It's been another busy week at the Disneyland Resort! Crowds continue to pour in for Disneyland's annual holiday festivities as work continues on Tomorrowland's Star Tours attraction and refurbishments wind down in Fantasyland and Mickey's Toon Town. Over in California Adventure, change continues to make its mark as Disney announces the date that crews will begin removing the giant C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A letters at the park's entrance. Inside DCA, work continues on the upcoming Little Mermaid attraction and a remodeled dining area on Paradise Pier. In the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Mickey's hip-hop dance show gets a remix. In Downtown Disney, the photography and art store by Anne Geddes is leaving in early 2011 and construction continues at the Disneyland Hotel.
More information and on-going discussion 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!
We have got a HUGE update for you today, so let's jump right in!
WELCOME TO DISNEYLAND!
While not much can be seen behind Star Tours construction walls, the attraction's marquees have been removed and replaced with flat signage. The old marquees will likely be replaced with new signage when the attraction reopens in next spring.
Back in Mickey's Toon Town, the land's marquee has been returned after a refurbishment. It's bright and shiny now and looks great.
Benny the Cab has returned atop the Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin entrance as the attraction gets ready to reopen later this week.
The nearby Roger Rabbit fountain is up and running again behind walls after its refurbishment.
Nearby in Fantasyland, the Village Haus Restaurant is wrapping up its lengthy refurbishment and will reopen at the start of next week.
In Downtown Disney, the flagship retail store for infant photographer Anne Geddes has announced it will be closing its doors in 2011.
The Orange County Register reported that the store is expected to remain open as late as March 2011, but employees on Saturday were telling store guests that the shop would close in January. Regardless of its eventual closing date, the closure will free up extremely valuable store space in the shopping district.
The store, called Anne Geddes, has been open in Downtown Disney for about five years, said Gary Brown, chief operating officer for the Geddes Group.
The store carries products based on Geddes’ signature pictures of babies, including infant clothes, books and statues. It sits near the World of Disney store.
Brown said the company decided against renewing the lease because Geddes’ photography is moving in new directions. Geddes is concentrating more on photos inspired by nature and pregnant women, Brown said.
He said it was a difficult decision to close the store in Downtown Disney, the shopping-entertainment district in the Disneyland Resort.
“The business was good. Ironically, we’re having some of the best days in years right now,” Brown said. “It’s just as Anne evolves as a photographer, we have a responsibility to evolve with her.”
While the official lease expired in October, Disney has agreed to let the store remain until early next year. Brown said the store has yet to determine a closure date, but it likely will come before the end of March.
“We’ve had a valued partnership with Ann Geddes over the last five years, and we look forward to other possible collaboration efforts in the future,” said Betsy Sanchez, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman. [ . . . ]
Anne Geddes’ departure will leave the first open storefront in Downtown Disney in awhile. [ FULL STORY ]
Down at the opposite end of Downtown Disney, taxi drivers from Yellow Cab of Greater Orange County are now provide the exclusive taxi service for the Disneyland Resort after an Orange County Superior Judge ruled Disney has the right to choose which taxi companies are allowed to serve Resort guests.
The Orange Country Register had details on the ruling:
Judge: Disney can bar some cab drivers
ANAHEIM – Disney can immediately begin dealing with one preferred taxi company and bar all other cab drivers from picking up passengers at their properties, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
The Hilton and Marriott hotels near the Anaheim Convention Center already deal exclusively with the one company Disney will now work with – Yellow Cab of Greater Orange County.
Disney and hotel officials said they prefer to work with one company that can guarantee a high level of service and operates primarily with clean-burning vehicles.
The ruling was a major blow to dozens of cab drivers who said they rely on Disneyland properties, Hilton and Marriott for up to 85 percent of their business and could be forced to look for other employment, if the ruling stands.
"Right now I'm making $40 a night, and I owe my company $60 a night just to pay my lease," said Salomon Kebede, a cab driver for A-Taxi, one of the two other companies permitted in Anaheim but now barred from Disney and the major hotels. "I don't know what I am going to do now."
Maryann Cazzell, an attorney for the excluded cab drivers, had asked for a preliminary injunction that would have prohibited Disney from operating with one provider, saying it created a virtual monopoly and would cause irreparable harm to the other drivers.
Judge James Di Cesare ruled against the injunction "without prejudice," which allows the issue to be reheard with new evidence.
The judge said he needed more "cold, hard facts" about market share and how the excluded cab companies would be harmed.
Cazzell said she anticipates re-filing the case but hadn't decided how quickly.
"We don't believe there will be enough service to the city with only one cab company serving these locations," Cazzell said. "It could force these cab drivers out of Anaheim. (But) the other party being damaged is the public.''
Disney officials said that they had hoped to begin operating with the preferred taxi company on Nov. 18, but the judge blocked that until he heard arguments Thursday.
The ruling allows Disney to begin working solely with Yellow Cab of Greater Orange County immediately.
But Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said the company will not immediately implement the change and it likely won't come until after Jan. 1.
"Our intention is to provide our Disneyland Resort guests with the best possible experience," Brown said previously in a statement. "After reviewing proposals from several companies, we selected Yellow Cab of Greater Orange County to provide taxicab services to the Disneyland Resort." [ FULL STORY ]
A look at the on-going construction progress in Disney California Adventure:
On Thursday, Disney finally announced the date that construction would begin on California Adventure's new Buena Vista Street. While work is already underway to remove the entrance area's tile murals and sun fountain and plaza area, Disney says January 4 is when more construction will begin, including the removal of the giant CALIFORNIA letters in front of the park's entry turnstiles.
The letters will be removed and the park gates will be pushed out roughly to where the letters are currently located.
The entire entrance area is being remodeled in a 1920s Los Angeles theme, representing the time period when Walt Disney arrived in California.
The 11 1/2-feet-tall letters, which sit in front of the entrance turnstiles, serve as popular spots for visitors to take pictures. Children often climb on top or groups gather in front to document their trips before they go inside.
Disney is dismantling the statues as it constructs a new entrance area, part of a $1-billion makeover of the theme park, the company announced Thursday. Read more about the Disney California Adventure changes on the official Disney Parks blog.
The company plans to save the statues for “possible future use,” according to the Disney Parks blog.
The California letters are often redecorated for different seasons. Usually, they have different colored mosaic tiles. For the holiday season, candy-cane stripes and Disney characters go on top. When the “World of Color” show launched in June, the letters got shiny, rainbow-colored makeovers.
The new California Adventure entrance will be designed after the classic Pan-Pacific Auditorium that was open from 1935 to 1972 in Los Angeles and burned down in 1989. The entire California Adventure park is being remodeled to look like the 1920s and 1930s, when Walt Disney began his career in California. [ FULL STORY ]
Meanwhile, work continues removing the park's tile mural
Not much can be seen at the site of the former sun fountain...
Progress continues at the major Cars Land expansion...
Trees are up on the Radiator Springs mountain range, likely temporarily to test sight lines and scale issues.
Steel Cozy Cone frame ready to be moved to its place
THE LITTLE MERMAID: ARIEL'S UNDERSEA ADVENTURE
New structure going up for more of the covered walkway awning.
GOOFY'S SKY SCHOOL & PARADISE GARDEN
Preliminary work has begun on the outdoor seating area for the remodeled and renamed Paradise Garden dining area, which is set to open in the spring.
Over in Stage 17 in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, a series of winter-themed character photo-ops were set up along with a lounge area with snacks and coffee and activity areas where you could make your own craft Christmas ornaments or write letters to military members overseas.
The free offering was set up for radio contest winners, according to Cast Members, but was later opened to all park guests when not enough contest winners showed up to keep the venue busy. Even with the doors open to the park-going public, lines to meet the popular characters were minimal Saturday evening, which is likely due to the Cast Members stationed in front of Stage 17's entrance — they don't invite guests in, and only those curious enough to ask what's going on are invited to go inside. The Cast Members positioned out front appear to be guarding the doors of a private event, which surely scares off most average Joe park guests.
Unfortunately, the two-weekend event ends after this weekend, December 18 & 19, according to Cast Members. Fortunately, Cast Members say the doors to the near-private character meet-and-greets is set to remain open to all park guests next weekend as well. If you happen to be in the park next weekend and character meet-and-greets are your thing, this is the perfect opportunity to meet with the Fab 5 in their holiday outfits with little-to-no-wait.
Send a letter to the troops
DISNEYLAND HOTEL REMODEL
Work on the Disneyland Hotel remodel continues...
The Pavilion is now behind plastic as work gets underway on the building
THIS & THAT
Tron: Legacy banners advertise the film opening this weekend near Downtown Disney's AMC Theatres.
TRON books, including this nice new hardcover Art of Tron: Legacy book are available in Downtown Disney's D Street
as well as the official Movie Storybook and a graphic novel prequel.
Following the popularity of the Halloween-themed Mickey popcorn buckets, the Mickey Mouse snowman popcorn buckets are available to purchase in select gift shops including the Disneyland Emporium and California Adventure's Candy Shoppe for $11. If you purchase them empty in-store, you can take your receipt to a popcorn cart and get it filled with popcorn for free.
New Captain EO plush is available in Tomorrowland's Star Trader.
In California Adventure, the Pacific Wharf Cafe has opened up an Express Line that serves Clam Chowder and beverages only to help alleviate crowds at this popular eatery during the holiday months.
And in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, the Disney Dance Crew that features a hip-hop dancing Mickey Mouse has been significantly re-tooled. Mickey is no longer stripped in plain view of the audience; the dancers hide Mickey during his "costume change." The version of "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" that used the word "Gangsta" has been fixed to use the word song's original lyrics. And much of the longer dance numbers have been re-worked into a dance number that consists of a medley of Disney songs. The show is still cringe-worthy, but the changes do make it a touch more tolerable. Still, Mickey Mouse has no business doing the dance moves he attempts during this show. It's an embarrassment.
MiceChat member asianbma has video of the re-worked show:
Give some Disney magic this year!
We shared some great holiday gift ideas with you last week and are here again this week with more gift ideas for every Disney fan on your list!
Here are more of the best books, CDs, and DVD releases for the Disney enthusiasts on your list. For film art fans, the new Art of TRON: Legacy and Art of Tangled are gorgeous hardcover books that are sure to please. For fans of Disney's latest animated hit, the soundtrack for Tangled would make a great stocking stuffer. For classic animation enthusiasts, the amazing hardcover Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Archive Series art books are excellent choices and come in three volumes: 'Story,' 'Animation,' and 'Design.' Or, the new Disney Parks: The Secrets, Stories and Magic Behind the Scenes is a nice addition to any DVD or Blue-Ray collection.
Check off some names from your list with the Amazon links below! By giving some of the great Disney items below you'll also be helping support Dateline Disneyland so we can continue bringing Disneyland to you through 2011!
Happy Holidays! - Andy
AROUND THE PARKS
We'll finish up today's photo update with some photos from around the parks...
These "around the parks" photos can be viewed in high-resolution at their Flickr photo page. Just click!
A short walk from the park, HoJo Anaheim is conveniently located next to Disneyland with nearby dining and freeway access. For more information on HoJo Anaheim, room rates, or to book your stay today, visit HoJoAnaheim.com/MiceChat.
Rooms now available for as low as $59 per night!
The HoJo Anaheim is now offering deeper discounts for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! On select nights, Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders can get rooms for as low as $59 per night, plus tax. For more information visit the HoJo Anaheim Innsider Boards which features an up-to-date listing of available nights, or call (714) 776-6120 and ask for In-House Reservations to book. If your date isn't listed, the HoJo Anaheim still offers rooms for 20% off their best available rate if you call (714) 776-6120.
Astro Orbiter: Closed indefinitely for mechanical issues.
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 December 16 for refurbishment
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.
VOUCHER SAVES PARK GUESTS 30% ON DINING From the Disney Parks Blog:
Download Voucher, Dine During Off Hours, Save 30 Percent
Here’s an easy way to save vacation dollars and enjoy a delicious theme park dining experience. Between Dec. 19 and Jan. 3 at Disneyland Resort, you can redeem a voucher to save 30 percent with the purchase of any entrée at select restaurants. But please note that you must dine before noon or between 3 and 4:30 p.m. (and alcohol is excluded).
Forget burgers and dogs and fill up on a delectable entrée like the Hacienda Caesar Salad at Rancho del Zocalo in Disneyland Park or an Asian Rice Bowl at Lucky Fortune Cookery at Disney California Adventure Park.
You can print out a voucher using the links above, or at Disneyland Resort, it’s on the Holiday Entertainment Guide or on select merchandise receipts.
Sorry, can’t be combined with any other offer or promotion. Theme park admission is required and taxes and tips are not included.
Participating quick-service locations:
EPIC MICKEY CREATOR RESPONDS TO CRITICISMS From MTV Clutch Blog:
'Epic Mickey' Creator Responds To The Angry Internets
Warren Spector, the legendary game developer behind classic games like "Deus Ex" and "System Shock," and his team at Junction Point Studios are the masterminds behind "Epic Mickey," the first Disney game to get both grown men and their toddlers psyched. The game's a bit darker than most Disney games and that's something people are happy about. There's something people aren't so happy about though: a pesky in-game camera issue that's driving some folks, including Spector, absolutely crazy.
We spoke to the man himself to get his take on the issue. Check it out below.
"There are a couple of responses to the camera question. First, there has never been a game that I couldn't break if you give it to me for 30 seconds. I mean, I will break a camera in any game ever made. And if I learned one thing on this project, it's an immense amount of respect for people who have been making third person action and platforming games. Third person camera is way harder than I even imagined it could be. It is the hardest problem in video game development. Everybody gets it wrong. It's just a question of how close to right do you get it.
"Second, cameras are different in different game styles. So in a platform game you want the camera up higher in a steeper angle because the important thing for the platform player is to be able to see the next jump clearly. In an action adventure game, like 'Zelda' for example, you want the camera down lower so you have more tactical awareness because there are enemies out there. There are traversal problems that require a tactical awareness that a high camera does not provide. So platformers and action adventure games have different camera requirements.
"But here's the deal, what I try to be completely clear about is that this is not a platforming game. This is a game that takes platforming elements and adventure game elements and role-playing elements and merges them. So we couldn't tune the camera perfectly for platforming or for action adventure. It’s a very different camera style. What we did is try to find the best compromise in the moment and give the player as much manual control as we could. So we took the hardest problem in third-person gaming and made it harder by trying to accommodate two different playing styles.
"The bottom line is that we did the best we could given that we were not trying to make a platform game or an action adventure game, but a game where you get to decide what the game felt like moment to moment.
"And I will go to my grave, imperfect as it is, proud as hell of my camera team. If reviewers want to give us a hard time about it because they're misunderstanding the game we made, it's not for me to tell them that they're wrong, absolutely not. But I wish people would get it out of their head that we made a 'Mario' competitor, because we didn't."
Okay, that wraps up another big edition of Dateline Disneyland! Thanks so much for reading, and please be sure to join in the discussion below - we love to hear your comments!
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Also, remember that MiceChat has tons 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!
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See you at the parks! - Andy
Updated 12-13-2010 at 12:27 PM byDateline Disneyland(Added Stage 17 photo, fixed book title typo in Gift Guide.)