11/11/14 Disneyland Resort Report – Fantasmic FastPass & Dining Packages Coming, Frozen Shark Jump?, Walt’s Railroading at the Family Museum

 “All Aboard!”

None of Man’s mechanical inventions seem more alive than a train. Especially a steam train. They breathe.

It’s easy to see why a young Walt Disney became enamored with railroading. His hometown of Marceline, MO, was a division point for the the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway where  trains could take on fuel, water, and fresh crews. Among them was his uncle, engineer Mike Martin, a cherub of a man, whose stories of life on the rails thrilled the young man.  Walt later worked a summer job with the railroad, selling newspapers, popcorn, and sodas to travelers. He lost money, but it didn’t dim his fascination of the rails.

A train runs though many of the most treasured of Walt Disney’s creations, like they run right through the center of the American experience. After all, Mickey Mouse was “born” on a cross-country train trip.

Beginning later this week, The Walt Disney Family Museum will debut All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt’s Trains, running from November 13, 2014 through February 9, 2015. This comprehensive exhibition explores the influence that railroading had on Walt Disney’s life and work. It also tells the story of how his railroading legacy lives on to this day in Disney films and theme parks around the world. Including more than 200 artifacts, firsthand accounts, archival videos, images of Walt and his trains, and actual model trains running throughout the show.

Lilly Belle, as seen in the museum
Walt Disney’s backyard railroad the Carolwood Pacific on display at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Family Museum.


Walt Disney, 1951
Walt in 1951 with the Carolwood Pacific. Intended as a hobby to help him relax, his railroading led to the development of Disneyland. Image: © Disney

Guest curator Michael Campbell, president of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society, constructed the exhibition to reflect Walt’s railroad journey as told through multiple chapters: Lighting the Fire, Building Steam, Gaining Speed, Full Throttle, Switching Tracks, Branching Out, A Grand Circle Tour Around The World, and Coming Full Circle. The exhibition’s conclusion reminds us that, even over a century later, Walt’s railroading influence remains a vibrant and relevant force.

American-Type trains are still a big part of off-shore Disney Parks that strive to recreate the American mythos. Image: © Disney

Frozen So Hot It Might Just Melt

There is a Frozen unit in the “long in the tooth” Christmas Fantasy Parade. The early debut of Disneyland’s parade is primarily due to filming of the Christmas Day television special.

Back during my long nights at the City Desk, I worked a cold and lonely beat, covering the mean streets of the Disneyland Resort for a local bird-cage liner. But nothing like this has crossed our desk since the Big War. It’s like a hostage crisis. Day 351.

I know a lot of folks like their Frozenand I like it fine. A lot of that music does make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but hey… Let it Go. My attitude was: I playfully punch the phenomenon in the arm. I kid because I love.

But the minute I let my guard down, Frozen slipped a right cross straight to the bridge of my nose, staggering me and caused the referee to call a standing eight-count.

I should have been ready. After all, ABC invented  “Jump The Shark” with a Happy Days episode ratings stunt where Fonzie… jumped a shark. On waterskis. From nearly that moment, the phrase “jumped the shark,” described a program that had abandoned any degree of integrity in a quest for ratings. Generally said right before, “I’m done with it.”

You be the judge, but think I smell some shark after discovering that the yearly Christmas Special has this year been titled: Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration.

I guess getting ratings for what is essentially a 2-hour long commercial for Walt Disney World and Disneyland can be a challenge, if ratings are even the concern. Running under different names, since 1983, well before The Walt Disney Company bought the American Broadcasting Company, the mission of the show was essentially to showcase a highly edited, glossy impression of the Christmas Festivities in Florida, and sell trips to the resort. As the years went on, views and pitches for the Disneyland and other Disney resorts became more frequent. Everybody wanted on. It was like a yearbook for Disney. I’ve always thought that the show was probably hand delivered to ABC, by the Mouse, with “house” commercials sewed in, and some spaces left for the network and the local affiliates to drop in some ads. Make a little “walking around money.” But what do I know from television?

I do know that those unaffected by my cynical outlook, like the wearers of some 3 million Anna and Elsa dresses, will have plenty to celebrate this season. Like: Anna and Elsa’s daily appearance in “A Christmas Fantasy Parade” at Disneyland Park. Also, more songs from the hit soundtrack will be added to “World of Color: Winter Dreams” over at Disney California Adventure for those who are counting. It is also rumored that the ladies from the flick will take up residence in the Animation Building on Hollywood Boulevard. (They’re just gonna crash there for awhile. Is that cool?) Also Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink, will return this year as part of the Downtown Disney Winter Village.

Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair

The last remnant of the Occupy Frontierland Movement will finally be dislodged from their long standing camp site, as Disneyland announces that Fantasmic viewing will soon transition exclusively to FastPass.

Hard to say what these Sooners are thinking when they get to a show that has been running 22 years, hours early, and throw blankets down on the ground in a busy theme park. Not to mention that once the first show is over, many scoot forward, like a canine in distress, and wait for the second show. And then, there are the lovely Guests who sell their blanketed spots. Stay classy!

This is Disneyland, not Woodstock. “Face painting?” “No, we’re all set.” Don’t take the brown acid!

So, beginning December 12, a “Fantasmic!” FastPass will be required to gain access to the show’s reserved viewing space. Beginning at Disneyland Park opening, “Fantasmic!” FastPass distribution will take place along Big Thunder Trail in Frontierland. They will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until one hour prior to show time or while supplies last, whichever comes first. Each “Fantasmic!” FastPass will indicate the assigned showtime, suggested return time and assigned viewing section. Also, a non-ticketed area will be available in the “Fantasmic!” viewing area each night for limited stand-by viewing on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition, there are several new dining packages in Disneyland Park that will allow you to obtain a FastPass for a special viewing area.  Your milage may vary.

This procedure has been found to be sound for World of Color at Disney California Adventure since its premiere. Why have the Park Overlords waited so long to introduce it for Fantasmic?

The blankets, quilts and tie-dyed banners are sure to become elaborate just before the troops move in on 12/12.

That will do it…