Ben Harris Seen Here at the Disneyland Main Street Station
The Disney Dose podcast is joined by Ben Harris. While working for Disneyland and the team that opened Walt Disney World, he served in numerous positions from Disneyland Railroad conductor to operations manager. While there he was responsible for sharing the news of the tragic JFK assassination with all of Disneyland as the park announcer. Later, he gave Walt Disney and a group of executives the tour on the Jungle Cruise that got the new attraction script approved.
This interview is filled with a rollercoaster (or maybe, hilly train ride) of emotions. You really can’t miss this conversation with Ben Harris if you are a fan of Disneyland, Disney history, or incredible stories.
Click The Play Button Below to Listen:
In this episode you will hear:
How he got his job at Disneyland
Why he drove Walt Disney on the Jungle Cruise
How he met Walt Disney for the first time
What he did at Disneyland when President John F Kennedy died
Why he was such a good announcer
How he helped to design the Disneyland tour guide program
Which heads of state he toured around Disneyland
How he changed the Jungle Cruise script
What he did when interviewing nervous Disneyland Cast Member candidates
Why Tinkerbell didn’t land so gracefully after leading the fireworks
You could win a copy of my new book, Disneyland Secrets by answering our trivia question of the week. Listen to the podcast for the question then submit your answer and email below to be entered to win.
Win a Copy of the Disneyland Secrets book!
Good luck to everyone. This contest is only open from August 26-September 3, 2015. Only US residents may enter.
Special Thanks to You:
The Disney Dose podcast is a bi-weekly production put on every week for you, the Disney enthusiast. Please let me know if you are enjoying the show by leaving a review on iTunes. You can also contact us to share your thoughts and show ideas. Contact me here.
Star Wars Land has been announced for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. During the D23 Expo, Bob Iger got on stage and announced to a crowd of 7,500 people that “they would not just be building one of these, but building two” new Star Wars Lands. The excitement in the room was palpable as Bob Iger continually was interrupted by cheers from the audience, so much so that he said, just “give me a chance.”
See all of the new updates at the bottom of this article. Most Recent Update 1/11/2015
What We Know About Star Wars Land
Bob Chapek, the Chairman of Parks and Resorts talks about Star Wars Land
The new 14 acre lands represent the largest single land expansion ever and will be themed to a “remote port, one of the last stops before wild space.” Uniquely, “every store and restaurant will be operated by local inhabitants making the experience deeply immersive. Nothing in the land will be out of character or stray from mythology.” Two new attractions were announced. One will allow guests to “take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon.”
See the full presentation from the Disney Parks Presentation by Disney Parks Presentation Bob Chapek and Head of the Star Wars Creative Portfolio, Scott Trowbridge.
Later that day more information was provided and pictures were allowed at the Disney Parks Presentation. This presentation was hosted by the newly appointed chairman, Bob Chapek. While they mainly rehashed information from the the presentation in the morning, our photographer Chris Murray was able to grab shots of all of the concept art that was presented.
Bob Iger joked, “this one looks like my uncle.”
Once Bob Chapek had repeated all of the information from the morning presentation, he brought Scott Trowbridge, the chief creative Imagineer in charge of Star Wars, onto the stage. Trowbridge acknowledged that this project has “40 years of dreaming to live up to,” and that the project is only possible because of the incredible partnership between “WDI, our park operators, and most importantly our team members at LucasFilm.” Before leaving the topic of Star Wars Land, he hinted at the classic blue milk, which I am sure will be sold in this new land. He went on to describe a series of new experiences coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World that will debut before the new land opens–some even opening in the next two months.
Coming Before Star Wars Land
The Star Wars Launch Bay will be a special experience that aims to bring to life the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. This experience will be filled with exhibits that provide behind the scenes looks with props and the latest versions of the new Star Wars video games. There will also be a collection of new meet and greets with Star Wars characters inside of the Launch Bay. This new attraction will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World and in Innoventions at Disneyland. (Also announced for Innoventions is a new Marvel experience). You should expect this new experience to open around October 11, 2015. Disney recently put out a casting call for actors for Star Wars Launch Bay and required them to be able to start on that date.
Next announced was the new Season of the Force event that will be coming in Early 2016 to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This will be an event “inspired by the popular Star Wars Weekends” and will include special food offerings and character meet and greets, plus other special attractions. In Disneyland we will see addition of an incredible overlay for Space Mountain, that will transform it into Hyperspace Mountain. Compare this overlay to the Halloween Ghost Galaxy version. Hollywood Studios will receive a new night time fireworks show themed completely to Star Wars. No word has yet been given on the length or start date of this special “Season of the Force” event, beyond the Early 2016 listing.
The concept art on the left appears to be an overhaul for the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant in Disneyland.
Finally, they announced that a new destination from the new movie will be coming to the Star Tours attraction this winter. You should expect to see the new destination in place in later November or early December as they prepare for the new movie.
Disney also just announced after the event that Disney Visa Cardholders will have exclusive Star Wars Darth Vader meet and greets in both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. These meet and greets will open in early 2016, most likely along with the Season of the Force special event.
So, now that you have all of the information that was given to us in the presentations, it is time to dig into what all of this means for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and give you some background on the team that is designing all of these new Star Wars offerings for the Disney Parks.
Where Will the new Star Wars Land Be Located?
The Disney internet has been abuzz leading up to the D23 Expo. Rumors have been swirling that the new Star Wars Land would replace Toontown in Disneyland. Well, once the park had been announced, the official DisneylandToday Twitter account was quick to counter and say that Toontown would not be removed:
This is great news. Once this tweet was sent, the news spread like wildfire and people began to draw out the possible placement of attractions in the new land.
This new land will really be expanding the capacity and reach of the park, with very little being lost. The only thing being removed is the Big Thunder Ranch area and the backstage buildings behind the area. The backstage buildings will be relocated across the street to the recently purchased property. While the festival area and Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue do serve as nice tranquil spots, the loss of these areas will be more than compensated for by the incredible new Star Wars land.
There are really two layout options for the land, and Joseph Pimentel, the Disney reporter at the OC Register, captured the possible layouts that would fit the description of the expansion area. One version would simply push the park out and into the backstage areas, while the other would connect Critter Country and Frontierland, looping all the way around the Rivers of America.
So now that we have an idea of where the land may end up in the parks, we have to ask the question, “when will we get Star Wars Land?” Using history as a guide, my guess would be 2020. The Disney California Adventure major additions took about 5 years from announcement to completion. From 2007 to 2012 the park opened the new Toy Story Mania attraction, World of Color, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and the final culmination of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street. Most likely, Disneyland and Hollywood Studios will follow similar timelines with their expansions. Hollywood Studios will open Toy Story sometime in the next three years, probably about one-two years in advance of Star Wars Land.
Add the recent ruling by the Anaheim City Council that if Disney spends $1 billion dollars expanding the Disneyland Resort, they won’t have their tickets taxed for the next 30 years. The ruling states that Disney must begin the construction by 2017 and complete the construction within 7 years to avoid the gate ticket tax. This means that the latest Disney will open the new Star Wars Land will be 2024. But, I don’t see this ever happening, because they want to ride the Star Wars tidal wave that has begun and will continue through the next releases of Star Wars films that are currently scheduled up until 2019. It is in the best interest of the parks and the studios to get the land open as soon as possible.
Who Is Leading the Creation of Star Wars Land?
There may be more of a secret theme park battle going than any Disney or Universal spokesperson is willing to let on. I am of course talking about the newly built and soon to be completed Wizarding World’s of Harry Potter in Orlando and Hollywood. These new lands are forcing Disney to become better, as we discussed here. So, it is quite interesting that Scott Trowbridge was put in charge of this new Universal-busting project for Disney as he was one of the lead creatives for Universal Studios just 8 years ago. While there he led the creation of the Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, The Simpsons ride, Sesame Street 4-D, led early development of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–he even starred in the official Harry Potter announcement video before he left in 2007. Now, he is leading the Star Wars expansion, and ironically, starred in the announcement of the new Star Wars Land at the D23 Expo.
Harry Potter Universal Orlando
This cross pollination can only be a good thing for theme park fans and the Disney Parks. Star Wars is in good hands at Walt Disney Imagineering and with the Board of the Disney Company. Here’s one more story for you before we go: two other versions of the Star Wars Land were presented to the Disney Board of Directors. The board rejected both of the original concepts because they weren’t anything original and in their opinion fell flat. The Board of Directors continually sent back the designs until the Imagineering team landed on the design that we see in front of us today. When this land opens sometime around 2020, expect something that will knock your socks off and something that Universal will not be able to counter with even the most powerful Harry Potter confundus charm.
Star Wars Land Updates
Update 8/26/15: The Big Thunder Ranch area has been said to be closing on January 11, 2016 at the close of the holiday season at Disneyland. No official confirmation has been given.
This article will be updated with any other Star Wars Land news or information that we receive. Think of this as your hub for news from the new Star Wars Land coming to Disneyland and Hollywood Studios.
Update 9/11/15: Tom Staggs, the Chief Operating Officer of the Walt Disney Company announced today that ground would be broken for Star Wars Land in early 2016. No opening date has been provided. Also, this will be the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney Hollywood Studios. This area will soon become the construction site for the new Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land.
Update 9/14/15: Santa Claus will meet and greet with guests in a new Critter Country location this year, instead of in his usual location in the Big Thunder Ranch area. It seems that they are quickly phasing out that area completely as they prepare to begin construction on Star Wars Land.
Update 9/25/15: The Disneyland Railroad, Rivers of America, and “Fantasmic!” will all close for more than a year during the construction of Star Wars Land. Read the full details here>
Update 12/20/2015: (Includes Some Spoilers From Star Wars: The Force Awakens) The new film features the Millennium Falcon prominently throughout all of the space scenes. With the Falcon slated to be one of the new attractions for Star Wars Land, it will be interesting to see which films they mainly draw from. According to Screamscape, the new attraction could use the same ride system of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction out at Universal Orlando. This system will feature individual “cockpits” that will enter into moving miniature Imax screens that would allow for guests to feel as if they are actually flying the Millennium Falcon. Supposedly guest’s actions will actually change the outcome of these scenes. This is all very exciting stuff, but I will just add one opinion: I hope one of the two new Star Wars Land attractions features physical Audio-Animatronic figures at some point and creates a space this isn’t just on a digital projection screen. I have faith in the Imagineers and believe that they will create something truly unique.
Update 1/11/2016: Just a day after the closing of many popular Disneyland attractions to begin the construction of Star Wars Land, Disney has released concept art the depicts how the back half of the Rivers of America will appear when the attraction reopens next Spring. Reports to Disneyland Cast Members state that the attractions will reopen in mid April.
This image appears to confirm that they are rerouting the Disneyland Railroad closer into the middle of Disneyland Park. While the rerouting doesn’t seem to be nearly as dramatic as some reports, the railroad and Rivers of America will end up shorter than they were before both attractions closed. The artwork above is quite encouraging on the front that Disney will put money into improving the scenes along the riverbanks. Overall I hope that this closure leads not only to the positive construction of Star Wars Land, but also to the improvement of the entire Rivers of America.
Be sure to follow along on our Facebook page where we have been constantly posting photos from the parks as they prepare for Star Wars Land construction.
Faster Than the Millennium Falcon Can Make the Kessel Run
Disneyland Cast Members performed a beautiful medley of new Disney songs ranging from the most recent night time shows around the world to the Disney classics that we all know. They included “Step Into the Magic” from Disneyland Forever, “Celebrate the Magic” from World of Color-Celebrate, the Fantasmic! theme song, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella, and many others.
The group that performed these songs was the Disneyland choir, which is comprised of Cast Members from throughout the Disneyland Resort. The choir performs annually at the Disney Candlelight Processional and at other performances, such as the Disney Parks presentation at the D23 Expo.
Please enjoy the performance below. This just gives me goose bumps.
Join us on Facebook and on our newsletter for more information and fun from Disneyland and the D23 Expo. Aren’t these Cast Members incredible?
This weekend (Friday-Sunday) is the 2015 D23 Expo. The event is an incredible gathering of Disney fans and every division of the Disney company under one roof. There are quite a few big highlights for the weekend including possible announcements for the Disney Parks and Resorts and Walt Disney Studios. We will be hosting two events at the D23 Expo and providing coverage for those who can’t make it.
Join us for a meet up on Thursday evening at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. During the meet up we will have giveaways, a chance to meet fellow Disney fans, and I will have exclusive Disney Dose buttons for all who attend. See more info and RSVP for the event on the Facebook event page.
For those of you attending the D23 Expo, please be sure to come by the Annette Funicello Research Fund and Saturday’s Toys booth (booth A307) on Friday between 12pm-2pm. Purchase the new Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland’s Hidden Details , have the author sign it and get an exclusive Disney Dose button (available while supplies last). If you have already purchased a copy of the book and want a signature, feel free to bring it with you, or if you just want to say hello, please come on over.
At the expo, we are debuting our new Disneyland Secrets wall calendar. The calendar features beautiful photos of the parks and secrets from our new book on thick glossy pages. Visit the WDW Magazine booth (A514) to purchase the calendar. The calendar will be officially released online later this month. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you get updates on the calendar and on all Disney news.
For the Friends Following Along at Home
We will be covering the expo via live broadcasts on Periscope so that those of you at home can follow along and enjoy all of the events and special guests. First download the app, connect with Twitter or signup, and then search “Disney Dose.” We will be broadcasting from the show floor and inside of many of the panels so you can watch from home.
All weekend we will be live updating on both Facebook pages: Disneyland Secrets and Disney Dose, Twitter, and Instagram. For the most frequently updated information, I highly recommend Twitter. There you can find our updates on when we are live broadcasting on Periscope and immediate news updates from all of the panels.
Can’t Wait to See You at the D23 Expo
Please come by our meet up at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar and join me for a book signing on Friday at the D23 Expo. This will be a wonderful weekend!
The D23 Expo is an every two year event that brings together every arm of the Disney company and fandom under one roof, for one weekend. This year, the event will be held on August 14 through August 16, at the Anaheim Convention Center. So far, there has been an incredible lineup of events announced. Plus, the event show floor each year is filled with booths from groups ranging from a Walt Disney Imagineering open house to fan sites.
On this episode of the Disney Dose podcast, we are joined by Jeffrey Epstein, the spokesperson for D23 and a big Disney fan himself. We discuss the best ways to enjoy the D23 Expo and his top tips for having a good time.
Click The Play Button Below to Listen:
In this episode you will hear:
What’s new this year at the D23 Expo
How the new Hall D23 and Store Pass will help to alleviate lines
The top things we are looking forward to this year
How to line up for the arena presentations overnight on Thursday and Friday
The best way to manage your schedule and not book yourself solid
What was the biggest thing I missed out on last year
Plus, a great Disneyland secret about the way guests are drawn into certain areas of the park
And so much more…
About the D23 Expo
Who can describe the event better than the team putting the D23 Expo together? Here is the official D23 Expo description.
“The Ultimate Disney Fan Event—brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. For the latest D23 EXPO 2015 news, visit D23EXPO.com.
After being around for almost 60 years, Disneyland has come to hold thousands of secrets and stories. In my new book, Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland’s Hidden Details, I aim to share some of these stories behind the park that we all love so much. These historically based tales were collected from Disney Cast Members, our interviews with Imagineers, research in other Disneyland history books, and time spent roaming the park.
What You Can Find Inside
Why is the address of Disneyland 1313 Harbor Boulevard?
What’s up with the Jewish menorah on Main Street?
Where can you find Sherlock Holmes at Disneyland?
Why is there a fake book called “Walt & You” at City Hall?
Is there really a pet cemetery at the Haunted Mansion?
Where can you find a Lego figure inside of the park?
All of these questions and more than 100 more will be answered in our new book Disneyland Secrets.
[yellowbox]Buy the Book: The book is now available in paperback and on Kindle. Be sure to read below to see how you can get your exclusive bonuses. [/yellowbox]
This Book Will Make Your Trip Better
We have received incredible feedback from all of the people who joined our Disney Dose Founder’s Club and have already read the book. Many of our club members raved about the way the book made their visit to Disneyland much more enjoyable because of the details they began to notice around them. But, don’t take it from me, here are some early reviews from our Disney Dose Founder’s Club Members.
“An enjoyable guide for Disney fans and first timers alike. The entertaining and informative road map to the history and hidden treasures of the happiest place on earth, Disneyland” -Kevin Roberts
“A wonderful collection of inside info and trivia. The “Happiest Place on Earth” just became happier!”” -Lynne O’Connell
“For those looking for a chance to learn the little things that make Disneyland so magical this a must have book. From beginning to end a true treasure of Disney knowledge. For any Disney fan or for those who love trade secrets this book should be your next purchase.” -Gerald Esqueda
“Fun, informative book full of interesting tidbits about Disneyland. Something you will want to read more than once and definitely right before you go to Disneyland!” -Shelley Anderson
[yellowbox]Buy the Book: The book is available for purchase in paperback and on Kindle. Read below on how to get exclusive bonuses. [/yellowbox]
Why You Should Buy the Book NOW
We will be giving away exclusive bonuses to those who purchase the book and then submit their receipt number to us at DisneyDose.com/book.
These bonuses are worth more than $50 and include access to all electronic copies of the book, bonus secrets we are preparing for our next book, and early access to all future Disney Dose products.
As a final assurance and guarantee: I promise that if you don’t love the book, we will buy it back from you.
Benefit Make a Wish Foundation
We are proud to support the Make a Wish Foundation with each purchase of the book. Fifteen percent of the profit from each purchase will be donated to help make the dreams of children with life threatening diseases come true.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us and has already left reviews on Amazon. The Disney Dose Founder’s Club and our other supporters throughout the Disneyland fan community have been invaluable in launching the book and discovering all of the secrets within.
[guestpost]This is an anonymous investigative piece sent in to us. The stories and quotes have all been verified. [/guestpost]
Former Club 33 member Joe Cosgrove has sued Disneyland, claiming that his membership was unrightfully terminated. Many of the mainstream media outlets have covered the story one-sidedly. Here we aim to provide the full story.
Cosgrove, who claims he’s been a member since the opening of the club in 1967 (and claims that he was personally invited to be a member by Walt), is suing Disneyland, believing that his membership was unfairly terminated at the beginning of the year. In the lawsuit, he claims it was terminated due to a friend auctioning off complimentary park hopper tickets to Disneyland. It is strictly forbidden for a member to auction off any benefits provided by the club. Anything a guest does as well, reflects on the member, to which Joe was punished for his “friend’s” mistake. Cosgrove claims that it was unknown to him that his friend was auctioning off the tickets for charity, and believes the Club should’ve put his membership on hold so he had the ability to make reparations.
Suzi Brown, a spokeswoman for Disneyland, claims this is not Cosgrove’s first offense.
“Over the years, the Cosgroves repeatedly transferred and sold their membership privileges, which was a clear violation of membership rules,” Brown says. “Unfortunately, we were left with no other choice in order to preserve the integrity of membership.”
Disney also has stated that he is not an original member, and has only been a member since 1979.
Club 33 is an exclusive restaurant and lounge in New Orleans Square, Disneyland. To gain access, you must be a member or know one. Over the last few years, the membership benefits have been altered drastically. For example, members are limited to 20 outside reservations a year; meaning they can only make 20 reservations where they aren’t present at the table. They also have 50 complimentary park hoppers a year, to which and whom they can distribute as they please. Members also have a strict set of rules and limitations that comes with their memberships, to which all members must fully understand and agree to before officially becoming members.
The other offenses, to which Brown alludes to, lead to the drastic membership changes in the last few years. For example, a person (who wished to remain anonymous) has confirmed that the Cosgrove’s has overcharged not only them, but many others for use of their membership benefits. For example, events happened frequently, which would cost approx $150 per person. The Cosgrove’s would charge their guests a significant dollar amount more than what the Club themselves were charging. It is also forbidden in the Club to make any sort of profit off of your membership benefits.
Photo (c) OC Register 2015
The Cosgrove’s are also the reason to which the members have a limited amount of park hoppers a year, and a limited amount of outside reservations a year (as explained in the third paragraph). They made so many reservations a year, that it was nearly impossible for members to make reservations for themselves. It was similar to a travel agency, making a small profit off each reservation. For this reason, their membership has been terminated before. However, they managed to have their membership reinstated. A current member, who wished to remain anonymous as well, has said that Janet Cosgrove (wife of Joe Cosgrove) has personally told her:
“I have so many guests dining at the club, I have created a spreadsheet, to keep the reservations straight, and a form that I email them, with all their information and an area for them to sign and agree that they will show up and abide to the rules of the club”. This member also says it was nearly impossible for them to make a reservation 3 months in advance, due to the club being constantly booked with non-members.
The same member also says,
“I’m glad their membership was pulled. For years myself and other members have been complaining about how difficult it was for us to make reservations due to it being constantly booked, and why they were allowed to keep their membership when others had been quickly terminated for violation of club rules. The club, instead of removing them, decided to change our benefits. Why make everyone suffer for the actions of one person? Finally, the club rightfully terminated their membership. I know I only speak for myself, but I know plenty of other members who are equally happy that their membership has finally been pulled.”
Cosgrove is suing for $100,000 in emotional stresses and other damages. His attorney, Mark Corinett, a patent lawyer from Oregon, cites in his complaint, filed in California Superior court on June 19th, that Cosgrove has done nothing wrong to have his membership terminated. He is also known for promoting and selling his book “Walt Dreamers Me” in the dining room and the lounge of Club 33 (a recent addition to the Club in the last year). The complaint, unfortunately reads like a promotion for his book, and has continuity issues. For example, at one point it states he’s been a member for 45 years, and at another it states he’s been one for 47.
There is no disputing that Cosgrove is a lifetime fan of Disneyland, and the Disney company in general. His attorney believes that Disney wouldn’t fight his claims, being that he is elderly and has dedicated a large part of his life to Disney. At the moment, the Disney community is split; many believing his membership was rightfully terminated, and others believing it wasn’t.
What is your opinion on the situation? Share this story and comment your thoughts below.
This July we will be visiting Disneyland Paris for the first time. Disneyland Paris was the first Disney Park to be built outside of the United States and is located a short 40 minute train ride outside of the city. The resort now includes two parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. There is a brand new Ratatouille land that opened last year.
On this episode of the Disney Dose podcast, we brought on two friends who are experts on Disneyland Paris to share their thoughts on our trip, offer the best planning advice, and what they do not miss during a visit.
This is a jam-packed episode filled with planning information that will improve any vacation you have to Disneyland Paris.
Click The Play Button Below to Listen:
In this episode you will hear:
Which are the best Disneyland Paris restaurants
Where is the best place to relax in the afternoon
What is their favorite attraction
What is the best place to watch the parade and Disney Dreams!
How should you tour the parks
Which are the best secret spots in the parks
What is the best schedule to go by
Which are their favorite Disneyland Paris hotels
What is the optimal touring plan
And so much more…
About This Week’s Guests
Mark and Melanie joined us on the podcast today. They work together to run ParadiseFoundAround.com, a blog documenting their tips and advice all about Disneyland Paris and the city of Paris. They are originally from the United States, but moved to Paris over a year ago and have been living in the city ever since. These two grew up visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, and will visit Disneyland, California for the first time this July. Their website has a fantastic collection of tips and articles that will improve your Disneyland Paris vacation.
Special Thanks to You:
Thank you for your support of the Disney Dose podcast. I really appreciate everyone who has continued to listen to the show and constantly writes to us on our Facebook page or over email. Thank you to everyone who has already left a review on iTunes.
Meet Riley in Pixar’s new film “Inside Out.” This 11-year-old girl is more than a character; she’s the film’s main setting. Yes, much of the action happens inside Riley’s mind, in a place called “Headquarters” and Riley’s emotions are the main characters in the story as she deals with her family’s relocation from Minnesota to San Francisco.
Think of Riley’s five emotions in “Inside Out” as a cross between the conscience of Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio” and the septet of miners in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” each with their own distinct design and personality. Instead of Happy and Grumpy, “Inside Out” brings us “Joy” and “Anger” along with “Fear,” “Disgust” and “Sadness.”
Talking With Pixar Story Artist Domee Shi
Back at Pixar Animation Studios’ headquarters in Emeryville, Domee Shi was one of the hundreds of artists who helped bring “Inside Out” to the big screen. Born in China, her family moved to Toronto, Canada, when she was two. She was hired as a story artist not long after a beginning an internship at Pixar in June 2011. The internship followed her graduation from Sheridan College in Toronto.
“Inside Out” is Domee’s first professional film credit. She joined the production very early on, after director Pete Docter and his team decided to narrow the film’s scope to five emotions but the story remained a work-in-progress. Scores of scenarios were examined and explored as the story was perfected. Domee was one of three women in the core group of seven or so story artists who spent the most time on the production.
One of Sheridan’s instructors, Nancy Beiman, called Domee “one of my first, and best, students here.” Beiman was in the legendary 1976 CalArts class with John Lasseter, John Musker and Brad Bird among others.
“She’s too kind,” Domee said, after learning of Beiman’s comment. “It was actually her class, in second year at Sheridan, that got me interested in storyboarding. I didn’t even know what it was before her class. I owe a lot to her.”
Domee also credits the school’s animation program for teaching her “about working collaboratively. At Sheridan, we have to do a group film in our third year. We’re all divided up into groups of 11 or 12 people to make one film. It’s a different kind of beast than making your own student film because you actually have to work together with people who don’t have the same tastes as you, who have different opinions than you and who are just different from you. And, you have to maneuver these social situations. It’s something that I really valued, something that I was able to (experience) at Sheridan so that I wouldn’t make similar mistakes in the real world. Working collaboratively with people at Pixar is a big thing here and I kind of learned how to do that at Sheridan.”
The education continued at Pixar and even challenged some of Domee’s preconceived notions about the hit-making studios.
“When I first started during an internship in story at Pixar, I was terrified of pitching and talking in front of people, but I learned more about pitching here, actually. I learned that you didn’t have to describe everything that’s happening on screen. In the beginning, I would pitch ‘Riley comes into a room, she picks up a book, she looks at it, she gets sad, she puts it down, she walks out.’ I learned about using sound effects in your pitch and about the art of silence” from “Inside Out” co-director Ronnie Del Carmen. “Ronnie can just scroll through boards and you get the feeling and emotion even more if there’s no words or sound at all sometimes.”
“I think the biggest thing I learned working on ‘Inside Out’ was you just never know how anything is going to turn out,” she continued. “You can’t plan things too much. A lot of the great stuff that was in the movie, we just came up with on the fly. And as we were boarding the movie, we boarded so many different versions of it because we were trying everything out.”
“Pete (Docter) always had this feeling that he wanted to express with the movie,” inspired by watching his daughter grow up, seeing her change and trying to figure that out. “But everything else around that, like the plot,” Domee said, “changed so much.”
“Going into Pixar, I assumed they had made so many movies that they had it all down, like a well-oiled machine. I’m just going to go in and be a happy little cog in this machine and it’s all going to work smoothly and perfectly. But I soon found out, ‘no, everyone is still learning, everyone is still making mistakes and growing. It’s just a matter of trial and error in figuring stuff out.’ ”
“I had to learn to be open to that, because I’m kind of a Type-A personality,” Domee continued. “I like to plan things out and execute them as efficiently and successfully as I can. But coming into this chaotic, amazing mess was pretty awesome — learning how to be spontaneous and how to change things last minute and to work with other people and produce something so amazing.”
“Everyone contributed so much to the film sometimes I wonder if I did that much at all,” she said. “I’d like to think I added a bit of perspective as a person who for most of her life has kept her emotions dormant from the people around me. I come from a place where I could learn the most from this film that I’m working on which is being in tune with your emotions and being OK with expressing them.”
In creating her storyboards, Domee was also able to draw from the parallels between her life and Riley’s story in “Inside Out,” as the normally joyful girl struggles with her family’s move and contemplates running away and returning to Minnesota.
“When I was a kid … at the beginning of school, my mom would drop me off and I’d be so upset at the situation and all these new people that I’d just run away and try to find her. She’d end up having to take me to her workplace because I would refuse to go to school. That happened again when my mom and I went back to China for half a year when I was six and I had to be re-enrolled into Chinese school, which was like a culture shock for me because I had been growing up in Canada. I ran away … every time I went to a new school. So I can definitely relate to Riley in being a kid in a new place.”
Domee also recounted a change in her own personality that came as she grew a bit older.
“There was a point in my life where I was super-talkative, a really bubbly social little girl. And then when I was around Riley’s age, 10, I started to get more quiet. I think a lot of it had to do with I had developed a stutter and a didn’t want to talk. That sort of worked in my favor in the long run because I started to draw more. I thought if I could draw what I want to say, I wouldn’t have to say anything. And I drew more and more and that’s kind of how I ended up here at Pixar.”
Dealing with some of Riley’s emotions was a bit harder for Domee and other members of the team. Joy was particularly difficult.
“I identified a lot with the character Sadness and I tried to infuse as much as I could into her character from my own personal experiences in being kind of a shy, quiet, self-deprecating girl. I tried to get into that character and really bring her out. I guess that’s what I contributed. I think Joy was the hardest one for all of us to crack. It took us a while to figure out her character. She’s joyful all the time but having a character that’s only happy is kind of boring. So we had to figure out what her deal was and I’m not like her at all. In real life I’m not really that bubbly. I’m kind of a Sadness and a little bit of Disgust, too, but definitely not that much of a Joy. That sounds kind of bad. I do have joyous feelings and stuff. Her character was just hard for me to get into, but I eventually got it.”
The simple but elegant message of the film is how humans need all our emotions — and the film does offer us glimpses of the Headquarters for Mom, Dad and some other characters. For Riley, Joy’s mission is to keep her happy. Fear heads up safety. Anger ensures that all is fair. And, Disgust prevents Riley from getting poisoned — both physically and socially. But Sadness? Would we know Joy without ever experiencing sorrow or disappointment? Is the human condition like a cookie dough recipe that requires a pinch of salt to help bring out the sweet?
Pixar has a great record of making emotionally-charged movies that entertain families. Think of Jessie’s Song in “Toy Story 2,” the goodbye scene of Sully and Boo in “Monsters Inc.,” Andy and Bonnie playing in “Toy Story 3” and the tour-de-force of the Married Life montage in “Up.” Children enjoy the characters and comic relief, but adults often find something far more meaningful in the story as they tear up. That’s true for “Inside Out” as well. Children will love these characters — Anger, Fear Disgust and Sadness have has never been so funny — but adults recalling their own childhood woes as well as those they see their children experience will take home a deeper appreciation of the Pixar’s storytelling skills.
Domee talked about her favorite emotional scenes as “the ones that feel real. The moments that I feel like I have experienced in my life.”
“My favorite emotional scene from a film is probably in ‘Spirited Away’ when the character Chihiro just kind of crouches on the floor and she’s really lost and sad and she starts crying. That moment always felt so real and emotional for me because it actually felt like she was a little kid, lost and she was overwhelmed with her emotions. And then Haku, (a boy in the film) crouches down beside her and offers her some food. She’s crying and eating at the same time. I thought that was really funny and sad. It just felt so real. Even thinking about that moment gets me emotional.
“And in terms of ‘Inside Out,’ one of my favorite emotional scenes is probably near the end,” she continued. “It’s actually a sequence I boarded … after Riley has a fight with her parents and her dad comes into her room and tries to talk to her but she turns away from him. When I was boarding that, I was really looking into my own experiences when I fought with my parents, how I would kind of lock myself in my room. They’d come in and there was always this thing where I would ignore them when they tried to talk to me. They’d leave and then I’d slowly come out of my room and talk to them again. So that moment felt really real for me.”
Domee currently lives in Oakland, California, and notes that her love of animation is only rivaled by her love of cats. She grew up watching classic Disney films like “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” and “The Lion King” and was highly influenced by Japanese animation and manga; especially the works of Hayao Miyazaki; “Sailor Moon;” and “One Piece.”
“Inside Out” is now playing in theaters nationwide. The movie opened with an astonishing $91 million opening weekend, making the film the highest opening ever for an original animated film. Read our full review of the movie here and join us to discuss on our Facebook page.
[guestpost]About the Author: A native Northern Californian and professional journalist of 30-plus years. Leo considers himself a lifelong student of Walt Disney’s life and legacy and he co-founded the Friends of the Walt Disney Family Museum Group, and later Page, on Facebook.[/guestpost]
Inside Out is a return to classic Pixar–great creativity, a unique story and clever humor. This new film takes us inside the mind of an 11 year old girl and introduces us to all of her managing emotions. The movies turns the brain into a sort of headquarters that controls all of our emotions and memories.
This movie comes to us from Up and Monster’s Inc director Peter Docter. He hit this movie out of the park, just like his two previous classics. Variety called the film Pixar’s best ever. I might even agree with them. The story had a great arc in an imaginative setting.
The cast of characters is made up of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. These emotions are played by the lovable Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader. Phyllis Smith and Lewis Black really steal the show with fantastic one liners and fun anecdotes. These are the lines you will remember from the movie. But, the entire cast of the characters plays very well together and resembles a perfect oddball family that may seem to dislike each other on the outside, you know how much they love and rely each other on the inside.
Because the film is based in reality, the filmmakers were able to make jokes off of the everyday scenes by incorporating their new emotion characters. Unlike many of the other animated films we have seen recently that give away every joke in the trailer, for every great joke I had already seen in a trailer, there seemed to be one that was just as funny in the movie.
Seeing the inside of the eleven year old brain as dreamed up by the creative people at Pixar was a highlight of the film. Inside the brain you will see the movie studio that creates our dreams nightly, the actual TRAIN of thought, and my personal favorite–Imagination land. During one of the nightly dreams, they make a small tribute to the Disneyland Haunted Mansion as they used a piece of the classic score as the background music in one of the nightmares. Sitting the theater I immediately turned to my sister sitting next to me and said–haha that’s the Haunted Mansion. There are so many other awesome jokes and easter eggs throughout the movie, that I don’t want to give away in my review.
We saw the movie in 3D. While I don’t think that 3D is ever necessary for a movie, this did enhance the colors and provide more depth of image. Don’t expect to see any of the “cheap 3D tricks” as referred to by Fozzie Bear in Muppet Vision 3D.
This movie has all the fixings of a classic Pixar film. I am quite excited to see how the movie fares at the box office, but seeing as it still has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this could be the home run movie of the summer.
These characters promise to be classics for years to come. I expect to see quite a heavy presence of the characters in the parks. The Disney Parks Blog has already announced that the characters will be added as the lead pre float to the Pixar Play Parade.
This movie was fantastic and worth a watch. Head out to the theater opening weekend.
Sayre Wiseman is the executive producer of all three new Disneyland shows; the Paint the Night Parade, Disneyland Forever Fireworks, and World of Color- Celebrate! Previously, she launched the Disneyland 50th Anniversary, Soundsational Parade, World of Color, Festival of Fantasy Parade in Walt Disney World, and Disney Dreams in Disneyland Paris. She also served as the Director of Ceremonies for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. It is estimated that the shows she produced are seen by 150,000-200,000 people around the world everyday.
This is an incredibly insightful interview into the role of a producer at Walt Disney Imagineering. Sayre Wiseman was a delight to talk to and provided incredible stories from her years of working for the Walt Disney Company.
Click The Play Button Below to Listen:
In this episode you will hear:
How Sayre Wiseman got started working for Disney
What is her favorite show that she has produced
How she was involved with the 50th Anniversary Celebration
What the process is for creating a new parade, fireworks show, or spectacular
Who is the group they call the Vampire Crew
Her favorite moment from her career working for Disney
How they choose which characters will appear in parades and shows
The best spots to watch the new night time shows at Disneyland
Who are the best type of creative people to work with
How shows come to life during the graveyard shift rehearsals and programming sessions
We are just getting ready to release our new book, Disneyland Secrets. This book will feature the stories behind the details throughout Disneyland park.
This week’s Disneyland Secret comes from Mickey’s Toontown. In Mickey Mouse’s house, inside of a glass case, you can find Mickey’s passport. This passport has the names of the five locations of Disney parks around the world. They are Anaheim, Orlando, Hong Kong, Paris, and Tokyo. Each is dated with their opening day. No stamp has yet been added for the opening of Shanghai Disneyland. I wonder if the Imagineers will remember to add a Shanghai stamp when the park opens next Spring?
Special Thanks to You:
Thank you for the support of the Disney Dose podcast and constant requests for new episodes. I really do produce the show just for you. As I get ready to roll out even more episodes, be sure you are subscribed to the podcast either on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or through our newsletter.
This summer I will be releasing my new book Disneyland Secrets on July 1st. You may remember my old ebook that we sold on the site. This new book is 3x times the length with new secrets.
As we are getting ready for the launch, I am inviting 100 readers to join our new Disney Dose Founders Club. This club is a peer group of readers and Disneyland fans that are excited to get an advanced copy of the book, while helping us get ready for the launch. This group is the most exclusive of our community, filled with members who are highly engaged and dedicated readers.
Disney Dose Founder’s Club Member Benefits:
As a member of the Founder’s Club you will receive these exclusive benefits.
A complimentary, electronic copy of the new book in advance of our July 1st publication date. Including versions for the Nook, Kindle, PDF, or iPad.
Exclusive access to our private Disney Dose Founder’s Club Facebook group.
Exclusive gift for club members.
Discounts and other early offers for future Disney Dose products that are in the works.
Founder’s Club Member Requirements:
Write a brief review on Amazon or on another online retailer website
Help spread the word during our launch in any way that you can, online or through word of mouth
Most importantly, be a Disneyland enthusiast who is excited by the secrets of the Disneyland Resort.
Apply to Join the Disney Dose Founder’s Club
The application period has now ended. Those who were accepted will be notified shortly.
I really look forward to having all of you onboard and can’t wait to talk to you within our private Facebook group.
Now, here is a video of the second song titled the “Disneyland Anniversary Song.” The melody was lifted from a song that Richard and Robert Sherman wrote together fifty years ago for the Disneyland 10th Anniversary. You may remember it as the song with the dancing cake in front of the castle from the Disneyland television show.
The song will be performed by the Disneyland Dapper Dans daily. I am quite happy about the prominence of Richard Sherman’s music in the new offerings and the return to Disneyland’s roots. I am just as excited about the mixture of the classic Main Street Electrical Parade “Baroque Hoedown” theme music’s inclusion in the new Paint the Night parade.
Disney’s new movie Tomorrowland is released this weekend. The movie celebrates the optimistic spirit of Walt Disney embodying his quote,”many of the things that seems impossible now, will become realities tomorrow.”
In our world where we are constantly blasted with negative messages and the doomsday speech, Disney’s new movie Tomorrowland proves that we control our own destinies and that the future of our world is not set in stone, and depends on our choices. Through the power of optimism and faith in the possibility of a good future, nothing is inevitable. The movie paints a picture of hope for the future and does so in a fun, adventurous way.
Director Brad Bird crafts a clever story that could be fit into the categories of adventure, love, or history, but really turns out to be a combination of all three used beautifully to convey this message of optimism. This hodgepodge of archetypes comes together to tell the story of a young teenage girl who believes in the good of the world and in doing so, saves it.
The most incredible piece of the Tomorrowland film is the world that Brad Bird has dreamt up. This separate dimension is filled with dazzling advances in technology that seem to be inspired by Walt Disney’s vision of Epcot Center. Incredible towers soar into the sky, people fly by on jetpacks, and all transportation has been replaced with a type of hover monorail. This world was breathtaking on the Imax screen where we watched the film. During our press preview, there was an overall collective gasp through the crowd the first time that the beautiful city was revealed. These breathtaking visuals make this one of the few movies of recent memory that would be really enhanced with an Imax viewing of Tomorrowland.
Over the last few months I have been avoiding the previews of Tomorrowland like the plague as I attempted to keep the movie a secret. This was a fantastic choice, as the mystique of the story added to the entire experience. So, if you are sold on the movie: STOP watching previews so that the movie will surprise you as much as it surprised me.
Are you excited for the new movie? Do you intend on seeing Disney’s Tomorrowland?
Once you do see the movie, I would love to have you add your opinion in the comments below or in an email message. There are some amazing, Disney-related, plot points I would love to discuss, but that is for another article once everyone has seen the movie.
The Disneyland Hatbox ghost is back in the attraction and we have video of the new Audio-Animatronic. Rachel (@disneyland_secrets on Instagram) was in the parks for us and has captured the first video of the new ghost figure.
The Hatbox ghost is a long standing Disney parks tradition. During the first couple days of operation for the mansion the figure could be found in the attic scene. Then, he was removed due to broken effects. The legend of the hatbox ghost has grown and now Disneyland has returned the figure to the attraction for the 60th Anniversary. Click here for more on the Hatbox ghost.
Take a look at the video we captured below:
Share this video with someone who loves the Haunted Mansion.
The Disneyland 60th Anniversary kicks off this month on May 22nd. Leading up to that date we have the return of multiple classic attractions after refurbishments and the debut of three new night time shows.
On this episode of the Disney Dose podcast, we discuss the new offerings, new shows and the recently refreshed attractions. Most importantly, Casey and I dig into what is the best way to experience all of the new night time entertainment.
This is a jam-packed episode that you won’t want to miss if you plan on visiting Disneyland during the 60th Anniversary.
Click The Play Button Below to Listen:
In this episode you will hear:
What the refurbishments in the Matterhorn, Haunted Mansion, and Peter Pan entail
Casey Starnes, this week’s wonderful guest, has a great website called DLRPrepSchool which promises to help plan your Disneyland vacation. Be sure to take a look at her site and send her an email if you have difficulty planning your trip. In the episode we also mention her article describing the most Unique Aspects and Details of Disneyland. Be sure to give it a read.
Special Thanks to You:
Thank you for all of the support for the Disney Dose podcast and the requests for shows during our long hiatus. I have had a lot on my plate as I prepare tons of incredible surprises for this summer on Disney Dose. Let me know what you like or don’t like about the show by leaving a review on iTunes. Have a show suggestion or Disneyland secret to share? Email [email protected] Dose.com
Disneyland Forever Kiss Goodnight Song By Richard Sherman
The video below was captured during testing. The audio for the show was played throughout the park and could be heard from the Esplanade Area that was still open to guests. Watch the video below for footage of the fireworks and listen for the new song from Richard Sherman starting at the 7:55 mark.
You will also hear snippets of Soarin’ Over California and “Fantasmic!,” which are both played in the Esplanade area throughout the day and are NOT part of the fireworks show.
Today we will go behind the scenes on Main Street USA in Disneyland. First things first, turn on the Main Street USA background music….did you turn it on? Then you are ready to go.
Every guest that enters Disneyland walks down this entrance street. But, it is so much more than just a walkway to the rides. Main Street USA is like the opening scene to your favorite movie. By the time you walk through the quaint middle America town, you are ready for all else Disneyland has in store for you.
[yellowbox]Special Bonus: Get a list of our top secret places in Disneyland. Get the list here. [/yellowbox]
I love Main Street USA. When I think of this magical small town, I can smell buttery popcorn and want to start humming “Sunday Clothes.” That’s why I decided to start my series of posts diving into the secrets of each land here on Main Street. So, what are we waiting for? Here are some of my favorite secrets of Disneyland Main Street USA.
#6. Not based on Marceline, Missouri
Walt Disney added Main Street USA to the plans of Disneyland because he wanted a land that would not only represent his hometown, but the hometown of every one of his guests.
Because Walt Disney was the dreamer behind the entire park, many credit his hometown of Marceline, Missouri as the inspiration for Main Street USA. While this small town where Walt Disney spent his boyhood years may have inspired him to add the area to his plans for the park, it was another small town that inspired the final iteration of Main Street.
Disneyland City Hall is modeled after the Fort Collins County Courthouse.
#5. Perfection of the Light Bulbs
One of the lightbulbs at the corner of the Coca Cola Refreshment Corner at the top of Main Street is painted half white, half red.
The story goes that Walt Disney was walking through the park one day and saw two white bulbs next to each other. Walt called a painter over and had him paint half of the white bulb red to correct the pattern.
Either the bulb has never burned out, or the bulb changer comes with a can of paint as the alternating scheme of red and white remains to this day.
#4. The gas lamps along Main Street are over 200 years old
These street lamps were purchased from cities all across the US including Baltimore, Saint Louis, and Philadelphia. The Disney company purchased a majority of these lamps as scrap metal at a price of $1 a pound.
#3. Real French Cannons
The cannons surrounding the Disneyland flag pole are authentic French cannons from the 1800s. These cannons were never fired, but their presence in Town Square adds a note of authenticity to the area. Many public parks across the country feature tributes to their fallen soldiers. These cannons act as a tribute to all service men.
#2. Flag Pole or Light Post?
The black base of the Disneyland flag pole is the broken piece of a light post from Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.
This photo of the Disneyland flag retreat comes from the site My Crazy Loves.
Set Decorator Emile Kuri was driving home from Walt Disney Imagineering one day and saw that one of the light poles had had been knocked over in a car accident. He bought the base of the pole as scrap metal for $5 and it became the base of the Disneyland flag pole.
#1. Fire Wagon Used to Be an Attraction
The Disneyland fire wagon can still be seen today parked inside of the Disneyland firehouse. This beautiful shot is by Tours Departing Daily.
The fire wagon that sits inside of the Disneyland Firehouse was an opening day attraction. The wagon was pulled by two horses up and down Main Street until it was taken out of commission in 1960.
Well that’s all of the stories that we have time for today. This summer I am publishing my very first book featuring the stories and secrets of Disneyland. The book will highlight stories from each land of the park.
Jonathan Freeman, the original voice of Jafar in the Disney’s classic movie, Aladdin, joins us on the Disney Dose podcast this week. We discuss his breathtaking 25+ years voicing the character and his current role as Jafar in the theater production of Aladdin on Broadway.
This episode is filled with Disney Animation history and enlightening stories from Jonathan. He even reads lines from Frozen’s Olaf in Jafar’s voice!. You won’t want to miss this engaging and sometimes hilarious episode of this Disney Dose podcast.
Click The Play Button Below to Listen:
In this episode you will hear:
How Jonathan got the part of Jafar
What he did to develop the character
What it was like to record the scenes at Jafar
How the character and the character of Iago evolved over production
Which other texts and versions inspired the Disney version of Jafar
How Jonathan is able to continue voicing the character after so many years
What caused Aladdin to make it’s way from off-off-off Broadway to Broadway
How playing Jafar has changed Jonathan’s life
And so much more…
For more from Jonathan Freeman
Jonathan Freeman performs every night on stage in the incredible theatrical production of Aladdin on Broadway. Of course, you can also find his voice anywhere that you find Jafar. For some of his credits as the character, check out his IMDB page.
I produce and edit the Disney Dose podcast every week for you, the Disney fan. Thanks for all of your support that I receive each time a new show goes live. The incredible responses you send my way are so gratifying. If you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes. To share your comments on the show, you can send me an email: GAVIN @ Disney Dose .com
Disneyland can be a very crowded place at certain peak times of year. During these Disneyland peak seasons, the afternoons are usually the most crowded. I put together this list of things to do in the busy Disneyland afternoons during these peak seasons.
During a recent trip during the Christmas holidays, the parks hit capacity on multiple days with the front gates to Disneyland park completely closed. Disney California Adventure never reaches capacity and always remains open as a place for guests to visit while Disneyland gates are closed.
Side Note: The Disneyland management team closes the front gates in order to maintain a better guest experience and still have some attractions with manageable waits. There is a myth that the fire department closes the gates because of fire hazard, and while this is taken into consideration, it is a special management team, not the fire department, that make the final decision.
When Disneyland is Crowded, Do These Things:
Below are our top ten things to do at Disneyland when the crowds have gotten too long.
1. Watch the Disneyland Parade
During most peak season days at Disneyland, the parade runs twice. I personally believe that the parades are an essential part of any day at Disneyland. You can listen to the full history of the Disneyland parades in our dedicated podcast episodes here: part 1, part 2, and part 3.
Read more about Drizella, Anastasia, and their Mother here.
My favorite spots to watch are either in front of the Alice in Wonderland restrooms or the Main Street firehouse. For the Alice in Wonderland spot, arriving early is required. This area of the parade route is roped off about 15 minutes before the parade begins.
For the firehouse spot, locate little brown plugs in the ground. These plugs are the base for the poles and rope that close off the sitting area. Sit anywhere in front of these brown plugs and you will be inside a fantastic viewing area that will eventually be roped off before the parade begins.
The Disneyland Fire House is my recommended place if you plan on exiting the park after viewing the parade. Where do you like to sit when watching?
2. Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines
Many of the larger attractions have Single Rider lines, that are usually much shorter than the regular standby line. The Single Rider line is used to fill in empty seats and splits up parties. The attractions in Disneyland that include Single Rider are the Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, and Indiana Jones. The single rider attractions in Disney California Adventure are Soarin’ Over California, California Screamin’, Radiator Springs Racers, Goofy’s Sky School, and Grizzly River Run.
I highly recommend Mickey and the Magical Map and Aladdin. During our recent trip, we saw both shows twice. Wow! I love to the jokes in Aladdin and the musical talent of the cast of Mickey and the Magical is incredible. This is the perfect way to spend a busy afternoon in Disneyland.
For Aladdin get seats in the Orchestra seating area on the left hand side when facing the stage in the second or third row. Being this close to the action makes the show even more special. For Mickey and the Magical Map, don’t worry about which row you are in, just sit in the middle section for the best view of the screen and stage.
4. Take a Cruise on a Boat on the Rivers of America
Both the Columbia Sailing ship and the Mark Twain Riverboat are great long attractions that have very short waits. For the Mark Twain, ask a Cast Member before you board if you can be the captain of the boat for that time around the river. The captain of each voyage receives a pilot’s certificate to commemorate their experience steering the Mark Twain.
Take a barge over to Tom Sawyer Island. This is a perfect place to let kids run around and let off some steam. During the busy hours of the park, this is a fantastic place to get some walking in without feeling like a fish in a sardine can in the walk ways.
The least known boat attraction on the river are the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes. These canoes can be boarded from Critter Country in front of the Hungry Bear Restaurant. Recently I rode the canoes for the first time, completing my checklist of every Disneyland attraction.
5. Have a Disneyland Snack
Sometime after lunch I get very hungry for good snack. Are you the same way? Around this time I like to stop and eat one of my top three favorite Disneyland snacks. Another one of my favorites that isn’t included on the list linked are the Mickey Mouse Beignets that are sold at the Mint Julep bar.
During the holiday season they add unique flavors including gingerbread and pumpkin. I personally like the regular beignet more than the pumpkin. This is actually quite strange as pumpkin flavored foods are some of my favorites.
After getting your Mickey Mouse beignet, take a seat in this French Market courtyard and listen to a set of music from the Royal Street Bachelors. Their music is so relaxing and includes a range of songs.
6. Hop on the Disneyland Railroad
The Disneyland Railroad operates all four trains during the busy seasons and weekends, so the wait between trains is likely less than five minutes in the afternoons and early evenings.
There can be long lines to board the trains, especially in New Orleans Square. But, even with a line, you will usually only have to wait 10-15 minutes to board.
7. Shop Until You Drop in Downtown Disney
During this busy time of afternoon, this is a perfect time to head out of the parks to the Downtown Disney district where you will find all kinds of souvenirs as well as clothing. World of Disney is the perfect place to get some shopping in. This store is your hometown Disney Store on steroids times two.
Recently a huge new Starbucks was added to Downtown Disney that makes a great place to sit down if you don’t want to walk all the way back to your hotel.
This show was brought back to Disneyland after the New York World’s Fair and can now be found in the Disneyland Opera House. Disney Imagineering has created multiple iterations of the Abraham Lincoln Audio-Animatronic figure. The current figure is the most advanced human Audio-Animatronic figure in a Disney theme park.
9. Meet the People of Buena Vista Street
When the Walt Disney Imagineering created Buena Vista Street, the new entrance to Disney California Adventure, their goal was to create a beautifully themed environment to welcome guests into the park. Part of this immersive environment is the Red Car Trolley and Citizens of Buena Vista Street.
Next time you are walking into Disney California Adventure don’t rush through Buena Vista Street, take a moment and meet the different characters. These “citizens” of Buena Vista Street are very dedicated to their individual roles and quite pleasing to talk to.
10. Draw a Character in the Disney California Adventure Animation Building
The Animation Building in Disney California Adventure is a perfect place to spend a busy Disneyland afternoon. Inside the building you will find the Animation Academy where a Cast Member will teach you how to draw a classic Disney character or one from the latest hit films. For a great souvenir, ask the teacher at the end of the class for the drawing they drew in front of the class.
Finally you could just take a break from Disneyland in the afternoon.
During our recent four day trip to the parks we were evenly split. Two days we stayed out in the afternoons, enjoying the parades and experiencing some of the attractions. On the other two days we TOOK a break. My biggest suggestion when planning a Disneyland vacation is to give 3-5 days in the parks to give you more time and allow you time to rest. These late afternoons are crazy crowded in the parks, and sometimes the best thing to do is to leave for a while. Go back to your hotel and swim in the pool or take a nap.
Not only will you miss the big crowds, but you will also be much more prepared to stay later into the night.
These are my highly recommended activities for those busy afternoons at Disneyland. What do you like to do to avoid crowds?