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Dateline Disneyland

D23 Expo: Cars Land, Star Tours 2, Hong Kong Disneyland, Imagineers, and more!

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by , 09-14-2009 at 02:51 AM
The inaugural D23 Expo has come and gone, and for Disneyland fans, it didn't disappoint. Fans were treated to an impressive line-up of theme park panel discussions, one-on-one interaction with Imagineers, and an up close and personal look at the massive new Cars Land coming to Disney's California Adventure and the three new lands coming to Hong Kong Disneyland. But don't forget the big news -- after years of rumors, Star Tours II finally got the official announcement.

Please note, our format will be a little bit different this week. Our focus will be on the theme park-related news, art, models, and information that was unveiled during the four-day D23 Expo. But don't worry - we know you need your Disneyland fix, and a brief Disneyland update is featured at the end of today's column. News articles and press releases will be scattered throughout our article this week. The regular News and Information section that usually closes our article will be absent, but will return next week.

And finally, before we start... I was honored to be asked to be the photographer for Alain Littaye's Disney and More blog during the D23 Expo. Alain is a long-time MiceAge contributor and his blog is MiceChat partner site. Today's Dateline Disneyland is only the tip of the D23 Expo iceberg, so if you want to see more, head on over to Alain's blog where many more of my photos from the D23 Expo are currently available, with more on their way:

Inside Dateline Disneyland

The D23 Expo took over the Anaheim Convention Center with a four-day event promised to be the ultimate Disney fan experience.

The MiceChat booth stole the show on the Collectors Forum with vintage attraction posters, a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride vehicle, and thousands of prizes given away over the four day event.

If there was one thing that was a must-see at the D23 Expo, it was undoubtedly the Parks and Resorts pavilion. The Blue Sky Cellar at Disney's California Adventure looks like child's play after seeing the Parks and Resorts exhibit which including huge Cars Land models, beautiful Hong Kong Disneyland expansion models, and loads of concept art.

Another Cars Land model:

The huge new Radiator Springs Racers E-Ticket, which will offer approximately four minutes in ride time and include six acres of new hand-carved rock work.

Mr. Lincoln was out on display

The costume for President Obama's Audio-Animatronics likeness at Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents show

The new Ko Olina Resort in Hawaii will be an exceptional family getaway.

Lucky the Dinosaur and WALL-E were out to take photos with guests

The exhibit offered a incredible look at the upcoming Hong Kong Disneyland expansion.

Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, led a presentation on the Future of Disney Parks and Resorts to a packed arena Saturday morning.

Jay's first point of business: addressing internet rumors. "I don't know where they come from... but they're true," he said to the arena as he announced the expansion of Fantasyland in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

From the LA Times Funland blog:
Fantasyland to get extreme makeover at Disney World by 2013
By 2013, Disney World will transform Fantasyland into a magical fairy tale forest with new and upgraded rides, character meet-and-greet areas and a themed restaurant, Disney announced today.

The centerpiece of the expansion, the largest in Magic Kingdom history, will be a new Little Mermaid dark ride that will take visitors on a musical journey under the sea with Ariel and her friends. Disney’s California Adventure in California will get an identical version of the ride in 2011.

Located behind Cinderella’s castle, the new Fantasyland will also include:

– A new circus tent theme for the existing Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride with interactive elements.
– Themed meet and greet areas for Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and Tinker Bell.
– A Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant inside the Beast’s castle.

Alleged blueprints of the Fantasyland project were leaked online in July, leading some Internet pundits to suggest Disney was launching a preemptive marketing offensive in anticipation of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opens at Universal Studios Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park in 2010.

Rasulo gave the audience sneak peek at an Imagineering pre-viz CGI mock-up of part of Radiator Springs Racers, opening at California Adventure in 2012.

The big announcement from Rasulo was finally, and officially, confirming Star Tours II, coming to Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida in 2011.

Rasulo originally announced the ride would reopen in 2014, but Darth Vader demanded an opening no later than 2011.

The revamped ride will be in 3D and will significantly overhaul the entire ride experience. The Arena audience was given a 3D preview

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo Unveils New Attractions and Experiences at First D23 Expo
ANAHEIM, Calif. (Sept. 12, 2009) – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo detailed plans for future lands, attractions and adventures that will be delighting Disney guests for years to come, at the first D23 Expo. Most notable among the announcements were the confirmation of an all-new Star Tours attraction and the largest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

“Storytelling is the DNA of Disney dreams and we’re always exploring new ways to tell new stories in new places,” Rasulo told a crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center in California before taking them on a "behind-the-magic" tour of their favorite Disney destinations.

Rasulo announced that a new 3-D version of the tremendously-popular “Star Tours” attraction will debut at the Disneyland Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2011. Based on the iconic Lucasfilm “Star Wars” films, the attraction will include immersive new elements that will take guests to many familiar places in the Star Wars galaxy.

For Walt Disney World in Florida, Rasulo outlined plans for the largest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom, vastly increasing the size of Fantasyland by 2013. Guests will soon be able to:

  • Visit their favorite Disney Princess in her castle, cottage, or chateau to share a dance with Cinderella; celebrate Sleeping Beauty’s birthday with the Good Fairies; or join Belle in an enchanting story performance in the Beast’s castle library.
  • Be Our Guest and dine in one of three enchanted rooms inside the Beast’s castle.
  • Fly with Dumbo high above brand new circus grounds, twice the size of the existing attraction with a new interactive, three-ring circus tent.
  • Journey under the sea with Ariel, The Little Mermaid, in her very own attraction – also opening at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim in 2011.
  • Meet Tinker Bell and her friends in the magical world of Pixie Hollow.

Rasulo provided updates on the multi-year expansion of Disney’s California Adventure including the new “World of Color” attraction slated to open in the spring of 2010 and the addition of the 12-acre Cars Land scheduled to open in 2012 where guests will literally step into the town of Radiator Springs and its six acres of hand-carved rockwork.

Rasulo noted the progress of several other recently-announced projects including the three new lands coming to Hong Kong Disneyland by 2014; the Disney Dream, the new ship being built by Disney Cruise Line; the many diverse itineraries being offered by Adventures by Disney that take guests on 19 unique, once-in-a-lifetime guided vacation experiences; and Disney’s first family destination resort on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

Also on Saturday, Imagineers Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley gave a talk about the upcoming return of "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" opening this December at Disneyland.

If anyone had any worries about this show, which has undergone many changes and reincarnations over the years, rest assured that the new version of the show is in extremely capable hands. The show will bring back the original 1964 narration provided by actor Royal Dano. Imagineering has gone back to the archives and remastered the original audio and created a riveting new show that incorporates more music, more emotion, and a new, highly-advanced, Mr. Lincoln Audio-Animatronics figure. Below: a hand-sketched storyboard of the Gettysburg Address scene by Tony Baxter.

The Opera House's lobby will be divided in half, the first dedicated to "The Disneyland Story," which will also be connected to the new Disney Gallery, next door in the Bank of Main Street. The opening-day Disneyland model, which was part of the 50th Anniversary show, will be present alongside new exhibits chronicling Disneyland's history. The second half of the lobby will be dedicated to Mr. Lincoln. The impressive and fan-favorite U.S. Capitol Building scale model will return in a room rich with details. Baxter noted that Imagineer Kim Irvine has designed a new fireplace for the Lincoln lobby which will feature a portrait (seen below) hanging above the mantle, which will gradually, and subtly, transform before guests eyes as they wait for theater doors to open.

The new show will feature restored artwork from Imagineering legend Sam McKim projected in high definition on theater screens in such clarity that McKim's brushstrokes will be visible. The show will aim to evoke emotional reactions from theater audiences, utilizing more music to do so, including the return of the popular "Two Brothers" song which can currently be heard at The American Adventure in Epcot.

The D23 Expo was more than just Parks and Resorts, though... The Walt Disney Archives had an fascinating exhibit featuring artifacts, costumes, and props from the Archive.

And the D23 Expo Auction featured some great items including the replica of the infamous Hat Box Ghost from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.

From the OC Register's Around Disney blog:
Auction generates big purchases among Disney fans
“Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Would you bid two?” auctioneer Bill Menish asked at the first-ever D23 Expo auction.

At stake was a package fit for a princess –- including a Disneyland Hotel stay, carriage ride from Main Street U.S.A. to Sleeping Beauty Castle, a private party and makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Disneyland. For one lucky bidder, the princess package was sold for just $2,500 –- a low price in comparison to its estimated $4,000 to $6000 price tag.

The rest of the items at tonight’s auction, part of a Disney convention, experienced a similar trend of relatively low bidding.

A Kirstie Kelly Disney Bridal gown valued at $2,000 sold for $900. A 5-foot-tall Mickey Vinylmation sculpture package estimated at up to $8,000 sold for only $4,500. And a private cooking lesson and dining experience with Napa Rose chef Andrew Sutton estimated at $10,000 did not meet its reserve and could not be sold.

That’s not to say that there was a lack of surprising, large purchases at the auction.
Disney fans were eager to bid on nostalgic memorabilia and unique experiences. A Walt Disney-signed, personal check sold for $6,900 and a piece of Minnie’s Yoo Hoo sheet music, circa 1930, sold for $1,300. One bidder paid $13,000 for a tour of the Disney archives. [ READ MORE ]

Costumes from High School Musical and Hannah Montana

And panel discussion proved to be huge draws for fans of theme parks and Imagineering. Crowds began queuing up two hours ahead of time for popular panel discussions, including Friday's "An Afternoon with Imagineering Legends" featuring (L-R) X. Atencio, Alice Davis, Blaine Gibson, Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, and Don Iwerks.

As promised, we'll take a quick look around Disneyland. The full Disneyland Resort update will return next week.

No, they aren't tearing out California Adventure's big CALIFORNIA letters yet. Just some maintenance work in the area immediately in front of them.

Directional signs help guests get into the park.

With all those construction walls inside (and outside!), they better be thankful you're visiting!

The construction walls in front of the Kennel Club have been expanded.

Stroller rentals. Soon.

Inside Disneyland, the couple short weeks of off-season before HalloweenTime kicks into gear is being taken advantage of all over the park. Tomorrowland is continuing with its repaving project that was seen earlier this year.

The Plaza Inn restrooms are closed during the repaving.

Space Mountain is closed as it receives its new Halloween overlay.

The new building in Fantasyland will be a turkey leg stand.

From the LA Times' Funland blog:
Disneyland: Get your turkey legs at new food kiosk
There’s not a whole lot of extra space at Disneyland, so it’s always surprising when a new building pops up at the 54-year-old Anaheim theme park.

A new food kiosk, wedged next to the Matterhorn roller coaster and the Monorail track, has been designed to look like a Swiss chalet in order to blend in with the surrounding mountain village theme.

Edelweiss Snacks, currently under construction and scheduled to open Sept. 25, will serve lunch, dinner and snacks.

Among the offerings:
* Turkey legs
* Chimichanga fried burritos
* Corn on the cob (buttered or chili lime)
* Frozen carbonated beverages (i.e. Slurpees or Icees by another name)
* Soft drinks

Don't let the walls fool you, the Village Haus is still open while its front gets some work done.

The Haunted Mansion closed after its September 9th 40th Anniversary event to get its annual Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay installed. Halloween Time starts at the Resort September 25.

The French Market is open, but the main entrance is currently closed for work. Guests must enter through the dining patio exit for the time being.

The Royal Street Veranda is closed, however. If you need some clam chowder, head on over to the Harbor Galley across from the Haunted Mansion.

We'll finish up today's column with some shots from around the parks...

Alright, that wraps it up for this week's Dateline Disneyland. Thanks, as always, for reading. Be sure to visit Alain Littaye's Disney and More blog for even more D23 Expo coverage by yours truly. MiceChat's D23 Forum is also loaded with Expo coverage and discussion, so head on over there as well.

Many thanks to all of you for reading. Jump in and discuss this week's update in the comments section below!

Your help is integral in keeping these updates coming! Without you they couldn't happen. 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.

Don't forget that MiceAge and MiceChat has loads of new content weekly! If Dateline Disneyland isn't enough to satisfy your Disneyland itch, then don't miss David "Darkbeer" Michael's In the Parks column which runs here every Friday and is packed full of Southern California theme park news, photos, and gossip. And if you want even more Disney theme park goodness, don't miss MiceChat's Weekend Update, which takes a look at Disney theme parks and other international landmarks, curiosities, and oddities every Saturday!

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See you here again soon!
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Updated 09-16-2009 at 10:17 AM by Dateline Disneyland (Added column banner and another Disney and More column link)

Disneyland Resort , D23


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  1. Disneyaholik's Avatar
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    amazing! those photos still blow my mind!
  2. TheDude's Avatar
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    wow, incredible update. Thanks!
  3. Fantasmic4's Avatar
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    wow! construction is already starting on Space Mountain for the ghost galaxy layover. Can't Wait!
  4. Mac Daddy's Avatar
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    Andy - Thanks for your tireless work on what appears to be your longest update EVER. Thanks for the great details on D23, and for your shots at the end as well. I was up on my roof taking shots of that sunset hoping someone was at Disneyland getting some shots there. I think my favorites are the Rocket Rod planet and the Petrified Tree. Great job on this outstanding edition of Dateline Disney!
  5. sassy*tink's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update on Disneyland as well as the convention. Looks like it was a lot of fun and there were great things to see and do. Not sure how I feel about the Fantasyland expansion at WDW, I just think that is isolating a large group of people who visit the parks.
  6. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Great updat!
  7. DCAfanatic's Avatar
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    Wow Greatest Update yet I said Hi to the fellas But the Muppets Studio Show was the Best
  8. RabidAlienz's Avatar
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    You just take the most fantastic photos!
  9. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!
  10. xalesa's Avatar
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    A wonderful update all around. Thanks for the details on the D23 expo. What a great opportunity.
    Your pics of DL this week are amazing. SoCal gave you a great sky as a background!
  11. rsr's Avatar
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    Good Job !!
  12. lighttragic's Avatar
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    what an excellent update! Great work! Thanks for all your coverage of D23
  13. tonyrr1's Avatar
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    One of your best updates ever Andy. It's a shame I couldn't make the expo, but I'm sure glad the folks on this site have digital cameras.
  14. cositaluvsmickey's Avatar
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    I wish I could take pictures like you...great update!!
  15. wdwnut4life's Avatar
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    fab pics. glad they're updating wdw & disneyland
  16. DonDuck's Avatar
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    Awesome updates and pics!
  17. MaliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    6ybh vo lknjmn n ,j6tgh v `
  18. CandyPandora's Avatar
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    Those photos with the luscious sky are incredible!!! Thankx as always for the updates
  19. Twist1234's Avatar
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    This news is so epic i'm sad the mansion did not get the hat box ghost but heck somebody can put on is front lawn for Halloween!And the fact that wdw is gonna get a new fantasiland i went:YES!
  20. MickeyMousePal's Avatar
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    Wonderful Update!
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