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Dateline Disneyland

Christmas Parade Filming, California Spieling, DCA construction, Mermaid work, +MORE

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by , 11-08-2010 at 12:23 AM
The countdown to Disneyland's holiday season is underway as the parks put the finishing touches on the Christmas festivities before the officially begin on Friday. Like clockwork, filming took place this weekend, as it does every year around this time, for the annual DisneyParks Christmas Day Parade. Singer and actor Nick Cannon took center stage as host of Disneyland's portion of the parade and Disney stars including Selena Gomez and Dancing with the Stars cast members performed in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Meanwhile, across the Main Entrance Plaza work continues on California Adventure's massive expansion and remodel as construction puts an end to Disney's popular California Food and Wine Festival and Disney CEO Bob Iger talks bluntly with the Wall Street Journal about fixing the troubled park.

As always, more information on the construction projects featured in today's update can be found in the MiceChat Project Tracker threads — just look for a Project Tracker watermark and click that photo for more information and to join the on-going discussion.

Thanks to Fishbulb and MickeyMousePal for lending their help with photos this week.

There's always lots to see at Disneyland, so let's get started!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

Over the weekend Disney played host to camera crews and celebrities while filming for the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade (previously called the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade) was underway. Town Square's Christmas Tree Point had a stage where Nick Cannon hosted the festivities.

Disneyland's A Christmas Fantasy Parade took center stage, with some attention given to Duffy as well as Toy Story characters, promoting Toy Story 3.

A stage in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle played host to Disney stars like Selena Gomez and Dancing with the Stars cast members

Both parks continue to get the holiday treatment as they ready to kick off Disneyland's official holiday season starting this Friday, November 12. Be sure to be here next week when we complete round-up of the holiday festivities in the column.

California Adventure's Golden Gate Bridge is decorated for its final holiday season...

The park's Christmas tree is already up on Paradise Pier.

A look at California Adventure's ongoing $1 billion remodel and expansion...

Work continues on the removal of the entrance murals

Inside the park, the the walls around the Sun fountain have been extended completely around the entire Sunshine Plaza hub area. The ElecTRONica stage has been moved forward as well.

Disney abruptly called off its 2011 and 2012 Disney's California Food and Wine Festival last week, citing the Buena Vista Street construction for the cancellation. The Los Angeles Times ran an article about the schedule change last week after Disney broke the news on their Disney Parks Blog.
Construction forces Disney California Adventure to cancel annual food festival
Disney California Adventure has canceled the California Food & Wine Festival for 2011 and 2012 because of ongoing construction associated with the $1.1 billion expansion -- and officials won't say if the popular event will ever return to the Anaheim theme park.

The annual spring event, included with theme park admission in April and May, featured tastings, seminars and demonstrations by celebrity chefs such as Guy Fieri, Cat Cora and Robert Irvine.

The 5-year-old festival had continually grown in popularity, expanding from 30 events over four weekends in 2006 to 700 events over 46 days in 2010. The California event was based on the 15-year-old Epcot Food & Wine Festival held in the fall at the Florida theme park. Both events were designed to boost attendance during the slow shoulder seasons.

Disney officials refused to say whether the California Food & Wine Festival would return in 2013. Moving the festival to Disneyland, Downtown Disney or the Disneyland Hotel didn't make logistical sense, officials said.

The ongoing expansion, derisively dubbed by some as "Disney's Construction Adventure," has proven a continuing nightmare for DCA planners, who have been forced to ship the Main Street Electrical Parade to the Magic Kingdom when construction shrank the parade route and holding queues had to be created to accommodate the thousands of visitors waiting to view the popular "World of Color" water show. And the ramped-up construction will force the Pixar Play Parade into hiatus beginning Jan. 3, with the parade characters continuing to appear in pop-up "dance parties" throughout the park. [ FULL STORY ]

Over in Paradise Pier, California Screamin' ditched its surfer-dude audio spiels for a new voice, reportedly voiced by actor Neil Patrick Harris.

The new voice is part of the effort to re-theme Paradise Pier as a 1920s-era seaside boardwalk by ditching the hip and contemporary theme the park opened with in 2001.

[ Video by Dustysage ]

Neil Patrick Harris didn't explicitly confirm his role as the new voice of California Screamin', but he did strongly hint at his via his Twitter account, Sunday morning.

It's great that the hip surfer dude that used to count down the California Screamin' launch is gone, but the queue of the ride is still an unfortunate maze of un-themed concrete, ugly lighting fixtures and tacky teal-and-orange awnings.

This desperately needs to be re-themed.



The old Mullholland Madness facade is pretty much gone now as work continues transforming the mad mouse coaster into a Goofy-themed ride.

Still not too much progress at the site of the former Maliboomer following its removal.

Work continues on the Red Car Trolley track construction in the Hollywood Backlot.

Walls have moved around between the Tower of Terror and Hyperion Theatre

New awnings have been installed over Cast Member entrances on the side of the Disney Animation building.

Holiday Duffy is now lining store shelves in California Adventure

...and new Disney-branded chips are being sold at outdoor vending stands in the parks, replacing Frito-Lay options.

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Weekly Theme Park Hours
NOVEMBER 8 — 14, 2010
Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday - Wednesday: 10am - 8pm
Thursday: 8 am - 11 pm
Friday - Sunday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Monday - Wednesday: 10am - 8pm
Thursday: 10 am - 9 pm
Friday - Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Theme Park Calendar

Closures and Refurbishment Schedule
Disneyland Park

  • "it's a small world": Closed through November 11 to install holiday overlay.
  • The Jungle Cruise: Closed November 15 - 18
  • Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin: Closed through December 16 for refurbishment.
  • Village Haus Restaurant: Closed until December 19 for refurbishment.
  • 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

  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed through November 18
  • Maliboomer: Removed. Space will become new park-like area.
  • Mullholland Madness: Closed to be rethemed. Reopens May 2011 as Goofy's Sky School.
  • Pizza Oom Mow Mow: Closed for retheme to Boardwalk Pasta and Pizza
  • 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.

Before the $1 billion remodel and expansion of Disney California Adventure was announced three years ago, there had been rumors of making Disneyland and California Adventure one big park. Turns out they weren't just rumors — Disney CEO Bob Iger had Imagineers draw up plans for the idea.

Disney CEO Turns Slump Into a Springboard
While many of his peers hoarded cash during the downturn, Robert Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney Co., doubled down, investing in entertainment businesses, theme parks, new technology and other infrastructure and counting on the weak economy to keep a lid on construction costs.

Disney just launched a new cruise ship, is expanding its California Adventure and Hong Kong Disneyland theme parks, and is building a new resort in Hawaii. The company is also integrating Marvel Entertainment and its stable of comic-book heroes, which Disney bought last December for $4.3 billion, as well as Playdom, a maker of games for Facebook users, acquired this summer for $563 million.

Last week, with the home-video release of "Toy Story 3," Disney unveiled Keychest, an initiative that automatically gives buyers of its films on DVD or Blu-ray disc access to an online streaming version.

The expansion carries some risk for a business so dependent on consumer spending, which has yet to fully recover. When Disney reports results Thursday, investors will be looking for continued signs of recovery in its ad-dependent media businesses and tourist destinations Mr. Iger, 59 years old, recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal.

WSJ: Your newest cruise ship, the Disney Dream, was the first of several billion-dollar parks-and-resorts investments to come to fruition. You started making many of these expansions amid the recession. Why?

Mr. Iger: In some cases we started before the recession, and some cases we were in it. Our construction costs have tended to be lower because we built in the downturn.

WSJ: What if there's a double-dip recession, or the recovery stalls?

Mr. Iger: If it comes, there are levers we can pull to [reduce] operating costs that are tied mostly to demand, not to reduce quality of service. But we don't see that happening. If we continue with modest improvement, then we feel we're fully capable of absorbing these additional investments.

People want to take their kids on vacation, and often sacrifice other things in their lives to do that. I don't make light of it, but I'm not losing sleep over these investments at all.

WSJ: You're spending $1 billion to overhaul Disney California Adventure, Disneyland's less-famous neighbor. Why?

Mr. Iger: [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs is fond of talking about brand deposits and brand withdrawals. Any time you do something mediocre with your brand, that's a withdrawal. California Adventure was a brand withdrawal.

We debated, "Should we make it one park?" Raise the price at Disneyland, and suddenly one ticket buys you the whole thing. I even had Imagineers design that.

[But] we would have had to put in transportation systems. It would have cost us so much money to put the monorail in. And to do other things to create one park. That didn't make sense.

We all concluded that the only way we would improve returns on that park is if we made it better and we made it bigger. And we decided to put what is now [around] $1 billion into that.

WSJ: What are you adding?

Mr. Iger: We opened up the first attraction, [the animation-inspired] "World of Color." "Little Mermaid" [is] next summer, and then the big kahuna of them all, "Cars Land," which is a 12-acre land [based on the Pixar animated film.] .

[Cars Land] will open in the middle of 2012. "World of Color" has increased attendance since it opened at California Adventure by 20%.
For the full story, visit: Wall Street Journal: Disney CEO Turns Slump Into a Springboard

Disney's new hip Mickey isn't getting favorable reviews from the fans — or the critics

Review: Mixmaster Mickey Mouse makes a mixed debut in Disney California Adventure show

If the employees at the Disney Archives have a time capsule, they'll want to file the Disney Dance Crew under "The Way We Were" circa 2010. Decades from now, the archivists will want to pull out the video of Mixmaster Mickey Mouse hip-hop dancing to mash-ups of urban street sounds and familiar Disney songs as yet another example of Disney's never-ending desire to stay current with pop culture.

Years from now, we'll laugh, cringe and marvel at Disney's valiant but vain efforts to remain contemporary with bad fashion, bad puns and bad ideas. At the moment, we can only ask, "What were they thinking?"

On the whole, the Disney California Adventure show, which made its official debut Oct. 22 after a soft opening few days before, left me torn when I viewed it last week. I was amazed by the animatronic advances made by Walt Disney Imagineering yet befuddled by Disney's foolhardy decision to turn the company's renowned icon into Gangsta Mickey.

Disney's Dance Crew represents the main public debut in one of Disney's California theme parks of the revolutionary "talking" Mickey Mouse whose articulated mouth moves as he talks. Adding to the awe-inspiring technological feat are the fleet-footed dance moves that the new Mickey unleashes on the dance floor that make him look like a cross between Fred Astaire and Justin Timberlake.

On the flip side, and overpowering the progress made on the technical side, is Disney's never-ending quest to keep the timeless Mickey Mouse modern and fashionable despite his advancing age.

The octogenarian mouse, now old enough to be a great-grandfather, wears his baseball cap backward, sports gold bling around his neck and spouts slang such as "rock the street," "kick it" and "in the house" during the 13-minute Disney Dance Crew show.

To demonstrate Mickey's perpetual youth, the dancers rip off his "old school" tuxedo and bow tie to reveal his hip-hop sweat suit in a stunt begging for a Janet Jackson-style wardrobe malfunction.

[ . . . ] Over the years, Disney has done an excellent job of keeping Mickey relevant to new generations. This time it has lost its way. Disney Dance Crew leaves me feeling uneasy and embarrassed for Mickey, emotions that I don't usually associate with the beloved mouse.
For the full story, visit: LA Times: Mixmaster Mickey Mouse makes a mixed debut in Disney California Adventure show

From Around Disney:
Disney appoints communications vice president
John Nicoletti, the former top Anaheim spokesman, is taking over as the vice president of communications for the Disneyland Resort.

Nicoletti, who lives in Fullerton, has worked for Disney since 2007, first as external communications director of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Most recently, he served as the vice president of global communications for Walt Disney Studios.

Before he started at Disney, Nicoletti was the spokesman for the city of Anaheim, where he worked closely with the Disneyland Resort.
For the full story, visit: Around Disney: Disney appoints communications vice president

Also from Around Disney:
Disney receives award for saving water
The Disneyland Resort will receive an award for reducing storm-water runoff during a ceremony Tuesday.

The California Stormwater Quality Association plans to honor Disney during its sixth-annual awards luncheon in Rancho Mirage. Disney is among five recipients of the award and the only one from Orange County.

The resort created a program to cut down on the amount of water dumped into storm drains and the ocean.

Disney is recognized mostly for using a type of porous asphalt that allows rainwater to seep into the water table, instead of going into the ocean.

The concrete surfaces have spaces and holes, almost like a sponge, which allow water to seep into the ground, said Jill Bicknell, awards committee chairwoman. That prevents the water from running off, picking up pollutants and carrying them into the ocean.

Crews used water-friendly practices for the construction of a new central bakery, a parking lot on Harbor Boulevard, four back office buildings, as well as the Grand Californian Hotel expansion, said Betsy Sanchez, a Disneyland Resort spokesman. Read a story and see a video about Disney’s environmentally friendly bakery.

“As we grow and expand, one of the ways we continue to build on this legacy is by investing in new technologies, systems and processes that improve water quality,” said Frank Dela Vara, director of environmental affairs at the Disneyland Resort, in a prepared statement. “We are honored to receive this award and look forward to continuing to develop innovative practices that help sustain our environment and support our core business values, because it is the right thing to do.”
For the full story, visit: Around Disney: Disney receives award for saving water

Alright! That wraps up another edition of Dateline Disneyland. Thanks again for reading and please be sure to discuss in the comments section below! We're only here because of your on-going support. If you enjoy Dateline Disneyland every week please consider helping us out by donating a buck or two so we can pay the bills and keep the updates coming! You can donate with a click of a button via PayPal — click here!

Thanks for reading and please be sure to join in the discussion in the comments section below!

Thanks again to Fishbulb and MickeyMousePal for help this week!

Also, remember that MiceChat has loads of new content all week long! For even more Disneyland news, photos and information check out the In the Parks column on Fridays. And MiceChat's Weekend Update, tours the world of Disney theme parks and other worldly sights and landmarks!

Join us on Twitter and Facebook for great Disneyland news and information throughout the week!

See you at the parks!
- Andy

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  1. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update! Of course critics are cringing about Disney Dance Crew. Gangsta Mickey? Give me a break.
  2. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!
  3. SleepingCorgi's Avatar
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    great pictures! especially of the Christmas parade filming...I was there last year and filming just went on...and on...and on....

    wonder why they changed the chips to 'Disney?' Do they make you feel better or are they like flavored with pixie dust? I dont know why a big company would want to end a contract with disney....

    anywho, great update!
  4. michael darling's Avatar
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    Wow, don't know who either of those entertainers are. So out of the scene. They look good though, for it being 8:30 am. Hard to pull that one off.
  5. ManaByte's Avatar
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    Gangsta Mickey makes you want to shoot yourself.
  6. The Disneylander's Avatar
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    Awesome update!

    A quote from the Iger interview that stood out:

    World of Color" has increased attendance since it opened at California Adventure by 20%.
  7. Mac Daddy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great update, Andy, and for those shots from Fishbulb. I love that shot of the sun going down looking past the Christmas tree and the fun wheel. I also loved the interview with Iger. "California Adventure was a brand withdrawal." Ouch. How great to hear a Disney CEO slap that park in front of the Wall Street Journal. Kudos to Iger for his honesty.
  8. bamato's Avatar
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    Awesome update!

    As for "Gangsta Mickey", I believe what were they thinking is the best thing to say in response to that....

    It's also nice to see some color going on The Little Mermaid.. makes me excited that it's opening date is that much closer. I wish there was some way we could get photos of the construction from *inside* the building. Always enjoy seeing those types of photos!

    Are there any plans to do some theming on CS? It's so.... boring...
  9. xalesa's Avatar
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    Wonderful update!!! Now my Monday morning is complete!
    I love the Christmas Day event photos. Couldn't tell the difference between the official Disney ones and Fishbulb/MickeyMousePal's!!! Very nice job capturing that event.
  10. FerretAfros's Avatar
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    I really hope that Duffy on the lead float of the Christmas parade isn't a permanent change. I know a lot of characters get switched around (and Pluto usually ends up in that spot), so I hope we will still have the huge super-fuzzy generic bear there when the parade opens.
  11. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update!
  12. peoplemover1's Avatar
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    Great update Andy!! Can't wait for next week!!! Sooo excited for Christmas at Disneyland!!

  13. ImagineImages's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great update

    Updated 11-08-2010 at 08:14 AM by ImagineImages (forgot a link)
  14. jcruise86's Avatar
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    Thank you for creating such an outstanding update!

    The inspired photos, reprinting the interview with Iger, and the spot-on comments about gangsta Mickey made it an update that should be seen in the future by amateur and academic Disney historians. Great work!
  15. TDLFAN's Avatar
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    Nice work you guys.
    One comment... Does anyone know if Disney intends to fix the backside of the mountain set for Cars Land that faces Paradise Pier? While it is visible that they are doing a great job theming the inside facing portion of the mountain.. the backside of it look horribly exposed. Given it's height and how it sticks above all other buildings around it.. I would only guess that they will spend some time and effort to give the area a finished look. I would hate for them to repeat the same mistake they did with the backside of DAK's Everest Mt.
  16. DisneyTrains's Avatar
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    Great update!
    Thanks a bunch for keeping those of us that can't go as often as we want to connected to the parks!
    Didn't Disney try something similar to the Disney Dance Crrew a few years (or so) ago in Disneyland? And it was pretty much just like the current Dance Crew and rapping Mickey I believe. It failed miserably and lasted only a year of service, which is the time I think it'll take to get rid of the crappers and flip-floppers.
  17. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    Great photo's by MickeyMousePal and Fishbulb!!!

    I still did see a few locations with Frito Lay chips on Saturday but I'm thinking they were just trying to get rid of them.
  18. safarijaclyn's Avatar
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    Lovely update, per usual!

    Fabulous pictures of the parade filming! It looks really great this year, and it's a favorite thing to watch on TV for my family.

    To the Duffy situation: I think the lack of merch being sold was actually mentioned in a previous entry, not this one, however I feel the need for a quick story. Of course I don't know ALL the reasons behind the lack of sales, but I think part of it may be some cast member 'tude. I was at DCA right when Duffy was first out, and as I was looking at all the merch, a CM started talking to me about what a waste of money Duffy is because he's so expensive, and kind of lame, and who wants a stupid bear anyway? type sentiments. He didn't know anything about how I felt about Duffy before he started trying to talk me out of potentially buying it! Granted, he may have made a valid point or two, but it was REALLY bad show to be talking to random guests like that, and just offering up negative opinions without being asked. I was (and still am, a little) on the fence about Duffy, but I bought one of the tiny ones, almost out of spite of that negative interaction. That type of thing is certainly not HELPING them in the Duffy situation.
  19. safarijaclyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN
    Nice work you guys.
    One comment... Does anyone know if Disney intends to fix the backside of the mountain set for Cars Land that faces Paradise Pier? While it is visible that they are doing a great job theming the inside facing portion of the mountain.. the backside of it look horribly exposed. Given it's height and how it sticks above all other buildings around it.. I would only guess that they will spend some time and effort to give the area a finished look. I would hate for them to repeat the same mistake they did with the backside of DAK's Everest Mt.
    I've been wondering the same thing. Since it butts so much into the skyline of the Pier, I REALLY hope they get around to fixing it.

    When I was a CP at DAK, it was a big joke on the buses into work that we knew we were almost there when we saw "Half a mountain and two fake trees" (everest, tree of life, and a radio tower or phone pole they randomly decided to try and camouflage as a tree) At least THAT was basically only visible from OUTSIDE the park.
  20. MickeyMousePal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sir clinksalot
    Great photo's by MickeyMousePal and Fishbulb!!!

    I still did see a few locations with Frito Lay chips on Saturday but I'm thinking they were just trying to get rid of them.
    Thanks Gregg

    Also Thanks Norm for using my photos!!!
    Waking up to the park super early did payoff.
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