Monday, May 30, 2011

New Stuff! - The Disneyland Hotel

In addition to getting a "Sneak Preview" of The Little Mermaid attraction and the new Star Tours on Friday, I was also able to check out the new "stuff" over at the Disneyland Hotel. We'll begin with the new Monorail-themed water slides. This is the area that was formerly occupied by the Seaports of the Pacific shops, The Lost Bar, and the remote control Jungle Cruise boats.

The former Shipyard Inn/Hook's Pointe building was spared from demolition and has been given a complete makeover. Due to ongoing construction work at the hotel, temporary signs have been posted to guide the way through all the construction walls.

This shot shows the entrance to the new bar, "Trader Sam's".

Here's a shot taken last year from almost the same angle. The ground around the building has been raised and now covers up the old Wine Cellar space that used to be located on the lower level. I was told that the space is now used as a pantry and storage for the new bar and restaurant.

Here's another current shot taken from a different angle....

...and another taken last year from roughly the same spot. That building on the right was the Croc's Bits and Bites food stand that was torn down. We'll see a "before" and "after" of that in a minute.

These doors can be found at the entrance of Trader Sam's. The beautiful carved wood sort of reminds me of the doors to The Enchanted Tiki Rooms at both Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.

The interior is rather small, but there is plenty of outdoor patio seating.

Does this view look familiar? I'm kicking myself for not staying in there longer or at least asking if there were any effects that take place outside the window. I didn't really think of it until later when a hotel employee told me to make sure to go back and order a specialty drink and see what happens. She seemed to be implying that the bartenders recite something or do something special, but when I got home and looked at my pics, I was wondering if maybe more happens. I guess I need to go back!

If you look upward, you can see a few familiar faces. There are two drum players from The Enchanted Tiki Room in the background, and Koro, "The Midnight Dancer" from the Enchanted Tiki Garden can also be seen. I don't know if they talk or do anything either.....again, it didn't really cross my mind until after I got home! Note the shirt being worn by the cast member.

Here's a close-up of that shirt. I love the print....tikis, hippos, Jungle Cruise boats, and there's even a groovy-looking bird. I want one of these shirts!

Now we'll continue around the building to the new restaurant, Tangaroa Terrace. Gee, I wonder where they got that's GRRRRRRRRRREAT!!!

Here's another shot taken last year from more or less the same vantage point.

A close-up of the new sign and the tikis on either side of the entrance.....

There's a patio, or should I say a "terrace" with seating to the left and right side of the entrance. The terrace area continues on around the building and connects with the outdoor seating for Trader Sam's. There's even an area for outdoor entertainment. As I was leaving, there was a man sitting on a stool playing the guitar. Now if they can just hire some hula girls and fire dancers! Oh, and I love that giant rubber tree in the middle of the terrace and it is a real concrete Disneydendrons here!

Let's go inside and take a look at the new menu.

Once you know what you want, you place your order using these touch screens. A receipt is then printed out and you take it to a central register along with any additional items (chips, drinks, desserts, etc.) that you can pick up along the way.

The interior of the restaurant is also quite small (Trader Sam's was built in what used to be part of the Hook's Pointe dining room). There are some nice framed pieces hanging on the walls.

Here's a shot looking up above the entrance.

This is what the old Hook's Pointe interior looked like. I had taken photos of it and was even given a menu that I intended to post before it closed last summer, but I never got around to it!

Now we're back outside and looking at an outdoor fireplace that has been built in the spot formerly occupied by Croc's Bits and Bites.

Here is another shot from last year looking in the same direction.

Just to the right of this area would have been the path that used to lead to the old Hotel Waterfalls and Koi Ponds. Today, there is a path that leads to......a grassy lawn. Just as we had seen in the concept art, Disney took out the beautiful waterfalls and caves and replaced them with nothing!

If you look closely, you can see that at least three of the Jacaranda trees around the Koi ponds survived the demolition.

Here they are as they appeared last year. Also, if you look in the shot above, you can see that the Dancing Waters arena is still standing behind that construction wall, with only a small portion of the tall blue concrete wall having been removed.

I thought it was interesting the way that this construction wall had been built around a tree. Many of the construction walls at the hotel have vintage Disneyland attraction posters hanging on them. In addition to this Tiki Room poster, there are vintage posters for the Jungle Cruise, the PeopleMover, Tom's Sawyer Island and the Skyway.

Well that's it for today. This was my fourth post in four days! I haven't posted that frequently since the first three months of my blog! I'll probably be taking the next 3 or 4 days off from posting. If anyone is interested in checking out my Disneyland Hotel posts from last summer for further comparisons, you can click on the links below:

The Disneyland Hotel - Waterfalls and Caves

The Disneyland Hotel - Koi Ponds and Dancing Waters

The Disneyland Hotel - The Old Marina Buildings

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Stuff! - Star Tours Sneak Preview

In my "Star Wars Days At Disneyland" post from last week, I included a few pics related to the new Star Tours, but at that time, I still had not experienced the new attraction. Well after several attempts, I finally caught a Sneak Preview/Soft Opening! Some of the images below will be similar to photos that have already been posted by my some of my fellow bloggers, but hopefully there will be some new ones for you too.

Once again, after several visits to the park, I finally encountered a sign that did not read, "Cast Members Only" or "Annual Passholders Only"

The Fastpass uncovered!

I didn't use this Fastpass because the line was only a 40 minute wait and it kept getting shorter each time I exited the attraction. When does that ever happen mid-day on the Friday of a holiday weekend?

Here is the "extended queue" area. This room was once the exit area for Adventure Thru Inner Space. The old PeopleMover/Rocket Rod track is now boarded up and has artwork painted on it....that's the area above the lit up Star Tours sign.

The artwork continues all the way around the room.

Now we're inside the main building. This was taken looking back towards the entrance, which has been altered a little. I can still remember walking through that doorway and down that same ramp to board Adventure Thru Inner Space!

Rex, the former pilot of the Starspeeders can be seen in the queue. Actually, it looked like there were three of him out on display and marked "DEFECTIVE!" Poor Rex! I wonder what happened to the fourth one?

In the past, there were posters at the exit to Star Tours advertising other potential "destinations" that Star Tours might take you. Now there really are other destinations. I was quite happy with the different versions that I experienced and I will definitely be wanting to go back and experience all of them.

There are a couple signs also located at the exit that have "changing" screens.

At the end of my post from last week, we saw a sign in the Esplanade with C-3PO encouraging guests to return to the park. This Darth Vader version hangs in the Mickey and Friends parking structure.

***The Little Mermaid attraction over at DCA also had a "soft opening" that same day. To see my post on that, click here: The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure.