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Dateline Disneyland

Summer Nightastic! lights up the night, California Construction, Studio 365, +MORE

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 06-15-2009 at 01:52 AM
Welcome to the June 15 edition of Dateline Disneyland! This week Disneyland launched its big Summer Nightastic! promotion, but did it manage to "ignite the night" as promised? We'll find out. Also, we'll take our usual look at the on-going construction at Disney's California Adventure including Cocina Cucamonga's new signage and expanded menu. Downtown Disney's upcoming Disney Studios 365 has new signage up as well, as that project edges closer to completion. As always, there's a lot going on at the busy Disneyland Resort!

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.

Let's get started!

Disneyland is in full Summer Nightastic! mode after launching the new summer campaign on Friday, June 12.

Disney announced last week that the big, new dragon for Fantasmic! would be delayed until mid-summer due to "technical issues," and has since re-focused much of its advertising to simple fireworks imagery, foregoing the fiery-eyed dragon that can still be found on some billboards in Southern California and on some banners in Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Resort shopping locations - both in and out of parks - now feature Summer Nightastic displays that focus on light-up toys and glow necklaces.

The Main Entrance Plaza now has two big promotional displays as guests arrive for the lineup of summertime events. Here, Up is featured a big inflatable photo opportunity.

And on the other side of the Entrance Plaza, guests can enter-to-win one of several special Summer Nightastic VIP opportunities and learn about Honda's 2010 Insight hybrid, which you can enter-to-win online or by mail.

Contest entry forms are available at the car display.

The entry forms also include an additional form that you and fill in and mail in for your chance to win a 4-Night Disneyland Resort vacation including a night in the Disneyland Dream Suite and a brand new 2010 Honda Insight hybrid. That's quite the grand prize, and you can enter-to-win once a day, every day until June at

The car batteries are being powered by the nearby solar panels.

Friday was a rough night for Disneyland as it hit a few hurdles while launching the lineup of new Summer Nightastic! events. Below, new park maps pushing Summer Nightastic! greet guests.

While Summer Nightastic! is really a lot of repackaged and enhanced entertainment that already happens every summer night at Disneyland, the Disney marketing machine worked its magic and got plenty of folks excited for the June 12 kickoff.

The problem was not the massive crowds the lined the Rivers of America for both showings of Fantasmic! on Friday night, but it was the show itself. Crowds lined up early to get a glimpse of the new dragon that Disney had been pushing in nearly all of its marketing. But what many guests didn't know was that the dragon wouldn't make its debut until later this summer, due to technical issues that Disney acknowledged last-minute on June 9, a mere three days before the dragon's scheduled debut by way of LA Times Funland blogger Brady MacDonald:

Disneyland dragon not ready for Fantasmic reboot
While the OMG Web rumors aren’t true, the new Maleficent dragon won’t make her scheduled debut this weekend at Disneyland in the upgraded Fantasmic show due to “technical issues.”

Disneyland officials say those “technical issues” do NOT include the latest Internet rumor du jour pinging around the Twittersphere — that the 40-foot-tall dragon’s neck snapped during testing and that the head fell off!

The show will go on sans the dragon — with the new Fantasmic making its official debut on Friday (June 12) with the new Flotsam and Jetsam eels and high-definition video projections on the mist screens.

The new dragon won’t join the show until “later this summer,” according to Disneyland officials. That likely translates to a delay of weeks rather than days for the iconic image of the Anaheim theme park’s Summer Nightastic marketing push.

But the LA Times blog certainly wasn't enough to notify everybody who had seen the billboards on CA I-5, ads on Disneyland's own website, and banners at the Resort, all of which still sported images of the fiery-eyed dragon. A last-minute LA Times newspaper article ran Friday morning once again notifying locals that the dragon wasn't ready for its close-up:

Disney dragon's debut will be delayed
When the creative forces at Disney dreamed up a new and improved version of Fantasmic -- a light, water and pyrotechnics spectacle billed as the surefire hit of the summer at the Anaheim theme park -- this probably is not what they had in mind:

A broken-down dragon.

Alas, Maleficent -- an automated, fire-breathing dragon from "Sleeping Beauty" that was to be the star of the summer-long show -- will instead be a no-show when the revamped version of Fantasmic is unveiled tonight.

On message boards and blogs where Disney fanatics gather, rumors abound over what felled Maleficent., which is dedicated to tracking even the smallest of Disney details, reported that the dragon's head fell off during testing. Elsewhere, there were rumors that its neck had snapped during a dress rehearsal.

Disney isn't saying exactly what happened to Maleficent, other than it is mechanical in nature. But it confirmed that the 40-foot-tall, 10,000-pound mechanical dragon -- so massive it had to be helicoptered onto the stage -- won't be joining the show until later in the summer.

Al Lutz, editor of, said he heard that the dragon now rests in pieces in a staging area beneath Tom Sawyer Island.

It's a predicament for image-conscious Disney, which had peppered television and the Internet with ads featuring the red-eyed dragon shooting flames onto an artificial river.

Predicament, indeed. The show went on as planned on Friday without the highly-publicized dragon. The show's new effects, including jet ski-powered Flotsam and Jetsam eels slithered onto the water and a new jaw-snapping Tic Toc the Croc tailed the Sailing Ship Columbia during the Peter Pan scene.

But these minor enhancements simply weren't enough to keep guests happy. The lack of a dragon nearly instantly sent ripples through the Twitterverse as fans sent out disappointed Tweets as they left the Rivers of America without seeing the dragon promised to them in all the snazzy print ads.

A new Disney blog even made note of the Twitter reactions in a post about the rocky Summer Nightastic! launch:

Summer Nightastic! Premiere Fail
A simple Twitter search for the word "fantasmic" a few hours after the 9pm and 10:30pm showings provides some insight:

@bibiluu I went to see the brand new opening of the fantasmic show. I was disappointed that the new dragon was not there

@roizebasallo I just went to DLand alone to see the opening night of Fantasmic and the damn Dragon was broken! Grrr....

@zypher8677 Just finished the re-opening night of Fantasmic! And boy was it god awful, too many people showed up only to be disappointed with no dragon.

@Cristina1017 back from a fun day at Disneyland. Saw the new Fantasmic and it's not the same without the dragon. Get on it guys....

Disney released a video previewing the new dragonless Fantasmic! enhancements

But Fantasmic's missing dragon wasn't the only problem for the big launch of Summer Nightastic! Minutes after Fantasmic's first show wrapped up and Disneyland's new Magical fireworks show started, guests in the hub and Fantasyland would be letdown to find that another highly-publicized Nightastic! creature would fail to appear.

The little flying elephant never showed up for his big premiere flight on Friday night, leaving guests along the Rivers of America disappointed over a missing dragon and guests in the hub scratching their heads as to why they never saw Dumbo fly over the Castle. Below: Disney publicity photos show Dumbo soaring in the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle, but these photos weren't taken on premiere night.

Luckily, the Dumbo issue was an isolated incident, and Dumbo made his appearance with no problem Saturday evening.

A publicity video previews the new Magical fireworks:

The other big Summer Nightastic! draw across the esplanade at Disney's California Adventure also started off shaky Friday night. The newly enhanced Disney's Electrical Parade eventually made its full run with no problems, but guests had to wait an extra 15 minutes for the show to get going after some technical issues kept the parade from leaving the gate at the scheduled time.

The new Tinker Bell float is the big new thing for the Electrical Parade. The Tink float replaces the iconic Blue Fairy as the lead float.

But is the float any good? Most definitely. Tink's new float is effortlessly charming and is a seamless addition to the parade.

Tink leads the way.

Bright, colorful, detailed. It's really a great new float.

Also new to the parade is the new "pixie dust" lighting effect, which is featured on all major floats. The concept that Tink's magic is bringing the parade to life sounds good enough on paper, and in person the effect is nice, but I wonder how many guests who didn't read Disney's press releases catch on to the idea. In the end, the effect doesn't really add much to the experience, nor does it detract from the show.

The Cheshire Cat disappears and reappears on the Alice in Wonderland float.

Pixie Dust lights up on the side of the Peter Pan float

Returning to the parade are the Snow White and Pinocchio units.

The Dwarfs are once again working away in their mine.

The most controversial change to the parade is the music change. The parade now uses the music used for Tokyo Disneyland's Dream Lights parade. Personally, it didn't seem like a dramatic issue for me, but the change has been the sticking point for more than a few fans on the MiceChat boards

Back in Disneyland, two other Nightastic! offerings went off without any problems, but these offerings probably wouldn't have been terribly missed even if they had missed their cue. The "new" TLT Dance Club at the Tomorrowland Terrace is nothing more than some new flat-panel televisions showing off Coca Cola and Verizon logos and some party blowers that will be familiar to Grad Nite or Mickey's Halloween Party attendees

Guests can text answers to poll questions to numbers scrolling by on screen, thanks to Verizon Wireless.

Over at Pixie Hollow, the new lighting effects really shine. It's great to finally be able to walk through the area at night and be treated to some great evening lighting work and a small light show every 15 minutes.

Interesting green pixie lights shine through the trees and foliage at night. The effect is pretty impressive, and at first glance looks like hundreds of green fiber optics. The photo doesn't do it justice, but the effect is subtle, but really gives the area a great magical feel. Nice touch.

MiceChatter 2DieFR got video of the Pixie Hollow Enchantment light show:

And new for Summer Nightastic! are new light-up Mickey Mouse balloons. They run $12 and the lights last for 12-14 days, according to the balloon sellers.

The lights inside the balloons change colors.

The Astro Orbitor reopened Friday after a big refurbishment that we've been tracking here in Dateline Disneyland.

The flight deck is once again clean and fresh. It had been looking rather grungy for a while.

Further down in Tomorrowland, the new planters around the Cosmic Waves marble continue to come along...

As Peter Pan reopens from its refurbishment, Snow White's Scary Adventure closes to get some TLC.

Over at Disney's California Adventure, work continues on the park's big construction projects...

On Pacific Wharf, new signs have gone up at the former Lucky Fortune Cookery as the expanded Cocina Cucamonga prepares to open this week.

The sign's exposed support beams are a bit too industrial for my taste. Sure, they might be in-theme for the area, but the big metal support structure looks brand new, unlike the rest of the building which is aged. The sign comes off looking more tacky than thematically appropriate, especially at night as it glows brightly with neon, and can be seen from the DCA parade route.

Oh well...

Signage for the new expanded Cocina Cucamonga menu has gone up:

Work on World of Color and its 9,000-person viewing area continues...

Downtown Disney's upcoming Disney Studio 365 makeover boutique (replacing Club Libby Lu) now has signage.

The new store is set to open June 26.

And finally, we'll finish up this week's photo section with a few shots from around the park...

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

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

Disneyland Park
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures: Closed through July 3
  • Pinocchio's Daring Journey: Closed July 20 through August 14.
  • The Enchanted Cottage: Closed 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Last week we shared photos and video of a musical marriage proposal that was filmed on Main Street. Well, Disney officially released a finished version of the production online last week. Seems that while the couple is reportedly real, the video it is the start of a new viral campaign for the theme parks. Here's the finished video:

From the OC Register's Around Disney blog:

Man travels 2,000 miles to share his 75th birthday with Donald Duck’s
As soon as Gary Keeler spotted Donald Duck waddling down Disneyland’s Main Street this morning, he headed straight for Donald and a hearty handshake quickly turned into a big hug.
Keeler, 75, stood among a group of kids clearly eager to meet Donald. But none was more excited than Keeler.

He brought his wife, Jean, all the way from their home just south of Guadalajara, Mexico to celebrate his 75th birthday at Disneyland. That’s more than 2,000 miles.

He wanted to celebrate with Donald Duck – who also turned 75 today.

The irascible duck made his first appearance in the Disney animated short “Little Wise Hen” on June 9, 1934. Disney considers that his birth date.

“Because we share a birthday, I feel a connection,” said Keeler, wearing a bright red Donald shirt. “Seventy-five is a big one, so like winning the Super Bowl I said, ‘I’m going to Disneyland – to celebrate with Donald.’”

Retired Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr talked with the OC Register about his role in bringing rides like the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Disneyland Monorail System to reality as they celebrated 50 years on Sunday.

INTERVIEW: An original Imagineer remembers his role in classic rides
Bob Gurr, 71, lives outside Burbank. He spent his 27 years with Walt Disney as one of the original Imagineers, working on dozens of projects.

From the Submarines, Monorail and Matterhorn that just celebrated their 50th birthdays this weekend, to innovations like the Incredible Mister Lincoln, Gurr was a behind-the-scenes man on them all.

His brain has been pretty well picked by Disney fanatics over the years — he had a column on the theme park blog Laughing Place for years — but this is the first time he’s spoken with Around Disney, reminiscing about his work on those three seminal attractions from 1959.

Question: How did you get started with Walt Disney?
Answer: Walt was looking for someone to design the body for the first Autopia car in 1954. He figured since I designed bodies, I could do the mechanical part, too.
Well, I’m not a mechanical engineer, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him, so I just kept going.

Q: So you pretty much had to learn mechanical engineering on the fly?
A: Exactly right. Almost everybody in all the different trades designing Disneyland were all in the same boat. Walt was asking them to do things they’d never done.
All the next projects we did in the same way. It was a constant learning curve. I went from Autopia, to antique cars, to the omnibus, to a train called the Viewliner, and that lead directly to the Monorail.

Q: What was it that inspired the addition of the Monorail to Disneyland?
A: In 1958, Walt discovered a monorail in Germany and came back and said, “Bob, you’re going to design it.”

I was working on the Mach 5 for Autopia, the Submarines, the Monorail and then the Matterhorn — so i was doing four jobs at one time. It was common practice for Walt to assign several projects to one guy.

Q: What was the genesis of the Matterhorn?
A: We had an area in the middle of the park that was sort of a mound of earth that was piled up and had some trees on it that we called Snow Mountain.

In 1958, (Walt Disney) was in Europe filming “The Third Man on the Mountain,” and he took a liking to the Matterhorn Mountain and decided he wanted one with a bobsled ride.

Q: How did you start designing it?
A: I was going to make the drawings of the course, the two tracks for the roller coaster that go up in the mountain.

For that you need trigonometry, and I failed geometry in high school, so I never made it to trigonometry. So, I had to stop to learn trigonometry.

And, at that time, most roller coasters were built out of wood in the open air, so you had freedom to design the courseline. Here, Walt had this tapered mountain, and the track had to fit entirely inside it.

Q: I understand there’s a basketball court up there in the top of the mountain.
A: It’s a half-basketball court. You know, nobody ever knew, but there was a joke that you couldn’t get a permit from the city to build a mountain, but you could get one to build a sports facility.

We always kept the city abreast of what we were trying to do, and they knew even though we were doing crazy stuff, there was always an emphasis on doing it right.

Q: What was the Matterhorn like during construction?
A: I have a great big photograph on my wall of the Matterhorn when it was about 50 percent done and it’s a rats’ nest of steel and wood and canvas and stucco and the track winding up through it all.

Q: And that, including your work on the Submarines, was all in 1958.
A: I was doing those four projects all at once, and from there we went into all kinds of rides.

Q: Are you doing anything special now to celebrate the anniversary of the rides you helped bring to life?
A: Last week Club 1313 (an unofficial Disney fan club) and I went to Club 33 (an exclusive lounge inside Disneyland) and went with a bunch of people to ride the three rides.

If, when I was 27 and we were opening the Matterhorn, someone came up to me and said, “Hey, Bub, you’re going to have to live another 50 years so some guy from the newspaper can ask you questions about this,” I wouldn’t have believed it.

Alright, that wraps it up this week. Don't forget to discuss the update in the comments section below!

I'd like to once again thank those of you who have donated to Dateline Disneyland. Time and money goes into these updates every week, and they can only continue because of your contributions. We all know times are tough, so any amount of support helps. If you can donate to Dateline Disneyland please consider doing so via a safe and quick PayPal donation. To donate, click here.

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See you here again soon!
- Andy

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Updated 06-15-2009 at 10:59 PM by Dateline Disneyland (Added column banner)

Disneyland Resort , Disney's California Adventure Remodel/Expansion , Summer Nightastic!


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  1. orbitalpunk's Avatar
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    Awesome report as usual!
  2. Kritter's Avatar
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    Fantasmic fail? no. If you want fail. Go to Florida!
  3. JerrodDRagon's Avatar
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    Best Report Ever!!! Great Photos (and a lot of them) and some really interesting articles. Amazing Job
  4. xalesa's Avatar
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    What an incredible update. LOVE the photos of the Electric Parade. Also loved the video of Pixie Hollow lights! Very cool. Thanks so much for all this effort every week.

    The picture of those light up Mickey balloons just makes me happy!

    My Monday morning is now off to a good start!!
  5. EpTxGuy's Avatar
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    This is why I keep coming back to MiceAge... awesome reports like this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
  6. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Awsome photos of the Electrical Parade especially with the Paradise Pier in the background!
  7. D.E.1955's Avatar
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    great update love the pictures and videos!!!!! =D

    people have a right to be upset but there is no one to blame......i mean its not like the dragon broke on purpose =/
  8. danyoung's Avatar
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    I'd have to say that this is one of the best updates, ever! Really nice nighttime pictures of the DEP. And the video of the new Pixie Hollow light show reminded me a little of the old Fantasy Waters show in the DL Hotel - nothing special, just a cool little show.

    I really loved watching the couple getting engaged. I completely believe that she knew nothing about it, which made the whole thing work. I love street theater like this, especially the expressions on the faces of those sitting around. Very very cool.

    And then topping the whole update off with words from Bob Gurr - very special. Well done, all!!!
  9. DISNEYLOVER2009's Avatar
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  10. hurricanefreak's Avatar
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    Kriiter has a point about Florida!!!
  11. Fairy Godmother Travel's Avatar
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    I love the updates each week. Thanks from those of us that cannot get to the parks as often as we would like!
  12. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    Great update Andy.

    - I don't care for the new music on DEP. It was bad enough they moved it to DCA but to change the music, bad move Disney. It's not like Tokyo and having new music. People in SoCal are used to their Electrical Parade music since it's been running here so long. And I don't generally have a problem with change, if it makes sense.

    - Pretty sad that the most impressive part of Nightasmic (to me at least) is the Pixie Hollow show.
  13. RPDigger's Avatar
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    Excellent report!
  14. Disnyfan89's Avatar
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    I still don't think that proposal on Main Street was real. The girlfriend goes along way to easy with all the other actors. She just seems to hit her mark way to easy! Her yes was also is very well projected which means she was mic'ed or the yes was prerecorded using the megaphone to block her mouth. They both have that entertainment look as well with that perfect "look." To much adds up to fake for me to buy into this proposal.
  15. SouthHrbrBlvd's Avatar
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    Awesome update; thanks!

  16. Mac Daddy's Avatar
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    Andy - I look forward to your Dateline update every week. Thanks for being so extensive and thorough. We hit most of "Nightastic" last night, but I only had my Lumix Lx3 point and shoot with me. We had a great time. Your shots at the end of your updates are always so amazing. I just have to wonder when Disney will get on the stick and hire you!

    Thanks for the great update!
  17. BassBone's Avatar
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    I have no reason to watch the Electrical Parade anymore. The musical abortion they have now just has no appeal to me.
  18. DonDuck's Avatar
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    WOW, that was full of all sorts of goodness! Thank you for another great update.
  19. lttlmrmd's Avatar
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    Wow, what a spectacular update this week! Thanks, Andy!

    I almost went to Disneyland this weekend to see all the new stuff, but I figured it would be incredibly crowded, so I decided to wait. Glad I did!

    I love the little pixie hollow light show and the light-up balloons!
  20. saphron37's Avatar
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    Awesome update
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