Disneyland is in full holiday mode with the return of fan-favorite holiday parades, fireworks and attractions. Yet, while it's a full winter wonderland complete with snow-capped Castle turrets within Disneyland's gates, California Adventure continues to be a maze of construction walls, but that's not a bad thing. Certainly, the California-themed park is getting the best Christmas present it could ask for; a remodel, and Disney's Imagineers continue in earnest to give the park a proper facelift. DCA's Sunshine Plaza is quickly fading as the sun sets on the tacky and on-the-cheap theming it opened with in 2001 and over in the new Cars Land, construction continues on new shops, restaurants and rides. Meanwhile, the problematic Fantasmic! dragon has made a full recovery after its on-stage failure in August and is once again lighting the Rivers of America on fire during nightly shows. And if visiting Disneyland wasn't enough for you, video game designers are hoping you'll want to explore a somewhat twisted version of the park—including a very special place on Main Street—in the new Epic Mickey game for the Nintendo Wii as it hits store shelves at the end of the month.
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.
We not only have a shiny new look here at MiceChat and Dateline Disneyland this week, but we also have a huge update — so let's get started!
Weekly News and Information Round-Up Weekly theme park hours, closures and refurbishments, MiceAge's Sue Kruse talks with Jack Lindquist, Aphasia victim finds recovery at Disneyland, Disney eyes more theme park-inspired movies
WELCOME TO DISNEYLAND!
Disneyland kicked off its holiday season on Friday with all the usual offerings. The return of holiday favorites, including the "A Christmas Fantasy" parade, "Believe in Holiday Magic" fireworks, and "it's a small world" Holiday brought big crowds to the parks over the Veteran's Day weekend.
The Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle overlay is back
Unfortunately, the tacky icicles are as well. Is there not a better solution for this?
"it's a small world" has returned with its wildly popular Holiday overlay.
A huge sea of strollers and an extended queue is a common sight here during the holidays
Disney launched the start of the holidays with a special ceremony in front of "it's a small world" Friday night with a special guest—8-year-old Adela Jauregui, a brain tumor patient at the Children's Hospital of Orange County.
From the OC Register's Around Disney blog:
CHOC patient lights up Disneyland
Adela Jauregui of Anaheim got the chance to officially turn on the holiday lights at Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” attraction for the season Friday evening.
“It’s been really exciting to be here and see Adela enjoy herself and smile,” said Adela’s father, Jesus.
Adela, 8, has been undergoing treatment at CHOC since 2005, when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Adela and her family spent the day enjoying the park, including the famed boat ride.
On Thursday, their home in Anaheim was decorated for the holidays by the Disneyland Resort and the sponsor of the attraction, Siemens/Sylvania.
“It’s got three trees in front and lots of lights,” Adela said.
According to Adela’s mother, Norma, Adela received another treatment just last week.
“This is good for her, it’s making her smile,” Norma said.
When asked what her favorite attraction was at Disneyland?
A "Happy Holidays" sign on the attraction marquee indicates the inside of the ride has changed for the season
Big Thunder Ranch is once again home to Santa's Reindeer Round-up, where guests can look at Santa's reindeer and then meet Santa and Ms. Claus inside the Big Thunder Ranch cabin.
New signs are strung up this year with Santa's reindeer's names
Critter Country has received its holiday decorations. Gone this year is the "Merry Critters and Happy Pooh Year" banner that is usually adorning the the Disneyland Railroad bridge as you head toward the entrance of Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain's Christmas tree is back, however.
Yet, the garland that was floating in the air thanks to Winnie the Pooh's balloons over his meet-and-greet area has failed to return this year.
Back on Main Street, Disneyland's traditional "Christmas Fantasy" parade is back
And at night, the trees and bushes around Sleeping Beauty Castle shimmer with lights. The shrubbery around the Castle has been getting white LED lights since the winter overlay started on Sleeping Beauty Castle in 2007, but for some reason the lights weren't turned on — until now.
It looks good, especially in person.
Over at California Adventure, the holidays are an afterthought as heavy construction continues throughout the park. Garland has been strung up on the Golden Gate Bridge for the last time before the bridge heads to Yesterland.
Garland has gone up around the Sunshine Plaza's dining area's seating space, also likely for the last time.
Holiday treats are back at dining locations in both parks
Back in Disneyland, the troubled Fantasmic! dragon, dubbed 'Murphy' in reference to Murphy's Law, made a welcome return to the show Friday night after breaking in front of Guests during a packed performance back in late August.
It's nice to have the dragon back and hopefully it's back for good this time.
A look at California Adventure's ongoing $1 billion remodel and expansion...
Sunshine Plaza continues to move on to Yesterland as the tile murals at the park entrance continue to be removed and the Sunhsine Plaza courtyard and fountain area are bulldozed.
Different walls are up around the area where the western portion of the mural once stood outside the park gates.
A few steps further inside the park shows that the entire Sunshine Plaza fountain area is now gone. The trees in the area have been removed and all that remains are a few bare parade lighting posts and a couple of the heliostats that were originally designed to keep the sun shining on the now-removed sun fountain.
With all the Sun icon and all the shrubbery gone, the "It's Tough to Be A Bug!" show building is, for the first time to park guests, visible from this vantage point.
Soon, the Carthay Circle Theatre will be located here as the icon of the new Buena Vista Street.
A couple remaining (for now) Sunshine Plaza heliostats.
Further down the Performance Corridor, work continues on the new Cars Land.
THE LITTLE MERMAID:
ARIEL'S UNDERSEA ADVENTURE
GOOFY'S SKY SCHOOL & PARADISE GARDEN DINING AREA
Work is still inching along at the site of the former Maliboomer.
Outside the parks, the video gaming community is buzzing about the new Epic Mickey game for the Nintendo Wii. The game takes heavy inspiration from Disneyland, taking Mickey into a dark and "long-forgotten Disneyland." Park fans will notice numerous Disneyland references throughout the new game as well as get to explore certain areas of the park, including Walt Disney's legendary apartment on Main Street. Wired online and the OC Register's Around Disney blog have more information and video:
I’ve already said a lot about Spector and Disney, but there’s one more anecdote I wanted to relay before we put this topic to bed. We went down to Disneyland for an Epic Mickey event last week, and superfan Spector led a group of journalists on a walking tour of the park.
One of our first stops was one of the legendary hidden attractions of the park, one of the things ordinary visitors never get to see — Walt Disney’s apartment. Disney, ever the workaholic, had a studio apartment in the park so he could work right in the center of the action. It’s above the firehouse on Main Street, and we were allowed to go up and see it in small groups.
The apartment has been maintained exactly as it was at the time of Disney’s death, and still has an Edison phonograph, twin foldaway beds and 50’s-era kitchen appliances, including Walt’s grilled cheese maker. [ FULL STORY ]
“I figured it was the only way I would ever get a look inside Uncle Walt’s apartment,” said the game’s creative director, Warren Spector.
While at Disneyland recently to show reporters the locations that were the inspiration for scenes in the game, Disneyland officials surprised Spector and the reporters accompanying him by taking everyone inside for a quick tour.
Walt Disney often stayed in the apartment. Before his death in 1966, he had planned a Dream Suite, in New Orleans Square, where he would entertain family members, friends and other guests and oversee the park. The Dream Suite was completed in 2008 so selected park-goers could stay there.
Spector said that unlike the darker look that the rest of the game has, Disney’s apartment was treated differently, with special respect. [ FULL STORY ]
The game hits store shelves November 30, but you can pre-order the game now at Amazon in standard and collectors' editions. Also available is a cool new Epic Mickey Wii paintbrush controller.
DISNEYLAND HOTEL REMODEL
Over at the Disneyland Hotel, work continues on the Hotel's major remodel.
THIS & THAT
California Adventure's Playhouse Disney show is getting a new name in March.
Disney explained the name change on its blog last week:
‘Disney Junior – Live on Stage!’ Debuts at Disney Parks in 2011
Disney California Adventure park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida will celebrate the premiere of Disney Channel’s new multiplatform brand, Disney Junior, with “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!” next year. The lively show in the Parks will debut with new characters, some new adventures and a new marquee.
Children and parents who now enjoy the popular “Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!” at both Parks can look forward to sharing this new production, which brings back three audience favorites (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Little Einsteins) and also introduces a brand new segment based on Disney Junior’s newest series that will debut in February 2011, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.”
“Jake and the Never Land Pirates” will air on Disney Junior in February 2011 and will share the magical and adventurous world of Never Land with preschoolers. Children will be drawn to the main character Jake, an enthusiastic young boy who leads a team of kid pirates (Cubby and Izzy, along with their faithful pirate parrot, Skully) in fun adventures that encourage interactive responses from young viewers. The clever premise provides kids and families with a fun way to learn teamwork.
“Disney Junior – Live on Stage” is scheduled to debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney California Adventure park in March 2011.
Playhouse Disney signage will be going away in the spring, hopefully replaced with a less obnoxious marquee and something more appropriate for 1930s Hollywoodland.
A full-scale replica of a TRON: Legacy lightcycle is now on display at the exit of the Muppet*Vision 3D theater, which doubles at the TRON: Legacy preview theater at night during ElecTRONica.
Over in Disneyland, the lockers on Main Street have been replaced and now feature individual combination key pads at each locker.
Locker rentals are $7 per day.
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is closed for refurbishment.
Walls are up around the Fastpass distribution area and the Little Green Men Store Command
The attraction is expected to reopen by the end of this week.
The Village Haus in Fantasyland continues its refurbishment through mid-December.
Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin in Toon Town is still behind refurbishment walls through December 16.
Some work is going on at the exit of Mickey's house
Chandeliers have returned at Disney Clothiers on Main Street. It's nice to see themed lighting return here, but all of the extra overhead lighting is still obnoxiously out-of-theme.
AROUND THE PARKS
We'll wrap up this week's photo update with some photos from around the parks...
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Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters & Little Green Men Store Command: Closed through November 18
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 29 - December 16 for refurbishment
Muppet*Vision 3D: Closed December 9
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.
JACK LINDQUIST TALKS DISNEYLAND, NEW MEMIOR Fellow MiceAge columnist Sue Kruse recently got to talk with former Disneyland President Jack Lindquist about his tenure leading Disneyland and his new memoir about his career at Disney. Sue had the chance to talk with Mr. Lindquist and excellently shares the stories Jack shared with her in a new column today along with a full chapter from Jack's new book. Below is an excerpt from Sue's column and I strongly encourage you to click through for the full read - it's a great piece.
Jack of all Trades, Master of Fun
The seventeen year old me, stepping onto the school bus headed for Grad Nite at Disneyland could never have imagined that years later (and I won’t tell you how many) I’d get to sit down and talk with the man who invented Disneyland’s Grad Nite. But that’s exactly what happened when recently, I got to spend some time with Jack Lindquist, Disneyland’s first advertising manager and later, Disneyland’s first president.
To get to chat with someone who was there at the beginning, who knew Walt Disney, who not only watched Disneyland grow from “Walt’s Folly” into the park it is today, but who also was one of the people making Disneyland into the park we all love and know today ... for someone like me who has a nearly life-long love of Disneyland, it was a rare treat, indeed.
Jack Lindquist is a warm and welcoming guy and it was pure pleasure getting to chat with him. He’s the kind of person who from the get-go, you know you’d like to be able to call “friend.” And working for the Disney Company for 38 years, well, I’m sure you can imagine ... the things Jack has seen and done, the places he has been, the stories he has to tell!
Though you may not get the chance to sit down and talk face to face as I did, the stories are still at your touch. Jack has written a memoir entitled, "In Service To The Mouse." I’ve been lucky enough to read a sampling of chapters and I’m telling you, Dear Readers, you will love this book (which is available for pre-order starting today). We’ll get to the book ordering information in a bit, but first let’s sit down for a chat so I can tell you a few stories Jack Lindquist told me.
Jack was born in Chicago and when he was four, the Lindquist family moved to Los Angeles. He worked as a child actor, appearing notably in episodes of Our Gang. Jack graduated from Hollywood High, spent time in the Air Force, came back to LA and finished up his education, graduating from USC. He soon found himself working as an advertising consultant and in May of 1955, Jack was down in Anaheim for a meeting to set up an ad tie-in with the soon-to-open Disneyland for Kelvinator, the company he was representing.
Only problem was, the gentleman Jack came to meet was in another meeting and wouldn’t be free for an hour. At that point in time, Anaheim was way out in the boonies and you couldn’t just leave and come back. So Jack was asked if he wanted to have a look around. He did.
Now try to imagine, if you will, what it was like in 1955. You’re in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles from Los Angeles surrounded by orange groves and farmland. There were no theme parks as we know them today, only amusement parks. And your impression of those places is not a positive one. They were dirty and not really somewhere you’d want to take the family and spend a day with the kiddies. You’ve heard that Walt Disney is building this place, a place where the whole family can go. But you really have no basis to even try to imagine what Disney’s park is going to look like.
So you’re Jack Lindquist and you step out onto what was becoming Main Street (Disneyland was about 80% built at that point) and what do you see? “Walt wasn’t building an amusement park,” Jack remembered, “He was building a whole town.” There was a city hall, an opera house ... and a castle! I’m sure your imagination allows you to figure out it was a pretty amazing sight for Jack. And that first step onto Main Street was the very moment Jack “fell in love with the place.”
The ad tie-in deal that Jack was there for that first day worked out. It worked out so well that about a month later Jack received a call from Disneyland. They were looking for someone to come work as an ad manager for the park and wanted to know if Jack knew anyone he could recommend. “Yeah,” he told them, “me.”
Those early days at Disneyland called for a lot of creativity as there were no theme park management guidebooks and no one had ever built something like Disneyland before. They were making it all up as they went along. Jack remembers Disneyland had about 700 employees at the time and they did so well at everything they came up with due to ignorance, “We did things we did because we didn’t know we couldn’t do them.”
In 1957, Jack decided he wanted to try a New Year’s Eve celebration at Disneyland. The problem was they would need to sell advance tickets to insure a successful party. At that point in time, advance ticket sales didn’t exist for any venue. And for a theme park that didn’t allow any alcohol consumption planning a New Year’s Eve party without booze? It was a hard sell to even get the go-ahead from Disneyland, but Jack persevered and soon Disneyland was planning its first New Year’s Eve party.
Jack started out approaching businesses like Desmond’s Clothing Store in Pasadena and Wallach’s Music City in LA about selling advance tickets for Disneyland’s party. “What kind of commission would Disney pay,” the stores wanted to know. “None,” was the answer, but the stores would be mentioned in all the advertising Disneyland presented for the party. It was another tough sell but Jack finally got enough stores to join in to make the project viable. By December 31st, Disneyland had sold 4000 tickets and advance sales from the stores Jack had approached garnered 3100. It doesn’t sound like much by today’s standards, but back then those advance sales, like the party, itself, turned out to be a success.
The next time, months before, you purchase tickets to that concert you’re dying to attend, give a little thanks to that one little spark of an idea from Jack Lindquist ... because those first advance ticket sales for Disneyland’s New Year’s Eve party paved the way for businesses we know today like Ticketmaster.
DISNEY EYES ENCHANTED TIKI ROOM, MAGIC KINGDOM MOVIES I love the Pirates of the Caribbean films but I kind of wish Disney would stop there with the park-inspired movies.
Disney in Talks for ‘Enchanted Tiki Room’-Inspired ‘Tiki’ Movie
24 Frames has learned that Walt Disney Pictures is in talks to acquire Tiki, a screenplay written by musician Ahmet Zappa (yes, son of Frank Zappa) and writing partner Michael Wilson (Shark Tale, Ice Age, Burn Notice, Monster Witness Relocation Program). While the story is not directly related the the Enchanted Tiki Room attraction at Disneyland, Zappa and Wilson were inspired by the animatronic show and decided to write “an action-adventure that mixes in Polynesian mythology.”
Jon Favreau All Ears For Disney's 'Magic Kingdom' Feature Film
Jon Favreau is in talks to direct Magic Kingdom, the Disney film with the premise that the attractions at the venerable theme park come to life. The studio set the project up nearly two years ago and got a draft by Battlestar Galactica's Ron Moore, but a new writer will be set and work on a new draft under Favreau. Favreau will be signing a development deal, because the project will percolate while he works on other big scale studio films. He just completed Cowboys & Aliens, the DreamWorks/Universal co-production that stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. Favreau will finish that film for release on July 29, 2011, and he is expected to re-team with Robert Downey Jr. for a third Iron Man, the franchise which was one of the Marvel films bought out from Paramount to be distributed by Disney. Magic Kingdom is being produced by Strike Entertainment partners Marc Abraham and Eric Newman, and while the studio has previously tapped theme park attractions for films like Pirates of the Caribbean, this is the first time it has created a movie featuring the entire park. Magic Kingdom sounds like Disney's derivative answer to Fox's Night at the Museum franchise, but the signing of Favreau to helm continues an interesting direction that the studio is going in under Rich Ross and Sean Bailey. They are making a concerted effort to draw A-list talent to the studio.
Okay, that does it for another giant edition of Dateline Disneyland! Of course many thanks for reading and please be sure to discuss in the comments section below! Please remember that we're only here because of your 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!
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