Grand openings from under the sea to outer space: Little Mermaid, Star Tours, +MORE!
by, 06-06-2011 at 04:56 AM
Last weekend was easily one of the Disneyland Resort's biggest summer kick-offs in decades with the grand opening of two major new attractions, a fantastic new parade, and a handful of new offerings at the Disneyland Hotel. At Disneyland, the newly revamped Star Tours ride is now open, thrilling crowds daily while a charming new parade delights crowds along Main Street, U.S.A. In Disney California Adventure, the park has hit its latest milestone in its multi-year expansion and remodel with the opening of its first real family-friendly Audio-Animatronics attraction, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure. And over at the Disneyland Hotel, the new Monorail water slide play area is now officially open alongside the fantastic new tiki-themed dining options.
More information on the construction projects featured in today's column 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.
There's plenty to see this week, so let's jump right in...
Inside Dateline Disneyland
- Welcome to Disneyland!
TouringPlans.com crowd level recap
- Grand Openings
Disneyland launches its Soundsational Summer with new rides and a new parade
- California Construction
A look at the on-going construction at Disney California Adventure...
- Tortillas, Popcorn & Perfume
Mission Tortilla Factory closes, Outdoor vending in Frontierland, Perfume shop opens in New Orleans Square
- Weekly News and Information Round-Up
Weekly theme park hours, closures and refurbishments
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WELCOME TO DISNEYLAND!
Our partners at Touring Plans have some tips for you if you plan to visit the Disneyland Resort this summer along with their weekly crowd recap this week.
An influx of crowds began on Thursday and heavy crowd levels continued through the weekend for the grand openings of The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure and Star Tours 2, plus the debut performance of Mickey's Soundsational Parade. With wait times on Friday at Star Tours peaking at 240 minutes on Friday, it should be no surprise that weekend guests encountered heavy crowd levels for these debuts. The TouringPlans.com Crowd Calendar rankings are based on wait times for all days on record. Because choosing the least crowded days to visit, but not having a good plan of attack for avoiding crowd concentrations is like ordering Diet Coke with three Big Macs, especially with the high Summer crowd levels anticipated, we highly recommend that you follow a Touring Plan. You can now access these Touring Plans on the go with our Lines Mobile Wait Times app!
Here’s how the observed wait time submissions of our Lines – Mobile Wait Times app users and our data team compared to what our professional statisticians predicted on the Crowd Calendar.
— Fred Hazelton Statistician, TouringPlans.com
Crowd Calendar Prediction Actual Crowd Levels DISNEYLAND RESORT DISNEYLAND PARK CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE DISNEYLAND RESORT DISNEYLAND PARK CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE Sun. May 29 8/10 7.6/10 8.2/10 7/10 7.2/10 7.0/10 Mon. May 30 3/10 6.2/10 7.7/10 3/10 5.8/10 8.1/10 Tue. May 31 3/10 6.8/10 7.8/10 3/10 7.2/10 7.2/10 Wed. June 1 3/10 3.6/10 4.1/10 3/10 4.8/10 4.3/10 Thu. June 2 3/10 2.0/10 2.6/10 4/10 3.2/10 3.3/10 Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
New banners promoting the Soundsational Summer offerings in Downtown Disney:
Disneyland launched its big Soundsational Summer over the weekend which included the official openings of the new Star Tours—The Adventures Continue and The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure attractions along with the new Mickey's Soundsational Parade and new dining and pool features at the Disneyland Hotel. The Resort was buzzing with folks from the media and Disney blogs and news sites over the weekend, which concluded with a "What's next?" presentation that gave another overview of the upcoming Cars Land and Buena Vista Street projects along with the new Disney Vacation Club property in Hawaii. Our sister blog, MiceChat's In the Parks has full coverage of the media event in their June 2nd update.
STAR TOURS — THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE
Star Tours officially opened its doors on Friday morning, June 3. The event was much smaller than the opening ceremony at Walt Disney World, which included George Lucas, Anthony Daniels and Disney CEO Bob Iger. The Disneyland event included Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs and some special guests from the Star Wars universe.
Disney hosted a live video stream of the event and has since re-aired the video on their Disneylandevent.com website. We've reposted the video below with YouTube for easy viewing.
On opening morning, the queue for the attraction stretched from the entrance of Tomorrowland, fill the central plaza and stretched down Main Street, U.S.A. Following the attraction's opening around noon, the line moved off Main Street, but still ranged between two to four hours throughout the day.
Below, a clever new commercial features Darth Vader spending a day at Disneyland and then opening the new Star Tours his own way. To the right is a re-cap of wait times highs-and-lows as reported by TouringPlans.com members. Star ToursPosted standby wait time highs and lows as reported during opening weekend by TouringPlans.com users.
Friday, June 3
LOW: 100 min. at 11:06pm PDT
HIGH: 240 min. at 1:14pm PDT
Saturday, June 4
LOW: 80 min. at 8:23am PDT
HIGH: 140 min. at 3:09pm PDT
Sunday, June 5
LOW: 20 min. at 8:13am PDT
HIGH: 225 min. at 4:37pm PDT
Below are a couple publicity photos of the new attraction, released by Disney. For more photos and a ride review, see our May 23rd update.
Our former pilot, Rex makes a cameo in the queue as a defective unit.
Some of the new destinations you may visit in the revamped attraction include Hoth (below):
Or, you may be chased through an asteroid field by Boba Fett:
New R2-D2 popcorn buckets are available at select popcorn carts in the park for $15 each.
And a larger selection of new Star Tours merchandise has now hit the shelves in Tomorrowland's Star Trader.
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MICKEY'S SOUNDSATIONAL PARADE
On Thursday, media was treated to performance of the fantastic new Mickey's Soundsational Parade, which is now delighting audiences daily on Main Street USA. We shared full video and photo coverage of the parade with you last week along with a full review. For your convenience, our video is posted again below.
THE LITTLE MERMAID ~ ARIEL'S UNDERSEA ADVENTURE
Also on Thursday, Disney officially opened the new Little Mermaid attraction in California Adventure. The event included a live performance by the voice of Ariel herself, Jodi Benson along with Sherie Rene Scott who portrays Ursula in Broadway's "The Little Mermaid" show. Also in attendance was the original voice of Ursula, actress Pat Carroll.
Jodi Benson performs
Sherie Rene Scott sings "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
Confetti blasts mark the opening of the new ride
Pat Carrol (left, voice of Ursula) and Jodi Benson (right, voice of Ariel) in front of the new attraction
Benson and Carrol take a ride together under the sea
Below, a new commercial showcasing Disneyland's Summer Soundsational promo prominently features the new Little Mermaid attraction. To the right is a re-cap of wait times highs-and-lows as reported by TouringPlans.com members.
The Little Mermaid
Posted standby wait time highs and lows as reported during opening weekend by TouringPlans.com users.
Friday, June 3
LOW: 60 min. at 5:43pm PDT
HIGH: 180 min. at 10:23am PDT
Saturday, June 4
LOW: 15 min. at 8:29pm PDT
HIGH: 60 min. at 10:35am PDT
Sunday, June 5
LOW: 60 min. at 3:35pm PDT
HIGH: 120 min. at 9:58am PDT
Following Thursday's grand opening, the rush to experience the new attraction was felt Friday morning as eager guests filled a massive extended queue that wound its way throughout Paradise Park, along Grizzly Trail and into the park's entryway, Sunshine Plaza.
A view of the extended queue from Mickey's Fun Wheel:
...and from the Golden Zephyr:
Below are a few publicity photos of the new attraction from Disney:
We shared a full video ride-through of the new attraction with you last week. It's posted again below for your convenience.
The media also toured the newly revamped Disneyland Hotel grounds on Thursday, including the new Monorail water slide pool area, which is now open to the public as well as the fancy new premium guest suites.
Below is a video clip we shared with you last week of the color-changing water fall at the new Monorail pool
The new themed guest suites are also now available, including the newly revealed Adventureland Suite.
Frontierland and Fairytale Suites are also available:
Outside of the Frontier Tower, a new geyser and waterfall area has opened. The waterfalls are a nice nod to the former Horseshoe Falls that once marked the entrance to the Frontier Tower, but obviously pale in comparison. The geyser is a nice thematic touch, and a welcome homage to former Frontierland features inside Disneyland.
Over at the Adventure Tower, the lobby is still not finished but is open with new lobby furniture, matching the Adventureland theme.
Outside, the Never Land Pool area is now behind walls as it passes on to Yesterland. The pool will remain as-is but its surroundings will change.
Work continues on the remainder of California Adventure's $1 billion-dollar remodel and expansion...
BUENA VISTA STREET
The new main entrance turnstiles continue to progress nicely.
The new pump house takes shape behind construction walls
GOOFY'S SKY SCHOOL
& PARADISE GARDEN DINING AREA
Walls came down around the new water tower entrance, FASTPASS distribution area and extended queue of Goofy's Sky School over the weekend. The re-themed attraction isn't set to officially open until July 1, but so far the re-theming seems to be moderately more aesthetically pleasing than the former Mullholland Madness, but just as thematically out-of-place as its predecessor. What we're working with now is a cartoon chicken farm-turned aviation school run by Goofy. It's definitely a strange theme for a turn-of-the-20th-century seaside pier, but on the bright side it's only a temporary fix until a proper attraction can move into this space in the future.
Cut-out cartoon chickens atop FASTPASS machines. Is this better than the tacky traffic signs from Mullholland Madness?
The cartoony brown farm fence surrounds planters in the large extended queue area
The new mural at the load area
The new Paradise Garden dining area continues to show progress and looks on-target to meet its July 1 grand opening.
A look at the new Bayside Brews beer stand
A look at Cars Land construction...
A look into Cars Land from Friday's media presentation, thanks to MiceChat's Fishbulb:
TORTILLAS, POPCORN AND PERFUME
Over in the Pacific Wharf area, the Mission Tortilla Factory has closed.
Last week, Al Lutz explained the closure and what to expect in this space when chocolate company Ghirardelli moves in 2012How Sweet it is...
Disney California Adventure is going through a metamorphosis that is unprecedented in the history of Disney theme parks, especially for a park that is barely 10 years old and has already enjoyed healthy expansion and investment over that first decade. Much has been made of the additional 1.2 Billion dollars being poured into the park during an accelerated timeframe, and executives right up to CEO Bob Iger have had to publicly admit it’s all an attempt to fix a park that never met expectations. While that 1.2 Billion dollar mega-project continues, smaller changes unassociated with the makeover itself continue to move through the pipeline for DCA, and the next change arrives on Tuesday, May 31st. That’s when the Mission Tortilla Factory quietly closes and passes into the DCA history books.
The Mission Tortilla Factory was one of DCA’s 2001 opening day offerings that was widely lampooned at first as an example of the cheap and mundane attractions in the park, but slowly gained a loyal following for its free half-tortilla samples and quirky exhibits, not to mention the Annual Passholders who returned year after year on their birthdays to receive a big bag of free tortillas from the CM’s running the tortilla machines. But the run of free tortillas ends on Tuesday, and the doors to the factory will be shut for good.
The excuse that managers are giving DCA Cast Members is that Mission failed to renew their latest sponsorship agreement and the location must now close to allow for construction to continue on the big entranceway into Cars Land that is behind the walls nearby. But that’s not the complete story behind this sudden and quiet closure. The rest of the story is that Disney is wrapping up the details on a new sponsorship deal with an iconic California company they had been chasing back in the late 1990’s for DCA, but who wisely took a pass after deciding they were unimpressed with the original park. But now the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company of San Francisco is planned to become DCA’s newest sponsor, and if the current timeline holds Ghirardelli will debut in 2012 in an expanded and remade building at the old Mission Tortilla Factory location.
Taking direct inspiration from Ghirardelli’s famous waterfront chocolate factory in San Francisco, Imagineering plans to keep the footprint of the current building, but give it an exterior that mimics the charming red brick and stone of Ghirardelli’s Larkin street building and clock tower, complete with a version of the lighted sign that has greeted arriving sailors in San Francisco Bay since 1923. They’ll also expand the current building to the south, taking over the adjoining backstage structure that houses DCA’s first aid and lost children complex, while a replacement facility is created near the front of the park. The remade Ghirardelli complex will offer enough space to provide for a small factory tour experience, as well as an attached chocolate shop and soda fountain. [ FULL STORY ]
Over at Disneyland, walls are down around the location of Frontierland's popcorn cart and the former lemonade stand.
With the frozen lemonade stand being incorporated into Frontierland's new multi-ODV stand, this space now offers churros and drinks.
We missed it last week, but an old perfume shop has reopened in New Orleans Square, but in name only. The shop doesn't offer the original create-your-own perfume service, but instead a variety of standard brand-name perfumes that you can find in just about any Macy's or perfume shop in your local mall. It's nice to see a classic shop name return to Disneyland, but this one isn't too much to get excited about unless some changes are made.
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WEEKLY NEWS AND INFORMATION ROUND-UP Weekly Theme Park HoursJune 6 — 12, 2011
Disneyland Park Disney California Adventure Monday-Tuesday: 8am - 12midnight
Wednesday: 8am - 9pm
Saturday-Sunday: 8am - 12midnight
Monday-Tuesday: 10am - 10pm
Wednesday-Thursday: 10am - 8:30pm
Friday-Sunday: 10am - 10pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
Expected Crowd Levels presented by TouringPlans.com Disneyland Park Disney California Adventure LOW/MEDIUM 3.1—6.3 out of 10 LOW/MEDIUM 2.6—6.7 out of 10 Closures and Refurbishment Schedule Disneyland Park
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Closed May 31—June 9 for refurbishment.
- Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed the following periods for refurbishment: June 13—17, June 20—24, and July 11—September 1.
Disney California Adventure
- Goofy's Sky School: Opens July 1
- Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta: Opens July 1
- Paradise Garden Grill: Opens July 1
- Red Car Trolley: Attraction set to open spring 2012.
Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort
- Never Land Pool: Area set for remodel. Dates to be announced.
Golden Horseshoe Revue legends pass away
Some sad news, two iconic Disneyland performers have passed away: Wally Boag and Betty Taylor — both known for their roles in Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue.
REMEMBERING WALLY BOAG
Wally Boag, a longtime leading man at Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue and television and film actor, passed away today. He was 90 years old. Wally entertained Disneyland park guests five days a week, three times a day, for nearly 27 years. By the time he retired, in 1982, from his role as the outrageous Pecos Bill, Wally had performed in nearly 40,000 productions of the popular Revue.
"The world's stage has experienced a great loss in the passing of Disney Legend Wally Boag," George Kalogridis, president, Disneyland Resort, says. "Wally was instrumental in the development of live entertainment during the early years of both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney World Resort. His characters will continue to live in the hearts of our guests, while his larger than life personality will forever make him the true "Clown Prince of Disneyland."
Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running stage production in show business history, Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue proved to be good steady work for the former vaudeville performer, who recalled, "My longest job before the Golden Horseshoe Revue was 54 weeks. And to think it all began with a two-week contract I signed with Walt Disney when the park opened [in 1955]."
"In many ways, Wally Boag was the heart of Disneyland in the early days," Disney Legend Marty Sklar remembers. "It was not only show business, it was the spirit and exuberance Wally brought to every performance, day in and day out. We all knew that Walt loved to watch Wally in the Golden Horseshoe Revue. As a member of the public relations staff, I never missed a chance to take media guests to see the show. I'm sure I saw Wally's wild and crazy "Pecos Bill" act at least 100 times — to this day, 50 years later, I can remember many his lines, and they are still funny because I can see Wally's hilarious antics and impeccable timing. No wonder Steve Martin talks about Wally as one of his comedy inspirations."
"Here [in The Golden Horseshoe] I had my first lessons in performing, although I was never on stage," Steve Martin said in his autobiography, Born Standing Up. "I absorbed Wally Boag's timing, saying his next line ("When they operated on father, they opened Mother's male"), and took the audience's response as though it were mine."
Disney legend Betty Taylor dies at 91
Betty Taylor, who played Slue Foot Sue in Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue, died Saturday at the age of 91 – one day after her longtime performing partner in the show, Wally Boag, passed away.
Taylor began playing the role in 1956, one year after Boag started, and continued until the show ended nearly 31 years later.
During a run that lasted nearly 45,000 performances – a record for female performers as Boag’s was for males – Taylor played to nearly 10 million people.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a second Disney Legend in just two days – Betty Taylor,” said George Kalogridis, president of the Disneyland Resort in a statement. “Betty’s role as leading lady in Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue helped turn it into the longest-running stage show in entertainment history. It is a tragic coincidence that her passing comes just one day after the death of longtime co-star Wally Boag.”
Taylor was born in Seattle, started taking dance lessons at the age of 3, and at the age of 12 was in her first professional stage production in Vancouver, British Columbia.
She had a few small roles in movies after World War II, but spent more time entertaining on stage and working with a variety of big-band leaders such as Les Brown. She also had a stint in Las Vegas with Frank Sinatra.
In 1956, she heard about auditions for Walt Disney’s show at Disneyland, auditioned and got the part. She stayed in the role until she retired after the show ended.
Full stories: D23: Remembering Wally Boag
Around Disney: Disney legend Betty Taylor dies at 91
Okay, that wraps up this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland. Please check out our sponsors at TouringPlans.com and the Howard Johnson Anaheim!
Thanks again to Fishbulb for extra help with Cars Land photos this week.
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