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Main Street Windows, Tomorrowland refurbs, California Construction, +MORE

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by , 05-03-2009 at 09:29 PM
Two Disney Legends were honored with new windows on Main Street last week. We've got photos of the new tributes, along with photos of the on-going Astro Orbiter and Cosmic Waves projects in Tomorrowland. And as always, we've got a look at the Disney's California Adventure construction.

As always, you can click on any of the Project Tracker image to be taken to the Disneyland or Disney's California Adventure tracker on MiceChat where you can get the latest news and discussion on the construction projects going on around the Resort. Speaking of Project Trackers, we just launched the 5th incarnation of the Disney's California Adventure Project Tracker on the MiceChat boards. The DCA Project Tracker has become an incredibly popular staple on the boards where the latest news and information on DCA's major $1.1 billion overhaul is tracked and discussed on a daily basis. If you haven't checked out the DCA Project Tracker yet, now is the time. Click on any of the DCA Project Tracker photos in today's update to go to the MiceChat thread.

Alright, let's get into this week's update!

Two Disney Legends and former Imagineers got honored with new windows on Main Street on Wednesday, April 29 in a private ceremony.

The late Don Edgren received a window above the Silhouette Studio, highlighting his career as an engineer for WED Imagineering.

Edgren is responsible for engineering such notable projects including New Orleans Square and Pirates of the Caribbean. The Disney Legends website has more details on Edgren's career at Imagineering.

Don Edgren, a professional engineer licensed in the states of California, Florida, and Hawaii, worked for Wheeler & Gray, Structural Engineers, at The Walt Disney Studios on the structural design/detail of Disneyland from late 1954 until the Park opened on July 17, 1955. "He was the original chief engineer 'in the field'-on the construction sites." Marty Sklar, The Walt Disney Company's international ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering recalls.

Don then coordinated structural design/detail from the Wheeler & Gray office on Disneyland expansion until June of 1961. "After his 'engineering baptism' at Disneyland in the early days," Marty says, "he was invited to join the staff of WED Enterprises in Glendale."

Don worked as a project engineer on the Ford Motor Company exhibit for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, and lived in New York during the construction of the Ford facility and the installation of the "Magic Skyway" show and ride, from March, 1963 to April, 1964.

Don led the Imagineering engineering team for New Orleans Square and Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, while also participating in the initial master planning for Walt Disney World in Florida. Don was promoted to vice president, engineering/Florida in 1969, and relocated there in August of that year as head of the field engineering efforts there.

Don returned to WED in Glendale in April of 1972 as vice president of engineering. He led the Imagineering engineers on the first Space Mountain (Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, December 1974), after which he left Disney briefly.

Returning to WED in May 1979 as director of engineering for Tokyo Disneyland, Don coordinated all engineering design activities, relocating to Japan in September of 1979. He returned stateside to WED in May 1983, where he was responsible for the direction and supervision of all project engineers.

Don retired from The Walt Disney Company in 1987.

The other honoree last week was Rolly Crump who was honored with a window on the old Hollywood-Maxwell's bra shop. The facade, which currently houses much of the China Closet store, is now Fargo's Palm Parlor, and Roland F. Crump is noted as Assistant to the Palm Reader.

To Disneyland fans, Rolly is well known for his hand in the Haunted Mansion, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, and "it's a small world's" famous clock tower. From the Disney Legends website:

Born February 27, 1930, in Alhambra, California, Rolly took a pay cut as a "dipper" in a ceramic factory to join Walt Disney Studios in 1952, and to help pay bills, built sewer man holes on weekends. He served as an in-between artist and later, assistant animator, contributing to "Peter Pan" (1953), "Lady and the Tramp" (1955), "Sleeping Beauty" (1959), and others.

In 1959, he joined show design at WED (Walter Elias Disney), Enterprises, now known as Walt Disney Imagineering. There, he became one of Walt's key designers for some of Disneyland's groundbreaking new attractions and shops, including Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tiki Room, and Adventureland Bazaar.

Rolly served as a key designer on the Disney attractions featured at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, including It's a Small World, for which he designed the Tower of the Four Winds marquee. When the attraction moved to Disneyland in 1966, Rolly designed the larger-than-life animated clock at the entrance, which sends puppet children on parade with each quarter-hour gong.

After contributing to the initial design of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida, and developing story and set designs for NBC's "Disney on Parade" in 1970, Rolly left the Company to consult on projects including Busch Gardens in Florida and California, the ABC Wildlife Preserve in Maryland, and Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus World in Florida, among others.

He returned in 1976 to contribute to EPCOT Center, serving as project designer for "The Land" and "Wonders of Life" pavilions. He also participated in master planning for an expansion of Disneyland until 1981, when he again departed to lead design on a proposed Cousteau Ocean Center in Norfolk, Virginia, and to launch his own firm, the Mariposa Design Group, developing an array of themed projects around the world, including an international celebration for the country of Oman.

In 1992, Rolly returned to Imagineering as executive designer, redesigning and refurbishing the "CommuniCore" pavilion-turned-"Innoventions" and "The Land" pavilion.

Rolly Crump "retired" from The Walt Disney Company in 1996, but don't believe it. He's still breathing life into original ideas at his home in Fallbrook, California.

The new Palm Parlor sign is fantastic.

"Fargo" is Rolly's middle name.

The slogan, "Predictions That Will Haunt You. Bazaar, Whimsical, and Weird" make reference to well-known projects that Rolly was involved with: Haunted Mansion, the Museum of the Weird (never built), "it's a small world," and the Adventureland Bazaar.

Sketches by Rolly Crump are featured on the window design as tarot cards. From left to right: Tiki God sketch, Tower of the Four Winds, Museum of the Weird coffin clock concept.

The Astro Obitor has been completely disassembled.

Even the surrounding themed lighting towers are being removed.

Work continues on Cosmic Waves down by Space Mountain.

Speaking of Space Mountain, its been cleaned up. Thanks to MiceChatter themur for the tip in last week's comments section. It looks great, and hopefully this sort of maintenance can become more frequent.

And the strip of Monorail beam next to the Tomorrowland Terrace is finally getting some TLC after its awning was damaged some months ago and a series of quick fixes never properly fixed the problem.

The entire area is behind walls now, and the damaged portion of awning is completely removed.

Progress continues to unfold in Paradise Pier as DCA's major overhaul continues...


The new marquee for Mickey's Fun Wheel was installed last week.

It's simple and about the same size as the old Sun Wheel sign. The sign uses the same support posts as the old Sun Wheel sign, just with a new coat of dark green paint. All-in-all, the sign is pretty underwhelming, but it works. The entrance for the attraction has been moved over a bit, more centrally aligned with the Wheel itself, as opposed to being off to the right.

The repositioning of the entrance will make the queue a bit more understandable for guests, which was previously a bit confusing due to after-the-fact changes to queue due to increased popularity of swinging gondolas, which wasn't accounted for in the original queue design.

Foundation work around the Orange Stinger for the Silly Symphony Swings' upcoming covered wooden queue seems to be winding down after being filled in with dirt.

The swings close July 27 for a nearly a year as they get rethemed with new Victorian theming and Mickey's Band Concert decorations.

Disney's Food and Wine Festival continues its six-week run. This weekend saw free culinary demonstrations from two celebrity chefs. Food Network's Cat Cora was featured on Saturday.

And over in Disneyland, construction walls are still up in Zocalo Park in Frontierland.

And to end our photos this week, some shots from around the park...

For a complete listing of theme park hours, please visit the Theme Park Calendar
Disneyland Park
Monday - Thursday: 10 am - 8 pm
Friday: 9 am - 12 midnight
Saturday - Sunday: 8 am - 12 midnight

Disney's California Adventure Park
Monday - Thursday: 10 am - 6 pm
Friday - Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm

Disneyland Park
  • Star Tours: Closed May 5 - 6 for refurbishment.
  • Astro Oribtor: Closed through June 12.
  • Peter Pan's Flight: Closed through June 7.
  • Hungry Bear Restaurant: Closed through 15.
  • Sailing Ship Columbia: Closed May 18 - 20.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures: Closed June 8 through July 3
  • Fantasmic! Returns June 12
  • Remember... Dreams Come True - A Fireworks Spectacular: Final performance June 9, 2009. Returns fall 2009.
  • Magical - A Fireworks Spectacular: Debuts June 11, 2009.
  • Pixie Hollow queue and pond: Opens with enhancements June 12
  • Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years/Main Street Opera House: Closed. Reopens as The Disneyland Story: Featuring Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln September 26, 2009.

Disney's California Adventure Park
  • Mickey's Fun Wheel: Closed for remodeling. Re-opens May 8, 2009, with soft openings beginning Monday, May 4.
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed May 18 - 22.
  • King Triton's Carousel: Closed through May 21.
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Adventure: Golden Dreams theater scheduled for demolition and new attraction construction scheduled to begin in May 2009.
  • Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack: Closes forever May 26.
  • Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle: Store and dining location closed for remodeling June 1, 2009 through June 2011, reopen date likely to change.
  • The Lucky Fortune Cookery: Unused food service location is being converted into larger Mexican-style food dining facility. Opens June 14.
  • Paradise Bay: Drained for construction of upcoming Disney's World of Color show.
  • Disney's World of Color Nighttime Spectacular: New show under construction. Debuts Spring 2010.
  • Golden State Park and Amphitheater: Closed. New, larger amphitheater for Disney's World of Color viewing under construction in same location. The new amphitheater will open December 2009.

Disney's D23 website published an article on Friday about the upcoming "Magical" fireworks show debuting June 11 as part of Disneyland's Summer Nightastic! promotion. The big news in the article was the information about the show's exclusive run, which will only last through this summer. The popular "Remember... Dreams Come True" show will return from hiatus in the fall.

05.01.09 - We already revealed some of the exciting details about Disneyland's new fireworks show, Magical, last week, but there's more to this display than meets the eye!

First off, Magical has an exclusive run: June 12 through August 23. Disneyland's Remember... Dreams Come True returns for the fall, so you have a limited amount of time to see the magic of Magical.

Along with soaring vocals from Broadway star Eden Espinosa and a lush score from Greg Smith, Magical features beloved Disney songs including (take a deep breath!): "The Second Star to the Right," "An Actor's Life for Me," "Give a Little Whistle," "I've Got No Strings," "It's A Jolly Holiday," "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Step in Time," "Let's Go Fly A Kite," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "Baby Mine," "So This Is Love," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Once Upon A Dream."

As with every Disney spectacular, Magical integrates new effects and technologies, including floodlights, customized "Magical" fireworks shells (that will burst both pink and blue — during a delightful "battle" between Sleeping Beauty's Flora and Merryweather), and, for the first time ever, a flying Dumbo!

Dumbo's soaring techniques are similar to those of Tinker Bell's (who will still, of course, appear in the show). "But it is a whole new type of technology," explains Disneyland Entertainment Productions Senior Show Director John Addis. "[Designer] Michael Curry's eyes got really wide when we went to him and said, 'We want to do Dumbo on a wire.' But he's risen to the occasion. I was just up there Monday and he said it was he best puppet he's ever done to reflect a character."

No doubt, the experience will be… Magical.

D23 has more information on the upcoming TLT Dance Club at Tomorrowland Terrace, which will open June 12.

05.01.09 - If a hot nightspot inside Disneyland featuring today's most popular music sounds like a familiar concept, you have something in common with Disneyland Entertainment Productions Senior Show Director John Addis.

"I opened Videopolis back in '85," John says, referring to the vibrant video dance club that once stood where the Princess Fantasy Faire now resides. "They packed the place. Kids would go and learn dances together." John says they wanted to bring the concept into 2009, and the Tomorrowland Terrace, which has frequently featured contemporary performances throughout the years, was the perfect spot for the new TLT Dance Club (skywalkers-in-training, have no fear, Jedi Training Academy will continue during the day — TLT will heat up nightly from 7–11 p.m. starting June 12). "We're going to have plasma screens in the venue, and you can actually text and your text messages will go up on the screen… I'm not quite sure how they're going to police that," he says with a laugh. Guests will also be able to text in their favorite song to a posted number. "At 8 o'clock at night they do 'Celebrate at 8,' and they will take all of the songs that everyone wants to hear and they'll do a countdown to the No. 1 song."

John also notes there will be a host who will keep the night grooving with games, trivia and trademarked Disney fun. Music, of course, will be the heart of TLT, with DJs from Southern California radio stations and local bands keeping things lively. "The asks are out, as they say," jokes John about possible performers and DJs. "But I haven't heard anything definite. I'm excited about the live music. Friday through Sunday we're going to have live bands."

Popular Hollywood blog site SlashFilm reported on Friday that the "secret" Star Wars filming in West Hollywood is work on the long-rumored Star Tours 2 project.

Secret Star Wars Production Shooting in Hollywood
Yesterday was the third day of a secret LucasFilm film shoot in West Hollywood. If you were allowed to enter the “LODESTAR” production stage, you would’ve seen Boba Fett, Admiral Ackbar, a Tusken Raider, and even some Jawas. C3PO himself Anthony Daniels will be filming later this week.

So what is LucasFilm shooting? The good news is that George Lucas isn’t making a another Star Wars movie (not yet anyways) or additional scenes for some super duper special edition. And No, the Star Wars live-action television series has yet to begin production. So what is it?

LucasFilm is shooting new footage for the Disney’s Star Tours ride. The ride really hasn’t been updated since it opened in 1987. It’s not the total podracer reboot that was rumored a few years back, thank God. I’m hearing that its essentially the same ride but updated. It sounds to me like they might be shooting the footage in 3D, but I’m not sure.

Our source reveals that the revamp will incorporate prequel characters (like Naboo citizens and Geonosians) along with many aliens from the original trilogy (Aqualish. Bith, Rodians, etc). In the action sequence, the Star Tours vehicle is now going to be chased by Boba Fett. C3PO and R2-D2 are still the hosts, and Anthony Daniels will be recording his parts this week. Admiral Ackbar holographically communicates with the Star Tours vehicle. Right now they’re shooting mostly green screen footage, as it is the middle part of the production timeline.

LA Times Funland blogger Brady MacDonald reported last week that Disneyland has confirmed that the Splash Mountain photo screeners have been cut, which was first reported by MiceAge's own Al Lutz in his April 21st column. Disney has claimed the occurrence of lewd acts for the Splash Mountain camera is rare, but the photo editors will return, "if necessary."

Could ‘Flash Mountain’ return, in light of Disneyland job cuts?
Call it an unexpected consequence of the bad economy: A recent round of staff reductions at Disneyland could result in the return of embarrassing episodes of public nudity at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Way back in 1997, a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times chronicled a scintillating Internet phenomenon involving the Anaheim theme park’s Splash Mountain log ride: Photos of women flashing their breasts at an automatic camera that snapped souvenir photographs during the final 50-foot drop were “unzip-a-dee-doo-dahing” their way around cyberspace, earning the ride the dubious nickname “Flash Mountain.”

[ . . . ] Over the ensuing decade, objectionable pictures of breast-baring women were “washed away” by Splash Mountain photo editors before they were projected on preview screens at the end of the ride, according to David Koenig, author of “More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland.”

Now, flash forward to 2009. Starting in May, the Splash Mountain photo editor positions will be eliminated as part of cost-cutting measures at Disneyland, according to MiceAge columnist Al Lutz.

“Admittedly the numbers of young ladies (term used loosely in this case) who lift their tops for the cameras for their shot at Flash Mountain infamy has lessened over the years,” wrote Lutz, who reports that the photo editing positions were eliminated months ago at the Splash Mountain ride in Florida.

[ . . . ] Disneyland officials confirmed that Splash Mountain photo screeners would be redeployed to other positions as of May 3.

“In evaluating the ride photo moderation role and process, we have determined that actual inappropriate behaviors by guests are rare,” Disneyland spokesperson Betsy Sanchez said in a written statement. “Ride photos will continue to be monitored by cast members at the point of sale. In addition, the current screening system will remain intact to provide the option for management to initiate image monitoring if necessary.”

Alright, that finishes up this week's column. I'd like to say thanks for all the feedback last week and appreciate your opinions and views regarding my comments about Mickey's Fun Wheel. I'd like all of you to know that I always aim to be honest in this column with my opinions while reporting the latest news and information. With that said, I never look for things to criticize at the parks, but I will openly discuss the good and bad whenever I see fit, and I always invite you to discuss it as well in the comments section. So, as always, feel free to discuss today's update in the comments section below!

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See you here again next week!
- Andy

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  1. C. Andrew Nelson's Avatar
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    Delighted to learn that a revamp of Star Tours is finally in production. I can't begin to tell you how many times when I was working at ILM that we thought it was going to happen and didn't for one reason or another. I'm looking forward to seeing the changes.

    Thanks for a great update! (Love the pictures too!)
  2. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update.
  3. pussnboots's Avatar
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    The Mickey's Fun Wheel sign is freaking lovely! Underwhelming my butt.
  4. Triton's Avatar
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    Good job as usual Andy, no worries for the fun wheel, most of the choir agrees with you.
  5. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update Andy!
  6. Fishbulb's Avatar
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    Spectacular job. seeing the front of tomorrowland without the big, obtrusive Astro-Orbitor blocking the flow really has me praying to the theme park gods right now that they never put the thing back up.
  7. SouthHrbrBlvd's Avatar
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    Awesome picture of Zambezi Miss! Finally, a Jungle Cruise picture!

    Great update!

  8. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    I REALLY hope that the fact that the astro orbiter is seemingly being fully removed means it's gone for good. However, it's possible they are just removing the planet rotation thing.

    Any chance of them moving it to where Cosmic Waves is??? It would still create congestion in that area, but not as bad as in the entrance area.
  9. cositaluvsmickey's Avatar
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    thank you for giving all these infrom me very well
  10. Tinkbelle's Avatar
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    "Any chance of them moving it to where Cosmic Waves is??? It would still create congestion in that area, but not as bad as in the entrance area."

    It is interesting that there is construction going on at both locations at the same time. I'd love for them to move it back there, but I bet they won't.
  11. Disneykin Kid's Avatar
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    Updating the existing Star Tours sounds much better than the pod race. The original was such a great concept, I think they would be hard pressed to come up with a better, different one. I hope it's true.
  12. Kritter's Avatar
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    I don't think the Fun Wheel sign is underwhelming at all! It looks 5 million times better than before.
  13. flynhawyn77's Avatar
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    Im hoping they just put the astro orbiter back where it belongs!!!!
  14. Seawolf's Avatar
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    I also agree the Fun Wheel sign is underwhelming, however it's way better than before. I'm hoping that it's only temporary until they get the funds in phase 2 so they can build that detailed queue we were looking for.

    It's amazing how nice tomorrowland's entrance looks now with the Astro Orbitor down. I really hope disney realizes this and moves it over temporarily to cosmic waves. Sincerely doubt it though since they have protected the water ball in the center and haven't removed it.
    Updated 05-04-2009 at 10:26 AM by Seawolf
  15. themur's Avatar
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    Great update and love the photos!

    Thanks for the shout out regarding Space Mt. As a Nor Cal guy, it isn't very often when I get to notice and "report" on something current!
  16. wdwnut4life's Avatar
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    great pics & hope flash mountain doesn't reopen.
  17. HMF's Avatar
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    Are we 100% certain that the Astro Orbitor is coming back. Seems like a waste of time to tear it down put it back up then tear it down again a year later.
  18. MickeyMousePal's Avatar
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    Great Update.
    Star Tours down for 2 days.
    We need the Astro Obiter back where it was before.
  19. Stef-fin!'s Avatar
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    Good thing they are working on peter pan. Perhaps a fastpass, or a longer Que? And are they going to redo the Astro orbiter and put it back on top of that large circular thing that has the same typ of construction on the top? Not the scince building across from that. I dunno. If they did, that would make the traffic in and out of Tommorrowland so much easier. And are they going to make all of DCA Victorian Style or just the area formerlly known as Paradise pier?

    Anyone else going to Gumbal Rally?
    I am. (= or am planning to.
  20. Crazee4mm's Avatar
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    Is the infastructure to the defunct "Cosmic Waves" being cannibalized to install the new "dancing water" jets for the new nighttime Pixie Hollow meet and greet?
    Updated 05-04-2009 at 08:03 PM by Crazee4mm (clarity)
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