Disney to dismantle iconic California sign

Disney is in the midst of a major overhaul at its California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, and the latest change is the removal of an iconic sign at the entry.

The California sign – really more of a monument than a sign, with letters spelling California stretched out in front of the park – will be removed next month.

That sign has been in countless family photos over the years, as many groups gather around it to take a picture before entering the park each day.

The letters get a makeover for certain seasons and for special events. When the theme park opened its World of Color show this summer, the letters were in technicolor. This holiday season, they have candy cane stripes.

The remodeled entrance will echo the design of the legendary Pan Pacific Auditorium, and look a lot like the gate at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida.

That fits with the park’s re-theming, which is supposed to reflect back on Southern California in the 1930s, after Walt Disney arrived and started his studio.

The official Disney Parks blog reports that the CALIFORNIA letters will be kept for “possible future use.”

[Image credit (CALIFORNIA sign): Flickr user PunkJr]

How to buy a Disneyland candy cane (and why you would want one)

Disneyland candy canes are a sought after item during the holidays. In fact, they are in such short supply that Disney has devised a ticketing system for buying them. That’s right, you need a ticket to buy a candy cane. For $9.95 each, no less.

The sweets are made at Candy Palace on Main Street U.S.A. at the California theme park.

To get one, you’ll need one of those magic tickets. They are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis each day at park opening. Get your ticket, and come back later in the day to buy up to two Disneyland candy canes for $9.95 each. If you didn’t get a ticket, you can wait in a stand-by line at the Candy Palace beginning at 3:30 p.m., to see if any of the canes are left over to buy.

So, what’s all the fuss about a candy cane? The Disneyland creations are handmade — a lost art, according to Disney. It takes a crew of three candymakers two hours to make a batch of about 45 candy canes.

The candy canes have to be made in a sealed room heated to 90 to 100 degrees. They are 5 ounces and 10-12 inches long. On a candy-cane making day, just three batches are typically made, so they are in short supply.

This month, Disneyland plans to make them on Dec. 9, 11, 13, 17, 21 and 29, according to the Disney Food Blog. But those dates are subject to change because of temperature or staffing changes. If you really must have a Disneyland candy cane, call (714) 781-0112 to verify they are being made before you head out to the park.

Duffy the Disney Bear – New face to see (and buy) at Disney Parks

If you are planning at trip to Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World at the holidays, you will likely encounter Duffy the Disney Bear.

And when you do, I imagine you will likely think, “Hey, who the heck is this?”

No, you’ve never seen Duffy in a Disney movie. He’s never been in a Mickey Mouse cartoon or a Pixar animated short. And he’s not the star of a new series for preschoolers on the Disney Channel.

Duffy the Disney Bear is the first character conceived and introduced solely in Disney Parks. That’s right – Disney made him so that they could sell you another souvenir.

Duffy’s “backstory” is that he was sewn by Minnie Mouse as a present for Mickey, to accompany him on his travels around the world. We here at Gadling told you this summer how many grown men take teddy bears on business trips, I suppose grown mice need a stuffed animal to cuddle on their business trips, too.

Duffy was introduced as a costumed character at Epcot and Disney’s California Adventure this fall after six years of popularity at Tokyo Disneyland Resort. In Tokyo, Duffy is such a craze that young women line up outside Disney stores when a new Duffy outfit is released.

And just in time for Black Friday shopping, he is being sold in three sizes at Disney’s Florida and California theme parks, along with a variety of outfits, Duffy keychains and other souvenirs. The Orlando Sentinel reports that about three dozen Duffy items are expected to arrive in the coming year.

In addition to his souvenirs, Duffy has a shiny new Facebook page with more than 5,000 fans.

Turkey with presidential pardon not going to Disneyland

Each year just before Thanksgiving, the president pardons a turkey in a ceremony at the White House, saving that turkey from its likely fate atop a dining table. But this year, that turkey is not going to Disneyland.

Disney started flying the pardoned turkeys to California in 2005, when Disneyland was celebrating its 50th anniversary. The turkey has served as grand marshal of the the Disneyland Thanksgiving Day Parade (“The Happiest Turkey on Earth”) each year since, except for 2007, when the bird went to Walt Disney World instead.

Disney officials told the Orange County Register that this year, the lucky bird just doesn’t fit into its theme parks’ new promotion, “Let the Memories Begin.”

So the turkey that President Obama pardons this Wednesday will live out its life at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, rather than Mickey Mouse’s house.

Three previously pardoned turkeys still live in a coop at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo.

[Image credit: Flickr user Myrna Litt]

Neil Patrick Harris lends voice to Disney ride

Disney California Adventure theme park has introduced a new ride recording for California Screamin’, featuring the voice of actor Neil Patrick Harris.

The official Disney Parks Blog says NPH’s new recordings are meant to emulate a classic carnival sideshow barker.

California Screamin’ is in the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure. That part of the park has a classic boardwalk amusement park feel.

California Screamin’ is the longest and fastest ride at Disneyland Resort in California, with a 120-foot drop and top speeds of 58 miles per hour. The roller coaster is steel, though it is painted and styled to look like a classic wooden ride.

NPH’s love of Disney is well-documented. He has been a narrator during EPCOT’s holiday Candlelight Processional show in past years, and last month, he hosted an event celebrating Disney animatronics at the Disneyland Hotel.

He professes his love for theme parks in his Twitter profile, and he hinted on Twitter about his California Screamin’ involvement over the weekend.