A Walk in the Park: Disneyland Edition – Visiting the new Smokejumpers Grill

By Daisy Sparks

Over the weekend, the former Taste Pilot’s Grill opened as Smokejumpers Grill. It is the first location to reopen in the now renamed area, Grizzly Peak Airfield (formerly known as Condor Flats). The transformation of this area from a barren airstrip that hosted test pilots, to a California High Sierras theme, will help with a seamless transition into the Grizzly River Run and Grand California Hotel area. Let’s take a visit to the new Smokejumpers Grill in this week’s Walk in the Park article…

Here is the concept art that was released earlier this year.

Here is the exterior today. There are lots of outdoor seating to enjoy the California weather.

This quick-service restaurant location received both an exterior and interior make-over. The menu still offers burgers and fries. The new décor and theme pay tribute to California firefighters who go into remote wildfires. These highly trained firefighters are known as “smokejumpers” (Knowing this information helps you to appreciate all the little details that you can find both outside and inside SMOKEJUMPERS GRILL.) The display cases outside the entrance contain these interesting flyers and informational pieces.

Here is the interior concept art.

Here is what it looks like now. It is worth the time to walk around to look at all the details and smokejumper paraphernalia that is on every wall and corner of the newly remodeled location. 

The menu consist of theme park basics of burgers, fries and even alcoholic drinks. There is a kids menu that available, too.

There is this condiment bar that has some fancy sliced pickles you can enjoy. Here were some samples of the food offerings. They tasted pretty good, especially if you are hungry.

Smokejumpers Grill is a great place to get a quick bite or the perfect late night snack. The portions are easy to share. Lots of seating, too. Finally, here are some of my favorite themed items inside the quick-service location. 

Outside of this location, you can get a peek at some of the rock work being done for the Grizzly Peak Area. It is interesting to see the work in progress.

One final update in regards to the former Luigi’s Flying Tires attraction that opened in 2012 with Carsland. It’s final day of operation was February 16, 2015. This Disney/Pixar concept art was released earlier this year.

Luigi’s Festival of the Dance” will open in this location sometime in 2016. The name is tentative. The exterior entrance and interior queue is just like the movie so it looks like that will remain as there are no walls around those areas. Imagineers are always creative with their construction signs so I appreciated these on the existing wall that cover up the ride area.

I always appreciate all the Disney details in the final work and even in the constant refurbishments that have to happen during Park operating hours.

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Daisy Sparks grew up in Southern California and Disneyland was a regular part of her life. While in college, she started working at Disneyland as a Main Street Merchandise Host. Her “college job” led to 12 adventurous years working with Mickey Mouse. She was a trained Magic Demonstrator, Hat Writer and was even signed off as a Disneyland Monorail Ride Operator. Daisy loved every minute of it while she held various management positions in Merchandise, Business Operations and Attractions. 
Daisy is married to her college sweetheart, David (a former Jungle Cruise Skipper). David solicited Daisy’s Duck’s help in memorable engagement proposal that took place at Disneyland’s Club 33. Daisy left Disneyland in May 2001 to raise her two daughters. She continues to visit the Disneyland Resort multiple times a week as a Guest. Daisy particularly loves the Disneyland heritage because of all of the little details and stories that make it “the happiest place on earth.”
You can read more about Daisy’s Disneyland adventures over on her personal blog at DisneyDaze .

You can find all of Daisy’s articles here.

 
 
 



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A Walk in the Park: Disneyland Edition – Lunar New Year 2015

By Daisy Sparks

Last weekend I had a chance to check out the Lunar New Year festivities at Disney California Adventure. They have offered this celebration the last couple of years now. The Lunar New Year events were only offered this past weekend (Thursday – Sunday) so it was pretty popular due to its very limited engagement. Join me as we take a look at the event in this week’s A Walk in the Park: Disneyland Edition article…

There is just enough Disney mixed into the Lunar New Year celebration. It was all located at Paradise Garden in Paradise Pier. I learned that there is a big focus on family being together during this annual celebration.

There were several activities that you could participate in. You could sit at these Mickey decorated tables together with your friends or family to color and create a paper lanterns. There was face painting offered at an extra charge. You could also write down a New Year’s wish and leave them on the Wishing Wall.

One of the best things about these special Disneyland holiday offerings is seeing some characters you would not normally see like Mushu and Mulan. There was a long line to meet Minnie and Mickey dressed up in traditional red Chinese attire. They were enjoying being in front of the cameras. The character greeting in this area was only available 11am-5pm so it was pretty popular as the wait line snaked through the area.

Here is the food and merchandise that was offered. I couldn’t resist the Boudin sourdough shaped bread.

You have to kind of take a second look at the goat/sheep/ram head baked in the round bread. Boudin Bakery every now and then makes special shaped bread for holiday events.

There was also live entertainment available in the gazebo area. I also caught this dragon dance that took place right outside the entrance area.

Here were the signs they had on display to help people discover what their Chinese Zodiac is.

Almost a week ago, the Disney Parks Blog shared a post titled: “Chinese Zodiac and Disney Characters in ‘The Garden of Twelve Friends’ Shanghai Disney Resort”. Go to THIS POST and you can see some of the Disney characters that were chosen to symbolize the Chinese Zodiac.

It’s great that Disneyland continues to offer multicultural holiday celebrations when they can and in areas of the Parks where it makes sense. These limited time offerings are examples of how Disneyland Parks can connect with the local population and tap into the multicultural Southern California communities. It also supports the idea that Disneyland is for all ages.

“The important thing is the family. If you can keep the family together – and that’s the backbone of our whole business, catering to families – that’s what we hope to do.”
-Walt Disney

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Daisy Sparks grew up in Southern California and Disneyland was a regular part of her life. While in college, she started working at Disneyland as a Main Street Merchandise Host. Her “college job” led to 12 adventurous years working with Mickey Mouse. She was a trained Magic Demonstrator, Hat Writer and was even signed off as a Disneyland Monorail Ride Operator. Daisy loved every minute of it while she held various management positions in Merchandise, Business Operations and Attractions. 
Daisy is married to her college sweetheart, David (a former Jungle Cruise Skipper). David solicited Daisy’s Duck’s help in memorable engagement proposal that took place at Disneyland’s Club 33. Daisy left Disneyland in May 2001 to raise her two daughters. She continues to visit the Disneyland Resort multiple times a week as a Guest. Daisy particularly loves the Disneyland heritage because of all of the little details and stories that make it “the happiest place on earth.”
You can read more about Daisy’s Disneyland adventures over on her personal blog at DisneyDaze .






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A Walk in the Park: Disneyland Edition – Happy 14th Birthday Disney California Adventure!

By Daisy Sparks

The original cost to build Disney California Adventure was $1.4 billion. When the California dream didn’t quite connect with visitors as shown in lackluster attendance, Walt Disney Imagineers went back to the drawing board. In 2007, they announced that they would allocate $1.1 billon over 5 years to reset and re-imagine Disney California Adventure. This past Sunday, Disney California Adventure (DCA) quietly celebrated its 14th birthday. Let’s have a look at the park in this week’s A Walk in the Park article…

A lot has changed since then. Its logo has changed. Even the name was slightly altered in 2010 when it dropped an apostrophe.

I decided to take my 2001 map of “Disney’s California Adventure” and see how Disney’s 8th Park has evolved to what is now officially named “Disney California Adventure.”

One of the biggest changes was made to the entrance of DCA. In 2001, you were supposed to feel like you were walking through a California postcard. As you passed by the giant letters that spelled out C-A-L-F-O-R-N-I-A, you then made your way through the turnstiles and were surrounded by beautiful tile wall murals and the Golden Gate bridge. You can see what the original entrance and tile murals over on this post at Yesterland. It’s a great resource for photos and information.

In 2012, the iconic letters were donated to the California State Fair located in Sacramento. There is a reminder of the tile murals spread out along Buena street. Here are a couple examples that you can find alongside some of the store buildings.

Today, the main gate has been reconfigured with a new entrance. It is modeled after the Pan Pacific Theater that was located in Los Angeles. Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida has a similar entrance, too. When you walk through the turnstiles, the Golden Gate no longer greets you. Now, the Monorail passes through what looks like a bridge that is reminiscent of the Glendale Hyperion Bridge.

In 2001, you made your way down the Golden Gateway to come upon the Sunshine Plaza. You were greeted with a hug sun dial.

Today, after you enter DCA, you stroll down Buena Vista Street. You get the 1920s vibe and get a glimpse of what Walt Disney’s early day in California might have been like. At the end of the street, you come upon a replica of the Carthay Theater which hosted the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The area now features the Carthy Circle restaurant. There is also a life size bronze statue of Walt and Mickey that is known as known as Storytellers.

According to my 2001 map, there were only 3 lands at DCA: Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Golden State and Paradise Pier.

Since then, “ a bug’s land” and Cars Land have been added. Hollywood Pictures Backlot has been renamed to Hollywood Land. Golden State was broken into Grizzly Peak and Condor Flats. Pacific Wharf now has its own identity separate form Paradise Pier. Buena Vista Street is also a welcome change from the original main walkway formally known as Golden Gateway. The addition of Tower of Terror forever changed the DCA-scape. California Screamin’ has had a facelift while Sun Wheel is now Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

The big show back in 2001 was at the beautiful Hyperion Theater. There was a live show called Disney’s Steps in Time. It highlighted some classic Disney songs sung by Disney characters who sang them. They even included an impressive segment that paid homage to the Mary Poppins Broadway dance number, “Step in Time”. Here are two photos of the Hyperion from 2001 and the last one is from 2015 where you can see the current show on the marquee.

There was the ABC Soap Opera Bistro located in Hollywood Picture Backlot. It was a restaurant where you would be seated in sets that replicated some of your favorite ABC soap operas. Like the way of TV soap operas, it lost its luster. Today the building is home to Disney Junior – Live on Stage!

Monsters Inc, has moved into what was the Superstar Limo attraction. Frozen recently moved into what was formerly Jim Henson’s Muppet-Vision 3D. Finally, Olaf and the citizens of Arendale moved into what looks like a soundstage that originally housed a Disney version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Frozen even made its way into the Animation building as well. A great addition to both Hollywood Land and Buena Vista Street is the Red Trolley. It’s fun to see it riding up and down the streets.

These next set of photos were taken while I walked through the Pacific Wharf and made my way to Paradise Pier. In 2001, the Mission Tortilla Factory  used to occupy the space that is now the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. Boudin Bakery recently just went through a makeover but it is an original occupant from 2001.

Where The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure now stands used to be a theater that featured a show called “Golden Dreams.” It was narrated by Whoopie Goldberg and was a Disney produced original film that told the story of California. The first photo is a photo I took during Cast Previews while I was on the Sun Wheel.

It was fun to walk DCA on its 14th birthday while comparing notes with my 2001 DCA map in hand.

A lot has changed but I think it is strong evidence to support what Walt Disney always said: “Disneyland will never be complete. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
– Daisy

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Daisy Sparks grew up in Southern California and Disneyland was a regular part of her life. While in college, she started working at Disneyland as a Main Street Merchandise Host. Her “college job” led to 12 adventurous years working with Mickey Mouse. She was a trained Magic Demonstrator, Hat Writer and was even signed off as a Disneyland Monorail Ride Operator. Daisy loved every minute of it while she held various management positions in Merchandise, Business Operations and Attractions. 

Daisy is married to her college sweetheart, David (a former Jungle Cruise Skipper). David solicited Daisy’s Duck’s help in memorable engagement proposal that took place at Disneyland’s Club 33. Daisy left Disneyland in May 2001 to raise her two daughters. She continues to visit the Disneyland Resort multiple times a week as a Guest. Daisy particularly loves the Disneyland heritage because of all of the little details and stories that make it “the happiest place on earth.”
You can read more about Daisy’s Disneyland adventures over on her personal blog at DisneyDaze .
 
 

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A Walk in the Park: Disneyland Edition – Disney California Adventure Refurbishments

By Daisy Sparks

January at Disneyland Parks means the beginning of many walls going up due to refurbishment. There is never a good time but this time of year remains the slowest in terms of Guest traffic. The closures are scheduled in advance and the information is readily available should anyone need it when making plans to visit Disneyland Parks. Attractions and venues targeted for refurbishment usually need some maintenance that may include a fresh coat of paint, repairs and/or a deep cleaning. Sometimes, the refurbishment schedule may include major projects that involve removing or adding new show elements. 

Today’s “Walk in the Park: Disneyland Edition” features some major renovation projects now in progress at Disney California Adventure…

Condor Flats is history. The area was created to celebrate California’s aviation history. It was suppose to mimic the desert aircraft test facilities with the runway that ran through the area. The food location was called “Taste Pilot’s Grill” and the main attraction of the land was “Soarin’ Over California.”

 
Condor Flats will now reopen in late May as Grizzly Peak Airfield. Here is the concept drawing that has been around awhile.
 

 
 
 
This renovation has two purposes. One is to enfold the Condor Flats into Grizzly Peak area. Expect that wilderness theme to replace the desert aviation scene. It will look more seamless and blend in better with The Grand California that overlooks the area.
 
 
 
 
 
Condor Flats is now boarded up on both sides. It was a major walkway to be able to go from Buena Vista Street to Grizzly Peak area. During the refurbishment, Guests will have to walk all the way around to access the Grizzly Peak area or Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
 
 


 
 
 
Second, this major downtime allows a much needed renovation for Soarin’ Over California. New digital projectors and HD screens should make their way into the attraction. A new film is rumored in production. The Disney fan grapevine has the working title as “Soarin Over the World.” The not-so -good news is that the new film will make its debut when Shanghai Disneyland opens sometime in 2016….and then make its way to Disneyland.
 
Boudin Bakery opened with Disney California Adventure back in February of 2001. The bakery tour closed a couple months ago and now looks like the entire facility is in refurbishment mode. A new tour and refreshed restaurant area is scheduled to open later this month.
 
 

 
 

Boudin Bakery is the place to buy the yummy sourdough bread in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s face. Sometimes during the holidays they offer special shaped bread. For example, last month they had candy cane, Christmas trees and snowman shaped bread loaves. When the Avengers movie was released, they had a bread loaf made into Captain America’s shield. I can’t wait to see the new tour and café area.

The World of Color debuted in 2010. It’s a spectacular night time water show that takes place on Paradise Bay. Lights, music, and massive water mist screens on which images are projected. There are 1200 fountains employed to create this show. It’s been almost 5 years so it’s time for some infrastructure work. According to the Disney Parks Blog , the World of Color renovation will include updating the system to employ much water saving conservation. The show is expected to be up and running by mid-March.


 
 


 
 
 
I was able to walk all around Paradise Pier to capture some of these photos. Notice some people walking on the water fountain structures.
 

 








 
 
One of the big benefits of World of Color is that the show can be changed out quickly in order to take out or incorporate any of the new movie moments or events that Disney may want to include in the show. For example, last summer they were able to include Olaf from Disney’s Frozen. It will remain to be seen if anything new gets added on to its March return.
 

 

 
 
 
Finally, this ginormous Frozen snowflake sculpture now greets Guests at the end of Buena Vista Street and right before you enter the Hollywood area for Frozen Fun. It’s the picture perfect place for Frozen fans. It was delightful watching all the kids in their Frozen costumes posing in front of this frozen fractal. Their bright smiles could seriously thaw the giant snowflake.
 
 

 
 
 
There are lots of refurbishment projects happening at Disneyland, too. With the 60th Anniversary approaching, many locations will be getting spruced up for a big birthday party. Hoping to bring that information to you next time.
 
 

 
 
 
 
Hope your day is filled with some pixie dust!
 
– Daisy
 

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Daisy Sparks grew up in Southern California and Disneyland was a regular part of her life. While in college, she started working at Disneyland as a Main Street Merchandise Host. Her “college job” led to 12 adventurous years working with Mickey Mouse. She was a trained Magic Demonstrator, Hat Writer and was even signed off as a Disneyland Monorail Ride Operator. Daisy loved every minute of it while she held various management positions in Merchandise, Business Operations and Attractions. 

Daisy is married to her college sweetheart, David (a former Jungle Cruise Skipper). David solicited Daisy’s Duck’s help in memorable engagement proposal that took place at Disneyland’s Club 33. Daisy left Disneyland in May 2001 to raise her two daughters. She continues to visit the Disneyland Resort multiple times a week as a Guest. Daisy particularly loves the Disneyland heritage because of all of the little details and stories that make it “the happiest place on earth.”

You can read more about Daisy’s Disneyland adventures over on her personal blog at DisneyDaze .
 
 
 




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