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Welcome to the disneygeek.com Geek Speaks section. In this section I will post my comments on trips to the parks or other Disney related events.

Geek's Thoughts

Hello all,

I had a very busy week last week. In the span of seven days starting with a regular Disneyland update on Friday, June 8th. Then an Annual Passholder Preview of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street on Monday the 11th. Then three days of media events and openings on Wed, Thurs, and Fri. In the course of those three days I spent a total of 41.5 hours in the parks. Logging just over 20 mile, snapping over 5,400 pictures, taking 61 video clips for just under 3 hours of footage, and sending out just over 150 tweets as I roamed the parks. For a summary of my coverage of the reopening events you can check out this posting on the Geeks Blog

Last Tuesday I posted my initial thoughts and observations on Cars Land so if you missed those here is the link. So I am going to refrain from doubling back on those points and instead focus on the other items.


Trip logs and mileage reports are in the Park Miles section.

Thoughts and Observations:

Wednesday 6/13:

  • Started off the first day checking into the Grand Californian just after lunch. I still find it odd that there is not registration self parking. You have to leave your car out in the driveway with the keys in it. This just seems awkward to me. I know they are very tight on space but seems a dedicated lane or something would make a whole lot more sense.

  • The checkin process went smooth and was extremely quick. They had almost all of the stations opened so the guests just kept on moving. While checking in I commented on how last time I had to hike a mile from the lobby and then had a decent view of Downtown Disney. She said this time I would have to hike even further but it would be worth it. I then went to move my car across the street to the self parking lot. Once back checked in for the media event, picked up my schedule, then made the hike out to my room. The cast member had not lied.. we just kept walking, and walking. I there were only a couple rooms further than our, but as you saw in the pictures the cast member was correct it was an incredible view and worth the hike.

  • It was weird to see the walls down around Buena Vista Street as I entered Carthay Circle. Then when I made it down to Cars Land I had a similar reaction. After so many months/years of walls it was a little surreal. I made a quick walk through DCA checking out the preparations and set up for the evenings festivities so I would have an idea of what was to come and where.

  • I was able to make a very quick trip over to Disneyland. I poked my head into the Carnation Cafe and it looked great, both inside and out are remodeled and guests looked to be having a great time. I did not have time to sit and eat, so no comments on the food. I then made it down to the line board on my way to Matterhorn and I received a call and had to head back to prepare for the Red Carpet, so it was a 10 minute trip to Disneyland today only.

  • Spent several hours either holding for a red carpet space or along the carpet watching the arrivals. Nothing too news worthy to report from the carpet. It was fun to see some of the Cars vocal talent and many stopped near us to visit for a few moments before moving on. I was among several radio stations and cast members since I did not have an assigned spot.

  • The next big event of the evening was the Premiere of Cars Land. This took place between the Blue Sky Cellar and the entrance to Cars Land. Those of you familiar with the area will realize how small the venue was. This made it seem really awkward and a lot of the invited guests were stuck watching on the screens or from a severe angle. The ceremony itself was fairly short with the normal speeches. Followed by introductions of some of the talent on hand that contributed to the film. Then the opening happened with dancing, music, fireworks, and confetti. I thought it was a fun event and like that they kept things moving. I thought the group performing seemed off in a few spots and I was really hoping that either Brad Paisley or Randy Newman (both of whom were there) were going to perform one of their songs from the film, but no such luck.

  • After the ceremony everyone headed into Cars Land for a party that featured plenty of food and drink, another band, and of course the opportunity to explore Cars Land. The party itself was relatively short, from around 9:00pm till 11:30pm and given the Racers line was just under an hour it did not leave a lot of time to explore and take pictures. I was able to sample some of the food. The Cozy Cones and Flos were both open for us. I tried some pretzel bites at the Cozy Cones and thought they were great (once they cooled down enough to eat). Then it was on to Flos where we had got a couple of the entrees and shared them. All the food was good, I thought the turkey was better than the beef, but it could just be because it was warmer.

  • All three attractions were open for us to ride. It was a little weird to see celebrities and Disney dignitaries waiting in line for almost an hour to visit an attraction, but it happened for the Racers and everyone I talked to or overheard were all impressed with most wanting to go again! The Flying Tires and Maters had much shorter waits and I was able to squeeze in two flights on the Tires and had a great time!

  • Overall Cars Land at night is impressive. The neon is great and the lighting on the rock work is spectacular. The Racers get an added dimension at night and are a different experience. Even the Flying Tires seemed different at night.

  • Just before midnight I saw them testing World of Color from my room (it was awesome to sit at a table with the patio door open and look out to DCA and see World of Color in the distance and hear the sounds of the park. I was able to see a little of the Brave segment, but could not really hear it because of how far away my room was.

  • My original plan was to upload a video or two and some pictures but the wi-fi in the Grand Californian as well as the wired connection were both extremely slow. It got so bad that I ended up tethering my phone which turned out to be several times faster on the upload speed. Downloads were slow but adequate for what I needed. I finally gave up and went to bed around 1:00am since I knew tomorrow would be an early day.

Thursday 6/14:

  •  I awoke and took a peek outside into DCA just before 6:30am and we were off to breakfast around 7:00am. Today was media day and Cars Land was the hub of all the activities. I entered the park through the Grand Californian gate and walked through a nearly empty DCA to get to Cars Land. One small group was with us and it included John Lasseter.. I was still working on waking up so did not have anything intelligent to ask him and did not think it appropriate to ask for a picture given the park was not really open yet.

  • I made a quick pass through the stores of Cars Land, which I had not really had a chance to photograph. It was great since no one was really in them at this hour. Those who were up this early were conducting interviews so I had them to myself for the most part. Then once the rest of my group finished breakfast and joined me we went for a ride on the Radiator Springs Racers, a great way to start the day! It had a posted 10 minute wait time but it took us closer to 30 minutes. This allowed some extra time to photograph the queue in the daylight but it meant really walking fast to make it to the premieres at Buena Vista Street.

  • Five & Dime was first. This group of singers appear on Buena Vista Street several times per day. They sing several songs from the 1920s and 30s and feature some standard Disney audience participation bits. Goofy also drops in on the show which is a nice touch. They drive around in the old grand marshal car from Disneyland which is now redone to fit into Buena Vista Street. I thought their show was ok. The music was well done but the show seemed to drag on a bit. Not sure if it was the early morning or what but I found my attention wandering a bit during the show. Here is a video of the premiere performance:

  • Next up was the Premiere of the Red Car News Boys. This show features several newsboys that arrive on the scene aboard a Red Car Trolley. Their performance is very energetic and many describe it as Newsies inspired. Mickey arrives in Hollywood and joins in for a few songs and then travels off in the Red Car with them. The show features the new Mickey with the moving mouth and blinking eyes. The songs do stick in your head afterward too. Of the two I really enjoyed the Red Car News Boys. I think the higher tempo is why. Here is a video of the premiere performance:

  • I spent the rest of my morning exploring and photographing Buena Vista Street. The stores were all open and for the most part empty since everyone was out in Cars Land or watching the new entertainment. This allowed me to get some great wide shots of the interiors showing the new layouts. It was amazing to walk through and remember how they looked before and what they have become. Buena Vista Street was extremely impressive with all the details and references.

  • After lunch I made a second pass through Cars Land then Buena Vista Street. I was a little disappointed that the Carthay dining room and the 1901 Lounge were both off limits. But I was able to explore and photograph the main lounge on the first floor which was great!

  • Before I had to get ready for the evening I was able to squeeze in a couple more rides through the Racers. I spent a little time walking the Grand Californian and taking some pictures of DCA from the terraces. Then it was back to the parks for the evening. We arrived a little early so I was able to squeeze in one more set of rides on the Racers. I experienced a glitch in the system. Our car pulled to the seat belt check and the alarms went off. The cast member said we would have to get another car so we exited and walked back to the load platform and got another car. This seemed odd and the other guests gave us some odd looks as we walked by their cars.

  • On my way into DCA I picked up the new time schedules for both DCA and Disneyland. I thought it was great to see each park with its own four page time schedule that listed most of the entertainment. This format really allows for highlights and a more complete listing. The down side to this is you have to visit both parks to get both schedules (or grab them from the hotel as I did). For example they listed the set time for the Paradise Garden band stand.

  • The evening was spent at another set of parties. Buena Vista Street was open to walk around outside and there were samples of some of the food as well as some other catered food. There were a couple of photo ops as well as some of the entertainment out to experience. They also had a dance floor and band set up in front of the Carthay which really added to the atmosphere. The Mad T Party was also going on so we walked down Hollywood Blvd to check that out too since many in our group had not experienced it yet.

  • The highlight of the evening was seeing the World of Color featuring the Glow with the Show Ears. These are available for approx $25 each. For our preview we were all given a set of ears as a gift. (they are also doing this for a couple of annual pass holder nights the end of the month). The effect was really impressive (I took several videos and they are posted in the update.. below is a clip of the opening). I thought the many functions (blinking, one ear on, color changes, etc..) of the ears were great and the timing worked to take the show to a new level. My question is how will it look when only a few guests in the audience have them? Since everyone had one our night it was incredibly effective and looked awesome. But at $25 a set wonder how many will be present on an average night? The ears are also supposed to interact with the Mad T Party, but I did not get a chance to see that this evening since after World of Color the park was closed.

  • One last note with the ears.. I thought it was really cool to see them all heading through the trails at DCA toward the exits, especially some of the last folks out that I saw from my room.

Friday 6/15:

  • The big day... Grand Reopening. We headed for the media center around 6:00am to grab breakfast and then to find our spot for the re-opening ceremony. I thought the ceremony itself was well done. It was not an over the top production but instead a brief and to the point rededication featuring some song and dance in typical Disney fashion. I thought it was really fun to watch the audiences reactions. Especially one of the biggest fans who was dead center in the front with his own camera capturing the moments, John Lasseter!

  • After the ceremony it was time to let the masses in. Many of which had been camped out since last night to be among the first to experience Cars Land today. I was lucky enough to position myself in front of the march to Cars Land and we captured some pictures and video of the crowd being led to the Radiator Springs Racers. The excitement was unbelievable and the energy level something hard to capture or explain as we walked backwards in front of the mass and their reaction at their first view of Cars Land, Route 66, and then the Racers entrance. What a moment!

  • After the crowd entered I moved on to get some pictures of the Racers cycling and see what else was happening in Cars Land. I caught one of my favorite pictures of the day. As I was shooting the racers I noticed someone came up next to me. After my picture I looked over and it was Bob Iger taking a picture on his smartphone. I asked if I could take his picture while he took the picture. I thought that was a great shot. Tom Staggs and several other Disney executives had surrounded me by this time. I shook hands and said hello then they assembled for a group shot in front of the Racers. Talk about the right place at the right time.

  • I think roamed around talking with some of the guests as well as some media friends in the area and getting pictures of the crowds coming into Cars Land. I eventually made my way down to the Blue Sky Cellar to get a better view of the crowd and guess who joined me... George Kaligridis and Tom Staggs and then some Imagineers stopped by to admire the view too. Two great encounters... they graciously agreed to a photo here too.

  • Disney was prepared for the crowds today. They had an extended queue for the Racers set up that stretched out to Paradise Park and wrapped around out there. I am not sure if it ever reached the park but I did get a picture of it wrapping around the bridge near Ariels.

  • I next caught the premiere performance of Instant Concert... just add water. This is a short show that features Goofy conducting the World of Color fountains. There are three different songs. I only caught one, hope to see the other two on future visits. I thought this was a nice little show and added some life to the area. Goofy is fun to watch and the fountains were interesting for the short period of time. No where near as impressive is at night. They only used the center platform for the show. Also interesting to note after the show they lowered the fountains.

  • I then headed for Disneyland and caught a performance of the Voices of Liberty at the Main Street Opera House. They perform one number outside a few minutes before their posted show time then you head inside for several songs right before Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. I opted to listen to a cast member and sat in the very first row. This made for an extremely awkward angle as you saw in the video but the audio was amazing. We talked with the cast members and only one member of the group (a woman who was wearing dark blue, I forget her name) was from Florida, the rest were new hires out here. I am curious how this will play out for those that want to see them several times... will they come back and leave when Great Moments starts or will they continue to sit through the show. I really enjoy Great Moments but that is a big time commitment and say you want to see two or three sets in a day that is a lot to ask.

  • After a great lunch at Plaza Inn circled Matterhorn waiting for the climbers but they were on break. So stopped by a fairly empty Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree.

  • The All American College Band started in the park on Thursday and will be entertaining Tuesday through Saturday through August. If you have a chance try to catch them. They are really entertaining and some of the best college musicians in the country.

  • I then heard the Alpine Horn and headed for the Matterhorn to watch the climbers. For opening day they had two groups performing with the climbers. First up someone playing an alpine/swiss horn. Then Happy Hans and his son (accordion and tuba) came out to entertain. I really enjoyed the live music with the climbers and was really hoping they would be around all summer, but the cast members I spoke with said they were just for the opening day. I had another Disney encounter.. as I was taking pictures of the climbers George Kaligridis and Meg Crofton stopped by where I was. A member of their entourage talked to me a bit and was laughing how I seemed to be one step ahead of them today.

  • Stopped by the Dancin With Disney! event in Stage 17 in the afternoon. This event runs daily from 1-5 and features a couple different themes. When I was there the villains were out. But others said they saw princesses on their visit. I thought this was an ok use of the space and a great way for kids to interact with the characters. It is really a dance party aimed at the younger set. I spoke to the DJ a bit during a break and he said he knows his role.. it is to tire the kids out. So parents take note... it may be a nice air conditioned place for you to rest and the kids to run a bit. And in between you can get some great photos with Disney characters. Best of all it is included in regular park admission.. no added fees like character dining!!

  • The rest of my day was spent relaxing and enjoying the College Band so nothing really to report...

Interesting Web Finds/Notes:
Below are some interesting links, notes, and rumors I found/stumble across/or have been informed of since the last Geekspeaks column.

Be sure to check out the picture update that goes with this Geekspeak column, it can be found in our Disneyland Resort Pictorial Update section

Stop by the Geek's Forum to discuss this and other Disney topics.. click here

Send comments, questions, any other email to: disneygeek@disneygeek.com

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