Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday and invited everybody at Disneyland to join him. The Mary Poppins star was honored with a dedication of the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, followed by a birthday singalong in New Orleans Square, and a pre-parade down Main Street, U.S.A. Fans joined along in costume throughout the day to celebrate Mr. Van Dyke’s milestone birthday. Meanwhile in Tomorrowland, the final piece of Star Wars Season of the Force has debuted with Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple arriving at the Tomorrowland Terrace.
Don’t miss your weekly Disneyland Resort crowd forecast — provided by our friends at Mouseaddict — in the Weekly News and Information Roundup at the end of today’s update!
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|Welcome to Disneyland!|
|Dick Van Dyke celebrates 90|
On Sunday, Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke celebrated his 90th birthday at Disneyland. The festivities kicked off in the morning for a 10:30 a.m. dedication of the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe to Dick Van Dyke.
Unfortunately for guests that had filled the Cafe’s seating area for hours, Disney’s camera crew stepped just before the ceremony and blocked the view of most in attendance. During the ceremony, Mr. Van Dyke was presented with a replica of the Bert silhouette that’s on display inside the Cafe. Luckily for fans, Dick was sure to come out and thank everybody for attending and invite them all to join him for his performance in New Orleans Square and pre-parade appearance that afternoon.
At 12:30, Dick was joined by The Vantastix on the balcony of the Disneyland Dream Suite in New Orleans Square for a quick 15-minute performance of a medley of songs from “Mary Poppins.” Queenie and the Jambalaya Jazz Band kicked off the performance by serenading Dick from the steps of the Dream Suite before Dick and the Vantastix took over.
Below, a video clip of the performance.
Watch the pre-parade in our video below from reader Laurel Ehrichs:
|Trials of the Terrace|
In Tomorrowland, the final piece of Disneyland’s Star Wars Season of the Force promotion has finally debuted. “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple” has replaced the long-running “Jedi Training Academy” show, pulling backstory for the new show from the “Star Wars Rebels” animated television series. The new version of the show adds more of a storyline, which I thought actually helped in this instance. Darth Vader and other foes no longer just appear to fight young children, instead they appear as visions that the young Jedi must overcome as part of their training. It’s a simple change that the show benefits a lot from, making it easier for the viewers to suspend their disbelief while making it less scary for kids participating.
Considering my Star Wars knowledge is minimal and this new version of the show takes its cues from a Star Wars animated show I’ve never seen, I asked friend of the blog and Star Wars fan David Daut, who helped me review the rest of Season of the Force late last month, for his take on the revised show.
If you’ve seen the original version of “Jedi Training Academy” before, this new iteration will be very familiar. The basic structure of the show is virtually identical; Jedi Masters invite young kids on stage to learn how to wield a lightsaber, various bad guys from the Star Wars canon show up to cause mayhem, and are promptly defeated by the children using their newfound abilities. The main difference comes in terms of story. The previous version of the show didn’t have an explicitly defined story, and instead was merely a framework for a cute interactive experience for kids. For the new version, Disney has taken the same framework but added a much more clearly defined story – one that is heavily influenced by the Star Wars Rebels episode “Path of the Jedi” (not to be confused with the clip show of the same name on the other side of Tomorrowland). The episode in question features series’ protagonist Ezra Bridger uncovering the location of a long-abandoned Jedi temple and having to face the trials within. These trails take the form of visions in which Ezra is forced to confront his worst fears and learn to overcome them.
The Disneyland show plays out in a similar fashion. We’re introduced to Jedi Master Bendel who is guiding his apprentice, Nedriss, to find the next generation of Jedi Knights. The first thing worth acknowledging is that Disney cast a woman in one of the lead roles this time around, which is a positive change for this series which has traditionally been treated as “a boy thing.” Once the children take the stage, they are taught a sequence of lightsaber moves (strike right, strike left, block, duck, strike to the head), and are then instructed to help the main cast use the Force to raise the stage and reveal the Jedi temple. The temple set takes up the entire lower level of the Tomorrowland Terrace stage confirming that we won’t be seeing any bands performing there for the foreseeable future.
Once the temple has been raised, the duo of Jedi inform their students that in the temple they’ll be forced to confront visions of their worst fears, and with that Darth Vader emerges from a cloud of stage fog. Following close behind is the Seventh Sister, one of the villains from Star Wars Rebels. For those not in the know, the Seventh Sister is one of Darth Vader’s Inquisitors – soldiers trained in the Dark Side of the Force (though not technically Sith) to help the Dark Lord hunt down any remaining Jedi who may have survived the Clone Wars as well as Force sensitive children who might one day pose a threat to the Emperor. Once these two villains take the stage, the child participants line up to fight them, using the technique taught to them earlier. For casual spectators, this is the most frustrating part of the show, because there’s a seemingly endless procession of children going through the exact same motions. This isn’t a criticism of the show per say, since I am keenly aware that getting as many kids as possible on stage to confront these characters is literally the entire point of the show, but unless you have your own young one on stage to cheer on, this section doesn’t hold a lot of entertainment value. That being said, I wonder if it wouldn’t be preferable to have a 15 minute show twice an hour instead of 30 minute show once an hour. Regardless, once the children have finished battling their foes, the Jedi realize that in order to truly defeat these villains, they must lower their weapons and prove that they are unafraid. The children follow suit and force Vader and his Inquisitor back into the Temple, but Nedriss, unable to let go of her fears summons a vision of Darth Maul to the stage. This reveal was a groaner for me because I find the fan favorite status of Darth Maul to be inexplicable. He’s a totally empty character who barely even speaks and is promptly killed off meaning his popularity is based solely on the fact that he looks “cool,” but I guess every generation needs their own Boba Fett. That being said, I get it; this show is for kids – kids who have been raised on and have an affection for the prequels and The Clone Wars TV series – so this character means something to them. Plus, Disney already had the Maul costume lying around, so this saves money. Still, I think it would have been neat to see the Fifth Brother (another Inquisitor from Rebels) subbed in for Vader at the beginning, and save the Dark Lord for the reveal at the end, but I digress.
Eventually Nedriss too learns to overcome her fears – thanks to a little help from the disembodied voice of Yoda (voiced here, as in The Clone Wars, by Tom Kane) and banishes Darth Maul from the stage and the assembled Jedi and apprentices celebrate their victory and the completion of their training. All things being equal, the show is fine; it delivers on exactly what is promised and not an ounce more. I’m very aware that I – a single, childless adult – am not the target audience here, and I’m sure this plays way better if you are either a child participating in the show or the parent of said child. I do wonder if these kind of organized shows are a bit passé when “Legends of Frontierland” shows us how these kind of interactive experiences can be much more dynamic and personal, but (assuming it doesn’t end up being cut from the plans) it sounds like we’ll be getting the more dynamic version of this when Star Wars Land finally opens. Then again, maybe there is still a place for organized shows like these. I adored “Legends of Frontierland” and I would be beside myself to see a Star Wars-themed version of that, but I have also heard criticisms that the demographic of “Legends” skewed towards young adults with an excess of free time and it could, at times, feel intimidating for kids to join in the play. While I detest the argument of “kids love it” being used as a silver bullet to shut down any criticism of unambitious design choices in the parks, it’s ultimately true that these places are designed with children in mind, and giving them a space wherein they’re allowed to play that hasn’t been co-opted by nostalgic adults is extremely important. “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple” may not be for me, but that’s okay. I may not personally be excited by it, but of all the “Season of the Force” offerings, this and Hyperspace Mountain are perhaps the only two that are successful at achieving what they set out to do.
Holiday Gift Guide 2015
It’s that time of year again! The countdown to Christmas is now underway and that means it’s time to get some shopping done. We bring you our annual Disney holiday gift guide again today before the deadlines on shipping start going into effect, with the first deadline being this Wednesday, December 16 being the final day for Amazon’s free Super Saver Shipping. Disney fans were treated to a number of excellent books this year ranging from the reprint of the classic Little Man of Disneyland Little Golden Book to the new collection of Disney essays in the fan-released Progress City Primer. We put the spotlight on those two titles as well as a couple more below, along with links to a number of other items ranging from Pixar’s spectacular Inside Out to new Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise. Of course, if you buy any of the items here using our embedded Amazon links you’ll not only get some holiday shopping done but you’ll also help out Dateline Disneyland at no additional cost to you. Happy holidays!
|The Progress City Primer:
Stories, Secrets, and Silliness from the Many Worlds of Walt Disney
Michael Crawford | Available now
First on our list and hot off the presses is the only fan-released title in our gift guide this year. Not only is Michael Crawford’s Progress City Primer exceptionally well-written but it comes from years of thorough research by Crawford, who has contributed to both D23: The Official Disney Fan Club and the Walt Disney Family Museum. The book foregoes a single topic in favor of a variety of Disney subjects ranging from “Walt” to “The Vacation Kingdom” and “The Wonderful Weird of Disney.” There’s something for every Disney fan here, with stories from the annals of Disney history ranging from the charming to the obscure.
|The Silly Symphony Collection 1929-1939
16 LP Box Set | December 18. 2015
Previewed at the D23 Expo, Walt Disney Records’ stunning box set of 16 LPs with the soundtracks to all 75 of Walt Disney’s classic Silly Symphony animated shorts will finally be released on December 18. The music has been brilliantly restored, transferred to vinyl, and presented in 8 gatefold jackets featuring original animation art. The set comes with liner notes by Disney historians J.B. Kaufman and Russell Merritt and comes in a numbered slipcase. While it’s pricey at $400, this unique release is a must-have for any Disney music fan, vinyl collector, or animation enthusiast.
|The Haunted Mansion:
Imagineering a Disney Classic
Jason Surrell | Available now
The third printing of former Imagineer Jason Surrell’s definitive book on the iconic theme park ride, The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic has dropped the section on the lackluster 2003 film and filled new pages on more than a decade of new additions to the attraction. This new expanded edition includes new information on the return of Disneyland’s Hat Box Ghost, the addition of Walt Disney World’s graveyard queue, and more. Also featured is Hong Kong Disneyland’s highly-praised Haunted Mansion surrogate — Mystic Manor.
|Walt Disney’s Little Man of Disneyland
Back for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary, Walt Disney’s Little Man of Disneyland is a reprint of the classic 1955 Little Golden Book that tells the story of a leprechaun named Patrick Begorra who lives in the Anaheim orange groves that would later become Disneyland. Mickey and Donald convince Patrick to let them build Disneyland in his orange groves after they show him the fantastic plans for the park. The little $5 book is really a just clever vintage marketing piece for the then-under construction park but 60 years later is still wildly charming and filled with spectacular illustrations typical of Disney’s classic Little Golden Books.
Below are additional books, movie, and video game releases perfect for every Disney fan on your list.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Disney, Pixar and Miyazaki Animated Films
Disney and Marvel Live Action Films
Disneyland’s Guest Flow Corridors opened over a year ago and I’ve recieved several requests for photos of the corridors, which were built for easier guest flow during times of peak attendance. Unfortunately, the corridors are used so sporadically — even when the park is very busy — that it’s been hard to get photos of them for this blog during the day. Well, I was finally able to get some photos on Sunday of the east corridor, which runs between Main Street and Tomorrowland.
The new corridors are minimally themed, which is a far cry from the heavily-themed Main Street back alley that was originally rumored to be coming. The corridors don’t offer back entrances to Main Street shops and are open only when absolutely necessary, so Disney’s decision to only minimally theme the space makes sense — don’t give guests much to look at so that traffic keeps moving.
Still, it seems like a missed opportunity to not have invested more here — easier in and out access for Main Street shops and making a corridor that could always be open could have helped crowd flow along Main Street all day, every day — not just when the park is so packed that not much of anything can help.
So, for now at least, guests pass through lightly-themed corridors that more closely evoke opening-day Disney’s California Adventure quality instead of Disneyland’s fully-themed Main Street, U.S.A.
In Disney California Adventure, the Cove Bar’s expansion project continues…
Testing is occurring often at the new Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters attraction in Cars Land.
In Grizzly Peak Airfield, walls are still up along the restroom facility.
On Harbor Blvd. a new Panera Bread restaurant has been built where the old Millie’s Restaurant used to sit. The new Panera, located between the McDonald’s and Mimi’s Cafe, is sure to be a popular quick service stop for tourists and Cast Members alike.
Enjoy retro fun just steps away from Disneyland at
Howard Johnson Hotel & Water Playground
A short walk from the park, HoJo Anaheim is conveniently located next to Matterhorn Mountain at Disneyland with nearby dining, freeway access, FREE parking and FREE Wi-Fi. For more information on HoJo Anaheim, room rates, or to book your stay today, visit HoJoAnaheim.com/MiceChat
Save with MiceChat & Passholder Discounts Every Day!
The HoJo Anaheim is now offering daily discounts for MiceChat members and even DEEPER discounts for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! For more information visit the HoJo Anaheim Innsider Boards which features an up-to-date listing of available nights, or call (714) 776-6120 and ask for In-House Reservations to book. If your date isn’t listed, the HoJo Anaheim still offers rooms for 20% off their best available rate if you call (714) 776-6120.
|Weekly News & Information Round-Up|
|Weekly Theme Park Hours
December 14-20, 2015
|[B]Disneyland Park[/B]||[B]California Adventure[/B]|
|Daily: 8 am – 12 am||Mon.-Wed.: 8 am – 10 pm
Thu.-Sun.: 8 am – 11 pm
|[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar[/CENTER]
|[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]|
|[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]|
|[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]|
December 14 – 20
The free Mouseaddict app for iPhone and iPad features more than five dozen categories of searchable resort information, weather forecasts, park and show schedules, the latest news and articles from MiceChat, and more. Download free on the App Store or at mouseaddict.com.
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
|Alright, that’s it for this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland! Did you celebrate Dick Van Dyke’s birthday in the park on Sunday? Share your birthday memories below!
Special thanks to our Dateline Disneylanders!
Benjamin, Mark D., Bruno, and Casey!
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For more Disneyland news, be sure to read MiceChat’s weekly In the Parks blog. And be sure to check out our sister blog, Dateline Disney World – a fantastic weekly photo blog covering Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!
Thanks for reading. See you at Disneyland!
|FTC-Mandated Disclosure: Promotional consideration for this edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.|