We Wants the Redhead!

As always, this article reflects my personal opinions and observations, not those of anyone else.

This week I went on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Park to have one last visit with the Redhead, as one of so many guests who have admired and appreciated this beautiful audio-animatronic character creation over the years.

On Monday, April 23rd, the attraction will be closing for a few months and this iconic scene will be altered to better reflect the current audience’s sensibilities. The Redhead will be transforming into a buccaneer herself, running an auction of goods, rather than an object of human trafficking as she is now seen as portrayed through a modern lens.  So the original bride auction version of the Redhead is going, though not everyone is happy about it, with some feeling it is destroying a piece of Disney history and Imagineering design in the process.

Thinking about this change and the furor over it made me realize that the park is really serving several different masters at this point, making it quite impossible to please everyone.

As I see it, there are three types of guests who go to Disney Parks:

  1. The old school hardcore Disney fans – those who have been visiting the parks for decades. They like things as they are – or preferably, as Walt Disney and his WED/Imagineering Legends originally created them. They resist change for any reason, and especially hate what they see as ‘change for the sake of change’ – which often means the adding of IP or “Intellectual Property” to a classic non-IP attraction. See the uproar over: The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), It’s a Small World (with added Disney characters), Maelstrom becoming Frozen Ever After, shortening the Rivers of America to make room for Galaxy’s Edge, or the various changes the Pirates attraction has already undergone from adding movie characters like Captain Jack Sparrow, Barbossa and Davy Jones to the first politically correct updates made several years ago so the pirates would no longer be chasing the women, but instead chase food or have the women chase them. This crowd feels the park was always better ‘back in the day’ and few changes ever improve an attraction or a park.
  2. The modern Annual Passholder – the folks who go to the park several times a year or once a month or even once (or more) per week. For this group, they like change and expect and embrace it! They want the parks to be constantly evolving and offering them something new every few months at least to make the experience different. This crowd is often social media driven and looking for the latest thing to post on their Instagram, Facebook, etc. So new is always good and desirable – from new food and merchandise, to show updates, to a new “wall” to take a selfie against. This group demands that Disney constantly change to keep their attention.  And whether something has history in the park or not, if it’s outdated in its representation, these folks would often support its eviction or replacement with something new.
  3. The tourist – those folks taking an occasional or even once-in-a-lifetime trip to a Disney Park. This group wants a mix of both! They want the classic Disney Parks experience that they’ve always heard about, but also something unique to make their trip special and different to their neighbors’ who may go in another year. As long as they have a good time – whatever experiences that includes – it was worth the visit!

So how can Disney please all these different kinds of guests? There may be no answer to that other than perhaps giving everyone a little of what they want, even if they can’t have it all. Continue reading

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Disneyland Resort Pixar Fest 2018 – Entertainment

From April 13th to September 3rd, the Disneyland Resort will be hosting Pixar Fest – a celebration of all things Pixar. As expected with seasonal events, there will be special food and merchandise offered. And on June 23rd, Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure will officially reopen as Pixar Pier with newly re-themed attractions and venues. But as usual, what I’m looking forward to most are the entertainment options!

Since we have the whole summer to enjoy this event, I’ll slowly work my way through the various offerings, but here are the highlights of what I’m looking forward to seeing:

Disneyland Park

  • Will the Dapper Dans add some of Pixar greatest hits into their repertoire? The park website seems to hint at it, so I’ll be sure to check and report back!
  • Pixar Play Parade – with new floats and characters added, it will make its way up and down the parade route here as it migrates over from its original home at Disney California Adventure.
  • Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular – the new Pixar-themed fireworks show features the UP house with balloons floating over the castle!
  • Pixar Pals Dance Party – starting June 8th at Tomorrowland Terrace, party it up with characters that will supposedly include: Russell, Dug, Woody, Jessie, the Green Army Men and more!  (This pretty strongly implies that we won’t have bands at this venue this summer.  And since the Downtown Disney main stage will also be gone by the end of June, Disney California Adventure is our only hope now for live musical entertainment this summer as the Dance Party will likely be DJ-driven.) Continue reading

Show Spotlight Flashback: Mickey’s Soundsational Parade

Mickey Mouse!

Next weekend will herald the return of the refreshed Pixar Play Parade, moving from its original home at Disney California Adventure to its newer incarnation with plussed/added floats in Disneyland Park.  So this week seems the appropriate time to look back at Mickey’s Soundsational Parade that came in with a bang a few years ago and left recently with no send-off whatsoever… (though granted, the park website is still listing it as “Returning Later”, so it may yet get a formal good-bye – or a welcome back!)

What was Mickey’s Soundsational Parade?

Ariel!

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade premiered in the summer of 2011 and featured sections from:

  • The Fab Five (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
  • Aladdin
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Three Caballeros
  • The Lion King
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • Peter Pan
  • Mary Poppins

The floats and vehicles were generally a mix of movie-location-themed (ala Rapunzel’s tower or a sea-grouping for Ariel) and music/drum themed pieces for the “Soundsational” music concept tying them all together.

Tiana and Louis!

Who were the performers? Continue reading

The Changing Face of Downtown Disney – Part Three (and DCA Food & Wine 2018 Update)

I’ve previously addressed the many changes that have been and are continuing to happen in Downtown Disney in Anaheim. This week, Disney announced the closing dates for the businesses on the west side that will be impacted by the upcoming construction project for the new hotel.

As of June 30, 2018 (although perhaps earlier than that in some cases), the following will be permanently closing:

  • AMC Theatres
  • Earl of Sandwich
  • ESPN Zone
  • Rainforest Cafe
  • Starbucks Coffee (west side location only – the main location next to World of Disney will remain open)

The main stage by ESPN Zone is expected to be removed by then as well, but for a little while longer, music fans can continue to enjoy seeing various bands performing there.

A few dates of note for that Downtown Disney stage will include appearances by:

Tuesday, April 17 – Phat Cat Swinger

Wednesday, April 18 – Faultlines

Friday, May 4 – Grilled Cheese Soundwich

Saturday, May 5 – Hiatus

Friday, May 11 – The Suffragettes

Tuesday, May 15 – Phat Cat Swinger

Saturday, May 19 – The 80z All-Stars

Saturday, May 26 – TOMASINA

Wednesday, May 30 – Faultlines

Shows here generally begin at 6pm though everything on the schedule is always subject to change!

Groups will hopefully continue to perform in front of the WonderGround Gallery as well, even after the main stage goes away for the construction project. But with the recent opening of Splitsville, there is a new outdoor stage that is also hosting musical acts:

Stage at Splitsville’s outdoor bar.

Unfortunately, it is located directly across from the WonderGround performance area and the two sets of performers are frequently in audio competition while singing at the same time. This is a very unfortunate placement that I wish had been considered prior to the opening of Splitsville.

I don’t know how one spot can sustain two simultaneous musical acts and I fear that we could lose the WonderGround area as performance space eventually. Between that and the loss of the main stage by the ESPN Zone, Downtown Disney could be taking a serious downturn in live musical entertainment and I hope a new performing location can be established to replace at least one of these venues. Continue reading

Character Spotlight: Meet & Greet Marvel Characters at Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line

Asgardian brothers in arms.

After this week’s exciting announcement that new Marvel-themed lands, attractions and characters will be coming to Disney Parks world-wide in the next few years (specifically Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland), I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take a look at the past, present and potential future of Marvel Meet & Greets at Disney locations.

Normally, I’d be focused on just the U.S. parks, but since there’s a wonderful initiative aboard the Disney Cruise Line with various shows such as “Heroes Unite”, plus Meet & Greets and “Marvel Day at Sea” events, I’m going to touch on some of those options as well. And where I’m aware of international park Meets, I’ll mention those, too.

Note: the focus of this feature will be Marvel Cinematic Universe character Meet & Greets, rather than shows, but if characters are in shows that I’m aware of, I’ll try to mention that, too. However, I’m not including runDisney marathon appearances where various characters have been spotted in the past.

As always, everything is subject to change at the whim of Disney at any time, so the information is only current through the time of writing this article.  And the various park apps are generally the most up-to-date way of finding a character appearance you’re seeking on any given day, though you can always ask a Cast Member, too!

Rather than breaking this down by location, however, I’ve decided to separate this by character instead. So I’m going to note the character and where he or she has appeared in the past or is currently appearing at this time or has been announced as appearing soon.

Ready, fellow Marvel fans? Then let’s check out where we can find our heroes (and villains!)! Continue reading

Performer Spotlight: Flynn Rider @ Mickey and the Magical Map

I’ll admit that Mickey and the Magical Map is not one of my most regular shows to visit at the Disneyland Resort as I’ve had other favorites take precedence over it.  However, I have seen it a LOT due to my favorite Mapmaker (sadly, no longer a regular there) and because the show is a top choice of a family member. And happily, there are still plenty of talented singers and dancers to be found there including one of the absolute greatest vocalists in the park:

As if he walked right out of a movie screen…

When Flynn Rider steps out on to the stage and this guy starts to sing, you can’t help but listen wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the exalted notes emanating from him.

Every single time I hear him perform a song, I feel transported to the glorious days of Technicolor movie musicals – it’s like hearing a Gordon MacRae or Nelson Eddy singing live in front of you. He’s got this amazing classic throwback sound to him that’s simply enchanting to hear – just an overpowering unreal beautiful boundless baritone that sweeps you up in it every time he sings.  Continue reading

Performer Spotlight: Noel @ Main Street Ragtime Piano

Forget about your worries and your strife…”

Noel is always smiling and happy to say hello!

I am LONG overdue for this spotlight, as this wonderful guy has been at the Ragtime Piano on Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland Park for about a year now! Where has the time gone?!

One can find Noel tickling the ivories at Coke Corner multiple days a week to the absolute delight of everyone who gets to see and hear him. His repertoire – which is constantly growing – consists of timely jazzy ragtime standards and simply a ton of Disney classics!

On any given day I’ve gone to see him – and I do try to stop and see him as often as possible – I’ve heard him play anything from “The Bare Necessities” to “It’s a Small World” to “You Can Fly” to a fun ragtime version of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”. Continue reading