« August 2014 | Main | October 2014 »

September 2014 Archives

September 2, 2014

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Another Disneyland Half Marathon successfully completed! That makes seven for us. We had a good race, and felt strong despite running a 10K the day before.

Even though at Disneyland we have the advantage of proximity to the starting line, we still had to get up pretty for a race that starts at 5:30! Lee was happy that the Hearthstone Lounge in the hotel opened at 4:00 so he could get his morning coffee. (All of the coffee-type places in the Disney hotels opened early today as did many locations in Downtown Disney.)

We again met some of our fellow runners in the lobby and walked over to the pre-race area together. Even though there were 18,000 registered this morning (as opposed to 10,000 for the 10K) the walkways still weren't congested, and even the porta-potty lines weren't very long.

We headed to our corrals a little after 5:00. And even that wasn't bad, as compared to previous years when there's been a couple of choke points where we've moved by inches and not feet with each step. I have to say that Disneyland for the most part has continued to improve the running experience each year.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The first 6 corrals were much smaller in size this year - I have typically been in C or D in the past, and this year I was in F, though I was about as far back as I was when I was in D last year. Lee and Michael were in earlier corrals but they came back to F to run with me - wasn't that nice of them? :-) As it turned out they sent the first 6 corrals off in pairs, so A and B went together, C and D, E and F. After that the corrals were a lot bigger and went off one by one. This photo is looking back - there's a LOT more people behind us than in front of us!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The national anthem was beautifully performed by a Disney cast member - he really did a great job. We got some fireworks during the anthem, as well as some when the race started. Corrals E and F started 15 minutes after the official start, and we crossed the start line about 16-and-a-half minutes off the start.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The weather was warmer than the day before - 70 degrees at the start as opposed to 66, and humidity was 76%. So it was warm. Fortunately we had cloud cover for most of the race, and that helped a lot.

The course was the same as the last few years - around the outside of DCA on the city streets before going backstage at DCA and coming into the park itself at Paradise Pier. Some of the Green Army Men were there near Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, and Sarge was encouraging the runners. The World of Color fountains were going and we stopped for a quick photo.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We ran through Cars Land and down Route 66 in the opposite direction than we'd done in the 10K, and looped around through Hollywood and past Soarin' Over California.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We ran across the Esplanade, where there were lots of people out to cheer us on despite the early hour, and into Disneyland and down Main Street. The Three Caballeros were out near the hub but the line was long and we didn't stop.

We went through Frontierland where there were more Green Army Men near the Mark Twain's dock - seemed like an odd place for them to be, but the line was short so we stopped.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The race route went around Big Thunder Mountain and the mile 3 sign, then into Fantasyland. Cinderella's stepsisters were on the Carrousel, and the Prince was sitting on one of the bench seats with the Wicked Stepmother - that seemed like quite an odd couple, and I'm sorry I didn't get a photo.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We ran through the castle and into Tomorrowland. There were no characters at the castle, which was unusual. But Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers were in Tomorrowland. Huge line - the longest one we saw - so we didn't stop. We went past the submarine lagoon and the Matterhorn. Along small world way, instead of princesses, they had villains! There were three stations, but only two had villains when we went through. Jafar and the Evil Queen had a long line, but Cruella and Dr. Facilier had a relatively short line. Cruella was great - she was telling everyone where to stand and how to pose. (We heard that Maleficent was at the other photo stop.)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

From there we ran into Toontown and went backstage and past the stables before exiting onto Disneyland Drive and turning north. Not long after that was the mile 4 sign. This is my main complaint about the Disneyland Half Marathon - the park part is done much too early in the race. :-(

We turned right onto Ball Road and began our tour of the Anaheim Industrial Park. The community of Anaheim does a great job of coming out and supporting the runners during this part of the race - there are lots of bands and cheerleaders. Two groups that I look forward to seeing each year are the mariachi band and dancers and the Hawaiian dancers. Both groups have performers of all ages in beautiful costumes.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The classic cars were back along the route from ~mile 6.5-8. They have been such a wonderful addition to the race these last three years! The cars are beautiful and the owners are so (deservedly) proud of them. And they support the runners, too - cheer us on, ring cowbells, blow horns, etc.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Past mile 8 as we neared the Honda Center Lee noticed a large unusual-looking structure in the distance ahead of us. It was still some distance away when we made the turn into the Honda Center parking lot, but Lee saw an Anaheim policeman standing there and asked him about it. It's the new Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), which is still under construction. A variety of train, bus, and taxi services will be available there. Looks cool!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

After going through the Honda Center parking lot we reached the Santa Ana River Trail, which runs along the Santa Ana river channel. This has always been one of my favorite parts because we get to run on dirt for a while. I know some people don't like that, and it's also a little narrow. But it appears to have been widened, and most of it has been recently paved.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The race route exits the trail at Angel Stadium, a bit past mile 9.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The Clif Shot station was there, and there was lots of music and people cheering us all the way to the stadium itself. And then we went down the tunnel into the stadium and onto the field! We ran on the dirt all the way down the right field line and around home plate, and down the left field line before taking the tunnel out of the stadium. Lots of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts come out to cheer us - they make a lot of noise!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Not too far outside the stadium is the mile 10 sign. From there until we get back to Disneyland there are lots of bands and cheerleaders along the route. They are so enthusiastic and full of energy, and that helps us when we are starting to get tired.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

At mile 12 we went backstage at DCA again - we actually ran part of the same course we ran at the beginning of the race. And we ran around Paradise Pier again - except that instead of the Paradise Pier inside DCA we crossed Disneyland Drive and ran around the Paradise Pier hotel. :-)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Again, lots of cheerleaders and other people to encourage us as we ran that last quarter mile or so around the hotel and past Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Hotel to the finish line!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

My time was 2:31:05. I'd hoped to break 2:30, but I guess we goofed off a little too much along the way. :-) Even though we didn't stop for that many character photos, we made some other stops so that Lee and Michael could show off their dance moves...

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Volunteers gave us our beautiful, slightly re-designed Disneyland Half Marathon medals, and also a wonderful cool towel. Ahhhhhh.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Michael went to exchange his Coast-to-Coast wristband for his medal, and then we all went to get our Dumbo Double Dare medals. It's not a Disney race without that lovely "clank, clank" sound as you walk around afterward. :-) (No Coast-to-Coast for us because we got it back in January after doing the Dopey Challenge and the Tinker Bell 10K and 1/2 marathon on consecutive weekends.)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

For refreshments there were bottles of water and PowerAde, and then those Disney MRE boxes. (That was Michael's term for them. I like it.) There were also bananas.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Not much in the boxes: a packet of rice crackers, soft cheese, a mini Clif bar, packet of blueberry rice cake things, and a piece of Almond Roca. I still think Disney can do WAY better than that after a race. How about some chocolate milk? Oranges? Pretzels? Nuts?

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Something our friend Dave pointed out to us later that day was that there was no concession stand in the finish area. He spent a fair bit of time at the finish line waiting for all of us, and he was hoping for a cup of coffee, but there was nothing to be had. Yes, Downtown Disney isn't too far away, but it's not convenient to the finish area at all. Anyone waiting for a runner in the Family Reunion area had no easy access to food or beverages.

We were in the finish area when they did the awards ceremony on-stage - I'd never seen that before! The winner, Nick Arciniaga, finished in 1:07:48. The guy in second place finished in 1:13:06 - BIG gap there.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

It was still partly overcast when we finished but the sun really came out while we stood watching the awards, so I know it got very warm for those still on the course. 72 degrees doesn't sound bad, but 72 with full sun beating down on you feels HOT.

After the awards we went back to the hotel. Fortunately we didn't have to try to get across the race course like we did for the 10K, so it was a lot easier and faster!

The race went well and I felt good despite running 6.2 miles the day before. Guess that whole training thing really works. :-) But seriously, I did train for this one, and all those miles I put in this summer in even warmer conditions that we had on our race days helped a lot. Still, you never exactly know how you're going to feel on race day - you can do everything right, yet for some reason you just don't have it on race day.

We were very happy to see that there were a lot more characters on the course than during the 10K. Both races had about the same number of miles in the park, but I guess the characters had Saturday morning off. So maybe that made us appreciate them a lot more on Sunday. Still, it wasn't really fair to those who only ran the 10K.

A huge thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers who worked all weekend at the Expo and the races. They put in a lot of long hours. We had friends of friends who volunteered this year, so we heard a little more about the types of days the volunteers have. I know I complain about getting up early, but the volunteers are up even earlier, since their shift will start at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning! In addition to working their area they have to set it up first. Did you know that all of the medals come in their own individual bags, and then on race morning they have to be un-bagged and checked and then hung on the racks you see at the finish line? It's a lot of work!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

And also a heartfelt thank you to all of the community groups, bands, cheer teams, dance teams, classic car enthusiasts and members of the community who come out to support all of us who run. We so appreciate your enthusiasm and your energy, and the wonderful signs, and the high-fives, and calling out our names. And also being there with water, oranges, pretzels, licorice and even Vaseline. And then there's the very brave among you who offer free hugs no matter how sweaty the runner.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

This is a wonderful event. Is it perfect? No, but considering the logistics of dealing with something like 35,000 participants over the course of three days, it's pretty well done. Yes, it's expensive. Is it worth it? There are many answers to that question, since there are so many intangibles that go along with any race, but especially a Disney race. But that's probably a topic for a whole other blog.

We had a great time, and will definitely be running the Disneyland Half Marathon again. We certainly plan to participate next year, which will be the tenth half marathon, as well as Disneyland's 60th birthday, so we hope for something even more special.

Did you participate in any of the events during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend? What are your thoughts?


September 3, 2014

San Diego Comic-Con 2014: Something Good, Something Bad — A Bit of Both. [Part 5]

jeaninebanner.jpg

So the largest amount of representation Disney brought to SDCC this year was, unsurprisingly, their Marvel properties.

IMG_5977.JPG

Marvel's "Agents of SHIELD" had a panel in Ballroom 20, which is probably the second-hardest room to get into at SDCC. To go through the line for Ballroom 20, you habitually have to go outside, walk a good part of the length of the convention center, go back in, walk BACK the same length of the convention center, and then, after some double-backs, maybe get to cross the aisle and enter the room. Needless to say, I didn't make it.

I did, however, manage to catch a few glimpses of the cast, as they made their appearances over at their booth on the Exhibit Hall floor.

DSC00718.JPG

DSC00724.JPG

DSC00727.JPG

Of course, their big gun was Marvel Studios, which has been dominating the box office for the last few years.

DSC00684.JPG

Their booth, filled with rotating movie props, special limited-edition merchandise, and occasional franchise stars, could always be counted on to block floor traffic all day long.

IMG_5975.JPG

DSC00683.JPG

They too held a panel, however theirs was in the infamous Hall H, which has the distinction of being THE hardest to enter. Part of the puzzle is the fact that the rooms aren't cleared after each session--once in, the con-goer can effectively squat in there for the duration of the programming day. Because of this, it develops that someone who wants to see, say, the Marvel panel at the end of the day, needs to get in that room at the beginning, because there's effectively no seat turnover during popular days. To get into the Marvel panel, which was towards the end of Saturday, some people had been in line since around 2-4pm the previous day.

IMG_6088.JPG

So it didn't happen for me. Luckily, there are many YouTube recordings of all the panels up by now, including these snippets:

In addition to the panels and appearances, there was an endless stream of merchandise available to commemorate all the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

IMG_5993.JPG

IMG_5997.JPG

IMG_5999.JPG

IMG_6012.JPG

DSC00730.JPG

Like any convention, SDCC brought out an immense number of cosplayers, who drew from every influence under the sun. This year, however, I almost think I saw as many Elsas as metal-bikini-Leias, which is saying something.

IMG_6041.JPG

IMG_6082.JPG

IMG_6122.JPG

IMG_6169.JPG

IMG_6174.JPG

IMG_6217.JPG

So, although I did attend more non-Disney talks, these last blog entries make up the bulk of the Disney content from this year's 2014.

The "pro:" A ton of offerings, touching on virtually every piece of existing pop culture; .chances to see and get autographs from any number of celebrities; more merchandise than you could even examine during the course of 4.5 days.

IMG_6120.JPG

The "con:" So crowded. Every year seems more crowded than the next. This year, I was determined to try to at least walk by every booth on the Exhibit Hall floor, but huge pockets of people would block the aisles and make certain intersections almost completely impassable, so I wound up traversing a lot of the same pathways repeatedly to get around them. Everything is so much in demand, to see one star-filled panel or buy one limited edition piece of merchandise, you might have to give up seeing anything else for half of the day before, and sleep out on the sidewalk with the roaches and the hobos.

DSC00659.JPG

For next time: There is also an enormous amount of stuff outside of the convention center--this year saw a huge Simpsons area; a parkour course; a chance to zipline over Gotham; an entire area of Petco Park given over to an "Experience Zone" with interactive exhibits from a number of different properties, such as Comedy Central and Sleepy Hollow; and several different locations where different organizations centralized to offer celebrity talks, game demos, and more. Just trying to navigate around inside the convention center was so difficult, I didn't have much time to explore around outside until Sunday, when a lot of it was already starting to be broken down.

IMG_6104.JPG

And with that, another SDCC goes in the books. Until next year, San Diego!

DSC00798.JPG

September 5, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, August 29, 2014.

This weekend was the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.

AllEars.Net's Laura Gilbreath participated in the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend races and has postings on them HERE. I walked through the runDisney Expo and the Disneyland Hotel to start my day, but will skip those pictures since Laura has them covered. Here is one quick picture of the finish line for the 5K as I made my way to the Disneyland Hotel. The races had a Hawaiian/Lilo & Stitch/Aulani theme this year.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

After roaming around the Expo I walked through Downtown Disney and made my way to Disneyland. Still working on the entrance to Disneyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

No visible change on Main Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Inside the Disney Showcase has received the rest of its Halloween decorations and merchandise.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The music store exit and window are blocked off while the exterior work is underway. So it is a dead end if you try to pass through the stores.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The guest relations podium in Tomorrowland. Each one now fits in better with the area it is in.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Ghost Galaxy equipment is installed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The sub lagoon has been refilled. The attraction is scheduled to reopen September 27.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The subs themselves appear untouched..

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

I walked through Toontown. Mickey fountain and his house

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The new guest relations podium in Fantasyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The music of Nashville concluded its run last Saturday. The Jamboree is closed this week. It will reopen for the Halloween Carnival in a few weeks.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The Legends of Frontierland has been extended into the fall. Disney did not release a date though.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Today was the last day for the Adventure Trading Company. To celebrate they were hosting various events throughout the day.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Aladdin's Oasis had stories from guests strung throughout.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

This group was participating in a decodathon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

This was a story telling circle

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The queue ropes for Indy look bright and new.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Haunted Mansion 45th anniversary shirts are still available.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The Haunted Mansion is closed until September 12th as they install the holiday overlay.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

I walked through the Emporium on my way out of the park. Spotted this pack of 12 posters attraction poster printers for $19.95.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

As I was walking up Buena Vista Street Goofy strolled by.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The scaffolding was being removed around the Grand Californian.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

It was all stacked near the walkway.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Waiting to cross the parade route as the opening of the Pixar Play Parade passed by.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

They were testing the World of Color fountains in preparation for tonight's show.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

The ongoing renovation work.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Screamin' has a new on ride photo option. You can now purchase a digital photo for 99 cents by text.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Stopped by Radiator Springs Curios, a look at some of the merchandise.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Returned to Disneyland. Here is the Droid of the Day in the Star Trader.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

A Hard Day's Night a Tribute to the Beatles at the Tomorrowland Terrace this evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Daisy meeting guests in Town Square

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Dapper Dan inspired pumpkins

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

A Hard Day's Night second set.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

Returned to Main Street to wait for Magical. Spotted only a couple pairs of Glow with the Show Ears, one right in front of me.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14

No signs of Tinkerbell or Dumbo this evening.

Thought this was a fun shot -- too bad the head on the left drifted into my frame.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 8/29/14


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.



September 7, 2014

Big Hero Six Part 1

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Big Hero 6 Introduction

I had the opportunity to spend a day at the Walt Disney Animation Studio to learn about "Big Hero 6". This post is part two of three. The first post looked at the short, “Feast”, that will accompany the film. In this piece I wanted to share an introduction/primer to the Who, What, Where, and When of "Big Hero 6". In the third and final part I will share some factoids and interesting pieces of information I learned while at the preview day about what it took to bring Big Hero 6 to the screen.


What:

“Big Hero 6” is Walt Disney Animation Studios 54th feature film, to be released November 7, 2014. It is directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”) and produced by Roy Conli (“Tangled”).

Big Hero 6 is inspired by a Marvel comic with the same name, about a robotics genius named Hiro Hamada, who learns how to harness his skills. Through a series of events, Hiro, Baymax his robot, and four of their friends, find themselves in the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in San Fransokyo. Hiro transforms the group into a band of high-tech heroes to solve the mystery.
Here is the official trailer that was released on July 15, 2014




Where/When:
Big Hero 6 takes place in San Fransokyo in the not-too-distant future. As the name suggests, San Fransokyo is a combination of San Francisco and Tokyo. Here is some first-look footage Disney released back in May 2013


To illustrate the blending of the two cities here is a piece of concept art showing a bridge in San Fransokyo
Big Hero 6
Who (Meet the Cast):

Hiro Hamada

Voice: Ryan Potter
Notes: 14-year-old robotics prodigy, inspired to gain admission to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology by his older brother Tadashi
Big Hero 6 - Hiro Hamada

Baymax

Voice:
Scott Adsit

Notes: An inflatable robot designed to be a personal healthcare companion conceived and built by Tadashi. His goal/purpose is to help people.

Big Hero 6 - Baymax
Fred

Voice: T.J. Miller

Notes: A laid-back sign-twirling, monster-loving, comic-book fanboy

Big Hero 6 - Fred
Go Go Tomago

Voice: Jamie Chung

Notes:
An adrenaline junkie who is tough, athletic, very loyal, and not much of a conversationalist. Her character was inspired by bicycle messengers.


Honey Lemon

Voice: Genesis Rodriguez

Notes: An optimistic chemistry whiz with a unique fashion sense and can-do attitutde.

Big Hero 6 - Honey Lemon



Wasabi

Voice: Damon Wayans , Jr.

Notes: Is committed to precision, super smart, and has martial arts skills.

Big Hero 6 - Wasabi

Other Characters

Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) - Hiro and Tadashi's aunt and guardian. She owns a bakery and coffee shop in San Fransokyo.

Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney) - Hiro’s older brother and guide. He created Baymax and looks out for his younger brother.

Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell) - Heads up the robotics program at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk) - An illustrious alum of San Fransokyo Institute of Technology who is the owner of the biggest technology company in the world.


"Big Hero 6" opening in theaters on November 7, 2014. Check back soon for Part III of my day at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, which will feature some information I learned on the making of the film. If you missed part I, a look at the short, "Feast", that will preced the film, you may want to check that out. I will not be reviewing the film in any of the three parts because this was an early preview. We saw less than 30 minutes of footage and it was incomplete, out of sequence, and only enough to give a flavor for the film and for the rest of the day.

September 8, 2014

Big Hero Six Part 2

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Big Hero Six
I had the opportunity to spend a day at the Walt Disney Animation Studio to learn about Big Hero 6. I have previously posted Part I featuring a look at “Feast” the new short that will be accompanying Big Hero 6, as well as Part II, which featured a primer on Big Hero 6. In this third installment I want to share some of the interesting factoids/notes I took away from the experience.

I spent the day in the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, the Sorcerer hat building located on the Disney lot in Burbank, CA. This is the home of the Disney Animation Studios. Pictured above is the main lobby. Big Hero 6 has taken over the walls as you enter the building and around the first floor lobby. Below are two more pictures from the first floor.

Big Hero Six


Big Hero Six

The morning started off in the theater on the first floor.

Big Hero Six

After the Feast presentation I covered in a previous posting, the producer Roy Conli and directors Don Hall and Chris Williams (pictured below) introduced us to the film and characters. We were shown several clips and scenes in various stages of completion to illustrate what they were presenting. In total we saw maybe 20 minutes, they were careful not to reveal too much of the plot or key aspects. It was almost an extended teaser. Much of what was discussed was covered in my overview blog posting already.

Big Hero Six

The bulk of the day consisted of five sessions looking at different aspects of putting the film together -- think DVD/Blu-ray bonus material but live, interactive and extended. The sessions took place in screening and story rooms on the second floor and third floors of the building.

Big Hero Six

Session 1: Capturing a Character - The Animation of Big Hero 6

Description: Head of Animation Zach Parrish (“Wreck-It Ralph”) and members of his team, including legendary Disney animator Mark Henn (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Frozen”) highlight the enormous scope of the film’s animation, from creating the biggest action sequences in Disney Animation history to richly nuanced character performances in CG.

My Notes:

  • The film utilized 85 animators
  • 5 animation supervisors
  • Their new software allowed for crowd/background characters to be much more dynamic, more variation, and produced more efficiently. There were 701 unique characters created, 1,324 animation cycles, 632,124 retargeted cycles
  • 7 action sequences more than any other Disney animated feature film
  • Baymax walk modeled on a baby penguin
  • The style of animation for Baymax was called unimating because the goal was to simplify his movements
  • Basic steps involved in animation are layout, animation pre-viz, live test, blocking pass, animate -- gather notes and repeat as necessary for each step
  • They demonstrated a way that they collect notes on the film. In real time someone can draw over the frames/scenes being screened and these notes are saved and able to be recalled later.

Big Hero Six

Session 2: Visual Effects

Description: On “Big Hero 6,” the visual effects artists were challenged to take this high-octane, action-packed adventure to the next level, all while creating new techniques along the way. From Wasabi’s fighting blades to Fred’s fire breathing suit, Head of Effects Michael Kaschalk and Effects Production Supervisor Nathan Curtis present the complex and varied challenges to bringing action to life.

My Notes:

  • A large portion of this presentation was devoted to one of the key effects of the film, Microbots. These tiny reconfigurable robots are Hiro's invention and play a major role. To create them and get them to move and create objects was a monumental task. In several scenes there are 20 million microbots in the shot.
  • Big Hero 6 used a new rendered developed for the Disney Animation Studios called Hyperion
  • As the films become more complex the need for Visual Effects continues to grow. The team at Disney Animation Studios has grown too. For comparison:
    • 13 Tangled
    • 31 Wreck-It Ralph
    • 35 Frozen
    • 40 Big Hero 6
  • Part of the job of the visual effects team is to explore the science of the effects they are trying to create to understand how it is really happening so they can better model/recreate it for the films. To do this they took research trips to research labs at Universities including CMU, MIT and Harvard
  • The Visual Effects team collaborates with the other teams working on the film and they even embed a member with the animation team to help ensure a constant flow of information between the two.

Big Hero Six

Session 3: Meet the Directors and Producer

Description: Directors Chris Williams (“Bolt”) & Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and producer Roy Conli (“Tangled”, “Treasure Planet”) answer your questions about “Big Hero 6”!

  • Collaboration is the word of the day. With two directors managing a large team it was essential to creating the final product.
  • One of the interesting things they learned on their research trip to Tokyo was how it keeps reinventing itself. The city keeps tearing down and rebuilding as needed. A building older than 30 years seemed really old.
  • The film was set in the near future so it would be familiar but still able to push the boundaries.

Big Hero Six

Session 4: Production Design (Jin Kim, Lorelay Bove, Shiyoon Kim, Kyle Odermatt)

Description: Join Production Designer Paul Felix and members of the visual development team as they walk through the artistic design choices and research that went into the creation of San Fransokyo and the unique character designs of “Big Hero 6.

  • Lorelay Bove (Visual Development Artist) spoke about the first explorations they did for the film, including a set of Travel posters for San Fransokyo 3 years ago
  • Baymax is an inflatable robot, inspired by some they saw on a research trip to CMU top learn about soft robotics
    Big Hero Six
  • Shiyoon Kim talked about how a lot of Hiro is based on his childhood and people he knew
    Big Hero Six
  • Costume Color overview
    Big Hero Six
  • The walked us through a sample of how a research photo can inspire a building in the film. In this case Aunt Cass's Cafe. In the series of images below you will see a photograph of a building in San Francisco, a first exploration of what it could look like in the film, then a frame from the film.
    Big Hero Six

    Big Hero Six

    Big Hero Six

Big Hero Six

Session 5: Script & Story

Description: “Big Hero 6” Screenwriter Robert Baird and Head of Story Paul Briggs show how script and storyboards work together to bring a Disney animated feature film to the screen.

  • The take-away from this presentation is how long and difficult the process is to nail down the story and create the script for a film. The process begins by creating storyboard for the various sequences of the film and stringing them together. These boards can be very elaborate. Big Hero 6 had approximating 30 sequences and each took approx. 1,000 drawings to convey.
  • As the boards and story take shape there are screenings along the way to check on the progress, gather feedback, etc.. typically there are about 8 major screenings over the several years of development.
  • The first screening occurs approximately a year into development and is usually a complete disaster. Things that you think are working well fall flat, the audience is lost, etc.. almost everything thrown out and reworked.
  • With each screening the story starts to solidify and progress. In general it really does not start to come together until the 4th screening

Note: All images on this posting are provided by Disney

September 15, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14 - Halloween Time

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, September 12, 2014 featuring a first look at HalloweenTime.

Halloween Time kicked off at the Disneyland Resort today. In this picture set I feature the Halloween related pictures. There will be an additional update with other photos.

The Mickey and Friends Tram Stop features Halloween Time Billboards

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Some Downtown Disney Banners feature Halloween (the reverse side Cars Land).

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The entrance turnstile work is complete and the character pumpkins are out in their usual places.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Main Street is home to the pumpkin festival. The red, white and blue of summer is gone and orange, yellow and pumpkins now on the buildings. These are atop the Mad Hatter shop.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The large pumpkin Mickey in town square has returned

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

As I walked up Main Street took pictures of the pumpkins on the buildings.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

9/12/14 - Halloween Time


A travel mug is available at several locations. This one in Coke Corner.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Approaching the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ, it is decked out for Halloween as usual.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The Halloween Carnival takes place daily in the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree area. Here is the schedule.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The Pirates League is present again.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

A favorite of mine...the pumpkin carvers.

Since it was the first day not a lot done yet...but a couple.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Elvis Stitch carved into this pumpkin.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Characters were roaming around as usual. Here Minnie is signing a picture for a guest.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Halloween Crafts have returned so you can color a mask to use in the parade.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The Games of Fun have returned. This year Cast a Spell ring toss and Wheel of Fortune.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Carnival Treats is between the games and tent.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The menu. The only Halloween themed item is the Candy Corn Cotton Candy.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Pirates League is available in the Jamboree area during Halloween Time. There were plenty of cast members waiting for guests. None stopped by while I was in the area.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

There was a Disney film crew and photographer on hand. Guessing we will see a Parks Blog posting soon.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The Scare-Dy-Crow Shack

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Frontierland is celebrating Dia De Los Muertos in Zocalo Park again.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The Ray Bradbury Halloween Tree is back in Frontierland.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

There are several locations with special offerings for Halloween Time. Here is a Maleficent Dragon Sipper.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The Haunted Mansion Holiday reopened today. It had a posted 40 min wait, so just some exterior pictures as I walked by. No FastPass on Friday (and guessing none this year)

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

At the Royal St. Veranda. Their Halloween Time offerings.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Bengal BBQ Halloween Time Treat

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Bengal BBQ Halloween Time Treat

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Halloween popcorn buckets.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Back to the Halloween Carnival. Conjure a Villain is back again and had a long line just like the previous years. This year a fortune teller/mind reader was out to entertain those waiting.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Donald dressed up as a pumpkin.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Show time. A jester takes the stage to introduce the mask-arade

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Time for the mask-arade.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Here is a video of Mickey's Mask-arade

Next up a Magician takes the stage to perform. Here is a clip of his rope trick routine

A clip of a levitation illusion.

A clip of his finale trick.


9/12/14 - Halloween Time

A random ghost on the loose...it bumped right into me.

Then went on to scare/chase this cast member.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Goofy in his Halloween Costume.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Mickey was helping some guests color.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Thought this was funny. A guest was taking a picture of Mickey and Minnie photo-bombed in the background.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Time for the Mask-arade again.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Noticed this sign near the entrance. It was re-used from last year. Still lists the Haunted Hillbillies.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Paid a visit to the Haunted Mansion Holiday that opened today.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Here is a video I took last year (this trip through I just did stills). It was the same this year.

A quick look at the gingerbread house.. it opens to reveal a gingerbread man inside.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Entering the graveyard.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Tomorrowland Terrace Halloween Time special.. a Monster U Style burger

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Next stop Buena Vista Street. Some Halloween inspired treats at Trolley Treats.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time


Popcorn bucket offerings on Buena Vista Street.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Out at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta a Halloween Time offering.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Note it is now a slice of pizza. The flatbreads are gone.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The Mad T Party is decked out for Halloween again.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

Pizza Port has a Halloween Time offering.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time

The Monster Mac and Cheese Pizza.

9/12/14 - Halloween Time


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.



September 17, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, September 12, 2014.

Along with your parking receipt on Friday you were given a button featuring Elsa from Once Upon a Time.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The first load/unload are at the Mickey & Friends tram stop in Downtown Disney was fenced off. A repaving project is wrapping up.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Downtown Disney banners. One side has Cars Land, the other side Halloween Time. Speaking of Halloween Time it started Friday. I posted a separate set of pictures from Friday with those pictures.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

First stop Disneyland.

More scaffolding and wraps up on Main Street. So most of the East side of the block is under wraps.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Castle Bros. sign has returned.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Photo Supply Co exterior is being renovated. Both the exterior and the interior of this store (the others just the exterior).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

A large tree has been removed from between Coke Corner and Jolly Holiday. It has been replaced with a smaller one. (on the right).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Some work going on as you walk toward the castle. Looks like the seating areas are being redone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The bridge has been rebuilt since my last visit.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Frozen queue was small, they have started a new ticketing system. Tickets with return times are distributed to minimize your wait. These are gone close to park opening and were long gone when I arrived.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The outdoor vending carts are gone while some work is going on near the old Skyway station in Fantasyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Big Thunder was quiet this afternoon, only a 10-minute wait posted.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Friday was Dapper Day so there were groups of Dapper guests everywhere. Here are some strolling through Frontierland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Mark Twain is in dry dock for several weeks of work.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

They have the walkway blocked off as you approach Fowlers Harbour. Guessing this is a staging area for the Mark Twain work?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The cost to grab a bite to eat at Disneyland has gone up at most locations. For exmple, the Harbour Galley Menu, prices up between 40 cents to a dollar compared to May 30th.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Royal Courtyard is blocked off. They have removed the merchandise location as well as the stairs. Here you can see the outline of where the stairs were.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

A large tree was removed and replaced with a smaller one to the left of the Jungle Cruise entrance.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Umbrellas were in style with many of the Dapper Day guests.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Small World is undergoing some facade work.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Roger Rabbit has returned atop the fountain in Toontown.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Dumbo only had a 10-minute wait posted.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Most of the walls are down from around the Sub Lagoon and there were subs cycling when I walked by.

They reopen the 27th, only 2 more weeks.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Plaza Inn, interesting the fried chicken stayed the same but Pot Roast and Pasta both went up compared to the May 30th menu.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Sherman Brothers have replaced Miley Cyrus on the Spirit of Celebration area at the exit to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Over to Buena Vista Street. Plenty of Dapper Day guests here too. A large line by Oswalds. Speaking of Oswald he started appearing in the park on Sunday.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Dapper Day guests

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Only a 13-minute wait for Tower of Terror

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Cars Land was fairly quiet too. The Flying Tires and Junkyard Jamboree were walk-ons.

Only 45 min standby for the Racers

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Stopped by Ghirardelli. Some Halloween candy for sale (they were still passing out caramel minis)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Pumpkin shaped bread at the Pacific Wharf Cafe.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Gluten free dessert options plus Halloween Time seasonal Bread Pudding (for more of the seasonal offerings check out my separate Halloween Time section).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Some work in the seating area of the Wharf

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Paradise Park was full of guests, it was a Dapper meet of some sort.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Duffy photo area in Paradise Pier has been removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Looks like the digital download test is complete at Screamin'.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta no longer serves flatbreads.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Instead just individual slices, like the Pizza Port

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

If you have the urge to buy a character tail they now sell them in several stores..

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Grand Californian exterior work is complete.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Some of the rafts coming down Grizzly River Run were really spinning on Friday, like the first one in this short clip, but others like the second not so much.

The Corn Dog Wagon prices are up too.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Elvis, Scot Bruce, performing at the Tomorrowland Terrace this evening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The lights were on in the sub lagoon and a couple subs moving around.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Guardians of the Galaxy was lit up even though it was closed. No projections or audio on Ghost Galaxy when I was there.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The Ghost Galaxy sign.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The closed sign for the Magic Eye theater.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Fantasmic - No dragon this evening. Just Maleficent on her tower.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

And with the Mark Twain in dry dock the characters were all the stage for the finale.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

Made it to Main Street for Remember Dreams Come True which is running on weekends until the holidays.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

The tram stop paving project. Guessing new concrete under the plastic

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/12/14

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.



September 19, 2014

El Capitan Special Engagement: Disney's "Tangled"

jeaninebanner.jpg

For a limited time, Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre is showing a special engagement of Disney's "Tangled."

DSC00990a.JPG

Preceding the 2010 cinematic update on the fairy tale "Rapunzel" is a song and dance from Princess Sofia, of "Sophia the First," with a brief look at the upcoming Disney Junior show "Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy."

IMG_6597.JPG

For those endowed with fanciful follicles, there is also a "Crazy Hair Nights Parade" for all ages.

DSC00975a.JPG

Following the film, the audience is treated to yet another princess as Rapunzel herself comes out to dance a little as the credits roll.

DSC00978a.JPG

She does dance off before the credits end, however, so people wanting more of a meet-and-greet with her should consider booking a breakfast with commemorative photo offered on select days before the 10am show (reservations required.)

DSC00984.JPG

After the credits, the short "Tangled Ever After" runs--it seems a little odd to have a short after the main presentation, but it is a sequel.

People adjourning to the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop next door can find a limited amount of merchandise to accompany them home.

DSC00988a.JPG

So, if you're ready to see some other princesses besides the Arendelle sisters, you might consider checking out some old friends down at the El Capitan, where Rapunzel still has her frying pan, Flynn still has his smolder, and Mother Gothel still Knows Best.

tangled_mother_gothel-wallpaper-1921.jpg

"Tangled" will be running at the El Capitan from September 12 to October 9, 2014. Showtimes are at 10am, 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.elcapitantickets.com or by calling 1-800-DISNEY6.

Additionally, on Sundays at 4pm and Wednesdays at 7 p.m., El Capitan will be showing the Spanish language and 3D version of Disney's "Tangled."







September 21, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, September 19, 2014.

Some work going on along the tram way near the structure. Was not affecting service this afternoon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

At the Downtown Disney stop they have finished the repaving and all four stops were available today.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Oswald now greets guests on Buena Vista Street throughout the day.

There were only a couple groups in line so I stopped by to say hi.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Some Halloween Treats at Trolley Treats

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Officer Calvin Blue escorting Donna the Dog Lady down Buena Vista Street.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Fall Edition of the Buena Vista Bugle is hot off the presses this week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Was walking down the parade route and noticed the Racers FastPass sign still showed availability...cannot remember ever getting one after lunch on a regular day.

A rare afternoon Racers FastPass

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Continuing on Flik's lost its Fun.. well its sign at least. Also notice on the left the large trees are gone.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

In their place smaller ones have been planted.

Same on the other side near the entrance

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The area looks much more open now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Cozy Cone Halloween Time special item. A pumpkin twist.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Only a 35 minute stand by wait this afternoon.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

We lost in the final turn - - Radiator Springs Racers

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Work continues in the Wharf dining area. The walls have moved to the left from last week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

No visible progress on this project.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

At the Fly 'n Buy shop the Planes merchandise has moved inside. So the outside area is empty again.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The center of the Esplanade is walled off. Looks like they are working on the compass in the middle.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The fence and curb around this planter near City Hall have been removed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

It appears they enlarged the planter and redid the sprinkler lines (assuming that the dirt here shows the old planter edge)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Photo Supply store scaffolding is removed and the facade painting looks to be wrapping up. It is still closed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The work near the walkway to the Castle is still ongoing.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Wonder if this is the final state of the bridge work. Thought maybe the shields would return.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

In the Space Mountain exit area they have added some panels to the area.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The subs return to service next week. For now though the area was peaceful to walk through.

No signs of the seagulls yet.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Somehow I did not look up last week...Some Halloween decorations as you enter Toontown.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Stopped by the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree to check out the latest pumpkin creations. This cast member made both the Hatbox Ghost and Small World pumpkins. She was working on Maleficent.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Anna, Elsa and Olaf from Frozen

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

This week a different magician (I missed his name) He did more sleight of hand tricks plus some traditional like a rabbit out of the hat or one with baby chickens.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Anna and Elsa passing by while I was eating... wrong lens and setting on the camera though.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

A special performance later today.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Disneyland Band arriving for the nightly Flag Retreat ceremony. They are wearing their Halloween orange uniforms.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

An Emporium Window highlighting Frozen merchandise.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

It was announced today that the Legends of Frontierland will be ending its run on September 27th.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

A piece of paper posted on the map today.

Some announcements about the Legends of Frontierland listing some of the activities today.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

It was just after 5pm and the Hoedown was underway as I passed the Golden Horseshoe Miss Lilly was out dancing with guests.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Farley and Billy were providing the music.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Stage Door Cafe was closed for renovation.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Walked through the French Market.

The Halloween Time offering.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Popcorn Cart in New Orleans Square has a Zero Doghouse popcorn bucket this year.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The walkway by Fowlers Harbour is open this week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The entrance to the Winnie the Pooh queue is surrounded by scaffolding.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Hungry Bear Halloween Time offerings

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Jolly Holiday Bakery Halloween Time offering.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The Dapper Dans

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

The West Point Brass performing their "theme song" the Magnificent Seven. They played it at every stop.

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Main Street was busy as usual as the sun was setting.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Taste Pilots Halloween Time offerings

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Stopped by the final set of the night of the Mad T Party Band.

During Halloween Time each set they add a little more to their costume and makeup leading to the final set and a Thriller Finale.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/19/14

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.



September 22, 2014

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise - Part 1, Vancouver

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise


It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since we last took a Disney cruise, and yet this is one that we've had planned for quite a long time!

The Disney Wonder has been over on our side of the continent for several months and made several stops in San Diego this season as it made its way to/from Alaska. When the 2014 itineraries were announced, one of the ones that caught our eye was the four-night repositioning cruise at the end of the Alaska season. Start in Vancouver and end in San Diego, with a stop in Victoria along the way. We just couldn't resist the opportunity to have the Disney Wonder bring us back home!

And since the cruise began on a Monday, the timing also worked well to add a few days in Vancouver to the start of the trip. Three years ago we really enjoyed our day in Vancouver when we stopped there for a day on our back-to-back repositioning/first Alaska cruise, and wanted to have time to see more of the city.

We flew to Vancouver on Friday, September 5, and arrived around 5:00. We hadn't flown into Vancouver before - I thought the international terminal was very nice with lots of interesting displays/artwork welcoming us to Canada.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We stayed at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel in downtown Vancouver. We found it very convenient - almost everything we were interested in was within a 15-20 minute walking distance. And we walked a LOT. Friday night we had a great dinner at Joe Fortes - they had fresh wild-caught sockeye salmon, and it's the best salmon we have ever had. We walked around downtown a big after dinner and went by this really interesting-looking building - it's the Vancouver Public Library - it only looks like the Colosseum . :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Saturday we had a wonderful visit to Granville Island in the morning, and enjoyed wandering through the Public Market (beautiful produce!) and shops.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We also enjoyed sampling some beers at the Granville Island Brewery.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Later in the afternoon we walked down to the seawall and over to Stanley Park, where we saw the totem poles and the 'Girl in Wetsuit' statue, and wandered a bit in the gardens. Beautiful weather that day - in the high 70s.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We had dinner in the Gastown area (lots of bars and restaurants and very reminiscent of our Gaslamp district in San Diego) at a pub called Six Acres, which was very good. On the walk to the pub we passed the Steam Clock, which yes, runs on steam, and chimes on the quarter hour. It's hard to see in the photo, but there's steam coming out the top. (Though it looks old, it was actually built in 1977.)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

On Sunday morning we took the SeaBus (passenger ferry) over to North Vancouver and then took the bus to Lynn Canyon. There's a (free) suspension bridge there (as opposed to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which you pay for), and lots of hiking and biking trails. We got a fairly early start and were at the park before 10:00. When we left around 11:45 there were a LOT more people around. But it was another beautiful day - a little cooler than Saturday.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

That evening we went back to Gastown and had dinner at a pizza place - Nicli Antica. Neapolitan pizza, which was pretty good. And they served the best Sangria I think I have ever had.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We didn't need to check out of the hotel until noon, so that gave us plenty of time on Monday morning to go out and take a nice walk to Stanley Park again, though this time we went to the southeastern side. We finally saw in person this rock sculpture that we'd seen depicted in so many photos and other artwork around Vancouver. It's called an Inuksuk - an Inuit word.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

On the nearby beaches we saw some other rock formations - we call these "hoodoos" when we find them in Yosemite. As you can see below, some of them are pretty impressively balanced!

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

In addition to walking along the seawall we took a couple of trails through the woods. It was a lovely walk.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

As we walked back to the hotel along the harbor we caught our first sight of the Disney Wonder!

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We were packed and showered and checked out by 11:30. It was a short taxi ride to Canada Place and the cruise ship terminal. There were already people there, but it wasn't too crowded. They started boarding not too long after we checked in, so we didn't have to wait too long.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We had studied the Navigator while waiting, so we knew our first stop was going to be WaveBands to sign up for some of the beverage tasting sessions. That was easy.

Next on our agenda was lunch, so we went to Parrot Cay. We were early, and it wasn't crowded when we got there, though that didn't last long. I always enjoy the peel-and-eat shrimp on the buffet.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

After lunch we still had some time before we could get into out stateroom, so we wandered around the ship. I have to say the Wonder still looks really good. It's a year newer than the Magic, which underwent an extensive refurbishment last year, so I was expecting that the Wonder might be showing some signs of age, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The public areas are in great condition.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I think where I saw the most signs of wear and tear were in our stateroom, but even there it's not bad - just small things like dings in the paint and furniture, and carpet that is not new. Pretty small stuff. We were on the Magic a year before its refurb, and at that time I felt that it definitely needed some TLC, but I don't feel the same way about the Wonder. (One thing missing in the stateroom photo below is our Castaway Club gift - I had to call Guest Services twice, and it was finally delivered Wednesday afternoon.)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

While we were wandering we saw that one of the lifeboats was open, so we took a look inside. That's as close as I ever want to get to the inside of a lifeboat. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Though the morning had been cloudy and cool, it turned into a beautiful afternoon with lots of sunshine. We really had great weather in Vancouver. It was very nice for the sailaway party, though we were in a DVC Member reception and missed it. We made it up on deck in time to watch us sail past Stanley Park, though.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We had early dinner seating (which we prefer) and were seated with three other couples in Parrot Cay. (Of course it's Parrot Cay. Our cruises always start with us being in Parrot Cay - or its equivalent on the other ships.) I'll have a food blog later. Our server was Barbie from Serbia, and the assistant is Tiago from Portugal. Barbie is excellent, and one of the best servers we've had. Our Head Server was Simone, from Italy - he was the head server both times I'd been on the Dream, and he's very good.

After dinner we saw a nice sunset from deck 4 and then went to Diversions to watch the Chargers play on Monday Night Football. There were quite a few other Chargers fans in there. Unfortunately they lost because they made mistakes that Arizona took advantage of, but it was still a good game.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Back in our stateroom we found our first towel animal - I think it's a bear.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Coming next: Victoria

September 23, 2014

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise - Part 2, Victoria

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg


Tuesday - Victoria

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Victoria was our only port of call on this cruise. Since it's not very far from Vancouver, we spent a lot of the night not moving very fast. :-) We'd already made it into port by the time we got up.

We went up to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast. It was about 7:00, so not too many people were up yet and it wasn't crowded. It was a beautiful morning! The last time we arrived in Victoria it was cloudy and drizzly, though it cleared up later in the day.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

My favorite thing to do in Victoria is visit the Butchart Gardens, so we'd booked an Adult only tour. I wish Disney would offer a tour JUST of Butchart Gardens so that we could have maximum time there, but this one included a "short city drive" (others included afternoon tea at the Gardens or a stop at the Butterfly Garden, but they were all the same length of time).

RANT ON
The excursion ticket very clearly said to meet at 8:45 in Wavebands. And throughout the morning multiple shipwide announcements had been made reminding passengers that all adults needed a Key to the World card AND a photo id to depart the ship. At 8:55 - 10 minutes late - a guy shows up with JUST his Key to the World card, and has to run back to his stateroom and get ids for himself and his mother. So we end up being 20 minutes late leaving the ship. Come on, people, show some consideration for your fellow tour members and show up on-time and ready to go!
RANT OFF

The tour started with a drive along some of the waterfront and park areas. Our bus driver shared lots of interesting information about Victoria. For example, Victoria is considered a very desirable retirement location, and has a very high population of retirees. And about half of them are over the age of 80! (Later at lunch we shared a table with a couple of those retirees, who if they weren't over 80, were close, and they were delightful.)

With the city tour the drive to Butchart Gardens took about 45 minutes. For those who don't know the history of Butchart Gardens...it was originally a limestone quarry. After the limestone was removed, which of course left an ugly hole in the ground, Jenny Butchart, the wife of the owner, put the first garden there - the Sunken Garden. Over the years additional gardens were added, but I'll have more on those.

We arrived at the garden and the driver told us to be back at the bus in an hour and a half. That's not nearly enough time to see everything, so I found that quite frustrating. Though at least for this tour we were on our own in the garden, and not expected to tour as part of a larger group.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

This was my fourth visit to the Butchart Gardens over the years. Twice in the month of July, and my most recent visit was at the beginning of May in 2011, when we stopped in Victoria on the Pacific Coast repositioning cruise prior to the first Alaska cruise. All that being the long way of saying that I saw different flowers than on my other visits. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

The Sunken Garden is always a highlight - in addition to all of the flowers there's trees and shrubs and the animated fountain.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

There was a very large display of dahlias in all sorts of sizes and colors. Those were flowers I hadn't seen there before. And some of them were enormous!

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

The last time I was here it was early May and the rose garden was more like a stick garden :-) This time the roses were still in full bloom. I believe our driver told us that are 250 varieties of roses, and over 2500 plants. They were beautiful - there were roses from all over the world.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We also went through the Italian Garden and the Japanese Garden.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I had to rush more than I would've liked, but I still had some time to hit the gift shop before it was time to go back to the bus - we arrived with a couple minutes to spare.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

RANT ON
We arrived on time, as did most of our fellow tour members, and then we proceeded to wait 25 minutes for three people who never did show up. We finally left without them. As far as I'm concerned we should've left sooner. This has happened to me on other tours and it's very annoying to have to wait on people who apparently feel they are special and can do what they want with no regard for the rest of us.
RANT OFF

Once we returned to Victoria our bus driver stopped in front of the Empress Hotel. Anyone who wished to could get off there rather than taking the bus back to the ship.
From the waterfront area Disney had a free shuttle to take us back, or we could walk - it was just over a mile to the ship. Most people stayed on the bus, but a few of us took the opportunity since it would give us a little more time to sight see. Though thanks to all of the late people on our tour we didn't have quite as much time as we should have. We took the opportunity to wander through the Empress Hotel - they were serving tea, but there was a line and I didn't think we'd have enough time to enjoy it.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

This is a weeping sequoia tree in front of the hotel - I thought it looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Our bus driver had recommended Barb's Fish and Chips in Fisherman's Wharf, which was on our way if we walked back to the ship. It's fairly popular and we had a little bit of a wait to get our two-piece combo with chips and coleslaw. It was pretty good, though I've had better.

We enjoyed our walk back - it was really a gorgeous day in Victoria. From the dock we had a very nice view of the Wonder.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We arrived back on board about 2:30 and the Wonder pulled away from the port about 3:30. Once we got clear the captain really started to put on some speed - it was a long way to San Diego (there were no other ports).

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We went to the Outlook Cafe (enclosed area above Cove Cafe) and tried a couple of their specialty drinks - I had the Toblerontini, and Lee had the Toledo Coffee. Both pretty to look at, but I think mine tasted better. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I really like the Outlook Cafe area, but because of the enclosure it gets VERY warm in there if the weather is nice. It was warm enough that we didn't want to sit there very long.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I always find it kind of amazing that even on a ship with 2100 people on board, there's times when it seems very empty. This was taken at 4:11 p.m.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

That night was semi-formal night, though Cruise Casual was acceptable dress as well. The Golden Mickeys was the featured show, but we've seen that before - and most recently at Hong Kong Disneyland, where it is a much better show. Or maybe that's because I couldn't understand what was being said. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We had dinner in Triton's, which is a lovely restaurant. Beautiful mosaic on the wall.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

After dinner, since we weren't going to the show, we went to The Cadillac Lounge, which is the quieter piano bar on the Wonder. Very few people in there. We ordered a bottle of our favorite Moet Ice Imperial champagne. Our server put strawberries, an orange slice and some mint leaves in our glasses - that was excellent! Made it even more refreshing. He also brought us a plate with some strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and a couple of truffles.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

There was a pianist there when we arrived, but he took his break and a guitar player took over. She played music that was much more our style. It was all a wonderful way to end our day.

That night's towel creation was a dinosaur.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Coming Next: Days at Sea


September 24, 2014

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise - Part 3, Sea Days

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Wednesday - Day at Sea

Ahhh...the first of two glorious, relaxing days at sea! Though they never seem to be as relaxing as I expect them to be...there's just too many things to do!

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I wasn't sure what kind of sea state we would have once we reached the Pacific Ocean, but it felt pretty smooth. Lots of chop and whitecaps, but the swells were under 5', and in a ship the size of the Wonder we didn't feel it very much.

I got up about 7:00 and went for a run on deck 4. The temperature was in the low 60s and it felt WONDERFUL. We've had an unusually warm summer in California, and I can count on one finger the number of runs I've done this summer when the temperature was under 70. This was perfect. They say that 3 laps around the ship is 1 mile, but I think it's a little short of a mile. I had a nice run, though almost invariably when I needed to pass someone, it was ALWAYS in the narrow sections at the bow and the stern. That's not even 1/3 of the course, so it's odd that it seems to be that way more often than not. (In all fairness I must disclose that on the latter part of my run I passed several people on the wider parts.) Some people are really good about watching for and yielding to faster people, while others are clueless - even when you pass them for the second or third time! Sigh.

We had a special treat later in the morning - brunch at Palo! I know I've said this before, but that's my favorite meal aboard any Disney cruise ship. We were the first people there and had a prime table for two at the window looking toward the stern of the ship.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

There are so many choices for brunch! An entire table of seafood, a table of pastries, another of cheeses and breads, one for vegetables and hors d'oeuvres, and of course a dessert table. It isn't a typical brunch buffet in that there are no hot dishes served buffet style, such as eggs and bacon. Instead, you order from a selection of brunch entrees. There are flatbread pizzas, Eggs Benedict, Florentine, and Julia, a frittata, pancakes, and offerings you don't necessarily associate with brunch such as chicken parmesan and tilapia.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

They had a couple of new entrees available, though we didn't try them - one was an almond/peach souffle but I don't remember the other. There were a couple of different pastry items and a dessert that all featured Nutella - yum. The sticky buns are smaller than they used to be, though that's not necessarily such a bad thing.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

My birthday was the day before the cruise started, but apparently we were still celebrating it. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We went out of there pleasantly full but not stuffed. Such a nice way to spend part of our morning!

Back to our room for a quick change of clothes, and then we were off to the Cadillac Lounge for the Stem to Stern wine tasting session. This was one of the events we booked when we first boarded the ship on Monday. There were four glasses in front of us, but we were in for an additional treat: the American wine ambassador for Krug Champagne was on our cruise. He spoke to us about Krug, and we tried two glasses of Krug champagne - a non-vintage champagne and their rose champagne. Both were good, but a little dry for my taste. He was a very engaging speaker, and we enjoyed his presentation. (There wasn't room for all six glasses on the table, so the photo below shows the two glasses of Krug and two of red wine.)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

The Wine Team had us do a blind tasting for the four wines they had chosen: a moscato, chardonnay, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. We always find these sessions very interesting, though I can rarely detect the scents they say are in the wines. :-) But supposedly there are no wrong answers. "Pears" for white wines and "blackberries" for red wines always seem to be pretty safe. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

After all that food and wine we were ready for a NAP! :-) We had a lazy afternoon, and watched the end of Cars 2 on our stateroom TV.

Since this was only a four-night cruise Disney combined Toy Story and Pirate Nights. The dining rooms served the Toy Story menu, and Toy Story: The Musical was the show in the Walt Disney Theater. Later on deck was the Pirate Party and the fireworks, followed by the Pirate Dessert Buffet in Beach Blanket.

We didn't bring all of our pirate attire, and instead just wore our pirate tech shirts from Ink-n-Burn, though Lee also had his pirate hat. We saw a number of guests who had very elaborate pirate outfits.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We were in Triton's for dinner again. This was the first time we'd had the Toy Story menu, but I'll have more on that in the food blog. After dinner we went to see Toy Story - because it's only on the Wonder we haven't seen it as many times as the other shows. It was very popular - there weren't very many empty seats in the theater. I think it's very well done and I enjoyed it. Oh, and before the show there was a nice sunset.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

After the show we stopped back in the stateroom so I could change from skirt to pants - I thought it might be cool and windy on deck. It turned out to be a very pleasant night, and I was warm enough with just a light windbreaker. We saw the end of the pirate show with the characters, and watched Mickey make his slide between the two smokestacks, and then the fireworks started. This was the first time they had shot off the fireworks in several months - it's not permitted in Alaska, and the crew had been looking forward to the show, also.

Back in the stateroom our latest towel animal was a crab. I made the mistake of turning the TV on, and we got caught up in watching the last 25 minutes of Cinderella before we went to bed. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Thursday - Day at Sea

We actually slept in until almost 7:30 - that's late for us. Lee went running and I went walking. The ocean was even calmer - no whitecaps and very little swell. It was a little warmer than the day before, but still very pleasant for exercising.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee wanted a sit-down breakfast so we went to Triton's. They were busy and it took a while to get our food, but we weren't in a hurry to get anywhere.

At noon we went back to the Cadillac Lounge for the Chocolate and Liquor session. As you can see in the photo below our little table was covered in glasses and chocolate! The tasting paired Tattinger champagne with white chocolate, Lasseter Family Paysage with dark chocolate, Glen Morangie Scotch whiskey with caramel chocolate, and Noval port with parmesan cheese. The port and cheese were really good together - that was my favorite. The port wasn't as sweet and raisiny as they sometimes are. I'm not a scotch fan, but the chocolate really softened the alcohol bite of the scotch.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

The Krug ambassador was at this tasting, also, so as a bonus we received a glass of Krug rose to finish off the session. Very nice. We spoke to him afterward and told him he was be the most popular guy on the planet - spreading champagne wherever he goes! :-)

Partway through the captain interrupted us with his daily ship report - it's a ship-wide announcement that takes over the PA system, so we had to listen. While I didn't hear any boos there was definitely some grumbling - interrupting people who are enjoying chocolate and wine does not make one very popular. :-) In addition to the the usual information on ship position, weather, arrival time in San Diego, etc., he had some additional comments for passengers who would be staying on the Wonder for the Panama Canal cruise. Because of Hurricane Odile, the Wonder was probably going to have to alter its course to avoid the storm and sail further west, omitting the planned ports of call in Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Perhaps even staying an extra night in San Diego. (As it turned out the Wonder left San Diego Friday evening as scheduled, but bypassed the Mexico ports.)

We'd planned to see Maleficent at 1:00 but the session ran a little long, and we were chatting with the Krug ambassador, so we would've been about 10 minutes late. Since we had some time I took some photos of the area around the Cadillac Lounge.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

The adult area on the Wonder is called Route 66 (designed long before Cars came out), and that's reflected in some of the decor.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We went to lunch in Parrot Cay, which was a seafood buffet. We arrived toward the end of the lunch service, and after about 20 minutes they started shutting down the buffet. Though we were told not to rush, it was a little uncomfortable being there when everyone was busy cleaning up and setting tables for dinner, so we didn't linger.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Since we missed Maleficent we went to see Planes: Fire and Rescue at 3:00 instead. We hadn't seen the movie Planes, but that didn't seem to matter. We really enjoyed Fire and Rescue. My dad is a member of a search and rescue team, so the movie had some additional meaning to me. And since we are very familiar with Yosemite National Park, we found the the look of Piston Peak National Park, a visual mashup of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, especially interesting. It was very entertaining.

Hard to believe that it was already our final evening on board...we went back to Outlook Cafe for a pre-dinner drink. It was too warm in the enclosed rooms on the sides, but it was nice and cool at the bar in the middle. I had another Toblerontini and Lee had a Mint Chocolate Coffee beverage. It took a long time for them to make his because they were out of creme de menthe and couldn't find another bottle.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Our final dinner was in Animator's Palate. Compared to the newer ships (and the updated version on the Magic), it looked rather old-fashioned. But I still enjoyed the server parade and their costume transformation from black and white to color, which they don't do on the newer ships.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

After dinner we went to the Cadillac Lounge to enjoy a last glass of Ice Imperial. Our server again brought us berries and truffles. We had a chance to chat with him a little bit - he had also been on the Fantasy's maiden voyage, though not working the bars we frequented.

Once we finished our glass (and our berries and truffles) we went back to our stateroom to pack. Even though we were carrying our bags off ourselves, we still needed to get most of the packing done so we'd be ready to leave in the morning.

We had a cat - looks like the Cheshire Cate, to me.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise


Friday - San Diego

The captain had told us we'd be picking up the pilot about 5:45, but when I woke up at 5:45 and looked outside we were almost in the channel entering the harbor. We'd wanted to be on deck as we sailed into San Diego, so we quickly dressed and went up to deck 10. There were more people there than I expected considering that it was only 6:00. We went by the building that I work in, though not many people were there at that point. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

It was a nice sail-in past North Island and the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. Coronado Bridge is in the background.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We arrived at the dock at 6:30 and the captain blew the "Mickey Whistle" - we could hear it echo through downtown. Good morning, San Diego. :-) He blew it again about 5 minutes later.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Breakfast was at 7:00 for us - we had enough time to go back the stateroom and finish the last of the packing before that. There were only four of us at our table, and breakfast on the last morning is always pretty fast because they are trying to get everyone off the ship. :-)

We finished up about 7:45 and walked off the ship about 8:00. They were still staging bags, so only express walk-offs were allowed at that point. It didn't take us very long to get through Immigration and Customs.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

My friend Nancy came to pick us up - we'd left my car at her house. We dropped her off and then drove to work...not the greatest way to end a vacation, but it saves us a day of vacation that we can use later this year - for our next cruise in November, actually. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Since we were headed to work I don't think we should like quite so happy in this photo!

It was a nice vacation - it just went too fast!

Coming next: The Food Blog

Once Upon a Time Season Four Premiere Event: Arendelle Comes to Storybrooke

jeaninebanner.jpg

This week, "Once Upon a Time" had its fourth season premiere event at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

IMG_6611.JPG

Prior to the screening, the cast held court on the red carpet outside, to the delight of their multitudes of fans.

IMG_6614.JPG

DSC00992.JPG

DSC00994.JPG

At check-in, we traded our cameras for popcorn, drinks, and an assigned seat.

IMG_6716.JPG

In the lobby, the persistent and the fortunate were able to catch glimpses of some of the stars making their way to their seats.

IMG_6617.JPG

IMG_6652.JPG

IMG_6710.JPG

Once at your seat, a slideshow of cast photos gave you something to look at while waiting for everyone to find their way inside.

IMG_6623.JPG

IMG_6625.JPG

IMG_6632.JPG

Prior to the screening of next week's season premiere, the show's creators Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz came out to give thanks to all the people involved with the show.

IMG_6665.JPG

Then, they presented the entire main cast, including newcomers Georgina Haig (Elsa,) Elizabeth Lail (Anna,) and Michael Socha (Will Scarlet,) returning from the finished spinoff "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland."

IMG_6671.JPG

Thoughts on the premiere episode: As you'd expect, the first episode of the season is pretty heavy on exposition, given the gap of time between when we left Elsa ice skating with Olaf at the end of "Frozen," and when we saw her bust out of Rumple's bottle after who-knows-how-long an imprisonment. Delivered largely through flashbacks, Elsa and Anna come off very well, with Lail doing a good job emulating Kristen Bell's cheerful babbling delivery.

The main questions for this season so far (and my best guesses:) What is Elsa's problem? (Anna.) Is Rumple ever going to forgo power for Belle's love? (No.) What's Regina's badness level by now?

tumblr_mzy44lBRpW1sluigio1_500.gif

Afterwards, the cast and crew adjourned down the street to the Roosevelt for further festivities, and the rest of us grabbed our parking validations and cars, and headed back out of Storybrooke, to home.

IMG_6681.JPG

IMG_6685.JPG

IMG_6708.JPG

Once Upon a Time's new season begins on September 28, 8-9pm ET on ABC.


September 25, 2014

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise - Part 4, The Food

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

The end of another cruise...must mean it's time for a food blog!

We started with the buffet in Parrot Cay after we boarded. There were the usual types of selections. The peel-and-eat shrimp is always one of my favorites, and there were some nice salads, too.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

That first evening we were in Parrot Cay for dinner. We met our dining team; Barbie from Serbia was our server, and Tiago from Portugal was our assistant server. They were really good, and worked well together.

I started with the St. Maarten Stack. Layers of grilled squash and mozzarella, with tomato basil vinaigrette. This is one of those dishes I've had several times, but it's always a little different each time. It was quite good - maybe a little bit too much cheese for an appetizer.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee went with one of Barbie's recommendations: Baked Crab Martinique. It's a dip made with crab baked in cheese sauce, served with plantain chips and tortilla chips. He enjoyed it.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

My second course was Spiced Tomato Soup. it was nice and hot when it was served to me - I've found that soups are often cooler than I would like. I wouldn't have called it "spiced", but it had a nice flavor.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee opted for the Parrot Cay Salad with iceberg, red peppers, cilantro, mandarin oranges and papaya. It was a tasty salad.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I ordered an entree salad: Shrimp and Avocado Salad. I was disappointed in this: the shrimp was not very good, and instead of "field greens" it was mostly iceberg. The snow peas, water chestnuts, and shredded carrots add some nice crunch and freshness.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee had the Creole Crusted Grouper. I believe this was new on the menu since the last time we'd eaten in Parrot Cay (two years ago aboard the Magic). It was served over shrimp jambalaya rice with Cajun slaw. He really enjoyed it. I had a bite of the grouper and liked it.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

For dessert I ordered one of the "no sugar added" desserts - the Silky Chocolate Mousse. It was good - nice and smooth, but still fairly light. I did not care for the chocolate on top; it was kind of gelatinous and just odd. As it turned out this was the best dessert I had all week.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I also received a bonus dessert because we were celebrating my birthday (it was the day before). This was a chocolate mousse cake. It was decent, but it also had that gelatinous chocolate on top. Ick.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee tried the Paradise Coconut Pineapple Layered Cake. Which I think wins an award for longest dessert name ever. :-) The cake was moist and nicely coconutty. It was a light and refreshing dessert.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

We had breakfast in Beach Blanket Buffet in the morning, but I didn't take any photos. Pretty typical buffet items: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries, fruit, cereal, oatmeal.

After we left Victoria that day we went into the Outlook Cafe. There are a couple of refrigerated cases where they put "sweet bite" types of items in the morning and the afternoon. We tried a couple of mini mousse cakes and a brownie. They were pretty good.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

That evening we were in Triton's for dinner. It was the regular Triton's menu, featuring Continental cuisine. I started with the Potage Parmentier - which is the fancy term for potato leek soup. It had a good flavor, but I thought it was too thin.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee's appetizer was Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp, with asparagus and horseradish cream and dill dressing. He didn't make any particular comments about it one way or another.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Next I had a very nice salad: Red Wine Bosc Pear Salad. Arugula, sliced onions and crispy lardons topped with sliced pears poached in red wine. I really liked the pears.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee had the Onion Soup Gratinee as his second course, and I had it as my entree. This is always good - I think I've ordered it on almost all of my cruises and I have never been disappointed. It's a generous serving, and very filling, which is why I ordered it as an entree. (I also ordered a side of steamed broccoli).

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee selected Lobster Macaroni as his entree. Elbow macaroni with gruyere and cheddar cheese sauce, and chunks of lobster. It wasn't the most attractive dish but the flavor was good.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I was not inspired by anything on the dessert menu, so I asked Barbie for a dish of the poached pears that had been on my salad. :-) They were good, though some of them were a little too crisp. They would have even better with some cinnamon-sugar.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee ordered one of his favorites: Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulee. This is another selection that is always excellent.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

After dinner we went to The Cadillac Lounge and had some Moet Ice Imperial champagne. I talked about this more in my cruise blog, but here's a photo of the glass, with the sliced strawberries, orange, and sprig of mint. It was very pretty.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

On our first day at sea we had brunch at Palo. This is always a wonderful experience. We were the first ones in the restaurant, so were the first people to see the buffet, and I was able to take photos before anyone had been through it and messed up the arrangement. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

A Peach Almond Souffle is a new offering among the hot entrees. We didn't try it, though now I wish we had - all in the name of research, of course. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I enjoyed a selection of chilled items, such as jumbo shrimp cocktail, hummus, caprese salad and several pastry items.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee's plate was a little more colorful, with a grilled scallop, foccacia, grilled vegetables, cheese, and one of those wonderful sticky buns.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

For round 2 I had some fruit, cheese, marinated olives and artichokes, and salmon mousse. The two cheeses (port cheddar and sage cheddar) were especially good. I wasn't a fan of the salmon mousse.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I ordered the Chicken Parmesan. That a specialty at Palo, and it's always good. Nice crunch on the chicken, but it was tender inside, and I like the tomato sauce.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee is a pizza fan, so he had the sausage pizza. He must have liked it, because he ate the whole thing.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

A glass of champagne, mimosa, or sparkling cider is included with brunch. We also ordered some additional wine - Lee had a glass of Rosa Regale and I had a glass of prosecco. Both very nice with brunch items.

And then there was dessert, of course. I tried a champagne fruit cup, chocolate covered strawberry, and a pastry twist filled with Nutella.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

It was a really nice way to spend part of our morning. There aren't a lot of tables in Palo to begin with, and then they space the diners out so that not all of the tables are occupied at the same time. It's nice and quiet; a very relaxing dining experience.

No lunch for us that day, since brunch was late and we had the early dinner sitting.

We were back in Triton's for dinner again. Because this was a short cruise, Disney combined Pirate Night with Toy Story Night. We had the Toy Story menu in the dining rooms, and the show in the theater, followed by the Pirate Night deck party and fireworks.

The Toy Story menu was new to us, so I was looking forward to trying something different. Many of the menu items were named after characters from the Toy Story movies.

I started with Al's Miso Chicken Noodle Soup. This was supposed to have parsley dumplings in it, but mine had no dumplings, and Lee's had only one. It had a good flavor, with lots of vegetables, but there was no chicken in it.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Next course was Jessie's Flat Asparagus Salad with new potatoes, mache, and endive. This was not at all what I expected; I was expecting lots of greens, and there were hardly any. I don't believe there was any mache - just endive. And radishes, which were not on the menu. But I like radishes, so that was ok.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee had The Prospector, which was flatbread with chicken, red onion, pears, walnuts and blue cheese. He enjoyed it.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

For my entree I chose Pan-seared Filet of Sea Trout "Lotso". This was served with onion puree and sweet pea and herb dressing. This was not what I expected from the description - rather than onion puree it was served over what seemed like mashed potatoes, and the "sweet pea dressing" was just peas. It really needed a sauce as the fish didn't have a lot of flavor. The entire dish was kind of bland. It was also a pretty small serving.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee went with Barbie's recommendation: Sheriff Woody's Favorite Marinated Delmonico Rib-Eye Steak This was a large piece of meat served with sweet potato gratin, collard greens, and baby carrots. He enjoyed his dinner though it was a challenge to finish the steak so he could be in the Clean Plate Club and have dessert.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

I was uninspired by the dessert menu, but ordered the Sweet Temptations: Opera Slice, Jessie's White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake (which just took the title of longest dessert name), and Poached Bosc Pear Almond Tart. Surprisingly the cheesecake was my favorite - I'm not much of a fan or cheesecake or white chocolate.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

But I ended up not eating much of any of it because Barbie brought me a different dessert: the Silky Chocolate Mousse I'd had the first night. Other than the weird chocolate stuff on top it was good - better than the other dessert choices.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee ordered the Buzz Light Ice Cream Sundae, which was bubblegum ice cream, marshmallows, fudge sauce, whipped cream and a cherry. It was very blue. :-) And the ice cream really tasted like bubblegum. And Lee's lips and tongue were very blue when he finished it. Lee really enjoyed it. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Overall I was disappointed with the Toy Story menu. The menu descriptions didn't match what I received so I didn't get what I was expecting. Also, the serving size of all the items that I had were pretty small. Now, the selections Lee made (with the exception of the soup) were very generous, so perhaps I just didn't make good choices - but still, I normally expect the serving sizes to be pretty consistent.

On our second sea day we went to Triton's for breakfast. I ordered oatmeal, and fresh fruit and yogurt, with a side of scrambled eggs. Nothing too magic about that. :-) I expected that the fruit would be berries and raisins and maybe bananas, but it was melon - and mostly watermelon, at that. Melon with yogurt was very odd.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee had the Disney Cruise Line Breakfast Trio, with French toast, Belgian waffle, pancake, and bacon. He enjoyed it. The French toast had cinnamon sugar on it, and looked pretty good.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

One issue I've had on Disney cruises with hot beverages, especially at breakfast, is that the cups are ridiculously small. The servers are pretty good about coming around with coffee, but I drink tea, and there's a lot of times I'm not even offered additional hot water for my too-small cup. I found the servers on this cruise were much more attentive, and only once was I not offered additional hot water - and a couple of times it was refilled twice. Of course my favorite was Palo, where they brought me a personal pot of hot water, and then refilled that.

We went back to Parrot Cay for lunch. It was a seafood buffet, similar to what was offered on embarkation day. This is actually Lee's plate.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

He had a couple of desserts, too.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Our final night dinner was in Animator's Palate. The Wonder is the only Disney ship that still has the original technology in Animator's Palate. It still looks good, and had I not seen the newer version of Animator's in the other ships I think I would still be pretty impressed.

The menu has had some changes over the years. I was disappointed that my favorite appetizer, the Rock Shrimp and Caramelized Onion Cheesecake, is no longer on the menu. Barbie said that too many guests were confused by it, and expected it to be sweet when it was savory. Instead I ordered the Tomato Tarte with goat cheese and radish salad. It was excellent - maybe the best appetizer that I had. The crust was puff pastry, and it was nice and crispy. It was also a good-sized serving. I shared a little with Lee, but I ate most of it.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee had the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes. It was tortellini filled with truffle-scented cheese and served with a champagne sauce. He enjoyed them.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Next for me was Arugula and Curly Endive Salad with chorizo, dried figs, and a cider dressing, though I requested that the chorizo be left off. The greens were good and I liked the dressing, but the figs were a bit odd.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee ordered the Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup. This one has been on the menu as long as I've been cruising, and it's always been pretty good.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

As my entree I had the Seared Red Snapper with scallops, served over crushed potatoes. The menu said it was served with salsa verde, but as you'll see in the photo, that's a red sauce and not a green sauce. :-) I don't care for scallops, so I gave that to Lee, but the fish was good. (And Lee says the scallop was very good.)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee had the Ginger-Teriyaki Dusted Angus Beef Tenderloin, served with bok choy, wasabi mashed potatoes and a tamarind-BBQ reduction which he really enjoyed.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

There was a new item on the menu that looked very interesting: Potato, Celeriac, and Onion Gratin, so I ordered that too. It was served over collard greens, which did not appeal to me, but the gratin was very good. Rich and cheesy and very filling. I would order this again, but request steamed broccoli in place of the collard greens.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee and I both ordered the Crunchy Walnut Cake. The name of this does not at all describe it - it's quite misleading. It's really a pretty nice dark chocolate mousse cake with a nut and chocolate crust. It was pretty good. And it didn't have that weird layer of chocolate gelatin on top. :-)

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

The next morning we were back in Animator's Palate for our early (7:00) breakfast. As usual, there weren't a lot of early morning diners; only one other couple from our table was there. This is a pretty basic menu - they want to feed us fast and get us off the ship. :-)

I was pretty boring - just had granola and yogurt.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

Lee ordered his usual: The Chef's Farewell. It's an open-faced omelet with peppers, BBQ chicken, onions, and Swiss cheese that he really enjoys.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise

And that was our last meal aboard a Disney ship until November, when we'll be back on the Dream for a four-night cruise.

I'd say that overall the food was good but not outstanding. As I mentioned I was pretty disappointed in the Toy Story menu, though the Animator's Palate menu had some new (to me) offerings that I really enjoyed. I wish that the descriptions on the dessert menus were more accurate. There's menu items that aren't at all what I expect based on the writeup, some that when I see them I wish I'd ordered them, and others that I'm disappointed in because they don't live up to my expectations. Lee and I talked some about this after the cruise and he has a theory that sometimes the food that gets delivered to the ship for a given cruise either doesn't have enough of some ingredients or they are not of good enough quality, so the chefs improvise and swap ingredients.

September 28, 2014

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, September 26, 2014.

Today is the first Mickey's Halloween Party of the season.

The Party is sold out tonight. Also work continues on the compass area in the Esplanade.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

First stop DCA. Oswald had a line today. He was also meeting further in the corner this week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A Red Car in the Carthay Circle Stop

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Scaffolding still up near White Water snacks

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The Ellis Island Boys entertaining the lunch crowd at Paradise Gardens

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The railing near the Wharf could use some work.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Next stop Cars Land.

The extended queue for Radiator Springs Racers is set up but not in use.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Only a 65 min wait posted for the Racers.

I opted for the single rider and waited about 15 minutes.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

My car won by a nose.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The wait for the Flying tires was 2 cycles...missed it by 1 group.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The HalloweenTime offering at Schmoozies.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Made my way over to Disneyland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Today no second line of CMs at the entrance. The one who scanned your ticket also had the hand scanner.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A Big Hero 6 Sneak Peek poster has taken over the Guardians of the Galaxy spot (and Captain EO before that) as you pass under the train tracks to enter the park.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A temporary ramp while some curb work is underway in front of the Mad Hatter.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

There were groups of people doing some sort of scavenger hunt/quiz game. Thought it said SHIELD on it, but hard to see. Anyone know more about it?

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The Photo Supply Co signage is back. It was open but I somehow did not make it inside...next trip.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

First stop for me the Big Hero 6 preview in the Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The signs along the walkway in

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

As we walked in they gave us each a kite (only about a quarter of our audience got them).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Time for the preview, it was shown in 3D and used some of the theater effects.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A crowd near the subs...turned out to be more of the scavenger hunt group. No signs of a soft opening. They officially open Saturday the 27th so I was hoping for a soft opening.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

No signs of the sea gulls and the water falls were off. Also this sub paused for several minutes before heading inside.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Work continues on the Small World facade.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Time to check out the latest pumpkin creations at the Halloween Carnival in the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. First up Winnie the Pooh.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The Pearly Band from Mary Poppins.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Alice and the White Rabbit.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Olaf was painted onto a pumpkin this week.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The Maleficent pumpkin we saw them painting last week is complete.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A different magician again this week. Three Fridays, three different magicians.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A guest helps out.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Officer Chip keeping things in order.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The sign along the Big Thunder Trail has been updated/replaced. No more Haunted Hillbillies and now the Magic show is listed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The Legends of Frontierland wraps up on Saturday.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Jack and Sally arriving for pictures near the Haunted Mansion (they were meeting outside the Fastpass distribution area).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A look at the current selection of Haunted Mansion merchandise.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The doorway is now blocked with a display rack.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A Haunted Mansion bride doll.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The exterior renovation work on the Silver Spur Supplies facade is done.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Next up some disappointing pictures to share. The seating areas along the walkway to the castle have been removed. The internet word is these are more safety enhancements to reduce the risk of a guest falling into the moat. (which I did not know was a common occurrence in the 59 year history of the park??)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The next phase of the safety enhancements is the installation of a higher railing. They have started to drill the holes for it.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Seems they should have repainted all the stone so the new would not be so obvious.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Walked around to grab some last pictures before the extended railings go in.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A photo location for the Halloween Party set up in the Small World Mall. Looks like the Frozen cast will be outside for the party. There was a steady stream of guests going over/under the ropes for pictures with the empty set.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The Monsters University Dance Party being set up at the Tomorrowland Terrace.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Some of the costumes the party guests wore were quite elaborate.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Main Street USA with day guests leaving and party guests arriving.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Come 7pm the lights and music come on and the party is underway. The park is closed for day guests like me, but you can stay on Main Street for an extra hour of shopping.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Maleficent making her way to the center photo location.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Main Street was packed (as is the norm on party nights)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Here is a quick video of the scene.

I made my way out to Downtown Disney.

Disney Studio 365 has closed.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

A new Anna & Elsa Boutique will be opening in its place.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

Long lines for anything that served food at DCA since Disneyland was closed. Seems guests spend all their time until 7pm at Disneyland then came to DCA and decided it was time to eat.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - 9/26/14

The waterwheel at GRR was moving again. I had not seen it in motion since the last renovation.


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.



September 29, 2014

A Look Around the Roy E Disney Building - Walt Disney Animation Studios

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

I had the opportunity to spend a day at the Walt Disney Animation Studio to learn about Big Hero 6. This was the end of July and they were on the final stretch of Animation for the film. We were given access and a tour of the studio in addition to the information sessions. This is the fourth and final post in the series. This post features a pictorial look around the Roy E Disney Animation Building on the Disney Studio Lot in Burbank, CA. Most of the pictures in this update were taken the day of the event by a Disney photographer, I did post a couple of my own to fill in a couple gaps. I will be leaving out a majority of the session pictures that were used in my previous posts.

We start off the tour with my parking space. It was in the Zorro parking structure with a view of the water tower. To the left through the trees you can just barely make out the Michael Eisner Building (the Dwarf building).

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour

Looking back at the Zorro parking structure lobby/elevators.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Zorro Garage

Crossed Buena Vista Street (the original not DCA version) and made my way up to the Roy E Disney building.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour

As is the tradition the upcoming film has taken over the lobby and much of the common space of the building. As soon as you enter this graphic is on the wall.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Lobby

Made my way to the reception/security desk to check in. Baymax is watching...

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Lobby

The wall opposite the desk features microbots.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Lobby

Some awards on display from previous films.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Lobby

First stop this morning the main theater on the first floor for a presentation and screening of "Feast" then an introduction to Big Hero 6 before heading upstairs.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Lobby

Normally photography is heavily restricted in the building - there are signs like this throughout - but we were able to take pictures and were provided with pictures of several areas.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour

Big Hero 6 has taken over the main walkway in the center of the second floor of the building. The current productions are housed on this floor as well as the Caffeine Patch which is a common meeting area in the middle of the floor.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Caffeine Patch

The left side of the hallway features Big Hero 6.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Caffeine Patch

On the right side "Feast".

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Feast

Further down the hall on the right is the Caffeine Patch. This is a common gathering spot for the building and a hub for casual meetings, conversations, etc. It features tables, chairs, couches, TVs - places to sit and talk. Nearby (to the right out of this shot) are some notable offices, John Lasseter's and Ed Catmull's to name a couple. The area had a Big Hero 6 overlay.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Caffeine Patch

It also acted as the central spot for our day with groups departing from here and lunch being served here.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Caffeine Patch

Here is the actual coffee counter...with its San Fransokyo makeover.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Caffeine Patch

More props in the area

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Caffeine Patch

Thought this was great...even newspaper stands.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Caffeine Patch

There was a 3D printer creating microbot models.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Caffeine Patch

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - MicroBots

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - MicroBots

Baymax was nearby for pictures.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Baymax

Turning down a central corridor near the production pods there is a display featuring "Feast".

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Feast

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Feast

Artwork featuring the cast of Big Hero 6 in their regular close and super hero gear was on the opposite wall.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour

The floor houses two active production pods. This is the one for Big Hero 6. Inside are the offices for the film's leadership team. The second pod was the next Disney Animation Studio release, Zootopia. No photos allowed down there.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Pod

We spent time shuttling between story rooms and screening rooms on the second and third floors the rest of the day. I included some pictures of the inside of these sessions in part 3 of my Big Hero 6 posts if you were curious. To close with a look at the past. Olaf and a Fix-It Felix video game were in one of the Hallways.

Roy E Disney - Walt Disney Animation Studios - Big Hero 6 Day Tour - Olaf and Fix It Felix

September 30, 2014

Star Wars Rebels: So it Begins...

jeaninebanner.jpg

"If all you do is fight for your own life, then your life is worth nothing!"

DSC01010.JPG

This week sees the start of a new chapter in the Star Wars saga--"Star Wars Rebels."

This new Disney XD series takes place between "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," and "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." It tells the story of the Galactic Empire's increasingly oppressive rule over its citizens, and the burgeoning sparks of outrage that ultimately kindle into outright rebellion.

Inquisitor.jpg

Our entry point into the current state of affairs on the planet Lothal is Ezra Bridger, (voiced by Taylor Gray) a 14-year-old thief and con artist, with a finely developed sense of self-preservation, but an atrophied sense of altruism. A clear analogue to Aladdin, he is introduced in a sequence strikingly similar to "One Jump," even down to the local authorities running him off with the sneer "Loth-rat!"

As a result of his own innate sense of opportunism, and at least partially guided by the Force, Ezra is forced to throw his lot in with the crew of the starship Ghost--a ragtag band working to improve conditions for those downtrodden by the Empire.

image

While the ship is captained by the motherly but authoratative Twi'lek Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall,) it is Kanan Jarrus (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.) who must resume the Jedi role he abandoned after Order 66 in order to teach the Force-sensitive Ezra. Together, with Sabine Wren (voiced by Tiya Sircar,) a Mandalorian demolition expert and tagger; muscle Zeb Orrelios (voiced by Steve Blum,) a Lasat honor guard; and a disgruntled astromech droid called Chopper, they begin to show Ezra the benefit of being part of a group and the value of caring about others.

image

Helmed by Dave Filoni, the series can be expected to have a feeling of continuity with his last project, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." While both series, to some degree, revolve around young protagonists learning the ways of the Force, "Rebels" seems likely to revolve more around the team dynamics, with a less episodic feel than "Clone Wars." The CGI is occasionally a little jarring with a slightly different feel than the past animated series, but that may be due to the art design borrowing from the original Star Wars concept art by Ralph McQuarrie, which may be in turn designed to distinguish the series from the upcoming live-action Star Wars sequels.

Recently, Filoni and the voice cast of "Rebels" met at a press conference to answer questions about the new series:

00018-001b.jpg


Ultimately, the series looks to fill in an interesting portion of Star Wars history, as the spirit of rebellion develops both in Ezra and in the galaxy at large. At what point does oppression and injustice become so widespread and intolerable that they overbalance a person's instincts to stay uninvolved? How much suffering does one have to see before deciding to take action against it? Compelling questions for any time, whether it's here and now, or a Long Time Ago.

IMG_6749.JPG

"Star Wars Rebels" will air its one-hour Movie Premiere on October 3rd, 9pm ET/PT on the Disney Channel. The Series Premiere will air on October 13th, 9pm ET/PT on Disney XD.

DSC01011.JPG

Return to Blog Central

About September 2014

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

August 2014 is the previous archive.

October 2014 is the next archive.

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