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Dateline Disneyland

Magical fireworks previews, D23 gears up, Nightastic, Astro Orbitor, DCA, +MORE!

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by , 06-08-2009 at 01:19 AM
Good morning and welcome to the June 8 edition of Dateline Disneyland! I am back from Florida and have had just enough time to scour the Disneyland Resort to bring you a super-sized update! We've got an early look at the brand new "Magical" fireworks show that Disneyland is now testing nightly in the park. You'll also be updated on all of the Resort's many construction projects from Disneyland's Astro Orbitor and Cosmic Waves to DCA's Paradise Bay and Downtown Disney's new tenants. I'll also briefly share some thoughts on my visit to Walt Disney World in central Florida and how the Florida resort stacks up against Walt Disney's original theme park.

I'd like to say thanks to MiceChat's wonderful Fishbulb for helping me out last week and doing a bang-up job filling in while I was off on vacation.

Of course, throughout today's update you'll find our Disneyland Resort and Disney's California Adventure Project Tracker watermarks on a lot of photos -- click on them to be taken to their Project Tracker thread on MiceChat where you'll find information and on-going discussion on the progress of those projects.

There is a LOT to get to today, so let's dig right in, shall we?

D23 Expo banners have replaced the What Will You Celebrate? banners in the Resort area on Harbor Blvd and Katella.

Tickets for the inaugural D23 Expo went on sale on June 3, and the event promises to be a lot of fun.

The entire event schedule is still being ironed out, but so far the confirmed keynote speakers, panel discussions, previews, and exhibits sound pretty promising.

Take a look at the D23 Expo press release:

D23 EXPO, the Ultimate Disney Fan Experience, Comes to the Anaheim Convention Center Sept. 10-13
Four Extraordinary Days of Live Events, Interactive Pavilions and One-of-a-Kind Entertainment Celebrate the Past, Present and Future of Disney

ANAHEIM and BURBANK, Calif., June 3 -- Disney fans will be given unprecedented access to never-before-seen movies, TV shows, park experiences, collectibles and more from Sept. 10 to Sept. 13 at the Anaheim Convention Center when Disney and D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans present the first-ever D23 EXPO.

Tickets to the D23 EXPO are available [June 3] at Admission includes access to all experiences and entertainment at the D23 EXPO and can be purchased for single days or for the full four days of festivities. Admission is discounted for members of D23.

"We hope this will be the ultimate event for the multitude of fans who have been so instrumental in Disney's success," said Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. "The D23 Expo represents the finest in Disney entertainment from across our great company and will offer a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience for people of all ages to enjoy."

Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle added, "The upcoming D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center will serve as an exciting opportunity to present Anaheim to the millions of Disney enthusiasts around the world. For the thousands of inaugural-year D23 Expo attendees who will visit our city in September, this will be a special and a memorable time in the birthplace of Walt Disney's original theme park. It is a great honor for Anaheim and the Anaheim Convention Center to host this event."

Among the centerpiece events of the D23 EXPO will be an extraordinary, exclusive opportunity to get early glimpses of several all-new Disney feature films. Only at the D23 EXPO will guests preview a wide range of upcoming movie events, including The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel, Disney's A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, TRON, Toy Story 3, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Walt Disney Pictures will present these special sneak peeks in a state-of-the-art cinema built especially for the D23 EXPO.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will take D23 EXPO guests behind the scenes to explore the rich legacy and exciting future of Disney's theme parks and vacation destinations worldwide. Highlights will include a special look at what's being imagineered for the future of Disney's California Adventure, a peek behind closed doors at the amazing new technologies defining today's and tomorrow's Disney theme park experience, and the opportunity to meet and hear from the Imagineers, Cast Members and key Disney Parks and Resorts executives who create lasting memories for millions every year.

In many different ways, the D23 EXPO will explore the history and heritage of Walt Disney and the company he founded more than 80 years ago. The D23 EXPO will be home to the 2009 Disney Legends Awards - a 22-year tradition that pays tribute to the talented men and women who have made indelible contributions to Disney entertainment. This year's recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 12, marking the first time the prestigious event has been held off Disney property.

In an extraordinary exhibition designed especially for the D23 EXPO, an incredible collection of classic and contemporary Disney props, artifacts and costumes will be accessible to the public for the first time ever. "Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives" brings together such amazing pieces as the fully restored, 11-foot model of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; the stunning, jewel-encrusted book used in the opening moments of Sleeping Beauty; and other rare surprises from throughout Disney's history. Ranging from the original Mickey Mouse Club and the musical classic Mary Poppins to recent hits like Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical, the "Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives" is a never-before-experienced exhibition that's a D23 EXPO exclusive.

The D23 EXPO spotlight will also shine on Disney Channel's brightest stars in a can't miss-special event. There will also be an ESPN Sports Lounge, live broadcasts from Radio Disney, and a preview of ABC's new fall primetime shows, details of which will be announced in the coming weeks at

For Disney fans who want to take home part of the magic, Disney Consumer Products will offer myriad opportunities to do just that. Only at the D23 EXPO will guests be able to walk through the eight-room "Disney Dream Home," celebrate the holidays Disney-style, see fine art created before their eyes, learn about Disney Fairy Tale Weddings, experience Disney couture fashion shows, meet and hear from the authors of a dazzling array of Disney books, prepare for trick-or-treating with the latest Disney Store Halloween costumes, and more ... all under one roof.

The D23 EXPO also will be home to the "Disney Dream Store," where guests will find exclusive D23 EXPO merchandise and collectibles; the Disney pin-trading headquarters; and much more, including the chance to build your own Mouse ears.

Showcasing Disney's appeal to fans of every generation, the D23 EXPO has created a multi-layered experience: Avid Disney enthusiasts can attend dozens of specially created panels and celebrity-speaker events, details of which will be announced over the next several weeks. Younger Disney fans, meanwhile, will be able to experience special interactive play areas, meet their favorite Radio Disney DJs broadcasting live, watch "Princess makeover" demos from the Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique, and have fun in the Baby Einstein play area. Together, families can enjoy the Disney Crafts Center and learn about scrapbooking, Disney-style.

The D23 Collectors' Forum will present a wide range of options for collectors to show and sell their Disney memorabilia, and those interested in exhibiting can visit for more information.

Fans also will be able to view and even take part in the first-ever Disney Fan Art Gallery, which will include the finalists in the Donald Duck 75th Anniversary Portrait Contest, as well as a one-of-a-kind fan art show. Full details and contest rules can be found at or

All activities at the D23 EXPO are included in single- and four-day admissions, including the "50 and Fabulous Film Festival," which honors three classic Disney movies that are celebrating their golden anniversaries this year. Sleeping Beauty, The Shaggy Dog and Darby O'Gill and the Little People, all originally released in 1959, will be presented on the big screen, one movie each evening, for Disney fans of all ages to enjoy together. Also featured at the D23 EXPO will be a special screening of Walt Disney Pictures' upcoming Tinker Bell: Lost Treasure, along with an in-depth exploration of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition, which will be released this fall by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

Tickets to the D23 EXPO, which go on sale today, are $37 for a one-day adult admission and $27 for children 3-12. To experience every bit of entertainment and excitement at the D23 EXPO, four-day passes are also available at $111 for adults and $81 for children. Members of D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans will receive a discount on up to four same-day admissions, as well as early entry to each day of the D23 EXPO for themselves and their guests.

Special vacation packages are available at the D23 EXPO website, from both the Walt Disney Travel Company (including Disneyland Resort hotel accommodations, D23 EXPO tickets and theme park admission), and the Anaheim Convention and Visitors' Bureau, which is offering a limited number of area hotel rooms at special rates to those attending the D23 EXPO.

Many more details about the entertainment, events and special guests that will be part of the first-ever D23 EXPO will be announced in the coming weeks. Fans can keep up with all of the announcements by visiting, as well as by following "Disney D23" at Twitter and on Facebook.

And if you aren't a D23 member, it's increasingly becoming a bargain to drop the $75 and sign up. Not only do you get the quarterly Disney twenty-three magazine (which retails for $15 each), but you also get access to some pretty spectacular events, the first series of which kicked off with the "Up All Night" event at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. In addition to the memers-only free and discounted summer events, D23 members also get a nice discount on D23 Expo tickets, plus a few other members-only perks at the Expo.

Luckily for you non-members, you can now buy D23 membership gift cards at the domestic Disney theme parks. They cost $74.95 and give the redeemer a year-long membership to the club. So buy one for yourself, or gift it to someone else.

I must admit, I was pretty skeptical of D23 when it launched earlier this year, but after seeing the lineup of free summer events and experiencing the spectacular D23 Flowers and Fireworks event at Epcot last week, I'm a believer. If Disney continues to deliver on events and makes the membership worth the $75, then I have no problems being a happy D23 member.

Over in Tomorrowland, work continues on the big Astro Orbitor refurbishment. The structure is now completely rebuilt and is now undergoing regular testing.

The new color scheme can now fully be seen, and in person it works. While it would have been nice to get rid of or move the Astro Orbitor and the crowd-unfriendly rocks, the new colors tie together the Tomorrowland color scheme, and the finished product looks pretty good.

The Astro Orbitor is set to reopen June 12, just in time for the launch of Disneyland's Summer Nightastic! promotion.

Going into Tomorrowland, the missing tile on the top of the entry wall has been missing for weeks (maybe months?) now.

And another tile, at the bottom of the wall is about to fall off, too.

The former Cosmic Waves area down in the Space Mountain promenade is coming along nicely. New planers with benches have taken shape, providing a nice additional seating area for wary space travelers.

We recently reported on the long-damaged Monorail awning and showed you the first steps towards replacing it. A sleek and shiny new metal awning has taken the place of the old bulky one, and it looks pretty good.

Over in New Orleans Square, the Harbour Galley is officially open for business. The dining location previously sold McDonald's fries, and has been closed since last fall. We recently showed you the underwhelming new menu offerings, and if soup bread bowls and salads are your kind of thing, the Harbour Galley is your place.

Over in Frontierland's Zocalo Park, the new water fountains are now open.

Over in Fantasyland, Peter Pan's Flight has reopened, now with boats that are reportedly designed to handle up to four guests.

Of course, construction continues in full force over at Disney's California Adventure.

Last week, Fishbulb showed you the new landscaped bench area that was uncovered in the Golden State Park area, otherwise known as DCA's Christmas Tree Point.

We're taking another look at it now...

...including the new pavement in the area, compared to the previous groundwork. The steps that drop guests down to the Pacific Wharf bridge feature nice accent tiles, and the darker portions of the ground resemble stone. It looks nice, kind of elegant, but I wonder how it will play off the Victorian theme this area is supposed to be adopting.

The old darker areas featured a square pattern stamped into the textured concrete.

The huge World of Color show continues to come together in Paradise Bay.

Rock work is getting ready to be added to the black structures that were built on the outskirts of the Bay.

And the viewing area's extension walkway is now all concreted in.

Construction walls for the Little Mermaid's new mega-dark ride now stretch all the way from the old San Francisco Street restrooms all the way to Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack.

It's interesting to think that this entire strip of DCA will soon be moving on to Yesterland, and will look dramatically different in only a couple short years.

The recently closed Corn Dog Castle (seen in the photo above), won't be closed forever. The construction walls in front of it are for retheming work, not demolition. However, if you need your corn dog fix while you're at DCA, you can head over to the Bountiful Valley Farmer's Market and grab one while Corn Dog Castle is temporarily closed.

Sorry, though, no hot link dogs or cheese dogs are available during the closure.

Over on Pacific Wharf, the old Lucky Fortune Cookery building continues its conversion into a larger version of the nearby Cocina Cucamonga Mexican restaurant. Latin-themed lighting fixtures have gone up behind the construction walls, but a new marquee for the dining location has yet to arrive.

A Lucky Fortune Cookery sign is still present on the side of the restaurant.

Over at the Blue Sky Cellar, you might want to pop in in the coming weeks to get a final look at some of the current exhibits.

The Cellar will close July 10 for a few days to switch out the old Midway Mania and Games of the Boardwalk models and displays with new pieces showcasing more current projects.

Work continues on the new Disney Studio 365 boutique/salon in the former Club Libby Lu store.

New signage on the construction wall tells guests what's coming.

The Illuminations location is now closed and empty.

Further down, the former Starabilias celebrity collectibles shop will soon reopen as Kitson Kids.

Disney issued a press release announcing the new store last week:

Disneyland Resort Announces Kitson Kids Coming to Downtown Disney District
The hip children’s store is slated to open July 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 2, 2009) — Disneyland Resort is excited to announce an agreement with Kitson Kids for a new retail store in Downtown Disney. Slated to open in July 2009, it will be the first location in Orange County and the first Kitson Kids outside Los Angeles. Kitson Kids will be located near the entrance to Downtown Disney, adjacent to AMC theaters.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kitson Kids to Downtown Disney,” said Tony Bruno, vice president Disneyland Resort hotels and Downtown Disney. “Kitson Kids offers a hip blend of merchandise that Orange County shoppers will only find here. Kitson Kids is a great fit with Downtown Disney’s eclectic blend of shops, restaurants and entertainment.”

Kitson first opened its doors in 2000 in Los Angeles and shortly after launched Kitson Kids, which quickly became a favorite shopping destination among celebrities, trendsetters and their children. The shop sells designer duds, shoes, toys and books for tots to tweens.

“Kitson is among the most publicized apparel boutiques in the world and a partnership with Disney, one of the greatest companies in the world, is truly incredible,” said Dean Khial, Kitson’svice president of marketing. “If there is one thing that Kitson knows best, it’s the cool California lifestyle and we plan to continue that in our new Kitson Kids boutique at Downtown Disney.”

A lush garden oasis during the day and an energizing entertainment district at night, Downtown Disney is the high-energy place for Southern California locals. Guests can experience a great variety of shopping, dining and entertainment.

Guests were notified of filming on Main Street Saturday evening with signs posted at the entry tunnels.

Cameramen were positioned on Main Street rooftops between the Emporium and Center Street.

The filming was apparently for a new Summer Nightastic! promo piece featuring an elaborate wedding engagement that included song and dance that had nods to the Summer Nightastic! offerings.

The entire setup was pretty well-staged, and many guests left the scene believing they saw a real proposal, and exclaiming how cute and romantic the entire spectacle was.

Even before the night was over, MiceChat was buzzing over the whole thing. MiceChatter Armadillo4 posted a video of part of the production, and left a bunch of MiceChatters wondering if the whole thing was the real deal. Here's the video from Armadillo4's thread, by YouTube user vivian1103:

Watch the video and keep an ear open for blatant Summer Nightastic! references:
  • The pin trader woman asks her to trade a Pixie Hollow pin. (Pixie Hollow will be open at night with new lighting effects as part of the Summer Nightastic! promotion)
  • The guys dancing with the light-up spinner toys dance to the Disney's Electrical Parade theme (The Electrical Parade will roll out new floats and enhanced lighting effects and an updated soundtrack during Summer Nightastic!)
  • One of the background dancer guys is wearing a Sorcerer Mickey hat and a Fantasmic! jacket. (Fantasmic! will reopen for Summer Nightastic! with updated special effects, a brand new dragon, and new Flotsam and Jetsam eels)
  • After the girl says "Yes," the group breaks out singing "It's a Summer Nightastic!"


The big news last week was the first previews of Disneyland's new "Magical" fireworks show.

The show features the traditional Tinker Bell fly over, as well as new 10K searchlights

And the big show stopper, is of course, the first-ever flight of Dumbo in the skies above Sleeping Beauty Castle.

The new flying Dumbo puppet is really impressive. As the show title promises, Dumbo's moment is pretty magical.

The magic that brings Dumbo to life is pretty interesting, too. Brady MacDonald at the LA Times Funland blog talked with Dumbo creator, puppeteer Michael Curry:
Flying Dumbo to star in new Disneyland fireworks show

When Disneyland decided to introduce a flying Dumbo elephant into the new Magical fireworks show, master puppeteer Michael Curry knew the success of the venture would come down to just one thing.

“It’s all about the ears,” said Curry, a longtime Disney collaborator. “I wanted it to look like he was flying.”

Rather than an audio-animatronic machine floating robotically above Sleeping Beauty Castle, Curry envisioned a dancer in space performing on a wire 65 feet above the ground.

“I knew I wanted to build it around a human,” Curry said.

Curry’s puppets have appeared in the opening ceremonies of the 1996 and 2002 Olympics, the Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show, the Broadway production of “The Lion King,” the Cirque du Soleil production of “Love” in Las Vegas, the “Aladdin” stage show at Disney’s California Adventure and countless parades at Disney theme parks.

At the beginning of the Dumbo brainstorming process, Curry set up a video projector aimed at a blank wall in his production facility outside Portland, Ore., in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens.

Curry “climbed inside” the projected Dumbo image and pretended to manipulate the ears with his arms. But how to move the head, trunk and legs at the same time? And then came Curry’s a-ha moment.

Within two days, his crew had crafted an aluminum frame attached to a flying harness that allowed a puppeteer hidden inside the elephant to create sympathetic motions — linking, say, a head tilt to a body twist with a simple hand movement.

Careful to minimize the overall weight of the Dumbo puppet, Curry’s crew crafted a lightweight frame with the puppeteer’s upper body positioned inside the elephant’s carbon-fiber head and the performer’s lower extremities inside the pachyderm’s inflatable body.

With an economy of motion, the puppeteer manipulates both ears with one hand and the head and trunk with the other hand. The puppeteer’s legs operate Dumbo’s front legs while the elephant’s rear legs remain motionless.

During the prototype phase, Curry’s crew simulated 15- to 18-mph winds that caused the elephant’s ears — each the size of a sheet of plywood — to turn into wind sails. Test puppeteers practiced for countless hours to master the art of flight.

The final challenge: making the relatively small blue-gray elephant pop out against the night sky under the glow of a spotlight. The solution: a green body and pink head that look hideous in the daylight but very much like the original Disney animation during the fireworks show.

“I was almost in tears at how good it looks,” Curry said.

The show is all-in-all pretty solid. Dumbo's appearance seals the deal, and the new lights are a nice touch. Of course, it's hard to follow up a show like "Remember... Dreams Come True," which is arguably Disney's best fireworks show ever, but Magical does a pretty good job of filling the spot. The music is great with strong vocals from Broadway's Edin Espinosa, the show has great pacing, and the fireworks are as big and bright as ever. The show officially debuts June 12 and will run through the summer.

Below is video of the entire show, in two parts. If you want to wait and see the show in person, skip the videos.

Last weekend was the final weekend for the 2009 Disney's California Food and Wine Festival. Celebrity pastry chef Keegan Gerhard from Food Network held a free culinary demo on Saturday.

The Grand Californian Hotel's White Water Snacks snack bar got some minor upgrades recently, including a new case for grab-n-go snacks

As well as a big new freezer for frozen treats

And a big new baked goods case holds more freshly-baked goodies

The billboards at the Resort Main Entrance Plaza are now advertising Summer Nightastic

The Remember... Dreams Come True attraction poster is still on display in Disneyland's entrance tunnels. Will it be replaced with a new poster for Magical?

And finally, we'll finish up the photo section of today's update with some shots from around the parks...

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

Disney's California Adventure Park
Monday - Tuesday: 10 am - 9 pm
Wednesday - Thursday: 10 am - 6 pm
Friday - Saturday: 10 am - 9 pm
Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm

Disneyland Park
  • Astro Oribtor: Closed through June 12.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures: Closed June 8 through July 3
  • Pinocchio's Daring Journey: Closed July 20 through August 14.
  • The Enchanted Cottage: Closed through July 29 through November 17.
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train: Closed August 31 through November 20.
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats: Closed August 31 through November 20.
  • Fantasmic! Returns June 12.
  • Magical - A Fireworks Spectacular: Debuts June 11, 2009.
  • Remember... Dreams Come True - A Fireworks Spectacular: On hiatus. Returns fall 2009.
  • Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years/Main Street Opera House: Closed. Reopens as The Disneyland Story: Featuring Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln December 17, 2009.

Disney's California Adventure Park
  • Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar: Closed to change exhibits July 10 - 15.
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Adventure: Under construction. Golden Dreams theater is scheduled for demolition to make way for new attraction.
  • Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack: Closed permanently and will be removed.
  • Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle: Store and dining location closed for remodeling through May 2011.
  • The Lucky Fortune Cookery: Unused food service location is being converted into larger Mexican-style food dining facility. Opens June 18.
  • Cocina Cucomonga: Food service location closes June 18, when new location opens. Reopens with new menu September 14.
  • Orange Stinger: Closes July 14 to be rethemed as Silly Symphony Swings. Reopens April 28, 2010.
  • 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.

Ed Grier, President of the Disneyland Resort and Meg Croftin, President of Walt Disney World squared off last week in a all-in-good-fun wager over the LA Lakers and Orlando Magic game. The wager included bathing Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in purple and gold light at night (WDW's Cinderella Castle got a blue treatment)

Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort Presidents Celebrate NBA Finals With Friendly Wager
ANAHEIM, Calif./LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (June 3, 2009) – Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton and Disneyland President Ed Grier are squaring off – all in fun – as their local teams, the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers, head for the NBA Finals.

With both Disney parks asking guests “What Will You Celebrate?” in 2009, Grier and Crofton are getting in the act, making a celebratory wager on the outcome of the NBA Finals: If the Magic win, Grier will walk down Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park wearing a pair of specially made Mickey Mouse ears in Magic blue and silver. If the Lakers win, Crofton will don a pair of Lakers’ purple and gold mouse ears and walk down Main Street, U.S.A. at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom.

“The Lakers are going to make your team very Grumpy this week,” predicted Grier to Crofton.

“But we have ‘Magic’ on our side,” countered Crofton. “And isn’t that what Disney is all about?”

Crofton and Grier went through their respective parks Wednesday looking for supporters. Grier shot some hoops with Donald and Pluto in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, while Crofton (along with Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale) drummed up Orlando Magic support in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.
The park presidents even pledged to turn the lights of their respective castles to their team colors in celebration of the historic pairing.


The Disney Fairies website is giving you the chance to win a four-day Disneyland Resort vacation including four-day ParkHopper tickets, Disney hotel accommodations, round-trip airfare, and a special meet-n-greet with Tinker Bell!

You can enter-to-win through 11:50 AM PST on June 29.

Visit for more information.

LA Times Funland blogger, Brady MacDonald spoke with master puppeteer Michael Curry recently about the new Flotsam and Jetsam eels that will debut June 12 with the newly enhanced Fantasmic!

Flotsam and Jetsam eels to join Fantasmic cast at Disneyland
When Disneyland decided to incorporate Ursula’s evil eels Flotsam and Jetsam from “Little Mermaid” into the updated Fantasmic show, master puppeteer Michael Curry drew inspiration from a novelty shop wooden wiggle snake.

“I wanted a sense of swimming, of serpentine motion and menace,” said Curry, a long-time Disney collaborator. “Since it’s an underwater movie, it made sense to use the water as a stage.”

Curry’s puppets have appeared in the opening ceremonies of the 1996 and 2002 Olympics, the Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show, the Broadway production of “The Lion King,” the Cirque du Soleil production of “Love” in Las Vegas, the “Aladdin” stage show at Disney’s California Adventure and countless parades at Disney theme parks.

To tackle the task of bringing Flotsam and Jetsam to life, Curry and his crew employed an eel puppet mounted on top of a nimble high-performance Jet Ski.

The 34-foot-long aluminum pontoon sub-frame — built of military-grade super-lightweight carbon fiber and a stainless steel typically used in submarines — pivots at 14 points just like the toy snake.

The ingenious invention faced one huge hurdle: “Boats tend to turn over,” Curry said.

To avoid disaster on Disneyland’s Rivers of America, test puppeteers put the “Jetsam Ski” through its paces in a river near Curry’s production facility outside Portland, Ore.

The tests immediately revealed that the friction of the water turbulence put too much drag on the lightweight fabric attached to the subframe.

The solution: a weather-resistant awning-like fabric that pulled over the sub-frame like a pillowcase.

To avoid the robotic animations of computer-programmed audio-animatronics, Curry designed the Flotsam and Jetsam eels to be brought to life by puppeteers. The Jet Skis can operate in manual or automatic mode, depending on the physical demands placed on the driver/puppeteer.

“I always try to put the human at the heart of it,” Curry said.

The updated Fantasmic show, part of Disneyland’s Summer Nightastic promotion, makes itsofficial debut June 12 at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. “Soft opening” previews of the Anaheim theme park’s all-new Magical fireworks show are underway.

Alright, that should do it for this week, but before we wrap up, I'd like to share a few thoughts about my recent trip to Walt Disney World in Florida.

The Night's Sky Wishes Cinderella Castle

Thank goodness for Disneyland. Don't get me wrong, Walt Disney World is a lot of fun, and is full of wonderful experiences and attractions that make the place really unique. But for all its worth, the Magic Kingdom lacks something that Disney fans here in California are spoiled with - warmth (not to be confused with the Florida heat). From the intimacy of Main Street, U.S.A., to the approachability of Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, to the outstanding Cast Members who make the Disneyland experience shine every day, it's here. I encountered my fair share of pleasant Walt Disney World CMs on my trip, but more than I have ever experienced in all my visits to Disneyland, I experienced numerous CMs that lacked approachability or care for their job and the park guests surrounding them. CMs often seemed rude and outwardly showed irritable attitudes. More than ever, I realized how important CMs were to the Disney theme park experience, and for that I am truly grateful of the CMs at my home park, Disneyland.

Haunted Mansion Spaceship Earth The Yeti was here

As for attractions, Walt Disney World knows how to put on a good show - that is, when they want to. For those of you who have yet to experience the enhanced and upgraded Haunted Mansion at WDW's Magic Kingdom - you're missing out. The experience is remarkable and unforgettable. Likewise, Expedition Everest is truly a work of art. From the queue that rivals (and possibly beats) Indiana Jones Adventure, to a roller coaster ride that is perfectly executed, Expedition Everest is one of Walt Disney Imagineering's crown jewels. Still, it is evident that with such a sprawling Resort, Disney has allowed plenty to grow stale. Shows and rides show their age, and those that do get updates get table scraps instead of real re-Imaginings. Ellen's Energy Adventure at Epcot is painfully stuck in the 90s. Spaceship Earth's recent re-Imagining reworked its finale with on-board touch screens that are copies of the fun and interactive Future Choice Stations that are the centerpiece of Project Tomorrow in Disneyland's Innoventions. The Future Choice Stations work great as a standalone experience, as they are at Disneyland, but as the ending to an epic journey through our progress as humans in Spaceship Earth, the experience seems cheap and falls miserably flat.

Engine Co. 71 Uptown Jewelers Hall of Champions

Additionally, the malling of Walt Disney World is no more painfully evident than at the Magic Kingdom, where Main Street has become Mall Street with the conversion of the Firehouse, Main Street Cinema, and Center Street into stores. Furthermore, Exposition Hall, the Magic Kingdom's version of the Opera House, is nothing more than a giant PhotoPass center where you can buy photo frames and albums to go along with your new PhotoPass prints. Talk about wasted space.

Disney's Hollywood Studios China Respect Tradition

But despite its downfalls, Walt Disney World is still full of magic. Disney's Animal Kingdom is a truly beautiful park. Walking the streets of that park's Asia and Africa areas is an attraction in itself, and Epcot's World Showcase is full of charm in excitement.

Walt Disney World is still a great place to vacation, but it's also good to be home.

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See you here again soon!
- Andy

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Updated 06-08-2009 at 04:23 PM by Dateline Disneyland (Added column banner, fixed broken image)



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  1. jeaannguyen's Avatar
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    "vocals from Broadway's Edin Espinosa,"

    im sorry, but this is bugging me, its EdEn Espinosa.
    overall, i loved the update, thank you so much! cant wait for Summer Nightastic!
  2. JamesDusenberry's Avatar
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    Man, I gotta say... the new fireworks just pales in comparison to Remember Dreams Come True.

    This is supposed to be something to attract more people to the parks in the summer, but I mean, if it's not nearly as good as it was before, how will that attract people?

    My hope is that this little stint of the new show lasts only for the summer and they bring back Remember... it was BY FAR the BEST fireworks show I have ever seen in my entire life! And I mean, if it's not broken, don't fix it. So what if it's been around for a few years... if it's a good show, it doesn't need to be changed just for the sake of changing. If anything, they might have just spruced up Remember a bit, maybe add more attractions to it or something, but getting rid of it entirely to instead have this sub par show? C'mon...

    Bring back "Remember..."!!!
  3. Eagleman's Avatar
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    Great UPDATE! you share alot today (and night....
    lots to read and see !) I for one looking foward seeing Disneyland summer all the new shows .......
    Welcome back to the real Magic Kingdom of DISNYLAND!
  4. Mac Daddy's Avatar
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    Great job Andy! Thanks for a COLOSSAL update!
  5. DLFreak71's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report.
    Nice pictures.
    (I haven't read any other posts, so sorry if I repeat anything)
    I couldn't wait to see the fireworks in person so I watched the video.
    I really liked dumbo and some of the songs used.
    Some places touched my heart strings.
    Over all I like the show, just don't care for the "magical" song (sorry, don't know proper title). It sound cheezy. Like it's trying to hard to pull at the heart strings (it may just be hearing magical on a loop or maybe just the people signing) (I know it's not opera, but it reminds me of it).

    Thanks for posting everything.
  6. Disnyfan89's Avatar
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    Thanks for the Great Update!

    Also, just for the record, the touch screens at the end of SSE are NOT copies of your Inovention's Project Tomorrow kiosks. We had them before your version opened. However I do agree that it is a disapointment for a ending to such a masterpiece of an attraction.

    I would also like to remind you that DL has it's own share of stale/under whelming attractions from 60% of Inoventions to the princess fantasy fare to a large amount of areas in DCA including but not limited too HPB, Bugs Land, and the Pacific Wharf section of the park.
  7. saphron37's Avatar
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    Amazing update! Love all of the information, can't wait to see Dumbo flying through the air - this is very exciting.
  8. MasterGracey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disnyfan89
    Thanks for the Great Update!

    Also, just for the record, the touch screens at the end of SSE are NOT copies of your Inovention's Project Tomorrow kiosks. We had them before your version opened. However I do agree that it is a disapointment for a ending to such a masterpiece of an attraction.

    I would also like to remind you that DL has it's own share of stale/under whelming attractions from 60% of Inoventions to the princess fantasy fare to a large amount of areas in DCA including but not limited too HPB, Bugs Land, and the Pacific Wharf section of the park.
    The point was not which touch screens came first, but that the inclusion of the touch screens work better as a standalone experience as they are at Disneyland. All-in-all, they're essentially the same thing; copies of each other.

    And believe me, I'm well aware of Disneyland's stale and aging attractions.

    - Andy
    Dateline Disneyland
  9. Crazee4mm's Avatar
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    First up, thanks Andy for what turned out to be one of your most informative reports yet. Welcome home. Thanks too to the folks at Disneyland for allowing the public to see the new fireworks show ("Magical"), before all of the bugs have been ironed out. The previews have been fun and special. I have been privy to two of these previews. Unfortunately, my first night was Friday June 5th. This was the evening where technical difficulties prevented both Tink and Dumbo from flying that evening. I returned three nights later (Monday the 8th) and saw what I believe to be the entire show. On Friday's preview, Tink emerged from her secret door atop the Matterhorn to await her entrance into the show. As her moment approached, her wings lit up for only a second then went dark again. She then exited back into the Matterhorn's peak and was not seen again for the rest of the show. Within a couple of minutes of her "cameo" the door was again in place and sealed up. I was especially disheartened to not see Dumbo that evening. When we (my friend and I) were leaving Space Mountain for Main Street USA after the park closed, we saw that her door was again open with the inside light turned on while a maintainence worker could be seen inside.
    Upon my return on Monday night, both were present and the show went on with no perceptable technical difficulties. The winds were moderate on both evenings and the show began on schedule (9:25 p.m.). These winds would have forced the cancellation of "Remember...Dreams Come True". I have grown tired of the "winds at higher elevations" causing the cancellation of that show. If you felt a slight breeze at ground level, you could be pretty sure that there were probably not going to be fireworks that night. "Remember..." was problematic when it came to less than optimal weather conditions. This show seems to have higher wind tolorances.
    Is it me, or does Tinkerbell seem to be having quite the jolting thrill ride on that wire? She is not so much as "Flying and soaring" around the castle but is being speedily pulled back and fourth over the castle with death defying drops and accellerated lifts. Dumbo comes out gracefully with his ears slowly flapping up and down with his front legs walking through the air...very "Magical". Tink gets the jet powered treatment. It's not so much as "look at her", as it is "look what we can do with her".
    One final concern...what happened to the Ratatouille unit in DCA's Pixar Play Parade? I have not seen that particular float in quite a while. I, also have not seen any info anywhere regarding it's absence.
    Thanks again Andy!!! You hit the nail on the head when it comes to comparing the atmosphere of the two parks. WDW has a corporate feel while DL has an emotional feel. The castmembers are quite different as a whole when comparing the two properties. DL castmembers do indeed go the extra mile when it comes to a guests experience. Recently, on my girlfriend's birthday she received over 30 "Happy Birthday's" from castmembers who noticed her birthday button as opposed to ZERO from WDW castmembers two years ago. The devil is in the details...or lack thereof. DL castmembers rock!!!
    Some people watch Dumbo over the castle and "see" only cables, wires, a puppet, an internal puppeteer, and a 70 year old kids cartoon character. WE see DUMBO! No cables, wires, etc. We are transcended to a time and place where we all have a frame of reference. Why are so many couples and families hugging each other after the fireworks are over? It is because we just shared a communal moment that we never thought would be tapped into again. Buried so deep by our "growing up", I was as surprised as anyone when tears welled up in my eyes during Dumbo's appearance. Maybe it was the song ("Baby Mine"), or just maybe, I was having a deep reaction to actually seeing a friend from my childhood (and adulthood - I'm 45 years young) actually FLYING with his friend (Timothy Mouse - on the soundtrack) encouraging him! Those of us in the audience started clapping and cheering in encouragement as well. He's our friend and it was happening right here in front of us, in OUR world, not the cartoon world. I feel privileged to see this in person. It is special to us. It's not the number of fireworks that are fired. That grows old after a while. Something was triggered in our inner core that cannot be attributed to exploding pyrotechnics. There was heart, joy, love, friendship, sadness, loyalty, and ecstasy soaring above the castle that evening. Not just a puppet on a string. WDW has never done that for me. DL did it by putting an elephant with big ears on a wire and sending it out over a castle in Anaheim, California. This "perfect storm" of emotions and music came together as I have never experienced before at any of the Disney Parks. Thanks to all who have made this possible. Even the jaded among us in the castle courtyard cheered as the elephant approached. We were one in cheering on this old friend. And as such, we were young again. I am renewing my Premium AP in a few weeks in large part because of this. I was seriously considering not renewing it (at nearly $400.00 I have to prioritize what I do with my rather limited expendable funds) but this seals it. Put me down for at least another year. See you all there.
    Updated 06-10-2009 at 01:40 AM by Crazee4mm (clarity)
  10. DanielEugene's Avatar
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    I think one of the dancers in the Summer Nightastic video was Richardson from Hot Rod!
  11. wdwnut4life's Avatar
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    great pics!!!! i luv wdw/disneyland so much & always look 4 new pics & everything!!! have a magical wknd everyone!
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