Disneyland's Rivers of America refurbishment has wrapped up after five months of work. The refurbishment not only got a lot of infrastructure work done, like completely replacing the Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia track and rebuilding the aging docks along the River, but guests taking a river cruise will now be treated to enhanced scenery and show elements. Meanwhile, work continues at Disney's California Adventure Park as crews work around the clock fine-tuning the upcoming World of Color show as rumors circulate the show is getting ready to host its first soft openings later this week. As work pushed on in both parks last week D23 held a private tribute event for the late Roy E. Disney at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. The event included a ceremony in which Disney CEO Bob Iger rededicated the studio's Feature Animation Building to Roy.
For more information on any of the construction projects featured in today's update, just look for a Project Tracker water mark and click that photo for more information on the project and to join the on-going discussion.
Thanks to MonstersGoBoo!, Ron W, Mac Daddy and David Yeh for their fantastic photos this week. Let's get started!
This & That Toy Story 3 comes to the parks, Weekly Food & Wine Festival Schedule
Weekly News and Information Round-Up Weekly theme park hours, closures and refurbishments, Disneyland announces new Disney Gallery exhibit, D23 interviews Disneyland President, and Mickey talks!
WELCOME TO DISNEYLAND!
Disneyland's Rivers of America began refilling late last week after being closed since the beginning of the year for a major refurbishment.
Walls started coming down around the River at the end of the week with some River traffic ready for the weekend crowds.
The refurbishment included the replacement of the entire track that the Mark Twain and Columbia share as well as some maintenance on the Fantasmic! infrastructure and the rebuilding of several docks along the river.
The refurbishment also included some TLC on major River scenery, including the rebuilding of the Tom Sawyer Island water wheel
Guests will also be treated to a revamped cruise along the river as well, with new wildlife vignettes added to the riverside as well as new Native America scouts and upgrades to existing scenery. The River has also now been divided and re-themed with the use of plant life and wildlife figures to signify four different American waterways. The OC Register's Around Disney blog had details on the changes:
Disneyland visitors will soon be able to see Native Americans scouting the territory and a keel boat in front of a cabin on Tom Sawyer Island for the first time.
The theme park’s Rivers of America, the main waterway surrounding the island, reopened Saturday after a four-month rehabilitation project. Disneyland crews drained the concrete-bottomed river starting Jan. 4 so it could complete upgrades, including the first new scenes on the shoreline since 1991.
Some of the new scenes included a new resident in the settler’s cabin on the island, Mike Fink from Walt Disney’s television mini-series, “Davy Crockett.”
A small herd of deer were spotted near a new stream tumbling down the rocks from the tracks for the Disneyland Railroad.
[ . . . ] The waterway now is divided into four U.S. river regions: the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Potomac and the Rio Grande. [FULL ARTICLE]
New live ponies have joined the Indian Village scene
Red rockwork blends this area of the river with the nearby Big Thunder Mountain
A rockslide apparently took out the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland track
The old Mine Train has been removed
A new Osprey nest has been added to the train rigging
The beaver dam remains
The River Packet building deck is now open again as a guest observation deck. It's been closed for some time.
Crates at the Frontierland dock are labeled to be delivered to Mike Fink, the new owner of the settler's cabin (former burning settler's cabin)
Construction continues at various Disney's California Adventure projects as the new World of Color gets ready for soft openings...
Work progresses in the future home of Cars Land.
REDEDICATING FOR ROY
David Yeh attended Friday's D23 Tribute to Roy E. Disney at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank. In providing the photos for the update, he also offered some great commentary with his photos. It looks like a wonderful event. Enjoy! — Andy
On May 7, 2010, The D23 Team assembled quite an event to celebrate the works of Roy E. Disney. There was quite a lot of fanfare right from the start as C.E.O. Bob Iger re-dedicated the Disney Animation Building as the ROY E. DISNEY ANIMATION BUILDING. D23 fans from all over the map flew in just for this occasion, from as far as Washington, Hawaii, and the U.K.
Red tarps covered the new signage until the reveal.
Seating was reserved for D23 members and animators and directors. Attendance from the Disney team included Andreas Deja, Mike Gabriel, John Musker, Ron Clements, and Glen Keane. Employees of the animation building had to stand in the back.
C.E.O. Bob Iger, who came up with the idea to rename the building, spoke about how important the animation legacy is to the company. "It doesn't matter what the building is made of, it's what goes on inside that matters."
Roy E.'s son Roy Patrick Disney took some time to thank everyone and shared some insight about his father.
What dedication would be complete without Sorcerer Mickey to make it happen?
It was a great opportunity for many fans to meet Bob Iger and he kindly spared some time for photos and autographs.
C.E.O. Bob Iger and the re-dedicated Roy E. Disney Animation Building.
The dedication concluded with a performance of "Golden Dream", the song from the now removed Golden Dreams attraction in Disney's California Adventure. It was a fine performance but maybe a tad too somber for this occasion. But the fun doesn't stop there, it was off to the Buena Vista Commissary for a non-hosted dinner.
(L-R) Mike Gabriel, Ron Clements
The evening festivities continued on at the newly refurbished Walt Disney Studios Main Theater, where even Richard Sherman was in attendance.
Fantasia was the main theme here as the sound for the original was mixed right here.
Steven Clark, head of D23 shares his early experiences with Roy E. Disney.
Roy Patrick Disney gives D23 members a background for the screening of Perri, a True-Life Fantasy film by the same author of Bambi, only this is live-action instead of animated.
Stacia Martin does a great job giving even more context of Perri and what it meant to Roy E. Rare footage of the Mickey Mouse Club singing songs from Perri was also screened.
Don Hahn offers remarks and backstory for the screening of Lorenzo and Fantasia/2000. Lorenzo is a short animated film that was intended to go in a third installment of Fantasia (along with Little Match Girl and Destino).
A fun and nostalgic night was had by all who attended. Thanks goes out to the entire D23 team for always being so generous with their time and putting on great events such as this.
Thanks again to David Yeh for his fantastic D23 Tribute to Roy E. Disney event photos and commentary!
THIS AND THAT
Lots-O-Huggin' Bear from Toy Story 3 is now making appearances at Disney's California Adventure and has joined the cast of the Pixar Play Parade.
And some rather tacky Toy Story 3 character cut outs (below) and a toy box photo op (not pictured) have appeared near Toy Story Midway Mania. Hope these don't stick around for too long.
Elsewhere in California Adventure, the Food and Wine Festival continues... here is this week's schedule:
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WEEKLY NEWS AND INFORMATION ROUND-UP
Weekly Theme Park Hours
MAY 10 - 16, 2010
Disney's California Adventure
Monday - Thursday: 10 am - 8 pm Friday: 9 am - 12 midnight Saturday - Sunday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Monday - Thursday: 10 am - 6 pm Friday - Saturday: 9 am - 9 pm Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm
Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia: Open May 14
Fantasmic!: Closed through May 27
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Closed through May 13.
Splash Mountain: Closed May 17 - 27.
Snow White's Scary Adventures: Closed May 18 - 20.
Indiana Jones Adventure: Closed June 1 and 2.
Tomorrowland Terrace: Restaurant closed through July 2 for refurbishment. Stage will remain open for shows and performances during restaurant closure.
Disney's California Adventure
Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar: Closed to install new Little Mermaid attraction exhibit June 3 - 9.
Wine Country Trattoria: Closed through June 9 for refurbishment.
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed through May 20 for refurbishment.
Silly Symphony Swings: Opens May 29.
Disney's World of Color Nighttime Spectacular: New show under construction. Debuts June 11.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — Disney's FASTPASS Distribution: Distribution area closed and Fastpass service not offered through August 15 for nearby construction related to upcoming Red Car Trolley attraction.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure: Under construction. Opens Spring 2011.
Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle: Store and dining location closed for remodeling through May 2011.
Red Car Trolley: Track under construction in Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Attraction set to open spring 2012.
DISNEY GALLERY TO OPEN EXHIBIT CELEBRATING 55TH ANNIVERSARY
The Disney Gallery will open a new exhibit later this month celebrating Disneyland's 55th Anniversary.
Original Inspirations for The Happiest Place on Earth
Opening May 22, 2010.
Join us as we unveil the new 55th Anniversary themed exhibit at The Disney Gallery which will showcase original inspirations for The Happiest Place on Earth. This new exhibit will capture your imagination while it takes you on a visual journey back in time.
The Disney Gallery will also offer a selection of 55th Anniversary inspired original art, giclees and deluxe prints by Walt Disney Imagineers and Disney inspired artists as Steve Adams, Bruce Boyer, Charles Boyer, Jim Crouch, Jeremy Fulton, Larry Nikolai, Maggie Parr, Noah, Jimmy Pickering, Mark Seppala, George Scribner, and Yakovetic.
You never know when a phone call will change your life, and for George Kalogridis, that phone call came last November when he was asked to head up the Happiest Place on Earth. Becoming the new president of the Disneyland Resort meant moving away from his life in Paris, France and taking on responsibilities that include overseeing a massive expansion at Disney's California Adventure park. Having embarked on his Disney career to help pay his way through college, George has worked his way up through the ranks with experience that includes opening Walt Disney World's Empress Lilly Riverboat restaurant/jazz club and the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, leading Epcot through the Millennium celebration and, most recently, serving as chief operating officer of Disneyland Resort Paris. Despite his rather pressing schedule, George recently took some time out to answer 23 questions from D23.
What are some of your earliest Disney memories?
Certainly growing up watching [Walt Disney's] Wonderful World of Color. I was of that generation, but there was this one show every year — Disneyland After Dark — and I thought that was the greatest. I remember when the riverboat would come around the bend and it was all lit up with a Dixieland band playing on it. I thought that was amazing because growing up in Florida we didn't have riverboats. That was my first memory.
Then when I became a Cast Member at Walt Disney World, we had the first Cast test night before the park opened. The very first Disney attraction I ever went on was it's a small world. I was 17, but you would have thought I was 3 years old. It was great!
Those are two memories that are firmly implanted in my mind.
So you started at Walt Disney World when it opened? What was your first job there?
I was a busboy. For me, the timing was just right. I went to high school in Florida and was going to go to college so I needed a job and Disney World was just beginning to hire at that time. It was a very involved hiring process because 6,000 people were needed at the beginning. Just off a freeway exit a group of trailers were assembled together, and it was hot. I stood in this queue for hours, and I remember talking to the guy in front of me and the guy behind me. Both had been laid off from Cape Canaveral because the Cape had just finished the Apollo program. So all of these engineers were applying for jobs — both these guys had sent a man to the moon and I've got my high school diploma. I'm thinking, "There's just no way." When I returned for the interview they'd call your name and tell you to go through whichever door is still open. So I happened to go in the door for hotels and was offered a busboy position in the Contemporary Hotel. Had I walked to the next door I could have ended up in Tomorrowland attractions as a beginning.
You were a senior vice president at Disneyland from 2000 through 2002. Did you ever have plans to come back to Disneyland or was it a surprise?
It was a surprise. In some respects it was like I never left because I still kept in touch with so many of the people I worked with when I was here before. But it's another thing to lead the whole park. Of course I thought about it, but if you asked me a year ago, "Are you the next person who's most likely to get this role?" I don't know that I would have said yes. But I'm glad it worked out the way it did.
How did you find out that [The Walt Disney Company] wanted you for this job?
I was very happy to be in Paris, and loved living in Europe, but I certainly was open to any opportunity back in Anaheim. Actually, it was a phone call. "Here's what I'd like to offer you." And I said yes!
Whew! Okay, that finished up this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland. Many thanks for reading and thanks again to our team of excellent photographers this week: Mac Daddy, MonstersGoBoo!, Ron W, and David Yeh.
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