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Character News and Updates From Around the Web - Character Fan Days (special report), New DCA show, Critter Country closure and more!
DisneyDan  Monday, January 31, 2011 12:15:48 PM

Hi all,

This weekend was the next in California’s Family Fun Weekends line-up – the much anticipated Character Fan Days. Our good friend Loren was there on Friday and this is what he had to say:

“Well, it was another warm January day at the Disneyland Resort, making it a great time for another Family Fun Weekend! This weekend - Character Fan Days.

Character Fan Weekend was probably the most advertised of all of Disneyland's Family Fun Weekends. This is due to the fact that they polled the public (or, at least, the public on facebook) on which "rare" characters they'd like to see out. Now, it can be disputed as to how rare some of these characters actually were (I still contend Donald and Daisy are not rare...just uncommon), but there were some gems and surprises along the way.

The first thing I noticed was that there was a big crowd in the morning. Whenever I've been to one of the Family Fun Weekends, I've always arrived at opening and there would be a handful of people. But, yesterday, there was a giant crowd waiting to get in.

When the doors opened, you could see the entire Alice in Wonderland Unit posing together and then Shaker and Liver Lips McGrowl from the Country Bear Jamboree were out. These were surprises to us, but, were curious as to why none of the voted on characters were out.

But, soon, music came over the loud speaker and the host came out to welcome everybody to Character Fan Weekend and to talk about the poll. He then introduced the first set of voted on characters to come out - The Seven Dwarfs, Captain Hook, Wendy and Smee and King Louie and Baloo. Half an hour later, he came back out to introduce the others who won the poll - Donald and Daisy Duck, Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar and Esmeralda and Clopin from Hunchback of Notre Dame. Snow White and the Wicked Queen also came out to replace the Dwarfs for a set and Pinocchio was walking around colouring with kids in the crafts area.

Some other surprises was a short set of the Country Bears with Wendell (sadly, I didn't get to see him) and the addition of Frollo to the Hunchback Unit later in the day. I wanted to get pictures of Frollo during Halloween Time, but I ended up missing him by a few minutes. So, I was so glad to see him.

While the lines were long, Disneyland cast members kept everything well organized. And, it was good to know that the characters would be out all day. So, you didn't feel the pressure of having to rush. Although it definitely took longer to see characters than the other weekends. During Fiesta Disneyland and Disney's Kickin' Country Weekend, I was able to see all the characters and entertainment in two hours. But, yesterday, I was there almost the entire time Character Fan Day was open.

I got pictures with pretty much everybody. Admittedly, I didn't make an effort to take pictures with Donald and Daisy. I love them, but, like I said, I don't think they're that rare. Also, part of the reason why I didn't get pictures with them is that, much to everybody's surprise, they didn't pose together. But, for some reason, they put them at two different character stations.

Entertainment wise, Disneyland looked within. It featured the Jambalaya Jazz Band, the Disneyland Band and the Dapper Dans. It was probably a good idea since most people were concentrating on photos with the characters.

After getting pictures with everybody I wanted to, I stood in the longest line of the day - the character sketches. They had three Disneyland artists out doing drawings of your favourite Disney character. And, they did it for free. I think I was in line for an hour and a half. At times, I considered not getting a character sketch because the line was so long. But, I'm glad I stayed. I asked for Mickey Mouse as he appears in "The Band Concert," my favourite Mickey Mouse short. The host assigned me to Stacia Martin, whose work I've admired in the Disney Gallery for its sense of whimsy. I found her to be one of the loveliest and most gracious people I've met at Disneyland. She had a reverence for Disney history and it was a true pleasure talking with her. The sketch she did was absolutely wonderful and something I am going to frame for sure. While I was there for the characters, I have to admit that this was the most magical moment I had during the day and one of the most magical moments I've ever had at Disneyland.

I'm sad that I won't be able to go back this weekend. I have a feeling there will be more surprises. But, I'm glad that I got to go for that one day. It was definitely worth it. I hope Team Disney Anaheim sees how successful this is and do more Character Weekends like this. And, it would be great if they actually feature really rare characters we never get to see.”

Thanks Loren! Sounds like it was fun, although there does seem that despite the fact that a lot of those characters are rare for California, there were a lot of wasted opportunities to have some more rare ones. There probably wasn’t any need to have the whole Alice family there, Pinocchio or some of the other more regular ones. That seems like a real wasted chance to use the performers for something else, in my opinion. But, we can’t have everything I suppose. As well as the ones Loren mentioned, Big Al, Chip and Dale were there in cute Hawaiian style shirts, along with Clarice (in regular dress)!

I also want to point out that all of those characters can be met elsewhere in the world at the other four Disney Resorts at some point, whether that is Halloween, Christmas or randomly. As I have said many times on here, California really does suffer badly for characters!

To top it all, I also heard that yesterday, Sunday, they closed the ranch area early due to rain. Now I understand that Disneyland is not as used to rain as the other parks, but it is really ridiculous that this one-time special event should be cut short due to it! Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World both get a lot of rain due to their varying climates, and that never stops a character appearing! Disneyland has its fair share of indoor locations such as the massive Fantasy Faire tent,  Mr Lincoln lobby area, the swing band gazebo next to the Castle and the Golden Horseshoe stage (I’m sure there must be more too). I know they aren’t huge locations, but they could at least had a few characters and maybe had multiple locations. Why Disneyland couldn’t have used one of these locations is puzzling, and just adds to the fans frustrations when it comes to Disneyland and characters.

Loren’s pictures from the weekend can be found here.

Staying with California, you may recall that California Adventure had started a small entertainment programme of events to compensate for currently not having a parade. Now as well as the Heroes in Training, there is Monsters Inc: Monsters Mayhem, which of course stars the Monsters Inc gang, including Sulley, Boo and Needleman.

When I have some pictures to share of this I will.

Finally for California, the whole of Critter Country is under major refurbishment right now, and has been completely closed off! In terms of characters this means that the Pooh friends and the Brer’s will either have to be relocated for a while, or will just not appear (who wants to place bets that they just will disappear for a few months?!)

One thing for Disneyland Paris, and our friends at Characters Photos Blog have reported seeing High School Musical Mickey and Minnie at the High School Musical Room over at Disney Blockbuster Café this week! The outfits were a few summers ago, but have not seen since, and so make a nice welcome addition to the park. Themed outfits are always a big hit with the character fans, and add a lot more to the atmosphere of an area of the park. Paris and Tokyo are especially good at this.

Some internal news now, and Jon and I have been working ever hard to make sure there are more and more cool new features on the site. Now if you go to a character’s page, you will see that some of them have started to have a “Starring Roles” section under their description. This will eventually appear on all character pages, and will be a list of all the movies and TV shows that that character has appeared in. You should be able to click the movie or show and go to that item’s page, where then you can see who else starred in it, more information about the feature, and other things. It is still work-in-progress, so please bear with us as we continue to work on it.

The other thing we have added to the character pages is on the popular pictures box. Recently we added the new Popular and Recent tabbing, but now we have also added more tabs so that you can also sort images of that character by location too! This feature will enable you to see your favourite Disney pals in a single park or resort without having to scan through thousands of images. This feature we hope to eventually roll out across the site so that locations (Lands etc) will have multiple tabs too, maybe to cover seasonal décor and weather conditions – but that is a little way off yet.

Don’t forget that we have been working hard on our trip pictures, and these can be found on our Flickr pages as always (see the side panel, below right – click to see more).

As well as trip pictures, I have been adding some from our recent Disney On Ice experiences, which mean that a few new characters are appearing on the site, with more to come over the following week or two. Check the side panel to the left to see the latest additions.

I will also be trying to make the new cheat sheets a bit more up to date over the coming week (side panel, below left). If anyone has any updated information they want to share, then please do! Our aim is to have those sheets as up to date as possible for fans to use in the parks.

Ok, that’s all for now,


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