Disneyland’s last Annual Passholder Party in 1997.

I returned to visiting Disneyland in December 1995. I was then an annual pass holder every year except for the dark times (after the great tech layoffs following 9/11) through the late 2000s.

Disneyland used to do a yearly Annual Passholder Party. It was a hard ticket event that gave pass holders special access in the evening to presentations, entertainment and food. The last one was 23 years ago today on March 14, 1997. I thought it might be fun to look back on the event through my ancient digital photos.

Getting there is half the fun

I travelled for work, and just happened to be in Irvine, California the week this event was held. I had no ticket, but my local friend Steve roamed the lines asked if anyone had an extra ticket. Thanks to Steve and some random nice guy I was able to experience the event. (I used to have a picture of him, but it seems to have been lost to time.)

New Tomorrowland

The new New Tomorrowland was under construction, so there were many displays set up showing things to come.

Innoventions

This one shows the paint job that Innoventions would soon have.

Innoventions model. Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

It was on this night that the made the building rotate (to great applause) for the first time since it America Sings was inside. I highly suspect they practiced this before they tried to power it up in front of annual pass holders.

Rocket Rods

The PeopleMover had been shut down for a few years, but its high speed replacement, Rocket Rods, would soon be operating. This was a map of the track layout.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

The next resort…

And of course, with Disneyland soon to be the Disneyland Resort featuring a new theme park, Disney’s California Adventure, there was concept art on hand about changes coming to the resort area.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

And check out this “now” and “later” image showing the yucky run down strip mall look that surrounded Disneyland … and the lush tourist district it would soon be transformed into:

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Won’t you let me take you on a Disney cruise?

The Disney Cruise lines was also represented, showing off a model of an upcoming cruise ship.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Animal Kingdom: coming soon!

There was also a new Florida Disney theme park opening — the first new U.S. park since Disney/MGM Studios opened nine years earlier. Animal Kingdom was represented with a display of concept art.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997
Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Test Track!

The transformation of Epcot’s World of Motion into Test Track also got some concept art.

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Imagineers standing by…

This is where I got to meet some imagineers for the first time. I had my photo taken with Bruce Gordon and Tony Baxter, though I don’t believe I had any idea who either of them were at the time.

Hungry yet?

Outside of Tomorrowland, the walkway between New Orleans Square and the Rivers of America was taken over by food booths. You could buy samples of all kinds of food items from the different lands of the parks. Back then, the prices were very reasonable!

Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997
Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997
Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997
Disneyland Annual Passholder Part on May 14, 1997

Light Magic

This was also the first night we got to see a sneak preview of the upcoming Light Magic parade… but I will save that for a second part.

I thought I had many more photos from this night, but it appears they may have been lost with some hard drive failures I have had over the years. Stay in school kids, and backup often.

Until next time…

P.S. The photos in this article were all 640×480 low resolution images from my Epson PhotoPC camera. They have been upscaled using software as an experiment. What do you think? I think they look like Instagram filters. . .

Remembering the Soap Opera Bistro

In February 2001, I got to visit the just-opened Disney’s California Adventure Park. It seems the first thing we did was get breakfast at the ABC Soap Opera Bistro. Here’s a few minutes of video from that brand new restaurant.

Soap Opera Bistro, 2/18/2001.

More to come…

Kudos: Brandon at Epcot’s Festival Market

It’s time for another cast member kudos post, this time about an exceptionally helpful one I encountered during a visit during the Garden festival.

Scattered around Epcot’s World Showcase are various Festival Market booths like this one near the Outpost:

Epcot Festival Market booth on April 10, 2019.

I’d seen and taken pictures of these booths, but hadn’t felt the need to buy any festival souvenirs. When a display listing various tours caught my eye, I went over to take a closer look.

There, a cast member named Brandon described some of the various tours they had available. I knew there were Epcot tours (I’d taken Behind the Seeds in The Land a decade ago), but I was unaware that there were special festivals tours, including some that were free!

For instance, over in United Kingdom you could sign up for an English Tea Garden Tour, sponsored by Twinings Tea:

A FREE tour at Epcot?!? Well, the photo was taken on April 1, 2019…

Brandon letting me know about something free at Disney should be enough to get him on the kudos list, but he was also great at suggesting things folks shouldn’t miss during the event. He specifically suggested trying The Honey Bee-stro over in Showcase Plaza.

The Honey Bee-stro at Epcot on April 10, 2019.

He said the honey cheesecake was one of his favorite items.

The Honey Bee-stro menu at Epcot on April 10, 2019.

I guess I’m easily suggestible, since I did end up at the Bee-stro and did indeed try the cheesecake. Although the portion was small for $5 (like all items at these events), it was indeed delicious. I also tried the honey ale, but that one is on me.

Kudos to you, Brandon, for being outgoing, friendly, and helpful. Rather than just answer questions, you took a proactive approach with suggestions that really helped enhanced my visit.

Until next time…

Epcot’s temporary food booths aren’t.

Wow. So many changes at Epcot since I last visited in 2006-2007… One that really stood out was all the “temporary” Food & Wine festival food booths now seem to be permanent.

The backside of an Epcot Morocco festival food booth on April 1, 2019.

Visiting during Food & Wine, then returning a few months later for the Garden Festival was … basically the same thing, except they changed the signs and menus, and I guess topiaries replaced food demonstrations.

At least they are decorated pretty nicely.

Taste of Marrakesh food booth at Epcot Morocco on April 1, 2019.

They still clash with the actual permanent structures around them, and the signage really stands out as “I’m a food booth, even if I’m a permanent building in a World Showcase pavilion.”

Still, all these unique menu items are fun (even at $7 or more for three bites or less).

$7 of food (Harissa Chicken Kebab) from Taste of Marrakesh food booth at Epcot on Apri 1, 2019.

And I should say, while the Epcot scenario no longer seems “special” to me, I quite enjoyed Disney California Adventure‘s Food & Wine event a few years ago. There, the booths disappeared after the event rather than remaining to clutter up the lanes.

I ask my audience: Do they ever remove these buildings? Quick connects on the power and water lines or something? Or are they really there every day? If so, are they always open?

Until next time…