Disney California Adventure was closed to regular guests on Thursday, June 14th. It was a chance for the media to get exclusive access to the park and for final touches to be made in preparation for Friday’s grand reopening of DCA. We’ll have full coverage of the public reopening ceremony for you later on Friday (be sure to check back). Until then, we’ve got a great update on some of the new things you can expect to find in the park, along with some photos of the private celebrity party thrown on Wednesday night. Aside from the grand reopening, the other big news was the media preview of World of Color’s new “Glow With The Show” interactive ear hats. It’s a spectacular new twist on an older show . . . and we’ve got the photos and video for you. Keep on reading folks, it’s a great update.
The day before, eager guests wanting to be the very first people into DCA 2.0 began arriving mid afternoon to try and claim a spot in line on Thursday the 14th. While Disney did not officially allow people to line up on their property until 11pm, the demand was too overwhelming to simply ignore.
The 15 minute lot on Harbor avenue was closed down in the evening and used as a holding pen for thousands of guests that accumulated by 10:30pm. We have to give Disney credit for realizing this and taking care of it.
At exactly 11pm, the some 3,000 guests were very carefully walked along the bus loading route and screened through the security tents. Compare this with the mere 900 that waited overnight on DCA’s opening day in 2001, and you have an idea of how badly people want this to be a better park. We don’t think they will be dissapointed.
Once inside the esplanade, another queue was set up with yellow tape on the ground and the thousands of guests took their place outside the gates.
Nicco Ramos and Jazmin Cunningham were the first guests in line by
arriving at 3:05pm earlier in the day.
We are sure that the guests who have waited all night will not be disappointed. If they are a little sleepy they can always get a Starbucks at the FFP just inside the gate at opening. UPDATED AT 7:30 AM on Friday the 15th: There is still PLENTY of room in the Esplanade to hold more guests. If you were worried about coming to DCA today, head on over to the park. It will be busy, but you should be able to make it in this morning. We’ll do our best to update conditions throughout the day. Please follow our twitter and facebook pages for up to date info. Or better yet, download our new iPhone app which includes attraction wait times, crowding heat map and chat room so you can ask questions. The app is free and can be found here: MouseAddict Featuring MiceChat
Once all these folks make it inside the park, it’s a whole new world. Let’s start at the very beginning. The new entrance to Disney California Adventure is called Buena Vista Street. It is based on an idealized version of 1920′s Los Angeles, much like what Walt Disney may have been greeted with upon arriving to California. Each and every square foot of this once vapid entrance has been transformed into an inviting overture of hope and optimism. Gone it the world’s largest tile mural, in favor of a more romantic place where dreams and aspirations come true.
Even the characters get into the act, with period appropriate costumes
And street performers play town characters
Even the new Red Car Trolley helps make Buena Vista Street feel real
The imagineers worked very hard to create a true sense of place here, to thrust visitors into a living, breathing atmosphere. They did so by creating rich back stories for each of the new shops and eateries in the land.
We start with the right hand side of the street. Here, in the same familiar locations, are the lockers and restrooms. However, surrounding them are the backstories and the area residents told through signs and voices heard from the balconies above.
The new lockers and restrooms area
On the corner is the open air Mortimer’s Market. A reference to the original name Walt wanted to call Mickey Mouse (before Lillian had him change it). The story goes that the proprietor, a man named Mortimer McKenzie, was a short man with a high voice. A young Walt Disney could very well have found inspiration from this colorful character in creating Mickey.
Passing through a set of doors to the right of the market we enter a grouping of stores, Kingswell, Camera Shop, Julius Katz and Sons, and Julius Katz Watch repair. Both “run” by the Katz family, of course. These two shops serve as the stop for photo pass pics and photo supplies on Buena Vista Street.
After walking from the Katz stores, through the Atwater Ink and Paint Art Supply, we arrive at Trolley Treats. The candy store is a lovely homage to the Candy Palace on Main street across the way. It even has a full window looking into the kitchen so that guests can see the masters of confectionery delights at work.
Atwater ink and paint
Adjoined to the FFP is Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream. The wrought iron queues, and hanging light fixtures are stunning. The “story” behind Clarabelle’s is that it was inspired by an ice cream shop that young Walt might have visited in the early 1920′s. The Clarabelle here is “Clarabelle Cowherd”. She creates her ice cream treats with farm fresh products. The shop is decorated with a bovine theme.
Finally we get to one of our favorite places in the entire expansion, the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical cafe.
A reference to the three little pigs (which is why many folks are calling this location the Pig Cafe), the FFP was founded by the the fictional singing trio, the Silverlake singers. The walls are peppered with “vintage” photography from their amazing careers prior to opening their cafe.
Primo People watching windows.
Just a tip: There are two lines here. Folks tend to just get in line behind the person in front of them and never realize that there is an empty line on the left.
Another tip. They accept your Starbucks cards here. You’ll even earn points with your Starbucks Gold Card (though the perks like free soy and flavors don’t work here)
And a few extra things thrown in.
We step out from here and onto Buena Vista Circle where the beautiful fountain sets a dramatic mood in front of the iconic Carthay circle theater. The Carthay is a recreation of the theater that Walt Disney premiered Snow White and represents the culmination of his dreams in his own California Adventure.
Going back to the front of the park, and starting on the left side is Oswald’s Gas and Oil. This is your location for last minute items and souvenirs. From here we see the Chamber of Commerce, aka Guest Relations, and First aid.
Chamber of Commerce and First Aid
The left hand corner of Buena Vista Street begins with the Los Feliz Five and Dime. Another last minute merchandise shop, it is indoors and connects to Big Top toys.
Need a new Ear Hat? No problem!
The first store that is thematically a part of the Elias and Co. Department store that runs the entire left side of the street, Big Top Toys sells dolls, plush animals and costumes for the younger ones.
We segue from here into the Children’s Depatment. What is most striking is the true feel that they have captured of a real department store. There are no cramped aisles or passages, but sweeping, elegant appointments with merchandise on display. It has a very different feel to it than the other stores at the resort.
Next to the Children’s department is Women’s. Here is where the lovely light fixtures hang on display and face the windows.
Then we are on to the Men’s department.
Finally, what department store would be complete without a jewelry counter?
And that is it for the stores.
BUENA VISTA PARK
BV Park is where guests are encouraged to sit, lounge and people watch. It is also the place where the new Storytellers statue is on display.
Walt and Mickey have just arrived, suitcases in hand. It’s a nostalgic and emotional sight. Just the right tone for the area and a loving tribute to Walt Disney.
The view of the front gate from Buena Vista Park
The area features atmosphere entertainment such as the Five and Dime, and the Red Car news boys. These are good entertainment offerings but one far outshines the other through simplicity.
Five and Dime
Five and Dime is a live musical group with a starlet vocalist who engages the crowd and invites participation. through a little bit of fun, music and jokes they make a real connection and create memories.
Red Car Trolly Newsboys
While the Red Car Trolly boys are full of energy, the beat to the music that they sing and dance to nearly kills what would otherwise be a highly entertaining show. What’s sad is the fact that, had they just dialed the base down a tad in the arrangement of the music, the problem might not have been so evident. It’s an easy adjustment that would improve this show. Let’s hope they play with it.
As you can see, the performers put a lot of heart and soul into this show!
CARS LAND CELEBRITY GRAND OPENING
Cars Land finally opened with a huge celebration and red carpet arrivals. We were there to share with you some of the fun and glitzy excitement.
Michael Wallace, the voice of the Sheriff
Tom Staggs (President of Disney’s Parks and Resorts) – He and John Lasseter really pulled off a miracle
Larry the Cable Guy
After the red carpet arrivals the stage was set for an epic opening.
Bob Iger, CEO Disney
Tom Staggs takes the stage
John Lasetter – This is his dream project
Bob Iger, Tom Staggs and even John Lasetter took part in the presentation. With the flip of a “Switch”, sparks burst from various buildings in Radiator Springs and suddenly Cars Land came to life.
Then Bob Gurr and John Ratzenberger attacked us
Please check back with us later today for full coverage of the Friday morning public reopening ceremony of Disney California Adventure.
GLOW WITH THE SHOW
Another item that debuted last night was the new Glow with the Show addition to World of Color. What is Glow with the show? Through the use of special light up mickey ears, It is a way for guests to actually become part of the World of Color performance in a very surprising and magical way.
Creative Entertainment Vice President of Parades & Spectaculars Steve Davison had this to say…
“Glow with the Show now lets our guests become part of the color of our magical ‘World of Color’ at the Paradise Bay lagoon,” describes Steve Davison, Creative Entertainment Vice President of Parades & Spectaculars. “Throughout the show, the Glow with the Show Ears become a set of pixels that dance and play along with each sequence in ‘World of Color’ in a bright and dynamic way. For example, during the show, guests become part of the ocean with the Little Mermaid, a shining galaxy of stars for WALL-E and Eve, an extension of the Genie’s magic in ‘Friend Like Me,’ among other interactive explosions of color throughout the entire show. It truly brings the show’s environment out of the lagoon and into the audience in an amazing and dazzling new way!”
Suffice it to say that what we saw was truly breathtaking. Thousands of little light up mickey ears were all choreographed and synched to the show and reflected what was happening in the lagoon.
Disney has announced special annual pass holder previews for this impressive new aspect to the show. The events will take place June 28-30, 2012 at 11:45 p.m., with different night for different passholders.
Thursday, June 28
Southern California, Deluxe, Premium and Premier Annual Passholders
Friday, June 29
Deluxe, Premium and Premier Annual Passholders
Saturday, June 30
Premium and Premier Annual Passholders.
The hats are now on sale at Oswald’s and and other hat locations. They are being sold for $23.20. They do have an impressive effect on the show if everyone in the audience has a pair on. But at that price, we may see more than a few dark spots in the crowd.
Here is a video from Andy Castro at Dateline Disneyland of a portion of the performance, including the new Brave sequence.
Over at Disneyland, the Matterhorn has reopened after a massive refurbishment. The ride now has new vehicles and a single rider line. Disneyland coverage, including photos and video of the new Matterhorn at the link: Matterhorn Reopens, Voices of Liberty, New Carnation Cafe, and Construction Updates from Disneyland
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