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August 2012 Archives

August 6, 2012

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, August, 3, 2012.

We start off today walking through Downtown Disney. Not much visible progress on Earl of Sandwich, which is still supposed to open in "late summer".

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

A look through the windows reveals what appears to be a lot of work left to do.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

This kiosk is slated to be removed soon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

No visible progress on the planters to the right of the DCA entrance.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

The dedication plaque on Buena Vista Street has been replaced. The old one had an extra plate on the bottom.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

A new issue of the Buena Vista Bugle is out for August.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

The patriotic overlay for Buena Vista Street has been removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


The view from my table at Flo's. A great place to sit and eat lunch.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Speaking of Flo's, they are now offering a souvenir glass.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Next door in Ramone's a look at the Chip Foose hood pins. (Also wanted to note they had tons of the Cars Land CDs near the registers).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


Random picture as I was leaving Cars Land.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


Some grand opening/dated merchandise still available.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


Heading over to Disneyland. The Jungle Cruise had a long wait, they were using the upper level of the queue the couple times I walked by.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

The Jungle Cruise was closed for about a week as they worked on the boats and docks. They have added nets to all the boats, a new tie off and bumpers that I could tell. A closer look at the nets. Interesting how for 57 years these were not needed but now they have to dummy proof things for modern guests.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


The new bumpers.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Some new signs along the Big Thunder Trail as you head to the Jamboree. Too bad Big Al and the other Bears do not perform!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


There was a square dance lesson/activity going on as I approached the Jamboree.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


Here is a brief video clip of the activity.

Even with all the signs and activity it was still fairly quiet till the Billies came out.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Farmer Mickey was out today, wonder what happened to Cowboy Mickey?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

A clip of Billy Be Good...


This was the largest crowd I have seen for a show since they moved (but I have only been to a couple so not a lot of data points).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

I made a quick walk through the Small World Toy Shop. Had a request for pictures of the Small World toys. This was the only display I saw with Small World items.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Climbers were on the Tomorrowland side of the Matterhorn this time by.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


What appears to be a test on a small portion of the Nemo railings. Looks like they really want to find a way to keep guests off the railings.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Cinderella out for stroll.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Plaza Gardens transformation to the Princess Fantasy Faire is moving very slowly..

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Over in DCA I stopped by the Backlot stage for the College Band set. Note they only have one week left. They wrap up their season on August 10th.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

A video clip of the band performing Zero to Hero.


Halloween merchandise is already making its way into the parks.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Dancin' with Disney, another great place to interact with the characters and so far I have not seen big crowds.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


There are refreshments for sale at this table.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Caught the Red Car News Boys as we headed back to Disneyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Soundsational was making its way through Town Square.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

After a Grand Circle Tour on the Disneyland Railroad saw the Voices of Liberty in front of the Opera House.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Time for the Flag Retreat.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

After dinner caught the College Band pre-parade sets.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

A child wandered out so Ron recruited him to guest direct for a brief second.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Pirates League will be coming to the Court of Angels in New Orleans Square for a limited time this fall, beginning September 1. So far no changes to the area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


The cart in New Orleans Square near the Haunted Mansion had a couple new (well new to me/my memory) menu items.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Another Jamboree sign I missed earlier. This one coming from Fantasyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


Headed back to Main Street for the College Band. They are really loosening up with only a week to go.. notice the trombone section...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


Back to DCA.

Had a request for a better picture of the souvenir cone cups.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Thought the clouds this evening made for a different look.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12


I watched three or four cycles of Luigi's Flying Tires and never saw a single rider, are they really forcing you to pair up and not break up your group in an effort to make the waits shorter? Or was it just dumb luck what I observed?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

As I was heading out DJ came rolling by.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/03/12

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.



August 8, 2012

Lights...Camera...Magic!: Hooray for Hollywood! Adventures by Disney

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Recently Adventures by Disney invited AllEars to experience their newly-launched day tour, "Lights...Camera...Magic!" This trip takes guests from the Disneyland Resort, up through many sightseeing attractions in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and ends with an exclusive tour of the Walt Disney Studios.

After an early-morning welcome in the lobby of the Grand Californian, our cheerful guides Hanneke and Natalia led us onto the bus, gave us bottles of water, and introduced us to our coach driver, Don Tate.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

The guides are well-versed in the Disney Way, as they also work as VIP guides at Disneyland's Guest Services, and lead the week-long Backstage Magic tour as well.

As the bus started the long (often painfully slow) drive to Hollywood, we were entertained by cartoons playing on the overhead monitors, broken up with the guides occasionally pointing out different landmarks and discussing a variety of Hollywood triva.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

After about 1 1/4 hr, we arrived in Hollywood. Welcome to the Dream Factory!

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

We disembarked at the Hollywood and Highland Center (belongings could be left on the bus) and walked through to get a good view of the famed Hollywood sign. In preparation for heading out onto Hollywood Blvd, we were told a little about the Walk of Fame (costs a mere $30k to get your star!) and cautioned about the people selling CDs and photos with off-brand characters.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

One of the decorative elements of the Hollywood and Highland Center is the pair of large elephants referencing the DW Griffith film "Intolerance," and whose slightly smaller siblings used to be seen in DCA.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

[At various points in the tour, we were treated to some special moments/gifts from the guides that were not mentioned in the official itinerary. In the interests of "keeping the magic" (and not raising expectations in case these change from tour to tour,) I'm glossing over those. Suffice to say, you are likely to take home some special souvenirs of your time in Tinseltown.]

Although we were right across the street from the Disney theater El Capitan, we were not taken over there. I thought this was an unusual choice--on the one hand, it seems likely that people who are at Disneyland and taking a Disney tour might have an interest in going there, and on the other hand, I was somewhat relieved that they were going for a more authentically-grounded tour and not just trying to detour tourists to their own properties.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

We had an 11:00 appointment to tour the Dolby Theater (where the Academy Awards are held each year,) so that left us about 10 minutes to walk the half a block down to the Chinese Theater and take a few photos.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Depending on the date, there may be some event happening at the Dolby, in which case I believe they would substitute a tour of Grauman's Chinese Theater instead.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Inside the Dolby Theater, there were no photos or recording allowed. Our tour guide there, Gary, was really good at pointing out interesting design elements of the theater, and regaling us with anecdotes of the stars. I desperately wanted to ask him to say "...this is the perfect job for me, because I LOVE THE MOVIES!" but didn't have the nerve.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

We walked through the lobby, saw the VIP lounge where the Dolby Oscar is kept on display, and got to sit in the members' area of the theater (currently being used for Cirque du Solei's show "Iris.") Later, we were shown some of the concept art for the fabulous Governor's Balls that are thrown each year, every time having a different theme.

After that was concluded, we reboarded the bus and Don took us on a narrated tour of Hollywood as we drove down the Sunset Strip to Beverly Hills, pointing out such landmarks as the Chateau Marmont, Whisky a Go-Go, and the Laugh Factory.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

We eventually arrived at Beverly Hills. Can you smell the money?

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Driving down Rodeo Drive, he pointed out many of the fine shopping establishments available, where a suit might set you back a mere $5k.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Turning down Wilshire, we arrived at the Original Farmer's Market at around 1pm, and were given a $15 gift certificate and 90 minutes to eat lunch. Depending on what sort of food you were looking for, this might easily cover the cost of your food, or be somewhat insufficient, given the wide variety of choices there.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Although the Farmer's Market is attached to the Grove shopping center, the gift certificates were only good at the Farmer's Market side. If you had time, you could of course wander over there, where Extra films each day, to try to catch a glimpse of a star.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

The Farmer's Market is, of course, represented with facsimiles in both DCA and DHS.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

At about 2:30pm, we met back at the bus and Don then drove us over to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. The drive took about an hour, during which we watched the Leonard Maltin tour of the Studios, as seen on the "Walt Disney Treasures - Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studio" DVD.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Once there, we were given some historical background on the studios, and then shown around the exteriors of a lot of the main buildings.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

We were also brought in to see the hallways of the Animation building, and the underground passageway featured in TV's "Alias."

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

A few minutes were allotted for us to shop in the Studios' store, where they have some merchandise exclusive to this location...

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

...after which we were able to take a quick look around the interior of Soundstage 2, where they are currently filming "Body of Proof." Note: If they are actually working there, the tour will not be able to go inside. In either case, photos inside are not permitted.

We then zipped inside the Frank Wells building for a quick look at the exterior displays around the Archives.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Following that, we headed over to the Legends Plaza, where there was time to take photos with the beautiful Blaine Gibson statues and have some refreshments.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Adult beverages along with some custom-made cupcakes and hors d'uvres were served as we perused all the handprints of the many extraordinary individuals that combined their efforts and talents to produce all the Disney creations we enjoy.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Finally, about 6pm, it was time for us to regretfully clamber back onto the bus, where Don braved the rush hour traffic to deliver us safely back at the Grand Californian.

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

Is the tour worth it? Always a subjective judgement, however there's a lot to like about this tour. I hate driving in the Hollywood traffic more than just about anything except paying for parking, so to have someone else deal with that is worth quite a bit. Every time you get on the bus, they have cold bottled water available for you, and virtually every time you get off, they have a restroom stop located nearby. It's not a cheap tour, and is definitely targeted towards the luxury travel market, however they do a great job of making the whole sightseeing affair hassle-free.

There is a fair amount of walking on the tour, particularly up and down staircases in the theater tour and throughout Hollywood and Highland--not strenuous by most people's standards, but considerable if walking is typically a chore for you. There's also a considerable amount of time on the bus, between driving to and from Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Burbank--probably around five hours in total. When the tour started, they included dinner at Gladstone's in Malibu in lieu of the reception in the Legends Plaza, but switched it out because it added probably another couple of hours of driving onto the day.

Another useful aspect to the tour is that, for families considering longer ABD tours, this can be your gateway trip, to see if traveling with Disney is for you. Chances are however, for the Disney lover, the answer will be an expensive "yes."

Lights...Camera...Magic! Adventures by Disney

The pricing on the tours is $199/$189 for Adults and Children, with a $10 AP discount. The tours started this year, in January, and are given three times a week, currently Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

August 12, 2012

D23′s Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features: Day One

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Another year has rolled around, bringing us once again to D23's Destination D weekend. This time out, the theme is celebrating 75 years of animated features with a plethora of panels discussing Disney animation of the Past, Present, and Future.

To welcome us in, Steven Clark, head of D23 gave a short address, which was then followed by a dancing flash mob.

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When they finally concluded, a taped message from John Lasseter was played, pumping up the excitement for the upcoming weekend.

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The first panel started off with memories of Walt and the First Golden Age of Disney Animation, with people who were actually there: Animator and Disney Legend Burny Mattinson, animator and producer Joe Hale, and documentary director/son of Disney Legend Frank Thomas, Ted Thomas.

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Subsequently, came three panels during which all photography or recording were forbidden. The first was Roy E. Disney and the Second Golden Age of Disney Animation, in which Roy Patrick Disney, son of Roy E. Disney and former Imagineer; producer Don Hahn; animation producers John Musker and Ron Clements; and creative director/head of special projects Dave Bossert, discuss how Roy E. ultimately saved Disney Animation, and by extension, the company.

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Upcoming animation projects were presented in the panel Inside Walt Disney Animation Studios Today.

One of the movies discussed was Wreck-It Ralph, the movie about a character's existential crisis, as experienced by a character in a video game.

Another was the work-in-progress Frozen, a contemporary musical film, loosely based on the Snow Queen. We were treated to a performance of one of the songs "Let it Go," which will be sung by Idina Menzel, from Wicked.

We were also given the first public screening of paperman, the new short film that will play before Wreck-it Ralph. It displays a new melding of CG and hand-drawn animation, in which the hand-drawn features are layered on top of CG renderings.

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The next presentation, The Greatest Disney Animation You Never Saw, played videos that have been relatively scarce for some time. The preshow to the old Art of Animation attraction in then-MGM Studios, Back to Neverland, with Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite was one, along with footage from Song of the South.

Animating the Disney Parks was a terrific talk with the ever-entertaining Imagineering senior vice president Tony Baxter, talking about his mentor, legend Claude Coats; former Imagineer Eddie Sotto talking about his mentor, legend Herb Ryman; and Imagineering vice president of creative development Tom Morris discussing likewise legend Marc Davis and John Hench.

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The evening closed out with a concert and screening: An Evening with Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix, and a screening of the director's cut of Walt & El Grupo.

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Dick Van Dyke is still amazingly spry for his 86 years, and if he occasionally has a senior moment during the performance (the song list of which was pretty similar to their performance at the Expo last year,) it detracts nothing from the enjoyment of the singing or his not-inconsiderable charm.

The documentary of Walt's goodwill trip to South America with his band of artistic talent is the product of Ted Thomas and producer Kuniko Okubo, and is a great look at all these famous Disney film makers when they were in their prime, and at the height of their talents.

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Day Two coming up!

August 13, 2012

D23′s Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features: Day Two

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Day One

OK, a handful of hours later, and we're back for more, at day 2 of D23's Destination D!

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The day started off with animation historian Jerry Beck and animator Eric Goldberg's presentation on Wacky and Wild Disney Animation. Many of the more surreal segments of animation (such as Pink Elephants on Parade) and some of the earlier Mickey Mouse cartoons, in which he was depicted as doing comically uncomfortable things to Minnie and barnyard animals.

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Next up was animator Andreas Deja, who, in Drawing with Personality, showed examples of many famous animators' drawings and pointed out how their drawing styles evolved and what their strong points of design were. He then drew several drawings which were later given away by the time-old "taped under the seat" method, and asked the audience to draw Jafar as a child.

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After a short break, we came back to Tinker Bell: The Evolution of a Disney Character. In this panel, animation historian Mindy Johnson introduced us to the creation and maturation of the Tinker Bell character, revealing her new discovery of Tinker Bell's facial model, former ink and paint girl Ginni Mack. They were joined by Tinker Bell's body model Margaret Kerry, and the voice actress and director of Tinker Bell's new movies, Mae Whitman and Peggy Holmes.

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Following lunch, a star-studded panel awaited in Hearing Voices: A Salute to Disney Voice Artists--Kathryn Beaumont, voice of Alice and Wendy; Lisa Davis, voice of Anita in 101 Dalmatians; David Frankham, Sgt. Tibbs from 101 Dalmatians; Bruce Reitherman, Mowgli and Christopher Robin; Bill Farmer, Goofy; and Christ Sanders, voice of Stitch.

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The last presentation of the day was Snow White: Still the Fairest of Them All. In celebrating the first animated feature that made all the rest possible, Tim O'Day presented Marge Champion, live-action model for Snow White, Alex Rannie, animated musical historian, and Gabriella Calicchio, recent CEO of The Walt Disney Family Museum .

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But wait! It wasn't over yet! To top off all that had gone before, the weekend culminated in an amazing concert: An Evening With Alan Menken. Playing parts of various songs he wrote for Disney and non-Disney productions throughout his career, the songwriter and Disney Legend played piano and sang for over 100 minutes to a completely rapt audience. If you weren't there, man, I feel for you, because it was fabulous.

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Next time: The event in overview.

August 14, 2012

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, August, 10, 2012.

Walked by the Disneyland Hotel and a fence and walls were going up along the Fantasy Tower. This is the walkway/driveway on the Downtown Disney side of the tower.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Moving on to Earl of Sandwich work. Still no opening date announced.
A fence is up around the old kiosk area on the left in this picture.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Banners for Frankenweenie are up around AMC.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

And Avengers home video release.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


First stop Disneyland!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Visible change has started to occur in the former Plaza Gardens area. A crane is onsite to lift the supports into place.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Here you can see the frame for the new structure taking shape.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Surprised at the length of the line at Minnie's house in Toontown given the heat of the afternoon and no shade at all for it.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Out at the Jamboree the coloring area had a fair number of guests (plus some chipmunks) in it, but the rest of the area was empty for the most part.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Work on the fence along the Big Thunder Trail.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Today was the finale day of the 2012 All American College Band. They wrapped up their 11 week program.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

A minor update to the display case in the Opera House on Main Street. The Tomorrow section now features the Fantasy Faire.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Next stop DCA.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


The College Band on the Backlot Stage

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Then I headed back to Disneyland to catch the Voices of Liberty. Their current run is slated to go for another month only.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Time for the Flag Retreat.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Some work being done in Fantasyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Caught all three stops of the College Band pre-parade.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Mandy Monorail cruising overhead.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

The counters (not sure their official title) were out in full force. Seemed everywhere I went I saw cast members with stop watches, clickers, and clip boards recording the crowds and traffic flow. Guessing they are trying to better understand how things have changed now due to DCA.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Watched the opening of Soundsational.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


A better picture of what I am guessing is a test on the rail in the Nemo queue.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Around 7:00pm Tomorrowland Terrace was very calm Friday.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

The Rumble King were on the stage.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Time for the last College Band set of the year. Mickey and Minnie led them out.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

And Pinocchio was on hand too.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Pinocchio made his way over to us and revved up the crowd as the band circled around.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Minnie stopped by to cheer them on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Since it was the last set the band was very loose and everyone was having a great time.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Video of the last song of their last set... their Earth, Wind, and Fire tribute.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Thanks for a great season!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

After the set it was back to DCA.
Stopped by the Mad T Party.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


Then roamed through Radiator Springs.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12


The Racers went down while I was taking pictures.. here all the lights are on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Had a few minutes before show time so stopped by the Little Mermaid.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Found a couple with Glow with the Show Ears and stood behind them to see if any interesting pictures presented themselves.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

There were some ears scattered around but still seemed very light.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

On the way out caught Magical from near the Storytellers statue.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/10/12

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.



August 17, 2012

D23′s Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features: A Look Back.

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Day One
Day Two

So now that we're (sadly) finished with one more Destination D, it's time for a look back on some of the outstanding moments in my memory.

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I have to confess, when they had all the dancers/fans rush out in flash mob fashion to dance around to traditional music mixed with that oddly synthetic hip hop beat overlay they like to use for all the shows nowadays, I had PTSD flashbacks to the Disney Dance Crew moments from the 2010 Destination D ("Drink up me gangstas, yo ho!") This is not to take anything away from the performers, who were as exuberant as anyone could wish, but one of my pet peeves is the attempt to modernize tunes that were already really pretty good as they were. I am OK hearing music the way the Sherman Brothers wrote it, without having someone with a synthesizer go to town on it, and I would wonder how many people interested in 75 year old animated films might feel the same.

Fortunately, the first panel fulfilled all our yearnings for nostalgia by giving us insight into each of the "Nine Old Men" from guys who were actually there, working with them.

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One interesting note Joe Hale gave us, was that the Nine Old Men originally resented the title a little, as they weren't really that old when it was given to them...but they grew into it.

A few of the panels, while still fascinating, didn't really yield entirely new information. If you saw, for example, Waking Sleeping Beauty, you already had a large amount of context for the talk on the second golden age of Disney animation. Similarly, if you had attended Comic-Con, you had already heard a lot of what they had to say about Wreck-it Ralph.

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Paperman, however, presented by Producer Christina Reed and Supervising Animator Patrick Osborne, was entirely new and really a beautiful piece of work. Their new hybrid technique of animating faces in CG, removing parts and then redoing it in hand-drawn animation yielded a very clean-looking style that perfectly complimented the simple but oh-so affecting story. They said they would like to try a longer project with the same process, but still need to work out different aspects such as color, etc. Even if you weren't going to go see Wreck-it Ralph (which you should, because it looks great also,) Paperman is worth a trip to the cinema.

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One of my absolute favorite panels brought three of the Imagineers responsible for Disneyland Paris (among other projects too numerous to mention) together to share stories and reminisce about their mentors in the company.

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Tony Baxter spoke at length on his appreciation for Claude Coats' openness to the ideas of others, and his unflappable attitude towards the constantly changing nature of his projects--his faith that a given creation would ultimately be fine, although probably different from what he originally envisioned. His specialty was creating environments which were real, and which made good park rides.

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Eddie Sotto gave a presentation on Herb Ryman--emphasizing his genius in placemaking and his insistence on research as an essential tool in grounding fantasy with elements of authenticity.

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One part I found fascinating was when Sotto pointed out a pair of nuns Ryman drew for a movie storyboard...

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...That seem to turn up in quite a variety of places...

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It could be speculated that either Ryman was periodically placing them in the background of various renderings as an inside joke, or those two nuns wound up perpetually traveling the globe in their jeep.

The only negative about the panel was the time constraints--although the audience would happily have sat through a talk twice as long, it was clear that Tom Morris could have spoken longer about the two legends he knew personally, Marc Davis and John Hench.

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Hopefully they'll have these guys back again soon...maybe for a Disneyland Paris event?

Of course the first concert of the weekend, Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix, was wonderful. There isn't much to be said about Dick Van Dyke, except to hope that he keeps performing forever...which from the looks of him, seems entirely possible.

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Among the many exciting panels of the next day, watching Andreas Deja effortlessly sketch out a number of his trademark characters was a definite highlight. Also: If you're the person who found this sketch under your seat? I hate you.

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Any time you get a chance to hear from the Disney voice artists, it's always a good time--from the genial jocularity of Bill Farmer (Goofy,) to the gentle mannered tones of Lisa Davis (Anita,) to the...sounds...of Chris Sanders (Stitch.)

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Davis recalled her casting as developing from a movie she did (Queen of Outer Space) with Zsa Zsa Gabor, who apparently proved to be a touch difficult, which led Davis to developing a satirical impression of her. Disney heard of this and thought it might be an interesting take on Cruella, and had her come in to read lines, while he read Anita. Quickly perceiving that she was much more Anita than Cruella, she suggested a switch and subsequently had a wonderful time preparing for the role by playing with puppies they brought in for her, in the Hyperion Bungalow.

An absolutely astounding moment was when Marge Champion was presented, as the original live-action reference model for Snow White.

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Looking at her, there is no way you are going to think this woman is 93 years old. Clearly her years of activity as a dancer has stood her in good stead.

And then there was the grand finale, as Alan Menken brought it all home with a phenomenal concert. The raised seating in the back of the room was just lousy with Disney Legends, all out for a marvelous night.

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(While sitting in the row in front of luminaries like Tony Baxter and Richard Sherman was good for photos, it became slightly terrifying as waves of adoring fans came racing over to greet them, clearly completely unconcerned if they had to stomp on your head to get to them, a la Gene Kelly's death in "What a Way to Go!")

Menken gave a great performance. I found that through the years, I've heard some of his songs from Mermaid or Beauty so frequently, that I actually ceased to pay attention to them anymore--they had just become part of the audio wallpaper of the parks. To really listen to them again was to remember just how good they are, and why they are played so frequently, even today.

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In sum, it was a really fun weekend. The presentations that revolved mostly around video clips were a little problematic, because in this day of YouTube, it's hard to find footage to show that everyone doesn't have readily available to them...but it's always fun to see Back to Neverland or Song of the South on a big screen again.

Sunday was definitely lighter in programming than Saturday, and here's another pet peeve of mine: All throughout the show, they kept hammering at us that they listen to what everyone says, and scheduled fewer talks because people complained that they wanted more free time to socialize and use the facilities. Really? People want to pay that much for an event, and then more than anything, want to have free time? Even if they did, why wouldn't they just skip the panels in which they weren't interested? I would think that for a person who doesn't attend a presentation, there's no difference whether the content is scheduled or not--asking them not to schedule it only means no one else gets to see it. Why is it I can't see more stuff, just because you want three hours for dinner?

If the thought of waiting in lines forever at Expo gives you the vapors, but you still want to experience presentations on Disney past, present, and future, the Destination D series is a great option. You're guaranteed a seat, although people still line up for hours to jockey for location, so the stress level involved is much lower. The emphasis is on historical content however, so if you come expecting new and ground-breaking announcements about future projects, you're likely to be disappointed. For people who want to see and hear about the Legends--the creators who were there at the beginning of the Disney company, when animation was new, and theme parks were only a fool's dream--it's a treasure. A gift of lore and anecdotes from people whose pride in their work and their association with the company shines through even 20, 40...80 years later.

Don't take too long pondering over whether to attend the next one, however, because many people and their stories are gone already, and unfortunately none of us are getting any younger...with the possible exception of Dick Van Dyke and Marge Champion.

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About August 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in August 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2012 is the previous archive.

September 2012 is the next archive.

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