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Robert Niles
Editor

Vote of the Week: It's Party Time at Disney!

Published: May 22, 2015 at 7:46 AM

Disneyland hadn't even closed yesterday before crowds starting lining up outside the park for the start of today's 24-hour party to celebrate the start of the resort's 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration.

Starting the Diamond Celebration
Kicking off the Diamond Celebration, at Disneyland before 6am this morning. Photo courtesy Disney

It's become a Memorial Day weekend tradition, with the 24-hour parties at Disney's parks here in Southern California and at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida. While Disney World's celebrating the start of another "Frozen" Summer with its event, the bigger news is in California, where Disney executives from both coasts have gathered for the 60th birthday kick-off.

We reviewed the media premieres of the resort's three new shows this week — World of Color - Celebrate!, Paint the Night, and Disneyland Forever — and the public will get its first chance to see those shows tonight. But that's not all that's happening at the resort. Disney's programmed a slate of special events, including a Mary Poppins movie sing-along in the Main Street Opera House at 6pm, 10pm, 12:45am and 3:30am, showings of Guardians of the Galaxy in the Tomorrowland Theater at 10pm and 3:30am, and The Avengers in that theater at 12:15am.

If you are in any of the Disney parks today, please tag @ThemePark in your Twitter photos, and we'll embed the best of them in this post, which we will update throughout the 24 hours.

And on the east coast...

Disneyland is live-streaming its party, in case you can't make it and want to follow along.


Please tell us in the comments about your theme park plans for the weekend. Thank you to everyone who's been following along as we've traveled all over the country to bring you coverage of all the attraction premieres over the past month and especially in the past week.

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Matthew Gottula
Writer

Disneyland Recharges its Electrical Parade with Paint the Night

Published: May 22, 2015 at 1:12 AM

I was a wide-eyed 7-year-old when the Main Street Electrical Parade ended its run at Disneyland. I was enthralled by that parade: the music, the colors, the lights. Especially the lights. I love things that light up. It was also the first time I felt emotional attachment and loss when a Disneyland classic "glowed away." I was just a kid, but I wrote a strongly worded hand-written letter to Michael Eisner (I still have a copy) pleading him to not take it away, arguing that "Disneyland doesn't need new technology."

At last, almost 20 years later, a new nighttime parade has hit the streets of Disneyland, and as it turns out, it's pretty spectacular what new technology can do.

Paint the Night
Photos by Robert Niles

Paint the Night, one of three new nighttime spectaculars for Disneyland's 60th Anniversary, is jam-packed with visual splendor and is consistently entertaining from start to finish. It's BRIGHT - almost blinding at times, thanks to the more than 1.5 million LED lights, neon, strobes and other special effects.

Monsters Inc.

Mack

More Mack

I especially enjoyed Sorcerer Mickey's kinetic sculpture at the very end - I could stare at that thing for hours. Entertainers wear elaborate costumes that are themed to each float and light up in sync with the music and choreography. One of my favorites was the jellyfish following the Little Mermaid float, with long glowing tendrils that spin and twirl.

Little Mermaid

Ariel and friends

Fans like me who are nostalgic for the Main Street Electrical Parade will appreciate nods to the original, like the big drum at the beginning of the parade, and the infectious "Baroque Hoedown" song, mixed in with Owl City's tune "When Can I See You Again?" which you might remember from the end credits of Wreck-It Ralph.

Slinky Dog and Woody

If I have any criticism, it's that the characters and films represented in the parade are the obvious choices, but not necessarily the *best* choices. "Paint the Night" first debuted at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2014, and Disneyland got the same parade with the addition of a Frozen float. That probably worked out great for Hong Kong, but in Anaheim it's strange to see Mack the truck from Pixar's Cars rolling down Main Street USA when Cars Land is in the theme park next door. The Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. floats also feel somewhat redundant at this resort, considering that California Adventure has a daytime parade entirely dedicated to Pixar. Wouldn't it be more interesting to see the video game world of Wreck-It Ralph, or the San Fransokyo skyline of Big Hero 6, brought to life with snazzy electric lights, instead of the same characters from the same films used over and over again?

Belle

Cinderella

Frozen

Nevertheless, I was mesmerized by "Paint the Night" and I enjoyed seeing an old friend made new again. It pays tribute to its predecessor while updating the tech considerably, with newer characters and films, and stunning lighting effects galore, all set to a toe-tapping pop beat that feels fresh but not out of place at Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom.

Mickey Mouse

I'm thankful that the show stop was eliminated from Hong Kong's version - nothing kills the momentum of this parade and it's all high-energy goodness from start to finish. My childhood memories have returned, even brighter and shiner than I remember.

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Robert Niles
Editor

Celebrating 60 Years with 'Disneyland Forever'

Published: May 22, 2015 at 12:42 AM

The Disneyland Resort wrapped up its Diamond Celebration media event with the premiere of Disneyland Forever — the new fireworks show that includes projection mapping on Main Street, the castle, and other facades around the park.

We will have a full review and video report later, but first, this thought:

This is a truly immersive show, meant to be experienced fully, and not through a screen. You truly have to see it in person to appreciate it.

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Robert Niles
Editor

A New Yeti Moves in on Disneyland's Matterhorn

Published: May 21, 2015 at 6:21 PM

Not only is Disneyland rolling out three new shows for its 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration, it's plussing some of its classic attractions, too.

Matterhorn

We already told you about the return of an improved Hatbox Ghost to the Haunted Mansion. And, starting tomorrow, Disneyland fans also will get to see a new and improved Yeti on the Matterhorn Bobsleds. (Cue the screams from frustrated Expedition Everest fans.)

New Yeti
Photo courtesy Disney

Disneyland let media reps go the ride a day early today, and here is a full on-ride POV video for you viewing enjoyment.

Yeah, it's a little shaky. That's because the ride is the same as it's been since the last major refurbishment, when Disneyland replaced the classic bobsleds with new sleds that fans have decried as rough and uncomfortable, with sharply reduced legroom.

Disney worked on the show this time, adding three encounters with the Yeti on the ride. While we hear the Yeti from the moment we enter the mountain, the first time we catch a glimpse of the legendary creature is behind ice on the ride's initial lift.

After passing the wreckage of a previous mountain exhibition (including one of those old, beloved sleds, wrecked), we see the new animatronic Yeti. Featuring a wide range of body motion and detailed facial movement, the Yeti swipes his arms toward your sled as you slide past.

We will see the Yeti one last time, toward the end of the ride, when he (she? it?) lunges toward the sled.

No, Disneyland's Yeti isn't as large as the one on Expedition Everest. Nor does he seem to move as much as the Walt Disney World abominable snowman once did. But this Yeti does move, and impressively so, giving west coast fans one more gift from Disneyland over which they can brag a little toward their east coast friends.

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Robert Niles
Editor

First Look at Wizarding World of Harry Potter Merchandise from Universal Studios Hollywood

Published: May 21, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Let's head to Hollywood to see what's new this week at the Wizarding World West!

Wizarding World construction

Universal Studios Hollywood has said that it will make an announcement on June 2 about its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which debuts next year. But this week, the park is letting annual passholders get a first look at some of the Harry Potter merchandise that will sold in the new land.

Temporary Harry Potter store

Most of the items will be familiar to fans who have visited the two Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands at Universal Orlando. And some of it will be familiar to Southern Californians who have visited the Warner Bros. Studio Tour store down the street, which sells Potter-themed items. But let's climb aboard the hype train anyway, and enjoy a look around.

Inside the store

This store, which is located outside of the land, which remains under construction, includes a selection of house robes...

Hogwarts house robes

Hogwarts supplies and souvenirs...

Hogwarts souvenirs

Quidditch gear...

Quidditch gear

Owls, pets, and other animals...

Potter pets

Sweets, including Chocolate Frogs, Jelly Slugs, Peppermint Toads, and Every Flavor Beans...

Wizarding sweets

Souvenirs for those in Slytherin...

Dark magic souvenirs

A few higher-priced specialities, including house watches, collectibles, and jewelry...

Harry Potter collectibles

And, of course, wands.

Wizarding wands

Only the traditional (non-interactive) wands are available here, and they sell for $36.95 each — the same price currently posted on the Universal Orlando website.

Harry Potter character wands

No word yet on if the interactive wands will be part of the Hollywood Wizarding World experience. Perhaps a question to be answered next month?

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Matthew Gottula
Writer

World of Color – Celebrate!: A [Somewhat Spoiler Containing] Review

Published: May 21, 2015 at 1:58 AM

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Samantha Glavin

Wicked Cyclone Storms into Six Flags New England

Published: May 20, 2015 at 7:45 PM

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Russell Meyer
Writer

Laff Trakk Debuts at Hersheypark (*Updated)

Published: May 20, 2015 at 7:44 PM

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Robert Niles
Editor

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: Now in 3D

Published: May 20, 2015 at 6:24 PM

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Robert Niles
Editor

Six Flags Magic Mountain Makes the Old New Again with Twisted Colossus

Published: May 20, 2015 at 2:19 PM

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Robert Niles
Editor

An Insider's Look at Disney's New World of Color - Celebrate

Published: May 19, 2015 at 10:28 PM

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Robert Niles
Editor

Universal Studios Hollywood Promises Wizarding World of Harry Potter News on June 2

Published: May 19, 2015 at 1:08 PM

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Robert Niles
Editor

Six Flags Challenges Disney, Universal at Their Own Game with Justice League: Battle for Metropolis

Published: May 19, 2015 at 11:01 AM

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Jacob Sundstrom
Writer

Where to Eat: Dinner at Epcot's Restaurant Marrakesh

Published: May 18, 2015 at 9:12 PM

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Robert Niles
Editor

An Insider's Look at Disneyland's New Parade - Paint the Night

Published: May 18, 2015 at 12:01 PM

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John Ramey
Writer

Weekly Top 10: The Things That Theme Park Employees Block Out While Working

Published: May 18, 2015 at 8:31 AM

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Robert Niles
Editor

An Insider's Look at Disneyland's New Fireworks Show - Disneyland Forever

Published: May 17, 2015 at 3:24 PM

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Rick Bridger

Attraction Spotlight: The San Diego Zoo

Published: May 17, 2015 at 10:58 AM

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Robert Niles
Editor

Getting Ready for Disneyland's Diamond Celebration

Published: May 16, 2015 at 11:36 AM

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Robert Niles
Editor

Vote of the Week: Do You Most Want Free Food, Time, or Money or Your Theme Park Vacation?

Published: May 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM

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Bobbie Butterfield
Writer

El Diablo Opens at Six Flags Great Adventure - But What Is It?

Published: May 15, 2015 at 11:32 AM

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