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Studios Hollywood announces free shuttle service from Disneyland area.
1/16/00 - Universal Press Release, Surviving the Crowd, Magic not just a memory, Coaster clarifications, Downtown Disney event, and more
Universal Studios Hollywood sent along the following press release:
In my last update, I warned you to beware of the overcrowding at Disneyland.
In spite of my own warnings, I DID go to Disneyland for New Year's Eve. The conditions were indeed very crowded (to say the least), but the feeling in the park was not as oppressive as they were at Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, I'd have to say that Disney did an outstanding job of crowd control on this very busy day. Regular Christmas Fireworks, with a second midnight New Year's extravaganza really made the crowds bearable.
The only complaint I have was the overcrowding at the parking lot trams a situation which is not just reserved for the holidays I'm afraid.
Reader Dale writes with his own thoughts on the tram situation:
I'd like to thank Dale for writing in and can confirm first hand that there are often safety problems on and around the trams.
I've seen people jumping onto moving trams and see mass pushing and running when trams pull up at busy times. Clearly, this situation requires swift attention before someone is seriously hurt. With Downtown Disney and California Adventure now open, this situation will only get worse.
Luckily for Dale and anyone else who no longer feel safe on the trams, you can now walk all the way through Downtown Disney and then take a sidewalk all the way to the Mickey and Friends parking structure. I did this on Sunday and enjoyed not only the views of the new mall, but also the freedom of NOT being on those awful trams. Enough said!
Here's a funny little side note on a recent trip of mine to Knotts Berry Farm. While at the top of the Supreme Scream (a super tall freefall ride) I spied Mickey's head in the distance. Turns out that it was the Mickey headed loop on California Screamin' at Disney's California Adventure. From the dead on view, I just have to wonder if someone at Imagineering isn't laughing at this little in-joke as well. Who knows?
By the way, this is a terrible time of year to ride the Berry Farm's super duper tall drop you off a cliff into a wall of water ride, Perilous Plunge. You will end up soaked to the bone, and with as cold as it has been lately . . . don't say I didn't warn you. :)
Shorty wrote to tell me more about the possible new coaster(s) at Universal Studios Hollywood:
I hope so too Shorty! For those of you wondering what a Super Soaker is, it is a coaster that runs through a course of water obstacles. The one that Universal may get might have water cannons or bombs that you can shoot at guests on the ground or other cars. Sounds like loads of fun. Of course, this is all still unconfirmed.
On an even more perplexing note was this message from someone commenting on my Animal Actors Stage show update from my last update:
Um, OK. . . WHAT ARE THEY!?!? I mean, please write back with the details. Thanks!
Now, on to the really fun stuff. The Fabulous Disney Babe and I spent an incredible, if cold, evening on Thursday at the Grand Opening party of Downtown Disney. I'm not sure which I enjoyed more, all the wonderful food and drink at Orange County's newest playground, or spending the evening with the always funtastic Fabulous Disney Babe!
In spite of a steady rain all morning, with the promise of even more during the event, the weather stayed dry throughout the premiere. however, the night air was quite crisp. Fab filled you in on the details yesterday, but I do have a few thoughts and tidbits to share as well.
First, a big warm thank you to our host Ginger for taking such good care of us all night long. I'm sure she had no idea what she was getting herself into when she was assigned to the the MousePlanet team. Thanks to Ginger we were front row for all the festivities and she clued us in on who all those Disney suits were.
Sylvester Stallone and Liz Smith, were almost the only celebrities walking the red carpet at the opening of the event, it would have been nice if someone would have clued us in to the paucity of excitement that we were in for. An hour later, I'm just cold, bored, and commenting on who I think all the non-celebrities look like.
Judging from the way they were kept away from us, the real stars of the evening must have been the Disney executives. Why? Well, they were the ones keep farthest from the crowds. Yes, even though hundreds were spent on a single ticket, Mike and Co. shuffled off immediately after the opening ceremony to a private dinner in the fancy new Downtown Disney restaurant, Catal. Too bad for me. My soul goal for the entire evening was to finally meet Michael Eisner. Oh well, I probably would have said something I'd regret about how he used to be my hero before he sold his soul to the devil and started letting things go to . . . That isn't to say that I didn't meet a heavy hitter or two that night, thanks mostly to Fab who never lets a celebrity pass her by (NEVER).
Hold on to your bazooka Al. While inspecting the highly kinetic and immensely entertaining ESPN Zone, Fab spied Paul Pressler and made introductions. This guy should be selling used cars. It is easy to see how he continues to get promoted, in spite of his short sighted vision for the parks, he is truly a handsome and charming man. Don't get a big head Paul, that wasn't a compliment. I'll change my mind when I see you start building real "E" tickets again that aren't just gussied up versions of off the self attractions.
You'd be surprised how many Disney folks came up to Fab telling her to keep up the good work and thanking Mouse Planet for "keeping us on our toes." Amen to that.
Here's the long and short of it folks, Downtown Disney is a well designed upscale entertainment center. It is a prime spot to take in a movie and catch some dinner with a date or with the family. Rainforest Cafe and House of Blues in particular offer impressive ambiance as well as fantastic food. Though I haven't tried it yet, Catal looks to be the finest of DD's new eateries. If the food here holds up to the level set by award winning sister restaurants Patina and Pinot, we will all be in for quite a treat (if not a much lighter wallet).
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen looks to be a fun spot as well. However, after spending time in the rockin' House of Blues with Fab for over an hour, I just didn't feel like walking into another loud Cajun restaurant right away. Speaking of the House of Blues, this place has bands scheduled every night of the week! Suddenly staying at or near Disneyland isn't such a boring nightlife option.
Two places really surprised me. First, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria blew my socks off with it's eclectic jester inspired decor. They offer truly unique wood fired pizza's as well as a full Italian menu. This will be one of my new favorite restaurants as soon as it opens to the general public in the next week or two (they had it open for the event).
The other restaurant that surpassed my expectations was the La Brea Bakery Cafe. With a name like that, you wouldn't expect anything fancy. Well, I've got news . . . This place is no bakery. Well, it has a bakery, but it also has a delightful and complex menu as well. From the plaza between Disneyland and DCA, La Brea Bakery is the first of Downtown Disney's establishments that you will encounter. As a result of this prime location, and a fantastic menu, I'm betting this place will be a huge hit.
As the evening grew all too cold and late for a Thursday night, Fab and I headed back to her cozy little hotel room at the Grand Californian. I would have loved to have a martini with her in front of the grand fireplace, but alas as Fab pointed out yesterday I had to go home to Sachiko. Who is a male, but who is also a . . . dog. Gosh, you'd think this was a soap opera from the mail you folks send me!
If you'd like to know more about the establishments at Downtown Disney, please read Fab's report as well as Adrienne Phoenix's fantastic series of stories on this new and exciting shopping and entertainment destination.
Before I go, I just have to let you know something that has restored my faith in the Disneyland Resort. Just when I feared that the magic was gone, lost forever on the ledgers of the accountaneers, faith has been restored (sometimes I get so sappy).
Last week, I took a little stroll through the new Grand Californian hotel. I hadn't planned on spending more than half an hour, but ended up wandering the awe inspiring great halls and passages for over three hours with a pal of mine. Everywhere we went, we encountered friendly and energetic cast members. Folks who were so proud of their new hotel and it's unsurpassed beauty that they were just beaming with pride.
What really restored my faith in the magic was really something quite small. Tucked in the back of the hotel, next to the pool and in the corner closest to Grizzly Peak, is Whitewater Snacks. This is just an inexpensive little grill but has fantastic views of DCA. The castmembers here were the best I have ever encountered in a Disney park. I'm not kidding, these kids were efficient, friendly, and as thoughtful as you can imagine. Of course, my expectations have fallen over the last few years. But I've never received such great service in a low price point establishment such as this before. On top of everything, the food was very good and the views of DCA were quite fun. I plan on making this a regular stop and hope that the service here remains top notch.
Archive of past stories:
Universal Studios Hollywood is now offering a free shuttle from the Disneyland Resort area with a ticket purchase. That's a terrific deal. As soon as we get some more details on this, we'll fill you in.
The huge Jurassic Park III set on the backlot which we had pictured here before is now gone - apparently filming has concluded.
Universal is offering a special 20% discount after 6 PM at Cafe Tu Tango in CityWalk - you need to show your ticket stub for the discount. The Cafe is located behind the Hard Rock.
Gaucho Grill (up on the second "food court" level) on CityWalk has closed its doors. No replacement has been scheduled for the space at this time.
You may also want to check out Mouse Tales' David Koenig's latest column, it's an update with more Universal Studios Hollywood news.