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June 2014 Archives

June 2, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, May 30, 2014.

Monorail Blue passed by while at the tram stop then it stopped near the entrance to Disneyland for several minutes. It eventually started up again and made its way to Disneyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

No lines to get into the parks right now. It was just after 1pm.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Today was a Grad Nite evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Because of Grad Nite they were closing Hollywood Land before the rest of the park.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Walking up Buena Vista Street

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Some new Soarin' Merchandise has hit store shelves. A new t-shirt - $24.95.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

The back...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Grizzly River Run is closed still (scheduled to reopen June 19th)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Stopped by the Little Mermaid, Ariel's Undersea Adventure, since it was a walk on. Here is a full ride recording (you can call it the extended edition since we stopped twice).

A look out to Paradise Pier

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Sligo Rags performing at the Paradise Garden Bandstand

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

This past week the Operation: Playtime! - Featuring the Green Army Men performed their 10,000th show.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Mariachi Divas performing in the Pacific Wharf area

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Still working in the Wharf area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Entering Cars Land from the Wharf.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

My timing this year for the cactus blooming, I am either a couple days too early or too late. Last year I seemed to hit quite a few in bloom.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Mater at the Cozy Cone

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Looking up Route 66 in Cars Land

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

There was a back-up at the Tower of Terror FastPass return line.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Some treats in Trolley Treats

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Tinker Bell is Patriotic for the summer.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Some relatively new World of Color merchandise in Los Feliz

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Time to visit Disneyland. Noticed one of the light units was up, it appeared to be stuck and stayed up all day/evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Main Street USA

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

In Tomorrowland. The guest relations kiosk has moved...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Across the way and into a corner. Maybe to get out of the sun?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Space Mountain is closed until July. No signs of work on the exterior.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

A check of Alice in Wonderland from the ground as work continues on the exterior track.

Preparations for the underside cover.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Roger Rabbit was out again at the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree Springtime Roundup and no wait at all when I walked by.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

A family of geese along the Big Thunder Trail

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Work continues on the New Orleans Square rooftops.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Mickey and the Magical Map in the Fantasyland Theatre

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Time to check in on Alice in Wonderland work. Looks like they poured the concrete for the new, extended, walkway.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Decided to catch Soundsational

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

The Storm Trooper mugs are available at Tomorrowland Terrace

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

About 80 minutes until showtime and the Rivers of America waterfront has a good crowd for Fantasmic!

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Back in DCA Grad Nite had started to take over the park. Dance areas were being set up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Lightning rolling along Route 66

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Another Dance area in the Wharf

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Went for a second trip under the sea since some of the group had not ridden it since it reopened.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

A posted wait of 105 minutes for Tower of Terror, thanks to Grad Nite

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

The Mad T Party was also going to be used. Interesting they had a DJ stand on the dance floor and not using the main stage location.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

The Mad T Party Band

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Closing out the evening with Magical from Buena Vista Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

A Mickey Balloon found its way into my frame, dead center, for the finale.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14

Traffic backed up on Disneyland Drive.

Magic Way was closed and all cars coming into Downtown Disney were being directed down the street. Guessing the Simba lot.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 5/30/14


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.



June 7, 2014

Disneyland Summer Update

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I attended Disneyland's summer preview media event on May 23, the day of the 24-hour "Rock Your Disney Side" event, where I had several interview opportunities to discuss what's new and some things we can look forward to this summer.

Chef Chris Faulkner demonstrates how to make Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sliders and Apple Berry Flatbread - two of the new food items they rolled out for the 24-hour event that will also be available at the Disneyland Resort this summer. Other special food items will also be available this summer like Mac and Cheese Flatbread (Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta) and Raven's Feast Hot Dog (Award Wieners).

Disneyland Ambassador Megan Navarette talks about some of the classic Disneyland attractions like the Mad Tea Party and "it's a small world". And fans of Frozen will have another opportunity to see Anna, Elsa, and Olaf when they appear on a float in the pre-parade for Mickey's Soundsational Parade. (Starts mid-June.)

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad recently emerged from a lengthy refurbishment. The track was completely rebuilt and the attraction was updated with lots of new and enhanced special effects. Imagineer Ray Spencer accompanied me as we rode the attraction. This was the first time I'd been on it since it re-opened, but unfortunately with the bright lights shining on me I couldn't see most of the special effects!

Artist Noah talked to me about how he began his Disney art career and one of his favorite pieces. He also told me about an upcoming "chalk art" opportunity for kids - they can participate from anywhere. He's really passionate about what he does - very interesting man.

June 9, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 6, 2014.

First stop this afternoon, Disneyland and no wait to enter.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

In Adventureland, a new temporary wait time sign for the Jungle Cruise.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Walked through New Orleans Square. The Club 33 project is scheduled to be wrapping up in less than a month. Not much visible progress due to the tarps obstructing the view.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Walked around the Rivers of America to the Big Thunder Ranch. At the Springtime Roundup only two characters out this pass by. Thumper (seen here) and Brer Rabbit.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Went for a trip on the Monorail. A look down at the sub lagoon work. Not a lot of visible progress in this area. Note today marked the 55th anniversary since the attraction opened. Too bad you cannot experience it to mark the occasion. It is slated to be closed through Fall (no official date of reopening has been announced yet that I know of).

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A check of Alice in Wonderland from the Monorail, less than a month until it is scheduled to return for the 4th of July holiday weekend..

Looks like the concrete extension is done and the track protection is off.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Stopped by Captain EO since it is closing soon for some work.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Some Marvel merchandise is now available in the Starcade

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Tomorrowland horticulture with the Matterhorn looming in the background.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

A check of the Alice in Wonderland work from the ground.

The underside of the extension has concrete (or whatever material it is) now.

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A closer look.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Walked through Fantasy Faire. Only two princesses inside this afternoon and no wait at all (posted at 5 minutes but they were letting you walk right in).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Beauty and the Beast was being performed at the Royal Theatre

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

4:00pm means Mickey's Soundsational Parade is stepping off by Small World. Next week the Frozen pre-parade float is scheduled to make its debut.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

On my way back through Fantasyland noticed the canopy for the queue is MIA.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Made my way over to Disney California Adventure. The summer issue of the Buena Vista Bugle is now available.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

The awnings at the FFP Cafe are still gone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Was walking through Flo's V-8 Cafe in Cars Land and noticed this sign. Is this a new menu offering or just a new sign.. I do not remember it (nor the sign).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Stopped by the Animation Building in Hollywood Land. Planes Fire & Rescue ad in the Animation Building. Interesting that Frozen is still there and not Big Hero 6.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

A Red Car on Hollywood Blvd in front of the Animation Building.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Stopped by the World of Disney in Downtown Disney. The collection room which used to be Villains has been redone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

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Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Cash registers are on one side only now and the display cases are gone. I did not see a new one with watches, jewelry, etc.. but I did not explore the store that much.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Downtown Disney has a summer celebration going on. It kicked off last week (June 1) and runs through September 6th. Here are a couple special offerings at Catal.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Rainforest Cafe offerings.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

The Disneyland Hotel pool's vintage sign above the monorail water slide.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Seems like they are having problems with the Tangaroa Terrace. Saw several of these signs around the area trying to direct guests there.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

As part of the Summer Celebration on many Friday nights they will be celebrating Hawaii. This evening there was a group called Tupua performing songs and dances from the south pacific including Samoa, Tahiti, and Hawaii. I missed the start of the performance. There were no showtimes posted that I could see.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Of course an audience participation song.

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A video clip of the finale to their performance.

Some treats on display at the Marceline Confectionery

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Build-a-Bear supporting the LA Kings

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At the end of their set they announced the next one was at 8pm so I circled back to catch the beginning. Almost showtime.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

The opening and a couple of clips from the Summer Celebration show being presented by Disney Aulani and Downtown Disney.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Made my way to the Tomorrowland Terrace for the 8:35pm set of the Suburban Legends (notice the Captain EO shirt). They performed a fun set that included: Colors of the Wind, Kiss the Girl, Beauty and the Beast, Duck Tales, Sweet Caroline, and Gummy Bears.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

Sleeping Beauty Castle, Magical was cancelled this evening due to winds.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

So I headed for Disney California Adventure and found a spot just before showtime for World of Color under the Silly Symphony Swings. It offers a great view of the fountains...

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

...but the audio is terrible (tonight the background music was still playing) and the projections are not really visible and what you can make out is backward.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

But you can see the fire clearly.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

After World of Color the park was closed to day guests and Grad Nite was taking over. Their party started at 10pm in Hollywood Land and Cars Land and would take over more of the park once the World of Color guests leave.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/06/14

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.



June 10, 2014

Round Up Rodeo!

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Today I am arbitrarily starting a new periodic feature in which I briefly "round up" some of the miscellaneous Disney-ish happenings I've recently come across but didn't blog about earlier. Because sharing is caring.

In the beginning of May, I, along with around 80 others, boarded the Disney Fantasy for the AllEars group cruise. Were you there?

If you weren't, you missed a ton of fun, but can read all about it on Deb's Digest

As is the case with all the AllEars cruises, the ship was lovely and the company was fabulous. New for me on this cruise were the ports of the Cayman Islands and Falmouth, Jamaica. On these islands we were able to go to Hell...

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...Get up close and personal with turtles...

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...and have tea in an old Plantation House where they BURIED A GIRL IN THE BASEMENT.

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...So, something for everybody.

After disembarking, I was able to catch a glimpse of the first weekend of Star Wars Weekend featuring some familiar faces...

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...And some new fireworks.

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On the whole, I think the Disney acquisition of Star Wars has really given a shot in the arm to this event which, as entertaining as it has been for the last few years, was beginning to show signs of stagnation.

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After I returned from all that merriment, Disneyland hosted it's third 24hr event "Rock Your Disney Side."

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Although I wasn't able to attend for the whole time, as I have in the past, I did make it from around 8pm to 6am, which seemed sufficient. This time around crowds seemed pretty consistent and didn't drop off as much in the early hours as last year.

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One impressive display I was able to visit recently was the Castle Peak and Thunder Railroad

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In his backyard in Anaheim, past Disneyland canoe guide David Sheegog has created an elaborate backyard railroad themed around some familiar and iconic Disney structures.

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All the Disney animated features are also represented in various displays around the yard, and all five of the Disneyland Railroad engines have been replicated from scratch.

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Sheegog plans further expansions for the railroad, including Rainbow Ridge, Rainbow Caverns, and Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland.

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Open houses for viewing are held several times throughout the year--the dates can be found on the website. If you're in the area, I encourage you to check out this charming display!

Also in the area, the historic Anaheim Packing House saw its grand opening on May 31st.

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As part of the Anaheim Packing District, it joins the Packard Building and the Farmer's Park in revitalizing Downtown Anaheim and providing a public market/food hall as well as a communal gathering space.

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Although at least half of it is still under construction, there are already some strong food establishment offerings open, running the gamut from fish and chips, to ramen, to poutine, to hand-made popsicles.

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With an emphasis on fresh food in a unique setting (and free wifi,) the Packing House seems sure to become a busy social hub for the community. The close proximity to Disneyland makes it a good choice for off-property dining as well.

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Anaheim Packing House website

Then on June 7th, the Pasadena Symphony and POPS started their summer concert series at the LA Arboretum. Led by Principle Conductor Michael Feinstein, their first entry of the season, "Feinstein's Favorites" included a number of guest performers, one of which was Richard White--the voice of Gaston, from "Beauty and the Beast."

The series will be ongoing throughout the summer, and information can be found at http://www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org/pops-summer-series-2014/ The next concert, "Broadway's Leading Ladies," will be held on June 28th, and will feature (among many other talents,) Susan Egan, who is the voice of Meg in "Hercules," and who originated the role of Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway.

Also on June 7th, the artist SHAG, who has previously done work for Disney commemorating Disneyland's 50th Anniversary, Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary, the Disney Cruise Line, and more, had a signing at the WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney. The Gallery debuted his latest piece, "Morning in the Magic Kingdom."

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Customers were allowed to have two items signed that had to be purchased at the event. Vouchers were handed out at time of purchase with a number to hold your space in line.

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Finally, this week brings us to E3--Electronic Entertainment Expo--which should herald all the latest news as far as Disney's video games. The expectation is that we'll be treated to demos of Disney Infinity's new Marvel additions, as well as updates on Disney Fantasia and hopefully the announcement of upcoming games in the Star Wars universe.

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One of the events taking place during the expo open to all comers is "Video Games Live"--a concert of video game music performed live. While they do shows worldwide, this one, on June 11th, will be premiering music from Disney Fantasia as well as a multitude of other properties. Ticket information can be found here.

So! That's what's been happening around here. Until next time!

June 18, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 13, 2014.

First stop today Disney California Adventure.

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The park is coming up on 2 years since the re-dedication and opening of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street this weekend.

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A message from Maleficent at Trolley Treats

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The awning is back at the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Grizzly River Run reopens next week. This week some water in the flume. No signs of activity.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Entering Cars Land from the Wharf.

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A posted 10 minute wait for the Flying Tires (I took a look and it was less than that so decided to go for a spin). Turned out to be only a one cycle wait. So only a couple minutes.

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Tower of Terror was not operating when I walked by.

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New park maps are out. Disneyland features Splash Mountain instead of Big Thunder. Disney California Adventure has World of Color with glow with the show ears.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

The All American College Band is listed. They start their season Thursday. I plan to see them Friday so look for pictures and video next week.

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Sulley the horse
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Walking out toward Alice in Wonderland.

The new wall extension looks to be complete. It was confirmed this week that the attraction will reopen for 4th of July.

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The rock extension is taking shape.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

It was announced this week that the subs will return September 27th. Out in the lagoon scaffolding is up and they have started to work on refinishing.

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A look at the Alice work from the Monorail. Should be interesting what type of railings will be going up on the extension.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

As we pulled into the monorail station I turned around and took a couple pictures through the window (that is why it is tinted). But you can see the scaffolding around the track.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Space Mountain is being cleaned. Look at the difference (on the right you can see some areas that have not been yet).

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Ran into a couple Storm Troopers as I walked through Tomorrowland

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I passed through the SpringTime RoundUp in the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. The White Rabbit was roaming around.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

The covers are back on the queue for the Carrousel.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Today before th 4:00pm Mickey's Soundsational Parade a new Frozen pre-parade debuted featuring Queen Elsa, Princess Anna and Olaf. Here it is stepping off for its first run.

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Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

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Here is a video of the Frozen pre-parade making its way down Main Street USA.

The float making its way around Town Square.

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Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

The far west (left as you enter) gates to Disneyland (Gates 1-6) are being worked on.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Returning to DCA. A look at the vineyard crop this year.

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The awnings are back on Ghirardelli too.

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Passing by the Oil Pan in Cars Land.

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5 & Dime passing by on their way to perform

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Returning to Disneyland. A look into the artist area in the Disneyana Store at some upcoming artwork.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

No Frozen pre-parade for the 6:30 Soundsational.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Downtown Disney was once again celebrating summer with Hawaiian Nights. This week an Aulani photo op was set up near House of Blues/Build-A-Bear.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Tupua was back again this week performing more music and dances from the South Pacific.

Here are some clips from their performance.


Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

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The banners on the light posts in the area near the AMC have been changed to Planes Fire & Rescue

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14

Out at the ESPN Zone a large bracket for the World Cup.

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On the large screen they had the Kings hockey game.

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Back to Buena Vista Street.

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After a walk through DCA it was back to Disneyland.

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Splash Mountain

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Walked up and found a spot for Fantasmic right before how time.

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Maleficent in dragon form.

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Made my way to Main Street for Magical

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Tinkerbell flying by the castle (note Dumbo did not fly this evening).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/13/14


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.


June 21, 2014

Tokyo Disney Resort - Part 1

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

Several members of the AllEars team spent most of March visiting Disney destinations far from home. We visited Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and Aulani in Hawaii. Along for all or part or this journey were AllEars' Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lee Zimmerman, Jeanine Yamanaka, Linda Eckwerth, and Deb Koma, and friends Jack and Pete.

Tokyo Disney Resort - Day 1

When we last left our merry band of adventurers, we had just finished two wonderful days at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Deb, Linda, Jeanine, Jack, and Pete flew to Tokyo the next day while Lee and I spent a day sightseeing in Hong Kong.

Lee and I had moved to a hotel on the Kowloon Peninsula, so had to make our way back to the airport. We took a shuttle bus that picked up at our hotel as well as several others. Lots of narrow streets and no street signs - I'm really glad our bus driver knew where he was going because I would've been hopelessly lost!

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Eventually we got onto the expressway and went over the bridge to Lantau Island (both Disneyland and the airport are there). Along the way we could see the signs indicating directions to Hong Kong Disneyland - that familiar Mickey-head symbol! I was very surprised to see that on the regular green highway signs.

The 4.5 hour flight to Tokyo was on another wide-body jet - I was surprised that it was so large a plane. After we took off and got above the clouds there was SUNSHINE!!!! That was very nice - hadn't seen it in 5 days! They served us lunch, and I slept some, and watched Julie and Julia.

We landed early in Tokyo - just before 3:00 rather than 3:20. Getting through Immigration and baggage claim and Customs was very efficient, but it took just long enough that we barely missed the 3:35 bus to the Tokyo Disney Resort and had to wait for the 5:05 bus. The Narita airport is not very close to Tokyo Disneyland, so you can either take the bus, or catch a train (which then requires a transfer), or a taxi, but a taxi is pretty expensive.

The bus was 2400 yen for each of us, and had to be paid in cash. The yen/dollar conversion is pretty close to 100 yen = one dollar, so that makes it easy to calculate in your head. We'd been warned ahead of time that most Japanese ATM machines do not accept U.S. ATM cards, so we'd brought cash to exchange at the hotel in Tokyo, and while in Hong Kong we'd exchanged some Hong Kong dollars for yen so that we would have enough to get us from the airport to the hotel. We did use credit cards occasionally while at Tokyo Disney, but one thing we noticed is that Japan seems to be largely a cash society - we didn't see very many people paying with plastic.

There wasn't much to do in the Tokyo airport while we were waiting for the bus...we were sitting inside most of the time but could still tell that the outside temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees from what it was in Hong Kong. We had monitored the weather forecast before we left home, so we knew before we came that we were looking at highs in the mid-40s and lows in the 30s for Tokyo, and had brought warmer clothes than we did for Hong Kong.

The bus pulled up right on time and we told the driver we were going to the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, he took our bags, and we got on board. The bus also stopped at the other airport terminal, but we were soon on our way. Even though it was a Sunday we still hit traffic on the road and it took us over an hour to make the drive. Though we did better than Jeanine - she had taken the bus on Saturday and it took her almost 1:45.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel was the first stop, which was very nice. A few other people got off the bus, too. We were quickly ushered into the reception area and up to a counter to check in.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The young lady who checked us in spoke fairly good English, but we were a little confused when she asked us about park days. As hotel guests we got early entry to Tokyo Disneyland, but we had to tell her which days we were going to be in that park so that she could give us an early entry pass for the correct days. At WDW or Disneyland we would've just used our room key, but it doesn't work like that in Tokyo. Though at least in Tokyo we received a personalized room key, even if it wasn't good for charging. We eventually got it all sorted out.

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She also gave us monorail passes. Transportation between the parks, hotels, and Ikspiari (their "Downtown Disney", and then some) is via monorail, but in Japan it's considered a public railway system and they have to charge for it. As hotel guests it was free for us, so we each received two three-day monorail tickets to use during our stay.

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Once we were checked in we were asked to stand in the lobby until someone could take us to our room.

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The lobby of the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is quite beautiful - it's Victorian (we'd seen a lot of that recently!) with an Alice in Wonderland theme. There are huge chandeliers and a big five story open lobby. Marble on the floors, lots of very nice furnishings. There was a glass elevator, though there were much larger banks of elevators in each of the towers.

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A young (female) bellhop appeared with our bags to show us to our room. I'm not sure if ALL guests were escorted to their room, or if we received that treatment because they figured it would be easier just to show us rather than try to explain it. :-) It wasn't really that hard - we were in the main tower, 8th floor, so mostly we just needed to find the elevator that first time.

But she was very cute as she walked us to our room, and pointed out hidden Mickeys, and where various things were. In our room she did a quick orientation to show us where things were and then left. This is Japan, so no tip was required or expected (and apparently tips aren't even accepted - it's almost considered an insult).

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The room was MUCH bigger than I expected - it was certainly the size of typical hotel rooms here, if not a bit larger. The entrance hallway was quite long, on one side were the closet and a counter/desk (Lee told me it was my makeup table) and the coffee/tea service area, and the bathroom was on the other side of the hallway.

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There was a mini-bar fridge under the tea service area, but it wasn't full, and we were allowed to store our own food there, too.

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There were three parts to the bathroom. In the middle were two sinks, with a large mirror and a shelf underneath it, and some storage cubbies under the sinks.

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And a tray with a BOATLOAD of toiletries - all with their "30 Years of Happiness" logo: boxed toothbrush kits (child and adult), soap, a folding brush/comb, plastic cup, a razor, and a metal box with some miscellaneous items like a pony tail band, shower cap, q-tips and nail file. The shampoo/conditioner/body wash bottles weren't 30th anniversary, but had a hotel-specific design to them. If we took any of them they were replenished every day. I have to admit that I took multiples of almost everything - the boxes especially were very nice to include with other gifts.

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The bathing room was very different - there was a regular bathtub, but then instead of a shower stall, the area outside the tub was all tiled, there was a drain in the floor, and you simply shut the door to the outer bathroom area and turned on the shower that was mounted on the wall.

Tokyo Disney Resort

There was a separate hand-held shower wand in addition to the shower head (the shower control turned on one or the other, and the second shower control was for temperature). There was also a small plastic stool to sit on, and a plastic bowl - not exactly sure of its purpose.

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And then there was the toilet room...with one of those Japanese toilets where we needed a manual to figure out everything that it could do. :-) The toilet seat was heated, and we of course figured out how to flush it, but that was the limit of our experiences. It had buttons that showed a couple different types of "spraying" action, but we didn't try that. Also, when we sat on it, it started playing white noise. (My experience with a different Japanese toilet later in the trip was that it played the sound of a running stream...)

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The room itself had two double beds and a table with two chairs, plus a dresser. The dresser didn't have much storage - there were only four usable drawers. Of the two top drawers, one was actually the safe (took us awhile to find that!) and the other had all of the video inputs for the TV.

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And the view...it was dark by then, but we looked out and could see the monorail station, the Disneyland entrance, the castle, and Space Mountain, and looking way left could see the volcano in Tokyo DisneySea! It was a great view. Of course it should've been - we were paying for a "Superior Park View".

Tokyo Disney Resort

Deb put together a video of the hotel that you can watch below:

Since we had that view, I wanted to watch the fireworks from our room that night. They had given us park maps and a times guide when we checked in, but guess what? No fireworks show time listed! I called down to the Front Desk and asked and they told me 8:30. It was after 7:00 by then - no time to go and eat somewhere in the hotel - if we could even get in anywhere - and we had no idea how long it might take to try to get something at Ikspiari (which is pronounced "Ick-SPEER-ee"). There's no counter service restaurant at the hotel.

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So we went down to the "Looking Glass Gifts" store to see if we could find anything to snack on. And we were VERY pleasantly surprised - instead of just a gift store, it was actually like a mini-market. Several cold cases with lots of noodle dishes, pasta dishes, and some other fresh foods that could be reheated, as well as sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, packaged pastries, sushi, and lots of beverage choices. The prices were quite reasonable. We ended up with a selection of pre-made tea sandwiches, fruit, inari (sushi for Lee), beer (also for Lee), and yogurt and pastries for the next morning since we had an early day and wouldn't have time to eat at the hotel.

While we were in the lobby area we also purchased our park tickets. Multi-day tickets work very differently in Tokyo than here! The maximum length ticket you can purchase is a four-day ticket. For non-hotel guests, you may not park hop the first two days (meaning if you buy a two-day ticket you can't park hop at all), and at the time you purchase the ticket you must specify which park you are going to be in on the first day, and which park you will be in on the second day. You can't choose to be in the same park on both days. You are allowed to parkhop on the third (and fourth) days. And the days must be consecutive - you can't purchase a four-day ticket and go to the parks Monday-Wednesday, skip Thursday, then again on Friday.

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Still with me? If you are a hotel guest, then you CAN purchase tickets that will allow you to park-hop every day, but you pay a little more for them (though not the premium that the American parks charge).

I did not know about the consecutive day thing, and since we had a bus tour of the Tokyo area booked for Thursday, it meant that although we planned four park days, they would not be consecutive - we'd be doing Monday-Wednesday, and Friday. Fortunately I asked when we were buying the tickets, and was told yes, the days had to be consecutive. So we bought three-day hoppers, and figured we'd buy the Friday ticket later in the week when we knew what we were doing that day. A three day park hopper was 15,500 yen - which is about $155. A lot cheaper than I expected them to be - I thought tickets would be a lot more expensive in Japan.

We also exchanged dollars for yen. It was weird having bills with the number 100,000 on them! :-) Just like Hong Kong, Japanese money is also prettier than ours. Their 50 yen coin is different - it has a hole in the middle. There's 500, 100, 20, and 10 yen coins, also. (I wish we would go to $1 coins here and get rid of the $1 bill.)

The elevators in Tokyo only spoke to us in Japanese, unlike the Hong Kong elevators that spoke English and Chinese. Different characters spoke on different floors. Goofy's voice was very funny.

Back at the room we sat at our table next to the window, enjoyed the view, and ate. The tea sandwiches were surprisingly good - the bread seemed very fresh and soft. Which probably means that it was made with ethylene glycol or some other chemical that wouldn't be permitted here. :-) Just before 8:30 I opened the window (it would only open about two inches) so that I could take pictures...and soon after heard the announcement that the fireworks had been canceled. Bummer. (The announcement was in English as well as Japanese.)

Since we were staying in Tokyo for five nights, we figured we would have the opportunity to see them some other night, at least from the park itself.

This was our third hotel of the trip, but the first time that we finally really unpacked our suitcases since we would be there for 5 nights. We did that, and started trying to plan for the next day. Everyone else in our group had been at Tokyo DisneySea that day, so the plan was to go to Tokyo Disneyland on Monday, where we would all have early entry.

We took a last look at the beautiful park view from our window, and called it a night.

Coming Next: Tokyo Disneyland

June 22, 2014

E3 2014: Bring on the Games (Part 1)

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So E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) 2014 has come and gone, leaving in its wake initial impressions of everything new and upcoming in the world of video games.

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All the major console companies had their usual gigantic booths displaying the latest in hardware and software...

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...and of course, no shortage of avid gamers enjoying the various demos.

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This year, Disney Interactive had its typically ebullient presence promoting the next generation of Disney Infinity: Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 edition.)

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Many updates and changes have been packed into this updated version, with the most obvious being the addition of some of the most popular Marvel characters from the Avengers and Spider-Man franchises.

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In the Play Set mode, each character will come with their own storylines, written by Marvel comic writer Brian Michael Bendis, just as in the original game. Unlike the Disney characters however, who all exist in their separate and distinct realities, the Marvel superheroes all largely inhabit the same one (often even the same city--New York,) so under certain circumstances the characters can cross over to interact with each other within their respective stories.

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I had a chance to play a bit with a few of the new characters and the gameplay does seem to be much more interesting as all the actions for each hero are specifically characterized to them. In version 1.0, each character generally had differences in their modes of combat and gait as well, but the new ones have wildly distinct movements and methods of transportation. Whether web-swinging (to what do the webs attach, when you see the tops of buildings underneath you?) or flying via repulsor rays, the variety is much more engaging than before.

The Toy Box mode has also gotten several updates that make it far more enjoyable for a wider audience. While the older version provided players with enormous freedom to create anything they could imagine, the amount of time and effort required to meticulously build large, complicated structures made it somewhat frustrating for the impatient (me) or the construction-challenged (also me.) In this brave new world, players are still able to build things manually, as before, but also have the option of either calling up "builders," who can be assigned to create various structures while the player goes off to other adventures, or using a new Creator tool which can produce a randomly generated construct based on given parameters.

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Another new aspect of the Toy Box is the ability to create building interiors, as well as exteriors. Tardis-like, the interiors are not limited by the dimensions of the outsides, and portal doorways can connect rooms together that are not linked geographically.

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There will also be the option for more structured play in the Toy Box, as new pyramid-shaped discs will give players different missions that can be accomplished with any of the Disney Infinity characters.

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In addition to new power discs capable of changing the Marvel characters' environment, outfits, and vehicles, they can also summon "Team Up" heroes to assist in a given situation, such as the Winter Soldier and the Iron Patriot.

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On the Disney side, more figures are also in the works; the newest ones will be Maleficent (Angelina Jolie version,) and Merida.

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New power discs for the traditional Disney characters include environments from "Wreck-it Ralph," a float from the Main Street Electrical Parade, Darkwing Duck's grappling gun, and the USS Swinetrek.

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Should you need accessories, something to carry all your new Marvel gear around with you, perhaps, there will be no shortage of options in the stores on that count.

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Even your headsets can be made Marvel thanks to the wide assortment of speaker plates available to personalize your Turtle Beach cans.

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Disney Infinity Edition 2.0 is set to release this Fall on PlayStation 3 and 4, XBox 360 and One, Wii U, PC, and iOS. All Edition 1.0 figures, toys, and power discs will be forward compatible with the new software.

June 23, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 6/20/14

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 20, 2014, featuring the Disneyland All-American College Band, who just began their summer performances on Thursday.

Laura Gilbreath was also at the parks that day and will be adding some of her comments along with Jason's photos.

Laura: My Disneyland day started a little earlier than Jason's - I arrived about 11:00 and met up with Nicole and Brad, friends from Team AllEars. They had been at the resort for several days and had done all the rides, and were interested in seeing some of the more overlooked attractions or out-of-the-way things they might have missed.

We went into DCA first and saw the Red Car News Boys. (The photo below is one Jason took later in the day.) This is a fun little show - I really enjoy the music and choreography - and it's great fun to see a "young" Mickey Mouse! One amusing incident during this show - an older lady actually boarded the trolley, totally oblivious that there was a show going on, and thought it was going to take her up the street. She was quickly, but politely, escorted off the trolley.

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One disadvantage of the new "animated" character heads - it's now possible to get photos of the characters with a less-than-flattering expression... :-)

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Our next event was Instant Concert...Just Add Water. Goofy "conducts" the World of Color fountains - which can get a bit out of control. :-) The concerts are not very long, but I find them fun, and very under-appreciated by most of the park guests. As you can see below we had a beautiful day - lovely blue sky.

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We headed over to Disneyland after that. The park was surprisingly not busy - really very pleasant to wander around. We got Fastpasses for Big Thunder Mtn Railroad with a return time that was about 90 minutes away. Jason's photo below illustrates the wait times - nothing over an hour, not even Splash Mountain!

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In Fantasy Faire we enjoyed the antics of those minstrels of merriment Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones, as they presented the hair-raising tale of Rapunzel. I showed Nicole and Brad some of the fun little touches in that area like Clopin's Music Box and the sleeping Figaro.

I hadn't seen Mickey and the Magical Map in a while, and Brad and Nicole had never seen it. I hadn't seen it since Stitch was added to the Hawaiian Roller Coast Ride number. (I never understood why Stitch and/or Lilo wasn't included in the first place.) This is a fun show - I don't understand why the attendance isn't better. The theater was less than half full.

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It was time to use our Thunder Mountain Fastpasses. This is the first time I'd really had a chance to see the changes - when I rode it with an Imagineer last month, there were bright lights shining on me so I really couldn't see much of the interior at all. It's not that much different - the same ride with updated technology. And that's not a bad thing - it's still a really fun roller coaster! Brad and Nicole said they like this one at Disneyland more than the one at Magic Kingdom. The biggest change was to the "earthquake" scene - instead of an earthquake, now it's a a bunch of dynamite charges about to go off. (That reminded me of Grizzly Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland.) I understand that the smoke effect has been troublesome - it was sort of working. I noticed that there seemed to be a bit more vegetation, and it looked more natural.

We met up with Jason after that - here's what he'd been doing before that.

Arriving at the Disneyland Resort.

Quite a bit is closed in Tomorrowland today.

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First stop DCA.

Buena Vista Street was relatively calm this afternoon.

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Some DCA waits around 1:18pm. Note FastPasses for World of Color are gone for the day already.

Laura: I was very surprised that there was only one World of Color show - it was a Friday night!

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Grizzly River Run has returned from its annual renovation.

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There seemed to be a little spin in the drop. Nothing like when it first opened but seemed like more than it had before (anyone ride yet?)

A quick look out to Paradise Pier. I did not have time to circle around. But on a quick glance all looked status quo.

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Out on the Wharf some minor plussing going on. They have added some props. Notice the nets, clothes, etc..

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A random picture as I passed through. Nothing of note going on this afternoon.

Laura: It really was a very quiet day in both parks.

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Tower of Terror was back in operation today. And with no Grad Nite only a 25 min wait.

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Showtime for the 2014 All-American College Band. Today was their second day in the park. They will be performing Tuesday through Saturday from now through early August. This set was their Jazz set. It included the Trolley Song, Friend Like Me from Aladdin, and a Count Basie song.

Laura: We didn't make it to the jazz set, but I only knew about it because Jason told me - it was NOT listed on DCA's Entertainment Times Guide. The band's Disneyland appearances are on the DL Guide - why don't they do the same for DCA?

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Pluto was out with Goofy on Buena Vista Street.

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Main Street USA

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It was calm this warm afternoon (highs were in the mid 80s but the sun sure felt warmer)

Laura: It was a great day - I didn't think it was too uncomfortably warm even in the sun. But I was wearing shorts and Jason was wearing jeans.

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The Dapper Dans of Disneyland performing in the Good Old Summer Time on Main Street USA (I posted a quick Instagram video)

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Captain EO is closed as they prepare the theater for a Guardians of the Galaxy preview, it will start 4th of July. The Captain EO sign has been removed.

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A check of the sub lagoon.

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The green is filling in as you pass over Tomorrowland.

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Time to check Alice in Wonderland. They were working on the concrete surface as I passed by on the Monorail.

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Leaves and a walkway down below. The attraction re-opens July 4th.

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Another look at the sub lagoon , note this was taken from the opposite side of the monorail through the tinted window.

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Was passing through Fantasyland and it was not too crowded. Thought this was a nice shot with the Matterhorn behind Peter Pan's Flight.

Laura: I love this photo! Amazing to see this few people in a Fantasyland photo on a summer afternoon. (OK, so technically it wasn't "summer" until the next day, but close enough!)

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Sleeping Beauty Castle

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Time for the 3:25pm All-American College Band Castle Set. This time they only played two songs. They opened with this, A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes then closed with the attraction medley. No introductions either.

Laura: This was only the band's second day of performing for guests in the park. I thought they were a lot more comfortable and engaged with the audience than the group they had last year on THEIR second day - these kids looked like they were having a ball. Great fun to watch, and sooooo talented! Yes, there were a few rough edges still - but just give them a few more weeks! I look forward to seeing them again in July.


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After their set they marched down Main Street and performed.
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Near Town Square they stopped and played Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid. A video clip of the end of the song.

The Frozen pre-parade making its way onto Main Street USA. Note: it only runs before the 4:00pm Soundsational Parade.

Laura: I'd been warned that this was rather underwhelming...and it was. The float played an instrumental version of "Let it Go", but the characters didn't sing. I understand that, but it would have been really nice if they had miked Anna and Elsa so that they could speak to the audience. I think that would make it a much more personal experience for the guests. Olaf spoke, but it was just canned lines. Anyway...I found this to be poorly executed.

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Olaf

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Anna

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Elsa

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Here is a video clip I took last week of the Frozen pre-parade.


Back to Disneyland, Partners Statue this evening.

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The BBQ has switched to the All-American Roundup and Barbecue for the summer.

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The Jamboree area was closed, no listing in the time guide either. Guessing it is switching over to the All-American Roundup again.

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Disneyland Waits at 5:00pm

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The All American College Band marching down Main Street USA to Town Square for the nightly Flag Retreat.

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Work is nearing completion on the rooftops of New Orleans Square.

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Looking toward Frontierland from the Pirates Bridge

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New Orleans Square. Less than a month until Club 33 is to reopen, and assuming that means everything else will be done around then too.

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You could see some lights on in Club 33 but not much else.

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The All-American College Band performs on the parade route at 6:00pm. This year they stop in a couple locations but there is a lot more movement. So if you want to watch them you have to keep moving too.

Here is some video of their Tower of Power medley. I apologize in advance as some of the camera work is pretty bad since I was moving through the crowd to try and keep up with them.

A clip of the All-American College Band performing Goin Down the Bayou

Before the hub they stopped and performed Let it Go from Frozen. Here is a video clip.

As the All-American Band passed Fantasyland and entered the Small World Mall area they performed Celebration.

They stopped near its a Small World and performed a Disney movie medley.

Toad Hall and the Matterhorn

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Random Frontierland picture.

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Time for the 7:15 Train Station set of the All-American College Band.

Meet this year's band. They did introductions in a quicker fashion this year. Also they skipped the drum line for some reason.

This set included Bubbles was a Cheerleader, Michael Jackson Medley, Let It Go, and Earth, Wind & Fire Tribute.

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All American College Band - Let it Go

Laura: I thought it was interesting that they performed Let it Go twice - along the parade route and at the train station. I'll bet they get tired of that song pretty quickly...

A clip from the Earth, Wind, and Fire Finale

Arrived on Route 66 right before the lights were to come on for the evening.

Laura: We wanted to see the lighting, so we dragged Jason over there with us. :-) The Times Guide just says "dusk", which is not very helpful. DJ was performing at 8:00, so the lighting didn't take place until after he had finished.

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Oops.. someone lost three balloons and they are in the telephone lines.

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Laura: Jason took this photo of Brad, Nicole and me in Cars Land after the lighting. I had to leave soon after that, so this was the last thing we did together. I had a very nice day - I don't have to ride a lot of rides to have a good time at Disneyland.

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Disneyland waits as of 8:21pm Peter Pan is the longest at 45 minutes.

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Sleeping Beauty Castle

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Hard Days Night A Beatles Tribute was performing at Tomorrowland Terrace. Here are some pictures from their 8:35pm set which featured Sgt. Pepper

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A video clip from the performance.


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If you were curious Darth Vader popcorn buckets are still available.

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Thought the choice of Disneyland Fantasyland and WDW Monorail System on the same glass was odd.

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No signs of Tinkerbell or Dumbo during Magical tonight.

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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.



June 24, 2014

Tokyo Disney Resort - Part 2

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

Several members of the AllEars team spent most of March visiting Disney destinations far from home. We visited Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and Aulani in Hawaii. Along for all or part or this journey were AllEars' Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lee Zimmerman, Jeanine Yamanaka, Linda Eckwerth, and Deb Koma, and friends Jack and Pete.

Tokyo Disney Resort - Day 2, Part 1, Tokyo Disneyland

Ohayou Gozaimasu!

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We wake up to a beautiful morning at Tokyo Disneyland - blue sky and sunshine - and 42 degrees. Oh well, can't have everything, and after four cloudy days I'm ready for some sunshine.

We got up at 7:00 and breakfasted off the yogurt and pastries we'd purchased the previous night. We used the hot water pot to brew the instant coffee and tea - the tea was micro-powdered instant green tea and not tea bags. I thought it was really bad. I don't think Lee complained about the coffee, though.

We had been using a phone app called "whatsapp" to coordinate with our group during our trip - it let us send "text messages", but using cell data and not SMS. This morning except for Jeanine we were all meeting in the Disneyland Hotel Lobby at 8:00, then walking to our special park entrance, which was, oh, maybe 200 yards from the lobby exit. :-)

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"Early Entry" only got us a 15-minute start on the regular day guests - we got in at 8:15 and the park opened at 8:30. Our plan was to get inside the park and send a runner to get Monsters, Inc Fastpasses, while the rest of us went to the standby line for Pooh's Hunny Hunt before it got insanely long.

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We had to give the gate attendants the Early Entry ticket we'd been given at check-in, and then run our park passes through the turnstiles. They use the same ticket scanning machines as WDW but without the finger biometric (they still use hand stamps to check for park re-entry). We all gave our tickets to Jack and he took off - and we told Deb and Linda that they could not stop to take photos on the way in - we HAD to get to the Pooh ride!

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Good plan, except that we couldn't yet get to Fantasyland - they were holding us at the hub until park opening at 8:30. Jack was still able to get to Tomorrowland to get Monsters, Inc Fastpasses, though. It gave us time to take pictures of the castle, and enjoy that "we're really here!" moment.

Once the park opened we went to Pooh's Hunny Hunt - but it wasn't open yet! The cast members didn't speak enough English to explain it to us, but we found some Japanese school girls who were able to tell us "maintenance". The Fastpass machines were still distributing Fastpasses, though, so that was a sign that they didn't expect it to be down for long. But we couldn't yet get one since we had the one for Monsters, Inc. So NOW what? We didn't have a plan beyond that!

We went to Peter Pan, which was still almost a walk-on. (That wasn't going to last very long.) It was not noticeably different to me.

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Then we went to Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion is in Fantasyland (really?) in Tokyo Disneyland. It was more like the one in Florida, but didn't have all of the special features in the queue, and the end had just the standard hitchhiking ghosts. There was something that was different about it (apart from the Japanese dialog!) but now I don't remember what. The ghost host dialog was in Japanese, but Madam Leota spoke in English, and I think the "Grim Grinning Ghosts" song in the graveyard was in English.

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Runner Jack took off after that to get us Fastpasses for Pooh's Hunny Hunt, and then met us in Tomorrowland at the new Monsters, Inc Ride & Go Seek attraction.

Tokyo Disney Resort

While we were waiting for him Deb did some shopping...we'd already noticed that one of the things that was very popular in Tokyo Disneyland was wacky hats. BIG hats that covered the entire head and went down under the chin. There was the Big Bad Wolf, Hamm, Rex and others, but the one that had caught Deb's eye was Sulley. This one, in addition to the head, had an attached scarf with monster paw mittens on the ends. Deb bought it and it looked really good - and she said that it was nice and warm, too! It was still in the 40s (I think the high was 47 that day). I was really glad I'd worn my gloves in addition to my heavy jacket and fleece headband.

Tokyo Disney Resort

By then the crowds were starting to build. When we'd planned our trip we thought we were scheduling it for a lighter crowd time of year (based on the hotel rates), but it turned out that we had arrived just after their school term had ended, so pretty much all the schools were on vacation for a month. The parks were very crowded with school kids (mostly teenagers) many of whom were wearing their school uniforms. So they were on a school trip even though they weren't in school. And there were lots of other kids who were just there on vacation.

Lee and I were actually fortunate that we'd missed the day at Tokyo DisneySea the day before - the rest of our group described being in crowds where they could barely move, where three+ hour lines were the norm, and even food lines were 30-60 minutes long!

The rest of the week was not that bad, but we commonly saw standby lines of 120-180 minutes for the e-ticket type attractions, and food lines continued to be pretty long. We learned to eat early: 10:30-11:00 for lunch and not later than 5:00 for dinner. And the snack lines were ridiculous...there were all kinds of interesting snacks that I would've liked to have tried, but the lines were always 20-50 people long! Flavored popcorns are really big over there, but we rarely saw one of those lines that was less than 10 people, and when it was, it was for one of the more mundane varieties such as caramel corn. (They had flavors like chocolate, black pepper, soy, honey, apple cinnamon, and curry.)

But despite all of the lines and crowds...everyone was incredibly cheerful. The kids were just thrilled to be there - they were very enthusiastic and obviously loving their experience - and they were also very well-behaved. Sad to say, but here we're pretty used to seeing the jaded, sullen, "I don't want to be here" teenagers, and it was really fun to see all of these kids so full of joy, and having so much fun, and just happy to be there. It was like a dream come true to most of them. No complaining about standing in long lines - they just dealt with it.

So...where was I?

Tokyo Disney Resort

Oh yes...Monsters, Inc. Where we all had a Fastpass, and the standby line was over an hour long. Maybe more. "Ride & Go Seek" is a dark ride much like the "Monsters, Inc" attraction at Disney California Adventure - many of the scenes and animatronics are similar. What is different is that guests have flashlights in their vehicles, and shining the flashlights on the Monster's Inc. "M" logo that you see throughout the ride causes other effects - different characters might pop up, or there's certain sounds or other visuals.

Tokyo Disney Resort

It was fun, but it didn't impress me...and we were so busy using the flashlights that we really didn't get the chance to enjoy the ride. Though since it's a lot like the DCA version, I'm not sure what more there was to see. The vehicles were a single row, rather than multiple rows...though that reminds me: the vehicles were labled with a capacity of "3 humans". But they weren't talking American-sized humans! There's no way three even average American adults would fit. Lee and I had sufficient room side-to-side, but our knees were very cramped, and we had to enter and exit facing sideways. We noticed the "compact vehicles" on many of the Tokyo attractions.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Monsters, Inc. was in Tomorrowland. From there we all went back over to the "Main Street" area, which we had hurried through when we'd arrived earlier.

Tokyo Disney Resort

In Tokyo Disneyland this area is called the "World Bazaar", and it's covered! It looks like it's contained in a huge greenhouse.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The buildings themselves look similar to those on Main Street USA, though they are more decorated - quite a few of them have large character statues over their entrances, like Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland. I found the windows for Walt Disney and Roy Disney.

Tokyo Disney Resort
Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disneyland has been celebrating its 30th year - "The Happiness Year". That celebration is supposed to conclude at the end of April, I think, so we were at the tail end of it. Because of the celebration, there were lots of decorations, for example at the park entrance and in the Bazaar and on the castle and on banners throughout the park.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The main design featured a big "30" and lots of balloons and characters in gold-colored costumers. I liked the look - way better than that awful "cake castle" they did for WDW's 25th.

Tokyo Disney Resort

So, we wandered through the World Bazaar and looked at the decorations on our way over to their version of New Orleans Square where we rode Pirates of the Caribbean. It was a longer version, with the extra scenes like the one at Disneyland, and the rooms seemed a lot bigger. But it only had one drop, and, like at Magic Kingdom, we were dropped off underground rather than riding the boat all the way back to the loading dock like we do at Disneyland. It also had the Jack Sparrow figures in it.

The Tokyo Pirates attraction also has a Blue Bayou restaurant attached to it. We didn't eat there, but some of our group did - though come to think of it I never heard from anyone what they thought about it.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We all went through Adventureland on our way to Westernland where we boarded the Western River Railroad. Because of Japan's rules about railroads, their railroad can't go all the way around the park, so instead goes around just the Frontierland, Critter Country, and Adventureland areas. Which is a pretty good-sized area, and large enough that we saw the Rivers of America, including the riverboat and the Indian village.

Tokyo Disney Resort

There were also "deer" and other wildlife, Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain and we also went through a primeval world diorama, similar to the one at Disneyland, though with better dinosaur animatronics.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We were all together now and we caught up with Masayo and her husband Mamoru. They live in Japan, and had come to Tokyo to spend several days in the parks with us. They'd been with the rest of the group the day before, but this was the first opportunity Lee and I had to see them. I'd seen Masayo a number of times before, both at WDW and on Disney cruise ships - but this was the first time I'd met her husband, who is also very nice. Since they weren't staying on property they didn't have early entry, and we hadn't been able to coordinate Fastpass times or attraction meet points until now.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Our next attraction was one I'd been looking forward to - the Enchanted Tiki Room, but with a show featuring Stitch, called "Stitch Presents Aloha E Komo Mai!" It starts off mostly like the classic Tiki Birds show, but some strange glitches start to happen, which it turns out are due to Stitch, because he wants to be a part of the show. And he performs an Elvis number. It was very cute - so much better than that "Under New Management" farce they had in Florida for way too long. I wouldn't mind seeing the Stitch version in California or Florida. Though there's something about the classic "Enchanted Tiki Room" show that's very charming, and why mess with it?

Our runners had gone off to get Big Thunder Mtn Railroad Fastpasses - this was at about 11:00, and the Fastpasses had a 7:05 return time! Wow. BTMRR is apparently much more popular in Tokyo than in Florida or California.

Tokyo Disney Resort

BTW...for the attractions we'd done so far we'd had very minimal waits...I think 15 minutes for the railroad had been the longest. But we weren't doing the real popular attractions, except with Fastpass.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Next was Country Bear Playhouse. It was the classic Country Bear show, though at the appropriate times of year they also perform the Vacation Hoedown show and the Christmas show. The dialog in was in Japanese, but a lot of the songs were in English, including Big Al singing "Blood on the Saddle." :-) That was as popular as it is here. :-)

Here are a few excerpts from the show:

It was finally time that we could use our "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" Fastpasses. I'd heard so much about this ride, and was eager to finally experience it. The standby line was over two hours, but of course we bypassed most of that.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The standby and Fastpass lines joined up just before the interior queue, where we went into something that was like Christopher Robin's family's shed or garage. His bike was in there, and a kite, and a map of the 100 Acre Wood. Then we went into the pages of the book - sort of like at Magic Kingdom, except the pages were the walls of the queue where we could touch them, or pose for photos with the illustrations.

Tokyo Disney Resort

When the six of us arrived at the attraction loading area, they wanted to put us in three and three - we looked at the vehicles and said "Uh...no". The front seat was for only two passengers anyway, and the back seat really wasn't big enough for three unless one of them was a child.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Lee and I ended up in a front seat, and away we went! This one also uses the trackless vehicles like we had experienced in Mystic Manor in Hong Kong. The opening scene in the attraction is kind of a tour of the 100 Acre Wood and the homes of some of the characters. Like Mystic Manor, the vehicles (which are shaped like hunny pots) travel in groups of four, all with a slightly different perspective and a more close-up view of some homes than others.

When you meet Tigger, the hunny pot actually bounces! Way better than at Magic Kingdom (and at Disneyland they don't bounce at all).

In the Heffalumps and Woozles scene, a hunny pot with heffalumps and woozles in it comes out from the side to move around playfully with the other hunny pots! This is a very large room with a lot going on, a lot of movement, and the vehicles spend over a minute just in that room. Again, depending on your hunny pot, you'll get a slightly different view of things in the room. (Though what is it with putting cannons with lit fuses in these trackless rides - there's one in Mystic Manor, and one in the Heffalumps room, too!)

The hunny pots move a lot in this ride - meandering around the rooms, spinning around, moving backward - and sometimes they move very quickly! I was not as aware of the movement on Mystic Manor as I was here - not that the movement bothered me, just that I was focusing more on the visuals there, rather than the motions, I guess.

Pooh's Hunny Hunt was so much fun! We all came off smiling. Had we not already experienced Mystic Manor we would have been even more excited about it, but Mystic Manor has raised the bar on this technology, so it was more impressive than Pooh's Hunny Hunt. But don't get me wrong: I still really enjoyed it, and wanted to do it again! (But I did not want to wait 120 minutes for it.)

By then it was lunch time...and since this portion of my trip report is already pretty long I think this is a good place to stop for now.

Coming next: More Tokyo Disneyland, including the afternoon parade and the Electrical Parade.

June 25, 2014

E3 2014: Bring on the Games (Part 2)

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The second game Disney Interactive was showcasing at this year's E3 was "Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved."

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This game was also presented at last year's E3 (http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2013/06/e3_the_wrap_up.html), but a final release date has been announced for October 21, 2014. A musical motion game, it has the player making directed movements in conjunction with a varied playlist of music to generate and store energy/magic. The player can then invest that magic in different landscapes to bring new color and life to them.

Since last year, new additions to the gameplay include a multiplayer mode and a new environment called "The Neighborhood."

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Another new introduction is your guide through the game, Scout--one of Yen Sid's old apprentices.

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The track listing contains a wide range of music from Vivaldi to Depeche Mode. While there are none of the traditional Disney tunes you might expect, both "The Nutcracker Medley" and "Night on Bald Mountain" from its namesake "Fantasia" are included.

"Fantasia: Music Evolved" will be available for the XBox One and Kinect for the XBox 360. Rated ESRB E10+.

Another game in the works is "Planes: Fire & Rescue," which will be set after the events of the upcoming film of the same name.

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Although still in development, the basic gameplay is taking control of various vehicles from the movie, including Dusty, and utilizing their special talents to put out fires and run various other rescue missions. The game will be available on the Nintendo Wii, DS, and 3DS this Fall, from game publisher Little Orbit.

For fans of the long-running series Kingdom Hearts, publisher Square Enix is coming out with "Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix." "Kingdom Hearts 3" was teased as being under development as well.

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This is the second of the Kingdom Hearts game collections, the first one being "Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix." The collections include copies of earlier games in the series which have been remastered and enhanced. 2.5 will bundle "Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix," "Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix," and "Kingdom Hearts Re:coded."

"Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix" will be available exclusively for the Playstation 3 on Dec 2, 2014.

And as with last year, EA didn't give much more than a teaser trailer for Star Wars Battlefront.

Rumored to be coming out late next year, it was announced that Endor and Hoth will be areas represented in the game.

June 26, 2014

Tokyo Disney Resort - Part 3

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

Several members of the AllEars team spent most of March visiting Disney destinations far from home. We visited Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and Aulani in Hawaii. Along for all or part or this journey were AllEars' Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lee Zimmerman, Jeanine Yamanaka, Linda Eckwerth, and Deb Koma, and friends Jack and Pete.

Tokyo Disney Resort - Day 2, Part 2, Tokyo Disneyland

Konichiwa!

Tokyo Disney Resort

That's right, folks, at the conclusion of the previous post it was just after noon!

It was lunchtime then and we were hungry. The "Queen of Hearts Royal Banquet Hall" in Fantasyland was suggested, but, even though it's a cafeteria type of restaurant, the wait time was over an hour to get in! Deb and Linda went in to look around - it is really wonderfully themed. Here is the video:

We explored the options and ended up at Captain Hook's Galley on the edge of Westernland, which was a pizza place. Most importantly, it didn't have an enormous line.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The pizza was actually quite decent! Lee and I both had the Hawaiian pizza, but they had a special that had yams and some other veggies on it which looked quite good - Pete tried it and said it was excellent. They also had a menu item called "Baked Potato with Cheese" - this turned out to be a cup filled with piping hot tater tot-like bites. They were not what we expected, but they were really good. And they were HOT, which was also very nice - we were chilled and we both ordered hot green tea to drink. And guess what, beverage sizes in Tokyo were the same as they'd been in Hong Kong...

Tokyo Disney Resort

Our group mostly went their separate ways after lunch. Lee and I just wanted to wander around the park for a while. So we visited Critter Country (Splash Mountain was down for refurbishment, as was the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland), and went through Fantasyland too - where all of the lines were very long. It was time that we could get another Fastpass - not much was available, but we were able to get one for Star Tours with a return time that was only about an hour in the future.

Tokyo Disney Resort

We also wandered around the castle area. The hub in front of the castle is HUGE in Tokyo...and there is a Partners statue there (there wasn't one in Hong Kong).

Tokyo Disney Resort

We went back to Westernland to check out the line for Big Thunder Mountain...160 minutes. Wow. I've never seen it that long here! The line for the popcorn cart there wasn't too long - but they were serving relatively boring caramel corn. We bought some and it was good, even if not very exotic. :-)

Another popcorn thing...souvenir popcorn buckets are extremely popular in Tokyo. Not only are there different ones available at different stands, but they are refillable. So guests bring them on multiple trips and simply have them refilled (which is a slightly lower price). They also come with straps to hang around the neck so they are easy to carry. We saw lots of people standing in lines and munching on popcorn.

The popcorn stand was near the parade route. There weren't a lot of people in the area so we thought it might be a decent spot to watch the parade from, since it was going to start in about 10 minutes.

In Tokyo, those in the first two or three rows are required to sit down and remain seated during the parade. So if you're standing in the first row behind those who are seated it's a pretty good spot. We were in the second row of standers...you always hear that the Japanese people are short compared to Americans, well, I always seemed to get stuck standing behind a Japanese girl who was at least my height.

As a courtesy to others, there are announcements reminding people to remove head wear (remember all of those enormous hats?), and not to hold their cameras above their heads. Results for the latter were mixed, but it was somewhat better.

People are SERIOUS about their parade viewing spots. That morning we were in Fantasyland 15 minutes after the park opened and there were already several groups of people sitting along the parade route waiting for a parade that didn't start for over 6 hours! Decorated plastic sheets and foam seating pads are very popular - but you aren't allowed to spread out a plastic sheet to sit on until an hour before the parade starts...they even make a park announcement about that!

Tokyo Disney Resort

The parade is called "Happiness is Here". It was created for the 30th anniversary "Happiness" year. Obligatory Soundsational tie-in: While the parade in Hong Kong sounded like Soundsational in California, this one LOOKED like Soundsational in California - so I was not surprised to learn that Jody Daily was the designer for both parades. The floats had that paper sculpture look that he and Kevin Kidney are known for. But the floats were far more elaborate and detailed than Soundsational, and there were a lot more of them.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Many of the floats resembled old-fashioned pull toys, or incorporated other elements of classic toys.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The parade also had the individual carousel bikes similar to those Mary Poppins and Bert ride in Soundsational, and there were a lot more of those, too. I enjoyed them - the characters rode carousel animals that were appropriate for them, like Lilo and Stitch on seahorses, the Genie on a camel, and Alice on a caterpillar.

Tokyo Disney Resort

In addition to familiar characters like the Fab 5, Pooh & friends, princesses, and the Toy Story gang, there were a lot of more unusual characters in the parade, like Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz from The Aristocats, The Ugly Duckling and the Grasshopper from Silly Symphonies, the Three Little Pigs, heffalumps and woozles, and a whole bunch of Alice in Wonderland characters, including lesser-known characters like the King of Hearts, the March Hare, and a whole bunch of card soldiers and Tweedledee/Tweedledum dancers.

The parade included a show stop - and that's the reason some people staked out their parade spots so early: so that they could be at the place where their favorite character was going to stop.

Which brings me to another interesting thing about Tokyo...they love, love, love, love the characters there. My observation was that many people felt they had a personal relationship with the characters, especially their chosen character. So when the characters went by they waved excitedly (I can't tell you how many of my photos have waving hands in them), and they go really crazy when it's "their" character. If the character would look in our direction and wave, the reaction (mostly from the girls, but some of the boys, too) was "Mickey waved at ME!". (When of course it should have been obvious that Mickey was actually waving at Lee and me. :-) ) For their part, the characters do an excellent job of seeming to make eye contact, and appearing to point to and acknowledge specific people in the crowds, much more than I see here.

Back to the parade...

I thought the floats were lovely and the parade was very whimsical, but I wasn't that impressed with it at the time. It's funny, but I have more of an appreciation of it from looking at the photos than I did while I was actually watching it. I thought it was too long. But I'm not a fan of the show stops...I think everyone should get the same view of the parade, and that doesn't happen when there's a show in the middle of it.

Tokyo Disney Resort

After the parade we went to Tomorrowland to use our Star Tours Fastpass. We actually had problems finding the entrance to Star Tours - it wasn't very close to the Fastpass distribution location! I wasn't sure if this Star Tours was "The Adventures Continue" version or not, but it was, and guess what, we got Hoth as our first planet. It's almost always Hoth for us! I was hoping that would be different in Tokyo...

We were ready for an afternoon break but on the way out of the park we did some shopping...I'd seen a Tigger hat that I wanted. It wasn't one of the huge heads - just an orange knit cap with black stripes and Tigger ears. It was cold, so I wore it for most of the rest of our trip. (Yes, mid-40s was cold for us - especially with the humidity and the wind.)

Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort

It was really great to be so close to our room! Less than 5 minutes from walking out the turnstiles (where we were required to get our hands stamped) until we walked through our door.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Lee and I relaxed in the room for a couple of hours, then went back into Tokyo Disneyland around 6:15. It was dark by then, and we enjoyed taking some nighttime photos of the castle and its 30th birthday decorations.

Tokyo Disney Resort

This time we walked through the castle, and saw the beautiful tile mosaics on the walls depicting scenes from Cinderella's story. (Tokyo Disneyland's castle is also Cinderella Castle. That makes three for Sleeping Beauty (Paris is the third) and two for Cinderella. Not sure which princess will own Shanghai's castle real estate.)

Tokyo Disney Resort

Off to the side we noticed a sign for "Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall". There did not appear to be much of a line so in we went. There was a queue decorated with lots of Cinderella art, and then we went upstairs in an elevator to a room that told Cinderella's story in artwork and moving dioramas. Some of the art was scenes from the movie, some was representations by non-Disney artists, which looked quite different.

Tokyo Disney Resort

In the next room were scenes from the wedding and coronation - I'm not sure most of these were in the movie. There were some decorative panels on the wall - one of these had a panel that slid sideways and Gus and Jacques peered out of it. The final room had a chair and a footstool with Cinderella's glass slipper on it - that was very popular for photos.

Tokyo Disney Resort

There was a cast member in that room who asked (in English) if we spoke Japanese. When we said no, he told us that we should take photos of the two large paintings in the room WITH the camera flash, to see a special effect. We are so used to being told NOT to use a flash that this was a surprise, but I did it...with the flash the paintings show the magical sparkles from the Fairy Godmother's wand. It was very nice of him to tell us about that.

Language was more of an issue for us in Japan than Hong Kong. We THINK that a lot of people understood English, but they are reluctant to speak it, so we did a lot of pointing. And people were patient with us and tried to be helpful. We learned to say a few Japanese phrases like "Good morning", "Good afternoon", "Good evening", and "thank you" - we already knew "Sayonara". So we tried to at least greet and thank people in Japanese. They seemed appreciative of the effort, and sometimes responded in English. Between Hong Kong and Japan the whole multiple languages thing had us really confused, and Lee kept attempting to speak Spanish to the Japanese. :-)

By then it was 7:00 so we went to Westernland to use our Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Fastpasses. But it was down. :-( And had been down for a while. Bummer.

It was a very chilly evening - that damp cold, plus some wind. I'd changed into my fleece-lined pants back at the hotel so I was relatively warm, but Lee was cold. We noticed that Troubadour Tavern was selling hot chocolate for 260 yen, so we bought some. It was those little six ounce cups again, but it was REALLY good hot chocolate - thicker and more chocolatey than we get here. More like the liquid chocolate drink that Starbucks used to sell, though not quite that thick.

The Electrical Parade started at 7:30, and there was a spot we could sit on the edge of the wooden porch of one of the "old west" buildings. There were people sitting along the edge of the parade route in front of us, so we hoped that we could stand behind them when the parade started, which we thought would give us an excellent view, since we were also on a corner.

And fortunately that proved to be correct.

Tokyo Disney Resort

The Tokyo electrical parade is called "Dream Lights". Oh. My. God. It was wonderful. I don't even know how to describe it. In technology and design it is so far above the Main Street Electrical Parade and SpectroMagic that there's simply no comparison.

Tokyo Disney Resort

It uses all LED lights, very brilliant and colorful. Most of the floats also animate the lights - at the very least they change color, such as the Pixie float, which uses varying colors to reflect the different seasons - spring, summer, fall, and winter. Just the color variation changes the look of the float. Some of the floats have more sophisticated and complex animation.

Tokyo Disney Resort

For example, the Genie from Aladdin changes from blue into a variety of different patterns, including a Hawaiian shirt, playing cards (a la Alice in Wonderland) and, my favorite, Tigger's orange and black stripes! The Genie is more like a 3-dimensional Genie-shaped LED screen...

Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort

The parade still uses the Baroque Hoedown music, but more of the music is appropriate to whatever movie is depicted in the parade unit that is passing by. There are 19 different floats and then there's all of the other smaller individual units like the spinning ladybug, snails, and bees, knights on brightly caparisoned chargers, and even Nemo.

It was incredible. Second only to Mystic Manor in the "Wow, that was amazing" department on this trip. It's been running in Tokyo since 2001 (though the units with the more specialized effects were added in 2011) so there's really no excuse for not giving us a more state-of-the-art nighttime parade here. Except $$$, of course.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Big Thunder Mountain was still down - and looked like it would be for the rest of the night. We wanted dinner, and since it was just the two of us we could be a little more adventurous, so we went to the Hungry Bear Restaurant, which offered curry dishes. Very different than the Hungry Bear in Anaheim, which is a burger place. It was counter service but the seating area was indoors, and after the parade we were both pretty cold. And it had a very short line. I had a chicken curry over rice and Lee had the special curry, which looked like the same sauce as mine, but his had mini sausages, shoestring potatoes and cheese sauce on top of the rice. Sounds odd, but he said it was good. More warm green tea to drink with it!

Tokyo Disney Resort

This reminds me of something we noticed with food in both Hong Kong and Tokyo - it wasn't very hot when served. Sometimes it was just barely warm. When we had soups they were usually the right temperature (hot enough they needed to cool down a little), but otherwise most dishes I had were not hot at all.

By the time we finished eating, it was just a few minutes before the fireworks were supposed to start. In fact, as we were heading toward the hub they started behind us, which was not at all what I expected. I thought they would be centered over the castle, but instead they are over toward Westernland, since they are visible from both Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland. The two parks are right next to each other and share a backstage area.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Deb and Jeanine had told us earlier in the day not to expect much from the fireworks. And yes, I'd have to agree that's one of the few areas were Tokyo does not excel. The show was less than 5 minutes long, and while it had a nice variety of fireworks that went much higher than those in Hong Kong, it was not even average by Disney standards. That was a surprise. But I guess it's nice to know there's ONE area where the American parks are better. :-)

Tokyo Disney Resort

We were ready for some dessert - earlier in the day we'd noticed a place called "The Great American Waffle Co" on the edge of the World Bazaar. They served Mickey waffles with choice of sweet toppings. They had chocolate, strawberries, ice cream, etc., but we went with maple syrup, served with a dollop of whipped cream and some nuts. It was freshly made and pretty good.

It was almost 9:00 by then. I'm not even sure what time the park closed - my English times guide doesn't give the park hours! - but the next morning we were planning to get up early to get to Tokyo DisneySea prior to park opening, so we needed to get to bed.

Kon Banwa!

Next time: Tokyo DisneySea - I foresee another multi-part report for the
day...


June 28, 2014

Tokyo DisneySea - Part 4

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

Several members of the AllEars team spent most of March visiting Disney destinations far from home. We visited Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and Aulani in Hawaii. Along for all or part or this journey were AllEars' Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lee Zimmerman, Jeanine Yamanaka, Linda Eckwerth, and Deb Koma, and friends Jack and Pete.

Tokyo Disney Resort - Day 3, Part 1, Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea is VERY different than any Disney park we have here. So instead of starting in with what we did on Tuesday, I think I'll give you an overview of it first.

Tokyo DisneySea

I found that Tokyo DisneySea reminded me much more of Universal's Islands of Adventure than any other Disney park. Some similar looks to those of the Port of Entry, Lost Continent, and Jurassic Park areas of Islands of Adventure. Not that that's a bad thing - those are all really well-done!

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea has themed "ports" to go along with its water theme: Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Mysterious Island, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta, Mermaid Lagoon, and Arabian Coast. The Mediterranean Harbor surrounds a large lake, and several big water shows are held there.

Tokyo DisneySea

There is a waterway that connects all of the other port areas, also.

Tokyo DisneySea

The park icon for DisneySea and its most prominent feature is the volcano, Mt. Prometheus. You can see it from just about anywhere in the park, as well as from Tokyo Disneyland and other areas outside the park. Mysterious Island is contained in its crater. The volcano "erupts" multiple times a day, and at night you can see the glow of lava. It's quite imposing.

Tokyo DisneySea

And the theming was incredible throughout the park. Theming to the nth degree. Not that it was excessive - it was just so thorough, and so incredibly well designed and executed. So many layers of detail. "Immersive" has been one of Disney's buzzwords for a while now - and this park was all of that. (Of course using "immersive" to describe a park with a water theme makes me chuckle, but I digress...)

All the hype you hear about Tokyo DisneySea and how amazing it is? I'd have to say that it's true, and it deserves that reputation. So I'm not even going to bother mentioning theming from now on - you can just assume that it was all pretty wonderful.

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea is more of an "adult" park than Tokyo Disneyland. Alcohol is served in the park, and most of the attractions appeal to an older audience: there are more thrill rides with height requirements. Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast contain the more kid-oriented attractions. Still, we saw very few families with young kids (and strollers) at Tokyo DisneySea - even in those two areas.

I mentioned before that it was term break for Japanese schools. I would say that 99% of the guests in Tokyo DisneySea were kids ages 13-25. Our group was by FAR the oldest in Tokyo DisneySea - I saw very few people over the age of 40. And there were also very few westerners - I think I saw maybe 25-30 the entire four days that we were in the Tokyo parks. We REALLY stood out. :-)

I found it interesting...we live in southern California where it's a pretty heterogeneous society - lots of Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans. So when we're out and about we're used to seeing people of all different races and colors. The Asian parks didn't really seem strange to me, except for the language, but their population is much more homogeneous, so I could tell that we looked strange to them. We got lots of curious looks and lots of smiles. But they were much kinder and more patient with us than I think we Americans typically are to those here who are obviously foreign...I know I personally need to keep that in mind in the future...

Ok...so it's Tuesday morning, and after having our usual yogurt, fruit, and pastry breakfast in our room, Lee and I are about to go to Tokyo DisneySea for the first time.

Since we were not staying at the Miracosta, we did not have early entry to TDS (sorry, I'm tired of typing it out, so please note that from here on, TDS = Tokyo DisneySea). We'd been advised that the lines to get into the park in the morning are very long, and to be at the entrance by 7:15 - the park opened at 8:00.

We took the monorail to get there - this was the first time we'd done that! The monorail requires a ticket to ride - it's not free, though as hotel guests we were provided with passes to use in the ticket machines. It's a much bigger, more train-like monorail than the ones at WDW. The windows are shaped like Mickey heads!

The monorail has 4 stops: Tokyo Disneyland Station (where we were), Bayside Station (for the non-Disney hotels), Tokyo DisneySea Station, and Resort Gateway Station (Ikspiari and the transfer point to Japan Railway). We went two stops to get off at the TDS station.

Tokyo DisneySea

It was a beautiful clear day - though still in the 40s. As we were traveling on the monorail I looked out the window and could see Mt Fuji off in the distance! All covered in snow, a HUGE mountain standing all by itself. That was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I did not realize until later how lucky we were to see it - it's not a common sight. It's about 70 miles away. That was an awesome moment.

BTW...though we had toured the parks mostly together with our fellow travelers the first part of the trip, from here on Lee and I were usually by ourselves, though every once in a while we'd encounter some of the group. Not that we were mad at each other or not getting along - we just all had different priorities and schedules.

We got to the TDS entrance about 7:20, and there were lots and lots of people already standing in lines to get in. We picked a line, and it just got longer behind us as we waited. They opened the turnstiles just a little bit early and started letting guests enter the park. They also do a bag check at the Tokyo parks, but they do it just before the turnstiles. And the security guards didn't do more than a cursory look at our bags - they just smiled and said: "Ohayou gozaimasu!"

Once we entered the park, the kids were RUNNING to get to wherever they were trying to go. So we ran a little, too, until we got to cast members who were telling people to stop running. We did, but most of the kids didn't. :-)

From the park entrance we walked past the big water/planet earth sculpture just inside the turnstiles and then under the Miracosta, past shops, and to the Mediterranean Harbor. Where we got our first real view of Mt. Prometheus. That thing is BIG! That's actually where we were headed first: to Mysterious Island to get a Fastpass for Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Even though that area is just about at the center of the park, it felt like we walked for a long time before we got there. Google maps shows it as almost .4 miles from the turnstiles to the volcano, so that is a pretty good distance.

Tokyo DisneySea

We were able to get a FP with a return time about an hour away. In the meantime, there was NO line for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - in fact, we walked right into a sub! No stairs to climb down to get into these - you enter from doors on the side. I think they seat six - two facing forward, the other seats facing somewhat to the sides. We sat in the front.

It was not as cramped as the Nemo Submarine Voyage, and we had big windows to look out of instead of tiny portholes. The narration was in Japanese, so we're not exactly sure what was happening - we saw lots of pretty underwater fish and plants, and then I think we were attacked by a giant squid. But we survived - not so sure about the squid.

(And did you notice that our first attraction truly WAS an immersive one???)

Tokyo DisneySea

As you have probably deduced from the names of the attractions, the Mysterious Island area has a Jules Verne theme. Lots of greenish copper and bronze. There's a lake in the middle of the crater, with the Nautilus submarine floating in it.

Tokyo DisneySea

There was still a while until our Fastpass would be valid for Journey, so we went to Port Discovery to try StormRider. This area has kind of a steampunk look - futuristic, but not. There was only a 10 minute wait for StormRider, which is a simulator ride where we fly into a superstorm and deploy a "storm diffuser" that will break up the storm.

Tokyo DisneySea

The movement is similar to Star Tours but the simulator vehicles are quite a bit larger. And it rains inside - depending on where you sit you can get pretty wet. (We were in a relatively dry spot.) It was in Japanese, but we got the gist of it. (Inexperienced/inept pilot, wrong place at the wrong time, saves the day anyway.)

Tokyo DisneySea

We were inside our Fastpass window, so we could get a new Fastpass - we chose Raging Spirits in the Lost River Delta, and then went back to Mysterious Island.

Tokyo DisneySea

The queue for Journey to the Center of the Earth goes down inside the mountain to the loading area for the mine vehicles, which hold six passengers, in three rows of two. We were in the back row, which are the worst seats. (In the Tokyo parks we either seemed to get the first row or the last row - perhaps because those were the ones easiest to point to?) The vehicles descend down through crystal caverns, past the strange creatures and plant life that live deep under the earth. Something goes wrong (doesn't it always?) and the car moves even deeper into the volcano, until it is suddenly propelled upward and bursts out near the top of the volcano, then descends in a roller coaster ride down the side of the mountain.

Tokyo DisneySea

The rest of our group had done this on Sunday, and had really liked it, so our expectations were pretty high. My reaction was: "That was it?" The roller coaster part was fun, but it was only about 15 seconds long. Since we were sitting in the back, we didn't have as good a view of the things in the caverns, either. I definitely did not think it was worth the 160-minute wait time - I wouldn't have waited 20 minutes for it. But there were still plenty of kids getting into the standby line.

Tokyo DisneySea

We walked past Mermaid Lagoon to the Arabian Coast. This is a really large area - much of it inside an impressive-looking walled city.

Tokyo DisneySea

We walked under the tiled entry gateway down the stairs into a big open courtyard with a fountain in the middle.

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea

On one side is the Caravan Carousel, which is a two story carousel. In addition to beautiful Arabian horses it also has camels and genies and griffins and elephants - oh my. It had no line, so we went for a ride.

On the other side of the courtyard was the entrance to the Agrabah Marketplace, with narrower streets and shops and restaurants.

The entrance to the Magic Lamp Theater was on the far side of the courtyard, but we went back to see that later.

Outside the city walls and next to the water was Jasmine's Flying Carpets and something called Sindbad's Storybook Voyage, but the latter was not running (and it was down all day).

It was time that we could get a new Fastpass, so we got one for Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull. The standby line was up to 90 minutes. As you can tell, we had done very well with Fastpasses and really didn't understand why anyone would be willing to stand in a 90-minute (or longer) line when Fastpasses were still available, and there were still plenty of attractions that didn't have really long lines. Now, granted they weren't the E-ticket attractions...and that might be the reason.

Tokyo DisneySea

Our valid Fastpass was for Raging Spirits. This is a roller coaster with a 360 loop. The coaster is on the site of an archeological dig, and looks like it's supported by the scaffolding that's been erected around a stone temple. Lots of lumber lashed together. It's more like a wild mouse type of coaster except that it has banked turns and not the sharp 180 degree turns. It's not very fast...as we were riding it I thought: "There's no way we have enough speed to do a 360 degree loop!" But fortunately there was something that accelerated us just before the loop so we had enough momentum to make it.

Tokyo DisneySea

This was a very short ride - less than one and a half minutes. Not very impressive, definitely not worth a 160 minute wait! (Are you detecting a pattern here?)

Tokyo DisneySea

We'd already seen that the snack lines were getting long, so even though it was only about 10:30 we decided to have an early lunch when we walked by Miguel's El Dorado Cantina and saw that it was open.

Tokyo DisneySea

It was a beautiful clear day but it was still cold, and THEY HAD HOT WINE!!! They also had "tacos". They were served with a side of French fries (really?) and a beverage - there was an upcharge for the wine, but that was fine. I had the shrimp salad taco and Lee had the teriyaki pork taco. They were a little unusual, but tasted good - mostly it was just a pretty small serving. With the wine and the fries it was 1290 yen - almost $13.

Tokyo DisneySea

We hadn't been to the American Waterfront area yet so we walked there after lunch. There are multiple locales represented here. The first is Cape Cod, and it did look very similar except for the giant volcano behind it. :-)

Tokyo DisneySea

Cape Cod is the hometown of Duffy the Disney Bear. And Duffy is HUGE in Japan. I think he's more popular than Mickey Mouse! We saw lots of kids (male and female) carrying Duffy purses and Duffy popcorn buckets, and wearing Duffy ears, or carrying a backpack covered with small Duffy clip-ons in a variety of costumes. Oh, and then there were lots of people just carrying their Duffy bears around. (But who am I to talk - I carried Tigger with me on this trip!) There are multiple stores in BOTH Disney parks that are dedicated to Duffy merchandise. And not just Duffy merchandise, but his girlfriend as well - Shellie May. So of course there was a Duffy store in Cape Cod.

Tokyo DisneySea

From that part of the park we could see over the "seawall", and we caught a glimpse of Mt. Fuji again. Still a very impressive sight.

Tokyo DisneySea

The largest part of the American Waterfront has a New York City look. There's a big ship called the SS Columbia that's also a restaurant and the location of the Turtle Talk show. Then there's the Hightower Hotel, aka the Tower of Terror. It's a very impressive-looking building. Since we could now get another Fastpass we got one for the Tower of Terror - but it wasn't good until 9:00 that night, which was over 9 hours away! Better than the 180 minute standby line, though.

Tokyo DisneySea

TDS has an elevated electric railway that runs from the American Waterfront to Port Discovery and back. It's a one-way trip - everyone has to get off at the opposite station. There was a really nice view of the park and the surrounding area from up there.

Tokyo DisneySea

This brings us to just about noon - I think that's enough for Part 1.

Next time: Tokyo DisneySea, Part 2 - Shows and Spectaculars


June 30, 2014

Tokyo DisneySea - Part 5

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A Disney Fan's Adventure of a Lifetime

Several members of the AllEars team spent most of March visiting Disney destinations far from home. We visited Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and Aulani in Hawaii. Along for all or part or this journey were AllEars' Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lee Zimmerman, Jeanine Yamanaka, Linda Eckwerth, and Deb Koma, and friends Jack and Pete.

Tokyo Disney Resort - Day 3, Part 2, Tokyo DisneySea

Konichiwa!

Tokyo DisneySea

It's still Tuesday, and we're still touring around TDS...it's time for us to use our Fastpass for the Indiana Jones ride.

Tokyo DisneySea

From Port Discovery we crossed the bridge to the Lost River Delta. A seaplane had been pulled up onto the riverbank - it had a familiar tail number: C-3PO. :-)

Tokyo DisneySea

The Lost River Delta has a "jungles of the Yucatan peninsula" feel to it. Lots of temple ruins that look like they came out of Central or South America. The two attractions are Raging Spirits, which we had already done (and were not impressed by), and the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull. Which we had a Fastpass for, so we didn't have to wait in the 2+ hour standby line...

Tokyo DisneySea

This has a really elaborate, well-done queue. Even with a Fastpass we went through most of the interior queue, though we were walking through it and not waiting in line like those in the standby lines next to us. While most of the queue at the Indiana Jones attraction at Disneyland is there just to get you beyond the berm to the actual show area, this one spends more time inside the temple with more of an opportunity to look at the art and artifacts in it.

Tokyo DisneySea

Instead of Sallah giving the safety spiel, it's Paco who instructs us to fasten our seat belts and not look at the eyes of the idol.

The ride is the same as that at Disneyland, though the interior is decorated differently to reflect a South American god instead of an Asian god. But it still has all of the same elements, like the large room with bridges, flames, and the huge face of the idol. And the snake...why did it have to be snakes? Plus the darts and of course the rock.

I still think this particular type of attraction is one of the best things Disney has ever done, so we enjoyed it - our favorite TDS attraction thus far.

Tokyo DisneySea

Raging Spirits standby line was up to 160 minutes by this time.

One of the snack carts in this area sold smoked turkey legs....HUUUUUGE line. Not 160 minutes, but probably at least 30!

We circled back to the Arabian Coast area to find that Sindbad was still down. "Sultan" Stitch was out greeting guests, and so was a female pink version of Stitch, wearing a sort of harem headdress and veil. We had no idea who that was but I have since found out that her name is Angel, and she's Stitch's love interest. She was as popular as Stitch - they both had pretty long lines of guests waiting.


Tokyo DisneySea

We went back into the walled city and got in line for the Magic Lamp show. It was about 20 minutes before we went inside. Unfortunately no translation device was offered, and we didn't know to ask for one, so I really have very little idea of what went on. :-) There were special effects and a live magic show - the audience laughed a lot so the dialog must have been funny. Later in the day the queue was 60 minutes.

Tokyo DisneySea

Since we'd had an early lunch we were ready for a snack. Of course most of the snack carts had enormous lines, but we went into the Vulcania restaurant in Mysterious Island (it was about 1:30), which didn't have much of a line. This is built "inside" the volcanic caves, so the walls and ceiling look like lava. Very realistic.

Tokyo DisneySea

I had egg rolls and corn soup.

Tokyo DisneySea

Lee had a tempura, beef, and noodle dish. It was all pretty good.

Tokyo DisneySea

From whatsapp we knew the rest of our group was at the Mediterranean Harbor where they had a spot on the Lido Isle for "The Legend of Mythica" water show that started at 2:30. There was still plenty of room for us, since it was still almost 30 minutes until the show started.

We compared notes on what we'd all been up to...Deb and Linda had been almost to the boarding area of Sindbad when it went down. Lee and I had by far done more attractions that day than anyone else. :-) But they told us that the crowds were half what they had been on Sunday. Yikes. I'm glad we missed that.

Tokyo DisneySea

Mythica was quite spectacular. A series of absolutely beautiful floats (that really DID float) that over the course of the next 40 minutes circled around the Mediterranean Harbor in BOTH directions so that everyone could get a good view. The main float in the middle also had fountains and a big platform in the middle that rose up.

Tokyo DisneySea

Mickey was on the main float and other Disney characters were on five of the other floats - each of them stopped at a different place around the harbor where the characters and dancers got off and performed a show. That was the only aspect of Mythica where it mattered where you were. (And some people lined up at particular spots early to see their favorite character - though I didn't see anyone waiting six hours early!) There were also jet skiers powering around in various formations.

Tokyo DisneySea

Towards the end four new floats joined in - these depicted mythological beasts: a winged unicorn, hydra, dragon, and phoenix. These were seriously gorgeous floats. Jaw-dropping. The phoenix even flamed. Wow. The music was wonderful too.

Water is a harsh environment, especially this close to the ocean, and this parade has been running since 2006, but you wouldn't know that from looking at the floats - they looked NEW.

First the Electrical Parade, and now Mythica. Tokyo Disney definitely excels at the whole "spectacular" thing. Well, except for the fireworks. :-)

We'd gotten a little chilled while waiting for and watching the show. Pete suggested the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge on the SS Columbia. Very masculine, men's club look inside, but it was very nice. Our group started with Linda, Pete, Lee, and me, but eventually Jeanine, Deb, Masayo, and Mamoru joined us, too! We were overflowing the booth. And it was nice and warm in there - we weren't in a hurry to leave. Lee had some kind of non-Bud Light beer, I had a glass of champagne. (Though what I really wanted was more of that hot wine!)

Tokyo DisneySea

Masayo and Mamoru were headed home, and I think just about everyone else headed to their respective hotel rooms - except Jeanine who was going to one of the shows. Linda and Deb had recommended the "Mystic Rhythms" show, and there was one starting in about 10 minutes, so Lee and I power walked to the Hangar Stage at the Lost River Delta. We got in just before they closed the doors - our seats were over on the side about halfway down, but at least the theater was enclosed and we were inside where it was warmer.

Tokyo DisneySea

This was sort of a Cirque-du-Soleil type of show. It was set in a rainforest with lots of acrobats and dancers representing animals and birds. Very artistic and interpretive. Or as we call it: "very French". :-) It was a good show - just not really what I was in the mood for at the time.

Tokyo DisneySea

It had been a long day and we were tired and cold, but we wanted to see Fantasmic! which was less than 2.5 hours away, so it didn't make sense to go back to our room. We went over to Mermaid Lagoon (very beautiful lighting now that it was getting dark!) and went into Triton's Kingdom.

Tokyo DisneySea

This was indoors where it was, you guessed it, WARM. There are a few outdoor rides at Mermaid Lagoon, but most of them are indoor - including Jumpin' Jellyfish, which rises 20' or so into the air.

Tokyo DisneySea

This is a very large indoor space - there are two other attractions, a play area, theater, shops, and restaurant. And of course that beautiful "grotto-under-the-sea" theming.

Tokyo DisneySea

We'd spent a lot of time walking through Mysterious Island, since (short of taking a VERY long walk around the perimeter of the park) it was the only way to walk to Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast, and was the shortest route to Lost River Delta. But it was cold walking through that crater with all of those passageways that became wind tunnels.

Tokyo DisneySea

This time we were on our way to The Fortress, a multi-story citadel on the side of the volcano next to the harbor, which contained a number of interactive exhibits. And it was presented by the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (SEA) - remember them from Hong Kong?

Tokyo DisneySea

There was a pendulum, and a chamber of planets, where we could turn handles to move the different planets through their orbits. This room also had a large dome with many stars and constellations depicted on it. There was an illusion room and an Explorers Hall with portraits of scientists and explorers from Ptolemy to Drake. On the parapet were cannons - I was very surprised when we pulled the cord on one and it fired! That could get really annoying if someone did it over and over. We noted that this might be an interesting spot to watch Mythica from.

Down on the harbor side of the Citadel was a ship we could explore - like the Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland we could go below deck, too. This was a lot smaller than the Columbia and it was a stationary ship.

We'd managed to kill a little more time, and largely remain indoors. It was about 7:00 by then and Fantasmic! was at 8:00 - and we still needed to find something for dinner and then a place to watch the show. As we walked around the Mediterranean Harbor we found the Zambini Brothers Ristorante - counter service Italian. It had almost no line - that should have warned us. :-)

Tokyo DisneySea

Definitely the worst meal of the trip. I had the vegetable lasagna - which I thought meant it was vegetarian, but it had a meat sauce.

Tokyo DisneySea

Lee had some kind of a chicken pizza, which he offered to me instead, but it had two kinds of peppers on it. Sigh. But at least we were inside to eat! I believe just about all of the counter service restaurants had large indoor seating areas - the only one I remember that didn't was the pizza place at TDL.

I was surprised when we came out of the restaurant and the area around the harbor wasn't really that crowded with people trying to get a spot for Fantasmic. I don't know if the cold had made people leave early (it was in the high 30s by then, with some wind), but we found a spot pretty close to the rail - we were in the second row of standers. It was about 15-20 minutes until the show started.

Tokyo DisneySea

There's no island in the harbor, so instead they bring out this floating stage/structure that telescopes into Sorcerer Mickey's hat, and lowers down to form a stage. With fountains around the base. Oh, and the whole hat is an LED screen all the way around! And there's fireworks. It's a Magical MAGICAL hat float.

Tokyo DisneySea

Other floats come out that have characters on them, and then later the characters disappear and this round balloon appears on top of each of them that looks like a huge crystal ball-like projection screen. (These floats have an awful lot of people and stuff on board - it must be very crowded down below!)

Tokyo DisneySea

Then there's the Magic Mirror (not sure where that came from - the main stage was between us and it so we couldn't see it very well), and then there's the dragon, which we also couldn't see well. But it lit the lagoon on fire - which was warm and felt pretty good!

Tokyo DisneySea

Mickey's imagination vanquishes the dragon and the floats reappear with about 8-10 characters on each one, and there's more fireworks and fountains, and the show ends.

Tokyo DisneySea

Pretty amazing. While it's still about Mickey's imagination and its mostly the same music, it's very different than the versions here. It's all on the water - there is no stationary stage on land. And that Sorcerer's hat floating stage/screen/fountain is pretty cool.

After standing and watching the show we were really chilled. But it was still almost 40 minutes until we could use our Tower of Terror Fastpasses.

Tokyo DisneySea

We wandered through some of the shops, but they were quite busy and unpleasantly crowded. We actually had NOT been into the Toy Story section of the American Waterfront yet, so we went over there. It's set up like a midway, but all that's there is a photo spot, gift shop, and the huge queue for Toy Story Mania. You enter the interior queue through Woody's open mouth...I haven't decided if that's really fun or really disturbing...

The Toy Story line may have been the longest one in the park. That's one attraction that we never did, since we never were in the right place at the right time to get a Fastpass for it. And from what we understand it's the same attraction we have here so we didn't make an effort to get a Fastpass.

Tokyo DisneySea

We still had some more time to kill...I saw on the schedule that the show "A Table is Waiting" was starting in front of the SS Columbia. This is an outdoor show with a relatively small seating area, but they do it a whole bunch of times a day. You can get a decent view of it from outside the seating area. The dialog was in Japanese, and the songs were a mix of Japanese and English. We missed the beginning of it, but it was about food. It was very odd. Disney characters were celebrating different types of cuisine (e.g. Mexican, French, American, Indian), as dancers dressed as different foods came on stage. One of the weirder moments was during the celebration of American food (hosted by Pluto), when people dressed as a hamburger patty, two as slices of cheese, and a hamburger bun all piled on top of each other on a foam bun that had been placed on the stage. (I'd say it was goofy, but he hosted the Japanese food portion.)

Oh, there was a pie fight at the end. :-) Most of the pies were fake, but Mickey got whipped cream smeared on his nose and someone in the audience got a pie in the face - I'm still not sure if it was a real guest or a disguised cast member.

By then it was FINALLY 9:05 and we could use our Fastpass for Tower of Terror!!! The HTH - Hotel Hightower - seems much larger to me than those in California and Florida. This one doesn't have the Twilight Zone connection at all, and instead the story involves the owner of the hotel, Harrision Hightower III. He was a member of SEA (we saw portraits of him at Mystic Manor in Hong Kong), who brought home a cursed idol named Shiriki Utundu. (Which was not exactly lawfully acquired in the first place.) Hightower foolishly mocked the idol, and on New Year's Eve stepped into the elevator with it. When the elevator doors opened, all that was left inside were his hat and the idol. In the attraction we get to watch Hightower in those final moments. And there's the whole rise and fall of the elevators, too. (Unlike the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror versions, where I feel a little sorry for the passengers being in the wrong place at the wrong time, in this case I thought Harrison's end was entirely justified.)

Lots of interesting details and things to see inside, since the hotel is where Hightower housed his collection. Really well-done - I think this is the best Tower of Terror I've seen. I wish we'd had a chance to do it again.

Tokyo DisneySea

It had been looonnnng day, and we were SO ready to go back to our hotel to get some sleep and get warm! I thought we might have a wait for the monorail, but I think because we didn't leave right after Fantasmic, we missed the big crowd. We just had a short wait until the next monorail arrived at the station, and we even had seats. Ours was the second stop so we were quickly back at our room.

Really a wonderful day, but we were very tired.

Coming Next: Park hopping: Tokyo Disneyland AND Tokyo DisneySea in one day!


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About June 2014

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in June 2014. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2014 is the previous archive.

July 2014 is the next archive.

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