Disney's Electrical Parade

First Look at the Royal Wedding Dress – Ariel’s, That Is

posted on April 25th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


As anticipation builds for the British royal wedding on Friday, so does speculation about what Kate Middleton will wear when she weds Prince William. We have another princess getting ready to debut her wedding gown here at the Disneyland Resort, on June 3. That’s when Ariel and Prince Eric will debut in The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, an attraction inspired by the classic animated film, including the film’s wedding scene.

To find out more about Ariel’s dress and Prince Eric’s attire, I talked to the clothing designer, Gloria Bowls. She collaborated with Walt Disney Imagineer Larry Nikolai to create a look that reflects several periods of British history. Ariel’s gown, similar to the dress in the film, was largely influenced by the royal wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981 (“The Little Mermaid” film debuted in 1989).

“What was amazing about Diana’s dress was that no princess had arrived on the scene with such grandeur – larger than life,” Gloria said. “Ariel’s dress has some of that grandeur, a fantasy come to life – and larger than life. The big poof sleeves are almost as big as her head.”

Here’s a sneak peek at Ariel in her wedding finery.

First Look at the Royal Wedding Dress - Ariel’s, That Is

Gloria designed custom wedding gowns and evening wear before taking on the challenge of designing costumes for Audio-Animatronics figures and consulting for Disney. She credits Larry Nikolai’s vision for encouraging her to let this dress express Ariel’s mermaid personality (i.e., she has this thing for “thingamabobs”).

“Ariel’s dress is made very much like a regular bride’s dress in that the bodice is fully lined, interlined and extensively boned – it practically stands up on its own,” Bowls said. “My favorite part is the front inset of the skirt … an underwater seascape with a shell, a starfish, a seahorse, all beaded and appliqued on, with seaweed lace.

“I hope each little girl will come off the ride inspired and dreaming of having a dress like Ariel’s for her own wedding day.”

These photos show Gloria as she was working on the dress, plus some of the intricate detail.

First Look at the Royal Wedding Dress - Ariel’s, That Is

First Look at the Royal Wedding Dress - Ariel’s, That Is

First Look at the Royal Wedding Dress - Ariel’s, That Is

Complementing Ariel’s dress is Prince Eric’s attire, inspired by 19th century British royalty and British military uniforms. Details such as gold silk buttons reflect the aspects of courage, valor and honor.

Gloria was one of many experts who worked on this attraction. Would you like to hear from some of the Walt Disney Imagineers who created the Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure? Enter for a chance to attend our meet-up, scheduled for May 10 at 6:30 p.m.

What do you think of the magical detail in Ariel’s royal wedding gown?

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Enter for a Chance to Attend Our Latest Meet-Up: The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on April 22nd, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


UPDATE–April 29: We’re thrilled with the great response from readers for the The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Meet-Up. Entries are now closed and all entrants will be receiving a follow-up email indicating whether they have been chosen to participate in this event. Along with the rare opportunity to hear Walt Disney Imagineers and animators discuss the new Little Mermaid attraction, we have reserved viewing at Disney California Adventure park for the 8:30 p.m. performance of “World of Color” for this exclusive group. Guests attending the meet-up are not required to purchase admission to Disney California Adventure park.

We know some of you who are not attending will have questions about the concept and development of the attraction.  Please post your questions in the comments and we’ll do our best to present some of them at the meet-up.  We will post some of the answers here on the Disney Parks Blog following the meet-up and in real time during the event on Twitter. Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for additional meet-ups in the future.

We’ve taken you behind the scenes to see some of the amazing things the Walt Disney Imagineers are working on for the June 3 debut of The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney California Adventure park. We’ve shown you what it’s like to create not only the Ariel Audio-Animatronics figure, but also how to animate her hair.

We’ve given you a glimpse of how impressive Ursula will be when she gets settled into her lair.

And we’ve shown you the beautiful “clam shells” – the vehicles that will take you “under the sea.”

Now we’re inviting you to join us for a very special meet-up, featuring Walt Disney Imagineers Lisa Girolami, Larry Nikolai and Chris Crump from the attraction’s creative team, as well as Walt Disney animators Andreas Deja and Mark Henn who worked on the animated feature film on which the attraction is based. Their tales will also be featured in an article in the May issue of D23 Magazine.

The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure

Today through April 28 at 11:59 p.m. (PDT), you can enter for a chance to attend our meet-up.

Those selected will be among an exclusive group at our panel discussion with the Walt Disney Imagineers and animators. The meet-up will be held May 10 at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. The team is still hard at work getting Scuttle, Sebastian and their friends ready to perform, so you will NOT be able to ride or visit the attraction.

Please carefully read the details on the form when you enter. As a reminder: You must be at least 18 years of age to enter, the meet-up does not require theme park admission and you must appear in person with a valid ID and your guest. If you are one of the 150 people randomly selected from our entries, you will be able to bring only one (1) guest. We will notify you by email if you are selected, with check-in details. All elements of this opportunity are subject to change without notice. Click here to register and learn more.

Are you excited to enter The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Meet-Up? Good luck and I’ll see you there!

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This Day in History: ‘Disneyland After Dark’

posted on April 15th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


It’s hard to imagine a live stage as big as Disneyland park. And yet, when you look back at all its dazzling history, Disneyland Resort has been a showcase for all kinds of nighttime entertainment.

Take a step back in time with me and enjoy this video, a clip from a “Disneyland After Dark” episode that aired on “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” on April 15, 1962. It features magical moments of nighttime fun from an earlier era. The looks and styles are different (you gotta’ love Walt Disney’s hat!), but it’s the same excitement you find “after dark” today at Disneyland park.

What’s your favorite “Disneyland After Dark” entertainment memory?

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New Images from ‘Mickey’s Soundsational Parade,’ Debuting May 27

posted on April 8th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


We told you a while back about the exciting, new parade coming to Disneyland park this summer, “Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.” Imagine Mickey Mouse leading his friends down Main Street, U.S.A., with live musicians, nine colorful floats and an extravaganza of Disney tunes. It will be music in motion, starting May 27.

You were so thrilled to see the first artist’s rendering of the parade that we decided to share a few images up close. These were revealed today in a presentation given by Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis.

New Images from ‘Mickey’s Soundsational Parade,’ Debuting May 27

Blog readers really liked the concept of this giant jam session when we first announced it. Here’s what some of them said:

Alexander: “This is great! I really like the Mickey float! I noticed … the princess float has a tall tower. Would this be from ‘Tangled’?”

Yes, you will see elements from “Tangled” along with Disney princesses.

June: “I can’t wait to see this! …I love the idea of live music and steel drums.”

Brendan: “I think my daughters will be most excited to see the Princess and the Frog float … I’m looking forward to music during that section.”

We are, too Brendan. New Orleans jazz and Cajun rhythms will come rollin’ down the bayou, from the Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog.” Here’s a closer look at that float and one of the vibrant costumes that will be worn by the dancers.

New Images from ‘Mickey’s Soundsational Parade,’ Debuting May 27 New Images from ‘Mickey’s Soundsational Parade,’ Debuting May 27

There will be more than 90 performers in “Mickey’s Soundsational Parade,” including Mickey pounding on a live, acoustic drum set. Will we see you at “Mickey’s Soundsational Parade”?

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How One Problem Turned into Millions of Wishes at Disneyland Park

posted on April 8th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


On April 9, 1961, Walt Disney dedicated the Snow White Grotto, a tranquil spot in Disneyland park you won’t want to miss. Located at the eastern end of the moat around Sleeping Beauty Castle, its quaint wishing well has launched millions of wishes into the world. Do you know the the story behind this serene locale, and how it began with a problem of proportions?

Snow White Grotto at Disneyland Park

The white, marble figurines depicting Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs arrived anonymously from Italy as a gift for Walt Disney. They were exquisite, but every statue was roughly the same height. How would Snow White, the princess, project her royal presence if she was no taller than Dopey?

Walt Disney was determined to find a way to include the figurines within Disneyland park. As the story goes, Disney designer John Hench was perplexed when Walt first gave him the figurines to display. Then he found an ingenious and elegant solution. The major elements of the scene were scaled to create the illusion of distance and height and Snow White was placed at the top of the diorama, where she stands majestically above the scene. This created a forced perspective. Viewed from the adjacent footbridge, Snow White appears perfectly proportioned in relation to her friends.

Hench did such a magical job creating the scene that three other Disney Parks have since incorporated the montage – disproportion and all – in their Castle forecourts.

The soundtrack at Snow White Grotto includes chiming bells, woodland creatures and the voice of Snow White from the original movie. In 1983, as part of the New Fantasyland opening, Adriana Castelotti recreated her performance of “I’m Wishing” from the Oscar-winning 1937 film. Snow White sings throughout the day in the Grotto and even this feature has a magical quality as listeners hear the voice of the princess float out over the waterfall, then echo back from the Wishing Well.

Throughout the years, guests have tossed pennies and small coins into the well, along with their wishes. They may not realize that making their own wish also grants a wish. For decades, the money collected in the Wishing Well has been donated to children’s charities. Inscribed on the well is the sentiment: “Your wishes will help children everywhere.”



Take a look back at the stories of some of Disneyland park’s landmarks and attractions:

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Photo Locations: Favorite Spots to Capture Your Memories at Disneyland Resort

posted on April 7th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Has a random stranger ever approached you at the parks offering a camera? I see this happen all the time. A guest is trying to capture a special memory with friends or family but he can’t get in the picture and take it, too. He might turn to another guest for help.

Did you know that cast members are always happy to step in and take your photo? I love it when I get this opportunity. The guests are so grateful, and they’re elated to know this special moment will now live on in a photo that includes their entire group.

The iconic locations in the parks are most popular. Everyone wants a photo at Sleeping Beauty Castle, for instance, because it’s such a beautiful symbol of Disneyland park.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park

Guests also pick some offbeat backgrounds for their photos, like a red popcorn cart on Main Street, U.S.A., or the new construction fences previewing the coming of Cars Land in 2012 at Disney California Adventure park.

A new photo location opened recently, right at the spot where guests will enter Cars Land along Route 66. You can step into a racing scene pit stop and pose with Mater or Lightning McQueen, stars of the Disney•Pixar film “Cars” and the upcoming “Cars 2.” Check out McQueen’s new racing fin. (I dare you to grin just as big as they do.)

Mater and Lightning McQueen at Disney California Adventure Park

I’d like to know your favorite places to take photos at the parks. Here are a few top spots, and I bet you’ll come up with some innovative locations.

  • In front of City Hall at Disneyland park with the City Hall sign clearly in view.
  • Floral Mickey, a lovely spot just as you enter Disneyland park (when you still look fresh).
  • On the bridge at Disney California Adventure park with Mickey’s Fun Wheel as the backdrop.
  • Along the river at New Orleans Square at Disneyland park.
  • Next to the airplane near “Soarin’ over California” at Disney California Adventure park.
  • In front of the big, blue Sorcerer’s cap in the Downtown Disney District.

Tell us where you posed for a recent memorable photo at the Disneyland Resort.

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Look for New Film Images in ‘The Art of Animation’ Show at Disney California Adventure

posted on April 1st, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Here’s a tip for the next time you visit Disney California Adventure park – visit the Disney Animation Building on Hollywood Boulevard. There’s no line, it’s cool inside and “The Art of Animation” show recently expanded its unique display of Disney and Pixar animated films. You can see it on the array of screens that surround you inside the Courtyard Gallery, just inside the main entrance.

Several new releases are now featured, including images and songs from “Tangled” (2010) and “Toy Story 3” (2010).

'The Art of Animation Show' at Disney California Adventure Park

'Tangled' at 'The Art of Animation Show' at Disney California Adventure Park

Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president for Walt Disney Imagineering, described it this way: “’The Art of Animation’ show celebrates the art and music of our animated classics – from Disney and Pixar. The show has been a highlight of the Animation attraction at Disney California Adventure park since opening day. Now, we’re updating the show to include many of the classic films which have been created in the past decade.”

'The Art of Animation Show' at Disney California Adventure Park

Here are some of the films featured in “The Art of Animation” show:

  • “The Little Mermaid”
  • “Beauty and the The Beast”
  • “Fantasia“
  • “Bambi”
  • “Finding Nemo”
  • “Cinderella”
  • “Mulan”
  • “Lilo & Stitch”
  • “Alice In Wonderland”
  • “UP”
  • “Lady and the Tramp”
  • “Dumbo”
  • “The Lion King”
  • “Cars”
  • “Aladdin”
  • “Peter Pan”
  • “Pinocchio”
  • “The Princess and the Frog”

What’s your favorite activity in the Disney Animation Building?

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All Aboard for the Grand Canyon Diorama on the Disneyland Railroad

posted on March 30th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


With more than 55 years of history at the Disneyland Resort, it’s fun to look back now and then at special dates that have influenced the magical storytelling that happens here every day. Tomorrow, March 31, is the anniversary of the 1958 grand opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama on what was then called the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad.

When you ride the Disneyland Railroad between the Tomorrowland Train Station and Main Street, U.S.A., you’ll travel through a tunnel with two distinct dioramas. Today, we’re celebrating the anniversary of the first of those scenes to appear in Disneyland park.

Going from the bright, natural light of the park inside the tunnel plunges you into darkness, and that gives way to the enthralling vista of the Grand Canyon Diorama. Depicted from its south rim, the canyon is revealed on a canvas that is 306 feet long and 34 feet high, making this backdrop one of the world’s longest dioramas. Another remarkable aspect of this canvas: it’s seamless and handwoven.

The Grand Canyon Diorama on the Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland Park

This replica of the Grand Canyon required 300 gallons of paint to capture its natural marvels, including a snowfall, a storm, a sunset and a rainbow. The scene is based upon Walt Disney’s Academy Award-winning live-action short subject of 1958, “Grand Canyon.”

As passengers are pulled slowly past this famous American landmark, flora and fauna native to the landscape appear in realistic detail. The canyon ridges are filled with all kinds of critters, including deer, mountain lions, skunks and wild turkeys. The mood is set by the click-clack of train wheels, accentuated by music from the “On The Trail” section of American composer Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite.

I’ve seen this diorama several times while riding the Disneyland Railroad, and each time I’m impressed with the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon. This photograph made me wonder what Walt Disney might have imagined when he was directing the project. Walt visited many spectacular places around the world and many of his “mental photographs” later became a part of Disneyland park – almost like a 3D scrapbook of his memories. I’m glad he decided to share these special marvels with all of us.

Have you visited the Grand Canyon via the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad? What are your favorite scenes along the Disneyland Railroad journey?

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Special Video from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Sneak Peek’

posted on March 29th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Pirates swept into Disneyland park this past weekend for an exciting adventure, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Sneak Peek,” featuring an exclusive 3D film sequence from the upcoming Disney film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Here’s a look at the first night of this new experience, which invites guests to join the crew of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Guests begin their adventure along Big Thunder Trail in Frontierland, where they meet some of Captain Jack’s scallywags, including Captain Squawk, a wise-cracking, peg-legged parrot. As they make their way into Festival Arena, it’s as if they were boarding a great pirate vessel. That’s when the action begins.

You can catch this “Sneak Peek” adventure on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights now through May 30 at Disneyland park. The event will play nightly from April 15-May 1. And look for the movie in theaters beginning May 20.

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‘Disney Junior – Live on Stage!’ Gets High Ratings from Our Younger Guests

posted on March 25th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


With “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!” making its debut today at Disney California Adventure park, we thought it would be fun to ask some of the show’s “biggest” fans what they like about it. Take a look at this video for a peek at “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and to see what kids think about this interactive experience.

Along with Jake and his pals, “Disney Junior – Live on Stage” brings back cast members from three audience favorites – “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny” and “Little Einsteins.” The production is jam-packed with music, dancing, beloved characters and Disney storytelling.

Dan Fields, creative director for the show, said it was exciting to be able to add Jake and his pals to the production within a month of their appearance on Disney Junior.

He added: “‘Disney Junior – Live on Stage!’ is the only place where Mickey and friends are the same size as toddlers, so the show is very approachable and fun for young guests and their families. The Disney characters directly ask the audience to be part of the action. Plus, there are more than a dozen musical moments in the show, so it’s pretty action-packed if you’re four or five years old!”

The new television creation Disney Junior launched in February, introducing “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” to children across the country. The park production opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida earlier this month.

What do you think of the new marquee at Disney California Adventure park?

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