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Greetings from Southern California. I traveled some 3000 miles last week to cover one of the most highly anticipated events of the year. Which was -- of course -- my daughter Alice's graduation from high school (she's the one in blue wearing the yellow sash at the center of the below photo, having her hand shaken by the gentleman in the black robe).
Photo by Noe Valladolid
Oh, yeah. There was this other thing going on about that same time. Maybe you heard about it? The Walt Disney Company completed its 5 year-long, $1.1 billion makeover of Disney California Adventure Park and then celebrated this momentous occasion by inviting the press to drop by the Disneyland Resort for a three day-long party.
Of course, the only problem with a press event like this is -- because Disneyland's PR department wants to create as many photo ops as possible for as many reporters & photographers as possible ...
Photo by Jim Hill
... things tend to be a trifle staged. And as you move through your tightly scheduled day, traveling from one heavily choreographed event to another ...
... you then begin to keep your eyes and ears open for those not-so-staged moments. Like when I observed John Lasseter and three of his sons entering DCA this past Friday morning. Right after John pushed his way through the turnstiles at the Grand Californian entrance for that theme park, Lasseter immediately raised his arms in triumph. Then -- quickly switching into Dad mode -- John (as he walked with his family towards that morning's rededication ceremony) told his boys that they could do whatever they wanted at the Park that day, just so long as the Lasseter boys made it back to Cars Land in time for dinner with he and their Mom.
Given how quick John was to shake hands, sign autographs and/or pose for photographs during the three days that he just spent at the Disneyland Resort ...
... it's clear that Lasseter takes great pride in the role that he played in the reinvention / reimagining of this once-troubled theme park. And given the happy faces that you can see on the very first Guests to enter DCA on Friday, June 15, 2012 ...
... it looks like all of that hard work really paid off.
Look for JHM to run all sorts of theme park-related stories once I get back home to New Hampshire later this week. Not just articles about DCA, mind you. But also stories about what the Disneyland Resort's direct competition has been up to (Take -- for example -- that new Pirates Reef flume ride which just opened at LEGOLAND California ...
... as well as the still-under-construction LEGOLAND Hotel (which is due to open up sometime during the Summer of 2013).
I'll also be sharing my impressions of "Paperman," that Walt Disney Animation Studios' short which had its North American premiere just last night at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
(L to R) Kristina Reed and John Kahrs at last night's LA Film Festival screening of WaltDisney Animation Studios' latest short, "Paperman." Photo by Jim Hill
But before I can get to writing those articles, I've got to get over to Knott's Berry Farm (which -- just today -- introduced a whole new set of performers as the residents of that theme park's Ghost Town area) as well as Universal Studios Hollywood (so that I can then check out "Transformers: The Ride 3D." Not to mentioning covering the red carpet tonight as "Brave" holds its world premiere in Hollywood at the newly renamed Dolby Theater.
Speaking of which ... I better head out for Buena Park now. So please hang in there, okay? Because there are lots of great stories currently in the works for JHM.
Whew, what a whirlwind week for ya.
Congrats on your daughter's HS graduation! That is the most important headliner, and I'm glad you got to be there for it.
We'll keep an eye out for your other stories...