In the Parks: Disneyland Resort Pixie-Dusting

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disneyland Resort, In the Parks

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Published on February 08, 2013 at 4:04 am with 37 Comments

Construction inside Disneyland continues with a peppering of projects throughout the park.  Big Thunder Mountain’s ten month long refurbishment rolls along with progress on Rainbow Ridge.  Out in the Rivers of America, Fantasmic and the Mark Twain river boat are both dried up and experiencing maintenance along with Splash Mountain, it’s a small world, and the mad tea party.  We also check up on the Fantasy Faire Village project and review the highlights of the MiceAge 10 year anniversary. To start things off, we spotted a pretty encouraging sight as the new Resort President, Michael Colglazier, was out with the rank and file cast members, selling popcorn to guests.

Don’t forget, if you are an annual pass holder (a creature that is becoming more and more scarce these days due to increasing prices) they are still throwing a few perks your way.

Extended hours for APers means the possibility of shorter lines.

POPCORN PRESIDENT

As we were leaving the park on Wednesday afternoon at about 4pm, we noticed a familiar face pop out of Coke Corner.

Michael Colglazier, Disneyland Resort President, dressed to sell popcorn.

Michael Colglazier, the Disneyland Resort’s brand new President, was standing out onstage, in costume speaking with two other cast members.  Greeted with a warm smile we introduced ourselves and asked why he was in costume.  He explained that he was about to go learn how to serve popcorn at the hub. Of course, we decided to delay our departure and follow along. We know a story when we see one!

Proceeding down Main Street to the center of the park, Michael stepped behind the popcorn cart to learn the ins and outs of kernel pushing. Two cast members helped him along with smiles and patience overflowing.

Michael picked it up quickly and offered us a a fresh box of popcorn.   Handing over our annual pass and a debit card, He then got trained on the register.

Michael learns how to use the register. We’ll check Fishbulb’s debit card later to make sure the numbers all match up. ;-)

 In no time, he was running the stand by himself and interacting with guests on the front line.

We find this to be an encouraging start to his career here at the Disneyland Resort.  Granted, walking out to sell popcorn for a couple of hours is no sign that he will make all the right decisions. This doesn’t mean he gets the issues that cast members have to deal with from rude guests or that he knows the difference between the Disney World standard and the Disneyland standard.  It is far too soon to judge him on those things.

What this does indicate is that he WANTS to know what it’s like to interact with the regular day guests that have paid $100+ to get into the park for one day.  He is interested in what the cast members are facing and wanted to walk in their shoes for a bit.  We can also say from first hand experience that, when approached in the park, he was affable and friendly, immediately ready with a handshake and a smile. It’s only his 5th day of work, but what we have seen is good so far is very encouraging.

We’d like our readers to know that none of this was staged. Michael wasn’t with a team of suits. There was no corporate photographer there to snap pictures. And most guests have no idea who he is or what he looks like yet. He was quite simply out and about in the park, learning the skills of his employees.

A message directly from Michael, who stopped by the MiceAge 10th Anniversary Celebration last weekend: if you see him in the park, introduce yourself.  Let him know what you like and what you don’t like.  We can assure Mr. Colglazier, that he doesn’t have to worry about shy opinions from MiceChat readers.

BIG THUNDER

This week at the Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment project, we finally see progress at Rainbow ridge.  Rainbow Ridge is the iconic town-scape at the end of the attraction, which is visible from the queue.  Many purists were concerned that this town, an homage to the original Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland, would be removed during refurbishment.  However, indication from Disney is that this area will be rebuilt, though we don’t know what, if any, changes will be made.

The old wooden facades were in a serious state of dilapidation and in need of attention.  Here, through the trees and beyond the station, you can see some of the facades have already been stripped down to framework.
Meanwhile work continues on the rest of the ride.  The yellow crane towers over the project to allow placement and removal of track and materials.

A closer look at the station area.

Around the back side, you can just make out some work being done through the trees.

 

KING ARTHUR’S CAROUSEL

While strolling through Fantasyland, we noticed that the Carousel Canopy was looking a little rusty.  Let’s hope they address this soon.

This is not show quality for Disneyland and can easily be painted at night to touch things up until the next scheduled refurb. Let’s hope that happens before more rains further spread the rust.

MARK TWAIN

Mark Twain Riverboat plows through refurbishment until March 28th. Although mostly concealed, progress can be seen.

Space creatures have invaded the lower decks.

FANTASMIC

Set to return on February 15th, Fantasmic’s fountains are getting a thorough refreshing.  Although the show will not be altered, it is safe to assume that there will be no Mark Twain finale in the show until that boat returns to service at the end of March. The contingency for the absence of the Mark Twain is to do a stage finale with characters on the central stage instead of the boat. It isn’t as grand, but it works just fine.

The shiny black rails and pipes were being painted over the last week. Helps prevent corrosion.

Lots of work left to do. All the remaining pipes and lights still require cleaning. It’s a dirty river folks!

Imagine what Steve Davison could do to upgrade the technology of Fantasmic, following up on what he’s learned from World of Color!

it’s a small world

We just have a few more weeks to go until it’s a small world returns.  Set to reopen on Friday, March 1st, the attraction is also experiencing  a minor refurbishment.  Outside, the small world mall light towers are also being freshened up.

Even the roses have been pruned.

MAD TEA PARTY

Now behind screens, the teacups, aka Mad Tea Party, will return on Feb 15th.

The photo op Tea cup has returned near Mad Hatter.  But it looks a little hastily placed.

FANTASY FAIRE VILLAGE

The announcement was made that the new Fantasy Faire Village meet and greet area will open on March 12th.  Details are still being heaped on the small area and paint still needs to be applied in spots.  Let’s wish them luck for getting all the small details completed in the next 4 weeks.

You’ll find Maurice’s food cart just beyond the camouflage construction fence.

We still aren’t thrilled with the Royal Theatre sign. It doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the area. Perhaps if they put colorful shingles on it instead of a simple paint job.

PRINCESS WALK

Speaking of Princesses, a canopy was installed over the current Princess meet and greet area on the small world steps.  It seems a little odd to bother to do this with just a month before the ladies get their fancy new home near the castle.

WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE?

As we detailed last week, Valentine’s day will be part of a Limited Time Magic celebration throughout the park.  Little bits of love have already crept into Town Square.

PLAYHOUSE DISNEY UPDATE

Doc McStuffins and Sophia the First will be replacing Handy Mandy and Little Einsteins at playhouse Disney when it returns.

We’ve got to give Entertainment props for keeping this attraction up to date.

GHIRARDELLI

Ghirardelli has started selling Valentine’s day boxes.  Get them while they last.

SILLY SYMPHONY SWINGS

The Silly Symphony Swings is currently down but will return on March 15th.

GRIZZLY RIVER RUN

Returning on March 1st the Grizzly River Run is currently down for the normal annual maintenance.

MICEAGE 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, February 1,2,3rd

10 years is a big milestone and MiceAge/MiceChat reached it with a fun weekend of amazing events and celebrations that out shined anything done before.  Filled with Disney Legends, fun stories, thousands of dollars in prizes and a few surprise guest, this was our most spectacular Anniversary weekend by far.

Things began on a very swanky note as Disney Imagineering legend, Alice Davis, hosted an elegant cocktail reception and mixer at the lovely Anabella Hotel.  Alice entertained a group of 100 with stories from the heyday of Disney, including the racy tale of anatomically correct animatronics in Pirates of the Caribbean. You get to a certain age, and you can say whatever you want. The crowd went wild.

Near the end of the evening, another Disney Legend, Rolly Crump, crashed the party unexpectedly.  The two old coworkers hugged each other and had a few laughs. It was a VERY touching moment.

The next morning, ESPN ZONE in Downtown Disney hosted our Disney Legends Breakfast and Al Lutz tribute.  Surprise guest, Disneyland President Michael Colglazier, welcomed the room of 200 disney fans to wild applause.

There was much maple pepper bacon to be had.

The famous ESPN bacon. Heavenly.

Dusty and IndianaJenn greet the guests.

Michael Colglazier assures the crowd that he understands the importance of leading the park that Walt built and walked in.

Sam Gennawey, MiceChat author, interviews the legendary animator, Floyd Norman.

Floyd is such a warm and forthright guy. We learned a lot from him about the early days of the studio. He has a book coming out soon. So we’ll invite him back for sure so you can hear more stories!

Rolly Crump, famous for the Haunted Mansion, Tiki Room, and small world Tower of the Four Winds, shared some shocking and fabulous stories. He was interviewed by his co-author, and MiceChat columnist, Jeff Heimbuch. Jeff will be sharing some of these stories online soon.

Rolly holds up a poster which he created as a design study. He placed it on display in the halls of Disney Animation one day for an art festival. However, Walt picked that day to stop by for a visit. . . he never said a word to Rolly about it, but it did give Walt a good chuckle.

 

Dusty and the guests present Al with his own Window On Main Street inspired work of art. A full sized Victorian window which says:
The Main Street Tattler
Shining a bright light on Main Street’s dark corners
Tale Tales and Pragmatic Prognostications
Al Lutz, Investigative Reporter.

After the breakfast event, we had a day of play in DCA. There was a breakfast hosted by the charming MickeyMaxx and Rixter.

And a Mini MiceQuest which had attendees examining the details in Cars Land for one and a half hours.

The winning team, of ex-WDW College Program participants, won by a single point.

Capping off a fun but exhausting day, Monorail Man hosted Game Show Magic at the Grand Californian.  There were drinks, jokes, prizes everywhere and new friends to be made.

Sunday morning marked the final day of the festivities.  Beginning the day at the Riverbelle Terrace, we all enjoyed yummy breakfast including pancakes, potatoes and coffee!

We gathered in Magnolia park where Disney artist Dave Avanzino gave away several pieces of his beautiful artwork.

Next we hit the Train for the traditional grand circle tour of Disneyland.  This is by far one of my favorite traditions.

At the classic noon meet, we gathered near the Walt and Mickey Statue to celebrate 10 years of Disney geekdom, friends, and the joy that Al Lutz, Dusty and crew have worked so hard to cultivate over the years.

We posed for a pic in front of the castle…

Lunch at the Hungry Bear Restaurant was next.  Following that, two separate events happened.  Werner Weiss, Sam Gennawey, Dave Avanzino and Keith Gluck presented the Yesterland Tour of Disneyland, while Dusty and Al recorded a MiceChat podcast at the Hungry Bear Restaurant.

Towards the end of the day we wrapped the weekend up at the Tiki Room with Maynard and then adjourned to Aladdin’s Oasis to say goodbye.

We filled every seat and then some. Hard to believe that so many folks had enough energy to hang around until the bittersweet ending.

Dusty ended the day by thanking all who turned out to celebrate this very important weekend with us, and all the folks who worked so hard to put the event on: Indiana Jenn, Monorail Man, Mamabot, Teresa of Fairy Godmother Travel, The Anabella, The ESPN Zone, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, Alice Davis, Rolly Crump, Floyd Norman, Al Lutz, Sam Gennawey, Werner Weiss, Keith Gluck, Jeff Heimbuch, Dave Avanzino, Jeffrey Epstein, and so many other folks and helpers.  Through all of the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the Presslers and the Ouimets, we Disney fans stuck together.  Why?  Out of a common love of the Disney magic.

While Dusty is always the one you’ll find thanking everyone else for their love and support, this milestone should also be a time for us to acknowledge his accomplishments. He brought together a ragtag band of Disney nerds and created the largest Disneyland fan community by a mile. Thank you Dusty. You should be proud of the marvelous MiceChat magic machine you’ve created. We can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

And with that, we wrap up another year of MiceChatting. But fear not, we have amazing ideas already rolling around in our heads. Did I just say “Rolling?” Yep, one event has barely finished and we are already preparing for our World Famous Gumball Rally, which will be held on May the 4th at the Disneyland Resort. What’s a Gumball Rally you ask (have you been living under a rock?), it’s a race through the Disneyland Resort to see who can ride the most attractions in a single day (with lots of surprising little twists along the way, of course). But if you’d like to participate, you’ll need to act quick. We are limited to 500 tickets and we’ve already sold one quarter of our spots in just the first three days of registrations. Find a friend or family member or two and sign up today HERE.

We’ll see ya real soon, In The Parks!

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • lynxwiler

    Is Rainbow Ridge original to the park’s opening year? Or did the facades come later? They made a great addition to Big Thunder in 1970s and I’m glad to hear they’re sticking around a little longer!

  • TacAlert

    I know I will be in the minority, but I think the Michael Colglazier thing was staged. You are leaving the park and he just happens to pop out. I think DL knows the community of Micechat and DL reached out for an opportunity to show some good will to make sure the new president isn’t slammed on the blogs. Just my opinion.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      Not staged for us. How could he have known we’d be there and/or when we’d be leaving? Fishbulb was there visiting his sister’s family. Clearly NOT staged. And he didn’t have any suits or photographers with him. He was on a training mission which had nothing to do with PR. If they wanted to stage this, they’d have called the OC Register, LA Times or one of the Disney shill sites. This was pure chance. And we’d have missed it too, if we hadn’t been delayed in leaving the park. Pure coincidence – but very lucky for us that we captured it.

  • davanzino

    Great update. So fun to be a part of the anniversary celebration.

    A note on the Royal Theater facade. After doing research on historic Fantasyland for the tour last week I realized that this facade seems to be a nod to the original Fantasyland dark ride decor. Due to budget cuts they were scaled down from the elaborate fairy tale architecture Walt wanted and replaced with a more simple “tournament style” front featuring painted canvas tents based on Eyvind Earle’s designs for “Sleeping Beauty.” These we’re all replaced in the 80′s overhaul but still exist in some parts of the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. I kind of like this tip of the hat to those early designs. They definitely feature some of the same types of designs. I think it adds a different look to the area and it very fitting decor for the “tent.” Just my opinion.

    • DannyeF

      I agree–it’s very retro and I like it.

  • Dizzey

    Anyone know where we can get the podcast mentioned in this article? Also, thanks, Micechat crew for putting out this great site. It gets me through lunch time several days of the week.

  • mondo

    Did Michael Colglazier’s name tag say he was the President of DL. Or was it just a normal looking CM name tag? How long will he be President? I do hope he takes a long and hard look at TL and realizes it is in a need for a make over.

  • CupcakeTerror

    Great update!

  • starrman

    I love the Russell Wilson jersey!!!

  • DebG

    I didn’t get a chance to say this in person, but a big Thank You to all the people who put on the anniversary weekend. It was our first Micechat event so we sort of hung to the back and din’t say much, but we had a real good time. If we can swing it we will be back for the Gumball Rally.Thanks again

  • Haven

    I love the last photo of the Grizzly River Run, it looks like it was taken out in South Dakota or somewhere at a national park! On a separate note, I work as an architect & interior designer for Wynn Resorts here in Las Vegas (and Macau) and we just finished a new art installation by Jeff Koons entitled “Tulips”. If you would like to see our time lapse installation of the artwork, located in front of our entrance to “Le Reve”, go to this website (copy and paste into your browser) and locate the time lapse version video (it appears as a black icon):

    http://www.multivu.com/mnr/60202-wynn-las-vegas-unveils-tulips-by-artist-jeff-koons

    It took one day to install so we didn’t have to shut down the promenade to our guests passing from Wynn to Encore. Have a great Sunday everyone!

  • LoveStallion

    What happened to the last woman-chasing-pirate piece on Pirates? It was totally empty on Friday.

  • glowman

    What a great celebration weekend for MiceChat and all of us fans. Dusty and the “crew” did a great job putting on a wonderful weekend of events for all of us. I enjoyed every minute. Saturday evening while trying to figure out where to have dinner, TJ kindly invited a few of us to join him and his wife at California Adventures’ private club where we had something to eat and a nice visit. Also we were treated to a tour of the artifacts decorating the rooms. Anyone who missed the event, better get your tickets early next time. Sorry I missed Alice on Friday night, but really enjoy Saturday morning with Rolly and Fred. It was nice hearing Michael’s greeting to the group. Thanks again Dusty and crew. Your “crew” does a super job during the year and deserve our thanks. I know you are all volunteers and we really appreciate your dedication to this great club. Thank you Al Lutz for starting all this.

  • PEOPLEMOVED

    Is there anything new on Disney’s plans of the PeopleMover 2.0?