Team Evening heads a little south of Seattle... To the "happiest place on Earth," Disneyland! Take a look at some of Disney's newest attractions, history, and even inside Disney's Hawaii grand villa.
The latest attraction at Disneyland Resort has a big connection to the Pacific Northwest: Lake Stevens native Chris Pratt.
The star of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is front and center in Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!, a drop tower attraction in Disney California Adventure Park. It takes the place of Tower of Terror.
Guests enter the colorful fortress and learn it belongs to The Collector, who's captured the Guardians of the Galaxy. Rocket the Raccoon is breaking them out, and it’s a wild ride.
The entire film cast shot scenes for the ride with director James Gunn. There are six ride profiles, with different music, scenarios, and harrowing drops.
"It definitely has all the music, the humor, the irreverence that you would expect from Guardians of the Galaxy as a film,” said Brian Crosby with Marvel Themed Entertainment. “Fans who come from the comic books or animation are going to find little easter eggs here and there that we've thrown in, as well."
Watch to see how Jim Dever and Kim Holcomb reacted when they were two of the first people in the world to experience the attraction.
Jim Dever takes part in Disney's Avengers Training Initiative. Will he become a superhero or a super dork?
As part of Disney California Adventure’s “Summer of Heroes,” guests can now come face to face with Groot.
“People love him. They just want to run up and give him a hug,” said Ryan Gallego with Marvel Themed Entertainment.
The Guardians of the Galaxy character can be found in Hollywoodland near the new Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! attraction. He often shows up at the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off events.
While the 7 ½ foot “gentle giant” is a creature of few words, he happily poses with visitors.
"Groot is unique in and of himself… and completely lovable,” Gallego said.
To many watching Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was a happy part of their childhood. But for a young Kira Lehtomaki of Edmonds, seeing the movie as a kid would change her life.
"I declared at that moment that I wanted to be a drawer for Disney," said Lehtomaki. "And when I went to high school and we were started to look into applying to collages and stuff and I was like, you know I need to study animation, my mom was like, wait you were serious? I thought that was like your little kid, "Oh I want to do this when I grow up". And I was like no, this has been my life goal."
When she did go looking for a college, she didn't have to go too far.
After college, Disney asked her to be a part of their animation training program. And she's been working on movies for the company ever since.
“Bolt, Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen. I did a few shorts like Paper Man, Tangled Ever After. I worked on the Prep and Landing series," she said.
Most recently, Lehtomaki has been working as a supervising animator on the new Disney movie, Zootopia.
"Specifically on Zootopia I was in charge of Judy Hopps who's the bunny."
Zootopia co-director Rich Moore says animation is what Lehtomaki was meant to do.
"She is a natural. You meet animators sometimes and you see that's what they were born to do, and ah, it almost seems like it comes easy to them. And she is definitely like one of those artist that she was born to do this," said Moore.
Lehtomaki still can't believe her dream as a child actually came true.
"It's been like a whirlwind dream fairy tale," Lehtomaki said. I feel like I gave everybody some Kool-Aid and they all drank it and now things are working out really well."
It made its splashing debut in 2010. 7 years later, Disneyland's spectacular water works show, World of Color is back.
"Here at World of Color, we imagine our pool as a big artist pallet, and it's filled the gadget and gizmos for the creative folks to use to help tell stories." said Chuck Davis, Principal Technical Director for World of Color.
For those who haven't seen it, World of Color combines, imagery, effects and a whole lot of water to create a massive display of sight and sound.
To pull it off, it uses nearly 1,200 programmable fountains and a vast underwater grid. This particular performance dedicated to Walt Disney has been in the work for quite a while.
So while you many have seen World of Color before, you've never seen Disney magic quite like this.
There's so much history behind Disney - and they do an amazing job of maintaining it. Take a rare look at some of Disneyland’s past - including a badge worn by Walt Disney himself.
We get the white glove treatment when we visit with Disney archivist Justin Arthur. He also brings along a vintage camera that makes us look like we are back in 1955!
Justin shows us Walt Disney’s number one nametag.
“On opening day he wore that,” said Arthur. “Cast members on opening day didn’t have their names on their nametags, they were number badges. So, of course, Walt was number one.”
Millions visit this spot that was in middle of nowhere in the early 50's.
“It’s so excited that 60 years after Walt opened those gates, how similar and how different the park is,” said Arthur. “Walt said, ‘Disneyland will never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world,’ and I think we’ve really held true to that.”
Justin also showed us an old Keppy Kap, a hard hat that the kids used to wear in the late 50s and early 60s.
But the classic mouse ears have always been around. Take a look at one of the first merchandise versions of the mouse ears available for purchase at Disneyland.
Aloha! From a private lagoon, to endless pools, water slides, a lazy river, and even a salt-water snorkeling reef, guests are never short on island fun at the Aulani Resort and Spa, Disney's own tropical Hawaiian getaway. But perched above this endless span of island activities is an oasis all on its own...the Grand Villa.
According to Aulani's General Manager Elliott Mills, the Grand Villa is the very best of the resort's accommodations. The ultimate room with a view, the Grand Villa overlooks Aulani's lagoon below from your own private veranda.
"I think the best part of it is what's outside these curtains here which is the view, which is a panoramic view of the ocean and the beach," Mills said.
The Grand Villa is also the ideal spot to bask in the island's signature sunsets. It includes a family dining room, and three bedrooms that can sleep up to twelve on its massive beds. The suite also features touches of Disney throughout, like original Mickey Mouse art and towels, as well as sprinkles of Hawaiian culture, including lamps modeled after traditional poi pounders.
"Going back to Disney's storytelling ways...just telling the story in the most authentic way about the Hawaiian culture, and it's incorporated all over here in this room and throughout the whole resort," Mills said.
Whether you come to Disney's Aulani for the adventure, the sights, or simply to soak up the Hawaiian sun, the Grand Villa promises a grand vacation. Head over to Aulani's website to learn more!
Watch the Starlit Hui Show
At this Disney resort, you’ll experience Hawai’i with a touch of magic. Aulani Resort offers many activities for the whole family to enjoy. Here are three of our favorites:
Puili sticks are ancient instruments of the Polynesian Islands.
Much like hula dancing, the puili tell a story. The rattling of the puili sticks can be used to signify the wind, or the makani, above us.
You can see them in action at Aulani's Starlit Hui show.Snorkel at the Rainbow Reef
Take a plunge into the Rainbow Reef, which is the only private snorkeling lagoon on O'ahu.
“Maybe if you're a little bit afraid to venture out into the wild blue yonder and snorkel out in the ocean, this is the perfect place to see some of our local tropical fish,” said Sam Pablo of Disney Entertainment.
More than a thousand fish roam in this 3,800-square-foot saltwater pool in the middle of the resort.
“Everybody has the biggest smile on their face,” Pablo said. “There's no way you can walk into the rainbow reef, snorkel with all these beautiful fish and not just be thrilled.”
It’s an unforgettable journey just outside your hotel room door.Eat shave ice at the Papalua snack shack
Nothing goes better with the warm Hawaiian breeze than a shave ice. Papalua Shave Ice does not serve mere sno cones.
Their shave has a soft texture and is topped with a squeeze of condensed milk. You can choose up to three flavors of 17 flavor options. Dig in!