Twenty-five years after The Little Mermaid opened, Jodie Benson sings ‘Part of Your World' (credit: Kim Tracy Prince)

Last week Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim unveiled not one, but four new things to see at the parks during their Soundsational opening extravaganza, which included the debut of Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in Disney’s California Adventure, the re-launched 3D Star Tours ride at Disneyland, the new Soundsational Main Street parade, and the lavish themed penthouse suites at the Disneyland Hotel.

(credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

At Disney’s California Adventure
1313 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 781-4565
More Info

Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is the long-awaited “dark ride” that takes visitors through the scenes of the beloved animated film “The Little Mermaid.” Riders sit in a moving clam shell to be transported through the musical tale. For the unveiling, musical lyricist Alan Menken, who co-wrote all the music for the film in 1986, and Jodi Benson, voice of Ariel, made appearances on the stage outside the attraction. The ride opened to park visitors on Thursday, June 3. The next anticipated attraction to open in Disney California Adventure is Goofy’s Sky School, a family-themed roller coaster that features twists and turns, all led by flight instructor Goofy.

(credit: Kim Tracy Prince)

Disney’s California Adventure Improvements

“The openings of these fantastic attractions mark another milestone in our Disney California Adventure expansion and reinforce our commitment to evolving Disneyland Resort into a world-class, multiday destination,” said Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis. The is still visibly under construction, with the center of Sunshine Plaza still boarded off and a faux desert landscape rising above it, which will become Cars Land in 2012. The 12-acre section of the park will include the world of Radiator Springs and three new attractions: Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and the thrilling E-Ticket Radiator Springs Racers. Extensive landscaping, new shops and food locations will create a rich environment for the land.

The entrance to California Adventure will be completely redesigned as well, mirroring Disneyland Park’s Main Street. CA’s Buena Vista street will celebrate the heyday of Walt Disney himself, his optimism and creativity. “Our continued investment in the Resort,” said Kalogridis, “from our hotels and restaurants to attractions and entertainment, creates incredible new experiences for our guests and helps ensure that the Anaheim/Orange County area remains a top tourism destination.”

(credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc./Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Star Tours Re-opens

Also opening June 3 was the re-designed favorite, Star Tours. Scrubbed clean and featuring a few new faces, Star Tours is now presented in 3D, with an interactive space adventure that has 50 different storylines, so visitors can ride the attraction all day long and never see the same show twice. The attraction’s Disneyland Cast Members, the helpful folks who control the lines, don’t even know which story will come up next, so there’s no way you can choose.

(credit: Kim Tracy Prince)

Soundsational Parade

Disneyland’s latest song-and-dance parade, Soundsational, has been running daily for about a month. Thursday’s press presentation was preceded by a surprise flash mob, as park “visitors” emerged from the waiting crowd to sing and dance to the rhythm, interrupting the attraction director’s speech. The parade that followed consisted of nine themed units – floats, characters, and performers, including Disney’s newest heroines: Princess Tiana in her Big Easy splendor, and Rapunzel, on a “Tangled” float complete with Rapunzel’s tower.

(credit: Kim Tracy Prince)

Disneyland Hotel

1150 Magic Way
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 778-6600
More Info

Media and special guests were given a tour of the themed penthouse suites atop the Disneyland Hotel during an evening party that featured a live cover band, a “Star Tours” ice sculpture, and photo opportunities with two Storm Troopers. The hotel completed a major renovation in May, adding a new courtyard, restaurant, bar, pool and water play area. Two new themed penthouses join the three that were already there.

The penthouses, whose rack rates start at over $2,000 per night, each have a spacious living room and dining room, multiple bedrooms and baths, and special features. Mickey Mouse’s Penthouse has an enormous round bed. The master bedroom of Adventureland looks like the interior of a safari tent, and the bathroom includes a rainfall shower tiled to look like a rainforest grotto. The Pirates of the Carribean suite is fit for a swashbuckler, and the giant copper bathtub in the Big Thunder suite is uncomfortably akin to a human-sized soup cauldron. The Fairy Tale suite was not available for tours because it was occupied that night. The nerve. However, rumor has it that the shadow of Tinker Bell flits across your view as you walk through the door.

(credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Summer Ticket Deal

Disneyland Resort’s Soundsational Summer continues through September 5. For Southern California residents (zip codes 90000 through 93599, and 21000- 22999), that means a special deal for $139: good for three park visits to either Disneyland park or Disney California Adventure park (one park per day) within a 45-day period. For an additional $15, local residents Tickets are blocked out from July 2 – July 4, 2011 and August 21 – August 22, 2011.

Kim Tracy Prince is a writer and mom blogger in Los Angeles.