In The Parks: California Adventure Turns 13, Tomorrowland Films, Disneyland Refurbs A-Plenty

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

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Published on February 07, 2014 at 3:00 am with 17 Comments

Happy Birthday Disney California Adventure!  This weekend, as MiceChat celebrates its 11th anniversary,  DCA turns 13 years old. We’ll hold a scavenger hunt in the park to mark the occasion (see below). The park has never looked better and we wish it well. Today, we start our update in Disneyland park, where multiple refurbishment projects are underway.  Splash Mountain, Sailing Ship Columbia, it’s a small world, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and of course, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage are all down. But the refurbishment schedule is going through lots of changes with projects being moved around and delayed.  That’s not to mention the work being done on the private Club 33 restaurant in New Orleans Square.  But it’s not all bad news here.  Far from it.  The Bayou Bash celebration is coming right up and Valentine’s Day is popping up in the park.  Let’s take our weekly tour, and we’ll fill you in on what’s going on at the Disneyland Resort.

Spring in the Park

This is a time of year to relish the natural beauty of Disneyland. Spring is blossoming in Southern California and the Disneyland Horticulture Department is once again cranking up the color.

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We can see that last year’s Limited Time Magic, “Love is in the Air” is returning as a seasonal decoration. It’s lovely!

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Walt presides over a park full of visitors and some lovely pink Lapacho trees.

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Steam Punk to Come to the Disney Gallery

The Disney Gallery will close soon to install a new exhibit.  ”“Mechanical Kingdoms: Steam-Driven Visions of a Victorian Future,” will open on February 22nd and feature the “Disney Side” of Steam-punk.

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The show is described as:

Steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction loosely built around retro-futuristic visions of a steam-powered society, has been gaining (pardon the pun) steam over the past several years. The movement, which is expressed culturally and stylistically in everything from technology and design to music and fashion, was dubbed steampunk in the late 1980s. Though certainly not part of the steampunk “wave” (at least not consciously), Walt Disney Imagineers have been creating their own visions and versions of retro-futuristic technologies since well before that time, incorporating them into Disney parks and attractions around the world.

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The Fortuosity shop on Main Street continues under refurbishment.

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Two-Tone Space

The refurbishment shuffle continues as the March 3rd date for Space Mountain’s closure has been removed from the official schedule and the ride is not listed as going down during the currently visible calendar.  Despite that, Space Mountain is preparing for an exterior cleaning.  OSHA approved railings and safety measures have gone up along the rings on top of the dome, delineating the clean upper level and the sullied lower portion.

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Captain America

It was confirmed this past week that the Nanooze Labs exhibit on the top level of Innoventions will be converted into the Captain America meet and greet, coinciding with the opening of the film, Captain America: Winter Soldier

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Submarine Voyage

Yes, the subs are still closed.

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The water level is still hovering at 2 feet below normal as the subs are prepared to be stabilized. The lagoon is set to begin draining tomorrow (Saturday the 8th of February). It’s an elaborate environmentally sensitive plan which will restore water to the aquifer.

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Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland filming at it’s a small world

The upcoming Brad Bird film, Tomorrowland, has been filming this past week, taking over it’s a small world.  Blue screens were used to mask the existing facade and train tracks. The reasoning for this is that the film takes place at the World’s Fair and not at Disneyland. The blue screens will allow them to insert missing elements and make things look more accurate to the script of the film. This is in stark contrast to the approach that Saving Mr. Banks took when filming in the park.  It is encouraging to see that Brad Bird and his team are going to great lengths to get things right.

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Cast members were stationed all along the filming location holding signs requesting “quiet” from park visitors.

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There’s some wonderful period costume design for this film.  Heavy on shades of goldenrod and avocado. They’ve perfectly recreated the costumes that cast members would have worn at the World’s Fair where this attraction debuted.

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Cast members in period clothing.

Looking in from the side, we get a look at the period boats placed in the flume for the shoot. They actually constructed new boats that look like the World’s Fair originals! Again, wonderful detail that will only inform the story and enhance the setting.

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Guests about to board the attraction

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The deep yellow and red boats from back in the day. WONDERFUL!

During filming, MiceChat administrator, Monorail Man was in the crowd with fellow Optimists, checking out the filming.  Optimists were, of course, the group of fans that took part in the brilliant, viral marketing campaign surrounding the film.

As they stood nearby, eagerly watching the filming, who stopped by?  None other that writer director, Brad Bird!  He graciously talked with them about the film and thanked them for their enthusiasm for the project.  Upon returning to the filming location at the load platform he declared to cast and crew, “Hey there are Optimists here watching the filming!”  Nice.

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Brad Bird (red cap), Nick Tierce (middle), Monorail Man (right)

Incidentally, the Disneyland park website currently lists it’s a small world as down for refurbishment from now through March 20th with no actual reopening date posted (the 20th is just the farthest date we can currently explore).

Mardi Gras and Club 33 Construction

Construction continues above the streets of New Orleans Square on the revamped and expanded Club 33.  Meanwhile, decorations are up for the Mardi Gras celebration.  Another holdover from Limited Time Magic last year.

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Big Thunder Delays

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Big Thunder is nearly complete. However, there have been software issues controlling the trains which have forced delays. The new trains are not the same weight as the old trains, which has caused all sorts of issues with brake zones and timing of the attraction. Of course, all of that is controlled by computers. The good news is that they were able to get five trains on the track at one time this past week. That’s a very good sign. Once they get everything stabilized and fully tested, cast member previews and soft openings can begin. We’ll let you know when we hear more. Cross your fingers and let’s hope that testing goes well.

 

Splash Mountain Refurbishment

Splash continues to get the care it deserves as the month-long refurbishment continues.

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Sailing Ship Columbia

The Sailing ship Columbia continues with refurbishment and should be returning on February 14th.

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Amazing MiceChat Anniversary Weekend – February 7-9th, 2014 – Disneyland Resort

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Don’t miss out on the big MiceChat anniversary weekend February 7th – 9th.  Every day is packed with fun activities, meets, events and games.  Meet Disney Legends, take a trip back to Walt Disney’s birthplace and help us save it.  Click here to learn more about all of the activities we have planned for you!

Friday, February 7th

An Evening with Walt Disney

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EVENT NOW SOLD OUT - ALL Proceeds from your ticket will go toward saving the home Walt Disney was born in!!!

Journey back with us to the year 1901. William McKinley was President of the United States, Major League Baseball had just been formed, and a man named Walt Disney was born in a small house in Chicago Illinois. The modest family home on the corner of Tripp Avenue and Palmer Street was designed and built by Flora and Elias Disney, Walt and Roy Disney’s mother and father. Both Walt and Roy were born in this home and lived there until Walt was four and Roy was twelve years old.

Join the folks at the Save Walt Disney’s Birthplace project as we explore Walt’s early history and discover how we can preserve the home where he was born! We guarantee you’ll be wowed and entertained and leave satisfied that you are doing something very important.

Saturday, February 8th

Building The Dream – The Magic of Disneyland Paris
EVENT NOW SOLD OUT!

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Celebrated Imagineer, Tim Delaney, will lead a fascinating presentation about the building of the most beautiful Magic Kingdom of them all, Disneyland Paris. Learn about the challenges, creative opportunities, and wonderful stories that make this park so unique in the universe of Disney theme parks. This will be a breakfast event at the ESPN Zone (bacon, bacon, bacon) with a 90 minute audio/visual presentation and an opportunity to meet a true creative genius. Event is limited to 125 guests and will sell out quickly.

Tim Delaney’s 34 years at Walt Disney Imagineering included 19 years as a creative director and Vice President of Design. He has been instrumental in all phases of design from initial concept through design development, corporate sponsorship, project production and onsite construction supervision through completion. As a designer, illustrator, painter, creative director, producer and art director, Delaney has lead teams that have designed and constructed over $1.2 billion of Disney Parks and attractions worldwide, including Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Hong Kong.Tim has been awarded the 2002 Ray Bradbury Award for Lifetime of Creative Excellence. He was the subject of the popular BBC documentary ”Shoot the Moon.” And, in, 1995 he was awarded the Themed Entertainment Association award for best attraction for Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris.

Tim will sign copies of Disneyland Paris From Sketch To Reality (copies of this beautiful book are available at a VERY special price for this event only)

DCA MiceQuest – 3pm

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Put your Disney skills to the test as Fishbulb presents one of his famous eye spy/scavenger hunt events. This two hour event will be free to enter (you’ll just need park admission). There will be fun prizes sponsored by Fairy Godmother Travel and this is always a great way to meet fellow MicePals and have a great time in the park. REGISTER FOR THE DCA MICEQUEST HERE

Communicore Weekly Musical Meet-up – 6:30pm – Outside Back Patio of the Grand Californian’s Hearthstone Lounge.

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Meet Jeff Heimbuch and learn more about the epic Communicore Weekly Musical project. This event will be presented in the same location as the Game Show. Two great events, one great location. SIGN UP FOR INFO HERE

Monorail Man’s EXTRA Limited Time Magic Game Show – 7pm - Outside Back Patio of the Grand Californian’s Hearthstone Lounge

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The game show has become a MiceChat anniversary tradition. Why? Because Monorail Man isn’t just a Disney nerd but a game show nerd as well. And what excuse do we need to have a good time and win prizes? The show lasts for about an hour and prizes will be given throughout.

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 9th

MiceChat/MiceAge Classic Sunday in Disneyland

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Breakfast at the Riverbelle Terrace, a grand circle tour of Disneyland aboard the Disneyland RailroadMark Twain trip around the Rivers of America, MiceChat noon meet with prize giveaway, group photo, lunch with friends, D23 Fanniversary Scavenger Hunt, “Practically Perfect Tour,” farewell meetwithgrand prize giveaway.

It’s a MiceChat tradition that’s not to be missed. All are welcome to join us for as much or as little of this day of magic as they’d like. All events, except for the Evening with Walt Disney and the Breakfast with Tim Delaney, are free (you just need theme park admission). Add your email address below to be notified when the final event schedule with dates/times/locations of all of the above listed activities is available.

FULL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR MICECHAT ANNIVERSARY – HERE

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For the third year in a row D23: The Official Disney Fan Club will hit the road with their Disney Fanniversary Celebration, visiting cities across the U.S. to commemorate dozens of magical Disney milestones celebrating landmark anniversaries this year. In honor of the event, which will kick off this fall, we have designed a game including some of the iconic attractions and films that are (or were) represented inside Disneyland Park. You will have to be fast on your feet and quick with your wits as you race to reach the finish line in time to win the grand prize. JOIN THE D23 FANNIVERSARY SCAVENGER HUNT HERE

If you plan in coming to the parks for the MiceChat Anniversary events, our Friends at Anabella Hotel are offering a spectacular rate just for you!

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  • $99 standard rate – Use rate code MCAnniversary when booking
  • $114 rate includes room upgrade and $25 food and beverage credit at Tangerine restaurant – Use rate code MCAnniversaryPlus when booking this offer
  • Call to book your reservation now! 800.863.4888

Essential Listening – MiceChat Podcast #14

On this episode, we share our favorite and biggest theme park moments of 2013 and our predictions for 2014 and beyond. What will be our biggest story of 2013? Will it be the bust of Disney’s MyMagic+, SeaWorld’s Blackfish problem, Tony Baxter’s retirement from Disney . . .? Listen on to find out. Then we turn our attention to 2014 and what is already shaping up to be a magical year for Universal as Harry Potter 2.0 – Diagon Alley – prepares to open at the Orlando park. Plus, Disneyland 60th anniversary prep, Tomorrowland Star Wars projects, project delays and much, much more. We even have a cameo from Robert Coker about the project to save Walt Disney’s birthplace in Chicago. Don’t miss this one folks!


Direct Link | iTunes Link

It seems that even more changes have been made to the refurbishment schedule.  As time moves forward, dates are moved around for closures in a shell game of priorities and finances.

It was confirmed through the refurbishment calendar that The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure will be going down for a refurbishment beginning March 20th

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Sorin’ Snafu

But, the anticipated HD upgrade to Soarin’ Over California that was to start late February has been pushed back for technical reasons. Soarin’ will go down briefly from Monday, February 24th and reopening on Friday, February 28th.  Unfortunately, there are issues with the new 4K projectors that have the IMAX folks and WDI at odds. Basically, the 4K IMAX projectors don’t quite work with Soarin’s screen size. There’s a lower scale HD projector that IMAX is offering in place of the 4K version, but WDI is firm on what then want and will wait for the 4K projectors to be ready. As frustrating as that is for everyone, it is probably the best thing for the long term operation of this attraction. We haven’t heard about any delays on the scheduled filming of the new film but we’ll keep you up to date as this story unfolds.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

The play area, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is still under refurbishment and will be through February 27, 2014.

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Speaking of the Redwood Creek area, the gate into DCA from the Grand Californian Hotel has reopened.

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Pier Pressure

The nasty little bit of wood rot is still festering away at the Paradise Pier gazebo.

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Paradise Garden Back to Normal

All good things must come to an end.  Paradise Garden is back to normal after a wildly successful Chinese New Year celebration.  Lines just to get a picture with Mickey and MInnie in traditional Chinese attire stretched past the 90 minute mark.  Guests stood waiting for the character processions up to 45 minutes ahead of the performance times.  It is sure to return next year.

But for now, we can go back to enjoying the yummy Greek food and sitting in the tranquil setting.

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Spring

We round things out with some lovely shots of Disney California Adventure as the blossoms and other flora come alive at the park.  It’s hard to believe that, just 13 years ago, this park opened with not one, not two, but FIVE film based attractions, tours of a tortilla factory, and the mantra that if it was “good enough for Six Flags” it was good enough for DCA.

Today, things are quite different. Theme and story telling have won out and have been folded into the park (especially Cars Land and Buena Vista Street).

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That wraps things up for In the Parks this week.  We encourage all of you to join us at the MiceChat Anniversary festivities.  The paid events are now sold out, but the other events, including the D23 Fanniversary game are still available.  See you 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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17 Comments

Comments for In The Parks: California Adventure Turns 13, Tomorrowland Films, Disneyland Refurbs A-Plenty are now closed.

  1. That’s great news about the Tomorrowland filming. Always love seeing vintage Disney details. It’s certainly shaping up to be a very interesting film. They’ve managed to drum up some excitement with the Optimists game and filming in the park is all great publicity as well. Well done!

    Glad to hear that the Big Thunder delays may soon be coming to an end. With all these refurbs going on, it will be great to get an E-Ticket back!

  2. Great update, I always look forward to it. I’m excite to see Soarin may not be down while I’m there and I’ll keep my fingers crossed they’ll have a soft opening for Big Thunder Mountain while I’m there too! Thanks for sharing.

  3. If I look like a crazed maniac in the picture with Brad Bird, that’s actually raw admiration oozing out of me, unfiltered. Meeting your heroes doesn’t always go too well, but was a very gracious. Super nice guy.

  4. Everyone wasn’t there so much to see Mickey and Minnie (or chip n dale) in their Lunal Festival outfits they were there for Mulan and Mushu(from all the chatter in the line). That meet and greet didn’t go so well since they were only out for maybe 10-15 minutes after their show and the CM’s were letting people wait and let people pass when they got to the front (I’m talking large groups of about 25 people or so) making it hard to gauge the timing unless you wanted to do that also to meet them. Then there was the whole ‘oh our group of 6 people wants to take individual shots and interact with them individually with them then a group shot after) shenanigans. Other than that the event was fun though ;)

    • I passed on the crazy character lines. You’re right, I think the majority wanted to see Mulan and Mushu. The other problem with the event was they didn’t post showtimes for any of the performances, so guests were left to their own devices trying to get the info. Not fair to the many people, who, like myself, came specifically for the event.

    • Do Mulan and Mushu no longer make regular appearances in the park? I know they used to greet guests by the Lucky Fortune Cookery, but that was a couple years ago. Has that been discontinued since Mulan now makes an appearance in the Map show?

  5. Great update, as usual! Come on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, we’ve missed you!!! I can’t wait to see everyone this weekend!!! Special thanks to CaptPhoebus for those beautiful flower shots!

  6. Love your pictures!! Awesome update, too. I always look forward to your updates…really, really enjoy reading them. Thank you for the interesting tidbit about the vintage-style boats being used for the film.

  7. Those flower power photos are beyond beautiful. I’ve got Disneyland fever again.

  8. My only time at DCA being in July of 2012, the park still amazes me every time I see pictures of it. I loved the way they turned that quick service restaurant area into an area themed to the Chinese New Year. It was beautiful.

    While people have complained about Disney parks’ construction and renovations in the past leading to lots of walls and skims, I just think it is amazing overall the shape they keep the park in year round. I liked the “good enough for Six Flags” dig there, and I think it’s extremely true. As a Six Flags employee, our parks have limited operating schedules, and we have an entire off season to renovate and fix things, yet our parks are nowhere near the bar that disney sets. Hopefully I’ll be able to be in operations there some day.

  9. Thanks for the report.
    You know, it’s kind of funny to see the pictures of railings installed at Space Mountain to meet OSHA guidelines, and then see a screen – or literally, a sail – hanging from a boom lift at Small World in violation of OSHA and manufacturer guidelines. :-P

    WillG

  10. I think it would be nice to see the period boats in Small World stay after filming wraps. Maybe just placed at intervals through the line of boats.

  11. I loved the pictures. The flowers were amazing. Once again we have been blessed by all your hard work. Thank you!!!

  12. DCA has NO magic. It’s just a bunch of unrelated, stuff will no real appeal. Poor layout, with Nothing related to California except a fictional story about Walt. Stop wasting your money on this one.

    • In our first and only visit to the DLR in 2012, we found it had magic:
      -Paradise Pier: Toy Story Mania, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and World of Color all helped take a land that was not really Disney and brought in characters through interactive rides, one of my favorite Disney “fantasy” (if you will) dark rides, and a stellar night time show that can be reprogrammed allowing it to stay relevant for years to come.
      -Cars Land: The ability to walk and ride through Radiator Springs was definitely magic being able to join the world of the characters from the Cars movies was done beautifully.
      -Hollywood Land: Yes, this land was definitely lacking in my opinion still had the Tower of Terror, which I think is an awesome ride, especially as a huge Twilight Zone fan.
      -Condor Flats: While this area wasn’t the most magical, I still find Soarin’ to be an extremely impressive ride.

      Even rides like California Screamin’ and Grizzly River Run may not be the most magical, but they are a ton of fun. When the park opened, I agree that it lacked magic, but I think that for most people the updates that were finished in the summer of 2012 raised the bar putting the park into a place where it deserves the Disney name. I do understand, however, that everyone has different opinions, so I still respect your opinion as I can see where you’re coming from

  13. Great update as always.

    Thanks

  14. I want to point out a couple of things with regards to Soarin’ Over California and the projector changeover.

    First and foremost, digital projection is NOT an upgrade versus the current 15/70 IMAX film format used in Soarin’ Over California. The resolution of a 4K projector is not even equal to that of 35mm film, much less 70mm 15 perforation film. This is a downgrade to the attraction. The term HD is a misused consumer product term that should not be used for commercial applications since film exhibition quality has ALWAYS exceeded the resolution of high-definition.

    Second, IMAX does not offer a 4K digital projector setup and I suspect that they are not involved in this conversion. Presently, IMAX corporation offers a dual-2K projector set up known as IMAX Digital, which have been installed in hundreds of converted movie theaters throughout the United States. These theaters are often referred to by critics as LieMAX since they were not ground up built IMAX theaters with the giant screens the company is famous for. The digital theaters are also unable to display the full image if the movie is shot with the IMAX camera system, so in other words the image is cropped.

    In Southern California there are six official IMAX theaters (Edwards Irvine Spectrum, Edwards Ontario 20, AMC Universal CityWalk, Rave 18 at Howard Hughes, California Science Center and Edwards Valencia Stadium 12). The rest are LieMAX conversions.

    This year IMAX Corporation is expected to released a brand-new laser projector that they have been developing with Kodak. This new projector is expected to be able to produce an image that is equal to the 15/70 projectors. When this is released then they will begin to convert most of the original IMAX theaters. However, IMAX plans to keep the 15/70 option alive at many of these theaters, placing the new laser projector and the present 15/70 projector on rails so either or can be moved into position for use.