiki-wiki." :-)

At One Paddle, Two Paddle, a quick service location offering burgers, wraps, etc., the side dishes are taro chips and carrot-sea asparagus salad. I first tried taro chips when my parents lived in Hawaii for a short time and I loved them - and although I can find them on the mainland they never taste quite as good. I have to admit I have no idea what sea asparagus is, but I want to try it.

And then there's the Waikolohe Valley, a seven-acre water play area. There's all kinds of water activities - pools, a variety of water slides, a lazy river, four whirlpool spas, the Menehune Bridge area for younger guests, and the Rainbow Reef snorkeling lagoon.

I also want to experience the Laniwai Spa. Laniwai means "freshwater heaven". The spa is 18,000 square feet indoors and 5,000 square feet outdoors and offers lots of different spa services. There's also a fitness center.

And I am really, really looking forward to stepping into that beautiful lobby for the first time - it looks breathtaking, with all of that wonderful wood work and all of the artwork by Hawaiian artists.

In the meantime...Quite a few press releases are coming out now that the grand opening is almost upon us - and we'll keep posting them to our Disney News Blog over the next few days.

And don't forget to check out the Sneak Preview of Aulani from AllEars Guest Blogger Jennifer B. - she includes lots of photos, too!

I don't know how to say "Are we there yet?" in Hawaiian, so I offer this instead: E hele kākou! (Let's go!)


(If you have questions about Aulani that you'd like me to research while I'm there, please email your questions to: allearsnet@yahoo.com, and put "Aulani" in the subject line. Finding answers to questions has got to be easier than finding menehune...)


Disclosure: As an invited media guest, AllEars' travel expenses to the Aulani Grand Opening event were paid by the Disney company.



September 18, 2011

Comic-Con versus Expo: You Pays Your Money and You Takes Your Choice.

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If you had a mind to attend conventions concerning Disney matters this summer, you had a plethora of choices, the two largest of which were the Big Daddy San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC,) and the Little Sister D23 Expo. Both offered a number of panels, star showings, and generous helpings of merchandise, but which one should earn a place on your calendar for next year? Well, both, if you can swing it, but barring that, here are some comparisons I noted.

Crowd management: Let's get the elephant out of the room: Both conventions involved a lot of people. A LOT of people. There is actually both good and bad to this--on the one hand, people are good when they're holding your place in line so you can make a run to the restroom, or happily cosplaying...

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...but not so good when they're knifing you in the eye with a pen (http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Comic-99180289.html) over a seat.

At the Expo, people were made to wait in pretty long lines--some people reported waiting something like two hours just to get inside the venue. Upstairs, for the panel discussions, there was usually an entire room filled with a line of people waiting to get into a room, another line of people waiting on standby to get in, and sometimes more people lined up in the hallway in hopes of something miraculously opening up after the standby line had closed. Usually you were looking at a two+ hour wait if you wanted to be reasonably sure of getting in.

This is a lot of people, certainly, but that's just peanuts compared to SDCC. In the first place, all of the tickets for all of the days at SDCC sold out about half a year earlier, compared to the Expo's one. In the second, SDCC presold parking, and most of the parking lots immediately around the San Diego Convention Center sold out pretty early, at prices over twice as much as the Anaheim Convention Center was charging. For the third, as I was walking over the first morning from the parking shuttle, a large grassy area outside the convention center was completely covered with tents providing shade for a huge line that filled the whole area. It turned out to be a line of people waiting for a presentation in the main ballroom that wasn't going to take place for around four hours later.

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You can say the Expo lines were long, because they were, but only at SDCC have I ever waited in lines so long, they extended outside the building, to the point where I was no longer even on the same side of the block as the room I was trying to enter.

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The advantage SDCC had however, was that, as a much larger event, it had way more people working to register people and many more rooms of programming available as alternate programming.

Programming: For the Disney enthusiast, it was kind of slim pickings at the SDCC this year, as Disney more or less pulled a lot of its content to save for its own convention. Don Hahn was supposed to give a talk on creativity (the same talk he later gave at Expo,) but that was cancelled. Their main representation at the Con was on the main floor, in the booths.

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Most of what they displayed was from their TV and Marvel branches, with the heaviest pushes going for the Avengers franchise and their upcoming ABC series, Pan Am.

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While there weren't a ton of Disney celebrities present, there were a few familiar faces present--such as former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, Dick Cook...

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Disney Legend (and voice of Goofy,) Bill Farmer...

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And one I didn't know, Chuck McCann, the original voice of Dreamfinder.

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Meanwhile, at the Expo, all the panels were of course, Disney-related...assuming you could get in to them. Some of the highlights for me included:

Muppets, Princesses and Regis at the Legend's ceremony...

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The inestimable Alice Davis in the It's a Small World panel,

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Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix,

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Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson in The Wonderful Words of Disney...

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and 25 Years of Pixar, with Mark Andrews giving an amazing slow-motion demo of a grenade tossing action scene.

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What the Expo somewhat obviously lacked this year was significant booth presence of Marvel or the TV division (which last Expo had one room all to themselves continuously running TV pilots and doing giveaways.) Possibly they had decided they had run their media blitz earlier at Comic-Con, just as the Archives might have felt that much of their historical contents had already been done at Destination D. This may change for the next Expo, which rumor has scheduled for March, 2013, which would be at a longer interval from both Destination D and SDCC, and might allow for more duplication of content.

Cost: SDCC is typically more expensive on a baseline level--2012 badge prices are running around $150-175 for a four-day pass, and $40 for a single day. Expo, by comparison, was $85-$136 for all three days, depending on when you bought in and what your D23 status was, and $30-$47 for a single day.

Where the Expo prices took off, however, was in the additional status passes, Premiere and Sorcerer, which were $500 and $1,000 respectively. In retrospect, the additional status offerings were probably a smart move for Disney, considering the D23 audience is likely to have more disposable income than the younger SDCC audience, with less of an inclination/physical tolerance for waiting in line for hours. The question becomes: How large a percentage of the Expo population will end up having these priority passes next year? Lines this year were long with fewer obvious attempts at ameliorating them than last time, when they went to a fast-pass system by the end of the weekend--how much worse will it get next year, when arguably more people will buy into the higher tiers, having experienced life in the stand-by queue this year? At what point will they become a necessity to the Expo experience versus a nice (albeit pricey) perk? Only time will tell.

Additional costs have to include hotels as well, if you come from out of the area. While Expo seems a little new to have a huge influence on local hotel prices, beyond the ones like the Hilton Anaheim which is directly adjacent to the convention center, SDCC is a monster that consumes all the housing anywhere around it, at typically inflated rates.

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So what should a body choose? Well, if you have an interest in other areas of pop culture besides Disney, there's little like SDCC for the sheer volume of activities and groups represented. If you're only concerned with the different aspects of what's current with the different branches of the Disney company, then Expo might be for you. Only in it for the history of the Disney company? Consider the Destination D events that alternate years with the Expo.

Of course, there are always other options, including Disney fan-based gatherings, such as the Disneyana Convention...but that's for next time.

September 19, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com was roaming the parks on Friday, September 16, 2011 - the first day of this year's Halloween Time celebration. Here is Part 1 of his photo update, focusing on the Halloween decorations and special events in Disneyland.

The Halloween Time billboards at the Mickey and Friends tram stop look to be the same as last year.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

And the ghostly characters alongside the tram route are in their familiar places.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Main Street is decked out for Halloween.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

They are working on the photo store at the end of Main Street, including repainting the entrance.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

One of the new braille maps.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

A new popcorn bucket option this year - this one seemed to be available only at the popcorn cart near the Haunted Mansion.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Haunted Mansion Holiday just opened for the season and was very busy - standby line of about 50 minutes at about 1:40 in the afternoon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Pooh characters' Meet-and-Greet spot in Critter Country is behind construction walls.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Pooh Corner shop is still open, and has some Halloween merchandise.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Sally was doing meet-and-greet at the Angel Courtyard in New Orleans Square.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Walls are up at the Blue Bayou while the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is undergoing refurbishment.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Ghost Mickey popcorn buckets are available at most of the other popcorn carts around Disneyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Dia de Los Muertos display returns to Zocalo Park.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


Big Thunder Ranch celebrates Halloween.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

And that means elaborately carved pumpkins!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Even the goats are getting into the "spirit".

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

In Fantasyland, the Tangled overlay has been removed (Rapunzel's hair and some signs), though the area is still a Rapunzel meet-and-greet.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Villains have taken over the Small World Mall again for photos. This year only two stations. I seem to remember three the last couple of years.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


In Tomorrowland the R2D2 popcorn buckets are still available. So if you collect popcorn buckets you have a handful of choices in the parks right now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Flag Retreat ceremony with the Dapper Dans and the Disneyland Band in their Halloween costumes.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

In the Disneyland Railroad's Primeval World diorama, the last dino scene is back in operation.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The 80z All Stars performed at Tomorrowland Terrace.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy opened for the season, also.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


I spent some time watching the Ghost Galaxy projections. This year the sound seemed much quieter and not as much activity with the projections, must have been there 10-15 minutes and nothing really happened.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

It dawned on me that I do not think I have walked this way at night and taken any shots of the Star Tours lighting. It cycles through some different light patterns.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


The sign has some animated lights, also.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Headed over to the Haunted Mansion craziness next. It took us several minutes to get to the Fastpass Return queue. (Standby was posted at 75 minutes)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

A look at this year's gingerbread house in the ballroom.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The French Market has a seasonal dessert - this Chocolate Coffin Cake, for $4.99.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1

The Remember, Dreams Come True fireworks show is back (Magical was featured over the summer). Fire has returned to the Indy segment which was great to see!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 1


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com



September 20, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com was roaming the parks on Friday, September 16, 2011 - the first day of this year's Halloween Time celebration. Here is Part 2 of his update, with photos of the construction progress at Disney California Adventure and the Disneyland Hotel.

Here are the new seasonal park maps.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Moving over to Disney California Adventure...

A look toward the entrance of DCA from the monorail. Notice on the left the old ATM building is gone and the front of the restroom/locker building has been removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Circling back around for another pass. A look into the former Greetings from California store. It appears to be completely gutted now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

On the other side, looking toward the Carthay Circle Theater.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The Carthay Circle Theater received its topper since my last visit.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Now that the Greetings from California store is closed, the former Cars Meet-and-Greet location across from Soarin' is a temporary Photo Pass and merchandise location.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Some of the walls have been moved around a little. You can now walk right up to/by the Condor Flats sign.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The planter area is out from behind walls and now sports low rails and more green.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The demolition work on the stores has been progressing.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

They look to be fairly well gutted.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The Greetings from California sign is slowly coming down.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Palm trees are now in place by the Pump House at the end of Buena Vista Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Moving to Cars Land, the Cadillac Range is more impressive with every visit. There is quite a bit of greenery in on the back left of this shot now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The framing of the courthouse is moving along.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The scaffolding around the radiator cap is slowly being removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Several workers were gathered around the turntables at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree - they were testing the ride system.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

There's more visible progress every time.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The telephone poles are making their way down the street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Some of the nice wood railings along Paradise Bay have been replaced with these metal designs. So you can no longer rest/lean on them and take pictures (comfortably).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2


If you were curious how they were attached here is an unfinished area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Duffy's photo area is decked out for Halloween.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

And Duffy has a Halloween costume, too.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

California Screamin' is closed for some scheduled work. They are replacing the loop and painting.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

These photos of Cars Land were taken from the Fun Wheel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Notice all the trees being brought in on the right. Also the walls are being extended behind the Cozy Cones. No visible progress on the cone itself though.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Here you can get a better view of some of the trees that are being brought in.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Hmm.. Thought this was interesting. A group walking the Radiator Springs Racers track. I could not tell if they were inspecting it or if they were just walking.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Flo's V-8 Cafe, and in the background trees are going in to the Luigi's Flying Tires queue.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Lizzie's Curios.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

More scaffolding is down and you can now start to make out one of the bridges on Radiator Springs Racers.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Looking at the Carthay now. Here you get a good view of the elements that have been added around the top.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

The window of Tower of Terror's Gift shop.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

ElecTRONica is closed till the end of the month, and this area between Schmoozies and MuppetVision is walled off. You had to cut through the Muppets queue or go all the way around by Monsters, Inc.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Another look at the Carthay Circle Theater and the access path between Condor Flats and Hollywood Studios Backlot.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Construction walls are up around the front entrance of the Disneyland Hotel. But they were nice enough to put some windows in so I could take pictures of what was going on behind them.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2


The lobby work is progressing and some of the recently finished areas are open and accessible. The new clean look really brought to mind the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2


Work is still continuing in other areas.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

New pavement between the Fantasy Tower and the E-ticket pool area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

I thought this area was interesting - you can see the new (left) and the old.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

A look at the E-Ticket pool area (this is the old Neverland Pool area). The exterior of the Fantasy Tower looks to be done.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/16/11 Part 2



Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com



September 21, 2011

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

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Aloha from Aulani, the new Disney resort that recently opened at Ko Olina, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.

It's been a long day, so this is going to be shorter than I had intended it to be. Disney arranged for some of us to go on a sunset catamaran cruise tonight, so between that and traveling much of the day I haven't had a chance to do much more than wander around the resort for about an hour this afternoon. So this is going to be some photos and a few first impressions.

The resort, or what I've seen of it so far, is beautiful. Everything you've heard about how breathtaking the lobby is - it's all true.

This was the first photo I took after we arrived - this is one side of the Ewa Tower and part of the porte cochere.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

From the inside of the lobby looking up.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

Same windows, different time of day:

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

The lobby hallway.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

The Ewa Tower - the other tower is the Waianae Tower.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

Looking down on Waikohole Valley from the lobby lanai.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

I have a standard hotel room, rather than a DVC Studio. Two queen beds (I'll let you know how comfortable the bed is tomorrow), free wireless internet, a refrigerator, safe, in-room coffeemaker (and supplies to make coffee or tea). One interesting thing - the sliding glass door actually has a screen door on it - not something that I usually see in hotel rooms. Makes a lot of sense here, though, when you want to have the door open but don't want to let the bugs in!

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

The catamaran trip I took this evening was run by the same contractor that is running the Adventures by Disney catamaran/snorkel trip that Disney is offering. Because of our timing, ours was a sunset trip instead of the usual day trip (1:00-4:00) There was no snorkeling with ours, either, but they do that on the regular trip. I talked to the captain about the usual excursion and will have more details on that when I have a little more time to write about it. I'll say this - it was a VERY smooth trip, with much calmer water than I expected. The captain said it's like that, and that if you can handle an airline flight to Hawaii without getting motion sick, you can handle the trip on his catamaran. (Quite honestly I'd say even normal bumpiness on an airplane was a lot worse than the catamaran!)

Our ship was a 53' catamaran - once we got out of the harbor they put up the sails.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

We sailed along the coast past Aulani, and had a different view of it from the boat.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

There was a nice sunset - no green flash, though.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 1

More tomorrow - if you have specific photos you'd like to see, you can post a comment to this blog - just remember to put the word "blog" in the box provided.


Disclosure: As an invited media guest, AllEars' travel expenses to the Aulani Grand Opening event were paid by the Disney company.



September 22, 2011

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

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Aloha from Aulani!

It was another beautiful and very full day - but I had a chance to enjoy the resort a bit today. There's still an awful lot to see and do, though!

I think the best way to tell it is in photos - a picture is worth 1000 words!

This is the beach behind Aulani. As you can see it's a beautiful white sand beach, and pretty wide by Hawaii standards - but of course it's also man-made. The water is very calm and it's very safe for swimming - no waves to speak of.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

Here you can see the breakwater. There are 4 of these man-made lagoons here - Aulani is on Lagoon 1, Kohola, which I believe is Hawaiian for "whale". There's a 1.5 mils path that runs the length of Ko Olina behind all the resorts which is publicly accessible (the beaches are publicly accessible). There were quite a few people out walking or jogging this morning, and not all of them were hotel guests!

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

There was no one out at the pool yet, since it doesn't open until 8:00, and it was about 7:00 at the time.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

They have these menehune statues hiding all over the resort - there are quite a few in the Waikolohe Valley. (Waikolohe means "Waters of Mischief"). I found some yesterday, and spotted quite a few more today.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

My best find, so far, is this one - which is in just *one* of the six elevator cars in the Waianae Tower. I happened to see it on my way back from the pool today when I did NOT have my camera...and later on I tried unsuccessfully to get on that elevator, but it simply would not come to my floor. I did manage it tonight, though.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

At Makahiki, the buffet restaurant, there is a character breakfast on selected days of the week - and today was one of the days. Mickey wasn't very busy and saw me taking photos from the lobby lanai and gave me a wave. :-)

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

I had the opportunity to visit the rooms they made available to us to visit, which were a standard hotel room, an accessible hotel room with king bed, a dedicated two-bedroom DVC villa, and a Grand Villa. They were all beautiful, of course, but the latter was simply stunning. There will eventually be 21 Grand Villas, all with a spectacular ocean view.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

Here is the kitchen in the one/two bedroom villas - these cabinets are just beautiful. The wood seems to glow from within. Note the rice cooker on the counter - apparently Disney researched timeshares in Hawaii and found that rice cookers were the #1 requested item that was not standard for most timeshares.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

I also took a tour of the Laniwai Spa (lah-nee-vai), which means "freshwater heaven". I'd read the press release about it being 18,000 square feet inside and 5,000 square feet outside, but those numbers are kind of meaningless until you actually walk through it yourself. It's really big - but it's not all one huge space, but everything is interconnected with its own story, like the lumiakalani at the end of the 'Ohia Corridor.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

Most of the outdoor space is devoted the the Kula Wai - the hydrotherapy garden. There are herbal pools, a reflexology path, whirlpools, and six rain showers. (Access to the Kula Wai is included with a spa treatment.) It looks wonderful - I'll be checking it out for myself on Friday. (The things I do in the name of research! :-) )

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

This afternoon I had some free time so I went to the pool area - Waikolohe Valley - and checked out some of the mischief that's going on in those waters. So here's Aulani Pool 101:

To use the pool, slides, etc. and to get a towel, you must have a wristband. You get this at the towel station near the main pool and you must show your room key. There's a different color every day - collect the whole set! (Just kidding!)

After I got my towel and wristband the first place i went was the slides. Tubestone Curl is the tube slide - pick up a one- or two-person tube at the bottom of the stairs first. It was fun, though the attendant at the top warned me I might need to pick up my feet to avoid banging them on the side - and that was true, but thanks to his warning I didn't have that problem. At the bottom you can either get out or get into the lazy river stream.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

Volcanic Vertical is the body slide. It's completely enclosed and dark until you get pretty close to the end. Not recommended for those with claustrophobia. I got dunked pretty good at the end, but it was not bad. This is where it dumps you out, and you can either get out, or go through the grotto into the main pool.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

Waikolohe Stream is the "lazy river". This was a little too slow-moving for me, and I didn't stay in very long. I think there are some other more mischievous features further along.

The main pool is not very deep, but was a pleasant swim. There are zero-entry points for both the lazy river and the main pool.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2


There is a really cool hot whirlpool spa on a terrace above the main pool. (Hmm...a "cool" hot whirlpool is rather an oxymoron, isn't it?) It has a waterfall falling into it - and it's hot water. I did not expect that, but it makes sense, because otherwise the water would cool down way too fast.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

There's another terraced hot whirlpool spa that's on two levels, each with an infinity edge - and it would be a great place to watch the sunset.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

One of the most fun features is the Menehune Bridge. This is the kid's water play area "intended for guests under 48" - but since there weren't any of them around at the time, I wandered through it. :-)

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

There's lots of menehune actually on the structure that are dumping gourds of water on unsuspecting heads, or even some of them teaming up to direct a stream of water. Really a fun area with great detail.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

I had a good time during my pool time - there's a lot to do in Waikolohe Valley.

This was tonight's sunset, taken from the terrace below the 'AMA'AMA restaurant.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

Tomorrow evening is Aulani's Grand Opening Ceremony. Throughout the day I'll be exploring more of the resort and trying to get answers to some of your questions. Remember when I said answering questions had to be easier than finding menehune? I think sometimes it might be easier to find menehune...

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 2

Disclosure: As an invited media guest, AllEars' travel expenses to the Aulani Grand Opening event were paid by the Disney company.


September 23, 2011

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

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Aloha!

The big event today was the Grand Opening Ceremony held soon after sunset this evening. It was beautiful, heartfelt, moving, and powerful. It was truly a privilege to be here to experience it.

The video (two parts) is at the end of this blog entry - it's about 22 minutes long. If you don't have time for all of it, watch part 2 - that's where we saw the live performance of "E Ala E" by Hawaiian singer/songwriter Keali'i Reichel, who wrote an original chant for Aulani (which is in part 1 of the video), and also heard Lehua Kalima
sing "When you Wish Upon a Star" in Hawaiian. Just beautiful.

The ceremony was held on a stage they set up down on the beach. As we were waiting before it started, I looked up and saw a rainbow...it started from the ocean side, and then the arc continued to grow until it was over Aulani. I am NOT making this up, nor is this a photo-shopped image. Talk about auspicious beginnings!

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

Behind us, the sun was starting to set.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3


As it got darker we could see more of the colorful light projections on the walls of Aulani.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3


Here's a few still images from the ceremony, which featured Hawaiian music and dancers, including the chant composed for Aulani.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

There was a rainbow to end the evening, too.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

And some of the Aulani cast members stood on the balconies waving colorful banners.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

Mickey, Minnie, Bob Iger, and Tom Staggs posed for photos with Halau Hula Olana, the children's hula group that participated in the ceremony. (Aren't they adorable?)

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

The light show on the building continued for a while after the ceremony ended.

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3

Aulani Grand Opening - Day 3


It was a great evening.

(Click on the YouTube logo at the bottom of each video to watch the full-resolution version)




Disclosure: As an invited media guest, AllEars' travel expenses to the Aulani Grand Opening event were paid by the Disney company.



September 24, 2011

Blue Sky Cellar Update - Imagineering Buena Vista Street

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Since Laura is in Hawaii covering the Aulani Grand Opening, she asked her poor left-behind husband to attend the press event at Disney California Adventure where they unveiled the latest exhibits in the Blue Sky Cellar. For those who may not be familiar with the Blue Sky Cellar, it is named after the initial free-thinking process imagineers go through when designing something new, a process they call "blue sky." Disney has been using the Blue Sky Cellar as a preview center for all the upgrades happening at California Adventure, but with the added purpose of showing the imagineering process behind what is being built. The current incarnation of Blue Sky Cellar is devoted to Buena Vista Street, the soon-to-be entrance to Disney California Adventure.

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We started with Alex Grayman, Art Director for the Blue Sky Cellar, giving us a brief description of each of the static displays, all of which have been updated. He explained that because the exhibits focus on, and use artifacts from, the imagineering process, there will not always be a 100% match between what is on exhibit and what actually gets built.

Alex said that the "backstory" for Buena Vista Street is that it is the Los Angeles Walt experienced in the 1920s-1930's when he was just starting out. Buena Vista Street also pays homage to the name of the street where Walt built the Walt Disney Studio. Buena Vista Street as represented in California Adventure is not a real place, but more of an idea. It includes elements that might have inspired a young Walt Disney - like the names of the businesses and the clothing worn by the cast members. Buena Vista Street is capped off by the Carthay Circle Theater which is important in the Walt Disney story because it is where Snow White premiered in 1937. It is also important to California Adventure because it will be this park's "castle".

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Three new "vintage style" attraction posters


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This display focuses on the Red Car trolley


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This display shows the exterior elevations for all of the buildings on Buena Vista Street


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This display is a Cars Land "tease"


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A large 3D model of Buena Vista Street


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A close up of the entrance gates - note the original location of the "Storytellers" statue with the flag pole


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A close-up of the 3D model showing the Carthay Theater


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Another angle on the hub and this shows some of the motion elements - the monorail and trolley


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Here is the a close-up of the fountain and the other side of the hub


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This static display focused on interior design, a discipline of Imagineering not highlighted in the Blue Sky Cellar before


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Costume design - also a new discipline to highlight


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A notional Imagineer's Desk devoted to the Carthay Circle Theater

Alex finished by saying that he expects the Blue Sky exhibits will shift to focus on Cars Land in Spring 2012. He said that discussion is on-going about what to do after the California Adventure upgrades finish with Cars Land next summer, but they are talking about keeping the Blue Sky Cellar as preview center and Imagineering showcase for all of the Disney parks.

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The Blue Sky Cellar is roughly half exhibit space and half movie theater. The imagineers have updated the short video to go along with the static exhibit focus on Imagineering Buena Vista Street.

The video starts with short segments from many members of the design team who speak to the overall idea of Buena Vista Street and then to details of key elements. For example, how the paint and tile colors Clarabelle's Ice Cream Parlor are based on ice cream and how the Carthay Circle Theatre embodies the culmination of Walt's dream with the successful premiere of Snow White.

This new video also includes a number of short segments from Imagineers talking about their Disney memories growing up and how those memories motivate what they do as Imagineers. Several of the stories are very touching and each ends with the line "I am (name), and I am an Imagineer". I could see that theme being carried out in future videos here in the Blue Sky Cellar. The video ends with a more general segment on Walt realizing his dreams and how Imagineers focus on making guests' dreams come true.

The Imagineering Buena Vista Street video shows continuously, with a few minute break between showings. Even the "Next Showing in X minutes" artwork projected during these breaks is cool, featuring photos of imagineering activities where selected elements of the photos are animated.


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Ray Spencer, the Creative Director for Buena Vista Street, then took us for a second tour of the exhibit area providing additional detail about the design of Buena Vista Street.

He started by pointing out that most Disney parks have a comfortable, safe, warm "main street" that is the setting for many great childhood memories. California Adventure was missing a main street and Buena Vista Street will fill the void. Buena Vista Street, representing Walt's early career, is also a complement to Main Street in Disneyland which represents Walt's youth. Ray also pointed out that the hub at the end of Buena Vista Street is deliberately located off-center to the street. This is to keep sight lines "close" to make the guest experience at the hub more intimate. He explained how the elevated train track and train station at Disneyland create that same effect at the head of Main Street.

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A key element of the hub is the "Storytellers" statue of the young Walt and Mickey looking forward to what is ahead of them. However, the original plan was to have the statue located right inside the entrance gates in a small raised area (you can see this in one of the 3D model closeups). The Imagineers instead moved the statue to the hub area and lowered it to ground level with no fence to make it more accessible to guests. Again, this is in contrast to Disneyland where the "Partners" statue is more monumental and represents Walt's accomplishments. That would have been enough of a reason to move the statue, but the Imagineers came up with even more reasons - better backdrops for photography, better traffic flow, better sun angles to light the statue and, perhaps most important, not having guests focused on the statue get run over by the trolley.

Miscellaneous details provided by Ray include:


  • All of the business names on Buena Vista Street have some Disney significance. For example, do you know who Fiddler, Fifer and Practical are?
  • The imagineers developed a story for the proprietor of every business and used that story to drive the building decor.
  • There is lots of interior and exterior period detail - including 400 different types of hand crafted tile.
  • Buena Vista Street will continue the Disney tradition of tribute windows and there will be interesting sounds coming out of some of these upper story windows.
  • The Trolley Treats candy shop will have a working model of a never built attraction called Big Rock Candy Mountain.
  • The fountain in the hub is based on a combination of the fountain in front of the Pasadena Water Department and one at Griffith Park.
  • None of buildings on Buena Vista Street actually existed, but they are new designs inspired by real Los Angeles buildings from the right time period. Bonus trivia fact: the buildings on Hollywood Boulevard in California Adventure are based on actual buildings.
  • The Carthay Circle Theater is based on a real building that was torn down 1969. It will hold a restaurant and lounge and will be filled with lots of Disney artifacts.
  • The Red Car Trolley is based on the LA Pacific Electric Railway, which was the largest electric railway in the world in the 1920's with over 1000 miles of track.
  • There is a logic to how the business are laid out on the street - starting with restrooms, lockers and shops for stuff you might have forgotten (camera batteries, sunscreen, sunglasses) and moving on to souvenir shops and then to food close to the hub.


September 25, 2011

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

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I'm back from Aulani now - it was great trip, but very busy. Aulani
is really a destination in and of itself, and there are a great
many things to do without ever leaving the resort property. I
wandered around taking photos and trying to experience as much as
I could in the time that I had, but I still didn't have a chance
to do everything!

I thought I'd share my thoughts of some of things that I did
experience, though. These are in no particular order.

(I won't be writing about the Waikolohe Valley pool and water
activities here, because I already covered my activities there in Part 2.)

Menehune Adventure Trail - This is an interactive hunt, and will
seem very familiar to anyone who has done the Kim Possible experience
at Epcot. At the Community Center (Pau Hana) on the bottom floor
of the Ewa Tower, I checked out a cell phone - there was a sign-out
sheet and they took my room key as a "deposit". The cell phone let
me communicate with Aunty, who knows anybody and everybody, and
they all come to her with their problems, many of which seemed to
be in Waikolohe Valley. Since I was in Waikolohe Valley I could
complete some little tasks to help Aunty's friends, sometimes with
a little magic from the menehune.

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

It took about 40 minutes to finish my six tasks, and then I had the
option to do another round, or return the device back to Pau Hana
and reclaim my room key. The Adventure is available from 10:00-4:00,
so it's during the day. I found the bright sun often made it very
difficult to see the screen and I had to go find some shade when I
was trying to figure out where Aunty wanted me to go. One thing
that was different from Kim Possible - there was no option to trigger
the special effect a second time. I enjoyed it a lot, though -
there's lots of puns and clever dialog that adults will enjoy. I
won't spoil it by giving too much away, but here's one that I really
liked...notice anything unusual about these rocks?

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Ahhh...it's the Hawaiian Islands!

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Shave Ice - There's a shave ice stand in the pool area. For those
not familiar with shave ice, it's like a snowcone, except the ice
is shaved and so it's much finer crystals - usually more like eating
a snowball. It was $3.75, which is actually a pretty good price!
Lots of different flavors - and most people order 2-3 flavors on
their shave ice. I had a very tropical shave ice, with guava,
mango, and lilikoi (passion fruit).

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities


Oh, and there was a menehune in the shave ice stand! I asked if
he was supervising or if he was to blame whenever there were equipment
problems or room keys that didn't scan. :-)

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Starlit Hui - this program is held on select nights each week. There is a "welcome" section, a show, and then a character dance party. As part of the media event they did an abbreviated version of it, and we only saw the show part. But it was really a wonderful show - it featured contemporary and traditional Hawaiian music and dance, flaming torches, and a couple of very talented ukulele players. (I didn't know you could play electric guitar-type surf music on a ukulele!) I really enjoyed the show - it was much better than any luau show I've ever seen.

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

The Laniwai Spa - this was my indulgence for the trip - though all
in the name of research, of course. :-) The spa is 18,000 square
feet inside and 5,000 square feet outside in the Kula Wai - the
hydrotherapy garden. They encourage guests to come an hour before
their treatments to relax in one of the relaxation rooms or the
Kula Wai (wear your swimsuit, it's coed, plus anyone on the balconies
of the rooms overhead could see in!) The Kula Wai has two heated
aromatherapy pools, a cold water pool, which is right next to the
(heated) whirlpool spa, and a walk-through area with six different
rain showers. There's also a number of nicely padded chaise lounges,
so if you want to lounge around for hours you can do that. I saw
a couple of people who had brought books with them. And there's a
spa menu if you want to order some food. (They have muffins and
whole fresh fruit available at no additional charge.) DVC members
receive a treatment upgrade, so I had the heated stone massage for
the price of the lomilomi massage. It's definitely a premium spa
experience, and you pay a premium for that, though I thought the
prices were similar to those o the Disney Cruise Line. I really
enjoyed my experience, and next time I would plan to spend probably
half a day there, at least.

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities


Rip Swirl Yogurt Bar - Next door to the Laniwai Spa is the Painted
Sky Teen Spa. And it's got a very nice frozen yogurt and toppings
bar. When I first heard about it I was disappointed because I
thought it was for the teens only, but ANYONE can go in there and
buy frozen yogurt - the yogurt bar is just inside the door. (Do
you see the menehune?)

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

It's pricey -$6.00 for yogurt with up to three toppings. They can
do a single flavor or a swirl combination. I again went for the
tropical flavors - pineapple/plain swirl (they also had chocolate
and strawberry) with pieces of fresh mango, coconut, and chopped
macadamia nuts on top. It was very good.

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Hunting Menehune - there are menehune statues and wood carvings
hidden all over the resort. I don't think anyone knows how many
there really are. There's no game associated with finding them as
far as I know. Some are pretty easy to see, and some are very
difficult to see. A lot of them are in the planting areas, and as
the plants grow they will become even harder to see. How many
menehune do you see in this picture?

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Bet you missed this one...I did the first few times I looked here!

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

I'm not sure how many I found - there are some unique onex, but
most of them are one of about 10 different poses. I guess menehune
are mostly active at night, which explains why a lot of them were
sleeping. ;-)

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities


And there's at least one in Rainbow Reef!

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

This was my favorite menehune effect:

Talking Story with Uncle - several times a day Uncle comes to
designated spots, like the firepit or the Pau Hana room, to "talk
story" with guests. He might play his ukulele and sing, or tell a
story, or visit with guests, or all of the above - it's pretty
free-form depending on the audience. At the one I went to I had
Uncle all to myself and he told me about the menehune. It was one
of the most fun and memorable moments of my trip!

There were a lot of things that I didn't get a chance to do, like
visiting the Pau Hana room when they had a local artisan in to teach a
craft or some other Hawaiian activity, snorkel at Rainbow Reef, swim or
paddleboard or snorkel in the lagoon, see the nightly sunset ceremony,
watch a movie under the stars, visit with the Disney characters, etc.

Aulani Grand Opening - Resort Activities

As you can see, there's plenty of things to do at Aulani!


Disclosure: As an invited media guest, AllEars' travel expenses to the Aulani Grand Opening event were paid by the Disney company.



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About September 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in September 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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