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Chris Merritt Designer and Author
In this episode we celebrate our 300th show! We hear from current podcaster friends, Disneyland Resort current events and talk to theme park designer and author Chris Merritt.
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***Disney Resort Updates***
Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 (Corona) Virus, Many Disney Parks, Cruise Lines, and Disney Vacation Club Resorts will be closed until further notice:
Disney is over whelmed with people attempting to rebook / cancel so please be patient with them. They are modifying their cancelation policy to accommodate guests. Many booking services can be handled online (links above). They are reportedly going to extend AP's by one month.
Please be sure to follow CDC and your State's guidelines during this crisis. We will get through this.
Shanghai Disneyland • Shanghai Disneyland is now open.Be sure to check their reservation system which requires everyone, including infants, to have a reservation. The resort capacity is 50%. Go to Shanghai's web page for advance reservations. Please visit their site for details.
Walt Disney World • All 4 Walt Disney World theme parks are open.
• Additionally, Disney Vacation Club properties at Walt Disney World and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground have begun to reopen to Members and Guests. Disney Springs has already begun to reopen. Upon reopening, theme parks, Disney Resort Hotels, restaurants and other offerings may be modified, limited in capacity and subject to availability or closure. You must have an advance reservation and valid ticket.
• Park Hopping is allowed within strict rules:
1. You must make a reservation at one of the Parks.
2. You must go to that Park first.
3. Park Hopping does not start until 2PM.
4. Access to Parks is still limited to their maximum occupancy. Check the Park you want to go to before traveling to it to make sure it is accepting Hopping guests.
5. Check the Walt Disney World Park Hopper web page for updates to Park Hopping rules.
Disneyland • The Downtown Disney District and Buena Vista Street will be closed for Christmas.
• The Downtown Disney District including Buena Vista Street only of DCA are open.Only restaurants that have take out are open.
• The Hotels of the Disneyland Resort remain closed and will reopen at a later date. Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa DVC is working towards opening December 6th, 2020. The general public side will remain closed for now.
• Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park remain closed and will reopen at a later date, pending state and local government approvals.
• The State of California has announced guidelines for the opening of amusement parks. The biggest part of the announcement is that a county must be in tier 4 before a park can open. Orange county currently estimates it will not be in that tier until at least June 2020.
Hong Kong Disneyland • The Park is closed.
Disneyland Paris • November 25th, 2020, Disneyland Paris made the following announcement: "While we were hoping to be able to reopen during the Christmas holiday season, the latest government measures announced for France do not allow us to deliver the Disneyland Paris experience and therefore the destination will remain closed until 12 February 2021."
Disney Cruise Lines • Disney Cruise line suspends cruises through January 31, 2021. The web page does appear to be booking future trips, the earliest being in April 2021.
Aulani Resort • Phased reopening began November 1, 2020. The state of Hawaii has strict travel requirements which include a 14 quarantine or negative test within 72 hours of your arrival. Please visit HERE for the latest details.
Walt Disney Family Museum • The Walt Disney Family Museum closed.
INFORMATION CORRECT AS OF January 9, 2021. Please check individual Resorts eb pages for restrictions, requirements, and changes.
Disneyland Resort Current Event
Disneyland gives renamed Snow White dark ride a new ‘happily ever after’ ending
The 1955 opening day attraction has been renamed Snow White’s Enchanted Wish to reflect changes made to Disneyland’s only ride-through princess attraction.
By BRADY MACDONALD
PUBLISHED: December 21, 2020
“Disneyland has removed the scary ending from Snow White’s Scary Adventures [and one of the dwarves] and added a happily ever after finale to the classic Fantasyland dark ride that will return when the Anaheim theme park reopens following an extended coronavirus closure.”
“The 1955 opening day attraction has been renamed Snow White’s Enchanted Wish to reflect changes made to Disneyland’s only ride-through princess attraction.”
“The newly renovated Snow White attraction now concludes with the Disney princess reuniting with her animal friends as a castle shimmers in the distance. The ride previously concluded with a bolt of lightning sending the Evil Queen tumbling to her death from a mountaintop with a terrifying scream.
“The extensive rehab added new music, LED black lighting, laser projections, animation systems and audio-visual technology to the dark ride.”
“A new Snow White audio-animatronic figure will dance and twirl with the dwarfs in their cottage as the scent of fresh-baked apple pie wafts through the air. Shadow projections will show the dwarfs at work in the mine where jewels sparkle with new lighting effects.
“The exterior of the Fantasyland attraction has been updated with “fairy tale-inspired details” designed to complement the recently refurbished Sleeping Beauty Castle.”
Orange County Register
Mon, December 21, 2020
First Look of Snow White’s Enchanted Wish at Disneyland Park
by Michael Ramirez, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort
“There are more surprises to discover and we cannot wait for you to experience the magic of this timeless fairytale, and Snow White’s enchanted wish coming true at last!”
Disney Parks Blog
Disneyland’s Snow White Scary Adventure to be Renamed Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, Sneak Peek Revealed
Dec 21, 2020
“Disney has given us the first look inside the new Snow White’s Scary Adventures that has been under refurbishment at Disneyland. It will also have a new name when it re-opens, Snow White’s Enchanted Wish.”
Disney confirms 2021 opening date for Marvel’s Avengers Campus
A key remaining question: Will Avengers Campus debut when DCA reopens or will Disney wait until COVID-19 concerns subside and consumer confidence rebounds?
By BRADY MACDONALD
UPDATED: January 6, 2021
“The new Marvel-themed Avengers Campus will debut in 2021 at Disney California Adventure, according to the D23 Disney fan club.
“Disneyland initially set a July 18, 2020 opening date for Avengers Campus just a few days before Disney’s Anaheim theme parks closed in mid-March as the COVID-19 pandemic first threatened the United States. The opening date for Avengers Campus had been pushed back to an indefinite “coming soon” — until now.”
Orange County Register
Imagineer Joe Rohde reflects on 40 years of dreaming up Disney theme park attractions
The rebel-turn-teacher is known for leading Walt Disney Imagineering teams that designed and created Disney's Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest, Pandora — The World of Avatar, Disney’s Aulani Hotel and Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout.
By BRADY MACDONALD|
PUBLISHED: December 29, 2020
“Joe Rohde is retiring as the best-known Imagineer working today after weaving inspiration from his globe-trotting travels into the narrative threads of the world-creating Disney theme park projects he has shepherded during the past four decades.”
“The rebel-turn-teacher is known for leading Walt Disney Imagineering teams that designed and created the groundbreaking Animal Kingdom theme park, the Florida park’s heralded Expedition Everest roller coaster and jaw dropping Pandora — The World of Avatar themed land, Disney’s Aulani Hotel in Hawaii and the transformation of the Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout attraction at Disney California Adventure.”
“Rohde sat down for a wide-ranging virtual conversation — and what conversation with Joe is not — to discuss his impending retirement on Monday, Jan. 4. Rohde talked about his past, present and future and was, as always, thoughtful, introspective and interesting.”
“Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout
“Rohde’s final major Imagineering project seemed like an impossible idea when it was first announced: Re-theme the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror indoor drop tower into the Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout. Adding to the improbable task, Rohde and his team were given a short time frame to complete the project — at least by Imagineering standards.”
Orange County Register
“Plotlines will go on forever, the feeling stays the same” – Things We Learned From D23’s Interview with Joe Rohde
by Tony Betti | Jan 7, 2021
“While Rohde is almost instantly recognizable to Disney Parks fans around the world (if not as himself, as Harrison Hightower from Tokyo’s Tower of Terror, but more on that later), we still managed to learn a few new things from the interview.”
“It was a party that Rohde hosted at his home (covered in “artifacts and things”) that caught the attention of Rick Rothschild, who was producing a new entertainment venture “outside the berm” called Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World where Rohde was loosely involved. According to Rohde, Rothschild came to him days after the party and said “You know what? I have a job for you.” And pitched the idea of a magic club/nightclub that had some kind of adventurer theme.”
“The greatest lesson that Rohde has taken away from his time at WDI he says, is that before you start to make decisions, and take on a tremendous amount of work, you must first figure out fundamental reasons why you’re doing this in the first place. ‘What is this whole thing actually about? What are we trying to say? What does it mean? What's the emotion? What’s the moral? What is this thing about?’ Rohde suggests figuring that out ‘BEFORE you make the other decisions or very quickly you get swept away by detail decisions and they don't add up.’”
“Early on in the interview, Rohde was asked why he picked now as the perfect time to retire. After explaining that he liked the nice round number of years, he added ‘And then the projects that I am working on are in pretty good condition, so it’s a good time for me to be able to step away without leaving a lot of confusion. I just thought this is the time to do it. If I don’t do it, it’ll be like another seven-year cycle, at which point I’ll likely be doddering out the door. I thought this was a really opportune time.’”
Disney Parks without Joe Rohde: A world-maker retires. What’s next?
By TODD MARTENS
JAN. 7, 2021
“‘Joe’s legacy, it’s Animal Kingdom, and the art of Imagineering and communicating that art,’ says Tom Morris, an Imagineer who retired in 2016 after about 35 years with Disney.
“Rohde is the rarest of Imagineers, says Morris — he is to the Animal Kingdom what Walt Disney is to Disneyland; that is, a designer so closely associated with a park that he set a template for future generations. ‘He communicated both the process and the product appeal. I am concerned about who is going to take on that role now that Joe is gone.’”
Legendary Disneyland photographer Renie Bardeau dies at 86
He shot iconic photos of Walt Disney and the park for almost 40 years.
By MARLA JO FISHER
PUBLISHED: January 5, 2021
“He was responsible for one of the most iconic photos ever taken of the park: An image of Walt Disney strolling in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Snapped in 1964, it became known as the ‘Footsteps’ photo, and was subsequently printed and sold on shirts, coffee mugs, lithographs and posters. He estimated that he’d taken hundreds of thousands of other pictures over the years, including 100,000 of Mickey Mouse.
“He also shot celebrities and royalty visiting the park including Japanese Emperor Hirohito, presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, Sen. Robert Kennedy, astronaut John Glenn, actors Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant and John Wayne.”
“He went to apply for a part-time job as a photographer at Disneyland while still in school, after a friend tipped him off that the still-new theme park was looking for someone. Hired by Walt Disney, he began a summer job working at the park in 1959 and then went full-time in 1963, after college, moving his young family to Anaheim.”
“‘Following his retirement in 1998, Renie was presented with a Window on Main Street, U.S.A., fittingly located above the Main Street Photo Supply Co.’ Disneyland said in its statement. ‘It reads: ‘Kingdom Photo Services, The Magic Eye to the World, Renie Bardeau.’””
“Renie Bardeau appreciated working for Walt Disney, and loved to tell stories about him, including one about eating breakfast at the former Hills Brothers Cafe on Main Street.
“‘In comes Walt and asks me if he could sit down,’ Bardeau said in a 2011 interview. ‘So immediately a waitress comes over and asks, ‘Can I help you, Mr. Disney?’ Walt says, ‘Yes, but remember, I am Walt. There is only one Mr. in Disneyland and that’s Mr. Toad.’ ”
“Bardeau said in an interview that his favorite photo was the final one he ever took of Walt Disney in the park, sitting in a fire truck next to Mickey Mouse, with Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background. Disney died a few months later.”
Orange County Register
Disney Legend Ron Dominguez (aka “Mr. Disneyland”) Passed Away at Age 85
Jan 1, 2021
“Ron Dominguez, nicknamed “Mr. Disneyland,” grew up in the orange groves that became Disneyland when Walt Disney purchased them from his family in 1954. His childhood home became an administration building behind Main Street, U.S.A. for a period before being demolished. A graduate of Anaheim High School and University of Arizona, Ron became a Disneyland Cast Member at the age of 20 shortly before the grand opening, his first day beginning on July 13th, 1955. His first role was as a ticket taker.
“By the end of 1956, he could brag that he had worked on every attraction the park had to offer. He was quickly promoted to supervisor, then manager and by 1970, he was made Director of Operations. By 1974, he became Vice President of Disneyland and chairman of the park operating committee, a role he kept until 1990 when he became Executive Vice President, Walt Disney Attractions, West Coast.
“Retiring in 1994 at the age of 59, Ron Dominguez’s legacy was celebrated with a window on Main Street and the Disney Legend Award, which he received in 2000. In addition to his work within the park, Ron helped build strong relationships between Disneyland and the City of Anaheim and was actively involved in the community as a volunteer with local organizations.”
Remembering Ron Dominguez
Written by Mark Eades for the Disneyland Alumni Club. Shared with permission.
“According to Ron ‘Our house was located right about where the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and Cafe Orleans are today.’
“When his family moved out of their house in August 1954 they had to navigate their way around ditches and holes as construction had started on the park.”
“A year after he started at Disneyland, he had been trained on every attraction including the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, and was a member of the Order of the Red Handkerchief, the first Alumni Club at Disneyland dedicated to those worked that attraction which closed in 1977.”
Meet the person who transformed Knott’s Berry Farm into a food festival venue
John Storbeck’s reinvention of the Buena Park theme park as a socially-distanced food festival venue kept thousands of employees working while serving hundreds of thousands of customers.
By BRADY MACDONALD
PUBLISHED: January 4, 2021
“Storbeck, 61, joined Knott’s in 2016 after more than 30 years of working for Disney. The North Tustin resident started at Disneyland after college as a ride operator and rose to the top ranks — serving as vice president of Downtown Disney and Disney’s three Anaheim hotels.”
“‘The Taste events helped bring back nearly 2,000 Knott’s part-timers who joined 500 full-timers. The special events generate revenue that help pay staff salaries — but it’s nowhere near what Knott’s brings in when the park is fully operational.
“‘As far as making money, what I will tell you is that by offering these events we’re losing less,’ Storbeck said.
“Knott’s made a commitment to keep full-time employees on the job during the pandemic, he said.
‘“It was good for us psychologically to get open,’ Storbeck said. ‘It’s great for us to do what we do and entertain people. That’s what we live for.’”
“Only about 20% of those attending the Taste events have been Knott’s season passholders — which was surprising to Storbeck.”
You can listen to show 300 on iTunes or go to Libsyn service here.
Show Notes for Episode 300
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