April 28th News Update

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Today was another one of those days with a lot of articles coming out, so I once again thought I’d post a news round-up:

D23 has an interview with “Celebrate! A Street Party” show producer Denny Newell:

Already a hit with Guests, Celebrate! A Street Party hits the ground running (literally!) at Disneyland on a daily basis. “With this year’s What Will You Celebrate? event, we really wanted to create an interactive dance party,” Disneyland Entertainment Productions Senior Show Producer Denny Newell tells D23. “We thought the best way to celebrate all your special occasions was to throw this dance party.”

As Celebrate! grooves its way through Disneyland, Guests get to see some of their beloved characters jam to some favorite tunes — like Mary Poppins and Bert swinging along to Joan Jett’s classic “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” “We wanted to include the characters,” Denny explains. “We’ve done it before in things like Main Street Hop and Party Gras where [characters] were a little out of their element but we keep them in character. Mary Poppins doesn’t sing [“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”] because Mary Poppins wouldn’t sing that song. But I think they’re all having a lot of fun with it. We wanted to keep it retro hip — the way we designed the costumes and floats in the style of What Will You Celebrate?, harkening back to some of the successes like Main Street Hop and Party Gras but bringing a new edge to it and pushing the envelope a little bit with the music like ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘Cup of Life,’ which we now do in Spanish.”

The fun will last all summer — which is a long time to party for Cast Members who perform the happening three times during each route (Celebrate! has three stops along its way between it’s a small world and Main Street, U.S.A.). How does the incredible cast keep up the intensity? “Youth?” Denny cracks. “I’m really happy with the cast. They do a great job and keep the energy up from the first show to the last show. There are some moments where they get a break. The opening number — the swing number — they really have to use all their energy. When they bring Guests out for the conga, they have to keep their Disney smiles up but that’s a bit of a breather. And the parade music, although high energy, we’ve given them some breaks in there. We’ve allotted time so they can pace themselves throughout. It’s a matter of learning that.”

As for the upcoming, potentially sizzling summer months: “We have some modifications as it gets hotter and hotter to give them a bit of a break and still keep the show up for Guests.” Denny notes the characters, whose costumes can become pretty warm, will receive a respite. “The characters have choreography on the float and they do a lot of rotations. So we may keep them on the float still in that position but they would wave instead of doing the choreography. They average Guest wouldn’t notice that. And they still see the character.” Denny adds with a laugh, “I would notice it, and I want it to get cooler so they can do the choreography again!”

D23 also has an article about this year’s California Food and Wine Festival:

Food and wine. Two words that make food fans and oenophiles stand up and cheer. Well, Disney’s California Adventure is bringing Guests 45 straight days of culinary cheer with the fourth annual Disney’s California Adventure Food & Wine Festival which recently started at the Disneyland Resort.

“We’re really focused on the cultures, experiences, and flavors from all around the world that have influenced California,” explains Gary Maggetti, Disneyland’s Food & Beverage Marketing Manager.

In addition to reserved events including wine experiences with celebrity vintners like John Lasseter and Tommy Lasorda and “Sweet Sundays” featuring delightful desserts from renowned chefs, “we have over 600 complimentary Guest experiences available,” Disneyland’s Food and Beverage Marketing Manager, Gary Maggetti, tells D23. “They feature complimentary culinary demonstrations with over 100 of our resort chefs — chefs from Downtown Disney, Disneyland, the Resort Hotels and Disney’s California Adventure.”

The festival runs now through June 7 — a big expansion from previous years. “Last year was our big experiment, where we started mid-week content,” Gary reveals. “We did 26 days straight, but not all areas were active. This year it’s 45 days. Every single event space is active so it doesn’t matter if you come during the week or on the weekend.”

That gives Guests more opportunities than ever before to interact with Disney talent. “The number one piece of feedback that we have gotten from our Guests is that they want that one-on-one connection,” Gary says. “They get to say, ‘I got to meet the chef from Club 33!’ or ‘I got to meet the chef from Goofy’s Kitchen!’ I think a lot of our Guests are appreciative that they get to peek behind the curtain a little bit and learn more about the individuals.”

The theme of the Festival — which offers cooking demonstrations, tastings and interactive experiences — is “World Celebration.” “We’re really focused on the cultures, experiences and flavors from all around the world that have influenced California,” Gary explains. “We’re talking about cooking methods and different recipe ingredients and how they have came into the culture of the state of California.”

And of course, there’s the wine, too! Guests unfamiliar with the Festival are in for a treat when they enter the gates at Disney’s California Adventure. “Any Guest who buys a ticket and walks into the park [may] be delightfully surprised that they may find one of the greatest wine makers in the wine is pouring complimentary samples of his wine — one of the greatest wines in the world,” beams Michael Jordan, general manager and master sommelier for Disney’s exquisite restaurant Napa Rose. “These are wines you can’t even buy! It’s really exciting.”

“Any Guest who buys a ticket and walks into the park [may] be delightfully surprised that they may find one of the greatest wine makers in the wine is pouring complimentary samples of his wine,” says Michael Jordan, general manager and master sommelier for Disney’s exquisite restaurant Napa Rose.

And if Guests are overwhelmed by their choices, help is ready and waiting. “The festival welcome center is essential to helping our Guests plan their days,” Gary notes. “When you walk in, there are hosts there who help you make reservations for some of our signature events, if you want. They tell you who some of the celebrity chefs are there that week. They will help you navigate. It’s almost a concierge service.”

Even if you don’t attend one of Food & Wine’s events, you still can sample the delectable eats on offer. “You can experience the festival by visiting any of our restaurants [in Disney’s California Adventure],” Gary points out. “Our quick service restaurants have festival-inspired items that are only available during the festival.” Or not, as the case may be. “Last year Award Weiners [the quick service hot dog eatery] featured a Portobello Mushroom Philly — not a hot dog. It was so popular that while we said it would only be there during the festival, we kept it. This year we’re featuring a lobster salad on a brioche baguette at Award Weiners.”

Cracks Jordan, “I’ve got a feeling that’s gonna be a weiner too — I mean winner.”

Disney’s California Adventure Food & Fine Festival runs through June 7, 2009. Visit Disneyland.com for more information.

-Finally, the OC Register’s Around Disney blog has more information from the press event announcing “Summer Nightastic!”:

Summer nights at Disneyland will be a lot brighter this year, thanks to the new “Summer Nightastic!” promotion.

Disney revealed plans for all new experiences at the resort, as well as updates to classic attractions. Beginning on June 12, the “Summer Nightastic!” attractions will premiere: a brand new fireworks show called “Magical,” the TLT Dance Club at the Tomorrowland Terrace, a nighttime experience at Pixie Hollow called, “Pixie Hollow Enchantment”, additions to Disney’s Electrical Parade and updates to Fantasmic.

Magical

At 9:25, the skies above Disneyland will light up with a brand new fireworks show this summer.

“We are going to use our fireworks as actors,” Vice President of Parades and Spectaculars Steve Davison said.  The fireworks show will be organized in scenes, each depicting the different types of magic that Disney offers.

Music for the show, a medley of classic Disney tunes, will be composed by Greg Smith, who has also scored “Wishes” at Walt Disney World. Eden Espinosa, known for her work as Elphaba in “Wicked” will be the featured soloist.

The show will open after huge fanfare with a scene in Neverland based on “Peter Pan”, celebrating the magic of children. In this scene, Tinker Bell will fly across the sky to the song of “Second Star to the Right.”  This will be followed by  a lively scene based on Pleasure Island from “Pinocchio.”

“The fireworks are going to feel like a dancing calliope coming to life before your eyes — very childlike, very fun,” Davison said.

A big chunk of the show will come from a Mary Poppins scene, honoring the magic of imagination, followed by a Dumbo scene.  In addition to Tinker Bell making her traditional flight around the castle, Dumbo the Flying Elephant will also share some of the spotlight.

“He’s actually going to fly over the castle,” Davison said. “He’s fully articulated, he will wink, he can kick his little legs.” In this scene celebrating the magic of a mother’s love, Dumbo will make his debut flying over Disneyland, surely touching the hearts of many mothers at the same time. “I’m going to be crying,” he added.

The first big finale features Disney princesses. “A fantastic fanfare leads you into ‘A Dream is A Wish Your Heart Makes,” Davison explained. “From there you start to see the comets dance to ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Then it hits the pinnacle, where you here the voices of the three good fairies – Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather.”

In natural fairy fashion, they will have a friendly duel over whether to make Princess Aurora’s dress (or in this case the color of the fireworks) blue or pink, which culminates in a blast of half shell fireworks to fill the sky with an explosion of color.

“Magical” will conclude with yet another finale, featuring Espinosa,  majestic music, and another flight made by Tinker Bell. Naturally, a profusion of fireworks, from quintessential golden waterfalls to massive comets will culminate in the show’s grand finale.

Pixie Hollow Enchantment

Tinker Bell’s humble abode, a teapot found in Pixie Hollow, has been the center of Disney’s newest meet-and-greet, which opened last fall. The area will be enhanced with new effects based on the talents of Miss Bell and her pixie pals.  For example, the trees will be adorned with lights, and water fountains will jet and pop. Similar to the Small World clock parade, the Pixie Hollow effects will happen about every 15 minutes.

Disney’s Electrical Parade

Disney’s classic parade is on it’s way back to Disney’s California Adventure with plenty of updates.  Most notably, Tinker Bell will boot Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy from her role as leader of the parade.  The float will have fairy pages on either side, surrounding Miss Bell.  Pixie trails will follow along the float and weave behind the subsequent ones.

Senior show director Denny Newell assures that the parade’s theme song “Baroque Hoedown” will still be featured.

“How can you do the electric parade without ‘Baroque Hoedown?” he said.

The show will also incorporate new, technological enhancements; in particular, parade designers are using LED lights.  The light technology will allow for more control and effects.  To make his point, Newell shared  his thoughts on the former “Alice in Wonderland” unit.  “The old Cheshire cat was used in 1972 and it kind of looked like a pink pile of – something.” Evidently that pink pile of something is no more as that curious cat will be enhanced, even given the ability to disappear.

The pirate ship on the “Peter Pan” unit will be internally sculpted with a lit skull.  Additionally, guests will see the return of some retired floats from the original parade, including Snow White’s diamond mine and Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island.

Fantasmic!

While “Fantasmic!” has been running for years, this summer it will be enhanced with new characters and a plethora of technological advancements.

“This year, we’ve taken our Disney movie classic animation that’s been projected on our water screens, and from there we’ve changed all that animation into high definition, digital projection so it’s bold, brighter, big – it fills the water screens,” Fantasmic! Show Director Carla Carlile said.  “My favorite is Monstro the whale during the Pinocchio scene, when Monstro comes fully to the screen and looks like he’s going to come right at you.”

Flotsam and Jetsam, the two devious eels from “The Little Mermaid” will be the show’s newest characters. While villain Ursula is projected on water screens, the eels will slither through the water and make their apperance.

“During the Captain Hook-versus-Peter Pan swashbuckling pirate scene, the Sailing Ship Columbia comes on the water and behind it we have a brand new tick-tocking crocodile,” Carlile announced. “He has new animation. He now is actually going to be immersed in the water and he’s actually going to snap up at Captain Hook.”

“The biggest thing is our new dragon,” Carlile said.  “It’s fully automated.  The wings are flapping, it’s head moves.  At some point, it’s going to open it’s mouth and a big old flame is going to shoot out on the river all across the water.”

The dragon, which is 40 feet tall and weighs 10,000 pounds is so big that some of the pieces had to be airlifted in.

“Fantasmic is ‘HD.’  When we say ‘HD’ at Disneyland, that means huge dragon,” she joked.

TLT Dance Club

On hot summer nights, the hot spot for teens visiting Disneyland will be the TLT Dance Club at the Tomorrowland Terrace.

DJ’s from Southern California radio stations and live bands will perform all summer long.  While nothing is definite, Disney officials have hope that the new club will attract notable talent.  “I’m really excited that maybe someone from KIIS or someone from Power or someone from any of those shows can come down,” show director John Addis said.

The club has already been compared to the now defunct Videopolis, but this one will have a 2009 spin.

“We’re going to have plasma screens within the venue that you can actually text and text messages will come up, Addis said.

“I’m not sure how they’re going to police that,” he added.

You can also text your favorite song and at 8 at night they do a “Celebrate at 8″ and they’ll take all the songs that everyone wants to hear and do a countdown to the number one song.”

Disney is also working with Hollywood Records and Disney Channel in hopes of inviting emerging artists to perform.

During the daytime, the space will still be used for the Jedi Training Academy.

Of course, many of these additions mean that classic elements of these attractions will be cut.

“One of Walt’s favorite quotes is that Disneyland will never be completed and that’s one of the things we look at, producer Ray Coble said. “We look at how we can keep enhancing our product.  So from Fantasmic! to Disney’s Electrical Parade to Magical, we continue just to bring new magic and add elements that haven’t been seen before.”

“Things are going to be a little different,” Senior Vice President of Marketing Jill Estorino said.  “When the sun goes down the night is actually going to light up.”

Laughing Place has a full video of the press conference available at this link.

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