D23's first Destination D event took up residence in the Disneyland Hotel's Grand Ballroom over the weekend for two days of nostalgia, memories and celebration of Disneyland's 55th anniversary. The two-day event included numerous presentations and panel discussions on Disneyland and its history with appearances by Disney Imagineers from old-timers like Bob Gurr and Alice Davis to contemporaries including Tony Baxter and Kevin Rafferty, Disney Archivist Dave Smith, and former Disneyland President (and now Disney Legend) Jack Lindquist. The event was an exceptional two-day treat for Disneyland die-hards. Meanwhile, Disney announced its latest theme park ad campaign and construction continued in the theme parks as crowds continued to pour in for the annual Halloween Time offerings, despite the weekend's 100+ degree weather in the parks.
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.
We've got a big update this weekend! Let's get started.
WELCOME TO DESTINATION D!
The weekend's Destination D event put on by D23, Disney's official fan club, wasn't a news-maker like the first D23 Expo was last year, but for Disneyland fans the event was two days filled with the best discussions, presentations and panels on the history and legacy of Walt Disney's theme park. The event, held at the Disneyland Hotel's Grand Ballroom, featured appearances by numerous Disney Legends and Imagineers — from the original Mouseketeers to Tony Baxter, the line-up was spectacular.
Mouseketeers was on hand for their 55th anniversary reunion and panel discussion as well as a meet-and-greet with fans.
Disney Archives staffers Stacia Martin, Paul Anderson and Rob Klein shared unique (and sometimes weird) Disneyland merchandise and collectibles from throughout the years...
...such as this Disneyland Target Game - where you get bonus points for shooting Mickey in the face!
Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald shared the history of creating the original Star Tours attraction and gave a tiny sneak peek at the upcoming Star Tours update.
Tom showed off original concept art for the attraction...
...and shared stories including how C3PO actor Anthony Daniels wrote and recorded some lines in an alien language for the Star Tours queue.
He also talked about the process of getting the new version off the drawing board with George Lucas
Tom shared concept art for two new droids that will be featured in the attraction, including our new pilot, AC-38 otherwise known as "Ace" ...
...as well as a look at "Aly San San," a new droid voiced by Allison Janney. While Tom didn't share too much new with guests, the following day Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis shared that the new Star Tours will feature 54 possible different experiences when it opens next year.
Disney Historian Paul Anderson led an incredible presentation on Walt Disney and the 1964 New York World's Fair which he discussed not only what Disney did at the Fair, but also how it impacted the Company and the world.
Paul had the audience contemplate how things might be different in today's world if it weren't for the technological breakthroughs that Walt Disney and his team pioneered at the Fair; and how, if Walt had lived only ten more years how his ideas of experimental cities of the future might have affected our entire world.
Paul's riveting presentation on the World's Fair was followed by an amazing panel discussion on Disney Imagineering moderated by Disney Legend and former Imagineer Marty Sklar.
[ L-R: Marty Sklar and Xavier "X" Atencio ]
The panel was great because the old-timers like Alice Davis, Bob Gurr (below), Marty and X were all having fun together like old friends, and while many of the stories they told were familiar to many fans, Alice Davis an Bob Gurr shared memories they hadn't shared with an audience before.
Imagineers Dave Durham and Tony Baxter:
The first night of Destination D ended with a brilliant concert showcasing live renditions of classic Disney theme park music, many of which were penned by the Sherman Brothers. To introduce the show, Richard Sherman shared stories behind a few of his songs and performed pieces of some of his most popular theme park songs.
Seeing Richard Sherman perform some of his songs on stage was certainly a treat and the rest of the concert was as well, with stars from Avenue Q, Ugly Betty, and Rent performing some of their favorite Disney theme park songs.
John Tartaglia (Avenue Q, Johnny and the Sprites) performed "Grim Grinning Ghosts," complete with homemade ghost puppets.
John also performed "Golden Dream" with Tracie Thoms.
Ugly Betty's Ana Ortiz performed "Two Brothers"
The hilarious Michael Urie (also from Ugly Betty) performed a medley of Fantasyland songs and pulled guests on stage to participate
D23's own "Disney Geek," Jeffrey Epstein performed a duet with Ana Ortiz of Aladdin's "A Whole New World"
Broadway's Terron Brooks performed a medley of Splash Mountain tunes
My So-Called Life's Wilson Cruz took the stage to sing "Second Star to the Right" and "When You Wish Upon a Star"
And Michael Urie and Ana Ortiz took the stage again to sing a rousing (and hilarious) rendition of "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)"
The Melo-D23 Cast Member choir performed a handful of Tomorrowland songs by the Sherman Brothers
Other Destination D events included a look at attractions that were never built at Disneyland hosted by Dave Fisher. Interesting concepts like the Garden of the Gods that would have occupied the space that houses Storybook Land never made it past the drawing board.
Rock Candy Mountain, which would have also been built in that same area, was made into a model but the idea was eventually scrapped, but Imagineers say a good idea never dies and Rock Candy Mountain will finally make its way into a Disney theme park when Buena Vista Street opens at Disney California Adventure. A model of the candy mountain will be the centerpiece of an upcoming store, complete with a working model train running through it.
Other ideas included a Coppertone-sponsored sunshine exhibit in Tomrorowland
Also for Tomorrowland, a solar-powered coffee bar
Dave also talked about famous projects like Edison Square
Proposed usage at Disneyland of the dinosaurs from the Ford pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair included a water ride through prehistoric times.
And a replacement for Tomrorowland's America Sings included an alien musical revue led by this character...
...and featuring these guys...
Disney's chief archivist Dave Smith hosted "Disneyland: The Way We Were," in which Dave shared rare color construction photos of Disneyland.
Disneyland Resort George Kalogridis shared stories of working with the Walt Disney Company with local television weatherman Garth Kemp
Their interview was interrupted to introduce the world of California Adventure's upcoming ElecTRONica to the audience...
...as well as the horribly tacky and obnoxious Disney Dance Crew show coming to the park.
Yep, that's Mickey. His mouth moves and his eyes blink as he dances
Quite possibly the biggest highlight of Destination D was the watching color footage of Disneyland construction with Imagineer Tony Baxter and media preservationist Ed Hobelman. It was great fun to watch such great footage with the two of them giving insight on what was being constructed, time frames of construction, and of course constant jokes about would-be Cal-OSHA violations as construction workers walked beams without harnesses and hardhats.
Tony also treated Destination D guests to the world premiere of a short clip Walt Disney filmed to be played in theaters before the film "Follow Me, Boys!" The clip was pulled from theaters following Walt's sudden death prior to the release of "Follow Me, Boys!" The short film is the last-known filmed recording of Walt Disney.
Walt gives a preview of his upcoming film, "The Happiest Millionaire" and introduces audiences to "Follow Me, Boys." He apologizes for not being able to attend the special screening of "Follow Me, Boys" with the audience, which creates an eerie context for the short clip as Walt died shortly before it was to be released.
Tony and Ed were then joined by Tim O' Day and Bob Smith to introduce a screening of the restored "Disneyland USA" film.
Following the film Tim interviewed former Disneyland President Jack Lindquist and Disneyland's original tour guide, Geri Bumpass.
Jack has just finished his personal memoir, which will be released December 13 (more information).
As D23 celebrated Disneyland's 55th anniversary in style, Disney announced plans for their next theme park promotion called "Let the Memories Begin."
Disney announced the new campaign via a live webcast of the announcement from New York City. The announcement itself was rather dull (you can watch it below), despite being hyped by the DisneyParks Blog earlier in the week. The campaign includes opportunities for guests to send in photographs and video clips that will be projected nightly on Disneyland's "it's a small world" facade and Walt Disney World's Cinderella Castle.
NEW YORK (Sept. 23, 2010) – In 2011, Disney guests will become the stars of a nightly spectacular when photos taken in the park during the day become larger-than-life projections on Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort or “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Resort. This groundbreaking new experience will celebrate the family vacation memories created in Disney theme parks every day.
And this week, Disney guests will begin starring on television, too, as part of the new “Let the Memories Begin” campaign. For the first time, Disney Parks is featuring the home videos and snapshots of real guests in television ads and other marketing that will allow an audience of millions to share in true-life, heartfelt moments.
“A Disney vacation is the perfect way to create family memories that will last a lifetime,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, at a media announcement Thursday in New York. “We’ll spotlight those ‘only-at-Disney’ moments with family and friends during our ‘Let the Memories Begin’ campaign.”
A just-released survey of U.S. and Canadian families conducted for Disney Parks by Ypartnership, a noted research firm that tracks consumer insights and trends in travel, showed that vacation memories hold a special place in family history.
Nine out of 10 parents said they planned their vacations with the express hope that they would result in a lasting family memory, the survey showed. And those memories stuck with
them – nearly three-quarters said they think back “often” or “very often” on their favorite vacation experiences.
‘Memories in the Making’ to be Shared on Disney Park Icons
Beginning in January 2011, some Disney parks guests will find that the memory they just made has become a larger-than-life image during a “Let the Memories Begin” nighttime experience.
At Walt Disney World Resort, the guest photos will be projected on the soaring spires of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom. At Disneyland Resort, the iconic façade of “it’s a small world” will be the canvas for the show.
In both locations, Disney PhotoPass photographers will capture guests caught up in the Disney experience – a memory in the making – and as many as 500 photos will be used in each location every day, producers estimate.
The nighttime show will use the latest in high-intensity projection technology to create vivid visuals that seem to defy the architecture of the building. A new song commissioned for the show will provide an emotional context for these images of the Disney guest experience.
For TV Ads and More, Disney Parks Issues a ‘Call for Memories’
Beyond seeing their own projected photos in lights, guests also could become the stars of Disney Parks television commercials, online campaigns and social media opportunities that will showcase to the world the power of memories.
The campaign kicks off this week with a TV commercial created from videos posted online in social media forums.
For future TV commercials and other advertising and marketing programs, Disney Parks is asking guests to share their memories by uploading photos and videos at a special “Let the Memories Begin” online hub at www.DisneyParks.com/Memories. From a first meeting with a princess to a laugh-filled watery touchdown on Splash Mountain, Disney Parks is looking for videos and photos that capture those never-to-be-forgotten experiences.
Some memories will be shared online, while others may be selected to share in print ads, brochures and other marketing – including television ads to air across the United States and Canada.
With real visitor images on iconic attractions and home video featured in commercials, the storytellers at Disney Parks are letting guests tell their own stories in 2011, Staggs said.
“We wanted to give our guests a powerful way to share the memories they create every day in our parks,” Staggs said. “Essentially, this becomes our first user-generated show and our first user-generated marketing campaign.
“A day at a Disney park is filled with magical experiences that become cherished and unforgettable memories – and now we’re helping our guests share those memories with the world.” [ FULL PRESS RELEASE ]
The campaign seems mostly like another gimmick to get the public to plan Disney vacations rather than relying on the strengths (and brand new attractions coming to the parks next year) to promote the Resorts. The new commercial for the campaign is already playing on TV.
Work progresses on re-camoflauging the Indiana Jones Adventure show building, visible from the Mickey and Friends tram stop
Walls are down from in front of the upcoming "Tangled" meet-and-greet in Fantasyland, but still no sign of Rapunzel.
Next door, work continues on the Village Haus Restaurant
Walls are down from the outdoor vending areas in New Orleans Square and the popcorn and churro carts are back.
Looks like the work was to install plumbing for new sinks for the food carts.
Over in Tomrorowland, the seagulls are finally back on the Submarine Lagoon's buoy.
In the Disney Gallery (and elsewhere in the Resort), the Art on Demand system is up and running again after being dark for several weeks.
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Village Haus Restaurant: Closed until December 19 for refurbishment.
Main Street Vehicles: Closed through September 30 for refurbishment.
Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin: Closed through December 16 for refurbishment.
Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed September 27-30.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Closed September 27-30.
Donald's Boat: Closed October 12-21.
"it's a small world": Closed October 25 - November 11 to install holiday overlay.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Closed November 2 -3 for refurbishment.
The Blue Bayou Restaurant: Closed November 2 -3 due to Pirates of the Caribbean refurbishment.
The Jungle Cruise: Closed November 15-17
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride: Closed November 29 through December 2 for refurbishment.
Star Tours: Closed for Star Tours 2 overhaul. Reopens May 2011.
Disney California Adventure
Toy Story Midway Mania!: Closed through October 10 to install safety gates in load station.
Hyperion Theater / Disney's Aladdin — A Musical Spectacular: Closed September 7 - October 7 for nearby Red Car Trolley construction.
It's Tough to Be a Bug!: Closed through October 25 - 29 for refurbishment.
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed November 1-18
Maliboomer: Closed permanently for removal.
Pizza Oom Mow Mow: Closed for retheme to Boardwalk Pasta and Pizza
Mullholland Madness: Closes October 12 to begin re-theme. Reopens May 2011 as Goofy's Sky School.
Burger Invasion: Closed for retheme to Paradise Garden Grill. Reopens May 2011.
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.
Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort
Arcade, Jungle Cruise Remote Control Boats, Hook's Pointe, The Wine Cellar, The Lost Bar, and Croc's Bits & Bites (Disneyland Hotel): Closed permanently for removal as part of Disneyland Hotel remodel.
Guest Laundry (Disneyland Hotel): Closed through September 30 due to construction.
Whew! That's the end of this week's update. Thanks for reading and be sure to discuss this week's update in the comments section below!
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