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Disneyland’s Carnation Plaza is closing on April 30th to make way for a new Princess meet and greet adjacent to Sleeping Beauty's Castle. ElecTRONica has gone offline at DCA as Alice prepares to get her groove on. It was an exciting week as we took a behind the scenes tour of Universal's Transformers: The Ride 3D (actually walking the length of the track). There is news of a new Monorail spiel at DisneyWorld and an exploration of the differences in the east coast and west coast Little Mermaid rides. All of this along with Universal Studios news, Busch Garden Tampa photos and some perky news from Al Lutz in today's Disney and theme park news and rumor MiceChat Round-Up.~ CakvalaSC

EDITOR’S PICK

Micechat Round-Up

Transformer's The Ride 3D - MiceChat Preview & Guide
If you didn't read it from the In the Parks blog, you'll find the pictures, report, and discussion of the soon to be opened attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.


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MiceChat is NOT affiliated with the Walt Disney Company in ANY way.
The Disney web site is located at www.disney.com


Ask the Columnist

It's a question that a lot of you keep asking, just what is going on with the Starbucks deal for Disney's resorts. Here's the latest, the official announcement shouldn't be too far off at this point:

When Pigs Fly

The long saga of TDA executives trying to get Starbucks into the Anaheim parks is now over three years old, but it’s the closest to being public now than it’s ever been. After an initial deal fell apart in ’09, TDA has been doing a slow-motion dance with the Starbucks corporate team up in Seattle since 2011. Just as we’d reported back in ’09, the major sticking points still revolve around the training of Disney Cast Members who would be operating Starbucks’ equipment and using their proprietary materials and processes to create your drink.

The problem isn’t helped by some rather big egos on Disney’s part, with Disney’s negotiating teams made up of people who have very little or absolutely no experience with the front-line Cast Members working in the parks. Starbucks didn’t become one of the biggest business success stories of the last 25 years for nothing, and after sensing that the Disney team assigned to the deal didn’t really know what the in-park customer experience was like, Starbucks sent reconnaissance spies into Disneyland to observe how the Cast Members operate and behave when they are working the espresso machines at Disney’s existing park coffee shops.

The observations the Starbucks folks made and reported back to headquarters in Seattle were pretty discouraging, and it was clear to the Starbucks team that the Anaheim Cast Members had received very poor training, or no apparent training at all, on how to create a quality espresso drink. Disney had been approaching the training and operating of the espresso machines no differently than it approaches the operation of a deep fryer or a soft serve machine. And as the coffee culture grew over the last 20 years more and more Disneyland visitors can no longer stomach the coffee flavored swill served to them, especially the more demanding tourists from the Pacific Northwest where coffee is king and a badly made Latte can be spotted from 10 feet.

It doesn’t help that the Foods division at Disneyland suffers from one of the highest turnover rates of all theme park departments with the very youngest CM’s hired in at 17. The front-line leadership at the smaller locations with an espresso machine is often just 6 to 8 months out of their orientation day by the time they are supervising these Disneyland locations (often before they’ve graduated from high school). Disney’s restaurant leadership is so green that it’s not unusual for the HR team to scramble with newly minted salaried restaurant managers at the Disneyland Resort because they aren’t yet 21 and legally can’t manage the DCA restaurants that serve alcohol.

Compared to the dramatically lower turnover rate at the average Starbucks (how long has your favorite barista worked at your local store?), and Starbucks’ near-religious approach to their expert training and sharp corporate culture, the poorly trained front-line Disneyland Cast Members and the weak supervision that TDA provides for them were a constant stumbling block to getting a deal done between Starbucks and Disneyland.

But with Starbucks willing to jump through hoops to provide the right training to the bumbling yet pompous Disneyland team, the deal has been falling in to place over this past winter. With an unusually dramatic flair, the plan to bring Starbucks to Disney property in Anaheim was given a top-secret code name back in 2011, dubbed “Project Orange”. Although the word on just exactly what Project Orange is up to has been spreading quickly through Anaheim’s Food & Beverage team in recent weeks.

The first in-park Starbucks is now slated to open this June on Buena Vista Street with the re-launched Disney California Adventure. Starbucks will take up residence in the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café, as an odd hybrid of a regular Starbucks and a Disney-run operation. While the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café (dubbed the Pig Café by Anaheim’s Foods group) will maintain all the great 1920’s theming and architecture already shown to the public, subtle Starbucks logos in rubbed brass and period-appropriate signage will be added near the entrance doors. It won’t scream Starbucks with green awnings and bright logos like your neighborhood location, but once anyone gets within sight of the front door they’ll be able to spot the logo and tell that it’s a Starbucks. (Now you know why Bob Iger decreed that the huge tree already planted in front of the Pig Café be moved over a few feet at big expense, as he knows this new corporate alliance needs to go well and the subtle Starbucks logos can’t be too hidden.)

Once inside the Pig Café, the restaurant will operate like a traditional Starbucks during the morning hours just after the park opens. It’s at that time of day that the four separate espresso machines each staffed by a Starbucks-trained barista will be going full blast (where most of Starbucks’ “big” stores only have two machines), and the refrigerated cases near the front will offer a selection of Starbucks own grab-n-go breakfast and pastry items. Later in the day the location will switch over solely to a Disney created menu for lunch and dinner options, while Starbucks espresso drinks will still be offered through park closing. Over a hundred seats at a few dozen tables inside and out at the Pig Café should soak up most of the lunch and dinner crowd, although it’s expected that the morning business will be mostly to-go orders as people stream into the park and head to Cars Land with their Venti Latte and Danish.

While DCA jumps head first into the theme park Starbucks business, neither TDA nor Burbank thinks it should end there. The refurbished food locations on Main Street USA at Disneyland are also in the sights of TDA’s Project Orange team for the future, but the Pig Café location will be the first to open this June. Starbucks, for their part, is more hesitant and will be keeping a close eye on the Pig Café this June to make sure their product is being served correctly before they agree to more theme park locations. - Al

Got a question for Al or any of the MiceAge columnists?
Email them to [email protected]
Your question may be featured in a future MiceChat Round-Up,
but keep in mind due to the volume of mail received he may not be able to personally respond.

Disneyland
We say goodbye to a historical part of Main Street USA, Electronica has also hit the end of the line, and then we also say goodbye to the elephants that once framed the entrance to Hollywood Pictures Backlot. ~ Aladdin

Micechat Round-Up

A Combo Easter/Birthday Trip!
PanTheMan and family travel to Disneyland to celebrate their son's birthday and Easter

Main Street U.S.A. - Photo Tribute
Regions Beyond brings us favorite Main Street USA photos from over the past dozen years

Carnation Plaza set to close April 30th for construction of Fantasy Faire!
A significant portion of Main Street USA is soon to be lost. The Disney Princesses will be moving into the Carnation Plaza area adjacent to the Castle. No longer will the Castle mark the boundary of Fantasyland as this 2nd group of Disney girls are given a permanent meet and greet area in the immediate Central Plaza area.

Goodbye Electronica
Electronica, DCA's dance and drink party, is now a part of Yesterland, as the Hollywood land area makes way for its latest themed bacchanal, Mad T Party, later this spring. Natenob asks for your thoughts of the Tron themed party going away and then SoCalbma provides video from some of the last minutes of Electronica.

Micechat Round-Up

Single rider trip report 4/15
PirateLover has a one day, solo trip report from Disneyland!

Hollywood Pictures Backlot Elephants Have Been Removed
One year ago on April 12, 2011, the arched gateway sign to Hollywood Pictures Backlot disappeared, and nearly exactly a year later, on April 11, 2012 the iconic elephants that stood guard at the entrance to the now former Hollywood Pictures Backlot have been unceremoniously removed. Is this an enhancement? Now, we have those faux trolley cables that frame the entry to Hollywood Land and limit the height of Parade Floats. Fishbulb has the photos here!

Would You Be Upset With The Removal Of Mickey's Fun Wheel?
Quacky4Donald asks if you would be upset if the Fun Wheel was removed. Give us your thoughts. Is it symbolic of the anti-theme low budget esthetic of the original DCA which was a new low in Imagineering, compared to what Walt gave us with Disneyland? Or is it an Imagineering hit, ranking up there with the Matterhorn and Space Mountain?


Micechat Round-Up

Join The MiceChat Vancouver To Los Angeles Cruise This September!
Our Disney Dream cruise last year was such a hit that we've booked another remarkable voyage at low group rates. Join us September 10th through 16th as we voyage from Vancouver to Los Angeles with a two night stop in San Francisco. We'll even visit the wonderful Walt Disney Family Museum along the way. Don't miss out on this affordable, relaxing, and fun MiceChat adventure!


The A/V Room

Sarah returns with a new video this week, and we always look forward to it:

Communicore Weekly goes on a Trip to the 1964 World's Fair, Inside the Dream, a review of Via Napoli!, and some neat facts of Harper's Mill:

Speaking of Orlando we also have the updated Monorail Spiel from Kevin Yee.

Did you catch the last The Season Pass featuring MiceChat's Dustysage? It's worth a listen. For those who listen all the way to the end you might just hear about an upcoming MiceChat project. This link takes you directly to the iTunes store where you can download a FREE copy of the podcast. LINK TO THE SEASON PASS PODCAST



Magic 24.7

LIVE BROADCAST AT RALPH BRENNAN'S JAZZ KITCHEN
As the official venue of choice for MAGIC 24.7, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney Anaheim will be hosting a live broadcast from the Ralph Brennan Radio Booth in the Jazz Kitchen on August 11, 2012 (exact time of broadcast TBA).

We'll be doing a live cooking demo, featuring our station's own signature drink (Twisted Magic), doing live contests and bringing on special Disney Park guests. We hope you can join us! For the full itinerary, check out our special event website: magic247live.com!

YOUR DISNEY TOP FIVE
The Time Rovers are going live again this Thursday at 6pm Pacific for one hour! Here's what we're discussing: If Disney gave you a free pass to do ANYTHING to any of it's parks...what would it be? Call us LIVE on Skype (username Magic24.7) or on our MAGICLINE at (424) 270-1955 and get in the discussion!

Remember to bookmark our site (magic247radio.com) and listen between 6am-4pm Pacific Monday to Friday for your official MiceChat.com Newscasts featuring YOUR posts and more Disney Park news! We also have welcomed former Weather Channel meteorologist Jeff Mielcarz to the station, who will provide you with Disneyland & WDW weather Monday to Friday!

PODCAST UPDATE
Every Monday to Friday between 6-9 am Pacific, we give you your MiceChat.com Newscast. Coming soon, you’ll be able to get a full recap of news from your favorite site.


Have you signed up for MiceDeals?
Don’t miss out on 50% to 80% off Southern California and Orlando
area theme park, restaurant, hotel and attractions!
Visit MiceDeals.com today and sign up at the top of the page for your daily
deal reminder. Hurry, because they sell out quick and don’t last long.


Walt Disney World
Test Track closes, the monorail gets a new spiel, and the Orange Bird returns. There's so much going on this week down at Walt Disney World, so let's check it out! ~yoyoflamingo

New Monorail Spiel
Another piece of news this week is a new spiel on the WDW monorails. Listen to it here and share your thoughts. Robotic GPS or calm and peaceful?

DCA Little Mermaid vs. MK Little Mermaid
Of course, in the Magic Kingdom the other big news is the Fantasyland Expansion. However, mattthemickeyman wants to know: what will the difference be between this one and the DCA one?

Dining experiences
jordan_edge has a question about some restaurants for his honeymoon in August. Can anyway share their experiences or offer suggestions for him?

Could World of Motion Return to EPCOT?
With Test Track closing, another interesting thread has popped up: Could the World of Motion make a triumphant return? Or, even more importantly, should it? Join the discussion here!


Off Shore Parks

Star Tours II and Toy Story Mania! coming to Disneyland Paris.
Good news for our friends overseas! They will soon be able to take a nice intergalactic cruise to Endor and other various locations! Not only that, they will also be able to join Woody, Buzz and the crew in their interactive video game adventures well known to many as Toy Story Midway Mania! Check out this thread for more information :)

Tokyo Disneyland 29th Anniversary
Tokyo Disneyland is turning 29 and we are all invited! Come join the party and all the fun! Danimated provides us with access to more information as to what we can expect as far as the goodies are concerned :)


MiceChat Gumball Rally - May 19, 2012 - TICKETS ON SALE NOW

Disneyland

What's a Gumball Rally? Well, it's the biggest, best and the most exciting Disney fan event in the known universe that anyone can play and win. The Rally is a race to find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. Sounds great, right? Well, it is even more fun than you can imagine.

Yes, it is harder than it sounds. Yes, it will challenge you physically. But, it's one event that folks of any age can compete in and have a great time in the process. Whether you win or lose, you are always a winner when the race takes place on your favorite rides at your favorite place on earth.

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!


Other Parks
When you're done reading the buzz about MiceChat's preview of the Transformers 3D Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood, check out the pictures from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Busch Gardens Tampa. ~ Trekkie Dad

Micechat Round-Up

A Different Look at the New Transformers Ride
TheSwedishChef's first post on MiceChat contains pictures from the perspective of someone who works on the lot.

(Rumor) T2:3D to End it's Run at USH by the end of this Summer?
Freakazoid112 has heard that Terminator 2 in 3D will be ending its run at Universal Hollywood this summer. Care to speculate what will replace it?

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Butterfly Jungle
If you like close-up photographs of butterflies, KEBSD has the thread for you.

Some Random Busch Gardens Tampa Photos
aimster treats us with some beautiful photos taken at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.


Disney Business

Should Disney buy The Smurfs?
MickeySmurfette24 asks if the Smurfs would find a good residence in the house of mouse. Just for fun, do you think it would be a good idea if Disney purchased the Smurfs?


Entertainment

Micechat Round-Up

Fixin' the disney channel
Remember the days when Walt Disney presented a wonderful variety of television programming? Well Wild Ol' Dan sure does and takes us down the path of how we got to today's Disney Channel. So does anyone else out there miss the classic format that Walt presented or is the new Disney Channel what today's modern world wants?

Disney Animation Lost
Disneyfreak88 heard that Disney Studios was done with traditional animation and moving all of it's production to CGI based animation. Whether or not this is true, what could this mean for the future of Disney Animation?


News

Disney Channel adopts 'Dog with a Blog'
ALIASd
reports that Disney Channel announced Friday that it has picked up a new comedy series, which puts a twist on the modern family, titled Dog With a Blog.


MiceAge

MiceChat Round-Up

MiceChat Round-Up
4/17: Kevin Yee – American in Paris
Kevin details his newest book, which helps you plan your visit to Disneyland Paris Resort!

Micechat Round up
4/17: A Brand New Spiel on the Monorail, Fantasyland Construction, a Rumor About Space Mountain, Sea World, Universal, Busch Gardens and More!
Welcome back to another edition of the Orlando Parkhopper. While news was slow this week, we were able to pick up on a few interesting things happening at the Magic Kingdom. We also dropped by Busch Gardens Tampa to shop at their newly renovated Emporium and see the new Let's Dance show featuring Burn the Floor. We even check in on Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld too to see what's going on.

Micechat Round up
4/16: End of Line and Faire-well
Disney California Adventure finally pulled the plug on its long-running ElecTRONica nighttime dance party this weekend. The popular TRON-themed event was extended several times and proved to be a successful venture for Disney who will replace the nighttime offering with an Alice in Wonderland-themed party this summer. Meanwhile, construction rages on in both parks as Disney prepares new and refreshed attractions, restaurants and shops for the big summer season. In California Adventure, Buena Vista Street and Cars Land continue to get plenty of new details and finishing touches. Meanwhile, in Disneyland, work continues on projects such as the major Matterhorn Bobsleds refurbishment as work gets ready to begin at the new Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area later this month.

Micechat Round up
4/15: Walt Disney and Public Libraries
Did you know that Dwight D. Eisenhower instituted National Library Week? That's right, and Walt Disney was heavily involved in getting kids interested in the written word. Way back in the days as an animator in Kansas City he was well aware of the part a public library played in the community. George Taylor brings us a very interesting read this week about how Disney's love of book effected his future as an animator and entertainer.

Micechat Round up
4/14: Vacationeering – Making Magical Vacation Memories
Are you ready for an adventure? We have one just for you! Teresa and the Fairy Godmother crew were invited on the inaugural voyage of the Disney Fantasy. With its lavish, art nouveau decor and extensive appointments, the Fantasy raises the bar for maritime luxury. We cover the basics here in this article and let you know what to expect when voyaging the seven seas with Mickey.

Micechat Round up
4/13: Easter at Walt Disney World, Seattle Train Trip; Grand Canyon, Islands of Adventure
We continue to follow the progress on Disney's Art of Animation hotel and this week at Walt Disney World. We have a feeling that this new Disney property will be worthy of a visit even if you're not staying there as a guest. We then recount the Easter festivities which are certainly photogenic. Then we take a trip up the Pacific coast by train with Monorail Man. We then fall into the Grand Canyon with Sir Clinksalot and family. Then we trim things up with Rya86n's non-Potter photos of Islands of Adventure.

4/13: Transformer’s The Ride 3D – MiceChat Preview & Guide
Under the cover of a pre-dawn sky, MiceChat was invited to N.E.S.T. headquarters to prepare for battle and get a walkthrough of Universal's new mega-attraction, Transformers: The Ride 3D, Early this morning. This new immersive experience officially opens on May 26th 2012. But we are here to bring you a first look at this attraction that is sure to give Disney a run for the money on best SoCal theme park attraction this summer. Join us for a preview of this highly anticipated attraction.

Micechat Round up
4/13: Disneyland’s Matterhorn, DCA’s new face, SeaWorld’s new Manta, Uni & more
Welcome back to In The Parks, your gateway to Southern California theme park fun. This week finds Disneyland still busy completing the Matterhorn overhaul and the expanded Carnation Cafe. Meanwhile, Disney California Adventure is pushing to meet the June 15th deadline for the unprecedented overhaul at that park. Cars are already zooming in Radiator Springs and streetcars will soon be rolling down Buena Vista Street. We also have SeaWorld San Diego on deck with an update on the soon to open Manta coaster and we update you on the latest construction at Six Flags Magic Mountain. But that's not all, we've got a transformation update for you from Universal Studios Hollywood where they are just about ready to open what we hear is their best attraction yet. There has rarely been a time as exciting as this in the SoCal theme park world. Let's see what's happening In the Parks . . .

Micechat Round up
4/12: Sue Kruse – Pressing Matters.
Sue Kruse brings fun and exciting things to do to you! Such as Explorers Wanted • Animal Stars • Guacamole Anyone? • Railway Festivals • Giada • Disneyland Resort Merchandise Events!

Micechat Round up
4/12: Mickey & Minnie in the Parking Lot
There was a time at the parks when Mickey and Minnie would greet you before you ever entered the park. Visit Werner Weiss's Yesterland and be greeted by a floppy armed Mickey mouse and an umbrella wielding Minnie Mouse. Don't bother with an autograph book. They can't sign anything as their arms don't work. You could rub their noses for good luck, but that will only get you as far as the front gate. Enjoy your visit to Yesterland today!

Micechat Round up
4/11: An Education in Magic Part 2: Go West Young Man
The magic of Disney is in the details. Sam leads us through the western themed portions of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. We learn more about the use of non-verbal communication to convey a sense of place and mood. We also learn the way that Disney uses this method of communication to make your visit to their parks a little more magical. Did you know, also that Splash Mountain was not planned for the area in Frontierland. It's true. Something far grander was to be in that very spot. Learn of this and more in this brilliant article.


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MiceChat

The MiceEars Crew and MiceChat News Club put a lot of time and effort into making these Round-Ups happen. Here are the members:

Your Editors: Dustysage, Fishbulb and CakvalaSC

The MiceEars Crew: Demigod, Aladdin, elly, pezz lightyear, Yoyoflamingo, Tinkermonkey, Pineapplewhipaddict, KnittingKnerd, Trekkie Dad, DLandFansAZ, RegionsBeyond, HKDLFAN and Disney Wrassler!

The MiceChat News Team: sir clinksalot, ALIASd, Disneytim, OogieBoogie.

The MiceEars Crew can be e-mailed at: [email protected]
Please keep in mind they may not be able to respond to each note personally.

© 2012 Dusty Sage/MiceChat

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