Pan Pacific Auditorium Los Angeles, CA May 18, 1935
Disney-MGM Studios Orlando, CA May 1, 1989
Disney California Adventure Anaheim, CA July 15, 2011

Disney Imagineers take us back to 1930s Hollywood once again with the opening of the new turnstiles at Disney California Adventure today at the Disneyland Resort.

This new entrance and that of what is now Disney’s Hollywood Studios is modeled after the Pan Pacific Auditorium, which played home to countless events for more than 40 years, the new entrance to Disney California Adventure pays homage to the iconic architecture that greeted Walt Disney when he first came to California.

Though the original Pan Pacific Auditorium was destroyed in a fire a mere three weeks after the unveiling of the Disney-MGM Studios entrance at Walt Disney World Resort, millions of people a year can relive the experience of entering a place full of exciting potential as they enter under the gates.

The new California Adventure gateway is only one part of the $1.1 billion makeover of the resort’s “Second Gate” which originally opened just over 10 years ago February 8, 2001.

News: Coffee, Seattle International Film Festival, Star Tours, Rapture, Universal Studios

• You can go back to not feeling guilty about drinking coffee. People may actually live longer by consuming it.

• I always think my coffee tastes better with latte art. Fremont Coffee Company in Seattle has a photo series of these incredibly detailed and drinkable works of art on their Flickr page. Thanks to my friends at Unicorn Booty for the link.

• Also in Seattle, the 37th annual Seattle International Film Festival kicks off tonight with an Opening Night Gala at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Sadly, this is now the second year in a row that I haven’t been able to go! It was definitely a highlight of each year I lived in Seattle. If you go, make sure to share your favorite films! SIFF runs May 19-June 12.

• If you haven’t heard, the Rapture is on Saturday. That is, if you believe 89 year old Harold Camping who also predicted the Rapture would occur September 1994. It didn’t happen. The Huffington Post has a few more facts about the man and a video of the man responding to claims of false prophecy. You could click the link or shrug the whole thing off and use it as an excuse to go to one of the many “Rapture Parties” taking place Friday night.

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue officially opens tomorrow at Walt Disney World’s Disney Hollywood Studios after almost a week of soft openings. In honor of the event, Entertainment Geekly posted a video of the original 1987 Star Tours attraction. The attraction will open in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland June 3rd along with The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.

• Can you tell where all these hidden Mickeys are at the Disneyland Resort?

• This morning Universal Orlando Resort announced a brand new attraction based on Despicable Me will take the place of the Jimmy Neutron attraction near the gate of Universal Studios Orlando. During the same live webcast, Universal Creative’s Thierry Coup confirmed that the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man attraction at the resort’s second gate, Islands of Adventure, would be receiving an upgrade to its 3D projections including high definition and new animation. Here’s the official video announcement of both planned additions to the parks:

SMG is Back

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to television this fall in Ringer, a new series on the CW born of the two networks WB and UPN that aired Buffy the Vampire Slayer over the course if its seven seasons. SMG is playing not one, but two characters. She will star as twin sisters Siobhan and Bridget, the latter of which takes over the life of the former when she dies in a boating accident. Siobhan, it seems, will appear beyond the pilot in flashbacks throughout the series. CW’s confidence in the series is clear as they released three clips to Zap2it earlier today. You can see those here, but there are spoilers and lots of mirrors.

In a January interview with Entertainment Weekly, the pilot’s producer Peter Traugott described Ringer as “an edgy thriller about redemption and about revenge.” As I watched the above clips, I was already tensing up! Traugott also assured fans of Buffy that they would be pleased and explained that Sarah “wanted part of what she initiated” with this role. You can read more from Traugott there though note the change in the network from CBS to CW which officially announced the show at its upfront presentation this week.

Just before the upfronts, Sarah revealed to TVLine the two major reasons for her return to the small screen.

Ringer will air Tuesday nights from 9-10pm the same night Buffy aired during its run on the WB.

Buffy Rewatch: Weeks 16-20

I have a little catching up to do on the Buffy Rewatch. I’ve spent the last month finishing up graduate coursework, producing a vaudeville-inspired show made up of eleven short plays, and preparing to move across the country. You know, life as usual. But the rewatch is going strong as ever and has featured more wonderful people as guest writers. Season three is considered by many to be the most consistent throughout along with some of the best character arcs in the series.

I was to be introducing Season Four on the blog next week, but unfortunately the timing did not work out. A big thanks to Nikki for taking the reins this one time. And has it really been almost a year since the last Slayage conference? What this means: only a year left until the next one which will be held coast side at The University of British Columbia in one of my favorite cities, Vancouver, CA.

Here’s a recap of the last few weeks of the rewatch since the last time I chimed in:

Week 16

3.10 Amends
3.11 Gingerbread
3.12 Helpless

“Amends and Miracles”
Robert J. Wiersema

“Mothers, fathers, lovers: problematic relationships at the heart of season 3”
Janet Halfyard

Week 17

3.13 The Zeppo
3.14 Bad Girls
3.15 Consequences

“This essay doesn’t have a title because I handed it in to Nikki Stafford about two months ago knowing I’d be busy at PCA, and in her typical way she didn’t notice until a few days before the post was going live that it lacked a title, but she didn’t want to bother me so she left it title-less: Did Nikki succeed in making this non-title even longer than the title on the speech she co-delivered at Slayage 4?”
Ensley Guffey

Additional guests: Janet Halfyard, Michael Holland

Week 18

3.16 Doppelgängland
3.17 Enemies
3.18 Earshot

“So, tell us, Angel — how alike ARE vampires and their original mortal selves?: A look at Willow and VampWillow in “Doppelgängland”
Suzie Gardner

“Enemies,” “Earshot,” and Empathy: How Buffy Makes Us Feel
Tanya Cochran

Additional guest: Janet Halfyard

Week 19

3.19 Choices
3.20 The Prom

Guest: Kristen Romanelli Watcher Junior

Follow Kristen on Twitter @watcherjunior.

Week 20

3.21 Graduation Day, Part 1
3.22 Graduation Day, Part 2

“You killed me”: Buffy, Faith and the Death of Slayers
Steve Halfyard

“Graduation Day: The Future is Ours”
Jennifer K. Stuller

Follow Jen on Twitter @InkAmazon.

Nikki also wrote a bonus post this week as we enter Season 4 which happens to coincide with the beginning of Angel, the show’s spin-off series. If you’ve ever wondered how exactly both shows fit together or how to watch them in tandem, look no further than “To Angel or Not to Angel.”

When my friend Kj began watching Buffy and Angel, I remember having such a discussion and a bit of research. She ended up watching them simultaneously and according to continuity. It’s a big undertaking and wish I had had the luxury of doing so when I first watched the shows. I had a thesis due at the time. As it was inspired by Buffy, I had to finish that series first.

NY to LA

In just over 24 hours I will begin my one-way journey west. Back west but not back to Seattle which I left two years ago to come to New York for a graduate program at Columbia University. I am moving to southern California. Tomorrow.

I recently realized that living in California has been a lingering fantasy in my mind since my grandparents took me out of school in the Seattle suburbs for a week long road trip through Oregon and the entire length of California when I was seven. My first trip to California. From Weed to Shasta, Los Angeles, and all the way down to San Diego. I still remember my first glimpse of the faces of Warner Brothers characters as we passed by Six Flags Magic Mountain, the Crystal Cathedral glinting in the California sun and the first time the Matterhorn rose above the horizon as we approached Disneyland. I kept a diary of the trip in an Aladdin journal. I opened it up a few years ago and it is full of awe and wonderment, little of which has been lost in the many years since. I still get excited whenever I visit California and I’m thrilled to begin my new life there this week.

Thank you to all my friends and colleagues in New York for a fast but full experience in this great city. And to all my friends in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, I look forward to spending time with you at theme parks, beaches and giant parking lots.

News: Pirates, Disneyland, SNL, RSS, Mother’s Day, The Guild

• Yesterday Disneyland hosted the premiere for the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, On Stranger Tides. The screening took place in a huge amphitheater constructed especially for the event bridging the Rivers of America. Over 22,000 people were expected to attend some of whom paid $1,000 per ticket. Proceeds benefitted the Boys and Girls Club of America for which Walt Disney was a great advocate. Check out what into preparing for this massive event via the LA Times.

• A great collection of 45 vintage photographs from Disneyland created the old fashioned way entirely sans use of Instagram.

• Marvel’s Thor hit the U.S. market Friday after being released internationally the previous week. In just 11 days the film has grossed $242 million worldwide.

• Does this signal the imminent death of RSS?

• ELEVEN is officially the last project I have going on in New York before I make the cross-country move to the Los Angeles area next week. With performances happening Thursday, May 12th and Friday, May 13th at 8:00 PM near Columbia University, ELEVEN is a theatrical event featuring eleven short plays tied to specific moments and places in one imagined night in a vaudeville house.

• Tina Fey returned as a host on Saturday Night Live yesterday and brought along her renowned Sarah Palin impression.

• Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S. along with many other countries, but did you know that the date for Mother’s Day ranges from mid-February to December across the world?

• For the occasion, New York theater journalist Jonathan Mandell took a survey of the various mother figures currently represented on Broadway including Donna in Mamma Mia, Morticia in The Addams Family, and Mrs. Wilkinson in Billy Elliot.

• Both Tom Lenk and Eliza Dushku—two Joss Whedon vets—are on the set of Felicia Day’s web series, The Guild today.


Marvel in the Real World

The summer issue of Disney twenty-three magazine hits shelves today featuring Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp on the cover as their characters in the upcoming film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Ties, which incidentally, has its premiere at Disneyland this Saturday May 7th.

In one of the magazine’s articles, “What a MARVELous World!,” Marvel masters, Stan Lee and Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios comment on the burgeoning relationship between Disney Imagineers and the Marvel universe in the expanding wake of Disney’s acquisition of the company which it announced in August 2009: Continue reading