Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Inside The Mouse Castle 12-29-2014 - Happy New Year at Disney Parks, 'Into The Woods' and Pirating 'Frozen'

Happy New Year at Disneyland
Happy New Year!
Break out the party hats and the noisemakers! It's time to ring in 2015! Anthony and I have all the info for making the best of your New Year's Eve visit to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Just don't mind the crowds, because it's going to be packed. Both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World reached capacity on Christmas Day and the gates closed to new guests for several hours. You know that's going to happen again on December 31st. So, arrive early, take a chill pill and pace yourself. And along the way, enjoy the special entertainment, music performances and fireworks extravaganzas that await you heading into the Disney new year.

Here's what else we have in store in the latest edition of Inside The Mouse Castle:

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella in "Into the Woods"
Anna Kendrick stuck on the steps of the palace in Into the Woods.
  • Into the Woods is a dark and delightful adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical. I caught it over the weekend and highly recommend it whether you're a fan of movie musicals or just appreciate great cinematic storytelling. I've also fallen in love with Anna Kendrick, who plays the tormented and torn Cinderella, but I digress.
  • Apple Pay technology is now live at Walt Disney World. Got that new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6+ for Christmas? You can now use it for purchases in and around the Florida resort.
  • We were excited about the Marvel Experience making it's debut in Phoenix, but less-than-stellar reviews on Yelp have us second-guessing our enthusiasm. Anthony and I might wait until the superhero circus hits San Francisco before we check it out. We hope the bugs are worked out by then.
  • Bob Iger blah blah blah Fortune interview blah blah blah technology blah Pixar blah Marvel blah Lucasfilm blah blah OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THE PICTURE OF HIM WITH THE MILLENNIUM FALCON?!?! blah blah blah blah blah MagicBands.
Bob Iger with the Millennium Falcon
Bob Iger with the Millennium Falcon. NBD.
  • Disney's Frozen was the second most pirated film of 2014 (The Wolf of Wall Street was number one). Guardians of the Galaxy didn't make the top 20, proving that even thieves will pay for quality.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Photos From Walt Disney's Barn

In Friday's episode of The Mouse Castle Lounge, I paid a visit to Walt's Barn in Griffith Park, just up the road from the Los Angeles Zoo. It was a wonderful trip back in time to a world of steam locomotives and, oh yeah, the exact same barn that stood in the backyard of Walt Disney's Holmby Hills home in the 1950s. It was a wonderful place to enjoy the holiday season surrounded by Disney magic with a little bit of pixie dust thrown in for good measure. Here are some more pics from my visit:

Walt's Barn in Griffith Park
Walt's Barn in Griffith Park is operated by the Carolwood Foundation,
which dedicates itself to preserving Walt Disney's railroad legacy.
Hey, the guy liked trains.

Margaret Kerry at Walt's Barn
The barn opens to the public once a month on the third Sunday of each month.
Inside, you'll find an impressive collection of train memorabilia like this gondola car
from Walt's own 1/8 scale Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Sometimes you'll even run
into a Disney celebrity like Margaret Kerry, the original live-action model
for Tinker Bell in Disney's Peter Pan.

Margaret Kerry and Santa Claus at Walt's Barn
It seems Margaret has also bumped into a celebrity.

Storybook Land miniature
Walt's Barn isn't just about trains. The Carolwood Foundation
is restoring some of the few remaining miniature buildings that
stood on the banks of Disneyland's Storybook Land
Canal Boats in 1959.
Los Angeles Live Steamers Steam Plant
The Los Angeles Live Steamers operate a steam plant that demonstrates the
abilities of steam powered engines. Ask them to crush an aluminum can for you.
I dare you.

Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad Combine Car
The Retlaw 1 Combine once ran the rails on the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad.
Today, it's on display right next to Walt's Barn.

Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad Combine Car Interior
Both the exterior and interior of the combine have been fully restored.

Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad Combine Car Baggage
Why is it called a combine? Because it's a combination passenger car
and baggage car.

The last time I saw the Retlaw 1 combine was a week ago. The first time was
when my dad shot this footage at Disneyland in 1964. I was two years old.
Jump to the 5:20 mark to see the combine in action.

Sam Gennawey and Margaret Kerry at Walt's Barn
Hey, look who else Margaret ran into! Sam Gennawey,
author of Universal vs. Disney and a previous guest in
The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Happy Holidays From Walt's Barn!
Happy Holidays from Walt's Barn!

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Mouse Castle Lounge 12-26-2014 - A Walt's Barn Holiday With Margaret Kerry, Sam Gennawey and Bill Barbe

Walt's Barn in Griffith Park
Walt's Barn in Griffith Park.
Last month, I was at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco for A Celebration of Walt’s Trains, an exhibition containing over 200 artifacts related to Walt Disney’s passion for railroading. Today, we continue exploring that passion--and enjoy the holiday season--by visiting Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park. The barn is the very same building that once stood on Walt Disney’s estate on Carolwood Avenue in nearby Holmby Hills. It was on the sprawling backyard of the estate where, in the 1950s, Walt operated his beloved Carolwood Pacific Railroad, a 1/8 scale model train. The barn was his workshop, itself a replica of the barn his father built on the family farm in Marceline, Missouri in the early 1900s.

When the Disney family sold the Carolwood Estate in the 1990s, the barn was dismantled and eventually rebuilt on land adjacent to the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum. Today, the Carolwood Foundation operates Walt’s Barn in cooperation with the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society and the Walt Disney Family Foundation. Walt’s Barn is open to the public on the third Sunday of each month from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Inside the barn, you’ll find plenty of train memorabilia, not to mention some personal items that belonged to Walt Disney. There are tables built by Walt himself as well as an original gondola car from the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. There are also a number of train-related items that belonged to Disney animators—and fellow train enthusiasts—Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston.

Carolwood Foundation president Bill Barbe
Carolwood Foundation president Bill Barbe
aboard the restored Disneyland combine car.
Besides maintaining the barn, the Carolwood Foundation is also involved in the restoration of some of the original miniature 1956 structures from the Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland. These buildings have long since been replaced by sturdier duplicates in Fantasyland. Only a few of the originals survive and one of them is currently on display at Walt's Barn. To find out more about the Storybook Land project, visit www.smallworldsofwalt.com.

The Carolwood Foundation has also restored one of the original cars from the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad. The combine, so named because it doubled as a passenger car and a baggage car, once regularly circled Disneyland, but over time it was replaced by passenger cars that gave guests a more clear, unobstructed view of the park. It was my pleasure to climb aboard the combine and speak with Bill Barbe, president of the Carolwood Foundation and my first guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge. Also joining me is author Sam Gennawey and Margaret Kerry, the live-action model for Tinker Bell in Disney's Peter Pan.

Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas at Disneyland

If you listened to Monday's Inside The Mouse Castle, you know that until this past weekend, it had been a long time since I enjoyed the holiday season at Disneyland. You also know that it was the first Christmastime trip Anthony ever took to the Happiest Place on Earth. Yeah, we're slackers. We know.

Christmas is an especially crowded and hectic time at Disneyland, but it's also a beautiful and unique experience unlike any other yuletide celebration on Earth. Most importantly, it's an experience that needs to be shared. Please enjoy these holiday photos from Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Click each photo to enlarge the image.


Sleeping Beauty Castle
Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at night
Sleeping Beauty Castle at night.

Sleeping Beauty Castle getting a magical holiday makeover
Sleeping Beauty Castle getting a magical holiday makeover.

Main Street, USA at night
Main Street, USA at night.

The Town Square Christmas tree
The Town Square Christmas tree.

Baymax balloons
Baymax balloons.

Disneyland Fire Department with Walt's apartment above
Disneyland Fire Department with Walt's apartment above.

Haunted Mansion Holiday
Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Disney California Adventure

Paradise Pier at sunset
Paradise Pier at sunset.

Paradise Pier Christmas tree
Paradise Pier Christmas tree.

Cars Land
Cars Land.

Flo's V8 Cafe
Flo's V8 Cafe.

The Cozy Cone Motel
The Cozy Cone Motel.

Sarge's Surplus Hut
Sarge's Surplus Hut.

Luigi's Flying Tires will go flat in January
Luigi's Flying Tires will go flat in January.

Carthay Circle
Carthay Circle

Carthay Circle and the Buena Vista Street Christmas tree
Carthay Circle and the Buena Vista Street Christmas tree.

Mickey Mouse on the Red Car Trolley
Mickey Mouse on the Red Car Trolley.

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Grand Californian Hotel gingerbread house
The gingerbread house in the Grand Cal's lobby is over 7 feet tall and is made
from 500 pounds of gingerbread.

Christmas tree in the Grand Californian Hotel lobby
Christmas tree in the Grand Californian Hotel lobby.

'Frozen Fun' and 'Freeze the Night'

Frozen Fun, Disney California Adventure
Frozen Fun is everywhere at Disney California Adventure.

Wandering Oaken's Trading Post, Disney California Adventure
Wandering Oaken's Trading Post in Hollywood Land.

Freeze the Night
The entrance to DCA's nighttime entertainment venue, Freeze the Night,
opened for the first time on Saturday night.

Freeze the Night
Freeze the Night.

Marchmallow, Freeze the Night
Marshmallow gets some screen time during Freeze the Night.

DJ Cool mixes the tunes at Freeze the Night
DJ Cool mixes the tunes at Freeze the Night.

Ice sculptures, Freeze the Night
Ice sculptures created live on stage with a chain saw.
What could possibly go wrong?

Marshmallow and me
Marshmallow and me.

Two Rum Flurries, one Blue Snowberry Margarita
From Freeze the Night's icebox: the Blue Snowberry
Margarita (in a martini glass, go figure) is a dud. The
Rum Flurry is delicious.

Summertime Pina Colada
The Summertime Pina Colada also disappointed, but
props to DCA for not skimping on the booze.

Arendelle, Storybook Land Canal Boats
Meanwhile, back at Disneyland, Arendelle became the latest addition
to the Storybook Land Canal Boats.

Wandering Oaken's Trading Post, Storybook Land Canal Boats
Hoo hoo! Big summer blowout!

it's a small world holiday

Merry Christmas from The Mouse Castle!