From sunny southern California Laura Gilbreath, Jeanine Yamanaka and photographer Jason Dz bring a west coast perspective as they blog about trips to Disneyland, D23 events, Disney cruises, runDisney events and occasional pilgrimages to Walt Disney World.
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 1, 2012. Rapid change continues - in addition to construction shots, this week's update features the soft opening of the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop, the newly re-modeled Cove Bar, and the return of the Pixar Play Parade.
The cover is on the outdoor seating at La Brea Bakery Cafe. It was not open yet, but looked ready to go (note: it was open for dinner).
Only two weeks till the official openings at DCA and now the final details are being applied.
Noticed new costumes for the outdoor vending cast members around the park.
New signs, they are popping up everywhere.
The Red Car Trolley signage.
Chains up to mark the entrance for the Red Car... can you picture it stopped there waiting for you to board?
The new Carthay Circle signage.
The Elias & Co sign where the old Candy Shop used to be.
A new billboard on the roof.
The "It's Tough to be a Bug" theater is still behind scaffolding/tarps.
Cars Land is alive with activity today. Plenty of cast members and workers moving around.
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop was in a soft opening mode today, the official opening is next Thursday, June 7. Not very many tables outside and on the left is the extended queue to enter. The menu is HERE.
As you enter you are handed a menu and a chocolate sample then guided to a register to place your order.
The counter to pick up your order.
The walls have some pictures/artwork on them.
Behind the counter is a large mural. It was not working on this first pass through but it lights up and is animated (pictures and video on my second trip through in the evening).
Outside there are a half dozen or so tables that line the building. No indoor seating.
The Cove Bar reopened last Saturday.
There are Paradise Pier inspired signs up now.
Thought the Minors sign was fun.
Some fun photos showing the workers creating the Paradises Pier.
Time for a spin on the Fun Wheel. Nothing visible happening in Cars Land.
A flag pole and flag are up in front of Sarge's Surplus.
More fence painting/staining going on in Flik's Fun Fair.
Signage for the Red Car Trolley at the Hollywood Tower Hotel stop.
Signage for the Red Car Trolley stop near the Animation Building on Hollywood Blvd.
While waiting for the Pixar Play Parade saw Minnie's Fly Girls heading over to Condor Flats to perform.
Lights rising into position on the roof of the Carthay for the parade.
A vendor selling popcorn while you wait for the parade.
And the usual parade of vendors a few minutes before the real parade.
Time for the Pixar Play Parade! It is returning after a long hiatus due to construction along the parade route. The parade route is now longer, and starts next to the Tower of Terror and proceeds all the way down Hollywood Blvd before heading out to Paradise Pier.
One big change is Jack Jack was moved lower on the Incredibles float to fit under the Red Car lines and he no longer shoots flames out of his head.
Is Violet new on the back side? I do not remember her from before, but it has been a while.
A video clip of the Bugs Life unit passing by.
Ratatouille has not returned, so the Toy Story unit follows the Finding Nemo unit.
The Cars gang rounds out the parade, including both Lightning McQueen and Mater. Nothing substantial besides the Incredibles unit modifications jumped out to me.
Time to head to Disneyland. The facade has been stripped down to the plywood behind Plaza Gardens.
A quick look at Buena Vista Street from the Monorail. The Red Car stop looks ready to go.
All the signage looks in and the area cleaned up.
Brave banners are up around the AMC Theater in Downtown Disney.
Not much visible progress on the sandwich shop.
No signage on the Fantasia gift shop in the Disneyland Hotel yet. Seems odd..
The large Disneyland map when you enter the Fantasy Tower now has some animations that cycle through.
Here are some video clips of it. Some music to go with it would have been nice, to help direct you to where the next one would be.
The Sunglass Icon shop in Downtown Disney has opened.
A quick look inside.
La Brea Bakery dining was open for dinner and plenty of guests enjoying the newly covered patio.
A look at DCA from the Esplanade.A closer look at one of the billboards.
And the one on the other side.
Stepped on to Main Street just as Soundsational was ending.
Elvis - Scot Bruce at the Tomorrowland Terrace.
Back to DCA... the Carthay Marquee was lit up this evening.
Time to check in on the Mad T Party.
The Tweedles out front interacting with the crowd. I did not notice their platform shoes last week.
The band was performing on the main stage.
A clip from their performance.
Another clip of the Mad T Party Band.
Last week I forgot to post a picture of the Mad T Party cups that were for sale.
They had all the street lights off or reduced on Sunset and Hollywood Blvds.
Route 66 was quiet this evening..
Then all of a sudden some headlights appeared.. and of course I had the wrong lens...
Re-adjusted and got this picture of Lightning making his way toward the Cozy Cones.. guessing for a photo shoot this evening.
A few minutes later Mater followed the same path.
Made a second pass by Ghirardelli
The sign/mural on the back wall was lit up and moving this evening.
Some video of the sign.
There are some costumes from the show Once Upon a Time on display in the Off the Page windows.
Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.
Part of my trip to Disneyland Paris was under the auspices of the Disneyana Fan Club (http://disneyanafanclub.org/home) who put together a multi-day group program, centering around the 20th Anniversary festivities. The last time I traveled with them was for Tokyo Disneyland's 25th Anniversary some years ago, which was also a terrific trip.
The first full day of events took place on April 11, the day before the anniversary. It started off with lunch at Inventions--a fabulous buffet in the Disneyland Hotel.
After lunch, we convened in the Founder's Club--an executive lounge in the hotel--to see presentations by Tracy Eck, Art Director of Lighting Design for WDI Paris, and Disney Legend Tony Baxter, who served as Executive Producer for the creation of Disneyland Paris.
Both presentations were wonderful--Eck gave several details about all the work the park had recently undergone to get ready for the celebrations, particularly the large fiberoptic Tinker Bell sign on the train station entrance, the recreation of the previously-eroded pirate ship, and the creation of a few newly themed meet-and-greet locations.
Baxter spoke of the many trials and tribulations that beset the Imagineers when they were creating the park, and some of the cultural adaptations they made to better suit the park to the surrounding populace. Realizing people residing in France were likely to be all too familiar with the real castles which serve as inspirations for the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom castles, they styled the castle to better reflect that of a fairy tale aesthetic.
He also recounted some of the hidden in-jokes and homages they put in. He remembered that when the Imagineers were remodeling the Fantasyland in Disneyland Anaheim, the doorway out of Village Haus Restaurant had a beam going down the middle that forced them to place the Exit sign off to the side (which he thought looked terrible.) To try to cover it, he painted an image of Figaro with a rope tied to the sign, trying to pull it to the center. In Paris, the equivalent restaurant, Au Chalet de la Marionnette, had no such problem, so as a nod to the original, Baxter had another Figaro placed giving a thumbs-up to the onlooker, as if to say "we got it right this time!"
He noted that it would be a difficult reference for anyone to get, because you'd have to have seen them at each park. Only I, your strange little Disney friend, have traveled across two continents to bring you this trivia.
Afterwards, we were surprised with a presentation of all the Disney Parks Ambassadors from around the world, gathered together for the first time in anyone's memory to celebrate the occasion.
And if that weren't enough, a couple of other guys who happened to be traveling through popped by:
...Frequent Disney Artists, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily!
The next day, after the anniversary excitement of the morning, the group arranged lunch for us at the beautiful Walt's, on Main Street.
The decor inside is magnificent--each room is decorated in the style of one of the separate lands. We happened to eat in Adventureland.
Joining us for lunch was Chief Operating Officer of Disneyland Paris, Joe Schott, who graciously said he was happy to spend part of such a momentous day with people who had traveled so far to experience it.
He seemed very invested in finding ways to constantly improve the park experience for his guests and spoke briefly on the difficulties of putting together the various components of the new anniversary attractions in the short ~two years since he had been appointed his position.
For our final special event, on Friday the 13th, no less, they arranged for us to enter the park before opening to have breakfast in front of the Phantom Manor.
Unfortunately, the weather that day, as most of the other days, was freezing cold, so the decision was made to move it indoors. Fortunately, it was moved into the Lucky Nugget Saloon which proved to be a gorgeous venue on its own.
The food, alas, was identical to the somewhat limited fare the hotel served for its breakfast buffet each day, but a few familiar faces turned up to enliven the event.
After a photo in front of the Phantom Manor, that concluded the exclusive part of the trip. There were a number of other meets to watch various parades and shows as a group, but these were the activities they arranged that were special to the club.
While the Disneyana trips aren't cheap, they do provide some experiences that would be difficult or impossible for you to arrange on your own, and they also offer the chance for people new to travel or the area to enjoy the support system of a group. I have enjoyed both trips I've taken with them, and would encourage anyone interested in their events to check out their webpage.
What Do You Want to Know About the Re-Imagined Disney California Adventure?
The Grand Reopening of Disney California Adventure is just a week away - June 15, 2012. Deb Wills, Lee Zimmerman and I will be there, blogging and tweeting and doing our best to share the experience as we finally get to see Cars Land and Buena Vista Street!
But we'd like to know...What do YOU, our readers, want to know? What are your questions about Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, the Mad T Party? What are your questions about the attractions, the shows, the shops, and the restaurants? Do you want to know which attraction is the biggest thrill, where to find the tastiest snack foods, how to meet Mater, or what we think is the most tacky-but-terrific souvenir?
Please submit your questions by using either the "Feedback Form" or "Comments" links below. We'll do our best to get as many answers as we can!
For people not familiar, E3 (or the Electronic Entertainment Expo,) is an annual video game conference that takes place at the Los Angeles Convention center that showcases games, gaming platforms, and gaming accessories that will be coming out to market in the next year.
This time around, Disney had a fairly large presence, largely showcasing their big game for the year, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two.
Whereas the last game had the player taking the role of Mickey, sometimes opposed to the bitter and vaguely antagonistic Oswald, this game has the two working together with synergistic abilities, giving the player the ability to swap between them during gameplay.
Game designer Warren Spector gave a few talks during the course of the show about some of the changes players can expect from the first game: No longer a Wii exclusive, it will be coming out (on November 18, no less,) on the XBox 360 and the PS3 as well. Changes made to the environment will no longer be reset on revisiting the same area later in the game--decisions made are permanent, and irrevocably affect the course of the game. The camera movement, a large source of complaints in the first game, has been retooled. Most interesting for those of us not big-time gamers--everyone talks this time!
David Garabaldi and George Anzaldo also gave performances, painting and dancing simultaneously together to illustrate "The Power of Two."
There was also a large display of Disney memorabilia (much of it provided by the Disney Archives) as it pertained to the properties featured in the games: Oswald, gremlins, and Mickey.
In case you doubted Spector's devotion to the property, a good portion was also from his private collection.
Oh...and there were the ears.
As a promotional giveaway, the booth gave out free personalized Oswald ear hats. This rapidly became the hit of the show, and the line to order them grew to almost completely encircle the booth. They gave you a time to come back and pick them up and finally...
They showcased a number of other games as well, of course, including their companion to the upcoming movie of the same name, "Wreck-it Ralph."
In a Tron-esque move, the movie was based on an old video game "Fix-it Felix Jr.," and now the movie has inspired a completely new game that has been designed to be the old game from the movie.
They also had a bar giving out Vitamin water to promote their terribly successful mobile game "Where's My Water," which will be coming out with new levels, and a spin-off "Where's My Perry," from the series Phineas and Ferb.
In the back, hidden, oddly enough by an abundance of foliage that attracted the attention of a swarm of gnats by the end of the show, was a display of their other upcoming movie tie-in game, "Brave: The Video Game."
A platformer that will be available on most gaming systems, it does have spoilers in the cutscenes, so it may be advisable to see the movie first.
So it looks like a good year ahead for Disney gaming...now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have to finally go finish Epic Mickey 1...
Just in case you've been living under a vow of hermitry, and recently finished, Disney California Adventure Park is re-opening this week, with a new direction, entryway, and showcase land, Cars Land. It's been in previews since this weekend, and already the internet is abuzz with photos and video from the spandy-new areas, with more to come as the media previews continue through this week, leading up to the grand unveiling on June 15th.
I had an opportunity to attend one of the AP previews this last weekend. For $75, we were allowed into Buena Vista Street (BVS) and Cars Land from 6pm-11pm. In a word, the new areas are spectacular.
Throughout BVS, there is an incredible attention to detail that really catapults you back to 1920's, when Walt Disney turned up in Los Angeles with little more than a suitcase of ambition.
As you walk further down the street, you seem to move a bit through time, until you get to the Carthay Circle where Snow White premiered in 1937.
Towards the end of the street, is the elegant Elias and Co. department store, which is not a little reminiscent of the departed Bullocks Wilshire.
Walking through some of these stores, it seems incredible that only a short while ago, their theming could best be described as "tacky," and now...
Across the way, there's a charming cafe where Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream used to be.
Inside, the walls are decorated with photos and posters of the singing trio for which the cafe is named.
Hmm...you might want to take the stairs that night...
Cars Land is no less impressive. There are three ways to enter--through a bug's land, opposite the Vinery, or through Pacific Wharf. We were let in through the latter, and if you were going for the first time, it definitely packs the biggest visual impact.
It's hard to convey what a awe-striking vista awaits you. In a way, I'm almost sorry that the walls around the land will come down, because walking through that tiny door into that huge landscape was remarkable.
The impression of vastness is so great that for a moment, it hardly seems believable that you're still in a theme park. And for that matter, only in a part of what used to be the parking lot for a theme park.
The main drag of Radiator Springs is charming by day, but gorgeous at night.
There are three rides in Cars Land: Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi's Flying Tires, and Radiator Springs Racers.
Junkyard Jamboree is a spinning ride with an interchanging turntable mechanism similar to Cars Quatre Roues Rallye in the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, but with the addition of a swinging variable, as the riders sit in a...thing that a tractor pulls.
It's a pretty fun, somewhat low-key ride. The main detriment is likely to be the wait time, as it didn't look to have a huge capacity and like Dumbo, you have to wait through each cycle of riders before advancing in line.
Luigi's however, is a little problematic. Based on the old Flying Saucers ride, you board a huge inflatable tire that is puffed up on jets of air. You steer it by leaning in one direction, although they're quick to tell you that if you lean too much, it will act as a brake and you'll stop. What they don't tell you is that it's not just a matter of steering--if you don't/can't imbalance your weight enough, that tire is not going anywhere. I think the caution on leaning too much is probably for two riders, where there's more weight to throw around--with one person, you actually need to slide over to one end or the other of the bench to make it tilt enough to go. Unfortunately, it seems to take more than one ride to really get the hang of this, and until you do, the ride has all the fun of waiting for Dumbo, without actually getting to fly anywhere.
Talking with a CM, it appears that they almost expect guests to not enjoy it that much the first time, but figure that with practice, it will grow on them. I would be concerned that the wait time--likely to be even worse than Jamboree, because of the greater complexity of mounting and dismounting the giant inner tubes--would put people off trying it again, once they sat there motionless the first go-through. The beach balls are there apparently in the hopes that people will try to reach for them, shift their weight by accident, and start moving. In the initial designs, the tires had a joystick that also enabled the guests to spin, but which were removed because the guest assumed that they were there for steering and got frustrated. I would suggest replacing them--at least then, if someone is too light or otherwise unable to get their tire moving, at least they could spin in place, which would be something.
Anyway, on to the new "E-Ticket" attraction, Radiator Springs Racers. What surprised me about this ride, was the vague impression I had held that it was primarily a thrill ride. It is primarily, from my viewpoint, a dark ride, similar to the ones in Fantasyland.
In theory, it resembles Test Track quite a bit, with the indoor part having quite a few call-backs to various moments from that ride, and then a brisk outdoor segment. In reality, the experience is so much better, you can only think that Test Track looks like kind of a gyp next to it.
Without totally spoiling the whole thing for you, there are a number of variables throughout the ride that combine to make it highly repeatable. Again, the amount of detail that has gone into this is amazing--from almost all the cars inside being animatronic, to leaves rustling when characters you can't see are supposed to be moving beside you, to an entire mini-recreation of Radiator Springs. The outdoor environment is beautiful, and just as impressive.
If you time it right, you might even see the Disneyland fireworks from the ride.
So altogether, thumbs up on Jamboree, huge high-five on Racers, and "needs improvement" on Tires. Admittedly however, I did manage to ride Tires again as the last ride of the night, and it was actually much better. I'd encourage more than one ride-through on that, if the lines aren't prohibitive.
Finally, there's the food.
The main eatery is Flo's V8 Café--a counter service with carving-station style entrees and small wheel-shaped pies.
I found the roast beef surprisingly good--not nearly the tough, dried out specimens you so often get with quick service food. The mud pie was more reminiscent of a flourless chocolate cake than a pie, but was tasty, if rich. The main problem here, as was with all the eating facilities in Cars Land, was the wait--the line stretched along the outside of the cafe almost to the main road. After a CM takes your order and marks it down on an order form, you then get to wait in line inside for a register. Then, after paying, you get to wait yet again at the counter for your food. The difficulty here is that if you happen to get behind someone ordering for a party of 90, you may end up sitting there forever while they get all the things for that order complete, while further away on the counter, you can see what is likely your order waiting haplessly for its turn.
One thing you can say for Flo's however, is that the views are admirable. This may ultimately work against it, as people will likely be tempted to rest here indefinitely throughout the day, taking up what are already a fairly small number of tables.
The other main eating facility is the Cozy Cone Motel.
This is an adorable-looking place that ends up to be something of a functional nightmare. Each cone sells approximately one thing--popcorn, churros, pretzels, ice cream, or cone-centric entrees--requiring families (or individuals for that matter,) to stand in multiple lines if they want more than one thing. Each cone has one window, so the processing time is, to say the least, lengthy. Unfortunately, behind the the decorative-only lobby of the Motel is the main seating area, whose handful of tables takes up at least half of the room between the building and the cones. Between the snaking lines that overlap to the point of needing tape on the ground to separate them, the tables, and the occasional strolling vendors hawking popcorn and soda to the people starving to death in line, the area back there becomes almost impassible at peak times. I have no idea how good the food is, because not even for Kathy Mangum's famous "Chili Cone Carne" was I going to wait in those lines.
So in total, I would have to term both new areas of Disney California Adventure big successes. Not for some time has Imagineering been given the scope and budget to create environments this immersive and attractive. Coming from the old DCA where the overwhelming theme seemed to be "made for profit," these are huge improvements likely to draw the big crowds DCA has always wanted.
The crowding is likely to be the worst part of it, however--a lot of these areas have very limited capacity in an almost Potteresque manner, so forewarned is probably forearmed. My best advice: Use the single rider line in Racers; head for cycle loaders like Tires and Jamboree first; consider skipping Tires if you don't have time to ride it more than once; try to eat somewhere else entirely unless you can tag-team the food lines; look at everything, because details are everywhere; and enjoy this golden moment of redemption in DCA's history.
On Tuesday, June 5, I was fortunate to be part of a group of media who were invited to take a "Sneak Peek" at Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. While we were allowed to take photos and video, we were not permitted to share any of it with the public, or even talk about the experience, until Wednesday, June 13. And believe me, that's been very hard!
I'm not even quite sure how to write this blog entry...there's so much I could say, and not nearly enough space to do it.
So I'll say this: "Wow." Everything I've seen (and there's been a lot of it) in Imagineer sessions at D23, exhibits in Blue Sky Cellar, and from following the construction progress in Jason's photos, still did not prepare me for the reality of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. Stepping into both for the first time was a thrill. And yes, I was able to ride Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi's Flying Tires and Radiator Springs Racers.
I think it might be easier to show you photos than to try to describe it. I apologize for the lack of some details - we were on a tight schedule and not allowed to wander around on our own. I was also trying to shoot video and stills at the same time.
We started on Buena Vista Street, entering near where real guests will enter the park. While I think 1920s Los Angeles wasn't quite as clean as Buena Vista Street, a lot of the elements are there that transport us back to that time period. There's a lot of familiar names. For example, just inside the entrance is this gas station - Oswalds!
The Chamber of Commerce - aka Guest Services.
And the Los Feliz Five and Dime shop.
In the center of the street is a flagpole with a plaque on it, with these words:
"It was July 1923. I packed all of my worldly goods - a pair of trousers, a checkered coat, a lot of drawing materials and the last of the fairy tale reels we had mad - in a kind of frayed cardboard suitcase. And with that wonderful audacity of youth, I went to Hollywood, arriving there with just forty dollars. It was a big day the day I got on that Santa Fe California Limited. I was just free and happy!"
-- Walt Disney
In front of the flagpole on the ground is another plaque. Buried underneath it is a time capsule:
"Disney California Adventure Rededication Time Capsule
June 15, 2012
May the hopes and dreams represented by the collection contained within the time capsule beneath this mortar inspire a future generation of dreamers when it is unsealed a quarter century from now, on June 15, 2037."
On the other side was the Red Car Trolley stop. (Lockers and restrooms are in their same location to the right of the trolley).
On that side is Mortimer's Market, a fresh fruit stand.
Just past that is the monorail bridge. The design is inspired by the Glendale-Hyperion bridge.
Underneath the bridge is Big Top Toys on the east side...
And Julius Katz on the west.
As the Katz family prospered they opened a new shop next door: Julius Katz & Sons.
Atwater Ink & Paint (perhaps an homage to Lillian Disney, who worked in the Ink & Paint department).
On the corner is Trolley Treats, a candy store, though probably what it will become most known for is the "Candy Mountain" in the window.
Taking up most of the east block is the large Elias & Company department store, reminiscent of the Bullocks Wilshire.
Dominating the end of Buena Vista Street is the Carthay Circle Theater, though in its current incarnation it's a two-story restaurant and lounge rather than a theater.
Looking back down Buena Vista Street towards the park entrance.
One of our really thrilling moments was getting to see the new Walt and Mickey statue. Walt Disney is life-size, and he's at ground level where guests will be able to pose with his statue. A young man with a dream, just like most of us.
We were not able to go into any of the shops or the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe.
We came out of Buena Vista Street and entered the Carthay Circle building, where we were able to tour 1901. This is the new private club which will be open to Club 33 members. (1901 is the year Walt Disney was born.)
There's all kinds of great artwork, and the artwork will change periodically. In one big display case right now is the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs storybook featured at the beginning of the Dutch version of the movie.
We went upstairs to the Carthay Circle restaurant.
It's quite large, and very elegant.
There's a private room that overlooks the parade route, with a table that seats up to 12.
We had lunch there - we received a selection of appetizers to share, but ordered our own entree. Dessert also featured a selection to share. Andrew Sutton, the executive chef for both Napa Rose and Carthay Circle, spoke to us a bit about the menu. There will be more about the food later, but I'll say that the Fire Cracker Duck Wing appetizer (pictured below) was very good. And I had one of the sustainable fish dishes - Jerked Kingfish - which was also quite good.
Unfortunately we really had to rush through lunch, but that's because we had a can't-miss appointment with Cars Land!
We came in what I consider the main entrance, looking right down Route 66. And there it was...Radiator Springs in its heyday.
Fillmore's Taste-In was to our right.
On the left, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree awaited us.
We took a little time to stroll through the queue.
In the center, all of the little baby tractors were waiting for us.
And this is Mater's jukebox. It plays seven original songs, all sung by the voice of Mater, Larry the Cable Guy.
Here is video of my ride.
It was a lot of fun! Everyone I saw was smiling as they rode. I was a little concerned it might make me dizzy (especially right after lunch) but I rode it twice in a row and didn't feel dizzy at all. Those who are sensitive to motion might feel differently, though.
Disney classes it as a "Mild but Wild" attraction. Riders must be at least 32" tall. The bench seat will accommodate up to two adults and one child. All riders are secured by a single lap belt. Those in wheelchairs or ECVs must transfer to ride.
There are two "turntables", with 11 baby tractors per turntable. Each of the 22 baby tractors is slightly different.
Just outside is Mater's Petting Zoo, where a baby tractor poses for photos.
On the other side of the road is Sarge's Surplus Hut - "the headquarters for genuine Radiator Springs gear."
As we continued down Route 66 we passed Sally's Cozy Cones. Looks like the Imagineers had a lot of fun here - the lawn ornaments are cones, the scoops on the waterwheel fountain are cones - Sally is cone crazy! (I think the Imagineers missed a pun opportunity here, though - shouldn't it say "NO VACONE-CY" on the sign?)
We were not able to sample any of the treats at "Sally's Snack Cone-Anza", like pop-cone or chili cone carne. Next time! Here is the MENU.
Radiator Springs Curios looks like classic Route 66 kitsch to me - it'll be interesting to see what's for sale inside, though I expect the usual selection that won't live up to the wonderful exterior.
Across Route 66 is Flo's V8 Cafe, the main dining establishment in Cars Land. The menu features rotisserie NY strip loin, pork loin, and turkey breast, with sides like peas & carrots, mashed potatoes and corn medley. There's also the "Veggie Tater Bake" with roasted vegetables and bulger wheat, topped with mashed potatoes and cheese. Here is the Full Menu.
In the dining area is memorabilia from Flo's days as a Motorama Girl.
Including some gold records, like these for the albums "Brake it to Me Gently" and "Jeep Date".
Luigi's Casa della Tires is easily recognizable by the stack of tires in front of it.
Inside, the queue for the Luigi's Flying Tires attraction winds around and around through a couple different rooms inside - like the tire showroom:
And outside, through the topiary garden. I found the length of the queue a bit scary...if it's that long, it's really going to be a long wait to ride the attraction.
Once we reached the attraction loading area the cast member gave us some brief instructions: get balanced on your tire, and then lean to make it move. After we sat down on our tire we were offered large beach balls to throw around.
Here's the video from my ride:
I have to admit that I was disappointed in this. I like the concept, but I didn't think the actual ride was very much fun. The tires don't move very fast and I couldn't get my tire to move much at all. I've heard that it takes 2-3 times to get the hang of it, so maybe I'll change my mind, but I'd have to say that for me it's not worth the kind of wait it's going to have.
The bench seat will accommodate two adults and a child. All riders are secured by a single lap belt. Riders must be at least 32" tall. Those in wheelchairs or ECVs must transfer to the ride vehicle, which involves stepping up onto the tire. There is a compartment behind the seat for bag storage.
Ramone's House of Body Art is across the street from Luigi's Flying Tires. We didn't go inside, but it sounds like it's a clothing shop. Among other things will be items from the "Low and Slow" line.
At the end of the street is the court house/fire department/police department, with the statue of Stanley in front of it. The statue was covered when I was there, but Jason got a photo of it at the AP preview on Monday.
In between Ramone's and the court house is the entrance to Radiator Springs Racers.
Wow...it was like stepping into the southwest with all of the great rock formations and the plants and trees. It's really amazing.
The queue, not surprisingly, is very long, but there's lots to see while you're waiting.
There was no line, but it still took us a while to walk the queue and reach the loading area. Radiator Springs is somewhat reminiscent of Test Track at Epcot, so the cars are the familiar six-seaters, each seat with its own seat belt. Since the Disney folks asked us to put our cameras away I don't have a ride video from this one. I don't want to spoil it for those who want to experience it for themselves first, so I'm not going to say too much. Though I don't think it's a secret that the ride includes encounters with some of the characters from Cars and culminates in a side-by-side race with another car around Ornament Valley before returning to the loading area. There are some great visuals.
This was the attraction I had most been looking forward to - and it was even better than I expected. A lot of fun seeing the Cars characters, and even more fun racing out on the track with another car. The lead exchanged several times, but in the end the car I was in won. It was all so much fun, but it all went by so fast I didn't have time to absorb it. I can't wait to ride it again!
The height requirement for Radiator Springs Racers is 40". Rider swap is available. As I mentioned before, the seating is like that on Test Track - each car has two rows, with three riders per row. For those in wheelchairs or ECVs, the queue is accessible, but riders must transfer to a car to ride.
Radiator Springs Racers is a Fastpass attraction. For now Fastpass distribution will be located in front of "It's Tough to Be a Bug", so guests won't even have to enter Cars Land to get one. A single rider line is also available.
All too soon it was time to leave Cars Land. There are three ways in/out of Cars Land - we came in from the entrance near the winery, and exited by Pacific Wharf (the third offers access from "a bug's land". While it was very cool to come down Route 66, I think my favorite is going to be the Pacific Wharf route - there are so many spectacular visuals when you enter from that direction!
One of my favorite things was these "Burma Shave" type signs. Really fun.
And there's also a "pullout" with a map, just like you see at scenic vistas everywhere.
Just before we exited we took one last look back into Cars Land. What a great sight! All that "rock work" we saw going up over the last few years is really stunning.
I'm not sure what more I can say. I am really looking forward to having more time to explore Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. As I think you've seen, there is a huge amount of detail that went into both of them, and much more to explore.
DISCLOSURE: As an invited media guest, AllEars' Media Sneak Peek experience and lunch at the Carthay Circle restaurant were provided by the Disney company.
Wow. Today has been a once-in-a-lifetime kind of day. After all, how often do you get to see a brand new land open at a Disney theme park? And such a land! It's amazing, incredible, beautiful, awesome...I've run out of superlatives.
Deb Wills and I started our evening on the red carpet.
We'll have more video later, but to start with we want to share a clip of Jennifer Lewis, the voice of Flo, who was delightful. She even sang a little for us.
Then it was time for the grand opening ceremony. Lee's video is below, but I wanted to share a few highlights...
John Lasseter addresses his Cars alter-ego: John Lassetire.
They brought on stage a number of the "voices" from the Cars movies, like John Ratzenberger.
Tom Staggs and John Lasseter "light this place up!"
And the video:
Then it was time to go in and experience Cars Land.
While Radiator Springs looks great during the day, I think it's even more impressive after dark, when all of the neon lights come on.
And you can see all of the beautiful lighting on the Cadillac Range.
Deb, Lee and I rode Radiator Springs Racers and they both loved it (I think Deb couldn't stop saying "Wow!"), and I enjoyed my second trip even more than the first since I noticed more - there's a lot of detail. I don't think this attraction will get old.
We also took a ride on Luigi's Flying Tires, and I have to say that I enjoyed it a whole lot more than my first ride, since Deb and I got our tire to move, and actually move fairly quickly. I'm still not sure it's worth the long waits it's going to have, though.
We still hadn't gotten enough of Cars Land, but they shooed us out of there.
It was a great day, one I'll remember for a long time. Wow. Just...wow.
This is the cover of the map available at the entrance turnstiles today. Even though Disney California Adventure was closed to the public there were still a lot of people in the park - not only media, but lots of contest winners and their families and other invited guests.
For us today was mostly about Buena Vista Street, the new entrance to Disney California Adventure. As most Disney fans know, Main Street USA was inspired by Walt Disney's boyhood home of Marceline, Missouri. Buena Vista Street is inspired by Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s, where Walt Disney came as a young man full of dreams and ambition.
There were two new shows that premiered on Buena Vista Street today, and both of them are also about pursuing your dreams. The first is Five & Dime, a jazz group featuring five musicians and Dime, their singer, who have been traveling along Route 66 to L.A. They performed classics like "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and "Ain't We Got Fun."
Zoot suit Goofy performed one number with them.
Here's the video:
The next group was the Red Car Trolley News Boys who sang and danced.
They were joined partway through by a young Mickey Mouse, seeking his fortune with "a suitcase and a dream." It was a great show - both the new shows are terrific additions.
In addition to the shows Buena Vista has other new entertainment offerings - Disney characters in period costumes and the new "Citizens of Buena Vista Street".
Fifer, Fiddler and Practical Cafe is the new counter service location, offering hot and cold sandwiches, soups and bakery items. It's got a very large indoor seating area. It's the Starbucks location and serves up the usual selection of familiar Starbucks beverages.
Trolley Treats is the candy store, with quite a selection of "homemade" candies like real pulled taffy, specialty candy apples and gourmet marshmallows. They have a show kitchen where you can watch the candy makers at work.
Here Lee samples their gourmet banana split marshmallow - banana marshmallow drizzled with caramel and chocolate, topped with chopped peanuts and a cherry.
Across the street is the big department store, Elias & Co. I never expected to be blown away by a shop, but this one blew me away. Each "department" has its own lighting and decor - and it's really beautiful.
Here is the men's department (I loved the mannequins above!).
And the Girl's department - you can see how the color is very different.
We went back over to Cars Land for lunch at Flo's V8 Cafe. The food was pretty good - more on that later.
The "jukebox" on the counter has hits by the Motorama Girls.
We also went through the stores - this is a sample of items in Ramone's. It has merchandise from all three Cars Land attractions.
This evening we went to the new Mad T Party in the Hollywood Land area. In addition to a live band (featuring the Mad Hatter and Alice), a DJ (the White Rabbit) and dancers, the "Who Are You" creature, a rainbow-colored human slinky, comes out and performs several times a night.
Cars Land was closed and most of the production equipment had been removed, so there was a great view down Route 66.
This evening we experienced a special World of Color show. As we walked back to Paradise Bay we were all given special Mickey ear hats with colored light-up ears. These "Glow with the Show" ears actually interact with the World of Color show and turn off and on and blink and flash different colors during the show.
It's hard to explain but the effect was just stunning. I didn't know how they could make World of Color any better - but they did. It's hard to see in this picture, but the lights at the bottom are all ear hats. We also saw the new Brave sequence that's been added to World of Color.
It's been another amazing day. No one puts on a show like Disney!
Disney California Adventure Grand Reopening June 15, 2012
To all who come to this place of dreams...Welcome!
Disney California Adventure celebrates the spirit of optimism and the promise of endless opportunities, ignited by the imaginations of daring dreamers such as Walt Disney and those like him who forever changed - and were forever changed by - the Golden State. This unique place embraces the richness and diversity of California...its land, its people, its stories and, above all, the dreamers it continues to inspire.
Dedicated February 8, 2001
Michael D. Eisner
Rededicated June 15, 2012
Robert A. Iger
Today was the day. The day that so many have planned and dreamed and worked so hard to achieve - the Grand Reopening of Disney California Adventure. It was a special moment when Bob Iger spoke the magic words and welcomed everyone to the new Disney California Adventure.
After the ceremony it was time to let the fans into the park, many of whom had waited in line all night. Cast members led them down Buena Vista Street toward Cars Land.
And then into Cars Land amidst much cheering as many saw it for the first time. They were held momentarily near the end of the street...
...And then they jubilantly entered the queue for Radiator Springs Racers.
I have to give the Disney cast members a lot of credit - it was rather chaotic, but it was orderly chaos (yes, I know that's a contradiction in terms). Disney had plenty of people to direct the flow and keep things from getting out of hand - they did a great job. A look at the queue at 9:44 a.m. (and this wasn't the end of the line!)
Fastpasses were long gone by 10:30.
A look down Route 66 at 10:30. I have to admit that the crowds weren't as bad as I had expected - you could still move up and down the street.
Another new show started today: Instant Concert - Just Add Water. It's a daytime fountain show in Paradise Bay, starring Maestro Goofy and the Paradise Bay Fountain Performers. Shows are schedule approximately hourly from 11:00-5:00. The shows are 4-5 minutes long. Here's Deb's clip from the first show, featuring the musical selection Hungarian Rhapsody #2. It was a fun show.
The Premier issue of the Buena Vista Bugle (available at newsstands all around Buena Vista Street) celebrated the opening of the Carthay Circle Theater.
There was a lot going on at Disneyland today, too - the Matterhorn re-opened and the climbers returned, the Voices of Liberty premiered in the Opera House, but that will be the topic for another blog.
Here's another night shot from Cars Land - it's so beautiful at night that I just can't resist!
Congratulations to everyone involved in creating the new Disney California Adventure. As a Disney fan I want to thank you for your vision and your wholehearted dedication to this amazing project. I think Walt would be proud.
Wow, it was an eventful few days last week! While we still have lots of photos to go through and other things that we will be telling you about in the not-too-distant future I thought for this blog I'd address some of the questions that you asked.
Take and post lots of pictures! Jason Dz's frequent posts have been interesting as documents of the work-in-progress, but seeing all of the barricades is frankly a little depressing. I know that not even Disney Enterprises can pull off a 'Blue Fairy' and that realizing the Imagineers designs properly takes a lot of time and effort. It will be great to finally see the fruits of their labors.
How well do the Pacific Electric Red Cars on Buena Vista Street deal with the crowds?
A: The trolleys don't have a regular schedule - they are suspended several times a day during the two shows; Five & Dime and Red Car Trolley News Boys (the latter use one of the trolleys as part of their show). During Five & Dime the trolley still operates, but only between Carthay Circle and the Tower of Terror. When the cars are running a conductor walks in front of them to clear the way and keep guests off the track.
I'd like to know the height requirements for the rides in Cars Land. I have a little one so I'm wondering if there are things for a two-year-old at all! Thanks - can't wait to go in July!
A: The height requirement for both Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Flying Tires is 32". Radiator Springs Racers requires riders to be at least 40" tall. For those too short to ride there are meet and greets with Mater and Lightning McQueen, or the opportunities to get wet with Red the Fire Truck, or dance with DJ. Flik's Fun Fair is right next door to Cars Land, and most of the rides there have no height requirement.
Please tell us about all of the Cars Land Merchandise and their prices.
A: Merchandise: there's a lot of it. Ok, so that wasn't very helpful... :-) I can't tell you about the prices, but there's quite a selection, some of it exclusive to Cars Land and Disney California Adventure. There is merchandise themed to each attraction in Cars Land. The Luigi's Flying Tire hats seemed to be very popular - flying off the shelves, as it were, and I saw a number of people with Mater's and Radiator Springs Racers t-shirts. You can buy replica Piston Cup trophies, for your desk or as an antenna topper. In Ramone's House of Body Art is merchandise from two different collections: Champions Custom Speed Shop and Ramone's Low n Slow. Sarge's Surplus Hut has Cars-themed play sets and other toys. And of course there are Vinylmation and pins that are exclusive to DCA and Cars Land. The cone-shaped souvenir beverage cups were very popular, also.
Q: I would like to know if there will be a special 'World of Color' menu for 'Carthay Circle'.
A: There's no special menu. Anyone who orders an appetizer and entree or an entree and dessert off the lunch or dinner menu will receive a World of Color Fastpass. Kids who order off the kids menu will receive one, also. The Fastpasses are for the preferred viewing area.
I would love a review of the New Carthay Theater Restaurant.
Deb Wills and I dined there Saturday night, and Deb was back for lunch the next day. It was excellent - we will have a more comprehensive review soon.
Oh please tell us about the food, and what's especially good in Cars Land (and what's not!) and as many details about the rides, especially Radiator Springs Racers! What an amazing addition!
A: While we haven't tried all of the new food offerings, we've tried a pretty good variety of them, including the Chili Cone Queso (pictured below), Chicken Verde, Churro Bites, and several of the items in Flo's V8 Cafe (pork loin pictured below). We'll have more details in a food blog but we've enjoyed just about everything (even the dill pickle pop-cone!).
Will there be a special popcorn bucket(s)?
A: There is a special Lightning McQueen popcorn bucket (pictured below). It's available at the "Popcone" in Sally's Cozy Cones, and also at the popcorn stand on Buena Vista Street.
Will breakfast cones be available all day at the Cozy Cone? Are the flying tires geared towards adults or just children? Will the Radiator Springs Racers be the only ride in Cars Land with a fast pass?
A: Breakfast cones are only available at breakfast. Here's the Menu
Luigi's flying tires are for kids and adults - kids must be 32" tall to ride. Each tire will accommodate up to two adults and a child.
Radiator Springs Racers in the only attraction in Cars Land that has Fast Pass.
(Some of you asked for "lots of photos" from the new Disney California Adventure. Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com took "lots of photos", and we asked him to share some of them with us.)
I was able to attend the festivities last week at the Disneyland Resort for the Grand Reopening of Disney California Adventure Wednesday through Friday. In the course of those three days I spent a total of 41.5 hours in the parks. Logging just over 20 miles, snapping over 5,400 pictures, taking 61 video clips for just under 3 hours of footage.
Laura said there were requests for pictures of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. This first batch of photos takes a tour Buena Vista Street focused on the interiors.
Even though the focus of this pictorial will be the interiors I wanted to start with the Storytellers statue since it is important. This statue is of Walt and Mickey as they first arrived in Hollywood back in the 1920s.
Right behind Storytellers is a little park area.
Beyond the park is where we are going to start our tour, with the Elias & Co store. This replaced the Candy Store and a large portion of Greetings From California. It is on the East side of the street (to the right as you enter the park) and takes up the Southern block, from the Monorail beam to Carthay Circle more or less. This is the most Southern door, closest to Hollywood Land.
Time to head inside. Also note all the stores on each side of the block connect so once inside you can go the length of the street.
Wow! That is the first word that came to mind. Remember what this used to look like? It had the Candy counter in the middle and concrete floors. Now it's women's apparel, Dooney & Bourke bags, jewelry, watches, and other accessories.
Heading into the next room and a whole new experience. It's more like a men's department, with unisex t-shirts, ball caps and men's shirts, as well as the "Storytellers" collection, including replicas of the hat and leather jacket like Walt has on the statue.
Some of the props around the stores are great! This is an old time clock for employees.
Spinning around and looking toward the front of the store and Buena Vista Street.
Moving on to the next room, and still looking toward the street from the back of the store.
Continuing on to the next room, still in Elias & Co. This one had some park-specific merchandise, like the Flying Tire hats you see.
Heading into Big Top Toys. This is the area under the monorail to help you figure out where I am on the block. It has the low ceiling because of that. Lots of plush, kids' t-shirts, girls' dresses.
Also interesting the lights around the top of the room change colors.
Moving on to the last store in this row.. the Los Feliz Five & Dime. There are several embroidery machines here, and they can embroider on just about any t-shirt, bag, or hat, though in the second and fourth photos below you'll see examples of some of the items that are available for embroidery.
Buena Vista Bugles on the news stand. Be sure to take one if you are in the park! They are free and available in several places and are a fun read.
A peek into the Guest Relations (Chamber of Commerce) which is located between Los Feliz and Oswalds. The first aid station was moved next door, I did not go in there. The old first aid out by the Wharf will become part of the Baby Care Center to allow for more space.
Oswald's stands just inside the turnstiles. Lots of hats and car accessories like antenna toppers, car mugs, and decals.
Checking out the turnstiles.. they look great with the trees and of course no more construction walls!
A better picture of the Red Car Trolley. Also note no dedication plaque on the flag pole yet, these pics were taken 6/14 during the media day.
A great little courtyard between the Red Car stop and the Restrooms/Lockers.
The restroom facade (I know this is exterior but wanted to set up the next shot).
If you were curious inside the restrooms are the same...
Time to tour a Red Car Trolley. There are two trolleys, number 623 ("23" for the year Walt Disney came to California) and 717 (Disneyland's birthday is 7/17).
The top is lined with ads for the Buena Vista Street merchants.
Continuing our tour.. now time for the west (right) side of the street. First up Mortimers Market (the reference to Mickey's original name if you did not know)
The locker building facade.
A look inside. Same lockers as before.
But now old Red Car maps above.
Time to head into the Elysian Arcade. This passageway runs the full length of the shops on the west side of the street.
First store is the Kingswell Camera Shop. (Note: Kingswell Avenue was the site of an early Disney animation studio.) This is the PhotoPass area. Batteries, cameras, memory cards and photo frames and albums are also available.
Time to move on to the next store. Julius Katz & Sons features kitchen items such as towels, utensils and dinnerware.
Julius Katz was inspired by Julius the Cat, an animated cat who joined the live action Alice in the Disney shorts of the 1920s.
Next up Atwater Ink & Paint with mugs, tea, and coffee items.
Be sure to look around the stores for the props and signs.. these items line the top of the room.
A great bulletin board behind the counter.
Next up Trolley Treats. In addition to the homemade fudge, marshmallows, taffy, apples, and other treats in the case there are packaged goodies available as well.
The window features a model of Rock Candy Mountain, an attraction that was designed for Disneyland but never built.
Next door is Clarabelle's Hand-Scooped Ice Cream.
The last shop on the block is Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe. This is the Starbucks location and offers a full range of Starbucks beverages. They also feature hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and pastries.
There's a large dining room with both tables and booths.
Be sure to take a moment to look at the pictures and posters on the walls - some of the memorabilia of the touring musical group of sisters who "own" the coffee shop.
Goofy was out for pictures. All of the Disney characters on Buena Vista Street appear in period costumes.
As was Mickey.
Next up I noticed the Carthay Circle Restaurant was open. So I walked inside. They had the Carthay Circle Lounge open for pictures. This is on the first floor on the left and it has a bar area as well as a waiting area for the dining room upstairs.
The steps to go upstairs are on the left where those people are.
A closer look at the items in the entranceway.
Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the interiors of Buena Vista Street. It really only touches the surface of what is there to see and explore. The Imagineers hid references, tributes, and great props throughout. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the several sections (and thousands of pictures) I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com For a full listing of my coverage from the events you can check out this list I put together. Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.
June 22, Disney-Pixar's new movie Brave opened at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.
For Brave, the El Capitan experience comes complete with a live stage show--this brand new one involves many of the classic Disney/Pixar characters in a musical salute to Hollywood's 125th anniversary.
The small cast performs standards including "Be A Clown," "Cheek to Cheek," and "Another Opening, Another Show."
As a finale, they head to Scotland to lead into your feature presentation...
Culminating in the presentation of the girl of the hour.
Following the show, the short La Luna, and the feature film Brave are presented in Disney Digital 3D, and Dolby® Atmos™ for excellent video and audio clarity. For a review of this visually stunning film, I direct you to Deb's recent blog
After the movie, patrons are invited to head next door to Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store, where a plethora of merchandise is available for purchase.
At the Soda Fountain, you can partake in the "Brave" sundae, with shortbread, strawberry cheesecake ice cream, strawberry syrup, marshmallow, and whipped cream. Alternatively, if you want a little more time with Merida than the show provided, you can enjoy breakfast with Merida in a package that includes a ticket to the movie for afterwards.
All in all, El Capitan once again provides a terrific evening of entertainment in an elegant setting. Anyone looking to see Brave during its run there (June 22-August 12,) should certainly consider it for a first-class time.