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Behind the Scenes: Take a Look Back at ‘Paint the Night’ Parade Float Production

posted on October 8th, 2015 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort

Around this time last year, I had the opportunity to chat with and follow Imagineers as they checked out various “Paint the Night” parade floats in progress. The warehouse was full of float frames, familiar figures and of course, lights! From the frame of Mack Truck to light testing on Slinky Dog’s tail, I felt like I had an exclusive sneak peek into the minds of this creative team. Now to see these “Paint the Night” parade floats completed and glowing down Main Street, U.S.A., it’s fun to look back and see how far they have come! Of course this stuff is too good not to share – take a look behind the scenes of “Paint the Night” parade.

“Paint the Night” parade performs nightly as part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration.

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Imagineers Team Up with CAL FIRE to Create Story of Grizzly Peak Airfield at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on October 7th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

Grizzly Peak Airfield takes Disney California Adventure park guests into California’s High Sierras and tells the story of the brave men and women who fight wildfires in our California forests. To create the story of Grizzly Peak Airfield, Walt Disney Imagineering turned to the experts at CAL FIRE (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection), even visiting Hemet-Ryan Airfield in California for research. Since this is Fire Prevention Week, I thought this would be the perfect time to share this story with you here on the Disney Parks Blog.


Soon after Grizzly Peak Airfield opened, two of the CAL FIRE officers who worked closely with Imagineers on the project – Captain Richard Cordova and Captain Lucas Spelman – visited the land with the Walt Disney Imagineering team they had inspired. They are pictured in the photo above with Ray Spencer, Brian Scholz and Carolyn Gardner – part of the creative team responsible for bringing the area to life.


I recently had the chance to ask Captain Cordova and Captain Spelman about the experience of helping create a land at Disney California Adventure park.

What role did you play in helping Walt Disney Imagineering create the story of Grizzly Peak Airfield?

Captain Cordova: I shared my knowledge of the fire service from the 1950s-1960s – both ground attack and air attack. We gave them period-specific articles to display throughout the area, donated by our CAL FIRE museum, including old pictures and manuals from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Our biggest contribution has been the continued knowledge of CAL FIRE, United States Forest Service and other fire departments.

Captain Spelman: My role was to bring to life our knowledge and love for our career, bring forth our rich history and to evaluate Grizzly Peak Airfield as it related to our profession. Let me just say that this was an experience that truly was incredible.

What did you show the Imagineers on their research visit to Hemet-Ryan Airfield that made its way into the new land?

Captain Cordova: We gave them a tour of the airbase, sharing with them the history and showing them our aircraft: Airtankers S2-T, Airattack OV-10 Bronco and the Super Huey Helicopter. During the tour we got a fire dispatch, so they got to see the aircraft in action. We also had lunch at Bambi’s Café down the street, which is where the Imagineers got a lot of their ideas for Smokejumpers Grill.

Captain Spelman: I enjoy the Mt. Muir Lookout at Grizzly Peak Airfield. This was based on our traffic control tower, which was also a lookout tower before it was placed into service at CAL FIRE Ryan Air Attack Base. I also loved the gear lockers that were placed between Humphrey’s and the restrooms. This is where some of the items from our CAL FIRE museum were placed. I was just taken aback by the time put into every last item placed throughout the this beautiful area.

What is your favorite detail in Grizzly Peak Airfield?

Captain Cordova: Wow, that’s a hard question – it’s all amazing. It’s great how the Imagineers can take some information from a tour and from us and turn it into a land.

Captain Spelman: My favorite detail of this area has to be the flow from Grizzly River Run to Grizzly Peak Airfield, with Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel in the background. It brings me back to my childhood, when my family would travel to parks throughout the state. The trees, the park signs, the lighting all come together to really bring the experience back to me.


Which of your own personal items are inside the lockers at Grizzly Peak Airfield? How were they chosen?

Captain Cordova: The old fire equipment, axes, nozzles and Nomex. The best part is having my name in the locker.

Captain Spelman: The lockers will always have a special place in my heart. There are two brass firefighting nozzles that I had picked up from a local garage sale. One was what we call a “combination nozzle” and the other a “straight stream nozzle.” I was never sure what I was going to use them for, but I could tell they had done some firefighting and needed a good home. Well, when the Imagineers said they would like additional items from the fire department, I knew just the pieces to be considered for Grizzly Peak Airfield. Although there are many items from our CAL FIRE museum in these lockers, the two nozzles will always be personal for me.


As Annual Passholders, what does the park mean to you and what does this land in particular mean to you with its new theming?

Captain Cordova: I can’t tell how much I love going to the parks with my family. It’s my getaway from everyday life. Now having a little part in Grizzly Peak makes it even more special for me. It’s nice that Disney has showcased our State Parks and the men and women of the fire service. It was an honor for me to work with the Imagineers.

Captain Spelman: My family and I have been Annual Passholders since 2003 and just love the Disney experience. Being involved with this project is a Disney fan’s dream come true. Grizzly Peak Airfield will always be a special place for me.

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Behind the Scenes: Backstage at Rehearsals for ‘Tangled: The Musical’

posted on September 3rd, 2015 by Jonathan Frontado, Disney Cruise Line

As development is in full swing to produce brand-new music, stunning costumes, storybook sets and more for “Tangled: The Musical,” the incredible Disney Magic cast is putting the finishing touches on the show to get it ready for audiences this November.

We asked two of the key creative players to “take 5” during rehearsals and tell us more about the production. Show director, Gordon Greenberg, and choreographer, Connor Gallagher, told us all about the immersive and interactive environment they’re creating for the stage. Check out the video below for more details and never-before-seen footage from cast rehearsals!

For more inside looks at the development of this production, see the rest of this series:

Can’t get enough “Tangled”? Check out the recently released “Tangled as told by Emoji” video for another cool new way to experience this hair-raising adventure story. Best. Emojis. Ever!

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Behind the Scenes: ‘Operation Disneyland’ Shows How ABC Made TV History

posted on July 17th, 2015 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort

I am constantly in awe of the documentation I come across in the Walt Disney Company‘s archival footage. If you have seen the live telecast of opening day at Disneyland park, which originally aired on ABC on July, 17 1955, you may have thought – like me – “How did they do that?” This video shows highlights from “Operation Disneyland,” a 14-minute documentary produced for ABC closed-circuit television, which looks at the technical challenges behind broadcasting the opening ceremonies of Disneyland park.

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Behind the Scenes: This Year’s Star Wars Weekends Creative Campaign

posted on June 11th, 2015 by Will Gay, Creative Director, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Ready are you? We sure were. All of a sudden I look around and I am in the middle of the TV commercial shoot for the upcoming launch of this year’s Star Wars Weekends. This is one of those moments that I just think, “Are you kidding me? How did I get here in the middle of all this awesomeness and where did all these troopers come from?” It is a little surreal to say the least. Maybe it really did all start “A long time ago in a galaxy” … well you know. You see, my Jedi Master creative teammates and myself are huge Star Wars fans ourselves. We grew up watching the original trilogy and playing with everything Star Wars. So working on the creative for the latest campaign here at Yellow Shoes really was a dream come true for us.

After editing this great footage we shot right here at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, then adding in all the cool special effects, it was finally complete. And we are very excited to share with you today the finished spot we call, “Lit”.


Oh, and did you notice some very familiar footage in the beginning of the spot? How cool is that? Not to mention that iconic soundtrack that comes up at the end that can make a grown man get a little misty-eyed.


The idea behind this year’s campaign is simple: it’s as close to the Force as you can get. Everything plays out around the notion of going to Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and you are literally surrounded by the Force and all things Star Wars.

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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Behind the Scenes of Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland Park with Walt Disney Imagineering

posted on June 3rd, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

Matterhorn Bobsleds recently reopened at Disneyland park, following a refurbishment that brought many new creative elements to this classic attraction – including a whole new look for its most famous resident, the Abominable Snowman. In the video below, Walt Disney Imagineering takes us for a behind-the-scenes look at how this new look was created.

Have you seen the Abominable Snowman’s new look for yourself? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Behind the Scenes: Creating the Music for ‘Tangled: The Musical’ for Disney Cruise Line

posted on May 21st, 2015 by Jonathan Frontado, Disney Cruise Line

Last month, we gave you a first look at the production of “Tangled: The Musical,” coming to the Disney Magic this November. Today we continue our all-access pass with an exclusive video all about the development of the spectacular music for this show—which will include three new songs that weren’t in the movie!

In the video below, you’ll hear from some of the musical masterminds behind this production, starting with Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken, whose work includes classic Disney films like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Also featured are Grammy Award-winning lyricist Glenn Slater and Tim Williams. What a team!

Stay tuned for more exclusive videos from behind the scenes of “Tangled: The Musical” over the next several months.

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Behind the Scenes: Building Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 20th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

Harambe Market, a new area that will serve-up African-inspired street food, is set to open May 23 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Today, we’re excited to share with you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at just how the team is currently working together to bring this new area to life.


Check out the video below to hear how members of the project team traveled to Lamu, Kenya to study architecture, learn how African foods and spices inspired parts of the area’s storyline, and much more.

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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disney Dining, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Behind the Scenes: Hatbox Ghost Reappears in Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park

posted on May 11th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

This weekend, one of the 999 happy haunts in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park reappeared after decades in hiding. Take a look!

Hat Box Ghost

Hat Box Ghost

Today, I’m excited to share a behind-the-scenes look at this mysterious resident from our friends at Walt Disney Imagineering. Watch as they take us inside the reappearance of the Hatbox Ghost.

Come see the Hatbox Ghost for yourself now at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park!

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˜New Main Street Enchanted Windows to Debut for Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

posted on May 5th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

If you’ve wandered down Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park recently, you may have noticed some of the windows along the front of the Emporium are covered. What is going on behind those blue curtains, you ask? Today, I’m excited to tell you!

The beloved Main Street animated windows will come to life once again for the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration as Main Street Enchanted Windows. Since the early 1960s, scenes from Disney animated classics have been featured in the windows of the Emporium at Disneyland park. This year, for the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, these classic windows will be updated with new, exciting technology and effects. Take a look behind the scenes of the creation of these windows with John Gritz, Creative Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering, in the video below!

There will be a total of six Main Street Enchanted Windows. The first two, featuring the stories of “Peter Pan” and “Cinderella,” will be unveiled in May, followed by “Frozen” and “The Princess and the Frog” in July, and “Toy Story” and “Aladdin” in August.

The Main Street Enchanted Windows are just another way the Disneyland Resort continues to delight guests in ways both big and small … from our new nighttime spectaculars and the addition of new magic to classic attractions, to special details that catch your eye as you stroll down Main Street, U.S.A. See it all for yourself when the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration begins May 22!

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