Coming: ‘Iron Man’ marathon and a 24-hour day at Disneyland

For all “Iron Man” lovers, Disney’s El Capitan theater in Hollywood is holding a movie marathon Thursday.

The event features the first two “Iron Man” movies followed by a special showing of “Iron Man 3,” starting at noon.

I did the “Pirates of the Caribbean” marathon a couple of years ago and it was a lot of fun. I hope they do it again when Pirates 5 is released. I wondered, with four movies showing back-to-back, if I would be overwhelmed and say enough already after the second movie. But there’s nothing better than sitting in a theater full of people sharing a love for the movies you’re seeing. It was an enjoyable experience from beginning to end. Disney also offered live entertainment between each movie and a meal.

For tickets and information about the “Iron Man” marathon, call 1-800-DISNEY6 or visit www.elcapitantickets.com

Mark you calendar

Disney is kicking off the summer season by keeping its California and Florida theme parks open 24 hours straight, starting at 6 a.m. May 24.

Disney did this a last year on Leap Day, but it included only Disneyland. I have an annual pass, so not sure about the ticket prices this time, but in 2012 admission prices remained the same as for any other day — no added fee for the extra hours.

I went on Leap Day, but have to say, I didn’t make it through the full 24 hours. Yes, I’m a wimp!!!

Crowd size was not bad most of the day and “Modern Family” was on site that day filming. The crowd swelled to near capacity from about 6 p.m. to 2 in the morning, I believe.

Having both Disneyland and California Adventure open this time should help alleviate with crowd issues on May 24, so that the day remains enjoyable for everyone from beginning to end.

For passholders, all but the SoCal Select pass are valid that day.

Check www.disneyland.com for ticket information.

 

Space Mountain, Soarin’ remain closed

If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland over the next few days, take note that two of the resort’s most popular rides remain closed following a safety inspection by Cal/OSHA.

State regulators want to fine Disney nearly $235,000 for violating safety regulations after a worker was injured at the Space Mountain ride, the Associated Press reported Tuesday morning.

The penalties stem from a November accident when a contract worker slipped and suffered broken bones while cleaning the exterior of Space Mountain at Disneyland.

Throughout its report, Cal/OSHA says Disneyland Resort willfully violated safety regulations. It’s unknown if Disney will appeal the penalties.

Space Mountain at Disneyland has been closed since Saturday, along with Soarin’ Over California at California Adventure.

“I don’t have any update yet on when they will reopen,” said Disneyland Resort spokeswoman Suzi Brown said Monday.

Looking at the Disneyland website, Space Mountain is listed as closed at least through the end of April. Soarin’ Over California doesn’t come up.

If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland and don’t want to go if Space Mountain is closed, check the daily entertainment calendar at disneyland.disney.go.com/. It lists rides scheduled to be closed for maintenance.

The Matterhorn had also been closed on Saturday, but was reopened Sunday.

“The Matterhorn was scheduled to go down for maintenance today, but in light of the situation with the other attractions being down, we’ve elected to keep that attraction open,” Brown said.

The citations were received Friday from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Brown told the Associated Press.

The closures of the three rides were voluntary and made out of an abundance of caution, she said.

The citations were related to an incident in November when a contracted worker was injured while performing maintenance on the exterior of the Space Mountain attraction.

Disneyland failed to adequately correct “known fall hazards” that existed on the exterior of Space Mountain, according to a description of the citation on the Cal/OSHA website.

You can read the full report at Cal/OSHA’s website, http://www.dir.ca.gov/

MeTV to pay tribute to Annette Funicello on Sunday

MeTV will pay tribute to Annette Funicello Sunday afternoon when it airs four episodes of “Make Room for Daddy” she appeared in with Danny Thomas.

One of Annette Funicello's Mouseketeers costumes was displayed at Disney's D23 Expo in August 2011. Photo by Sherry Barkas

Annette played Gina Minella, a foreign exchange student from Italy who lived with Danny and his family.

The episodes begin airing at 1 p.m. Pacific time. MeTV is channel 14 for Time Warner Cable customers, channel 21 for Fios subscribers and 31.1 OTA.

I haven’t heard of any other tributes. TMC hasn’t posted any on its website, nor has Disney announced any.

Annette was the most popular member of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers. She was a member of the original cast when the show debuted in 1955.

From there she went on to make numerous Beach movies with Frankie Avalon.

She died Monday at a hospital in Bakersfield from complications due to multiple sclerosis, which she had battled for more than 25 years. She was 70.

About 10 years ago, the Disney Channel was running some of its classic TV shows in the middle of the night in a segment I believe it called Out of the Vault. It was great. “Daniel Boone” and “Zoro” were among the shows you could see between 1 and 3 in the morning, I believe it was. It seems like this is when/where I was catching some of the old “Hardy Boys” episodes also.

With all of its cable channels, I wish Disney would devote one to its classic TV shows, even if only one or two nights a week. It would be a great place to air the Wonderful World of Color episodes as well as original Mickey Mouse Club and other shows.

It’s time to say a sad goodbye to a Mouseketeer

It’s a sad day for Disney fans.

This 1955 file photo provided by Walt Disney Co., shows Annette Funicello, a "Mouseketeer" on Walt Disney's TV series the "Mickey Mouse Club." (AP Photo/Walt Disney Co., File)

Annette Funicello, one of the original Mickey Mouse Club’s Mouseketeers who starred in a variety of Disney films and as Frankie Avalon’s love interest in a series of Beach movies, has died. She was 70.

She died at a hospital in Bakersfield from complications from multiple sclerosis, which she had battled for several years, according to a release from the Walt Disney Co.

I loved watching the Mouseketeers, Though I’m not that old that I saw the original show when it first aired. I do remember watching reruns of the Mickey Mouse Club with Annette on TV when I’d get home from school as a kid in the 1960s.

But because my father owned the only movie theater in the small town of Sebastopol, where I grew up, I best know her as Frankie Avalon’s love interest in a series of Beach movies. I believe I saw every one, from “Beach Party” to “Muscle Beach Party,” ”Beach Blanket Bingo” and “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.”

Singer Frankie Avalon and actress Annette Funicello on Malibu Beach during filming of "Beauty Party" in 1963. (AP Photo/File)

These were Saturday afternoon matinee movies my Dad was happy to let us see, and they were just fun entertainment.

Hopefully, we will see TCM do a marathon of Beach movies and Disney do some kind of tribute to Funicello by breaking open the vault on the Disney Channel and airing some episodes of the classic Mickey Mouse Club.

In the meantime, Disney has posted quite a tribute to Funicello on the D23 website, d23.disney.go.com/

 

Long awaited ‘Finding Nemo’ sequel lets Dory ‘just keep swimming’

Can’t believe I missed the announcement yesterday that Disney Pixar is—finally—creating a “Finding Nemo” sequel, “Finding Dory,” slated for a November 2015 release. I found out when I got home last night and someone had pasted it to my Facebook page.

Ellen DeGeneres excitedly announced that she will again be the voice for the Pacific blue tang fish that suffers from short term memory loss, but quickly captured the hearts of “Finding Nemo” fans as she helped Nemo’s father find his son. The movie was first released in 2003 and rereleased to theaters last year in 3D.

No details have been released of the movie’s plot or if Nemo and his father will also be part of the sequel.

Pixar tweeted confirmation of “Finding Dory” with just a photo of the ocean and tagline: “It’s true. #FindingDory is coming to theaters November 2015. Until then, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Ellen made the announcement on her show Tuesday, saying “The script is fantastic. And it has everything I loved about the first one: It’s got a lot of heart, it’s really funny, and the best part is—it’s got a lot more Dory.”

It’s exciting also because, Pixar doesn’t do sequels just to do sequels. The creators take the time to be sure they have a solid story before moving forward and the result is a sequel that is as good, if not better, than the first movie.

They waited years before doing a sequel to the 2001 “Monsters, Inc.”

“Monsters University,” which reunites John Gooman and Billy Crystal as Sulley and Mikey respectively, is set to hit theaters in June.

Try on Iron Man’s suit of armor at Disneyland

With “Iron Man 3” set to open in theaters May 3, Disneyland is giving fans of the Marvel Comics superhero a chance to not only see Tony Stark’s “hall of armor” up close, but slip into the suits as well — virtually, that is.

Disneyland is opening the Iron Man exhibit in Innoventions on April 13.

It’s good to see Disney making use of its Marvel Comics purchase, and it will get me into Innoventions, a place I have visited only three times since it opened in 1998. It just doesn’t appeal to me. When I go to Disneyland, the last thing I want to do is get on a computer or play video games.

And while this should be a fun exhibit, I wish Disneyland would make better use of that Innoventions area. Tear down the building — originally opened in 1967 as the Carousel of Progress — andcreate a new ride in that area of Tomorrowland.

Disneyland hasn’t had a new ride since Finding Nemo opened in 2007. And that isn’t a new ride, it’s a revamp of the Submarine Voyage that opened in 1958 and closed in 1998.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen Disneyland make over Star Tours, the Matterhorn Bobsleds and a few other of its existing rides, and gave us a new parade.

Disneyland just opened Fantasy Faire where Carnation Plaza Garden was, next to the castle. Photo by Sherry Barkas

The park just opened the new Fantasy Faire where Carnation Plaza Gardens was, next to the castle. It’s a nice new addition, but it’s an attraction with stage performances of “Beauty and The Beast” and “Tangled” and a staging area where guests can meet Disney princesses. It doesn’t include any rides.

California Adventure just underwent a billion-dollar-plus makeover that includes the creation of Cars Land and Radiator Springs Raceway. An awesome addition and just what California Adventure needed.

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World just opened its new, expanded Fantasyland.

It’s time for the Imagineers to come up with a new, awesome ride for Disneyland, which is after all, the original of the theme parks and the one that paved the way for Disney parks in Florida, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong.

Disneyland’s 60th anniversary is just two years away. What better way to celebrate than with the unveiling of an awesome new ride? Innoventions, in my opinion, is wasted space and the perfect spot for a ride.

Some are hoping that the new Iron Man display is a prelude to an Iron Man ride. That would be awesome. Rather than a car, people could step into the Iron Man suit and take off on a high-flying adventure.

What do you think? Would you miss Innoventions? Or  would you like to see a ride occupy that spot?

Disneyland sets new policy for admitting kids under 14

For a change, being old seems to be a good thing. I can get into Disneyland without a parent any time I want, unless they start carding for mental age. Then, I could be in trouble.

Photo by Sherry Barkas

But starting Saturday, March 23, anyone under 14 won’t be admitted to any of the Disney theme parks in the United States unless they are accompanied by someone who is 14 or older.

The announcement was made today by Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown, who said the change was not sparked by any particular incident, rather a need to get all the parks on the same policy.

“We regularly review all of our policies and identified an opportunity to provide a consistent age of admission and address a question we occasionally get from parents.”

While Disneyland and California Adventure didn’t have an age requirement, other Disney parks did, Brown said.

“We wanted to make the policies consistent,” she said.

Fourteen seems an odd age to set as the cutoff, but Brown is quoted as saying it’s the result of surveys of Disney park goers and coincides with another park rule that children under 7 must be accompanied by a guest at least 14 years old.

The American Red Cross has also made 14 the minimum age for babysitting.

What do you think?

Seeing ‘Oz’ at house Walt built like a wish granted by the wizard

I had the opportunity to see “Oz The Great and Powerful” at a special screening for D23 members a couple of weeks ago at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, which made for a magical movie-going experience.

It was only my second time on the Disney lot, which unlike Universal, Warner Bros. and other studio lots, has never been open for public tours.

This film image released by Disney Enterprises shows James Franco, as Oz, left, and the character Finley, voiced by Zach Braff, are shown in a scene from "Oz the Great and Powerful." (AP Photo/Disney Enterprises)

Over the past few years, since Disney formed the D23 fan club, guided tours have been offered to D23 members, and with the “Princess and the Frog,” the theater on the lot was opened for special screenings of new releases and classics, just for club members.

It’s an awesome way to see a Disney movie – in the home that Walt built using earnings from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” 70-plus years ago.

The theater seats just a few hundred people. And when you’re seeing a Disney movie surrounded by fellow Disney junkies, it makes the movie even more enjoyable.

A fan of “The Wizard of Oz,” I was looking forward to seeing this movie since hearing about it a couple of years ago.

The focus is on the Wizard and how he got his job in Oz.

The story is pre-Dorothy, so there is no lion in search of courage; tin man in need of a heart; or scare crow looking for a brain. Glenda the good witch and her two wicked sisters are at the center of the story. There is also a visit to Munchkin land and trips down the Yellow Brick Road.

And, like the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland, the first 15 to 20 minutes of “Oz The Great and Powerful,” is in black and white.

A castle addition fit for any princess

Disneyland is adding a new wing onto Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

The expansion is the new home of Fantasy Faire which, until a few months ago, was held in the Fantasyland Theatre area. A new stage production, starring Mickey Mouse and the gang, is taking over the theater.

Fantasy Faire will not only be a home for Disney princesses, but it will also be a natural expansion of Fantasyland, Disneyland social media and print manager Erin Glover wrote in a blog.

Project head Michael Den Dulk, who is creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering, says he wants Disneyland’s first-time visitors to never suspect that the addition came later than the rest of Fantasyland.

Read more about Fantasy Faire and check artist renderings for the castle extension at Erin’s blog: disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2013/01/fantasy-faire-architecture-to-extend-fantasyland-at-disneyland-park/

Fantasy Faire is scheduled to open this spring, while “Mickey and The Magical Lamp” is expected to make its stage debut in the summer.

There is a lot going on at Disneyland in the meantime.

Disneyland kicks of its year of Limited Time Magic with a salute to The Golden Horseshoe Review every Thursday through Monday through Feb. 4. Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Disney’s theme parks kicked off a new series for 2013, called “Limited Time Magic,” with events and programs offered throughout the year — each only for a short time.

Disneyland started the series with a special tribute to the classic attraction, “Golden Horseshoe Review,” with a show that pays homage to the fun-filled, family-friendly musical variety shows of the past. Every Thursday through Monday through Feb. 4, Miss Lily and her Saloon Girls perform a variety of song and dance numbers.

Guests can reserve a seat at the show by requesting a reservation at the Golden Horseshoe entrance on the date of the selected performance.

I know for annual passholders, there are dinner shows that require advance reservations. I have a reservation for this Friday. Check out the Annual Passholders link on the Disneyland Resort home page at www.Disneyland.disney.go.com

“True Love” week, Feb. 11-17, offers a variety of events that celebrate the love of friends and family, while inviting couples to rekindle the flame.

Meet up for photos with two of Disney’s hottest couples, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, and Donald Duck and Daisy Duck, at Disneyland’s Town Square. Romantic dinners for two with prix fixe menus will be offered at select restaurants, including the Blue Bayou in Disneyland and Cathay Circle Restaurant in California Adventure.

Cupcakes with dark chocolate mousse frosting and raspberry mousse filling are being whipped by chefs and offered at pastry shops and other spots in both parks.

And what celebration at Disneyland is complete without its own specialty ears, pins and other memorabilia?

To stay up-to-date with the Limited Time Magic events, check out www.limitedtimemagic.com or on Twitter at #limitedtimemagic

Mickey to star in new show at Fantasyland Theatre

Finally, a new show is taking the stage at Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre which for the past few years had been home to the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire.

Mickey Mouse will be starring in "Mickey and The Magical Lamp," a new stage production set to debut this summer at Disneyland's Fantasyland Theatre. Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

But little princesses in waiting, don’t fret. Princess Fantasy Faire closed in August, but is scheduled to reopen in Fantasyland in May as the “Royal Hall at Fantasy Faire,” offering plenty of opportunity to visit with your favorite Disney princess, be it  Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, Ariel and, well there are just so many princesses, to name them all would be a blog in itself.

Taking the stage at Fantasyland Theatre is a live stage production of “Mickey and The Magical Lamp,” starring, of course, Mickey Mouse, as a sorcerer’s apprentice.

According to a blog by Shawn Slater, communications manager for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertianment, the show starts with the wise sorcerer Yen Sid telling of a wondrous map – one unlike any other – with the power to take dreamers to any place imaginable. But when young apprentice Mickey Mouse attempts to paint the map’s one unfinished spot, he stumbles into a fantastic adventure through worlds of music, color and beloved characters, as he discovers the mystery of the map’s magic.

Disneyland plans to raise the curtain on “Mickey and the Magical Lamp” this summer.

Read more and see story board photos for the stage show at http://bit.ly/UofRJ4 

The blog also has a link to a blog about Royal Hall at Fantasy Faire with some storyboard photos for that planned attraction.