Buena Vista Street might be the sleeper hit of the 5-year expansion of Disney California Adventure. The new entrance and “main street” of Disney California Adventure feels like a romanticized 1920s Los Angeles — the LA that met Walt when he first came to California.
I was able to catch a sneak peek at Buena Vista Street at a recent press preview. Imagineers walked a handful of press through the almost entirely completed street …
Disney California Adventure’s grand opening is one week away. To help guests grasp just how enormous this expansion has been, the nice folks in Disneyland’s PR department put together this staggering list: Disney California Adventure Facts by the Numbers.
280,000 – Square feet of rockwork in Cars Land, making Ornament Valley mountain range the largest rockwork created in a domestic Disney theme park; built to an unusual level of complexity with very few 90-degree angles
125 – Height in feet at the tallest peak of Ornament Valley range in Cars Land
6 – Distinct car tail fins represented in the Ornament Valley range, inspired by classic car models from 1957 to 1962; hood ornaments, wheel wells and radiator caps also represented in the rock work
4,000 – Tons of steel used to construct the Ornament Valley range and Radiator Springs Racers attraction in Cars Land
45 – The steepest degree of banking on the track of the thrilling Radiator Springs Racers attraction in Cars Land
36,000 – Approximate number of miles per year each Radiator Springs Racers vehicle will travel, equivalent to more than 14 trips down the original Route 66
6,714 – Air vents keeping the tires flying at Luigi’s Flying Tires attraction in Cars Land
7 – Songs sung by Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree attraction in Cars Land
525 – Approximate length, in feet, of the Route 66 that runs through Cars Land
70 – Species of native plants in Cars Land (450+ specimens of trees and cactus)
16 – Neon signs in Cars Land, with the Flo’s V8 Café sign standing tallest at 27 feet
89.5 – Height in feet of the Carthay Circle Theatre on Buena Vista Street – 12.5 feet taller than Sleeping Beauty Castle at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland Park
1937 – Year “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” premiered at the original Carthay Circle Theatre, lending inspiration to the Carthay Circle Theatre icon now on Buena Vista Street
200 – Number of seats in the Carthay Circle Restaurant dining room, in addition to a 56-seat terrace and the 68-seat Carthay Circle Lounge
235 – Approximate number of different wines offered at Carthay Circle Restaurant, including 35 by the glass; also 16 craft beers
20 – Number of passenger seats on each Red Car Trolley, with additional space for a wheelchair
623 – Number on one of the Red Car Trolleys, representative of the 600 series of trolley cars built for the Pacific Electric Railway; also reflects 1923, the year Walt Disney first arrived in California
717 – Number on the second Red Car Trolley, representative of the 700-750 series of trolley cars built for the Pacific Electric Railway; also reflects July 17, the month and day Disneyland opened in 1955
1.1 – Miles of LED ribbon lighting at Mad T Party, fantastic, new nighttime fun in Hollywood Land
715 – State-of-the-art lighting fixtures illuminating Mad T Party
1923 – Year listed on embedded plaque at Storytellers statue at Disney California Adventure, reflecting the date when Walt Disney left Kansas City to embark on his new adventure in California and the year he founded his world-famous company
779 – Trees planted in Disney California Adventure during the five-year expansion
3,000 – Number of jobs Disneyland Resort added from 2010-2012
23,000 – Number of cast members employed at Disneyland Resort, making it the largest single-site employer in Orange County
Cars Land coming to Disney California Adventure (DCA) is big news! High octane news to be sure and because of all the excitement a lot of OC folks might have missed the news that DCA is getting a whole new entrance, or “main street.” What Main Street USA is to Disneyland, Buena Vista Street will be to DCA.
“It’s got heart,” Mary Niven, VP of Disney California Adventure told me as we sat in Flo’s Cafe in Cars Land at a recent press preview event. “When you look at the details like artisan tiles and the Red Car Trolley, it really feels authentic … like a neighborhood.”
It’s the neighborhood that welcomed Walt Disney when he arrived in Los Angeles in the 1920′s to make his name as a filmmaker. Modeled after the real-life Atwater Village in Burbank Disney has made every effort to
recreate that time and place.
Disney Imagineers went to great lengths to transport guests to Walt’s early life in Los Angels with two red car trollies, mid-century design department store and a filling station. This video that plays in Blue Sky Cellar will give you a good idea of what Buena Vista Street will look and feel like.
Do you feel it? The excitement is building all round Orange County as Disneyland Resort revs up for the grand opening of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure.
Cars Land and the new entrance, Buena Vista Street, will be open to the public on June 15th. I will be offering exclusive, in-depth coverage from the press events starting with the red carpet premiere on June 13th and ending on the 15th with the official opening ceremonies.
Until then, I’ll be counting down the days (today through the 15th) with one post a day featuring one new aspect of the Disney California Adventure expansion. From the streets of 1920′s Los Angeles to Route 66, there is so much to share!
Today let’s go back to November, 2010 when I attended the topping out ceremony for Cars Land. The framework for Cadillac Ridge and Radiator Springs Racers was completed and Cars Land was just beginning to take shape. I can’t wait to share a video from the same spot in Radiator Springs on June 15.
Guess what just came in my inbox? Disney has officially announced the date of the opening of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure. They are putting the peddle to the medal to have the expansion completed by June 15, 2012!
Anyone else just mark this date on their calendar with a smilie face?
Here’s a shot I snapped from Blue Sky Cellar looking down Route 66 into Cars Land. Looks very close to being completed.
You can really get a feel now of just how massive the new land will be. It spreads over 12-acres, offering three attractions—Radiator Springs Racers, Mator’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Flying Tires—and the highest point of Radiator Springs Ridge is a soaring 125 feet.
You can watch my video from the topping out ceremony of Radiator Springs Ridge from back in November of 2010.
If you want more updates on Cars Land, make sure to stop by Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure next time you’re in the park. They just updated the video and also added additional Cars Land models.
Tom Staggs, Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, spoke to me after delivering the keynote address at the Orange County Business Council’s annual dinner. In his speech in front of 1,000 Orange County business people Staggs spoke about Disney Parks overall approach to the guest experience saying they are in the business of ”making memories that last a lifetime.” He also thanked guests for being patient and gracious through the 5-year, one-billion dollar expansion of Disney’s California Adventure. In our interview he is enthusiastic about the opening of “the biggest piece” of the park — Cars Land.
My daughter and I have been eagerly waiting for the release of the new animated movie by Japanese filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki — The Secret World of Arrietty. During the first preview we saw last summer she grabbed my arm in the darkened theatre and whispered, “We’re totally seeing that when it comes out.”
As fortune had it, we actually were lucky enough to see it in a private screening BEFORE it came out. We were invited by the Walt Disney Company to come to their Burbank studio lot and see a sneak peek of the movie.
Furthering our delight, the next day we were asked to come interview the big Disney Channel star, Bridgit Mendler, of Good Luck Charlie and Lemonade Mouth fame, about her role as the voice of Arrietty in the movie that will be released February 17.
We spent the night in Los Angeles and woke up early and headed to the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills for the Secret World of Arrietty press junket. My daughter was nervous but excited, and like a good little journalist she had her notes ready.
The small roundtable was filled with fellow OC bloggers and our daughters when Bridgit breezed in and right away put us all at ease by saying, “Yay, it’s take your daughters to work day!” Everyone laughed and the questions from the young girls started coming.
My daughter kicked it off by asking Bridgit what her favorite scene from the movie was. Bridgit said her favorite scene was when Arriettty goes on her first borrowing mission. Later in the interview she elaborates by sharing with us her emotional connection with Arrietty. Bridgit said when she first started working as an actress she’d come to LA on her own: “… it was kind of like a whole new world for me doing that. Arrietty is exploring the bigger world and I feel like I’ve kind of been doing that.”
The young girls went back and forth with her, telling her the parts of the movie they liked the most and asking her questions about Good Luck Charlie. After talking about her hit Disney Channel TV show and her music, the conversation circled back around to The Secret World of Arrietty.
“Arrietty is a really good role model. You know, and in a bunch of different ways. She’s growing up and she’s adventurous and curious and I mean she was a little rebellious but not too bad,” Bridgit reflects. ”She makes friends with somebody who is different than her. And she really helps him when he’s having a hard time.”
After the interview we all went out the deck for a photo opp. The girls were smiling and striking a poses and as I watched them I saw the same role model similarities in Bridgit as in Arrietty. It’s refreshing — and frankly a relief — to meet one of my daughter’s favorite actresses, someone she looks up to, and be happy for her to aspire to be more like her.
I’ll post my full review of “The Secret World of Arrietty” on February 17. Check back then. But here’s the trailer for you to enjoy:
Before my visit to Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa, in Ko Olina, Hawaii, I would have said I loved the Hawaiian culture. Though I readily admit, most of what I knew about it I learned from the cursed tiki Brady Bunch Hawaii special or from my one-week honeymoon in Maui. The picture of tiki torches, hula skirts and umbrella-ed drinks is probably typical of most mainlanders’ impression of Hawaii, and it’s exactly the clichéd archetype that Disney had no interest in recreating at Aulani.
“We wanted to tell Hawaii’s true story,” a relaxed, tanned, and sandaled Bob Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, told me as we sat in one of the 481 cozy Disney Vacation Club villas, overlooking the sparkling lagoon at Aulani. “The best way we thought to do that was to let children engage in what Hawaii really is, not what we’ve all been told it is.” To help the resort provide that kind of unique experience—that was both fun for kids and educational—Disney harnessed the artistic visions of local artists to create a place that reflects a true representation of the Hawaiian culture. The resort houses one of the world’s largest collections of Hawaiian contemporary and Disney reached out to locals to create the mosaics seen on the side of each hotel tower, design the guest room quilts, and paint the murals for the restaurants.
The new Aulani Resort is Disney’s first venture into a full stand-alone resort; there’s no theme park attached to the 21-acre oceanfront resort to keep guests busy. Sure, you’ll still get to mingle with Mickey, Minnie, Stitch, and Goofy, but no attractions, snazzy stage shows, or booming fireworks. So, with none of the usual “Disney” activities to keep your family busy, Aulani gives kids and adults alike new ways to experience a Hawaiian vacation.
The resort, from the magnificent open-air lobby to the protected lagoon, has been designed with families in mind. Here is a quick hit of just some of the many family activities available at the Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa. You’ll notice in almost every one the seam of interactive learning that was so important to Disney when creating the resort:
Aunty’s Beach House: Kids, ages 3–12 years, old are securely checked in and brought into Aunty and Uncle’s house to play dress-up, do crafts in Uncle’s garage, romp outside on the expansive green grass lawn or in treehouses, and listen to Aunty tell stories—a cherished Hawaiian tradition—and sing songs. They can stay and eat a meal at Aunty’s with their new friends for a small fee ($12), but a stay at Aunty’s Beach House is complimentary, included in your stay at Aulani. Painted
Sky Teen Spa: Don’t let the label “spa” steer you away for this teen club at Aulani. The idea is to dedicate 1,500 square feet to young guests as a place all their own. The spa indeed offers massages, facials, and manicures, but also computer stations, a yogurt bar, and daily “teen-only” events. Waikolohe Stream: The stream winds through Waikolohe Valley and is likely the most beautiful and creative “lazy river” you’ll ever experience. Not only do you feel like you’re floating through a lush tropical garden, but Walt Disney Imagineers thought to carve animals in the lava rock along the way. Every trip through the stream will surprise and delight.
Menehune Bridge: The Menehune are Hawaiian mythical creatures who come to life at night to create mischief. Aunty describes them as “Hawaiian elves.” Even though they’re rascals, they are industrious little guys and one night they built the Menehune Bridge inside the Waikolohe Valley. Think of it as a mini-water park, right in the middle of the pool area.
Pools: The pool area offers a beach-like area for little kids, then scrolls throughout the Waikolohe Valley with lots of twists and turns, giving it a feel of a natural lagoon. Here you’ll find Hawaiian shaved ice, the Lava Shack for snacks and refills on soda, and two of the resort’s jacuzzis.
Rainbow Reef: For a small additional fee, kids and adults can snorkel in 3,800 square feet of water wonderland. I never snorkeled in my life and took to it like…dare I say, a fish to water (sorry!), and spent a good half hour splashing around with tropical fish and a few undersea Menehune. Perfect for family to experience snorkeling together and learn about undersea life in a safe and controlled environment.
Starlit Hui: Steeped in Hawaiian tradition, this hui is like nothing you’ve seen in Hawaii. Kids are invited to join local artisans in making Hawaiian crafts, learning about the culture in a natural and creative experience. The show (the Hui) includes sweeping, magnificent music and both traditional and contemporary hulas along with the ukulele duet act of, “Heart and Soul.” These two guys will change the way you think of the ukulele FOREVER. The evening ends with a Character Dance party. (Think: Mickey and Minnie grooving on the beach with the kids.)
Lagoon and Beach: Guests at Aulani can enjoy the benefits of the protected lagoon that sits at the far end of the resort. Families will love that there are no waves—thanks to the natural rock breakers—so little ones can splash away at the shoreline while older kids enjoy paddleboarding and swimming out to the rafts dotting the middle of the bay.
Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration (Character Breakfast): Offered a few times a week at the Makahiki restaurant, Aunty hosts the interactive fun, inviting kids to join in the dance line and sing along to Hawaiian songs. Served buffet-style, breakfast offers what you’d expect from a Disney kitchen—Mickey Mouse waffles—but also has some Hawaiian specialties liked baked fish and fresh tropical fruit.
Menehune Adventure Trail: Pick up your Adventure Trail iTouch at the Pau Hana Room. Aunty will show kids where to go using maps and clues. Young explorers will make rocks move, drums play, and trees light up when they follow Aunty’s directions. Every adventure is different and highly interactive, so kids can explore the trail several times during their stay—all while learning about the Hawaiian Islands and its culture as they go.
Disney has packed Aulani with family activities, keeping in mind that all families are different. While some like to just kick it on the beach all day, others like adventure and lots of activity. At Aulani, you’ll find the trusted Disney standard of quality service and craftsmanship, as well as the usual cast of familiar characters, but the real star of the resort is the Hawaiian culture.
“We really wanted to get it right,” Iger said about the way Disney approached their first resort outside of its parks. After four days at Aulani Resort, I can vehemently agree, they have done it right. Mixing the service, magic, and quality of Disney with the warm and vibrant culture of Hawaii makes a visit to Aulani like no other Hawaiian vacation.
Rumors have been swirling in the online commuity as we waited to hear what the folks at Disney Parks and Resorts had up their sleeves for 2012. We were told we would hear news on New Year’s Eve about a new promotion and sure enough, as the east coast rang in the new year, I received an email that laid out two unique endeavors for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
“We’re honored that so many guests have shared their Disney memories with us as part of ‘Let the Memories Begin’, and I’m pleased to announce that the campaign will continue throughout 2012,” says Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “To celebrate, for the first time ever, the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Parks will remain open for 24 hours on Leap Day, so that our guests can take advantage of every minute of their extra day to make memories with friends and family.”
For one day this leap year, February 29, 2012, the parks will be open from 6 am to 6 am the following day, March 1, for the first time in Disney history. Further information on “One More Disney Day” was posted this morning on its exclusive web site: here.
Along with “One More Disney Day” in February, starting today, Disney Parks and Resorts will be giving away 60 vacation packages for Disneyland and Walt Disney World — one a day through February 29, 2012. The packages include 5-day/4-night vacation at Disneyland Resort in California or Walt Disney World Resort in Florida! You can go to the sweepstakes page and enter everyday.
You can also text your entry: Text DISNEYDAY to 347639, Good luck! There are also some sweet and funny messages from a variety of celebrities on the page telling you what they’d do with an extra Disney Day.
Though this campaign will be over by March 1st, 2012, don’t forget, Disney Parks and Resorts’ “Let the Memories Begin” campaign will continue throughout the whole year. That means you can still share your favorite Disney Parks memories — vacation videos, photos and stories — online on the “Let the Memories Begin” web site. And when you’re at the park, you’ll have the chance to be part of the special nightly show “The Magic, the Memories and You” projected on to “it’s a small world.”
I caught the premiere of the show last year, watch my exclusive video here:
Also, don’t forget all of the other fantastic things happening at the resort this year — the opening of Cars Land and then Buena Vista Street with the new shops, red car trollies and Carthay Circle Theatre! All set to open in mid-2012! It’s going to be a landmark year for Disney Parks and Resorts. Stay tuned here for updates on it all!
By now, you’ve seen this heart-wrenching video from a local teenage boy who was being tormented by bullies at school because he is gay, but just in case you’ve been in a holiday stupor, please watch it. Over eight million people have already viewed it …
When I first watched Jonah’s tear-filled face and read his words, I too cried. But what could I do to help other than teach my kids to be tenderhearted, compassionate and accepting? Then I learned about The Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization that aids gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning teens and young adults through crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. Everyday the Trevor Project fields hundreds of calls from kids in crisis and over 23,000 use their Trevor Space message boards to connect and get support.
The Trevor Project Lifeline — open around the clock and staffed by 210 counselors — has taken over 200,000 calls since it opened its lines in 1998. The Trevor Project also offers classes and support for parents and teachers and an online “Ask Trevor” service that fields questions of a non-time sensitive nature to anyone who needs more practical questions answered, like where to find a good counselors in the user’s area.
In every respect, The Trevor Project is reaching out to kids where they are, in the method they feel most comfortable, to help them deal with bullies and with the colossal pressure of being young and gay. Through connections with other people, wether it’s a peer or a trained professional, these kids receive the support of a community and I’m truly grateful for the Trevor Project for offering that to them.
“No life is a one person show,” says Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive Walt Disney Imagineering, in this video produced by The Walt Disney Company for The Trevor Project titled: It Gets Better. ”You need to surround yourself with people who love you for who you are and encourage you to share with the world the unique gifts that you have to offer,” says Vaughn.
Good for Disney for lending a hand to the incredible organization by making this raw and honest video. I recognize so many of the participants through my work with Disney. These are the people who bring you the products, stories, experiences and magic we all love.
I would encourage you to help spread the word by sharing it to help reach kids in crisis everywhere. The single, simple message at the end might be just what a gay or lesbian youth need to hear right now: It gets better!
If you or someone you know ever needs help, call The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386). It’s toll-free, confidential and available 24/7.