Saturday, March 31, 2012

All Aboard… A Grand Circle Tour of the Trains of Disney

The Disney Gallery, formerly housed above the Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland, was evicted in favor of the Disneyland Dream Suite in 2008. The space it occupied was originally meant to be a private apartment for Walt Disney, much like his apartment over the Fire House in Main Street. Only this apartment was going to be geared more towards entertaining special guests. Sadly, Walt passed away before they could complete it. Twenty years later, in 1987, it opened as The Disney Gallery. And just over twenty years after that, as previously mentioned, it was gone.

But not for long!

The Bank of Main Street opened in 1955, along with Disneyland. For decades guests were able to perform real bank transactions, such as currency exchange, check cashing, and opening actual BofA accounts. One of its claims to fame was that it was the only bank in the United States to be open on Sundays. Around 2001 the Bank of Main Street began focusing on selling Annual Passports, and a few years later it became the official Annual Passport Processing Center. In 2009, it underwent yet another transformation: The new home to The Disney Gallery.

The Gallery is home to paintings, sketches, artifacts, and merchandise often themed around specific exhibits, which last a few months at a time. The current exhibit is: "All Aboard… A Grand Circle Tour of the Trains of Disney." For those of you who read my Disney’s Love of Trains post, you may recognize a few tidbits!

1955 Post Magazine, and conductor hat

Walt Disney presented California Governor Goodwin Knight with a conductor hat (above) to wear for the inaugural run of the E.P. Ripley on July 17, 1955.

Carolwood Barn

The center of operations for the Carolwood Pacific Railroad was a barn fashioned after one on the Disney farm in Marceline, Missouri. Master modeler Jack Verducci crafted the above model to celebrate the relocation of the Carolwood Barn in Griffith Park in 1999.

Conductor Walt

How cool is the above painting? Answer: very.

Train merchandise, and what's that on the right?

Now we see just some of the train-themed merchandise available for purchase. Mugs, shirts and attraction posters are just a few of the items any train enthusiast would love to have. And what's that over to the right? Why it looks like a vault door. Let's peek inside.

Inside the vault

Chicago pennant

Walt Disney and Ward Kimball presented Ollie Johnston with the above pennant when they returned from the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948.

Walt and Roger

The photo above is of Walt Disney and Roger Broggie at Walt's Carolwood home. Broggie was Walt's first Imagineer.


This is the original Carolwood Pacific Railroad crossover from Walt Disney's personal railroad. In 1963, Walt Disney donated the track from his backyard railroad to the Los Angeles Live Steamers, of which Walt was a founding member. Pictured above is the last whole section of track known to be in existence. It was handcrafted in the Studios' machine shop by Roger Broggie, and was one of the first projects done by the then yet to be famous "Imagineers."

This cool exhibit is scheduled to run through May. Well, "May-ish," I was told. If you're in the Disneyland area, stop in and check it out!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Carthay Circle Construction and Buena Vista Street

The original Carthay Circle Theatre opened in 1926. The site of many red carpet Hollywood premieres, Disney fans know it best as the theater that premiered Snow White in 1937. Another interesting tidbit is that it was also one of the few theatres to install the then high tech stereophonic sound system known as Fantasound, which Disney developed specifically for the film Fantasia. Fantasound paved the way for surround sound, and was so elaborate, just over a dozen theaters in the whole country went through the trouble of installing it. Disney is paying homage to this former theater by installing their own as the centerpiece of the soon-to-be opened Buena Vista Street, the much-needed remodel of the entrance to Disney’s California Adventure.

Pic courtesy of Trip Advisor

The old entrance of Disney’s California Adventure looked oddly like a “side” entrance, and seemed sort of like a cheap knock off of Disneyland’s entrance. In Disneyland after you walk through the turnstile, there is an area before you get to Main Street where people can gather, take pictures in front of the Mickey Mouse flower bed, purchase gifts, watch the train arrive/depart, and up until recently, rent a stroller. You then travel through a small tunnel (beneath the Disneyland railroad tracks) and presto, you are in Main Street. In DCA, a wide walkway flanked by lockers, restrooms, and Guest Relations narrowed as you approached gift shops and the Golden Gate Bridge. You could then walk under the bridge (underneath the monorail track), and you were in the land called “Golden State,” which was just a big circle with an empty hub, a huge unattractive sun fountain, and shops, several of which were complete eyesores.

No me gusta

Buena Vista Street, the “land” replacing the old DCA entrance, is going to be better by leaps and bounds. It will be themed after 1920’s Hollywood, symbolizing Walt’s arrival to Tinseltown in 1923. The aforementioned Carthay Circle will not only be a much more appealing visual than this, but it will also feature a lounge and a signature restaurant.

Also, as Eddie Valiant says, “Nobody’s gonna drive this lousy freeway when they can take the Red Car for a nickel!”

How cool is this poster? It even lists the route at the bottom

The Red Car will be rich in detail

The new hub will also be home to a new version of the Partners statue which is featured in other Disney parks around the world.

Notice the font on the suitcase, taken from Walt's first business card 

The three previous photos are from the Blue Sky Cellar. Here are some more photos of: maps, models, blueprints, and artist renderings.

Model of the new entrance - check out the Carthay Circle in the back

Carthay Circle and Buena Vista Street

Carthay Circle sketches and artist renderings

New cast member costumes

The new and improved DCA

This picture was hanging in the Blue Sky Cellar, and was too good not to capture!

The man himself

The construction of the Carthay Circle is coming along nicely.

Buena Vista Street is scheduled to open on June 15th, along with Cars Land. Looks like June 15th may be a busy day!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jolly Holiday Bakery and Main Street Construction

On my trip to Disneyland a few weeks ago I got to see the newly opened Jolly Holiday Bakery CafĂ© at the end of Main Street. It replaced the Plaza Pavilion, which had been the location of the Annual Passport Processing Center. The bakery opened on January 7th, 2012, and as you may have guessed, it’s themed after Mary Poppins.

Look at that line!

And if you look up you may see a familiar figure in the weather vane.

Upon entering the building the line forks, leaving you to make that crucial decision that you’ve already been making all day while traversing Disney lines, “Right side or left side?”

Whichever side you choose there are little touches to make any Mary Poppins fan happy. If you take the right side you’ll see this:

And on the left side, you’ll get to see the woman herself.

The menu here has a few more choices than the Blue Ribbon Bakery did. Besides dessert and coffee you can choose from sandwiches, salads, or a couple of house specialties. The entire menu can be found on All Ears.

Practically Perfect Punch, anyone?

When it’s your turn they flag you by holding up a sign. What kind of sign? Well, this is the Jolly Holiday!

Any fan of Mary Poppins would love visiting this bakery. The theming is great and there are Poppins touches everywhere!

Do these silhouettes look familiar?

Mural - click to enlarge

I only had dessert each time I went there, so I am unable to critique the food. The dessert was fine, and only outdoor seating is available.

As some of you may know, Disney added the Jolly Holiday because they wanted to expand the Carnation Cafe on Main Street to once again offer indoor seating. In order to do this they had to take over the space occupied by the Blue Ribbon Bakery. I placed my camera on top of the Carnation Cafe construction wall to see if anything exciting was done. Nothing too exciting yet, as you can see.

Carnation Cafe - I can't wait to have my Croissantwich again!

Upon closing the Blue Ribbon and Carnation Cafe, Disney decided to extend the construction all the way down that side of Main Street.

It's weird seeing all these shops shuttered at the same time. I don't think I've ever seen the Penny Arcade all boarded up! Remember when the Penny Arcade was an actual arcade?

The Candy Palace and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor are also being refurbished, and will re-open sometime this spring. The Carnation Cafe, aka the best place to get breakfast in Disneyland, is scheduled to re-open this summer.