california

Univeral Studios Hollywood Will Go Forward With Expansion, Harry Potter

ush-evolution

I spent most of the 90s visiting Universal Studios Hollywood almost every month. In doing so, I really got to know the tightly packed acreage that made up Southern California’s second most popular themepark. It’s taken some doing, but they’ve finally gotten final approval to go forward with the next stage in the development of Universal Studios.

The first projects of NBCUniversal’s 25-year Evolution Plan with be tied to adding the much anticipated west coast version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The total plan represents a $1.6 billion investment in tourism and production in Southern California. This long-term investment in two industries that are vital to Los Angeles will create more than 30,000 jobs and generate $2 billion of economic activity during operations for the region.Read More »Univeral Studios Hollywood Will Go Forward With Expansion, Harry Potter

DCA History Lesson: Tortillas, Wine, and Heavy Machinery

We are almost a week away from the piece de resistance for a Disney Parks fan, the unveiling of “DCA 2.0” after its major 5-year overhaul. As you know, I have been writing these history lessons leading up to June 15th, reminding you what would have happened if DCA stayed the same from day one. Today we are looking at a mish-mash of topics: Mission Tortilla Factory, Golden Vine Winery, and the Bountiful Valley Farm, with which we will start with.

Bountiful Valley Farm was one of the opening day attractions featured in the “Golden State” portion of the park. This area was a walk-through/garden/construction site that showed you how agriculture is such a large part of California’s culture (Thanks to Caterpillar farming equipment the area’s sponsor). This mini-land featured multiple crops that are prominent in California in addition to statues and signs describing California agriculture. The area also featured a new take on a kid’s water play area, using stationary yellow poles spurting water in different directions. A neat, inventive component was the unique store called “Santa Rosa Seed and Supply” that featured the usually t-shirts and toys (Caterpillars, no less), but also having gardening essentials. An odd choice for a theme park, but a cool ideas none the less. The highlight of the area? The ability to sit in tractor seats…duh! The area was one of the first to be gutted for the redo, closing on Sept. 7th, 2010. This area has now been covered with Carsland (BREAKING NEWS…it opens June 15th).

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DCA History Lesson: Parades

I don’t know about you, but if I lived in California, I would be jumping for those D23 tickets to go do a Carsland and Buena Vista Street walk-through before the official opening on, everyone together now, JUNE 15th! But, alas, I am in Florida, recapping the past ten years of DCA for you to enjoy before that lovely June day. Today, we will talk about the 2 now deceased (maybe not the best word choice…) parades that ran up and down the Performance Corridor for years. No, I’m not kidding, it was called the Performance Corridor instead of a Parade Route…oh DCA.

First up, we have the infamous “Eureka”. Named after the state motto, it was also the name of the deity that was represented on each of the floats, dressed as to reflect certain regions of California. She was in the sun logo, Hispanic California, an angel from “The City of Angels,” Beach-Loving Beauty, Chinese woman of Chinatown, and the Golden Goddess representing the Golden State. With each float came its respectable share of interesting costumes (A man dressed as the Hollywood Bowl, two men on stilts as the Golden Gate Bridge, etc.). In addition to the odd costume choices, the float performers were really cool, with the beach/surfing float containing a skateboarding half-pipe being used and the City of Angels section having drummers hanging off the side of float.

Though it did gain a small cult following among some Disney fans, it ultimately was not successful (Shocking!) at DCA. The problem? It had no Disney Characters. Not even Mickey. Though “Tapestry of Nations” at Epcot had no characters and was very popular, this parade had a very hectic and discombobulated feel to it that off put some, unlike “Tapestry”. It opened with the park in Feb. 2001, closed for the off-season, returned for the Summer of 2002, and never ran again.

After the park became such a folly for Disney and the crowd numbers weren’t what they were expecting, they needed something to pull the people in and fast. The solution? “Disney’s Electrical Parade”.

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DCA History Tour – Golden Dreams

It is part three of my DCA History Lesson! Every week I will be bringing you a look back at something from DCA’s past, leading up to the June 15th grand re-opening of the park. So come along as we take a stroll through the past and remembering how great it was!
Today, we are heading over to the “San Francisco” area of the park (if you could call that an area) and reliving “Golden Dreams.” The exterior of the theater was a replica of Bernard Maybeck’s Palace of Fine Arts located in the real San Francisco. This 25 minute film took you through the history of California and the dreams the land created. Led by Califia, the Queen of California, played by Unofficial DCA Mascot Whoopi Goldberg, we traveled through the years and realized all the dreams that could stem from one state.

This opening day attraction was highly regarded…for what it was, a movie. It never got Soarin’ style ratings, but it was still very good. Disney tried to add their trademark emotion into the film, which they did with great success. Whoopi playing Califia was a great choice as a narrator and shed some nice humor into the film. Favorite line? When the MGM namesake is looking at ‘The Wizard of Oz” costume designers choice of silver slippers, Califia walks quickly behind Mr.MGM and says “Silver is nice, Ruby is better.” While it showed a huge span of time, it never came off as dull history lesson. They brought life into a film that had the chance to be extremely bland.

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Disneyland CREATE Grants Program Available for Teachers in Orange County

For over 16 years the Disneyland Resort has been helping local teachers offer improved arts education through a series of grants. A new version of that grand program debuted this year and the Disneyland Resort is now accepting applications from kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers in all Orange County school districts for enhanced Disneyland CREATE (Creative Resources Enabling Arts through Education) Grants.

Formerly known as Disneyland Resort Enabling Grants, the CREATE program provides classroom teachers with needed funds for projects, programs and materials that directly support student involvement in the visual and performing arts.

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