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Update for June 12-18, 2006

Go directly to: News & Views | Current Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Park Events | Park Schedule/Blockout Dates

News and Views

Year of a Million Dreams, summer of a million questions

Disney officially put an end to the rumors of a possible extension of the Happiest Celebration on Earth promotion last week when they announced the next global marketing campaign: the "Year of a Million Dreams" Celebration. According to the press release, the celebration will "feature the debut of an incredible lineup of new attractions and entertainment at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts, plus new technologies that allow guests to customize their Disney park experience."


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During a press event in New York City, Disney also announced a sweepstakes of sorts, whereby "Disney cast members will award a million dreams—both large and small, including many 'money-can't-buy' experiences—to guests selected through a random process as part of a unique 'Disney Dreams Giveaway' promotion." Some of the potential prizes mentioned are: the opportunity to spend the night inside the "Royal Bedchamber" that is currently under construction inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom or inside in the Mickey Mouse Penthouse currently being designed for the Disneyland Hotel in California (neither will actually be completed before 2007), the use of a "Golden Fastpass" ticket, invitations to exclusive parties, and private encounters with the Disney characters. There will be many more.

Now you know everything we know about this promotion. Even though MousePlanet's Mike Scopa was on hand for the big announcement in New York, Disney has officially said no more about the promotion that is set to begin on October 1 other than what was contained in the press release. No details about how the "random" selection of guests will take place, only that "no purchase (is) necessary," and that complete rules will be announced on October 1. And while Jay Rasulo, chairman of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, spoke at the event about "empowering" cast members to grant the wishes of park guests, it seems likely that federal rules regulating sweepstakes and such will require a bit more…structure, at least in the way the major prizes are awarded. An article in the Orlando Sentinel (link) says that Disney has hired a consulting firm to help determine how to award the major prizes and that guests could be selected from anywhere on Disney property)

That said, the Disney parks already have quite a few special opportunities for selected guests to get extra special treatment, and it's exciting to know that the parks are actively looking for additional ways to include more guests. Several Disney parades have included opportunities for guests to either interact with performers during the show stops, or actually participate in the parade, and these experiences are treasured by those selected.

How many people have watched a Disney parade and wondered how they could ride with the princesses, or be chosen as the honorary grand marshal? Disneyland and Walt Disney World frequently select a military veteran to assist in the daily flag retreat. Several of the Disney hotels have programs by which they select a "family of the day" and include them in special activities. These types of things have never really been publicized by Disney—probably to avoid generating expectations by the 99.99 percent of guests who will not be selected to participate—but it sounds like that's all about to change.

So until October 1, join our readers in speculating about exactly what the prizes might be, and how you might win one of them. The members of our MousePad discussion board have been actively discussing what their Disney Dream would be (link). Even if they aren't all practical, they are at least entertaining. While you wait for the official rules, be sure the visit the official Web site of the celebration (link) and register to receive e-mail updates. Be sure to click on the "Sweepstakes" tab and enter to win whatever it is that you can win.

Disney would also like you to know that even if you don't win one of the potentially amazing prizes to be offered during the promotion, there are a lot of reasons to visit the Disney theme parks during 2007. Disneyland has officially announced Rockin' Space Mountain to open in Spring 2007, though there has been no definitive word on the schedule on which it will be presented (every night, only at night, etc.). Next summer brings the long-awaited return of water to the submarine lagoon, when the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction opens.

At Walt Disney World, The Seas with Nemo & Friends will open at Epcot, while Finding Nemo—The Musical comes to Disney's Animal Kingdom (both are scheduled to open in late 2006). In early 2007, the Laugh Floor Comedy Club attraction will open at the Magic Kingdom. During the promotion, Disney will also celebrate the 15th anniversary of Disneyland Resort Paris and the 25th anniversary of the Tokyo Disney Resort.

The press release concludes by saying "special entertainment and programs will be in place at the parks and resorts to accommodate the desires and wishes of would-be Disney princesses, pirates, adventurers and space explorers. Guests will be able to customize their visit to a Disney park to pursue the 'Dream Track' of their choice with online planning tools and in-park technology to help them become the hero or princess they've always dreamed of being." We've heard that Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams at Disneyland will stick around for at least another year, and that the Share a Dream Come True parade from Walt Disney World will return, but with some major changes. As for the rest, stay tuned. As with the 50th anniversary announcement, this event was all about the sizzle, but you get the feeling that someone out there is still trying to decide how to cook the steak.

A Pirate's Lunch for Me—Dining in New Orleans Square

A dining revolution is quietly happening in the sleepy corner of Disneyland known as New Orleans Square. Once the construction walls come down in late June, the Square will offer the widest variety of dining options available anywhere in the resort; everything from the grab-and-go convenience of the Royal Street Verandah to the elegance of Disneyland's signature restaurant, the newly remodeled Blue Bayou.

Café Orleans will re-open as a table service restaurant with an entirely new menu, and new décor and entertainment will spice up the French Market. Behind the scenes, two restaurants have participated in Extreme Makeover: Kitchen Edition, and cast members are gearing up for the Summer of Pirates. Here's what you can look forward to.

Blue Bayou

When the new Blue Bayou menu was first released, many people reacted with shock at the price increases, noting that the prices were comparable to the Napa Rose restaurant at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. According to a foods department manager, that was the plan. Disney is positioning the Blue Bayou as a fine dining establishment on par with Napa Rose, and intends for the location to regain its status as a special occasion restaurant.

During the lengthy renovation, the Bayou's antiquated basement kitchen has been replaced with a brand new, ground-level kitchen. Foods managers tell us that the Bayou chefs were instrumental in the design of the new kitchen and that the new equipment will allow the Bayou to offer menu items that the old kitchen could not handle. Managers also say that recent tests with cast member as customers have demonstrated a dramatic improvement in food quality and speed of service from the new kitchen.

We're told that the restaurant has improved the quality of the ingredients used to prepare the meals, including better cuts of meat. Even the children's food offerings have been upgraded with a 5-ounce prime rib added to the typical kids' fare. Never fear, the paper pirate-hat kid menus will return, but have been updated to more closely resemble Captain Jack Sparrow's headgear.

Many have complained about the new $4.99 "split plate" fee, but managers say that this is based on a growing trend in the restaurant industry. One said that when diners split an entrée, they won't be served one entrée and one empty plate. Instead the entrée will be divided and plated in the kitchen, and served with the appropriate side dishes.

Three new desserts join the menu, each with a sweet "keepsake." The Tortuga Trio of Creme Brule is served with a sugar replica of the Dead Man's Chest, the Flying Dutchman Cookie Boat is rigged with a pirate sail and flag, and the Key West, Key Lime has a sugar pirate coin. The chocolate doubloons that are presented with the check will now feature artwork from the classic attraction, and will also be available for purchase packaged with the sugar pirate chest replica.

The seating capacity of the restaurant has not changed, though the lighting is said to be much improved. Resort Enhancement has used some of the props and décor removed from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction during the refurbishment to decorate the lobby area.

During the summer Pirates promotion, the Bayou menus will feature the movie logo on the back, with art from the film surrounding the menu listings. No need to sneak these into your backpack—the keepsake menus are yours to take home. Bayou cast members will participate in the theme by alerting diners to the "new treasures" discovered in the caves below the restaurant, and warning them that pirates may be lurking about.

Café Orleans

To transform this cafeteria-style restaurant into a table-service location, construction crews started by stripping the existing space to the bare walls. Café Orleans now also has a brand-new kitchen and no longer shares kitchen space with the Blue Bayou. The remodeled dining area (the restaurant's lovely stained glass panels were preserved and remain in place) sports new wallpaper and décor, with room for about 60 diners. Outside, the renovated patio will have new awnings and seating for about 120 people.


There had been suggestions that Cafe Orleans might open as soon as June 9 or 10, but as of Sunday, June 11, the construction walls were still in place. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

Disneyland's Chef Chris has designed an entirely new menu for Café Orleans, and location cast members seem really excited about it. The popular Blue Bayou Monte Cristo sandwich will be a permanent menu item. In addition to the traditional turkey, ham and Swiss cheese version, Café Orleans will offer a meat-free alternative with Swiss, mozzarella and double creme brie, as well as a peanut butter and jelly version on the children's menu. Other signature offerings include French onion soup, a crab salad sandwich and made-to-order crepes. Desserts include Mickey-shaped beignets and chocolate crepe soufflés. (Click here to see the full menu) Disney did not install a take-out window for this restaurant, and menu items will not be available "to go."

During the Pirates promotion, a stage will be located on the terrace directly across from the patio, and will feature performances by a "band" of pirates with a peculiar curse—no matter what song they begin to play, it always winds up sounding like "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirates Life for Me." Cast members will get in the act with a variety of themed greetings, and menu artwork will reflect the pirates influence.

Café Orleans and neighboring French Market will host a "Pieces of Eight" promotion, where customers will receive one of eight collectible coins, each featuring artwork from the classic attraction, with a purchase of $30 (pre-tax, after any applicable discounts). The first coin will be released on Friday, July 7th; the next coin will be available on Sunday July 16th with subsequent coins released each Sunday. Coins will be available each week while supplies last and a collector's card to display the complete set will be available for purchase in limited quantities beginning July 7th.

Priority Seating "reservations" for the Blue Bayou and Café Orleans can be made 60 days in advance by calling the Disney Dine Line at 714-781-DINE.

French Market

The French Market will be "under new ownership" this summer when the entire location will receive a pirate-theme overlay similar to the Haunted Mansion Holiday promotion the restaurant hosts each year. The restaurant greeters will be replaced by costumed pirates and a giant sourdough replica of the "Dead Man's Chest" will serve as the centerpiece for the service counters. The chest will be filled with chocolate coins, goblets, pistols and a chocolate sculpture of Captain Jack Sparrow. Resort Enhancement has decorated the interior of the restaurant with items reclaimed during the renovation of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, all intended to look like items pirates have bartered in exchange for meals at the French Market. (Tip: see if you can recognize familiar faces in the photos you'll see scattered around the location.) Customers can purchase their beverages in a collectible Pirates of the Caribbean mug, and order pirate-theme desserts.

The location's bus staff is spending time with the Entertainment department as well as representative from the Disney Studios to get into their role as rum runners and pirate groupies. The staff will be well-versed in pirate trivia from all three Pirates films (the third in the franchise was filmed at the same time as the sequel being released this summer), can teach you the pirate handshake, and will join in on the chorus when the French Market band performs the "Ballad of Jack Sparrow."

Outdoor Vending

The popcorn and beverage carts in New Orleans Square will offer limited quantities of pirate-theme containers starting July 7. A popcorn bucket features colorful artwork from the classic Disneyland attraction, including an image of the treasure scene that was removed during the recent remodel of the ride. The beverage stand will serve frozen drinks and lemonade in the same souvenir mug—decorated with the attraction logo—that will be available from the French Market. We're told that supplies are extremely limited of these items, so don't wait too long to add them to your collection.

The Pirates promotions will last through mid-September at the French Market and continue to the end of October at Blue Bayou and Café Orleans. The French Market will shed the pirates overlay in order to participate in the Haunted Mansion Holiday promotion starting in October, but look for the Pirates to regain operation of the restaurant in the spring.

David Koenig reports...

...California Screamin' cast members are currently cross-training on other attractions at Disney's California Adventure park, in anticipation of the coaster being shut down for three months at the end of the summer. The rehab will accommodate construction beneath its supports of the new Toy Story-based dark ride, Midway Madness.

...Disneyland Lost Children is relocating to the Baby Care Center, combining the two services as they are at DCA. Cast members hope the merged operations don't become overly crowded (which wasn't a consideration at DCA). The vacated Lost Children office is supposed to become a meet-and-greet lounge for Make-A-Wish guests.

...And, as always, from the Big Fat Rumor department, DCA Entertainment is considering grounding Aladdin at the end of the year, and moving into DCA's Hyperion Theater could be a return of... Beauty and the Beast.

Pieces of Eight reopens

New Orleans Square's pirate-theme shop has reopened to the public even though the temporary location just down the walk is also still in business. The somewhat cramped store has been redesigned to allow for superior traffic flow—the side entrance that led from the exit of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction has been closed, and that corner outfitted with display shelves.


Pieces of Eight now sports expanded display areas. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.


The new cash register area at Pieces of Eight. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

The second cash register counter was removed entirely, which provided room for the group of display fixtures that once dominated the selling floor to be moved a few feet to the side and created larger aisles all around the space. The courtyard between Pieces of Eight and Le Bat en Rouge has two permanent cash registers and fixed display shelves, and the pressed penny machine has been relocated outside the courtyard to enhance traffic flow through the complex.


The pirate merchandise at Pieces of Eight is specifically focused on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.


More of the merchandise available at the new store. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

This and that...

...Brian Bennett forwarded this note from the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society:

Walt Disney's first movie star, Virginia Davis, will appear in person at a screening of two of her "Alice in Cartoonland" films from the mid-1920s. The screenings will be at the Hollywood Heritage Museum in Hollywood, California at 7:30pm on Thursday, June 22, 2006. Michael Broggie be appearing on the program with Alice.

Please see the Society Web site "Timetable", or go directly to the flyer (link) for more information.

...A quick photo for those who wanted to know the difference between the 'old' method of hat writing, which used modified sewing machines, and the new, which uses computerized a embroidery system. The hat on the left was embroidered with the old machine, the hat on the right with the new.


There are distinct differences between the writing produced on the old-fashioned hand-done writing (left) and the new automated embroidery machines (right). Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.


Main Street Mad Hatter will have one of these new automated hat embroidery machines. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

...For those who are collecting this year's series of theme and holiday ears, there are two new hats to hunt during your next trip to the park. A "Pirate Princess" hat was released on Sunday—the traditional black ear hat is wrapped with a pink bandana, and one ear is pieced with a gold hoop that sports a rhinestone dangle. The other is a blue hat with a 4th of July patch on the front and white stars on the ears.

...According to MousePlanet contributor David Michael, the Cove Bar at Disney's California Adventure is operating on summer hours, opening at Noon every day and closing around half an hour before DCA closes.

...David Michael also posted that the ESPNZone in Downtown Disney is offering special hours for those who wish to watch World Cup soccer matches. Remaining dates and times are:

June 20 to 23, 7 am
June 24 to 27 and 30, 8 am
July 1, 8 am

...For those who are counting the moments until Pirates of the Caribbean attraction reopens, this official Disney Web site might help make the wait more tolerable (link).

...Kodak is hosting a "Pirates of the Caribbean Photo Treasure Hunt," with a grand prize of a trip for four to the Disneyland Resort (link). To enter, you must submit a photo in one or all of these categories: Something gold, something in the sea and/or your personal treasure. Entries must be received by July 31, 2006. It would appear that artistic merit is not a factor in determining the winners: the official rules state that the winners will be randomly selected from all eligible entries.

...For a while now we have included in the Refurbishment and Closure schedule the rumor that River Belle Terrace would close this fall to begin a renovation into a completely updated two-story restaurant. As part of such a project, Bengal Barbecue would also likely close permanently. While the project still seems to be in the pipeline it now appears to have been pushed off to late 2007 in favor of other Foods projects under consideration. So, for now, that rumor is off the schedule.

Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. E–mail us here.

Current Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Disneyland

  • Pirates of the Caribbean closed March 6 – June 26, 2006, for major refurbishment and show updates. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest will premiere at Disneyland on June 24. Ride may be available to public on June 25.
  • Blue Bayou Restaurant closed March 6 – June 26, 2006, for the duration of the Pirates of the Caribbean closure.
  • Cafe Orleans Restaurant closed March 13 – mid-June, 2006, for redesign into full service restaurant. Exact date of reopening is not known with certainty but is believed imminent.
  • Main Street Mad Hatter closed until June 30 for refurbishment and expansion.
  • Fantasmic! dark June 17 - June 28, 2006, for activities surrounding premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
  • Disneyland Park opens and closes early June 24, 2006, for premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m. DCA will be open two hours later than usual until 11:00 p.m.
  • Parade of Dreams dark June 24, 2006, for red carpet arrivals to premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is currently under construction and will open sometime in 2007.

Disney's California Adventure

There are currently no closures.

Note: Refurbishment schedules are estimates only. All information is subject to change without notice. To get the most recent updates, call Disneyland at (714) 781–7290.

Events

If you know of any events, official or unofficial, that should be listed here, let us know.

June

  • Cars at El Capitan Theater. June 9 - July 4. The accompanying show is a demonstration of a real pit stop.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. June 24. Presumptive date of world premiere of this new movie, to be held in New Orleans Square. Park will close early (5 p.m.) with celebrity red carpet arrivals earlier in the day. Has not yet been officially announced.

July

  • Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise event. July 6 (link, all package levels now sold out.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at El Capitan Theater. July 7 - September 4. Accompanying the run of the movie will be props and costumes from the movie.
  • 3 Christopher Radko ornaments released July 8, 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. (link).

September

  • Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. September 15-17. For more information and registration see the official Web site (link, warning: horribly annoying embedded music)

October

  • Gay Days. October 6 - 8. Unofficial event (link).
  • Mickey's Halloween Treat. October 13, 20, 22, 26, 27, 29, 30, and 31 at DCA. (See Disneyland AP page for details)

November

  • Lion King returns to Pantages Theater. Beginning November 16 for eight week run. Call 323-463-4367 for details and tickets. Presale tickets are available to Annual Passholders and Disney Visa members through June 10.


Park Schedule/Blockout Dates

DL: Disneyland
DCA: Disney's California Adventure
Annual Pass blockout dates:

  • SL – Southern California Select Annual Pass
  • SC – Southern California Annual Pass
  • DX – Deluxe Annual Pass
Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
5/29 5/30 5/17 5/31 6/1 6/3

DL: 9a–10p
DCA: 10a–8p
SL/SC

DL: 9a-10p
DCA: 10a–7p

DL: 9a-10p
DCA: 10a–7p

DL: 9a-9p
DCA: 10a–7p

DL: 9a–Mid
DCA: 10a–9p
SL

DL: 8a–Mid
DCA: 10a–9p
SL/SC/DX

6/4 6/5 6/6 6/7 6/8 6/9 6/10

DL: 8a–11p
DCA: 10a–9p
SL

DL: 9a–11p
DCA: 10a–7p

DL: 9a–11p
DCA: 10a–7p

DL: 9a–11p
DCA: 10a–7p

DL: 9a–9p
DCA: 10a–7p
SL/SC

DL: 9a–Mid
DCA: 10a–9p
SL/SC

DL: 8a–Mid
DCA: 10a–9p
SL/SC/DX

6/11 6/12 6/13 6/14 6/15 6/16 6/17

DL: 8a–Mid
DCA: 10a–9p
SL

DL: 9a–11p
DCA: 10a–7p

DL: 9a–11p
DCA: 10a–7p

DL: 9a–9p
DCA: 10a–7p
SL/SC

DL: 9a–9p
DCA: 10a–7p
SL/SC

DL: 9a–Mid
DCA: 10a–9p
SL/SC

DL: 8a–Mid
DCA: 10a–9p
SL/SC/DX

Visit our Annual Passholders Blockout Dates 2006 page to see more dates. You can see future calendar schedules at Disneyland. As always, specifics are subject to change without notice (or occasionally, without us noticing) so when information conflicts between what is presented here and that presented by Disney, it is best to assume Disney's information is correct.

Entertainment schedule: Go directly to the Disneyland Resort schedule for this week at Disneyland.com here.




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