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December 05, 2010

Media Trip: Disneyland Holiday and Whats New For 2011

Castle at Night
My family moved to California when I was 11 years old and one of our first vacations was a trip to Disneyland. I can still see my brother having the time of his life at age 6 on "It's a Small World". Fast forward (more than) a few years and my own fond childhood memories are now complimented by new memories together with my three boys and husband together at our recent visit to today's Disneyland.

As a parent, I found some creative strategies (included in the middle of this post) to make sure we all had the chance to enjoy our favorite rides on our recent visit. As a blogger, I enjoyed attending the Disneyland media events and learning the "behind the scenes" tricks, meeting Imagineers, previewing what Disneyland has planned for the holidays and learning about whats coming up for 2011.

First I had a chance to connect with Kimberley Clayton Blaine, the producer of MommytoMommyTV (an online show I am thrilled to have hosted). We met a Daisy Duck, discussed some our favorite Disneyland rides and admired her beautiful red bow and red shoes:

Disney w/TechMama and Kimberley!

One of the beautiful backgrounds for our video was the “It’s a Small World” Holiday. Just after the video ended, we enjoyed watching digital imaging in action as images were displayed on the facade of the attraction. There are additional holiday decorations in place in Disneyland through Jan. 2. Here are some of the highlights:

Press release:

“It’s a Small World” Holiday:

It's a small world Holiday

Decorators use 50,000 Christmas lights on the façade of “it’s a small world” Holiday, and an additional 200,000 mini-lights in the trees, hedges and topiaries surrounding the attraction.

Among the holiday special effects inside the attraction: pine tree and peppermint scents in the European scenes; 75 gallons of bubble juice to make bubbles throughout the season in the South Seas scene.
 
Haunted Mansion Holiday:

Haunted Mansion Holiday
Jack Skellington has his own ideas about appropriate holiday decorations. For the holidays, the graveyard in the Haunted Mansion finale is covered with 7,500 square feet of snow. Trees in the graveyard are decked out with 1,000 tiny orange lights.

The gingerbread house in the Mansion’s Great Hall is made of real gingerbread and icing. Each year, the Disneyland Resort Foods and Entertainment divisions partner to create a new, original design for that year’s Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle:

  Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle 2
The nighttime Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle light show is divided into three “acts” over the course of the evening. Each one begins at the Castle and travels the length of Main Street, U.S.A., finishing at the Town Square Christmas tree. Each act features a magical snowfall, and the final act concludes with “Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks. The nighttime light show employs more than 200,000 points of light, 2,600 individual circuits and more than 85,000 individual wiring connections.

If all the cables and conductors for the show were laid end to end, they’d stretch 48 miles, past the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.

When the Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle show reaches its finale crescendo, 64,000 energy-efficient LED lights and 1,200 strobe lights are added to the effect.

One of the most exciting parts of my trip was to finally see the World of Color attraction. I posted about Disney World of Color after a local press event, but had not seen it live at Disneyland. It is fascinating to think about the technology that went into creating an amazing light show projected onto fountains that moving in amazingly novel ways. As usual with Disney, they took an idea (making fountains dance and interact with digital imaging) to a whole new level.

World of Color Behind the Scenes:

This trip also gave me the chance to try out my current top 2 favorite Disneyland strategy tips. But I also enjoy learning new tips each time I go.

Tip 1 - Use a FastPass: A FastPass allows you to reserve a spot in the "FastPass" line for specific attractions at a specific time. The FastPass lines move much more quickly than the regular line for the ride. Sometimes I sent my husband and kids on a ride while I got a FastPass for the next ride.

Tip 2 - Magic Morning:  Those who stay at the Disneyland Resort or book their Disneyland vacation online through the Walt Disney Travel Company enjoy a benefit called Magic Morning admission. This allows admission into select Disneyland Park attractions an hour before before the park opens to the general public on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. While this may sound early, we were able to enjoy our favorite rides while the lines were short.

Tip 3 - Apps Are Your Friends: There are some great apps to use while at Disneyland. One of them is available for Verizon users - it is called Moblie Magic. I gave it a test run while I was on the media trip and enjoying being able to check wait times, attraction info and even FastPass return times.

Techies will enjoy many attractions, but here are some of my personal favorites along with World of Color:  the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Finding Nemo Submarine, Jedi Training Academy, Star Tours, Innoventions, the 4D Toy Story Mania ride, Indiana Jones Adventure, Soarin Over California, and the Blue Sky Cellar that also shares some of the creative process used by the Imagineers.

For those looking parents looking for an incredible Disneyland family adventure, the Grand Californian Hotel has some benefits that are tough to beat. The hotel includes a Spa, some top rate resturaunts and a hotel exit leading directly to the California Adventure Park in Disneyland. It also has access to a babysitting service and Pinocchio's Workshop so parents can have a romantic dinner or take a quick spa break. While I have not yet stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel, it's definitely on the list. 

During the trip I had the opportunity to hear about whats new and whats up for 2011, which is usually the first thing my friends ask me about when I come back from media trips to Disneyland. Here are some of the recent updates. Being a big TRON fan, of course I can't wait to visit ElecTRONica.

Press Release:

What’s New:

“World of Color” (June 2010) – The new nighttime water spectacular presented in Disney California Adventure park brings classic Disney and Disney•Pixar animation to life with nearly 1,200 powerful fountains, larger-than-life projections, lasers, fire, music and special effects.  The show, which debuted in June, employs stunning technical wizardry to create a breathtaking emotional experience.  This one-of-a-kind spectacular will continue entertaining guests year-round at Paradise Bay. Check  www.disneyland.com for show schedules and dining packages that include reserved viewing.

 Silly Symphony Swings (June 2010) – In addition to “World of Color,” guests at Disney California Adventure will enjoy a swing over Paradise Bay on Silly Symphony Swings, a Disney-flavored version of the traditional swing ride themed to the tornado finale of the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon, “The Band Concert.” 

 New Enhancements to Disneyland Hotel (ongoing) – Renovation will continue at Disneyland Hotel, including a new pool and water play area, enhancements to the existing pool, a new restaurant and bar, and re-theming of the hotel’s three guestroom towers.  Two themed suites opened in 2010, the Fairy Tale and Big Thunder suites, and a third new suite is under development.  They join the existing Mickey Mouse and Pirates suites.

 What’s Next:

ElecTRONica (October 2010) – The new nighttime street celebration will premiere in Disney California Adventure Friday, Oct. 8, with energizing interactive fun for the whole family. Hollywood Pictures Backlot becomes a computer-generated landscape right out of the upcoming Disney movie “TRON: Legacy,” which premieres Dec. 17. Guests will enjoy DJ-hosted music, live street entertainers, video games and an exclusive 3D Sneak Peek at the movie.

What’s Next at Disneyland Resort?

 “Disney Channel Rocks”/”Disney Dance Crew” (Fall 2010) - Not one, but two new shows premiere this fall in Disney California Adventure. In the mornings, “Disney Channel Rocks,” will have daily performances on the Palisades Stage in Paradise Park (beginning late November). The rock concert-style show will feature songs from Disney Channel movies and series. In the afternoons, “Disney Dance Crew,” a hip hop dance-off between two high-energy dance teams, will be performed on the Backlot Stage in Hollywood Pictures Backlot.

Rapunzel Debuts in Disneyland Park (October 2010) – Rapunzel, the newest Disney princess and star of the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures animated feature “Tangled,” is now greeting guests of all ages at her own special spot in Fantasyland. Look for her long locks that tumble out onto the rooftop. The movie opens Nov. 24 in theaters nationwide.

Disney Premieres Little Mermaid Attraction: (2011) – Guests will be magically transported “under the sea” with the debut of The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in 2011. Guests will experience a musical retelling of the classic motion picture as the best-loved songs come alive in magnificent scenes all around them. They will sing along with Sebastian and Flounder, keep an eye out for the evil Ursula, and watch the Little Mermaid fall in love. The attraction represents the next big milestone in the ongoing expansion of Disney California Adventure Park.

New Star Tours Adventures are Out of This World (2011) – Bridging that “long time ago” between the two Star Wars trilogies, new Star Tours adventures debuting in 2011 will take voyagers at Disneyland Park in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida to Coruscant, Tatooine and other destinations in the Star Wars galaxy.  The power of the Force and the magic of Disney will combine with the breathtaking immersion of 3D – for the first time.

 “Mickey’s Soundsational Parade” (2011) – Disney characters will stomp down Main Street, U.S.A., in a new parade at Disneyland Park. “Mickey’s Soundsational Parade” brings to life some of the most beloved melodies from Disney films with an explosion of thrilling rhythms and bold percussion.  Live musicians will amplify the fun, and colorful dancers will entertain guests to the beat of a syncopated drum line, twinkling cymbals, steel drums and more.  Mickey Mouse and some favorite Disney characters will encourage members of the crowd to join the giant jam session. 

Goofy’s Sky School (2011) – Goofy’s Sky School will join the fun along Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure. The coaster attraction is inspired by the 1940 cartoon short, “Goofy’s Glider,” and the theme is a flying academy with Goofy as the instructor.  Guests will enjoy all the dips, twists and thrills as Goofy tries to teach a group of novice pilots how to soar through the sky.

We are really excited to try Cars Land when that debuts at the California Adventure Park. Another initiative is the Let Memories Begin which takes user generated content and displays the digital images on “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Resort or Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort. Here are the details from the press release:

Disney Parks Invites Guests to Share Disney Memories. Memory submission is as easy as 1-2-3:

1.      Choose to share your memory on DisneyParks.com/Memories; Facebook.com/WaltDisneyWorld; Facebook.com/Disneyland; Youtube.com/DisneyMemories; or Myspace.com/DisneyParks.

2.      Describe your memory.  Memories can upload as photos, videos or text-only.

3.      Then all it takes is hitting the “submit” box and, once reviewed, a lifetime Disney memory is stored and shared.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. My travel expenses to attend the media event were covered by Disneyland Resorts. There was no obligation to blog about the event.

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