On Thursday, June 11, Disneyland was packed with summer guests, and D23 was invited for a peek at all the new happenings as Nightastic! takes over the park this summer.
First stop was the new TLT Dance Club in Tomorrowland. Also known at the Tomorrowland Terrace, the TLT Dance Club is packing in the crowds with the new lights, videos screens and sound system playing today’s hottest tunes. The place burst into wild screams when guest performer Mitchel Musso of Hannah Montana fame took to the stage and rocked the house with a seven song set that included his hit “The In Crowd.” Look for other surprise guests to drop in on the Dance Club all summer long.
Following Mitchel’s mini concert, guests were escorted to Main Street, U.S.A. to watch the premiere of the summer fireworks spectacular, Magical. To start things off Disneyland’s Russ Marchand came out to talk all about the excitement of Nightastic! before introducing the voice of the new Magical show, Broadway star (and Disneyland veteran performer!) Eden Espinosa. Eden wasn’t the only celebrity on hand; next Russ brought Wizards of Waverly Place stars Selena Gomez and Jennifer Stone on stage — what better way to kick off something “magical” that with some wizards? When Russ asked if they were having a good time at Disneyland that night, Selena replied, “How can you not?” before revealing they had blasted off on Space Mountain four times. Sorcerer Mickey came up on stage with a pair of sorcerer hats. “Oh my God!” exclaimed Selena, before donning the hat — and picking up a special Nightastic! magic wand which they used to kick off the festivities.
At that moment, the magic of Magical took flight. Using new launches and fireworks, some classic Disney music (sung by Eden) not often heard in the parks like “Baby Mine” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and a brand new Dumbo puppet that soars through the air, Magical indeed lived up to its name. And while the show will only run though August 23, Disneyland’s Director of Entertainment, Doug McIntyre, says it may return in 2010. “There’s a chance it will come back as our summer offering,” Doug revealed. “It will go back to Remember… Dreams Come True after the summer. We’re looking at some yet-to-be-announced possibilities for Halloween. Then we’ll have our Christmas show, and then back to Remember. And Magical could possibly become a summer offering.”
Following the fireworks, guests hit the Rivers of America to witness the enhancements to the already spectacular Fantasmic!. Thanks to HD technology, the projections now virtually leap off the screen — and they’re not the only things leaping! A new crocodile lurches and snaps at Captain Hook as he swims behind the pirate ship looking for a snack. Plus, Ursula’s “hench-eels” Flotsam and Jetsam now menacingly sweep through the waters. All these wonderful new characters posed exciting challenges to Disneyland’s creative team. “Obviously, any time you create new show elements — and Flotsam and Jetsem and the crocodile are examples of that — you go through some teething problems in testing and adjustments,” Doug explained. “Certainly we went through those but they worked out really great.” And Doug and his team aren’t done playing yet! “We talked tonight about making a new adjustment to Flotsam and Jetsam.” Currently the two slither out together from the same side of the river. “We’re talking about doing a version where they come from different sides of the river. We’re still learning as we see it.”
One thing guests didn’t see was the new Maleficent dragon, who wasn’t quite ready for her close up. “As one of the very few people who have seen the dragon in its functioning mode, I’m thrilled by the dragon,” Doug noted. “In our test-and-adjust period, we had a situation where we had a mechanical issue we knew we had to fix and we knew we weren’t going to be ready. So we’re working on that and will get it into the show as soon as we can.” And Doug says, when she makes her debut, guests won’t believe their eyes. “I think is going to be one of the most spectacular additions to a Disney show that’s ever been done. It’s certainly the largest Disney character that’s ever been created in animated mode. And it’s a huge leap from what the dragon used to be. This is full, three-dimensional, fully articulated, 45-foot-tall, 32-foot wingspan, with 18 axis of motion, it takes five computers to run the thing — it’s what you’d expect from Disney with all of the technology we have at our hands!”
Last, but certainly not least, it was over to Disney’s California Adventure to get a look at Disney’s Electrical Parade, which features a brand-new Tinker Bell float and the return of three other floats: the diamond mine from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and two from Pinocchio. All the floats glitter and gleam like new, with the help of LED technology (Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat now disappears!), and an enhanced soundtrack gives to depth to the musical elements of the parade. But the returning floats are sure to bring a smile to the face of any fan of the Electrical Parade. “The parade has almost been around the world,” Doug explained, when asked how the Snow White and Pinocchio floats found their way back into the show. “Here at Disneyland, then it went to Disney World for a while, then it went to Paris, and finally it ended up in Hong Kong. When we brought it back here, the diamond mine and the Pinocchio units were left behind in Hong Kong. They were sitting in a storage facility in Hong Kong.” When Nightastic! was in the planning stages, Doug and his team thought it was the perfect time to bring them back from overseas. “So we called Hong Kong, shipped them out, refurbished them, and put them back in the parade.” Combining the perfect blend of exciting new offerings and emotional nostalgia, Summer Nightastic! is sure to be a crowd pleaser for any Disney fan.
The Broadway star returns to her Disneyland roots to sing the theme for the new fireworks spectacle Magical.
“I’m such a Disney girl, and I have been since I was growing up here in Orange County,” Eden says. “I’d always come to Disneyland as a kid. It was always a dream of mine to work here and be in entertainment here.”
If you’ve been a regular Disneyland visitor for a while, chances are good you have seen Eden Espinosa in a show — she did more than a half a dozen during her career in entertainment at Disneyland, before moving to New York City where she starred in such musicals as Wicked, Rent and Brooklyn. This summer, park guests will be able to hear Eden’s rich vocals nightly; the incredible talent recorded the music for the new fireworks show Magical. D23 sat down with Eden for an exclusive interview and learned about her favorite attraction, her best Disneyland job and why she needs to reach for a box of tissues any time she hears a Disney song.
How did they approach you about singing the theme from Magical? One of the talent bookers, Dana White, contacted me and said, “Bruce Healey [Disneyland’s Senior Music Producer] wanted to get your number, and I wasn’t sure if I should give it to him.” And I said, “Dana, it’s Bruce Healey! He cast me in Dickens Carolers when I was 18. You can give him my number! It’s fine!” [Laughs] And he called me and wanted me to send a couple of clips of things that he could show the director, because the director wasn’t too familiar with me. And that was it. Then he called me back and said, “We’d love you to be a part of it, if you want to do it.” I was like, “Are you kidding me?!”
Was Dickens Carolers your first Disneyland job? Actually my first job was A Christmas Fantasy parade, the first year they did it with the live carolers. I was in it. And then I started doing the stage shows.
Do you have a favorite memory from working here? My first solo, I think. I did the Carolers and then I was in the Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show.
Were you Esmerelda? No, I was just Gypsy No. 4! [laughs] But then I was cast as Pocahontas in Animazement the Musical, and it was my first solo in the park. That moment, being able to do the montage [with songs from Pocahontas, Hercules and Hunchback of Notre Dame], which Bruce Healy actually arranged, was pretty cool.
Didn’t you do [the Disney music revue] Steps in Time at Disney’s California Adventure, too? I did Steps in Time too — both versions! I did Route 66 in the park too, that was the last thing I did before I left the park. I did a lot!
Do you have a favorite attraction? I love Tower of Terror. But my favorite Fantasyland ride is Peter Pan. I love Peter Pan. I think the concept is well executed. I love how you fly above the city with all the little lights.
And you now open Magical singing “The Second Star to the Right”! I know! It’s great.
Was there a favorite song you got to sing for Magical? Honestly, all of them are on a favorites list. But I think getting to do “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins was awesome. And also “Baby Mine” [from Dumbo]. You don’t get to hear that very often. And I love the original song Greg Smith wrote as well. I love all of it!
What was it like watching Magical for the first time? I had heard it before I saw it. Bruce sent me a CD earlier in the week, and I’ve been intentionally listening to it nonstop because I’m such a Disney girl, and I have been since I was growing up here in Orange County. I’d always come to Disneyland as a kid. It was always a dream of mine to work here and be in entertainment here. I always cry at Disney music in the fireworks shows, in Fantasmic, in the parades — so I was like, “I’m gonna bawl like a little baby!” So I listened to it a lot so I could get all the tears out. But hearing it on Main Street and seeing it happen was pretty cool! It was breathtaking.
After all that time in New York City, are you living back in Southern California now? I’ve been back in L.A. since Wicked opened at the Pantages, so I’ve been back a couple years now. And I’m enjoying being back in Southern California. I have a solo concert coming up at the Ford Amphitheatre on July 24. I started doing shows at the Upright Cabaret when Wicked was ending and I went back to the show to close it. Then we took it to New York and did it at Joe’s Pub in March. Now we’re bringing to the Ford. It keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s going to be a great show! I’m very excited.
Stay tuned to Disneyland News Today this weekend for continuing coverage from the debut of Summer Nightastic.