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Rainy days, Roger Rabbit reopens, Orbiting again, California Construction, +MORE

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by , 12-20-2010 at 12:57 AM
Heavy winter rains soaked the Disneyland Resort over the weekend, washing out both crowds and construction crews in both parks. Still, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin and Tomorrowland's Astro Orbiter reopened after refurbishments. Over at California Adventure, guests could still see construction-in-progress throughout the park even as rain temporarily stopped the Imagineers. Meanwhile, as the fledgling California theme park finds itself in the middle of a multi-year remodel and expansion, the Los Angeles Times gives a speculative sneak peek at what could come to DCA after Cars Land opens in 2012.

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!

Thanks to Fishbulb for his help with photos today.

Join us as we take a quick and damp tour of the Disneyland Resort in today's update!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

The parks were hit hard with rain this weekend that just wouldn't let up. The rain resulted in smaller crowds, but surely a wet time for those who braved the rain.

At the entrance to Tomorrowland, the Astro Orbiter is running once again after the ride abruptly went down for some unscheduled maintenance work earlier this month.

Back in Mickey's Toon Town, Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin is once again open after a lengthy refurbishment.

The ride's previously cramped load area has been reconfigured. It's now roomier and allows for better crowd flow in the area.

LA Times theme park reporter Brady MacDonald wrote an interesting piece looking beyond the completion of Cars Land in 2012 and what could be in store at California Adventure after this first phase of expansion.

Disney California Adventure: A peek into what the future may hold
As Disney California Adventure reaches the midway point of a $1.1-billion expansion, I'd like to take a speculative look at what Walt Disney Imagineering might have in mind for Phase 2 of the massive renovation project.

DCA's extreme makeover was necessitated by the on-the-cheap, off-the-shelf nature of the nearly decade-old theme park that even Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger now calls "mediocre."

Phase 1, which began in 2008, fixes about a third of the flawed park. What I'm interested in looking at here are the possibilities for the other two-thirds.

Most of the proposed plans that have come to light remain firmly in the "what if" stage. In some cases, Disney announced and then postponed attractions. In other instances, the ideas have filtered out into the online community. In all circumstances, Disney remains officially mum, guarding future projects as closely held secrets.

Quite naturally, any sequel to the wholesale reimagineering of DCA remains contingent on the success of Phase 1, which wraps up in 2012. So far, the crowds have responded positively to the uptick in quality (Toy Story Midway Mania dark ride), spectacle ("World of Color" water show) and attention to detail (Silly Symphony Swings wave swing).

And the best is yet to come. Crews have broken ground on Phase 1 projects that demonstrate Disney's commitment (the $100-million Voyage of the Little Mermaid dark ride), ambition (the 12-acre Cars Land) and heritage (Buena Vista Street entry plaza).

Mouse watchers believe if Phase 1 continues to pay dividends, Iger will pony up more money for Phase 2 starting in 2013. The operative word here is "if."

So far nothing has been announced for Phase 2, but Imagineers have been busy dusting off old plans and dreaming up new ideas for the re-emergent Anaheim theme park. As any Disney fan knows, these "blue sky" proposals can change repeatedly over the course of development – and many never see the light of day.

What follows is a land-by-land compilation of possible attractions and thematic changes for Phase 2:

Buena Vista Street
(An idealized vision of a 1920s Southern California streetscape when Walt Disney first arrived in Los Angeles.)

  • Original plans for the Carthay Theater called for the screening of a "Walt Disney Story" biographical film. The latest plans have the Blue Sky Cellar preview center moving into the space.
  • An exclusive Carthay Circle Club on the upper floor of the Carthay Theater. Disney has quietly put out feelers to Club 33 members and those on the long waiting list for the private Disneyland club. The Interior of the DCA club would replicate an idealized version of an early Disney animation studio on Hyperion Avenue in Hollywood.

Paradise Pier
(A 1920s and 30s seaside amusement park-themed land with Victorian architecture.)

  • An E-Ticket ride next to California Screamin', with an entrance in the helix of the roller coaster track leading to a new backstage attraction.
  • A D- or E-Ticket attraction in the other helix where Maliboomer once stood. The area is currently being turned into a character meet-and-greet location. The tacky strip mall-themed Man Hat n' Beach souvenir shop façade likely remains unchanged in anticipation of this forthcoming attraction.
  • An E-Ticket ride in place of Goofy's Sky School, itself a rethemed version of the Mulholland Madness wild mouse roller coaster. Current proposals for the location include an original thrill ride or a character-based attraction. An early concept called for a Ratatouille coaster to occupy the space.
  • Disney's original plans called for the since-removed Maliboomer drop tower to become a Green Army Men parachute drop ride. The same "Toy Story" theme could replace the nearby Jumpin' Jellyfish ride, which was originally scheduled for removal in Disney's initial plan.
  • Early plans called for the Fun Wheel Ferris wheel and the California Screamin' queue to get entrance facades to match the Paradise Pier area's new Victorian seaside theme.
  • Imagineers have previously discussed Halloween and Christmas holiday overlays for the Toy Story Midway Mania dark ride.

(The existing Hollywood Studios Backlot becomes Hollywoodland, representing the 1930s Golden Age of Hollywood.)

  • Transform the space around the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride into the Golden Era of Hollywood (expanding the footprint of the area into the Timon parking lot).
  • Add an enclosed lobby to the Hyperion Theater and a street façade to close off the view of the outdoor queue area. Disney announced and then rescinded plans to replace the current "Aladdin" stage show with a "Toy Story" musical.
  • An E-Ticket attraction in the former "Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It" sound stage.
  • Several replacements have been floated for the "MuppetVision 3D" movie, including "Mickey's PhilharMagic" from the Magic Kingdom (which apparently won't fit in the DCA theater) and a 3-D story based on the "Chronicles of Narnia" (a film franchise recently dumped by Disney).
  • Removal of the modern pop-culture signage above the shops along DCA's Hollywood Boulevard.
  • The unused Hollywood & Dine food court in Stage 12 remains empty for future expansion.

(The former Condor Flats and Golden State lands combine to form a single land themed to a 1950s-era Yosemite-like national park.)

  • Grizzly River Rapids receives animatronic bears, condors and other creatures once envisioned for the raft ride. Animatronic characters under construction for the Grizzly Trail area at Hong Kong Disneyland would fit perfectly.
  • An E-Ticket ride in place of the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Proposals for the location include an outdoor adventure attraction or a mine-train ride.
  • A circuitous train ride around Grizzly Peak as envisioned in concept art featured in the "Disney Mountains: Imagineering at its Peak" book.
  • The Soarin' Over California hang-gliding tour makes way for the long-awaited Soarin' Over the World replacement.
  • Convert the Cannery Row-themed Pacific Wharf food court to a San Francisco motif and combine the eatery area with the already-existing but unrealized San Francisco block. [ FULL STORY ]

We've still got a ways to go before Disney will officially announce any additional plans after the 2012 opening of Cars Land and work continues in the park to finish its current remodel and expansion projects, including the complete transformation of Sunshine Plaza into Buena Vista Street. Part of this includes the removal of California Adventure's tile murals, which are now completely history as the final sections were removed last week.

Dirt continues to be pushed around where the former sun fountain once stood.

Back in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, the walls are down between the Tower of Terror and the Hyperion Theatre.

The rain slowed down construction this weekend on major projects, but work continued earlier in the week on Cars Land before the storm clouds moved in...

Tarps went back up on the San Francisco Street-side of the Little Mermaid building, covering up the facade that had been revealed just a couple weeks ago.


Work continues at the Disneyland Hotel's major remodel

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Weekly Theme Park Hours
DECEMBER 20 — 26, 2010
Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday - Thursday: 8am - 12midnight
Friday: 8am - 9pm
Saturday-Sunday: 8am - 12midnight
Monday - Thursday: 10am - 10pm
Friday: 10am - 8pm
Saturday - Sunday: 10am - 10pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Theme Park Calendar

Closures and Refurbishment Schedule
Disneyland Park

  • Haunted Mansion: Closed to remove holiday overlay January 3 - 13.
  • "it's a small world": Closed to remove holiday overlay January 18 - 27.
  • Horse Drawn Streetcars: Closed January 18 - February 15 during Main Street repaving.
  • Main Street Vehicles: Closed January 18 - March 4, 2011 during Main Street repaving.
  • Splash Mountain: Closed January 18 - May 26 for refurbishment.
  • King Arthur Carrousel: Closed January 31 - February 2 for refurbishment.
  • Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed February 3 - 17 for refurbishment.
  • Star Tours: Closed for Star Tours 2 overhaul. Reopens May 2011.

Disney California Adventure

  • Grizzly River Run: Closed January 4 - 21.
  • Animation Building: Closed January 18 - 21.
  • Playhouse Disney — Live on Stage!: Closed January 24 - March 24 for retheme.
  • It's Tough to be a Bug!: Closed January 28 - March 3
  • 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.

While I can sympathize with the needs of the Disneyland Hotel workers, this union battle making their case look more and more desperate.
Disneyland Hotel Workers Urge Academy Award Members to Not Vote for Toy Story 3 as Best Picture
​I don't really go to movies anymore, but I don't think Toy Story 3 is on anyone's short list of nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture, even with its expanded roster--it's a cartoon*! [Editor's note: Actually, it is on several people's short list for the award, and Disney is actively campaigning for it.] [Editor's note note: See the asterisk below.] But that isn't stopping UNITE HERE Local 11, the union representing the Disneyland Resort's hotel workers in a bitter labor dispute, from protesting a screening of the film tonight at the Disney studios in Burbank and bringing their brilliant guerrilla protests (where people dress up as Disney characters) to the House of Mouse.

For the full story, visit: OC Weekly: Disneyland Hotel Workers Urge Academy Award Members to Not Vote for Toy Story 3 as Best Picture

An interesting bit of Disney theme park movie news from the LA Times:
Disney gets weird
EXCLUSIVE: Disney theme-park attractions couldn't be hotter as Hollywood source material. "Pirates of the Caribbean" is about to crank out its fourth installment. Jon Favreau is turning "Magic Kingdom" into a family-friendly extravaganza. "Haunted Mansion" will be an on-screen spookfest courtesy of Guillermo del Toro.

In fact, they're so hot that even an attraction that was never built could become a movie.

The Museum of the Weird, an idea that Walt Disney liked back in the 1960's but that never got off the ground, looks to be headed for the development pipeline.

Disney is in discussions for a movie based on the museum with screenwriter Ahmet Zappa, according to a source close to the project. (Zappa, son of Frank, is also developing a movie for Disney that may or may not be inspired by its Enchanted Tiki Room attraction.)

A half-century ago, well-known Disney theme-park creators Rolly Crump and Claude Coats designed the Museum of the Weird with the idea of spotlighting a parade of ghostly organists, magic carts, talking chairs and other surreal exhibits. Walt Disney wanted to use the museum as an adjunct to the Haunted Mansion, complete with its own restaurant. But the museum was never built, though some of the more ambitious pieces were incorporated into the mansion itself.

Zappa's idea is for the museum to be refashioned as a film — given the kinds of whimsical creations Crump and Coats planned, it's hard not to think of "Night at the Museum" or "The Mummy" — with an attraction to follow. It's still very early development, though, so don't expect it in multiplexes anytime soon.

For the full article, visit: LA Times: Disney Gets Weird

Speaking of themepark-inspired movies, the new trailer for Pirates 4 has been released:
'Pirates of the Caribbean' runs out of treasure [trailer]
From the moment Disney began contemplating a fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean,” there was a lot of talk about how the movie would scale down in budget and scope.

Judging by the trailer, Rob Marshall's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which opens May 20, managed to do that without changing much about the big action sequences for which the franchise is known.

Unfortunately, Marshall doesn’t seem to have changed much else either. This time Jack Sparrow has a new quest searching for the fountain of youth, but it’s all in a very familiar context. Sparrow gets mouthy. Blackbeard swears vengeance. There’s swashbuckling, and supernatural elements, and nautical set pieces. Marshall has retained the spirit of Gore Verbinski, who directed the first three films, but without offering much reason for why there needed to be a new movie in the first place.

Should the Johnny Depp franchise have been retired after the last film, “At World’s End”? Jerry Bruckheimer has said he originally conceived ”Pirates” as a trilogy. He and Disney obviously changed their tune, but much of what’s here still just seems like the new packaging of old plotlines.

For the full article, visit: LA Times: 'Pirates of the Caribbean' runs out of treasure [trailer]

Alright, that finishes this rainy edition of Dateline Disneyland. I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas holiday and we'll see you here next week with our annual Dateline Disneyland Year-in-Review!

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See you at the parks!
- Andy

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  1. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update
  2. BassBone's Avatar
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    Perhaps this isn't the best place for this comment, but I have to take issue with Al Lutz's Editor's note today. I really enjoyed Tron Legacy, and given that it's the number one movie this weekend, I would imagine a number of people probably enjoyed it, too. Mr. Lutz, you are not the arbiter of good taste.
  3. jtamura69's Avatar
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    Another excellent update. Thanks
  4. Seawolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BassBone
    Perhaps this isn't the best place for this comment, but I have to take issue with Al Lutz's Editor's note today. I really enjoyed Tron Legacy, and given that it's the number one movie this weekend, I would imagine a number of people probably enjoyed it, too. Mr. Lutz, you are not the arbiter of good taste.
    Al isn't the only one who thinks that Tron was a bad movie, between all the top critics Tron scored 31%:
    Tron Legacy Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes

    Btw, in case you forgot this is his website not yours. He has a right to state his opinion.
    Updated 12-20-2010 at 03:05 AM by Seawolf
  5. Kritter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seawolf
    Btw, in case you forgot this is his website not yours. He has a right to state his opinion.
    And BassBone has the right to state his opinion as well. What's up with the hostility from you ALL THE TIME?

    (Great update btw)
  6. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update. Thanks.
  7. Fishbulb's Avatar
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    Andy you did a great job on the update this week. Excellent work.
  8. bamato's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update, really enjoyed the rainy photos at the park. Living in a desert gets old...
  9. FerretAfros's Avatar
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    Great update! I noticed that the little Roger Rabbit figure on the facade seems to have disappeared. I think he's usually up on the ledge of the window above Benny (Lenny?) over the doorway. It's nothing huge or terribly memorable, but I always liked how they dressed him up as Santa each year. Looks like we won't be getting that, at least for this year.
  10. hadesthecat's Avatar
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    I firmly believe that everyone has the right to express themselves, as long as we behave like adults. Having said that I thougt the effects were good, but the movie (Tron-Legacy) was just OK.
    Great update, miss working in the park when it rains.
  11. stimpy586's Avatar
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    I second that BassBone! I loved the movie... who cares what the "top" critics have to say anyways? Most are prejudiced against sci-fi/escapist fare.

    I've seen it twice and both audiences clapped at the end.
  12. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update!
  13. DoppelV's Avatar
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    I really think the union approach in this case, trying to influence Academy Award voting is really wrong. I agree that Disney really needs to reevaluate how they see and compensate their workers, but the managers and executives responsible for that did not make Toy Story, other employees did. If a film is worthy of praise, its because of a job well done, not because of its corporate influence. I agree that this is really making the Union look desperate, but I don't see how throwing fists at other hard workers is in any way going to influence the powers that be to change labor practices.
  14. a-mad's Avatar
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    Sure Al has the right to express his opinion, but it was kind of the way he did it that was off-putting - it almost felt like he was speaking for everyone in saying it was a flop - "wasn't Tron a stinker?"

    It actually did well at the box office, meeting analyst expectations. And it scored a "B+" Cinemascore rating from audiences, indicating that people are generally liking what they are seeing - which bodes well for word-of-mouth.

    I have talked to a half-dozen people who have seen it. All liked it, with one that thought is was "OK". I think that's a decent indicator that most people don't think of it as a "stinker", although Al certainly has a right to say it stinks... just don't assume that everyone else feels the same way.
  15. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fishbulb
    Andy you did a great job on the update this week. Excellent work.
    I ditto your comment AND add GREAT JOB on your rainy day pictures as well Fishy.
  16. Let's Enunciate's Avatar
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    Did anyone else actually watch the Hotel Workers protest against Toy Story 3 commercial? I'm mostly a Union guy myself but wow they were really milking that. I have to say that I was a little off put by their desire to have academy award voters to not vote for TS3 because of their contract dispute. I understand that they want Disney to be punished but this seems very inconsiderate of the artists, animators, writers, etc that deserve recognition for their work. I really don't have a problem with these people picketing Disneyland or even to ask people not to buy TS3 or watch it in the theatres, but to ask people not to acknowledge the work of an artist because of their employer seems petty and scornful. Bad show hotel workers... bad show...
  17. RatherBeAtDLand's Avatar
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    You know, I really think that the union is being really whiny. They could always quit and find another job--oh wait, there IS no other jobs! Well, then suck it up, buttercup, because at least you have a job. This is a hopeless ploy to try and protest. But Disney Parks and Resorts is a totally different area than Disney PIXAR. Don't they know that they are most likely not going to get what they want? This is Disney we're talking about here. And Disney, as a business, has every right to deny them this. Sorry.
  18. Disneyland Limited's Avatar
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    The issue with Al's comment isn't whether or not he has the right to say it; of course he does, whether or not this is his blog. I think it can safely be said that Al respects his blog readers as much as most of us respect his blog. The problem I have with the comment is that I haven't seen TRON yet and, as someone who reads this site daily, a comment like that is going to stay with me and (possibly) alter my perspective on a movie that I've waited a long time to see. Frankly, the same could be said about both LA Times articles about upcoming Disney movies included in this update.

    I stopped watching Siskel and Ebert 10 years before it went off the air because they were phenomenal about giving away plot points and taking movies I wanted to see and running them into the ground. While I appreciate Al not doing that, his comment was nothing short of derisive and takes a little bit of the wind out of my sails when it comes to the movie.
  19. Baloo's Avatar
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    I also have a problem with the tactic of the union, its been going on so long now that if its possible Disney should just fire them all and rehire them under a different union. I also do not understand why the union has decided to protest against the studio division. Pixar along with the rest of the animation department has no say in the fight between Burbank and the union. Picketing Toy story in any way just shows how bad the people that run the union have handled this situation and at this point it seems like they do not care about their members and just want the extra union fees.

    Put me in the list that enjoyed TRON along with the other 6 friends that went and saw it.
  20. Gamertara's Avatar
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    As I said on youtube:
    I agree that Disney is not treating its employees fairly. However, the workers at PIXAR who created Toy Story 3 have NOTHING to do with what's going on. I disagree that PIXAR should pay for what Disney is doing. Something has to be done yes. However, not this.
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