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December 19, 2015

Disneyland Resort - Super Hero HQ

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks featuring a look at the Super Hero HQ in the Tomorrowland Expo Center (formerly Innoventions). This space re-opened on Monday 11/16 and is located on the upper floor. The ground floor is the Star Wars Launch Bay.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

Looking at the central core from near the VAULT area. To the right is the gift shop to my left is Iron Man and Thor. Behind me the VAULT with Spider-Man.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
The V.A.U.L.T. is currently hosting Spider-Man. It was about half an hour to meet him this afternoon..
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
Interesting the props are from Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy though. Hints of future meet and greets?
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
A look around the gift shop which is in the former ASIMO space.   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

D-Tech On Demand smart phone cases are available.
  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
I found this sign very interesting. Notice the characters it highlights. Hints of things to come? None of these are currently meeting...right now it is Thor and Spider-Man.

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015



Moving on..



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  

Looks like more to come...a sign but nothing in the space.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015


The Microsoft video game area is still here. Some new signage and colors.

  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015



Iron Man area remains just as it was before  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015


The Thor exhibits and meet and greet are still the same.  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015



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.








November 19, 2015

Star Wars: Season of the Force

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We continue our look at Disneyland's new Star Wars celebration in Tomorrowland, with some of the new attraction additions and overlays.

[As always, any unattributed photos or videos are courtesy of Disney.]

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Over in the Tomorrowland (née Magic Eye) Theater, "Star Wars: Path of the Jedi" has taken over Captain EO's erstwhile home to showcase a visual primer of the Star Wars filmography. Loosely following the history of Luke Skywalker, it serves as an introduction or reminder of iconic images and concepts to prepare viewers for the upcoming film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

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Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
has received an update in the form of a new destination--the planet Jakku, from "The Force Awakens." Along with the new environs, passengers will get a glimpse at some new characters from the film (no spoilers, though,) and some new additional easter eggs hidden within the traditional locations. All speeders will visit Jakku, with the second destination randomized.

The biggest change up is in Space Mountain's transformation into Hyperspace Mountain. In this new adventure, a star destroyer off Jakku is the catalyst for a colossal firefight between Rebel X-wing Starfighters and Imperial TIE fighters.

Within the queue, the display screens have been updated to reflect your mission objectives.

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I personally thought this was a very fun reimagineering of this attraction. The new soundtrack, inspired by the classical John Williams score and recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, really elevates the experience--much as it does with the movies themselves.


“Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, farm boy.”

There's even more to come, as on December 8th, Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple will open up and replace the popular Jedi Training Academy. In this interactive experience, younglings will find out whether they can go the distance as a Jedi at a secret and ancient Jedi temple. These trials will require candidates to face not only their own spirit, but formidable villains such as Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister Inquisitor from "Star Wars Rebels."

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So quite a bit for the Star Wars fan to discover at "Season of the Force." Anyone looking to ramp up their excitement for "The Force Awakens" should check it out while it's here, because although there is no announced ending date, a season traditionally does not remain with you always, unlike The Force.

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November 17, 2015

Season of the Force: Star Wars Launch Bay

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This week, Disneyland debuted a brand-new celebration of all things Star Wars--Season of the Force.

[Unless otherwise attributed, all photos and videos courtesy of Disney.]

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Taking place in Tomorrowland, a Star Wars retheming has been given to several of the locations there, including the Carousel Theater...

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The Magic Eye Theater...

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And Space Mountain.

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In addition, Star Tours--The Adventures Continue has received a new adventure on the planet Jakku with some debuting characters from the upcoming film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

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In today's installment, we'll look at the Launch Bay, which replaces Innoventions in the bottom floor of the now-stationary Carousel Theater, and which is the central hub of all the Star Wars activities.

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Right inside the entrance is the Launch Bay Theater, which is currently playing a great video featuring insight from a wide assortment of luminaries involved with Star Wars, such as J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, and Gareth Edwards. Also located around the lower level are themed galleries displaying replicas of props, costumes, and models from all reaches of the Star Wars universe.

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Over in the Light and Dark Side galleries, guest can peruse replicas of helmets and lightsabers utilized by famous heroes and villains of the Jedi and Sith.

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In the Preview Gallery, exhibits from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" are on display, again with both Light and Dark sides represented.

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There is also a Starship Gallery, dedicated to iconic starships and their famed captains.

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Over in the Cantina, your typical wretched hive of scum and villainy, photo-ops abound with establishment-provided sabacc and holochess tables. Who knows which Star Wars characters may drop by to interact as well? Hopefully they'll take to you better than Dr. Evazan took to Luke.

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Throughout the Launch Bay, you'll note the pervasive use of Aurebesh--the writing system used to transcribe Basic, the most common language in Star Wars. (Another fun detail is revealed on a closer look at the area's Cast Members' name badges, and specifically at their city...or planet...of origin.)

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The Star Wars Game Center has systems set up for players to experience the latest Star Wars video games. Currently they are demoing the new Star Wars playsets from Disney Infinity 3.0, with some content and game codes available exclusively at this location.

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The heart of the Launch Bay experience is the live-action character interactions all around the building. First Order stormtroopers will be patrolling the outside of the area, while guests within may find themselves face to face with Boba Fett, Chewbacca, or the Dark Lord of the Sith himself.

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I have a bad feeling about this...

For those who want to take home mementos of their time in Launch Bay, merchandise of all price points is available at the Launch Bay Cargo.

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For the action figure collectors, vintage Star Wars actions figures were scanned and reproduced in 3-D for a new, less civilized age.

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Whether your tastes run towards a souvenir shirt...

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...Or something a bit more ostentatious, Disney has you covered.

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But of course, the Launch Bay is only a part of what Disneyland has in store for you in Seasons of the Force. More to come!


April 29, 2015

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, April 24, 2015.

A Tomorrowland movie sneak peek poster as you enter the park.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

A Sneak Peek of the upcoming Tomorrowland film has moved into the theater.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

The trashcans right around the theater have the logo for the film on them.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

The entrance area for the theater features a look at how the World's Fair was brought to the film with concept art and other pieces.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

A look at the World's Fair Exhibit in the waiting area. It shows the original reference material and how it was interpreted for the film. The film shows the World's Fair through the lens of a persons' memory so it may not be 100% accurate because of his memory.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

While waiting for the next film the LCD screens show concept art and eventually a video.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Walked into the theater and found a seat. As usual no pictures or video allowed during the preview. The preview shows an extended sequence from the World's Fair and then some other clips/trailer sequences from the film.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

The back portion of the Starcade features an exhibit on the movie.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

The one wall features concept art from the film and videos talking about the movie.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

There are four other main display cases with props from the film in the space.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Hall of Invention showcase

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Spacesuits

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Monitor Console

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Doubling back to the large wall and a closer look at some of the artwork on it.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

Disneyland Resort Photo Update - Tomorrowland Sneak Peek

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.



April 16, 2013

Iron Man Tech presented by Stark Industries @ Disneyland Innoventions

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, April 12, 2013.

A new exhibit opened at Innoventions this weekend. Iron Man Tech presented by Stark Industries. This exhibit is being listed as part of the Limited Time Magic promotion. On Friday there was a Disneyland Annual Passholder Preview event where you were able to see the exhibit and then Tomorrowland remained open for two hours after park closing. To attend you just had to have a valid Disneyland Annual Passport and show up to get a wristband for the event. Distribution started at 1:00pm at Innoventions. I arrived a little after 1pm and the line wrapped around the first floor and stretched down the old entrance and out into Tomorrowland.

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The line moved rather quickly as they had cast members scanning passes, then a second group putting wristbands on and then you walked by a table and were given an Iron Man 3 poster.

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Here is the poster.

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Innoventions has received some new banners for the Iron Man Tech.

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The event started at 6:00pm. I arrived about quarter to 6:00 and the line was the longest line I can remember seeing for Innoventions. It filled the upper level, ramp, and down into Tomorrowland eventually.

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The entrance to Innoventions received some Iron Man signage too.

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The line stretched into Tomorrowland.

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The line took about 45 minutes to get through. Once inside the former Honda/Segway area houses this exhibit. There are two parts, the first is Tony Stark's Hall of Armor featuring the Mark I through VII suits and the 42 suit.

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The Mark I through VII suits.

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The second area of the exhibit is the Suit Up experience where you can virtually try out an Iron Man Suit.

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Some more props in the queue for the experience.

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After working through the queue you are directed to one of two stations and are fitted with your suit and given a chance to test it out. Here is a video clip of a guest going through some of the experience.


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A closer look at the screen during a test run.

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After the experience you exit through a walkway lined with images from the film.

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Hope you enjoyed this look at the Iron Man Tech presented by Stark Industries at Innoventions. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.



June 5, 2011

Disney Soundsational Summer Press Event - What's Next!

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As promised, here's a number of videos from the Disney Soundsational Summer press event.

There was quite a bit of info presented in the What's Next presentation, which was held in the construction area just outside one of the entrances to what will be the new Cars Land. Disneyland President George Kalogridis talked about the DCA Expansion and some of the other changes that are still coming to DCA.

Kathy Mangum and Kevin Rafferty, the lead Imagineers for Cars Land, gave a really interesting presentation on Cars Land, including a video overview where they described what the buildings are, and what will be going in them. They went into quite a bit more detail about the theming than I have heard before - I thought it was fascinating.

Joe Rohde gave a very interesting presentation on Aulani, the new Disney resort that will be opening in Hawaii in August. It's obvious that he's very passionate about it. I'm not even going to try to go into all of the detail - just watch the video. :-)

That's all the video that we have for now - I will have more photos of the hotel suites and some other updates later.



May 22, 2011

Star Tours - The Adventures Continue - Early Departure Event

Lee Zimmerman, Laura's husband, is guest blogging this report on the Star Tours Early Entry Event at Disneyland on Friday, May 20.
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Laura had to work Friday and it was my off day, so she drafted me, typically her behind-the-scenes video guy, to attend this event in her place. Since I am a huge Star Wars fan and much more fond of motion simulator rides than Laura, I was happy to oblige. Regular readers of her blog may feel like you know me, since you've seen lots of pictures of me in her blog posts.

While the updated Star Tours attraction at Walt Disney World opened May 20th as part of the first Star Wars Weekend for the year, Star Tours at Disneyland does not officially open until June 3rd. However 1200 lucky fans, plus one guest each, selected from those that applied on the Disney Parks Blog, got a preview of the ride on May 20th during the Star Tours Early Departure Event.

Star Tours has been off-line since last year while Disney Imagineers, in concert with Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic, updated the ride to incorporate 3D and many more locations from the expanded Star Wars universe. For those who have forgotten, there have been three new Star Wars movies since the original Star Tours attraction was created. While the simulation technology and the ride vehicles are the same, everything else about the ride has been upgraded, including the queue, the "safety" video shown before boarding and all of the video and choreographed motion that make the ride what it is. The queue will remind anyone who has ever traveled via air of the airport experience, complete with security scans and luggage screening. After a funny 2-minute safety video, staring the new robot spokesperson Aly San San, guests board Flight 1401 for a 5-minute ride that can be one of over 50 different experiences based on randomly selected combinations of planets visited and characters you meet. If you want to know what happens during the ride, skip to the spoiler paragraph at the end of the story.

I arrived at the event right at 7:30AM and most of the 2000+ guests were already in line. Check-in officially started at 4:30AM and cast members told me that the first guests were actually there by 3:30AM. My media host had been checking folks in since that time and said he had checked in guests from as far away as Washington state and Wisconsin. The guests were queued up from the Disneyland front entrance all the way back around the shuttle bus drop-off area.


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These folks were towards the end of the line but they were excited to ride the new Star Tours and they were enjoying the hot beverages Disney provided for the those waiting to enter the park


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Some of the over 2000 guests waiting at 7:30AM to enter Disneyland and start their Early Departure adventure.


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This "spacy" duo was playing arrangements of Star Wars and other Tomorrowland-appropriate music to entertain the crowd while they waited.

We entered Disneyland at 8:00AM and made our way to the Star Tours queue where everyone waited for the 9:00AM park opening with a combination of patience and expectation. It was early, so it wasn't a very energetic crowd (at least on the way in, they were a LOT more energetic after the ride). I found out when I interviewed several of the first folks in line that they had been up all night - attending the 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' premiere and then this event.

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Finally, filling the actual ride queue!


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These folks were excited to get on the ride.

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A cast member showing off his new Star Tours costume.

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The mural outside Star Tours has been repainted and shows the new (old?) Starspeeder 1000's.


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Star Tours gets Fastpass, but it takes over the Buzz Lightyear Fastpass distribution so Buzz has Fastpass no more.

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A couple of the cast members were playing with lightsabers, including this one who challenged this adult guest to the Jedi Training Academy lightsaber routine.


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R2D2 and C-3PO in the updated ride queue. Photo ©Disneyland


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A sample of the new graphics - here of the Wookie planet Kashyyyk. Imagine this on a big screen, while wearing 3D glasses and the vehicle you are riding in is rocking and rolling to match the action. Photo ©Disneyland

We were able to interview the first official park guests to ride the new Star Tours, they were all very happy with the new ride. I've included pictures and quotes from the first few riders below:


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"The 3D was really good, much better than I expected. The sound was also excellent and really added to the ride."


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"Amazing! Cool!"
"We're looking forward to doing all the versions"
"I really liked the 3D effects"
"It was familiar, but updated"


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"It's better than old one - newer, revamped"


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Clearly Star Tours fans - no surprise they were towards the front of the line.


I got to ride too and have to say I agree with everyone above. On my trip we visited Kashyyyk and Naboo - flying through the jungle and going under water really highlighted just how good the new 3D movie footage is. Everything looks photorealistic and the 3D is effective without any gimmicks. I sat on the far edge of a row and I wear glasses, but the 3D effects worked just fine for me. The 3D combined with the motion of the simulator makes the ride even more realistic than the original, and at least on this first ride, the motion seemed less jerky. I liked that C3P0 and R2D2 seem more capable than Rex in the original Star Tours and this time the Starspeeders have guns!

Disney has made available a Galactic Passport on-line that you can customize with your own picture and use to track which of the many Star Tours variations you've experienced. Go to http://startourspassport.com to make and print your own Galactic Passport.


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The remodeled Star Trader shop is open and it looks very nice. There is now a (nearly?) full-size X-Wing hanging from the ceiling and design details that carry out the travel theme from the ride. For example, the moving walkway overhead and signs throughout the store. The store has an expanded selection of Star Wars merchandise - I saw some new T-shirts and a selection of hats that I think are new including Yoda, Boba Fett and R2D2 mouse ears. There were also some new Star Tours-specific shirts and hats. The old arcade is also open, but now it is part store and part arcade, with the arcade machines and a second "build your own lightsaber" station around the edges.


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The ride exits into Star Traders


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The Star Wars merchandise has expanded from just the side alcove to much of the store - so the X Wing overhead is appropriate.


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There is a moving walkway overhead where you can see the silhouettes of many interesting characters - including some familiar ones - go by.


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New Star Tours merchandise


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Photo ©Disneyland

***Spoiler Alert***
As described in the Disney Press Release for the event: "Through a series of mishaps C-3PO finds himself in the pilot's seat - and it's up to him and R2-D2 to navigate their passengers through the galaxy. However, the tyrannical Empire is out to stop the Starspeeder at all costs. C-3PO and R2-D2 take the controls and try to outwit and outrun the Imperial forces and a galactic bounty hunter hired to pursue the spaceship and its passengers. Utilizing the 50+ random story combinations, the Starspeeder then embarks on a wild trip through the galaxy, visiting several planets made famous in the Star Wars films. Among the locations that might provide haven from the Empire's pursuit are the icy planet of Hoth, the lush jungles of Kashyyyk and the underwater Gungan world of Naboo. And along the way guests may encounter Star Wars characters that offer to help (or hinder) their journey, including Yoda, Admiral Ackbar, Darth Vader and Boba Fett. 'Skytroopers,' a legion of stormtroopers created just for the Star Tours attraction story, might even join in the chase."
***Spoiler Alert***




February 26, 2010

Captain EO Returns to Disneyland

Captain EO, the 3D film starring Michael Jackson which ran at Disneyland from 1986-1997, re-opened at Disneyland on Tuesday, February 23 as Captain EO Tribute.

In addition to Michael Jackson starring as the title character, the cast features Anjelica Huston as the Supreme Leader. It was produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The 17-minute film features original songs and new Disney-created space characters with magical transformation powers, such as Hooter, Fuzzball, and Major and Minor Domo.

Captain EO is playing multiple times a day in Tomorrowland in the theater formerly occupied by Honey I Shrunk the Audience. Disney is saying it will be showing for a limited time, though there is no word on just how long that might be. According to Imagineer Tony Baxter, at this point there are no plans to bring it to Walt Disney World.

Jeanine Yamanaka attended the media event on Opening Day and shares some of her thoughts, photos, and interviews.

Guests began lining up outside the park the night before - there was a separate line for the EO crowd:

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Once inside, there were signs directing guests back to Tomorrowland:

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New signs on the entrance - those in the queue attended a showing for the Early Magic Morning crowd before the "official" first showing at 1000.

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Captain EO cast members set up the queue for a busy day:

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More new signs:

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Disneyland president George Kalogridis was in attendance.

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Two of the original performers from EO were there. Debbie Lee Carrington (middle) played Idy, half of the two-headed "Geex". Renee Colette (right) was a dancer in the film.

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Some thoughts:

-- No photos or video were allowed during the movie.
-- The film uses a new 70mm print and the audio is great.
-- Some effects were new, like seat motion, but quite a few were missing, like the smoke, lasers, and starfield.
-- It will apparently be open until they notice a crowd drop-off, at which time they'll close it.
-- They have no plans for a replacement, since they don't know how long they'll have it open.


After the first show Jeanine had the opportunity for several interviews.

Imagineer Tony Baxter talks about bringing the movie back as well as its future:

Debbie Lee Carrington shares some of her experiences in making the movie:

Rick Rothschild, In-Theater Effects Director, on bringing Captain EO back:

New merchandise is available both with the classic Captain EO logo, and with the new Captain EO Tribute logo. In this clip, Merchandise Manager Cheryl Stockwell talks about some of the new merchandise:

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An embroidered Captain EO nylon jacket will be available in mid-March.

Note: Captain EO merchandise is available only at Disneyland park, and is not available for purchase via Disneyland Merchandise Guest Services.


April 25, 2008

Weekday Fun at Disneyland and DCA

Out-of-town friends gave me the excuse to play hooky from work one afternoon last week and spend some time at Disney's California Adventure and Disneyland. And I thought I'd share a few observations.

My friend AK and I attended the Miner Family Wine Tasting Seminar at DCA's Food and Wine Festival. I was pleased to see that even on a Thursday afternoon the tasting area was about 3/4 full! There was also a very good turnout for the cooking demonstration, though we didn't attend, so I don't know if it was full. (By the way, the Miner Family Rosato is still a very nice wine!)

When we went over to Disneyland, AK suggested that we ask about using the "Observation Oupost" viewing area at the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. The Cast Members weren't as organized/helpful with this as they could have been, but eventually we got in there. The CM at the end of the Nemo line told us we needed to go to the exit, rather than waiting in the 45-minute line, so that was nice. So we walked in the Exit...and then stood there for several minutes while various CMs walked by and ignored us. We finally got the attention of one, and explained we wanted to use the viewing room, and he said, sure, but someone was in it (the light outside was red), but when the light turned green someone would come and get us.

So after a few minutes the light turned green, but no one came out of the room, and no CMs paid any more attention to us. We finally asked another one who looked over, saw the green light was on, and took us over there and got the experience going for us. (It turns out the exit is on the opposite side of the room, which is why we didn't see anyone come out.)

I must say that with that high-definition large-screen TV, I think the viewing is actually better in the room than it is when you're looking out of the tiny little porthole. The narration at the beginning and the end is a little different, since the sub captain welcomed us as those joining them from the remote marine observation post. But once the sub leaves the docks, the narration and sights are the same.

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Marine Observation Outpost logo

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Back over at DCA I watched the Pixar Play Parade with my friends Randi and Rick. I hadn't seen the parade since opening day on March 14 - the following week the "bug's life" float failed during the parade (one of the "flower swings" actually detached from the float, but fortunately no one was hurt), and the parade was on hiatus for almost a week while they ran safety checks. There are a few differences in the new version. The "bug's life" segment has not returned - instead they've added this weird "TinkerToy" creation that precedes the Toy Story section. (I'm sorry these photos are not of great quality - I wasn't expecting to have any reason to take any!)

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Lightning McQueen, who originally led off the parade, and Mater, who closed it, were both missing, too. And in the Ratatouille section, the chefs who lead it out weren't on stilts...and the rats weren't bungee-jumping. In my original blog on the parade (HERE) I noted this: "I found the Ratatouille float a little bit creepy - the jumping rats were ok, but there were several rats hanging upside down in some ropes looking rather lifeless. It just looked odd." Apparently I'm not the only person who thought so, because the upside-down rats are gone.

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Original Ratatouille float - note the "hanging rats"
on the front and on the spoon.

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New Ratatouille float - the rat on the front
is now perched in the mouth of the pitcher
and the one on the spoon is hanging by his tail

On the Toy Story float the acrobatic cowboys and cowgirls who used to swing on the high bar were also MIA - now there's several large "Barrel of Monkeys" monkeys hanging on the bar.

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Now, for all I know a few of these things, especially the more acrobatic components like the bar performers and the stiltwalkers, could depend on the availability of cast, and are still part of the parade during its busier weekend performances. But I thought it was interesting that the parade had changed so much in just its first month!

After the three of us had dinner at the Wine Country Trattoria (review to come, which will also include comments from acclaimed food critic "Cheap Rick") we took a quick trip through Monstropolis and then used our Tower of Terror fastpasses. Maybe after seeing the Pixar Play Parade we were on a monkey theme, since Rick suggested posing for the photo in the classic "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" poses. That was fun, and the photo turned out well. After another drive through Monstropolis (where Roz said the same thing to us she had the first time), it was 8:00 and DCA was closing, and I headed home, since it was a "school night" for me. Though it was a short trip, I really enjoyed my time with AK, Randi and Rick - nice of them to give me the excuse to get away from work for the afternoon. :-)

tot_photo.jpg

February 21, 2008

Blog Follow-ups

I thought I'd post some follow-ups to a couple of previous blog entries.

Last week I wrote about the new House of the Future, coming to Disneyland in May. (That blog entry can be found HERE.) One thing the article didn't mention is that it was going in on the ground floor of Innoventions. We asked a Cast Member when we were there last week who confirmed that. There have been quite a few changes to the upper floor of Innoventions since we were last there - the Disney Interactive gaming area has received several different kinds of "virtual gaming kiosks", and the Virtual Resort area has been replaced (at least temporarily) by a Segway demonstration. The ASIMO demonstration and Stitch's Picture Phone areas are still there, though.

My second follow-up has to do with DCA's upcoming Food and Wine Festival (original blog entry is HERE). The Signature events for the Food and Wine Festival went on sale Friday morning. Though the web site with pricing information was supposed to be up earlier in the week, it didn't go on-line until they opened it for reservations, so no one knew how much the events were going to be until it was time to sign up for them. That made it a little bit difficult to know what the budget would stand, though fortunately DCA's events don't sell out immediately...at least not yet.

As I expected, there were price increases almost across the board - the most notable being that Taste went from $100 last year to $125 this year - though it's still $10 cheaper than Party for the Senses at Epcot. (Though it still requires separate admission to DCA, and since May 3 is a blockout day for all but Premium Passholders, a lot of people attending will have to pay an additional $40 for a blockout day ticket, or otherwise pay for park admission to DCA.) The Festival Wine Receptions also went up $10, to $55 (though this year they include a premium viewing location for Disney's Electrical Parade, which wasn't running during the Food and Wine Festival last year), and the Taste Wine Like an Expert class is up $25, to $45, though its format will be different this year. The Napa Rose Cooking School went up a whopping $75, to $400/person, and the Celebrity Chef dinner went from $145 to $185. Interestingly enough, the price of the Winemaker dinners stayed the same - $125.

As of this writing, nothing has sold out yet, and there still seems to be plenty of availability for all of the events. Check out http://www.disneyland.com/foodandwine to make reservations.

February 16, 2008

Disneyland in the News

There have been a couple of recent news items about Disneyland on non-Disney sites that I have found interesting, so I thought I'd share, in case anyone else is interested..

My husband Lee sent me this link to an article published in the New York Times on February 10... "Will Disney Keep Us Amused?" talks a bit about the expansion planned for DCA, but mostly it's a lot of interesting info about the new Toy Story Mania attraction - including a statement that it is opening in June, something that I have not heard before. All I've ever seen from Disney is: "Opening Summer 2008." Sounds good to me. :-)

The other news item is an AP piece published on Febuary 13, and available in various news outlets on the web, including this Google page: Disney Revives 'House of the Future'.

The original House of the Future opened at Disneyland in 1957 and closed in 1967 - this new one is scheduled to open in May. It's 5,000 square feet and they say it "looks like a normal suburban home" - but I can't say there's any "normal suburban homes" in my normal suburban neighborhood that are 5,000 square feet!

Anyway...sounds like it will have lots of gadgets like lights and thermostats that automatically adjust when people walk in the room, with things like artwork and music that are customized to different individuals. And presumably there's some kind of priority system that determines whose preferences take precedence when more than one family member is in the room. :-) Hmmm...I'll have to find out about that...

July 8, 2007

Attraction Comparison: Space Mountain vs. Space Mountain

As a blog topic, Deb Wills suggested that readers might be interested in a comparison of attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It sounded like an intriguing idea to me...see what you think!

I thought I'd start with one of my favorites: Space Mountain. Which is at Disneyland in California, and at Magic Kingdom in Florida. Both are Fastpass attractions, and from the outside they look pretty similar - both housed in a circular futuristic-looking white building. (Below is Space Mountain at Disneyland, below that is Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom.

Space Mountain Disneyland

Space Mountain Walt Disney World.jpg

But once inside, I find they are markedly different. Magic Kingdom's (MK's) version has two loading areas, and two tracks, whereas there's only one loading area and track at Disneyland (DL). The ride vehicles at DL feature three rows of two side-by-side seats, while those at MK feature a car that looks more like a rocket, with three single passenger seats. (Each ride has two cars per "train".) DL's vehicles have a lap bar (every rider has their own bar), whereas MK's vehicles have a T-shaped bar that goes between the legs and across the lap. Personally I find MK's vehicles to be very uncomfortable - you sit so far down in them that with your legs stretched out in front of you that it's very awkward to get up out of them! Though they look a lot swoopier than DL's cars. (Below: DL rocket left, MK rocket right.)

Space Mountain Walt Disney World.jpgDisneyland Rocket

Space Mountain Walt Disney World.jpgDisney World rocket.jpg

Once the ride begins, I think you might as well consider them to be two completely different experiences - about all they have in common is that both are a roller coaster ride in the dark (or in the case of MK, in the semi-dark).

As you leave the loading area at DL you start hearing futuristic space music in your ears...while at MK all you hear are the screams of fellow riders. The music really adds a lot to the experience at DL - the crescendoes of the music seem to be synchronized with the drops and twists of the ride. The DL ride is also DARK - quite unlike the MK ride, where it's light enough to see the track in front of you, and you can see what's coming. That's my biggest complaint about the MK version of the ride.

Space Mountain at DL re-opened in 2005 after an almost two-year rehab - and the improvements really show. Though it was smoother than MK's attraction even before the rehab, now it's even better, and I think it's a little faster, too. I find MK's Space Mountain to be rough and jerky - more like the Matterhorn at DL. I feel pretty beat up after getting off of Space Mountain at MK, but I feel exhilarated after a ride on Space Mountain at DL.

Near the end of DL's ride the cameras capture your photo, and you have the opportunity to see (and purchase) it after the ride. I do have to say that the exit to the attraction is a lot more interesting at MK - at DL you simply climb a set of stairs and go through some space station-y looking hallways, while at MK the escalator passes by various scenes - that whole "lab retriever" thing always cracks me up.

I think it's probably very obvious that I much prefer DL's Space Mountain to MK's...The music makes a huge difference, but even without the music I find it to be a smoother, faster, darker, and better-themed attraction.

To Infinity...and Beyond! (Oops, sorry, wrong attraction...)

Laura

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