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While May is traditionally one of the slower months for Disneyland, work continues backstage in Anaheim at a fever pitch to ready the modest yet strategically aimed Summer Nightastic promotion. Despite the gloomy economic news in California and around the country, attendance for Disneyland has remained very strong, meeting or slightly exceeding the already healthy daily attendance estimates this spring. Attendance over at Disney's California Adventure is also enjoying it's typical May bloom, with a big portion of the 750,000 Annual Passholders heading over to check out the Food & Wine Festival and other locals cashing in the second free day of their 2Fer tickets a month after their Disneyland visit.

We'll wrap up the Nightastic entertainment offerings for you, and fill you in on yet another exclusive scoop of what Disneyland's Entertainment department has in the pipeline for later in the year, plus round out with a few other juicy DCA rumors and the latest buzz from Team Disney Anaheim. We also have a D23 follow up too. Got that muffin zapped? Have that juice poured now? Well then let's get going shall we? - Al

All Wet

Summer Nightastic is spending these last few weeks of spring having the finishing touches put on its new fireworks and plussed up Electrical Parade and Fantasmic! offerings. The Flotsam and Jetsam floats in Fantasmic! are going through their paces, and look much larger in person than you might imagine. Their large size however has proved to be quite a stumbling block for the entertainment team, as they've had trouble getting them to fit in the secret boat storage marina behind the Indian Village along the back of the Rivers of America.

Once they do manage to maneuver these massive eels out of their hiding space, the speed and power of the Honda jet skis driving them has also been a challenge. When both of these watercraft go through their paces snaking back and forth in front of the mist screens during the Ursula scene, the dueling wakes created by the powerful eels have been crashing not only into the floating equipment barges used for the show, but they also send large waves crashing towards the low wall along the viewing area, sometimes splashing water up and over the wall.

Soak the baby!

Sea World has a dedicated "Soak Zone" for the first few rows of their Shamu show, as has Universal Hollywood for Waterworld, but Fantasmic! never had to worry about that, until they dropped Flotsam and Jetsam into the water. They've been able to minimize the wakes and the waves with practice, but there still may be some wet spectators down in front if the eels don't hit their marks perfectly.

The new and technologically advanced dragon is also proving to be a handful for the technicians and programmers trying to get it ready by the media event on June 11th. As of this writing it still hasn't been raised out of its pit with all of its pieces intact, but what is there is dramatically more impressive to look at than the original and rather simple pivoting beam strung with fabric that had been in use since the 1990's. The new dragon will be not only more impressive to those sitting in the middle of the viewing area, but it's fully three dimensional body, neck and head will provide an improved view for those sitting on the left and right of the stage.

Doris Day lens on the Dragon
Original Fantasmic publicity art

The delays with the dragon are not yet at a point that might delay the media debut on June 11th, as the Disneyland Entertainment department is famously talented when it comes to orchestrating miracles at the last minute. But you can bet they will be burning the midnight oil for the next three weeks as they run through endless overnight rehearsals and adjustments.

Wish them luck, as the new Fantasmic! additions coming on top of the cutting edge lighting and special effects additions of the last two years are providing us with a Fantasmic! that is thoroughly up to date and fresh. Fantasmic! will need all the help it can get a year from now when it has to be compared to the World of Color next door, but for '09 the Disneyland version is truly the king of all nighttime spectaculars in North America.


Moon & Stars

They've also begun testing of the new lighting and special effects to be used for the Magical fireworks show. We'd told you a few months ago of the tentative plan to use a flying Dumbo in the new show, sharing cable time with Tinker Bell. While the Dumbo puppet has not yet made its debut on the wire, they have been running through the flight pattern it will take on the cable system using sandbags in place of the elephant. The new Magical show should debut in the park with full dress rehearsals at 9:25 PM on Wednesday, June 3rd, with additional dress rehearsals planned for the evenings of the 5th and 6th. The confetti cannons and new lighting effects are coming along nicely, and the early June dress rehearsals will really be more about timing and crowd response than equipment tests.

Over at DCA, the Electrical Parade is going through its paces and rehearsals with the addition of the new floats and some freshened choreography. Much has been made with the media over the freshened soundtrack borrowed from Tokyo, or the older floats brought back out of mothballs, and the entirely new Tinker Bell float that now leads the parade. But it's the new Tinker Bell "pixie dust" effect that should do the most to freshen this parade visually. Just over 85,000 new LED light fixtures have been added to this parade, from the lead Tinker Bell float to the traditional patriotic finale unit.

As described at the media event, Tinker Bell waves her wand on top of her massive new float and spreads pixie dust in her wake down the entire parade route. Hopefully this effect will work well enough that the people sitting along the route pick up on the gag and understand what is happening when the waves of "pixie dust" cause the 85,000 LED fixtures to twinkle and sparkle throughout the rest of the parade. When the World of Wonder parade was cancelled last year due to safety and budgetary concerns with its elaborate moving floats, a big chunk of that money was thrown into this LED technology as a way to plus up the Electrical Parade instead. And of course, there is still the growing possibility that the newly freshened Electrical Parade will head back to Disneyland next year as part of the 55th Anniversary party, while DCA handles the nighttime crowds coming in to see World of Color.

Didn't they sell all the bulbs?
Vintage publicity art

The 55th Anniversary is proving to be a bigger headache than planned for TDA due to the souring economy trashing some of the plans to refurbish Star Tours in time for the anniversary. We'd told you previously how the original plan to share the costs of the huge update to the attraction, including the addition of 3-D surround video and interactive animatronics, had to be delayed when Walt Disney World executives balked at the last minute at chipping in some of their capital budget. Team Disney Anaheim has now worked out a financing scenario where they have the proper budget to go ahead with the Star Tours rehab next summer for debut in the spring of 2011, without having to worry if Orlando is going to tag along.

As of now, Orlando has shelved plans to update their Star Tours at the same time Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland does in 2010, but they still may change their mind in time by the end of this year. That leaves Disneyland without a newly freshened attraction to tout for the 55th Anniversary, and since they have already put all their marketing eggs into the entertainment basket for this year's summer promotion, it will be tough for them to come up with a fresh approach for marketing the anniversary's entertainment driven offerings next year. Adding to the challenge is the huge shadow still cast by the wildly successful 50th anniversary when Matt Ouimet was at the helm and the future of Disneyland hadn't looked so bright since Walt was walking the park.


Princess Cruises

While the Entertainment Department works around the clock to get ready for Summer Nightastic, they are also working on a surprisingly ambitious plan to tie in with the upcoming Princess and the Frog movie this holiday season. Sharp eyed Disneyland fans that have seen the trailer for the film may have recognized the movie's riverboat as looking suspiciously like the Mark Twain Riverboat.

That should come as no surprise, as the Burbank animators for Princess and the Frog made repeated trips down the freeway to Disneyland back in 2007 to tour New Orleans Square and ride the Mark Twain looking for inspiration in the park, something that Disneyland's number one fan John Lasseter encouraged them to do. The result is visual icons in the film that are now easily transferable to Disneyland's New Orleans Square, and you can bet there will be plenty of merchandise and food offerings tied to the Princess and the Frog in that section of the park this Christmas. The field trips the animators took to Anaheim also made the Disneyland Entertainment departments job that much easier when they got the greenlight to do a well-funded Tiana show for the holidays.

The entertainment plan is to debut a 20 minute Mardi Gras style mini-parade and musical show called Tiana's Showboat Jubilee that will perform four or five times per day this November and December. The Showboat Jubilee will start as a procession of two dozen jazzy musicians, dancers and performers in the back alleys of New Orleans Square, marching and celebrating and encouraging people to parade along with them down to the riverfront. When the growing procession finally heads out of New Orleans Square and down towards the water, the Mark Twain will depart from its dock and steam towards the bend in the river in front of New Orleans Square.

On board the Mark Twain for each show will be 50 specially selected park visitors, no doubt picked by the roving scouts because they were wearing one of those "Celebrate" buttons that are de rigueur for any Disneyland visitor nowadays. Along with the hand selected tourist families hanging along the riverboat's railings pounding tambourines and waving flags will be Tiana herself, plus her prince and Louis the singing alligator and comic relief in the movie. The rowdy procession and the Mark Twain will both stop alongside each other at the river's edge, and a 7 minute musical show takes place that is predictably heavy on audience participation and dancing.

Once the show is over, the procession heads back into New Orleans Square and the Mark Twain blasts its whistle and steams on for the rest of its trip around the river. The 50 guests on the Mark Twain will then get a special meet n' greet time with Tiana and her characters while the Mark Twain makes its way back to the dock.

Tiana's Showboat Jubilee is planned to debut at Disneyland in early November, several weeks before the film opens in theaters nationwide, and the Jubilee will then run daily through the busy Christmas season. We'll of course have more info for you later this year on how to get your clean-cut family picked to join in the fun on the Mark Twain, if that's your scene.


Dino Extinction

Over at DCA this month, you might want to stop by and pay your last respects to three more locations that are about to be bulldozed into history. Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack, Corn Dog Castle, and the Souvenir 66 stand are all closing at the end of May so that the land can be used for the sprawling Little Mermaid complex. The new restrooms for that area in the San Francisco row houses should be ready, and then the walls go up in June around the Golden Dreams theater and hardcore demolition for the mermaid's "E-Plus" attraction begins.

Dino gonna die
Dino before and after

And then in July, just in time for the 54th Anniversary festivities, the next version of DCA's Blue Sky Cellar Preview Center will debut. The Midway Mania models will be moved out, some existing exhibits will be changed up a bit, and new exhibits will be moved in highlighting the World of Color, Little Mermaid, and the next phase of the Paradise Pier remodel. At the same time, Walt Disney Imagineering is planning to announce a new website that will offer an online version of the DCA Preview Center with regular construction updates and material that is hopefully kept fresh as the various projects move along through 2010 and 2011.

Imagineering and the TDA planners have been surprised at how popular the Blue Sky Cellar was, especially during its first few months of operation when it pulled in up to four thousand visitors per day. But as DCA is a park driven primarily by park hopping Annual Passholder attendance, interest in the Preview Cellar has waned since it first opened last October and it's currently pulling in about 1,500 tourists or 2Fer using locals per day. John Lasseter loves the concept, and he insisted that both WDI and TDA agree to regular updates of the facility through at least 2012. The update in July should boost the numbers again, especially for the forward looking exhibits now planned for the center. It's assumed the DCA Preview Center website will also generate consistently heavy traffic as new material is cycled through that new platform. Now you do know what happens when you assume something, right?


Dark Dark

Also taking place this summer is a rather ambitious slate of dark ride refurbishments in Fantasyland. Since the official Disneyland.com website is managed by the notoriously out of touch marketing department, the information the official website offers regarding attraction closures is woefully inadequate and very poorly managed. Picking up where Disneyland's marketing department leaves off (if they ever had it to begin with), here's the list of attraction closures currently planned for this summer to assist you in travel planning.

Disney's California Adventure

  • Orange Stinger - 7/27/09 through April, 2010

Disneyland

  • Peter Pan's Flight - Now through 6/7/09
  • Astro Orbiter - Now through 6/12/09
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures 6/8/09 through 7/3/09
  • Pinocchio's Daring Journey 7/20/09 through 8/14/09

D23 you see...

A few days ago, we had a 4.5 earthquake rattle a few things around. When you live in California you sort of get used to them, but you still get the inevitable phone calls from out-of-town friends wondering if your house has pancaked or your car has been swallowed up by a crack in the earth. This time I got a call from a longtime friend, wondering if the real reason the earth shook was because I changed my mind about D23, Disney's official fan club. As you may remember from a previous column, I suggested holding off on the $75 membership fee until we had a better idea of where they were going and what they were offering.

Well, apparently fans asked and they listened. They've made improvements in the magazine, and there are more to come as I hear it. They also appear to understand that it's not just merchandise the fans interested in, but also unique special events and quality service for them. As we speak they are also working on better communications with the cast members at the resorts, which hopefully will kick in over the next few weeks. A capper for many of you was last week's announcement of the first wave of special events, with more than a few of them scheduled outside of either Anaheim or Orlando.

While I still have one very stubborn reservation, which I will detail in a moment, I thought I would share a few notes from two of my long-time fellow associates on the site on why they also feel membership may be worth considering at this time. First up is Sue Kruse, my fellow columnist here on MiceAge.com:

Back in March, when Disney announced their D23 club, and touted it as a new fan community for Disney fans, I had a look at what was offered for the 75 bucks it took to join and decided, "Thanks, but no thanks." For me, it wasn't the issue of not having the $75 to join. It was the issue of value for the $75. My perception was that it just wasn't worth $75.

At the launch of D23, for the $75 membership fee, potential members were offered a quarterly magazine, a membership certificate & card, a surprise collectible gift, exclusive merchandise available for purchase by members only, and discount entry fee into the upcoming D23 Expo.

I didn't care about the certificate & membership card. I knew I'd misplace the membership card straight away, and what do you do with something like that anyway? What use is it? Do you carry it in your wallet like your drivers license? Likewise, the membership certificate was useless to me, I don't frame stuff like that and hang it on a wall, so I didn't care about it in the slightest. So two things of absolutely no use or enticement for me to plunk down my $75 to join.

I had a look at the members-only merchandise at D23's website (which I found quite nice, but anyone could look at the website, so that was no enticement to join either) and there wasn't a single thing there I would have wanted to buy. I don't wear t-shirts, don't collect pins, and don't care about statues and other assorted Disney doodads. Most likely, unless D23 offered some fabulous Haunted Mansion goodie that I found myself powerless to resist (now you see where my allegiance rests when it comes to Disney collectibles), I wouldn't ever care about purchasing member-exclusive items. So still no enticement to join.

The Expo I felt more than likely, was something I'd go to at least once. But the entry fee reduction for members wasn't significant enough to entice me to join D23 either. I could afford the $7.00 difference, and since the Expo is an unknown quantity, I wasn't exactly salivating at the prospect of attending. To be sure, a Disney Expo peeks my curiosity, and had D23 members been granted free entry, I would have probably joined D23 right then and there, that would have been an enticement. Realistically though, I realize Disney cannot offer free entry to the expo, so once again, no enticement for me to join.

So that left just the surprise collectible and the magazine to get me to join D23. My experience with "surprise collectibles" is that they are always something I don't want. Lord knows, my stuff has stuff, so one more piece of "useless junk" was something I didn't want winging its way to my house. Yes, it could have been something fabulous I would have missed out on, and then I would have berating myself for not joining, but realistically speaking, how fabulous would the surprise collectible be for that $75 Disney asked you to plunk down? They have to make money off this thing, after all. In the end, I was right about the surprise collectible, which was a 20x30 litho of Mickey Mouse. Ho hum. Not very exciting, if you ask me, and something I definitely do not want.

That left only the quarterly magazine as the carrot Disney was dangling before me to get me to join D23. I could see that purchasing 4 magazines a year at the cost of around $16 each added up to a little less than the cost of the membership so that seemed cost effective to me. However, I am not one to subscribe to a magazine I've never read before and at that point, that is exactly what D23 was to me a magazine subscription. I felt I needed to have a look at the magazine first before plunging in so I bought one since the magazine is not member-exclusive.


First issue

The first issue of the magazine was innocuous enough, there were no advertisements to wade through, and I could tell it was expensively produced. But the magazine fell flat as far as I was concerned. After all, in the D23 launch press release they promised "Through D23, fans will go backstage and behind closed doors to get the inside scoop from every part of Disney while experiencing the nostalgia, adventure, and fantasy of Disney as never before."

"Yeah, right," I thought as I perused the pages of the premiere issue of the D23 magazine. The article on the Disney archives was swell. Yep, it took me somewhere I've never been before, definitely a look backstage behind closed doors, but that was just three pages of the magazine. Most of the rest of the magazine consisted of articles on things I had already seen elsewhere (Hello? MiceAge.com). And sadly, the one article I most looked forward to disappointed me thoroughly. Through Tim Burton's Looking Glass told me absolutely nothing I did not already know and showed me absolutely no photos that I had not already seen.

At that point I decided, "Meh, I'm not joining this thing. They've got to show me a little more magic than this to get that $75 out of my pocket."

My distinct impression was that D23 was just a thinly disguised attempt to liberate money from Disney fan's pockets, to sell a line of merchandise and merchandise events while tricking fans into thinking they had something special. It seemed to me that the folks putting together D23 didn't understand their customer base, and it felt like they, the Disney folks, thought they could throw out anything and the Disney fans would lap it up like a kitten laps up cream.

Shouldn't there be a way for all Disney fans to take part? Though I could afford it, $75 seemed pretty pricey to me and I know lots of folks for whom $75 would be a hardship. Perhaps different membership levels should have been offered from the get go making the club accessible to all ages and all pocketbooks. If D23 is truly for the Disney fans, this should have been addressed, especially in this economy.

And also, I had been to one too many merchandise events at Disneyland that were costly to attend and were a complete fiasco (anyone remember the old Pirates event where practically everything from start to finish was bungled?). I had to question if the D23 Expo could be pulled off in a way that made it enjoyable and delivered what was promised.

All the hype of the D23 launch seemed like just so much hot air to me, but then the second issue of the D23 magazine came out and there was a nice little surprise. Mind you, since I was not a member I have seen only photos, but I absolutely love that the D23 folks reproduced a vintage Disneyland souvenir fan and included it in every D23 member's copy of the magazine. That's awfully cool and a great step in the right direction.

But still I remained a non-member until last week.

What, you may ask, would get me to change my mind (though I still retain a touch of skepticism), to the point that I am now telling people I know, "Join, there's a good reason to join now."

You remember the part of the press release I quoted, wherein it stated, "D23 fans will go backstage and behind closed doors"? Well, Dear Readers, that's it. My reasons for joining are all contained within that press release sentence.

Last week when the D23 folks published the D23's SUMMER 2009 MEMBER-ONLY SPECIAL EVENTS, it got my attention. I did a double take and went, "Huh?" Before then, I had barely paid attention to the D23 web site, but all of the sudden, I was all ears.

Let me backtrack a little and explain what it is I think I want from a D23 membership. I want an inside look at the Disney Company, the history, the films (past, present, and future). I want the stories from the old-timers, I want to do something not everyone else can do.

I guess what I really want is what the old Annual Passholder nights at Disneyland used to provide before everything went awry the night they previewed Light Magic and Passholders were branded in a negative light.

Those Passholder evenings offered a glimpse into Disney that any fan would kill for. We got to walk through the then, new Indiana Jones attraction before it opened to the public and have a look at what was going on in The Temple Of The Forbidden Eye. We got to see the inside the Main Street Electrical Parade Pete's Dragon float and find out how it all worked and even talk to one of the guys who operated it. We got to ride Space Mountain with the lights on.

Stuff like that? Plain and simple, it's pure magic to a Disney fan.

Every time I have been lucky enough to be able to go to the Disney Studios, I walk on that lot and feel the sense of history that was made, and is still being made there. To walk past the sound stage where Mary Poppins was filmed, to see that famous sign at the intersection of Mickey Ave and Dopey Drive, to eat in the commissary surrounded by vintage photos of Walt Disney it's just magical, I tell you.

That sense of magic, the sense of belonging to something special that came from the first Disneyland Annual Passholder night that is what I expect and want from D23.

So last week when the D23 folks offered up these events:

  • May 28 - D23 "Up All Night" at Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre
  • May 31 - D23's Flowers & Fireworks Celebration at Epcot
  • June 24 - D23's Supercalifragilistic Night on Broadway
  • June 24 - D23 and Poppins Breeze into The Windy City
  • June 27 - D23 and The Lion King Roar in Vegas
  • June 27 & Aug. 15 - D23 Day at The Walt Disney Studios and Archives
  • July 17 - D23 presents Disneyland, U.S.A.
  • (San Francisco, CA) Prior to its October 2009 Grand Opening, D23 members will have the opportunity to experience The Walt Disney Family Museum, celebrating the life and achievements of the man who raised animation to an art, transformed the film industry, tirelessly pursued innovation, and created a global and distinctly American legacy

I began to listen. Finally, there was a reason for me to join D23, no doodads or empty promises. I especially like that they spread the events around the country so that everyone might have a chance to do something special.

For me personally, I love that it is possible I could set foot inside the Disney archives in Burbank. Oh, how I long to do that. For this Disney fan, that would be pure magic.

CinemaScope damn it!

I love that it's possible that on July 17th, I could see a special screening of Walt Disney's recently restored 1956 "People and Places" featurette Disneyland, U.S.A., and be treated to a panel discussion including Imagineer Tony Baxter, Disney Legend and Chief Archivist Dave Smith, and Disney Studios Film Archivist Ed Hobelman.

How special would that make Disneyland's birthday I ask you? Pretty darned special, indeed.

I love that it's possible I could see the Walt Disney Family Museum in September before it opens to the public. I've been waiting with great anticipation for it to open. And you can bet your mouse ears that I will be ecstatic to hop in my little car to make the drive up to San Francisco from the Anaheim area just to get a preview of the museum before it opens!

Now that's what I'm talking about. Great reasons all to join D23.

But that touch of skepticism I said I still retained? It lingers, only because I worry about exactly how it is tickets will be handed out for the above events.

You just know that there will be thousands of fans vying for a ticket to these backstage events. If the D23 folks choose to handle ticketing as Disneyland does for Candlelight and how they did for the upcoming Haunted Mansion event, we're in for a bumpy ride and a lot of pissed-off fans.

Ticketmaster can handle thousands of ticket requests without crashing and Disney should be able to do that too. So please D23 folks, handle the ticketing for these special events in a fair manner and if registration is by computer, make sure you have adequate servers, please. Can't say that enough, please, I implore you! Because if you do it right, you will have D23 fans for life, even if they don't get the ticket they wanted.

That intangible thing magic is something Disney is capable of doing very well. When it's done right, it's truly fantastic.

That sneak peek, that story from Walt's Hollywood, that glimpse down the rabbit hole, that sense of shared experiences, that love of Disney it's the best thing in the world.

After a faltering start, you are now on to something.

Now throw us a little more of that famous Magic, D23.

Following up is Werner Weiss from Yesterland.com:

Ten weeks ago, Disney announced D23, "The Official Community for Disney Fans." For $75, Disney would provide four magazines, a membership kit, the promise of "Exclusive Special Events and Merchandise," a discount for the D23 convention in Anaheim, and a mystery gift. There would also be free D23 web content.

I'm clearly one of the target customers for D23. I've published the Yesterland website for 14 years now, so I obviously care about Disney park history. You wouldn't know it from Yesterland, but I'm a big fan of animation, especially Disney and Pixar animation. Also, I'm fascinated by Walt Disney and the creative organization that he built.

With a hefty $75 price tag, I faced a consumer purchase decision. Shortly after the D23 announcement, I wrote, "I'd be willing to pay $75 per year if I saw the value. So far, I have not signed up for D23. I hope my perception changes." I finally signed up for D23 on April 24. With sales tax, it was $81.74. Here in Illinois, other magazine subscriptions and other memberships don't charge tax, but somehow Disney handles D23 as merchandise.

My reason for finally signing up wasn't due to any changes to D23. While checking facts for a future Yesterland article, I reached for the "2005 Disney Insider Yearbook." This publication for Disney fans grew out of the Disney Insider website. It was supposed to be the first of a series of annual yearbooks highlighting significant events of the year, as well as looking to Disney's past and future. The content was by noted Disney authors and historians. Even Dave Smith and Rebecca Cline of the Disney Archives were involved. The Yearbook included a DVD with interviews with Disney "insiders." Unfortunately, the Yearbook ceased publication after a single issue (but the Disney Insider website is still published).

Tastes like Chicken

I suddenly saw the quarterly "Disney twenty-three" publication as the successor to the "2005 Disney Insider Yearbook." Although D23 comes from a different part of The Walt Disney Company, the target audience and the type of content is similar. I was glad I bought the Yearbook, so I might as well pay for D23.

I expected my subscription to start with issue one of the "Disney twenty-three," a quarterly (once every three months) publication. Surprisingly, because I didn't sign up immediately but waited for six weeks, my subscription started with issue two. So far, I've only leafed through it, but I expect to read it almost cover-to-cover. On Monday, May 18, I received the mystery gift, a lithograph of Mickey Mouse. Previously, I also received a reproduction of a 1955 Disneyland souvenir paper fan, which went out to all D23 members who received issue two.

With the recent announcement of D23 events for summer 2009, I feel better about D23, even though I won't attend any of them. Most events don't require an additional payment beyond D23 membership, which finally makes D23 seem like a club with real benefits, not just an expensive magazine subscription. It makes sense that most of the events are in Southern California. There are a few elsewhere too, which is good news.

The only event that's convenient to me is the Mary Poppins event at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre. The price of $133 per ticket is justifiable; in fact, it's a good value for someone who was planning to buy tickets to the Mary Poppins stage show anyway. But I would need four tickets. We're being careful with our money these days, so I regret that we won't go to the event.

Poppin!

I hope that D23 will announce more (and more frequent) events, especially as D23 membership grows. It would be great if there were enough events that D23 members everywhere might have some chance to attend one while on vacation in the Orlando or Los Angeles areas. And it would be great if D23 could take an event "on tour," stopping in various metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada. Personally, I'd like to see one or more events at Epcot during the Food & Wine Festival this year.

Other positive news is that the D23 website has had good articles. I've especially enjoyed the Disney Archives items from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, with republished content from the old "Vacationland" promotional magazine, other Disney publications, and press releases.

The early perception that D23 would relentlessly push expensive merchandise has not turned out to be the case. D23 members have the opportunity to buy D23 merchandise through the online D23 Boutique. But that's not the main focus of D23.

Based on Disney fan podcasts, websites, and discussion forums, it seems that some Disney fans jumped on the opportunity to sign up for D23 on the day it was announced. Others decided it was too much money, especially if their interest was limited to a single aspect of Disney such just theme parks or just animation, or if they only looked only to the future, not to the past. Then there were those in the middle who wanted to see how D23 develops.

D23 seems to be going in the right direction. It might be a good time for those who took a pass on D23 in March to take another look.

Thanks Sue and Werner.

My only reservation now? That Disneyland USA film screening, which apparently is still a work in progress. The Team Disney Anaheim theater at just over 200 seats is too small in both seating and screen size, guaranteeing a miserable presentation and lots of unhappy members who will not get in. I was told both the Lincoln and the Hyperion Theatres are unavailable.

ipod size
Home video setups have bigger screens than TDA

So why not just open the screening up to everybody and use it as a membership drive in a larger theater nearby? Annual Passholders can park for free at GardenWalk and they have state-of-the-art huge screens and sound systems in theaters there that can show the CinemaScope short the way it should be seen and heard. Let the D23 members in for free, fill the rest of the theater up at $15 a seat which can be applied towards a D23 membership on the spot should they enjoy the event. There's even a private lounge upstairs with a view over Disneyland where they can hold a members-only reception. Heck they might even turn a profit.

And for the park's 55th anniversary they can repeat the whole thing and add a restored print of the Mouseketeers "3D Jamboree" color film that used to show in Fantasyland in the late 50s and has never been seen since.

As I understand it there will be more improvements coming soon to the rest of the D23 program. Besides promising more events, they will also work on different membership levels and price points. They are also committed to making sure everything (but the screening, grrr) is open to all members. This includes the archive visits, as they plan to keep track of those who've already taken part in the tours. And they have decided not to use the park's merchandising event systems either.

What's important here is that they are listening. And at the Walt Disney Company right now that is a good thing.

Let's keep our fingers crossed.

 

Oh-kay - that should do it for today. Remember your support is vital, your donations to PayPal help keep the bills paid. We're only here due to all of your kind efforts.

Keep in mind updates only get posted when there is something to report on, and not before. It takes time to confirm things, and even then we can only offer a snapshot of a continually evolving story. Just like the happiest place on earth, patience is a virtue; the queue may take a while before you can enjoy the attraction. ;)

See you at Disneyland!

Al Lutz may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally.

2009 Al Lutz


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