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January 2015 Archives

January 1, 2015

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos.

In December I spent at week on the East Coast at Walt Disney World. If you follow my regular posts from Disneyland you know I enjoy looking at what changed and is changing around the parks. AllEars asked me to share some of the construction pictures I took as I explored Walt Disney World. This four-post series will look at Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Disney Springs, and the Polynesian Village Resort and will feature a subset of my pictures. If you would like to view more from this trip here is my trip summary with links.

This part takes a look at the projects at the Magic Kingdom.

Several enhancements to the Central Plaza area between the end of Main Street and Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom are coming over the next few months. Among the changes being made: the addition of sculpted gardens and pathways, expanded restaurant seating and even a special viewing area for fireworks and other performances. In fact, the seating outside of Casey's Corner and The Plaza restaurant has already nearly doubled in size. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

A look at the east side of the hub expansion project (taken from the bridge to Tomorrowland looking back toward Main Street).

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

A closer look

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

In Adventureland some general renovation work

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

The east side of the hub expansion project.

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

Tarp and scaffolding up on the bridge.

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

A few days later, notice more lamp and speaker posts are installed.

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

A project in the eating area for Sleepy Hollow.

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

A pan of the hub project from the Tomorrowland Terrace

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update

Here you can see some of the new walls for the walkway taking shape.

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Construction Update


Hope you enjoyed this look at the Magic Kingdom. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Trip Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



January 3, 2015

Three Kings Day at the Disneyland Resort

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This weekend, January 2-6, 2015, Disney California Adventure will once again finish off its popular "Disney ¡Viva Navidad!" event with its annual Three Kings Day Finale. Here to tell us more about it, is performer and Cast Member, Carlos Martinez, with musicians Josh Dishan and Johnny Gomez:

A new addition to this year's festivities is "The Spirit of Navidad," a musical storytelling performance with bilingual performers who tell the story of Dia de Los Reyes while singing traditional holiday songs.

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Along with the aforementioned Rosca de Reyes, there are a number of Mexican specialty foods available at the Paradise Gardens, such as pozole, torta al pastor, and champurrado. Toby Hollis, Area Chef for Pacific Wharf and the Boardwalk restaurants, demonstrated the making of buñuelos for us:

Of course all the spectacle and activity of ¡Viva Navidad! will still be ongoing, with character appearances by Fiesta Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy, and the Three Caballeros.

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The ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party will also continue to enthrall people six times a day throughout the weekend.

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Kids may also participate in arts and crafts, along with face painting and the making of paper crowns for Three Kings Day.

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All this is only available at the Disneyland Resort until January 6th, so hurry out and enjoy the Three Kings Day offerings--rich in culture, food, music, and dance.

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January 5, 2015

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos of the new queue in the Peter Pan's Flight attraction at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. If you would like to view more from this trip here is my trip summary with links.

A few weeks ago, the queue at Peter Pan's Flight was expanded to help alleviate the long outdoor lines this attractions always has. The queue has now been made to look like a portion of the Darling family's home.

You start off by entering a series of hallways that can best be described as an art gallery.

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

You make your way into the Darling's yard.

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

Nana in the backyard area.

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

You enter the house and portraits of the kids are on the wall.

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

And the parents

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

You make your way into the nursery for the final part of the queue.

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

The view out the window.

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

One of the beds

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

You then merge with the FastPass+ line and board your ship.

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW

Disembarking and wrapping up this trip to Neverland.

New Peter Pan Queue - Magic Kingdom - WDW


Hope you enjoyed this look at the Magic Kingdom. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Trip Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



January 6, 2015

New Lasers/Effects in Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

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

In December I spent at week on the East Coast at Walt Disney World. If you follow my regular posts from Disneyland, you know I enjoy the nighttime shows. At Walt Disney World one of my favorites is IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. The laser effects for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth were recently updated with new lasers and effects throughout the show. In this posting I have included some pictures of the new lasers and some of the effects, plus a couple video clips of the show. If you would like to view more from this trip here is my trip summary with links.

The island to the right as you look at the American Adventure has a laser originating from it.

Epcot's IllumiNations

Another laser originating from the direction of the Outpost

Epcot's IllumiNations

The American Adventure laser producing a rainbow effect.

Epcot's IllumiNations

The island laser can do the rainbow effect, too.

Epcot's IllumiNations

A slightly less exposed picture than the last to show the true colors.

Epcot's IllumiNations

A video clip of the finale and holiday tag from the FastPass+ viewing area.

A wider view from the bridge between the International Gateway and France (sorry about the focus on this one).

Epcot's IllumiNations

The ripple effect from this angle (the island is in the way)

Epcot's IllumiNations

One last picture from the bridge.

Epcot's IllumiNations

A video of the finale and holiday tag from the bridge.


Hope you enjoyed this look at IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full trip update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.


January 10, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend, Part 1 - Expo and 10K

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2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Lee and I are back a WDW Marathon Weekend to participate in the 10th Goofy Challenge. An anniversary year - and that means special bling! :-) We opted not to run the Dopey Challenge again this year - just couldn't take the getting up early 4 mornings in a row. Besides, that gave two other people a chance to run it. Yeah, that's why we didn't do it. Total altruism on our part. :-)

I've been stalking the weather all week trying to figure out what to pack for this weekend. Started off looking warmish, but as the week went on the predicted highs and lows kept going down - though of course the warmest day is still supposed to be the day of the marathon! But it looks like we will be standing around waiting when the temperature is in the 40s and low 50s, so we had to bring some throwaway clothes and trash bags, and also packed calf and arm sleeves. Once we're running we should be ok in shorts and short sleeves, but it's the waiting that's hard. We still managed to get everything in carry-on bags, and they weren't even overly stuffed! (Had to leave room to come back with at least the three new race shirts!)


Thursday, January 8 - Arrival

Alaska Airlines now has a non-stop flight from San Diego to Orlando (and vice versa), and this was our first chance to try that. Best flight experience I've had in a long time. The plane wasn't full, so Lee and I had a row to ourselves. And it's a newer plane with the less bulky seats, which felt significantly more roomy. The people in front of us didn't recline their seats on top of us, and there were no screaming children around us. Fairly smooth flight, and only 4 hours and 40 minutes! The service was good - they came around with the beverage and food carts twice, and in between asked if we wanted coffee or anything else. I hope the flight home on Monday will be as pleasant.

We arrived about 6:00, and since we only had carry-on bags went straight to the rental car area. Had a glitch with the rental car reservation, but finally got that straightened out, and we were on the road by 7:00. It was a chilly (for Orlando) 57 when we arrived. It was downright cold that morning for the 5K - 38 at the start, with a wind advisory. The wind of course made everyone feel colder. In watching the posts of our friends on Facebook, we were pretty happy we hadn't run Dopey this year!

At the Boardwalk we had our first issue with the Magic Bands. We'd brought five (have to color coordinate, you know), but only one of them would open our room. On our way to dinner we stopped by the Concierge Desk, who verified that they were all linked and active, but she re-encoded them, and now they all work.

After dinner at the Dolphin Fountain we came back to our room to unpack and try to go to sleep. We're on the fourth floor overlooking the hotel entrance, and we could actually see some of the IllumiNations fireworks.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend


Friday, January 9 - 10K and Expo

I was awakened about 4:00 by the sound of the announcer way over at the 10K in the Epcot parking lot. Sound carries. I could hear some of the words and the music. I got up a little bit before 6:00 and put on warm clothes, since it was only 48 outside, and went out to a spot near the Boardwalk Bakery with the Mickey Milers to cheer the 10K runners. That area is just over 4 miles into the race, and there were already a lot of runners going by when I arrived about 6:10. And it was still very dark.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I was very surprised that the Boardwalk Bakery wasn't open yet - they opened at 6:30. Once they opened a lot of the spectators went in, and even some of the runners went in for coffee and pastries!

It was a cool morning for the run. I saw lots of people who were wearing the long-sleeve yellow Minnie race shirt - several of us commented that it seemed like there were more people wearing the race shirt than we have ever seen.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were lots of costumes, and it was fun to see all of the creative ideas people had. There were a LOT of Annas and Elsas and Olafs - many of them running together in a group. The Olaf costume was seeming like a pretty good idea given the weather - it's a little warmer. (How ironic is it that a snowman costume would be warm?) The oddest combination I saw was Anna and Elsa running with Darth Vader, though. :-)

I saw a couple of groups where all of the runners were dressed as Snow White. I'm not sure what the term is for a collection of Snow Whites! A blizzard of Snow Whites?

There were also a lot of people dressed as Dalmatians, enough that they must have been some kind of a group, even though they weren't running all together. It was fun to see a few of them running with a Cruella, or with a Cruella not too far away from them.

I think the most unique pair I saw were the couple dressed as Mary Poppins and Mr. Banks.

Cheering was fun, though I wish I'd brought gloves! And a cowbell. Next time...The final runners followed by the bikes and the carts came by around 7:30. We visited with our fellow cheer-ers for a while before getting some breakfast at the bakery. There was no line there, which really surprised me!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

After breakfast we grabbed our race waivers and drove to the Expo. Very little traffic and we were able to park close, so our walk was shorter than if we'd taken the bus from the Boardwalk.

I always like seeing the race banners near the entrance to Wide World of Sports - it's a a very nice photo spot. This time there was a cast member there to take photos of people - not a PhotoPass photographer, just a regular guy who used our camera.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We went to the Field House first to pick up our bibs. Bib pickup for Goofy, Dopey, 10K, and 5K runners as well as Kids Races, was upstairs. So at this point almost everyone up there was a Goofy runner, since the others had already picked theirs up.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

When we picked up our bibs they told us that we needed to get our photo taken while holding our bib number. This is a new policy, and has apparently replaced the wristbands they have used to identify Goofy/Dopey runners in previous years. The policy was in place at Avengers for Coast-to-Coast runners, but it was iffy as to whether the volunteers knew to tell runners about it, and we also had wristbands there. We'll see how well it works on Sunday when all of the runners have to be looked up on a computer instead of just showing a wristband.

Anyway...there were signs directing us to the area where they were taking the runDisney mug shots. I do have to say that this was very efficient. There were multiple photographers and backdrops, and someone at the head of the line to direct us to the next available backdrop. Mine really will look like a mug shot, since the photographer didn't tell me to "smile" or anything - just took the photo. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We still had to go downstairs in the Field House to collect our shirts. They had already shut down the merchandise area there, but the bib pickup for the half marathon and full marathon were still going on.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I like the graphic design on this year's shirts, but I think that the Goofy shirt is an awful color. I don't like orange to begin with but with the colors they used Goofy barely shows up on it. I really like the Donald shirt, but I wish the Mickey shirt was a lighter color. The fit and fabric are still very nice, though - I still am SO happy to have a women's shirt that fits me!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

When we'd seen images of this shirt on-line we though that the graphics were a lenticular or metallic, but they aren't.

In addition to the shirts, our bags had this odd item in them (this is both of ours, so I can show front and back). It's the size to hold a gel packet, but it has an adhesive strip on the back, and I'm not sure what you're supposed to attach it to - I certainly wouldn't trust it to hold during a race.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Next we went over to the Josten's Center to visit the main Expo - especially to see what was still available for Official Merchandise. It was just after 9:30 and it wasn't too crowded yet.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Though the Merchandise area was pretty busy - lots of people in the aisles. There still seemed to be a good selection of merchandise available - I was particularly surprised at how much Dopey merchandise there was. Plenty of stuff for the half and marathon, and still quite a bit for Goofy.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

They had all of the "I Did It" shirts, also, though they were down to only smalls and mediums in the Goofy shirt - and there were only 5 mediums. This one didn't appeal to either of us - we have other "I Did It" Goofy shirts.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I was still able to find the things that I wanted: the Goofy Challenge magnet, and the mini-medal pins for Goofy and Coast-to-Coast. Lee and I both bought the new Coast-to-Coast shirts - I like this particular design. My other Expo purchases (from other vendors) were a pair of throwaway gloves, since tomorrow is colder than I was expecting, and a pair of black and white tie-dye calf sleeves, which will go much better with tomorrow's half marathon outfit. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Lee bought the new runDisney vinylmation, but we were dismayed to find that they are no longer selling the little medals that go around Mickey's neck. The runDisney rep we asked said that they didn't sell them for Avengers, either.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Short line to checkout, but it moved quickly, and as Annual Passholders we received a discount. That's always nice.

After we shopped we visited some of the other booths. The runDisney booth had the usual collection of medals, though we were hoping to see the new Pixie Dust Challenge medal, and it wasn't there.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I again admired the Castaway Cay Challenge medal - I really hope they will offer that in conjunction with the Wine and Dine Half Marathon this year!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We visited some of the other vendors and picked up a few items before leaving the Josten's Center. This year there are more vendors located around Champions Stadium. Given the cool weather that's probably not a very favorable spot this year.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

They had some fun cutouts to pose with over there, though.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were a lot of people still arriving as we were leaving, so we'd timed it pretty well. On our way back we stopped at the Hess Station near the Boardwalk to buy water and yogurt. Four containers of yogurt and 1.5 gallons of water was less than $11 - at Disney, just the water alone would have been more than that! So we're set for food for tomorrow morning - we also brought some bagels and almond and peanut butter from home.

This afternoon we finally went into a theme park. :-) Our Magic Bands functioned just fine, so whatever issue we had with our doors either didn't extend to the park passes, or was fixed when they were re-encoded.

We had lunch at Katsura Grill, and we were able to sit inside - it was still chilly outside, only 52. Hot food tasted good!

After lunch we finished our circle around World Showcase. I was surprised to see that the Christmas decorations were still up in all of the pavilions that decorate for the holidays. I guess the "undecorators" haven't made it that far yet. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

In Italy, the Magic Disney Screening Shrubbery is not doing a very good job of hiding this large tower. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We also stopped in the Karamell Kuche for some caramel goodness. Yum.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

At one of the two shops at the entrance to World Showcase we were surprised to see a pretty nice selection of Star Wars merchandise, in addition to all of the Anna/Elsa/Olaf stuff.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We'll spend the rest of the day relaxing a little bit, visiting with friends, and then going into Epcot to have an early dinner.

And then we try to sleep before our very early wakeup call tomorrow, so we can go out and run 13.1 miles! Doesn't that sound like fun? :-)

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:

You can follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura

January 11, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend, Part 2 - Half Marathon

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To paraphrase Lao-tzu:
"A journey of 39.3 miles begins with a half marathon."

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Part one of the Goofy Challenge successfully completed - the marathon is tomorrow. That's the REAL challenge.


As they always do, our race morning began far too early - 2:30 a.m. Or 11:30 p.m., as my Garmin informed me. We had breakfast in the room, and tried to prepare ourselves as best we could for the cool conditions. It was 46 degrees, and was supposed to go down to 44 around 6:00. Nice conditions for running, but difficult for waiting around. I'll take it over the heat and humidity, though.

We left about 3:30, and had decided to drive to Epcot. We were actually hoping for a bit of traffic so that we could sit inside our nice warm car, but there was very little, and we were parked by 3:45! We still sat in the car for a while before donning all of our warm clothes and heading to the start area.

No photos, because I was too bundled up, but I had my running skirt and shirt, a throwaway cotton t-shirt, calf sleeves, arm sleeves, and gloves. Also a new running jacket that my niece and nephews gave me for Christmas (that wasn't a throwaway; I thought I might need it later in the race if the wind came up). And over all of that a trash bag that went down to my calves. I also had "Hot Hands" to put in my gloves. Was I warm? Mostly, and I was fine while we were moving, but the last 10 minutes in the corral I was starting to shiver. (Remember, I am a native of southern California, and I have very thin blood!)

We had to go through bag check to enter the race area - trying to dig my running belt out from under all of that was a challenge, and I lost a glove in the process. Oh well, it was a cheap throwaway, and I still had the hand warmers that I hadn't yet opened. The bag check line moved well, and we were soon into the pre-race area.

It was already about 4:30 by then. We said hi to some friends, and made another potty stop. It seemed like there were a lot more porta-potties this year, both in the pre-race area, the runner's only area, and near the corrals themselves, and the lines weren't nearly as long as they usually are.

By 4:40 we were on our way to the corrals. This was a much more pleasant trip than it has been in some years. We could walk, and didn't have to shuffle along shoulder-to-shoulder - though this morning that might not have been so bad - it would've been warmer! :-) The path also seemed much better lit than previous years.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

They had some cheerleaders and a DJ to entertain us along the way - first time I've ever seen cheerleaders in body suits and earmuffs. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

By 5:05 we were in Corral J - only 25 minutes until the start of the race! I was surprised that it wasn't more crowded - we were not too far from the front of the corral. We settled down on the ground to wait and rest our legs and feet a little bit.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We were too far back and not near one of the big video screens, so really couldn't see any of the pre-race "show" with the characters. A male vocalist sang the National Anthem at 5:25, and then the fireworks went off at 5:30 when they started the wheelchair racers, followed closely by the first corral.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

While we were waiting for our corral to begin moving we chatted with some runners around us - Richard, a mutual acquaintance, was right behind us. And hello to Michael, an AllEars reader who was next to us.

Once our corral started moving forward we found a break in the fence and left it so that we could make one last potty stop - the cold weather shrinks the bladder! There's no lines at that point, so it's pretty fast. We nipped back into line at the back of the corral, so we didn't lose any time in starting - well, except that we were at the back of the corral.

I'd removed my trash bag by then but that was all. Oh, and in the meantime I'd found a discarded glove to replace the one that I lost. :-) Lee was down one layer: he'd removed his lightweight pants and put them in his running pack.

Finally we were close enough to see the start line!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The race announcers were on-stage, though all of the characters had left by then. We were Corral J, and they still had to get all the way to P. At that point there were sending them off every 3 minutes, though I think for the larger corrals in back it's 5 minute intervals. As it was, the race had been underway for almost 30 minutes when we started. It's over an hour for those in the back.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

It was a relief to be running, and have the opportunity to start getting warm! I had the hand warmers in my gloves, and those helped.

The course is the typical half marathon course that goes from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back. With the usual narrow one-lane places. I didn't feel that we were unpleasantly crowded this time, but still, it was a relief to get to the first really wide section about about mile 1.5. When we were almost at the mile 2 marker the first elite runner passed us going back! That was about 50 minutes into the race for him, 23 minutes for us. Our plan was to do 4:1 run/walk intervals, and maintain an easy, steady pace since we still have to run a marathon tomorrow.

There were a number of character photo stops along the way to Magic Kingdom, but the lines were long and we didn't stop. I still hadn't discarded any clothes - it seemed like every time I'd start to think about doing that and unzip my jacket we would turn into the wind and I'd have to zip it back up. I'd taken my gloves off and put them in my jacket pocket but I still carried the hand warmers in the palms of my hands. That helps a lot to keep my hands warm.

About mile 5.25 we entered Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, where there were lots of people to cheer us on, including Beci and Bea!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We had to stop near the castle to have our photo taken with the beautifully lit ice castle in the background.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We ran around through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Anna, Elsa and Kristoff were hanging out on the balcony at the castle - guess Disney realized the lines would be unmanageable if they were actually available on the course.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The course goes through Liberty Square and Fontierland, where the mile 6 sign is placed. We were almost halfway through the race, and still feeling pretty good. Lee had thrown away his outer shirt, but I was still wearing all of mine.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

After exiting Magic Kingdom the course goes down the infamous "Cone Alley" for over a mile, past the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian. It was not as crowded for us this time, but I think that's because we hadn't stopped for any character photo lines and were still in the top 40% of runners. Most everyone around us was running a similar pace.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Our friends Gail and Julian were cheering in that section, and it was wonderful to see them.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Around mile 8 we found Laura, another of our friends who was cheering the runners.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were also a series of signs giving us some "Fun Facts" about Donald Duck, like the names of his parents and sisters, movies he'd been in, etc. Appropriate since Donald is the mascot for this race.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Lee broke out his dance moves when we passed one of the many high school bands who came out to cheer us on.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There was a nice runDisney banner on the course, but the wind was blowing it around so I couldn't get a good photo.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The sun came up - it had ended up being a nice clear morning. It was still only 48 degrees but it felt warmer once we had the sun on us. I could've gotten rid of my t-shirt at that point, but it was going to be more trouble to take it off than to continue wearing it. I'd been wearing my running belt with my race number on it under all of those clothes, and at least I finally moved that to the outside. My poor race number is already pretty beat up, and I still have another race to run!

Mile 10 is always a milestone for me in a half marathon - once I reach that point I know that I can do a 5K, even if I have to walk it. Mile 10 is at the start of a series of overpasses, so that two-mile section is a little challenging at the end of a race. Once we get to mile 12, in the Epcot parking lot, it's all flat from there.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Our friends Eddie and Phill had finished quite a bit earlier, but had come out to cheer for the rest of us. They were enjoying a well-deserved adult beverage. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We ran into Epcot and did the loop around, stopping for a picture near the fountain. I always tell Lee that "there's no sprinting in Goofy", so we didn't sprint the last .3 miles, but we picked up the pace.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

As we were crossing the finish line we got a nice shout out from race announcer Rudy Novotny, and Lee high-fived Mickey Mouse.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The nice volunteers gave us our Donald medals.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I was surprised that they were not handing out the runDisney mylar sheets at the finish area - it was still 48 degrees, and I started to get chilled pretty quickly once we stopped running.

We made our way through the refreshment area and picked up water/PowerAde and the runDisney MRE boxes. (I was happy to see the Goldfish crackers inside.) There were signs directing Goofy and Dopey runners off to one side, so we were expecting them to check our photos to make sure we were really the person who had picked up the bib, but they didn't do that. I guess that'll be tomorrow.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

As I mentioned, it was chilly, so we didn't linger, and pretty quickly went back to our car. We'd both brought dry shirts and jackets to change into, and those felt very good!

My official time was 2:33:35. I was hoping to do 2:35, so that was right on target. We felt pretty good, though I can't say that I'm really enthused about doing double the distance tomorrow. After we returned to the room I took a cold bath (though Florida water is not that cold). My legs will thank me tomorrow. :-) We went to our traditional post-half marathon lunch at the Dolphin Fountain - they make an excellent turkey burger. We relaxed in the room the rest of the afternoon - even took a nap, since neither of us has slept well the last two nights.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

It was a really good race for us. We didn't experience most of the things that have made me write more negatively about this race in the past. The pre-race experience, especially the walk to the corrals, was good, and the on-course crowding wasn't bad at all. There were plenty of water stops, and all of the wonderful volunteers and cast members. Thank you to all of you, and to everyone who came out and cheered on such a cold day.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Tonight will be another short night, with another early wakeup call. The weather will be a lot warmer tomorrow. It's supposed to be 56 at the start, with very high humidity, and will be in the 70s by the end of the race. That's pretty warm. We're hoping to get a lot of miles in while it's still cool. Looking forward to running through Animal Kingdom and the Studios!

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:

You can follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura


January 12, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend, Part 2.5 - Marathon

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2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We finished! Goofy Challenge #4 complete. It was very tiring, though - I'm actually more tired and sore than I was after the Dopey Challenge last year. So no race recap in today's blog entry - that will be coming tomorrow (I hope).

Thanks everyone for the congratulations and the well wishes - we really appreciate it!

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:

You can follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura


Frozen Fun at Disneyland

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 9. 2015.

In this posting I will take a look at the Frozen Fun that runs through April 30. Pieces of this event have been open since December -- Arendelle was added to Storybook Land back on December 19 and there were soft openings of the other components over the days that followed. I covered Storybook Land in my December 19 postings. Below you will find pictures/video of the Hollywood Land changes for the event and the Sing-Along. I will have separate postings on the Freeze the Night event and Royal Theatre Show in the Fantasy Faire, plus my regular park updates. As always you can see the full picture set on my site disneygeek.com.

Frozen has arrived in a big way at the Disneyland Resort! As I reached the Disneyland Resort I spotted this banner featuring the Frozen characters on the Mickey and Friends exit ramp.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun billboards at the Tram Stop

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun banners in Downtown Disney

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun ads on the ticket booths replacing the traditional annual pass holder ads.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun banners at the DCA entrance.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun has taken over the DCA Guidemap and times guide too.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The Christmas tree is gone and in its place is a Frozen Fun photo op.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Most of the Christmas decorations are down on Hollywood Blvd and Frozen Fun banners have taken their place on the lamp posts.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun has taken over the Backlot area, too.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

And Frozen has moved into the Animation Building.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Further down the street you can get FastPass tickets to meet Anna and Elsa.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The House of Ice bar (used for Freeze the Night in the evenings)

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The dance stage from the House of Cards is gone and in its place is this open dance floor. The food truck has a Frozen wrap on it.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The menu for the food truck.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The face painting is still there but now there are Frozen choices.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The main stage for Freeze the Night. No band, just a DJ platform.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The Ice Box bar

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The menu for the Ice Box

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The Muppets have been removed and now the venue is called the Crown Jewel Theatre, featuring a Frozen Sing-Along.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Evergreens were brought into the area.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

You can also get a FastPass for the Sing-Along at these unmarked machines.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

What the FastPass looks like

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Next door in Stage 17 is the Snow Fest, but it was closed this afternoon for some reason. The Cast Members did not know why or would not share, and there was no ETA on reopening when I asked.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The Muppet store is now the Wandering Oaken's Trading Post. They have removed the large counter so you can now walk into/through the store.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

And a lot of merchandise is outside the store.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Inside above the merchandise are some props.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

A cart selling leather goods with engraving.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The signage at the Animation Building has had a Frozen update

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The building received some sort of wrap along the walkways.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Inside you are greeted with signage for the meet and greet.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

A queue for the Animation Academy.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Anna & Elsa have moved into the Character Close-Up area.

As seems the new norm you cannot see the characters unless you go through. Walls are up forming some rooms in the area now. There were FastPasses available, but unfortunately the one I received was for a time I could not visit. So no pictures from me this trip of the inside.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Off the Page (last trip I looked at the Frozen merchandise there if you are interested check out my 12/19 pictures set)

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Another view of the Trading Post

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Banners are hung over the props as you enter the theater. (Note I used standby and was one of the last people in so I could not really stop to take pictures. The Cast Members kept pushing me along because they wanted to close the doors and start the show.)

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Inside all traces of the Muppets appeared to be gone (but I was walking fairly quickly and trying to snap a few pictures so I may have missed something).

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The waiting area looks quite different now. This is all I saw of it before being hurried into the first door.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Inside I ended up with a seat in the back but toward the middle. It was a full house. Maybe a dozen empty seats scattered around that I could see.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The theater has new projections and some new decorations.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Show time -- the penguin pit is covered and there is a stage in front of the projection screen now.

One of two historians that narrate the show and fill in the plot details and some comic relief between the songs.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland


Anna made a quick appearance

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The second historian is introduced.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

A couple clips to get an idea of the flow of the show.


Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

The side projections/lighting change from time to time

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

A wider shot of the theatre

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

For the finale Kristoff and Anna return, and Elsa joins them.

And of course an encore of Let it Go for the finale. No words needed for this Sing-Along.

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Frozen Fun at Disneyland

Here is a video clip of the finale.

The Snow Fest was still closed. Olaf was greeting guests just inside the exit doors. This was the best shot I could get of him. The wait was 45 minutes. (Later in the evening it was 90.)

Frozen Fun at Disneyland


This wraps up my first look at the Frozen Fun activities. Hope you enjoyed it. 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.



January 13, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend, Part 3 - Marathon

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2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Sunday, January 11

I slept a little better Saturday night so for a change I was asleep
when the alarm went off. A few minutes later we received our wakeup
all from Baymax, who told us to have a "fun-filled day".

It was hard to get up, and I really wanted to just go back to bed.
Lee and I both wondered how we managed to do it four mornings
in a row last year when we did the Dopey Challenge..

It was a much warmer morning - 56 degrees at 3:00, which was 10
degrees warmer than the day before at that time. We only needed a
throwaway shirt and our trusty trash bags. I also had gloves and a
couple of "Hot Hands".

We left the room a little after 3:30. There was a little more
traffic driving to Epcot, but not bad, and we were actually
parked two rows closer than for the half marathon.

There was a very short line to get through the bag check and we
entered the race area. There was a stage with a DJ, and there were
a couple of photo backdrops with the Marathon logo on them.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Before we went to the corrals we hung out with a lot of our running
friends - it was nice to see a lot of our former Team All Ears
mates!

We were running with a group of friends, and around 5:00 we all
headed to Corral K. The race started at 5:30, but we knew we
wouldn't start until after 6:00. The walk to the corrals was a
little more crowded than it had been the day before, but still not
bad.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were 26,000 registered for the marathon (though there's always
some number of runners who are unable to participate), separated
into 16 different start corrals - A-P. As they did for the half
marathon, each corral had their own set of fireworks. One thing
I hadn't realized was that they shoot the fireworks off from a
couple of locations, and we could see both the ones at the start
line, and some that were off to our right. As we moved forward
those were behind us.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Our corral started around 6:10. It's always a relief to finally get
going. Our group was doing 2:1 intervals: two minutes running and
one minute walking. It was really a wonderful morning for running:
nice and cool - ~58 degrees and not too humid. By mile 3 I had
discarded all of my throwaway clothes, though I hung onto the "Hot
Hands" for a while longer.

The character lines were significantly shorter than they had been
the day before as we made our way towards Magic Kingdom. It was all
the same characters, so I guess a lot of runners (since about half
were either Goofy or Dopey) had gotten their photos during the half
marathon. But we stopped for a photo with Wreck-it Ralph - and got
photobombed by several other friends who caught up to us just as we
were posing. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The runDisney banner was staked down at the bottom this time, so I
was able to get a better look at it!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

It was starting to get light as we approached the "underwater
overpass" where we go under the channel that connects Bay Lake and
Seven Seas Lagoon. The "Big Hands Guy" is always there playing
music and cheering us on.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There was a pretty sunrise as we looked towards the Contemporary
Resort.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Once we reached Magic Kingdom we enjoyed running down Main Street.
At the end we had some friends who were there cheering for us. It's
always so wonderful to see some familiar faces when we are running,
and we appreciate them getting up way early to come out and support
us.

Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff were cheering us on from the castle balcony
again.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We stopped in front of the castle to get a group photo.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

After we left the Magic Kingdom it was time for the dreaded "Cone
Alley" section from there to past the Polynesian. We were further
back in the pack than we had been during the half, and there were a
lot more people. Plus we were running as a group of eight, so we
couldn't really run together. We get really frustrated with big
groups who run side-by-side on the narrow parts, so we tried to stay
mostly single file, especially when we were walking.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were some new signs up today. The "song" for this part of the
course was "This is the Best Day of My Life". (How would you like to
be the DJ working that area, having to hear the same song over and
over and over..).

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Until just past mile 8 the course had been identical to the half
marathon the day before. But from there on it was different. We
made a left to the Walt Disney World Speedway, where we took a
lap around the track.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
`

There were car enthusiasts who had brought out their cars and were
cheering us on.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
`

After we left the speedway we had to run across the grassy median to
get onto Bear Island Rd towards Animal Kingdom. Our path across the
median was marked with pink (and green) flamingos, which I found
very amusing.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were a number of character stops along the road, but the lines
were a little longer than we wanted to stop for. As we neared Animal
Kingdom we ran by the Waste Treatment facility. It did not smell
very good in this area, but there were a number of informational
signs to read as we ran by.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The group from Robin Hood was out for photos! You don't see them
very often.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

A lot of us wanted our photo taken with this Goofy topiary!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

As we neared Animal Kingdom some of the animals were out with a
number of animals and birds. Beaker the vulture had his own way of
encouraging the runners to "look alive" and keep moving. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Emme Lu the pig was even wearing a marathon bib! I thought there
were more animals this year. It's a lot of fun to see them.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Because of the construction between Harambe and Asia we entered
Animal Kingdom by the Maharajah Jungle Trek instead of Harambe. We
were almost to mile 13 by then. The park was open, and we got in
line to ride Expedition Everest! It only took about 10 minutes
and it was really fun. Where else can you ride a roller coaster in
the middle of a marathon? :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

But all of that fun took a long time - about 3:25 to do the first
13.1 miles. I wanted to finish in under six hours, so I said
goodbye to my running companions (including Lee) and picked up the
pace a bit. I switched to 4:1 intervals, which is what I'm used to.

After leaving Animal Kingdom there's about a mile of narrow paths
and roads. That was pretty frustrating, but I was happy to see Mike
Scopa's smiling face along that stretch!

Once we were back on the main road towards Wide World of Sports it
widened out a bit, but there were still a lot of people. And since
I was moving faster than almost everyone else I had to weave my way
through a lot of traffic.

About mile 15 it started to drizzle, and then it rained lightly for
10 minutes or so. The temperature was up to about 65, which was
still a comfortable running temperature for me - I was actually
really pleased with the weather, since it was not quite as warm as
had been predicted. According to the weather forecast the rain was
supposed to hold off until 1:00, but it was only about 10:00. I
was really hoping we weren't going to have a repeat of the rain we
had for the Wine and Dine half marathon.

As the course turned right to go towards Wide World of Sports it
went down to one lane - because on the other side were all of the
people who were exiting WWoS who were almost four miles ahead of me.
This part was decidedly not fun - I dislike it even more than "Cone
Alley".

Once we turned right again just before mile 17 we were no longer
facing the other runners and the course got a bit wider. Volunteers
were handing out cool towels, and those felt really good! Also in
this area was a huge Baymax towering above us. Signs posted at his
base said things like: "I heard a sound of distress", "I am not
fast", and "On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your
pain?" At that point I was still feeling pretty good, but ask me
that question again in another 9 miles...

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Most of the time in the Wide World of Sports complex we are running
on concrete walkways - pretty narrow and hard on the feet. But we
get to run almost a lap on the track, and that has a rubberized
surface that feels really good on the feet after almost 18 miles!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Just after mile 19 we did a lap around the field at Champions
Stadium. I know some people don't like the dirt surface, but I find
it's a nice break from the concrete and asphalt.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The race banners from the Expo had been moved so they would be next
to the marathon course.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Once we left the WWoS complex we were again down to one lane, but
this time we were the ones who were a long way ahead of the oncoming
runners. I really did not like this part of the course. But I
think I already said that.

At mile 20.5 I found cheerleader extraordinaire Laura Ozo. She had
asked people in advance what they wanted her to have for them, and
offered me a variety of choices - chips, candy, coke, etc., but I
wanted an orange slice, which tasted really good. Thanks, Laura!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

By mile 22 I was starting to feel pretty tired. I knew I could
still do the last four miles, but my running pace was slowing down
a bit, though I was still able to do 4:1 intervals.

I was very happy to reach the Studios - just over three miles to go!
They were handing out chocolate there - I didn't take any, but it
was nice to have the option. No gummies this year, which is what I
would've liked. I love chocolate but not during a race.

Several character stops but they had lines so I didn't stop. I
passed by the Sorcerer's hat with all the construction walls around
it - that might be the last time that I'll see it, since it is being
removed.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

After leaving the Studios the course narrowed again as we ran on the
path along the waterway towards the Epcot Resort area. It was so
wonderful to get to the Yacht Club and see Deb and Linda there to
cheer in the same spot they'd been during the Team AllEars years! I
got two great hugs to speed me on my final two miles.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

That was about when it started to rain again, and by the time I
reached the International Gateway it was really raining. Ivana
Dream, the self-proclaimed Marathon Fairy, was out. She was
impressed that I knew who she was (but that's only because I asked
her last year during the Princess Half Marathon!).

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

As I came into World Showcase at the UK, I found Phil, Pam, and
Nancy cheering - rain hadn't dampened their enthusiasm!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Because of the rain the characters who are usually out during the
race had either been pulled or were in sheltered spots. I was able
to get my photo taken with Aurora in France.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

And Mushu in China.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

It was raining and I just wanted to finish so I didn't stop for a
frozen margarita in Mexico this year - plus I still had my eye on
that under 6-hour finish.

The gospel choir was still out singing in spite of the rain, though
it had slowed to a drizzle by then.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

And I did it! I finished in less than 6 hours: 5:51:42, to be
exact. I ran the second 13.1 in 2:25, and I was very happy with
that!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The rain stopped about the time that I finished. I got my Mickey
medal from the nice volunteer and a cool towel from another. It
wasn't uncomfortably warm, but it still felt good to wipe my face
and hands and arms.

I made my way to the Dopey/Goofy tent. I was skeptical about how
well this photo process would work, but it went very well. They had
a lot of lanes open with a computer and volunteer at each one. The
volunteer punched in my bib number and said "You're good to go -
congratulations!", and then I went through and the next person gave
me my Goofy medal. (The woman in front of me was not so fortunate,
and she was immediately directed off to the side to talk to a
manager.)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I saw lots of runners with the runDisney mylar sheets, but no one
was handing them out. I was wet, and concerned about getting
chilled (I hadn't checked a bag, so didn't have any dry clothes,
and Lee had the car keys), so I went looking for one. I asked one
runner where she got hers, and she directed me to Medical. I went
to Medical, and was told I couldn't get one if I didn't have a
Medical condition - that I needed to go to Self Treatment or the
Massage tent. Those were outside the finish area in the Family
Reunion area. Ok. As I exit, I see lots of people, including
spectators, who have the sheets. I go to Self Treatment, but they
don't have any. I go to the Massage Tent, and they don't have any
- though the answer I got was "I can't give you one". But still...how
are there no mylar sheets for runners??? I eventually got one that
a spectator was discarding. I ended up not really needing it,
though.

After all of that I went to the Champagne Station and rewarded
myself with a glass of champagne.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I checked the on-line results and saw that Lee had finished so I
went back into the runner's area to find him. By then not only had
the rain stopped but the sun had come out a little bit. Which is
why we're both squinting in this photo. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

He had continued to have a good time with the group, so that was
great. But we were both tired and wet and ready to get out of
there, so we headed back to the car. It really didn't take long to
get back to our room at all. We were pretty wiped out - after we
showered we snacked on my leftover chicken parmesan from the night
before ("Chicken parm you taste so good") and what was in our
runDisney MRE boxes, and took a nap.

After we got back I took a closer look at the Goofy medal. It's a
spinner, but Goofy is upside down on the orange side! It's not a
mistake, because the writing is correct. Just Goofy being, well,
goofy.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

So. We're glad we did it, and it's nice to have that anniversary
medal, but we are done with marathons for a while. I won't say
"never again", but it's going to have to be something pretty
special. We just don't like the marathon distance, and all of the
training required. Love the halfs, but marathons are just not for
me. I have friends who run multiple marathons a year, and I don't
know how they do it.

Next up is Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland this
next weekend. Another Inaugural event! We will be doing the
Rebel Challenge which is the 10K and the half marathon. And
we will be earning our Coast-to-Coast medal, also.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for all of the good thoughts and well
wishes!

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:

You can follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura


Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 9. 2015.

In this posting I will take a look at the "Freeze the Night," which is part of the Frozen Fun that runs through April 30. Freeze the Night event that takes place each evening in the Hollywood Land Backlot area. I have separate postings from this trip on the Frozen Fun area and Royal Theatre Show in the Fantasy Faire, plus my regular park updates. As always you can see the full picture set on my site disneygeek.com.

On Buena Vista Street the Frozen Fun photo op at night.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Entering the Frozen Fun area of Hollywood Land

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Freeze the Night begins with a DJ.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

A dance team called the Ice Breakers takes the stage

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Our hosts for the evening.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

A video clip of the opening of Freeze the Night on Friday.

Snow projection effects on Monsters Inc.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

To the right of the Monsters Inc area where the House of Cards Dance Floor was for the Mad T Party is an interactive dance floor and beyond that Marshallow was out for pictures.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure
 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure
 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Here is a closer look at some of the dance floor projections.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure
The dance floor was tracking your footprints.
 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Marshmallow out for pictures at Freeze the Night

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

To help you judge the scale, note the adults in the background and a young Elsa posing with him.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Next to him is a play/game area.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Stage 12 has ice/snow projections

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

The House of Ice had a steady line.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Ice Carving took place on the Hollywood Backlot Stage. Here is the first creation of the evening underway.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

This was more etching than carving...

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

She then went to work on the back side doing some more serious carving.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

She finished the first ice sculpture.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

A check of the temperature with some help by Marshmallow

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Some snowfall

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Ice creation number two underway. Elsa was etched into one side first. Then she went to work on the back side again.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Any guesses what this will be?

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Jumping ahead here is the finished product OLAF!

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

A picture of the Freeze the Night Let It Go performance.

 Freeze the Night - Disney California Adventure

Video of the Let it Go performance.

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.


January 16, 2015

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Renovation Projects around the Parks

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 9, 2015.

This posting will focus on the projects going on around the Disneyland Resort theme parks. This is just the start of the "off-season" projects and preparations for Disneyland's 60th Anniversary, which will kick off at the end of May. If you are planning a trip be sure to check the official Disneyland website for what will be closed during your visit. Most of these projects are slated to run through May as of now.

Here is the listing at the security tent for Friday.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The Pacific Wharf Cafe and Bakery Tour are behind walls right now.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

A couple of its menu items have moved next door to Cocina Cucamonga. The far left window/registers are selling Clam Chowder and Broccoli and Cheese bread bowls. The rest of the windows show the Mexican menu.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

World of Color is closed for the winter for renovation. They are draining Paradise Bay. A look at the current state.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

A sign explaining how the water will be recycled.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Out on the platform, some new hose reels are visible, but not much else yet.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Here you can see the water level is down slightly from where it normally is.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The fountains are interesting to see for geeks like me, but are a great example of bad show from a theme perspective.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Condor Flats is completely closed off for renovation work. With Soarin' down for an extended period, they are taking the opportunity to redo the theme of the area.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The kiosk near the Corn Dog wagon featured Soarin' merchandise. Again, Condor Flats is closed, including the Fly n Buy.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Taste Pilots Grill is also closed, so some of the menu items have are now being served at the Paradise Garden Grill.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

A look at the temporary menu at Paradise Garden Grill

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

In Paradise Park, the two archways that had plants on them have been removed. Looks like they were cut out.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Dug was out near the water wheel since Redwood Creek was also closed.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The walls blocking Redwood Creek

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The walkway is blocked just past the Grand Californian walkway.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Nothing visible going on along the walkway. Wonder if anything will change there or if the walls are that far out just to stop guests from going down the dead end?

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The Condor Flats walls come all the way out to the line board.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Looks like the name Condor Flats may be going away and it will be the Grizzly Peak Airfield when it reopens.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

On the wall, a map shows what is closed off, directing you to the Garden Grill for burgers.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Work being done to the Stroller/Wheelchair Rental facade. Everything is open still, it's just being repainted.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The work continues all the way into the park.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The Jungle Cruise is closed for the removal of the Christmas overlay.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The Magic Eye Theatre is closed for removal of Big Hero 6.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The Matterhorn is closed for renovation. The wall features the same signs as last year that talk about the history of the mountain.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Looking back at the Matterhorn.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree is closed this week. The BBQ was open and had a crowd.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

The old Frozen meet and greet location in Fantasyland is closed. Olaf is still on the roof and they have a face-painting area set up outside.

 Renovation Projects around the Parks

Preparations are underway for a new fireworks show for Disneyland's 60th anniversary this summer. This winter Fantasy in the Sky has returned while the work is going on. Here is a video of the show taken Friday night. This is the entire show.


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.



January 17, 2015

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away...

It is a period of taper and recovery. Rebel runners, operating from a hidden start line, have won the opening 5K against the evil Galactic Bonk.

During the race, rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Out-of-Breath Star, which has the power to cause legions of runners to hit the wall.

Analysis of the plans has revealed a weakness, and a new hope for the Rebel Running Alliance. Only by undertaking the Rebel Challenge, and crossing the 10K and half marathon finish lines on two consecutive mornings, can runners defeat the Bonk and restore glycogen stores to the galaxy...


When runDisney announced that there would be a Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland in January 2015 there was a great disturbance in the Force, as though thousands of runners screamed for joy. When the event went on sale to the public in all race events were sold out in less than two hours.

The race weekend runs from January 15-18. Events include the Health and Fitness Expo Thursday-Saturday, the Star Wars 5K on Friday, the Star Wars 10K and Kids Races on Saturday, and the Half Marathon on Sunday. Runners participating in both the 10K and the Half Marathon have the opportunity to take on the Rebel Challenge, and earn an additional medal for completing both races.

And, let's not forget that this event has my favorite word: Inaugural. :-) It took about a nanosecond for Lee and me to decide that we wanted to sign up for the Rebel Challenge.

To say that this race weekend has been eagerly anticipated is quite an understatement, and Disney fans and Star Wars fans have been training, and, more importantly, planning their race costumes, for months. Lee and I are no exception - I can't remember when I've looked forward to a race weekend this much!

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend has replaced Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, which moved to May. So it is the weekend after WDW Marathon Weekend. While we "only" did the Goofy Challenge this year, that still means we'll be running 58.6 miles in nine days. And again earning our Coast-to-Coast medal in the shortest possible time. We're actually feeling pretty good, but these races are not going to about time, they are going to be about having fun!

We are really eager to see the special touches that Disney will put on the race courses. There's always the great mile marker signs, and I hope we will also hear lots of Star Wars music. And the characters...who will we see? In addition to Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers (who are regulars at the Disneyland Half) I'm hoping for Disney characters in Star Wars costumes. We also know that Disney has recruited "costumers" from the Cosplay world to come out and cheer us on - we have a friend who will be doing that, and we are looking forward to seeing her.

And speaking of costumes - it's going to be really interesting to see all of the creative costumes that the runners will come up with! I know Lee and I have worked on ours...

May the Course Be With You!

For real-time updates and photos follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:



Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 9, 2015.

In this posting I will take a look at another element of the "Frozen Fun" that runs through April 30. Pieces of this event have been open since December, with Arendelle being added to Storybook Land back on December 19, and then soft openings of the other components over the days that followed. Below you will find my first look at Frozen being performed in the Royal Theatre at the Fantasy Faire in Disneyland. So far, after having see all the various "Frozen"-related attractions being performed in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, I'd say that the best Frozen thing I have seen is the show at the Royal Theatre in Fantasy Faire. It was really well done and funny.

A visit to the Royal Theatre and to see a performance of Frozen.

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones introduce the show. There are a few live characters in the show, but these two use many puppets to reenact the story.

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Here is a video of the opening.

The troll scene.

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun


Anna and Elsa join the cast.


Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Kristoff and Sven

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

The sleigh ride scene.

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

A video clip of the sleigh scene and wolf battle.

Olaf's arrival and "In Summer" performance.


Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

Disneyland's Royal Theatre - Frozen Fun

The finale to the Frozen show at the Royal Theatre


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. Be sure to check out my other postings looking at the rest of the Frozen Fun activities, and as always you can see the full picture set on my site disneygeek.com.

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.



January 18, 2015

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2, 10K

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2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

A more thorough race recap is going to have to wait until I have time to write it, but I wanted to post this update to say that Lee and I had a blast running the Inaugural Disneyland Star Wars 10K this morning. We finished in 1:16:07. It was SO much fun. The miles flew by like the Millennium Falcon on the Kessel Run.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We ran with our friends Eddie and Brad. We stopped for a number of photos, but didn't stand in any of the REALLY long lines for characters like Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

The medal is beautiful! Very happy to add this one to my collection.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

I'll have more details in a later blog. Tomorrow we'll be running the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon, completing the Rebel Challenge, and earning our Coast-to-Coast medal.

May the Course Be With You!

For real-time updates and photos follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:



January 19, 2015

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - Part 3, Half Marathon

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2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

The Course was with us, and we successfully completed the Rebel Challenge and earned our Coast-to-Coast medals, also! I'll have a more detailed report to come, but here's a few thoughts.

It was a wonderful morning for running - 50 at the start, and cloudy and mid-50s when we finished. There was a beautiful sunrise!

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

The new half marathon course was interesting. We spent almost 4 miles in the parks, though a lot of it was backstage. We didn't exit the parks until mile 4.5, which made the first 1/3 of the race go quickly.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Once we left the parks the course went south and west into the city of Garden Grove. It was a mixture of commercial and residential areas, and we went by a couple of pretty park areas, too. Nice wide roads, and it felt open and uncrowded. Easy running. The spectators really embraced the Star Wars theme, and they seemed to having a wonderful time, too. It was especially fun to hear the high school bands playing Star Wars music.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

The Costumers who were on the course between mile 8 and 9 were totally awesome (and I don't just say that because one of them is a friend). Much more variety of costumes and characters than we saw in the parks, without the huge lines. Thank you, Disney, for inviting them to participate in both the Avengers and Star Wars half marathons. They really bring a lot to the races, and give the runners a tremendous lift at a point when we are starting to need it.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

The medals are beautiful, though I thought it was interesting the the half marathon medal does not say Inaugural on it - just on the ribbon. The 5K, 10K and Rebel Challenge medals all say "Inaugural".

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

It was really a terrific Inaugural event - Congratulations to all involved! We will be back next year!

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:


January 20, 2015

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - 10K Recap

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It is a dark time for the Rebellion. (5:30 is really early.) Although the Out-of-Breath Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel runners from their hidden fitness expo and pursued them across 6.2 miles. Evading the dreaded Imperial Sweeper Bikes, a group of Rebel Challengers, led by run/walkers, have established a new secret race retreat near the icy world of Frozen Fun.

The evil Lord Darth Vader, obsessed with finding the run/walkers, has dispatched official photographers into the far reaches of the course in an attempt to find runners and lure them to the Park side...

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Saturday, January 17

Our alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. Since at Disneyland we can walk to the start line and don't need to drive or take a bus, we don't have to get up quite as early, even though the race still starts at 5:30.

We planned to leave the room about 4:30, but we still needed that hour to have something to eat and to put on our costumes.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

I hadn't originally planned to run in costume. When the race was first announced I had something in mind, but could never really get inspired and figure out how to do it, and between the holidays and Marathon weekend I just ran out of time. But then on Wednesday, inspiration hit, and I decided to run the 10K as Queen Amidala. I went shopping Wednesday after work, started on some of the cutting and sewing, and finished it on Thursday night. The costume was actually very comfortable - it was essentially a tech shirt (men's size large) with some ribbon sewn on, and a black running skirt underneath. I made the collar and decorative piece out of red felt, painted with gold fabric paint. The most time-consuming part in the morning was putting on the make-up (and I hadn't had a chance to do a trial run on it), but it worked out ok, I think.

Lee had adapted a Jedi costume that he has worn in the past to something he could run in, replacing the vest/belt with a grey tech shirt and his regular running belt. He was a little warm in it, but otherwise very happy with it.

Getting to the pre-race area was more challenging than usual. Since this was a new race we didn't know where everything was going to be! We walked out of the Grand Californian onto Disneyland Drive, but that put us right into the corrals, because this race starts by going north and not south. We eventually went out to Downtown Disney and managed to get to the pre-race area, which is in the same place used for the Disneyland and Avengers races. It's a longer walk to the start corrals from there for this race than for the other two, though, since corral access is south of the Paradise Pier.

I really enjoyed the graphics and the way the stage looked. The DJ was even in Jedi attire.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We met up with Eddie and Brad, who were going to be running with us, and then went back to our start corral - because of where we were staying it would've been a lot easier to just go straight to the corral from the hotel! :-)

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We were in Corral B. While we waited they played some clips from Star Wars movies on the big screens, including the trailer for the new movie that is supposed to be released in December. R2D2 and C-3PO joined the race announcers on stage.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

The wheelchair athletes started first - no fireworks, though. Corral A started a few minutes later, and then our corral. We started almost 9 minutes after the official start. The course goes north on Disneyland Drive, then east on Ball, then south on Harbor. All of those are nice wide roads, and we weren't crowded at all.

The temperature was great - about 50 degrees at the start. I was glad that I had l arm sleeves, but I was pretty comfortable for the entire race.

Once we entered Disneyland's backstage area at about mile 1.5 we were on Disney property for the rest of the race, though a lot of it was backstage.

When we ran through the tunnel that goes down under the bus/tram area we heard the spooky sound of Darth Vader breathing, as well as his occasional admonitions that our destiny lies with the Dark Side. I think not, Darth! :-)

The first water stop was just after that, and then we ran across the esplanade and through Disneyland's main entrance onto Main Street. The first character stop was a Jedi master, but he had a pretty long line. There was even a line to take photos with the mile 2 sign at the end of Main Street! I liked the mile signs - they all had different images from the Star Wars movies.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We went left into Frontierland. Chewbacca was set up just in front of the Mark Twain, and a a HUGE line. There were several cast members just managing the queue, in addition to those who were taking photos! We didn't stop, but I asked a woman who had just gotten her photo how long she had waited, and she said 20 minutes - and she had started in Corral A!

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We went around Big Thunder Mountain and into Fantasyland. This course did not go through the castle: instead we went out of Fantasyland next to the teacups and by Alice in Wonderland back to the hub, then made a left and went into Tomorrowland. For a Star Wars themed race of course you have to run through Tomorrowland!

We stopped for a photo in front of Star Tours.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Darth Vader was in front of Innoventions, with another huge line, though not as long as the line for Chewbacca. There were Storm Troopers patrolling the Innoventions ramp, so we were able to get a quick photo of them.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We ran past the submarine lagoon and the Matterhorn and then back towards "it's a small world". There were several Jedi on the terraced area overlooking the course, but apparently "these are not the Jedi available for photos", because we were chased off when we tried to take photos of them. Not even WITH them, just OF them. They were miked, and were offering Jedi-appropriate encouragement to the runners.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

"It's a small world" is undergoing refurbishment and was largely covered, but some of the holiday lights were still turned on.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We ran backstage again to the mile 3 sign and the second water stop. We were having a great time and the race had gone very fast and we were surprised that we were halfway done already! I'd hoped that we would hear a lot of Star Wars music along the course and we did - I can't tell you the names, but I recognized a number of different pieces.

In the backstage areas there were some cast members to cheer us on, but it was pretty quiet. There were projections on some of the buildings that looked good, but I had a cast member tell me "no photos backstage" when I tried to take a photo of the Death Star projection.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We ran around the outside of about 2/3 of Disneyland before entering the Esplanade again and running across through the main entrance of DCA, and down Buena Vista Street and past the mile 4 sign.

At the end of Hollywood Blvd near the Hyperion Theater were two characters from the Star Wars Rebels animated series. Finally a short line, so we posed with them. We ran past the Tower of Terror and into Flik's Fun Fair. The Mos Eisley Cantina music was playing there - that was fun to hear.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

From "a bug's land" we went towards Paradise Pier. Boba Fett was posing for photos near the entrance to Paradise Pier. Another pretty long line there. And I thought the cast members were being a little overzealous in not allowing runners to just stop and take a photo or selfie from the edge of the race course.

World of Color is undergoing refurbishment so the lagoon is mostly drained and the fountains weren't running. We've gotten very used to seeing them during races and it was strange not to see them this time. Hopefully next year!

There were several Jedi in the Midway area, and they also had a very short line. They appropriately acknowledged me in my costume. :-)

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We went backstage at the parade gate near Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta and ran back behind California Screamin', and re-entered the park at the Pacific Wharf, just in time to run through the arch and into Cars Land. And the mile 5 sign.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We ran by Luigi's Flying Tires and then backstage again onto the perimeter road. The route from here to the finish was quite familiar, as a number of the Disneyland races finish this way: across Disneyland Drive and past the Paradise Pier and Disneyland Hotels to the finish line.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

The volunteers gave us our lovely Inaugural Star Wars 10K medals. We were wondering if there was something we had to do for the Rebel Challenge, to show we'd finished the 10K (such as a wrist band), but there wasn't.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

After we exited into the Family Reunion area we met up with some other friends who had finished earlier. It was just after 7:00, and still only 52 degrees, so we started getting chilled just standing around, and soon headed back to our hotel for a warm beverage and a hot shower.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We received the usual runDisney MRE box. Meh. I still don't like these. There wasn't even any chocolate in them this time - at the Disneyland races we have usually had some Almond Roca in them.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

The 6.2 miles really flew by - I didn't feel like I'd run that far at all. And in spite of the photo stops, we still finished in 1:16:07. We really had a great time - up until now last year's Tinker Bell 10K had been my most fun race, but now it's this one. I still smile thinking about it!

I REALLY love the 10K distance - it is by far my favorite. I can travel very light since I don't have to carry a hydration belt or anything with me other than my room key and phone, which fit into pockets of my running skirt. And it's really nice to be done in less than 90 minutes, and still have the rest of the day left! We actually had time to shower, walk to Disneyland, and still make the last 30 minutes of Magic Morning! (And we rode Star Tours, of course!)

This was a new 10K course, and I enjoyed it. I never felt crowded at all, not even in the early part of the race - it was really a very pleasant running experience. Of the Disney 10Ks I think I still like the Disneyland 10K course the best because of the finish through Downtown Disney, but this one is really good. It's all on Disney property after the first 1.5 miles, but because a lot of that is backstage, to me it feels more isolated from the spectators. But it was a whole lot easier to get back to our hotel (the Grand Californian) after this 10K than the Disneyland 10K since we didn't have to get across the race course. On the other hand, it was a lot harder this time for those staying at the Disneyland Hotel. They had to go left out of the finish area away from the hotel, then left on Magic Way, and left again back toward the hotel. Eddie said it was .35 miles.

The runners (and the spectators) embraced the Star Wars theme, and there were lots of runners in costume. I expected to see lots of Jedi, but actually i saw a lot more X-wing fighter pilots and Princess Leias. R2D2 was also very well represented.

As you can tell, I had a great time. For an Inaugural event I thought it went off extremely well - I didn't really see any major problems. They even did a pretty good job of anticipating the lines for the characters, and having personnel available to manage the lines. There were over 10,000 entered in the 10K, with 9195 finishers. That's a pretty good-sized field.

I suppose my only disappointment is the characters. I was REALLY hoping to see the Disney characters in their Star Wars attire out on the course. Besides, having more character opportunities would have helped shorten the lines by spreading people out more.

This event was a lot of fun, and we hope to do it again next year!

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:



January 21, 2015

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 16, 2015.

This picture set takes a look the state of some of the renovation projects going on around the resort. This weekend was the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon and Laura will be covering those events in a series of posts, too.

Starting off today at the Disneyland Hotel. Some renovation work going on around the hotel. Appears to be fall protection enhancements.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The work continues around to the Fantasy Tower.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

In Disney California Adventure, the facade of Taste Pilot's has been removed. No other visible progress in Condor Flats from Carthay Circle.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The Bakery is still behind walls with no real visible signs of progress

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The water level in Paradise Bay is down to a point where the platforms are sitting on their risers and the water is below that.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Barriers are up, blocking the lower portions of Paradise Park.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

From near the Zephyr

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Walking to Disneyland, no visible progress on the renovation work to the stroller/wheelchair rental facade.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The Big Hero 6 signage is still up at the Magic Eye Theatre in Tomorrowland.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

A look at the current state of Condor Flats from the Monorail. The concrete in front of Soarin' has holes in it and looks like it will be removed in the coming days.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The Cool Your Jets rocket engine tower is gone.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The "it's a small world" facade is under wraps. The holiday version of the attraction is still open for a few more weeks.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The clock remains visible and functional.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

A completed project -- The Royal Courtyard has reopened in New Orleans Square.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The stairs have been rebuilt

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

A couple merchandise displays/cases on the one wall.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The Haunted Mansion is closed to switch back to the regular show.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Critter Country is closed now for some renovation work. The wall is right at the exit to the Haunted Mansion.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Mesh is up on both sides of the Critter Country bridge so you cannot see what is going on from the Railroad.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Through the mesh you can see scaffolding up on the Hungry Bear restaurant.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

The Christmas lights are still on at "it's a small world" holiday, for the sections not covered by the tarp.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Finally, they have installed new white lane markers at the parking structure exit area (they were working on them when I arrived this afternoon). They do stand out at night.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/16/15

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of some of the renovation projects going at 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.



January 23, 2015

Review: Strange Magic

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"Strange Magic," a new animated feature from Lucas film Ltd., tells the tale of the denizens of a fairy tale realm, and the hijinks that ensue when love--real and pharmaceutical--enters the picture.

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The story, conceived by George Lucas, introduces us to a fairy tale kingdom divided into a Light Side (Fairy Kingdom,) and a Dark Side (Dark Forest.) The Light Side is ruled over by a King and his two Princess daughters. The eldest, spunky, adventurous Marianne, is engaged to be married to the handsome narcissist Roland. Unfortunately, their wedding day reveals some compatibility issues that leave Marianne determined to swear off love forever.

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As it happens, the border of the Light and the Dark Side is marked by primroses--a key ingredient in a magical love potion, which would seem to be the answer to a lot of problems for both Roland and Sunny the elf, who appears to have been sadly friendzoned by the younger Princess Dawn. Unfortunately, the production of said potion has been strictly curtailed by the Bog King, who seems to rule the Dark Side on a platform of "no love potions." It seems he too has had some unfortunate history that has left him determined to swear off love forever.

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Eventually, pop songs are sung, potions are made, the wrong people are dusted, and a plethora of interesting matches are made, including what appeared to be maybe a lizard and a toadstool. In her efforts to protect her sister, Marianne must interact with the Bog King, and may discover that appearances can be deceiving, and beauty lies within.

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The voice acting in the film is perfectly respectable, with such Broadway veterans as Alan (Bog King) Cumming and Kristen (Sugar Plum Fairy) Chenoweth heading up the cast and tackling the large number of pop songs that pepper the film. One standout is Elijah Kelley who invests Sunny with enough likeability to overcome the impatience one might feel at his character's persistent credulity.

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The animation is as fluid and proficient as you'd expect, coming out of Industrial Light & Magic, even if the character designs aren't entirely appealing. The goblins of the Dark Forest come out the cutest, while the fairies suffer a little from the "uncanny valley" effect, of being a little too close to real, but not quite close enough.

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Ultimately, "Strange Magic's" main antagonist ends up being the demon of comparison: With the recent outstanding output WDAS has been producing, such as "Frozen" and "Big Hero 6," we are currently experiencing a boom time for animation. Unfortunately, whether it's because of relative inexperience or a smaller project scope, "Strange Magic" isn't really competitive with them on either an artistic or story level. That is not to say it isn't enjoyable, however, and if you and yours enjoyed "Shrek," "Gnomio and Juliet," and the Disney Fairies movies, this amalgamation may be right up your alley.

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"Strange Magic" is presented by Lucasfilm Ltd. Rated PG, it stars Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio, Meredith Anne Bull, Alfred Molina, Elijah Kelley, Bob Einstein, and Peter Stormare.

Directed by Gary Rydstrom and produced by Mark S. Miller. Screenplay by David Berenbaum, Irene Mecchi, and Gary Rydstrom, based on a story by George Lucas. Musical director and
composer is Marius de Vries.

The film enters general release on January 23, 2015, and is distributed by Touchstone Pictures.

January 24, 2015

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - Half Marathon Recap

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2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Sunday, January 18

The alarm again went off at 3:30. This is starting to seem normal. That worries me.

As usual, we had a light breakfast. Lee was unhappy to discover that, while we had started with two packets of coffee in our Studio, the remaining one was decaf. An uncaffeinated Lee is not a happy Lee.

Different costumes today - Lee was an X-wing fighter pilot. I thought it was pretty effective as a running costume! Since I'd been unable to come up with something else (I used up all my creativity with Amidala), I wore my Cinderella costume again. Which has the advantage that I've run in it before, and I know it's not going to give me problems.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

This time we knew to go through Downtown Disney to get to the pre-race area, so it was a much more efficient process. We met up with friends and walked to our start corral - we were all in B. We weren't all planning to run together this time, though - just Lee and me.

For the half marathon there were some fireworks during the national anthem and for the start of the race.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

And then we were off. The course started the same as the 10K - north on Disneyland drive and east on Ball, but instead of going over the freeway we ducked into the Team Disney Anaheim area, then backstage at Disneyland. That was all before mile 1. Most of the park time part of the half marathon course was similar to the 10K the day before, though there were a few times we ran in the opposite direction. Like the 10K we ran around the perimeter of Disneyland and behind the Indiana Jones attraction, then out to the Esplanade, but then we went into Disneyland's main entrance and down Main Street to Frontierland.

Luke and Leia were posing in front of the Mark Twain's dock. Another loooong line. But this time there was a cast member pointing out a safe place to stop for a quick photo or selfie, and telling us we were fine as long as we stayed within the yellow cones (meaning we were off the actual race course). It was nice to see them bow to the inevitable and do that at most of the character stops, though at one of the stops in DCA they STILL were chasing runners off.

We ran around Big Thunder Mountain in Fantasyland. At the teacups, Lee demonstrated that an X-wing pilot can fly anything. :-)

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Leaving Fantasyland we went back towards the hub. Chewbacca was behind the Matterhorn this time. The line wasn't quite as long as the day before, but still more than we wanted to deal with!

We again ran into Tomorrowland. Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers (sounds like the name of a rock band) were in front of Star Tours. I can't remember how, but we ended up backstage near Space Mountain and then went out into Town Square, then exited Disneyland. I saw my friend Masayo cheering in the Esplanade before we went backstage between Disneyland and DCA.

We entered DCA by the Tower of Terror and ran down Hollywood Blvd. Boba Fett was near Off the Page, still with a long line, but shorter than the day before - we didn't stop, though.

Along the way between Grizzly Peak and "a bug's land" there were several sets of Storm Troopers. Which was a great idea because it meant none of them had very long lines. At some point we also saw the Star Wars Rebels characters again, but didn't stop because we'd gotten them the day before.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

This time we went counter-clockwise around Paradise Bay, and passed by The Little Mermaid and Jumpin' Jellyfish. The Jedi were in front of Silly Symphony Swings. This was the third set of Jedi we'd seen, so another example where there were multiple instances of similar characters, which made the lines a lot more reasonable!

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

After that we went out the parade gate again, and behind California Screamin', again re-entering the park by the arch into Radiator Springs. There was some nice lighting on Ornament Valley as the sun was starting to rise.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We exited the park between Flik's Fun Fair and Luigi's Flying Tires, and found ourselves going south on Harbor Blvd. About mile 4.5 of the race, and we'd been on property for about four miles. Quite an improvement over the Avengers half marathon course, in my opinion. One of the best parts about park time is that it makes the race seem to go by more quickly - we were over 1/3 done with the race when we left the parks!

As we ran down Harbor there was a spectacular sunrise.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

There's about a mile of Harbor Blvd where the course is going both directions - outgoing runners at ~miles 5-6, and returning runners about miles 11-12. We saw some of the early finishers - we didn't see the men's winner, who was almost done by then, but we saw the first woman runner - yeah, she was about 6 miles ahead of us...

Harbor is a very wide street, and runners had two lanes in each direction. That made for very easy and uncrowded conditions. It was great.

In the median was a guy dressed as Chewbacca. He looked just as good as the one in Disneyland, and did NOT have a 30 minute line. The spectators really embraced the Star Wars theme, and we saw lots with Star Wars-inspired signs, and some in costumes. I saw a guy dressed as a Jedi master and said "May the Force be with you". He saw Lee's X-wing fighter costume and replied: "Stay on target." :-)

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

I guess one thing I haven't talked about is runner costumes. I think R2D2, or something reminiscent of him, was what I saw the most of. There were also a lot of Princess Leias, a number of them accompanied by Han Solos. I didn't see nearly as many Jedi as I expected - Lee suggested that the robes would've been too warm for running. Though we did see one guy in a complete Chewbacca costume! Yikes.

There were a lot of X-wing pilots, and a few runners in Darth Vader helmets. I saw almost no Disney characters, and I actually received quite a bit of attention in my Cinderella outfit - probably because the spectators could easily tell who I was. :-)

The high school bands and cheerleaders were out, also, and several of the bands were playing Star Wars music.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

By about mile 6.5 we were in the city of Garden Grove, and had turned west on Garden Grove Blvd. There were a number of policemen, fire departments, and paramedics along the course to cheer us on.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Around mile 7 we entered more of a residential district, so no more bands for a while, in consideration of the residents who were probably still trying to sleep! I noticed that we crossed "Newhope Street" - how appropriate for a Star Wars-themed race! (For those who are not big Star Wars fans, the original Star Wars movie's subtitle was "Episode IV: A New Hope.")

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We had heard the Disney had invited "Costumers" (though we would call them Cosplayers) to officially come out dressed in Star Wars attire to cheer us on, and we passed the first set of them about mile 8. That's at a point in the race when we're starting to need a distraction and some encouragement, and since we were still in a residential area, no bands or musical groups were appropriate. But these people were terrific. There were so many wonderful costumes!

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

And even a special vehicle - notice R2D2 in the back. (The license plate was OBISHWN.)

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Soon after that we went down Garden Grove's Historic Main Street. This was only one block long, but it was a nice area with lots of shops.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Then we headed north again and just before mile 9 we encountered the second set of Costumers - a much larger group than the first. Wow! Lots of different costumes, and a much better variety of characters than we'd seen in the parks. Honestly, after seeing them I think there was really no reason to wait to see the characters in the parks - these were even better!

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We had friends who were dressed as Leia and an X-wing pilot, and it was wonderful to see them out there!

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

In miles 9-10 we went east on Chapman Avenue.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

It seemed like we had a few more residents/spectators out cheering for us than we had in miles 6-8 - the support was great. The residential areas that we ran through seemed very nice - there were several parks as well as this one more natural area.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Just before mile 11 we turned north on Harbor again - we'd already run this stretch of road, but in the opposite direction. All the runners had gone through on the other side and they were starting to clean everything up, but they hadn't re-opened the southbound lanes yet.

After a mile we turned left on Katella and ran around the outside of California Adventure. This was different, since for the other three half marathons the last mile is all on Disney property. We saw Colin and Beci cheering - and also this guy. :-)

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We turned onto Disneyland Drive and then into the Simba parking lot. On the course map I'd seen that there was a loop in this lot, and I was a little concerned about that. It seemed like a cruel place to add some extra distance! But it was short, and we were soon on the familiar final 1/4 mile finishing stretch past the Paradise Pier and the Disneyland Hotels to the finish line.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

I'd really hoped to finish in 2:35 or less and we did it: 2:33:53!

This time the volunteers were handing out mylar sheets! Nice, because it was a cool and overcast morning. We also got our half marathon medals.

And then went to the Coast-to-Coast tent to get both our Rebel Challenge and Coast-to-Coast medals.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

They looked our bib number up on the computer and matched us to the photo taken at the Expo, and also verified that we had a finishing time for the 10K. It was quick and efficient. For Coast-to-Coast we just showed the wristband we'd received at the Expo and got that medal.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend


The medals are nice - the Rebel Challenge is a spinner, with Yoda on one side and Vader on the other. The ribbon is also different colors on each side. I mentioned this in a previous blog, but one thing I noticed about the Half Marathon medal: it does not say "Inaugural" on it. That most important word is only on the ribbon, but not the medal. :-( The 5K, 10K, and Rebel Challenge medals all say "Inaugural".

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

We got our runDisney boxes, and had someone take our photo, but then we went back to our room - it was chilly to just be standing around, and we just wanted to sit down/shower/get a hot beverage/all of the above.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

All in all, this was a terrific experience. The Star Wars 10K is my new favorite "more fun than anyone should have while running" race. The half marathon was great, and I really enjoyed the course. It was wide and fast and made for very easy running. It certainly wasn't crowded, so it'll be interesting to see how many more entries will be added to next year's race. There were about 12,000 entered this year, with 10,374 official finishers. While I liked this course a lot the Tinker Bell half marathon course is still my favorite because it spends more time on Disney property, and I think the downtown Anaheim areas are a little more interesting.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

When it comes to the overall race experience, though, I think this one is my new favorite half marathon. The organizers brought so many wonderful elements of Star Wars to these races. There were the costumes worn by the race announcers and DJs, the movie clips while we waited in the corrals, the Stars Wars "crawl" at the beginning of the races, and the marvelous music and sound effects in the parks.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

I only wish that the Disney characters in their Star Wars costumes had been out in the parks. They didn't even have to be available for photos - they could have put them on the ramp of Innoventions or someplace like that where we could only see them, and that would've been fine with me.

And my very favorite part was the Costumers who were out on the course. The costumes were amazing - it was great to see such a variety of characters from the Star Wars universe - both the heroes and the villains. As I said earlier, there really wasn't a reason to wait in character lines in the park when there were so many more out on the course! And they were so very enthusiastic and supportive, too. I'd like to express my thanks to runDisney for inviting them to participate in both the Avengers and Star Wars half marathons, and I sincerely hope that they will be invited back again next year. And thank you to all of you who came out - it really meant a lot to the runners for us to see you, especially at that point in the race. We get a burst of energy from your cheers and enthusiasm at a time when we need that.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Thank you to everyone who came out to support us: the bands and cheerleaders, friends and family of runners, the kids who high-fived us, and the kind people who handed out orange slices, red licorice, and pretzels.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

And thank you to the volunteers who checked us in at the Expo, kept us supplied with water and PowerAde, distributed medals and mylar and food at the finish, and performed all of the other tasks that are so essential to a race. Thank you to the cast members and police departments who kept us safe, and the medical teams who were ready to assist if needed.

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

And that's just some examples of the people that we SAW - there's an awful lot of people behind the scenes, too. The audio visual people, the graphic designers, the people who set up and tear down the bleachers and the tents and deal with all of those barricades and orange cones - and let's not forget those who have the less-than-pleasant duty of servicing the porta-potties! :-)

The entire race weekend was a lot of fun, and we definitely hope to participate in the Rebel Challenge again next year!

2015 Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:


January 26, 2015

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, January 23, 2015.

Since this is the off season once again I focus on the refurbishments going on around the parks in this post, the full picture set includes my usual assortment of pictures as I roamed the parks. You can definitely tell it is off season by the list of closures, and more are on the way.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

No scaffolding yet, but the castle walkway is blocked and moat is drained. Soon this will be covered.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

A couple signs with some info about the Castle on them.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The current state of the moat. A little water still in it.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The West side of the moat.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The back side of the Castle is walled off and the east/Tomorrowland walkway is closed too.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Peter Pan closes soon for some renovation work. Here is a video from Friday (as always the dark ride videos really do not do them justice)

Next up a trip aboard the Monorail to check out Condor Flats. All the concrete near Taste Pilot's Grill has been removed.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

And a lot of the concrete in front of Soarin' is gone too.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The trees behind the billboard are gone. But as of now looks like the billboard is staying.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The Apricot Lane Boutique in Downtown Disney is closed...forgot to mention that last week when I walked by.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The white tarps now have a photo of the "small world" Facade on them and the clock tower is covered. The attraction is open this weekend but closes Monday for the holiday removal.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Jumping over to New Orleans Square, the La Masquerade store is currently closed for some work.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The Haunted Mansion opened a day early.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

My pictures of the new window at the exit to the attic in the Haunted Mansion came out poorly. This is the best of the bunch with some Photoshop enhancement. You can see what looks like a bat matching the queue design in the window. It appears to be very temporary to me.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Went for a cruise aboard the Mark Twain. A look into Critter Country, which is closed, the barriers mark a walkway for cast members to go through the construction areas.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Work on the Briar Patch facade

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The Hungry Bear has scaffolding and work going on.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The Big Hero 6 Meet and Greet is gone and some arcade games are back in the Starcade. (I think this happened several weeks ago but I had not walked down this way).

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Stopped by the Market House, there are now Disney Parks/Starbucks tumblers and mugs available.

A look at the two sides of the tumbler

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The You Are Here Collection mug. They are specific to each park. (No Downtown Disney - that has the generic California mug as of last check).

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Over at DCA here is the Starbucks mug available on Buena Vista Street at the Cafe

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The rockwork at the entrance to Condor Flats has been marked...demolition is coming soon it looks like.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Looking into Condor Flats.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The Bugs Theater is closed for refurbishment too. So right now there are no 3D films with all three theaters closed or re-purposed. No word yet on what is going on with Bugs or Magic Eye but best bet is more film previews are coming. I would like to see something for the 60th.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The walls are down and new signs, awnings, and a car at the Bakery Tour.

Can anyone tell the year of the old Ford parked out front?

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The old entrance (I say that because unclear if this is an entrance/exit or both now).

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The same Bakery Tour sign over this doorway.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Grizzly River Run is closed for annual refurbishment

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Most of the water is now gone from Paradise Bay and they are cleaning it and working on the World of Color fountains.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The bakery sign lit up this evening.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The entrance/exit

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The car headlights are on at night.

Renovation Project Updates: Disneyland Resort 1/23/15

The audio on the Disneyland Railroad has been upgraded. Here is a video clip passing through the Grand Canyon and Primeval World dioramas.


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.



January 30, 2015

Disneyland's Diamond Anniversary Announcement

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Disneyland's Diamond Anniversary Announcement

On Wednesday, January 28, Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, accompanied by Steve Davison, VP for Parades and Spectaculars, announced some of the plans for Disneyland's upcoming 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration this summer. This has been long anticipated, and ended months of speculation and rumor.

You can read the full press release HERE.

It was no surprise that the announcements included a new fireworks show, Disneyland Forever, and a new parade, Paint the Night, both at Disneyland. We've come to expect a new parade and fireworks for any of these big anniversary events. But there's also a new World of Color show coming to Disney California Adventure in honor of the anniversary: World of Color - Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. All three will start on May 22, 2015.

The new World of Color show is fittingly centered on Walt Disney: his legacy, imagination, and his dream of Disneyland, apparently as told by Mickey Mouse using fountains, animation, projections, lasers, and other special effects.

Disneyland's Diamond Anniversary Announcement

I personally am very happy that they are tying this all back to Walt Disney, and I'm looking forward to seeing it.

(A mouse and his lasers - let's all be very relieved that this story isn't being told by Stitch.)

And that Mickey is one busy mouse, since over in Disneyland he'll be "painting the night" in "dazzling Disney dreams" in the new nighttime electrical light parade. Though it harkens back to the beloved Main Street Electrical Parade, and will feature a new take on the iconic Baroque Hoedown music, Paint the Night is an all-new parade, presented with 1.5 million brilliant, individually controlled LEDs. Parade units will include characters from both Disney and Pixar movies such as "Toy Story", "Monsters, Inc.", "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", and, of course, "Frozen."

Disneyland's Diamond Anniversary Announcement

When we visited Tokyo Disneyland last year my favorite thing was their amazing Electrical Parade, so I'm very excited to see a state-of-the-art light parade coming here. Though I'm glad I'm not responsible for programming 1.5 million LEDs!

The new Disneyland Forever fireworks show will integrate pyrotechnics, special effects, and image projection to immerse guests in scenes from classic stories like "Peter Pan" and "The Jungle Book." With the use of projection mapping technology, Sleeping Beauty Castle, "it's a small world", the Matterhorn, Main Street USA, and the Rivers of America all become part of the story. And the best part is that it means the show is designed to be viewed from all around Disneyland, and not just from Main Street. In fact, according to Steve Davison, the "story" will be slightly different depending on the viewing area, encouraging guests to return and see it again from another location. Davison also hinted that Walt Disney will also be brought into this show "in a big way. We might or might not see him in the orange groves?"

Disneyland's Diamond Anniversary Announcement

In addition to the new shows, the entire Disneyland Resort area will be decorated with Diamond Celebration decor and banners. Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle and Disney California Adventure's Carthay Circle Theater will be "diamondized", each with its own diamond medallion. New lighting effects and additional diamond accents will create even more sparkle after dark. And of course we can expect new food offerings and merchandise that follow the "diamond" theme.

Though given all of the new technology we're going to be seeing, I'm not sure that "Diamond" is quite right, and I think this should be called the "Silicon Anniversary: Disneyland Gets its Geek On!" :-)


January 31, 2015

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary - Additional Details

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If you watched the Diamond Anniversary Q&A video that we posted (below) then you already know most of this. If you didn't, then this blog is a collection of facts, musings, quotes, and other things that I found interesting in that session.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I think this anniversary is all about silicon and not diamonds. :-) Which I think is terrific, since I'm a geek at heart, and I love that Disney uses the latest technology, and develops their own cutting edge technology, to create magic. What's the saying? "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." (Arthur C. Clarke) Not to diminish magic, but technology has always been an integral part of many of Disney's "magical" experiences. But at the heart of all of that technology is endless imagination, and what's more magical than that?

And there's so much technological magic in these new anniversary events! It was really fun to hear Steve Davison, Executive for Parades and Spectaculars (and how cool a title is THAT?) speak not so much the technology itself, but how they will use it to tell the stories. John Addis, show director for Disneyland Forever, said this: "Story is up there foremost. Innovations, the technology, everything else, but if it doesn't have that heart in the story - that's what we're striving for so that there's a narrative that we all believe in, that everybody can understand, that touches everyone's heart."

Another thing that I took away from the announcements: Disney recognizes that they are dealing with a new generation of tech-savvy kids. Davison had this to say about Paint the Night: "To have it come down Main Street USA again for this new generation, but really inspired by the original...we're taking it to that next level for today's kids." And with that in mind, most of the characters and floats are from newer movies familiar to this generation of children.

So now a few random things...

"Immersive", "dazzling", and "brilliant". We're going to hear those words a lot. :-)

The Diamond Celebration opens May 22, but has no closing date. It will be "a long celebration." :-)

As the three new shows are nighttime offerings, Mickey's Soundsational Parade will continue to operate as the daytime parade. Fantasmic! will also continue performances on the Rivers of America. In November and December the evening holiday shows, "Believe...in Holiday Magic" and "World of Color - Winter Dreams" will not be offered this year, but the "A Christmas Fantasy" parade will return as usual.

Disneyland Forever will be 12-14 minutes long and World of Color - Celebrate! will be 22-24 minutes long. The new World of Color show will be "very different" according to Executive Producer Sayre Wiseman, though she did not elaborate on that.

Tracy Halas, choreographer for Paint the Night, when asked what people should expect, said "Brilliance." :-) Steve added: "It's very bright", and indicated that they had to turn it down. Tracy went on to say: "What's really interesting and inspiring about this parade is that every person, every float, every part of it is seamless from beginning to end. Everything is a beautiful, spectacular, visual sight."

I'm really fascinated by some of the things we heard about the parade - apparently the floats are smart and interact with the costumes, everybody has a computer on board, and everything communicates with everything else.

Steve Davison said he really wanted to bring the Electrical Parade back to Disneyland. Other than the drum there are no returning parade elements from the original parade, but it's the "biggest, coolest drum you've probably ever seen." And the "Baroque Hoedown" music will be back: "It's wild" and "fresh" - I have to admit that makes me a little nervous. The parade will be similar but different than the one that is already running at Hong Kong Disneyland since they were developed in tandem. We were assured that the Disneyland version will have some surprises - which they wouldn't tell us about.

Disneyland Forever seems to be the least developed of the three at this point, though the story is complete and they will be going to London in a couple of weeks to record the music at Abbey Road. The little sample that we saw during the announcement (unfortunately I only captured about half of it) was very rough and just "all weird little test footage", since the Main Street projection mapping just started.

One of the things I am most intrigued in is the idea that this fireworks show is actually intended to be watched from different areas of the park. As Steve Davison said: "There was this big thing about the 50th [anniversary fireworks show] 'you have to watch it from the hub', and I'm like 'we're not doing that again.' And that's why I'm putting it out there from the beginning, we're going to make this stuff so cool everywhere that you will want to go and see it and have little things hiding here and there."

And Davison, regarding the finale:"The finale that we just got made everyone cry. And that's the #1 thing. When you hear that music for the finale you totally cry. And I won't tell you the opening, but it's truly fabulous. I really wanted to bring Walt into this in a big way. We might or might not see him in the orange groves..."

"So we're going to do things that I think will play on many different levels. That kind of tell you the history of Disneyland, but in fun ways. And then we're going to LAUNCH it into the future."

And speaking of the future...I'm looking forward to seeing what May 22 has in store for us, in this year of silicon surprises!


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About January 2015

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in January 2015. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2014 is the previous archive.

February 2015 is the next archive.

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