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On Site: Disneyland Resort Goes Under the Sea, Travels to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

June 5, 2011 By: Deanna Ting


The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure is designed to appeal to guests of all ages. // (c) 2011 Disneyland Resort

ANAHEIM, CA--Walt Disney famously once said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."

That could not be more true than today. Last week, the Southern California theme park that first opened in 1955 welcomed a brand-new attraction (The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure); a revamped cult classic (Star Tours - The Adventures Continue); and a brand-new parade (Mickey’s Soundsational Parade) to a crowd of more than 250 journalists from around the world—as well as throngs of guests, many of whom waited for more than four or five hours for the chance to ride on one of the new attractions.

“We are literally transforming the park,” Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts said at the grand opening ceremony.

Indeed, the entire Disneyland Resort is undergoing many transformations. Disney California Adventure is currently in the middle of a multiyear project to reinvent the park as a cohesive and even more family-friendly theme park fashioned after the California that Walt Disney encountered when he first moved to California from Missouri in the 1920s. In July, Disney California Adventure will debut Goofy’s Sky School, an aviation-inspired coaster as well as two new theme restaurants along Paradise Pier. And next year, Cars Land, a 12-acre theme park land inspired by the Disney/Pixar film “Cars” will debut.

The Disneyland Hotel is also currently being remodeled with completely renovated guestrooms and the addition of new luxury suites. A new courtyard, restaurant, bar, pool and water play area also recently debuted at the iconic hotel, which first opened in 1956. This month, the hotel’s three guest room towers are also being renamed after Disneyland’s distinctive lands: The Dreams Tower will be renamed as the Adventure Tower; the Wonder Tower will become the Frontier Tower; and the Magic Tower, which will be finished in late 2011, will be renamed as the Fantasy Tower.

The various changes taking place at Disneyland Resort make up only a small part of the huge investment that the entire Walt Disney Company is taking during the largest period of growth in the company’s history. This year, Disney will debut its first resort in Hawaii (Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa) and next year, Disney Cruise Line will welcome a brand-new ship (the Disney Fantasy) and new homeports and itineraries. The company is also in the midst of planning for, and building, a new Disneyland Resort in Shanghai.

The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

On Thursday, June 2, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure officially opened at Disney California Adventure, occupying the space that was formerly occupied by the “Golden Dreams” attraction.  The family-friendly ride immerses guests into the undersea world of Ariel from Disney’s acclaimed animated feature “The Little Mermaid.” Like some of the parks’ more classic and traditional “dark rides” (think “Haunted Mansion”), the attraction winds its way through various scenes from the film, all set to the backdrop of nearly 200 lifelike audio-animatronic figures, special effects lighting and the film’s Academy Award-winning musical score.

Music plays such an important role in the new ride that, to celebrate the attraction’s grand opening, Disneyland Resort welcomed the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson, to perform the song “Part of Your World,” as well as composer Alan Menken.

“To have this classic kind of attraction,” Menken told the crowd at the opening ceremony, “continues a great tradition.”

And as popular as the “The Little Mermaid” has been since it first debuted in 1989, this ride marks the first time that Disney has opened a theme park ride inspired by the film. A similar version of the attraction is scheduled to open in the new Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida in the near future.

Star Tours - The Adventures Continue drew crowds of "Star Wars" fans to Disneyland on its opening day. // (c) 2011 Disneyland Resort

Star Tours Gets a Makeover

On Friday, June 3, Star Tours - The Adventures Continue reopened after a nearly 11-month-long closure to modernize the popular ride that is based on George Lucas’ world-famous “Star Wars” film series. The ride, which had originally opened in 1987 was recently updated with the help of Lucas and Industrial Light and Magic, all of whom worked with Disney Imagineers to update the ride to include scenes and characters from all six “Star Wars” films.

New features of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue include the use of 3-D technology and the ability to show more than 50 different story combinations. Now, when guests ride on the attraction, almost every ride experience is guaranteed to be different.

The grand reopening ceremony of the ride, in true theatrical fashion, included a lightsaber fight between Darth Vader and various Jedi Knights, one of whom was Staggs himself. Even before the ceremony commenced on June 3, hundreds of “Star Wars” fans had already lined up in anticipation of the opening. Earlier last month, on May 20, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue opened at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

The opening of Mickey's Soundsational Parade // (c) 2011 Disneyland Resort

A Soundsational Summer

To kick off the Memorial Day weekend, Disneyland premiered its newest parade, Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. The parade, which runs twice daily, draws inspiration from some of Disney’s most beloved films and songs with nine themed floats that travel down Main Street, U.S.A.

Music is the underlying theme throughout the parade: the show opens with a rousing drum performance from performers from the film “Drum Line” as Mickey and Minnie welcome guests to get up and dance along to the musical beats. Other featured characters include those from “Mary Poppins,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “The Three Caballeros” and “The Jungle Book.” 

Summer Hotel Offer

To take advantage of all of the new attractions to be found at Disneyland Resort, travel agents can book the clients at an on-site Disneyland Resort hotel with value-added savings and benefits. This summer, clients can save up to 25 percent on room-only reservations at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel or 20 percent on reservations at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa or the Disneyland Hotel.

In addition, clients who check into any on-site Disneyland hotel property through September 5, 2011, will also receive two Disney Fastpass tickets for each person in their party, per stay. The Fastpass tickets allow guests to bypass stand-by lines at the theme parks, allowing them to enjoy various rides without long waits. Guests will also have daily early access to the brand-new The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure ride. Separate theme park admission is required to enjoy these guest benefits.

When clients book the summer hotel offer by June 18, 2011, they can take advantage of a broader selection of travel dates, beginning June 19 – Aug. 13, 2011. Or, travel is available from July 17 – August 13, 2011 for bookings June 19 – July 23, 2011. All travel must be completed by August 14, 2011. For more information and to book, travel agents are advised to call 800-854-3104 or book online at


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By Deanna Ting | June 5, 2011
The Southern California theme park kicks off summer with a new parade, a new ride, a spruced-up favorite, hotel renovations and a special summer offer just for travel agents.