Disneyland launched its big 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration over the weekend with a big 24-hour party that included the public debuts of three new nighttime shows. The popularity of the 24 hour party combined with the demand for the new shows forced Disneyland to close to new admissions early in the afternoon, which later proved to be a problem for the park late into the evening. We’ve got the story on that in today’s update, along with photos and videos of the new Diamond Celebration nighttime entertainment that is now playing nightly in the parks.

Don’t miss your weekly Disneyland Resort crowd forecast — provided by our friends at MouseAddict — in the Weekly News and Information Roundup at the end of today’s update!

Get a closer look! Don’t forget that you can always click on any photo in Dateline Disneyland for a closer look with a larger, higher resolution version of the image!

Dateline Disneyland is back! As you may have noticed, I took some time off recently to tend to some unexpected family issues and also to celebrate a personal achievement. Dateline Disneyland is back now, and just in time to fill you in on all the goings-on for Disneyland’s big Diamond Celebration. Today’s column is part one in a two-part series. So check back — the second part will run tomorrow!

Before we get started I must give a huge thanks to Norman Gidney for filling in with excellent coverage in his In the Parks column while I was away. Norm also provided video found in today’s update. A big thank you as well to the MiceChat Roundup’s Anthony Hays for loaning me some camera gear this week after mine went on the fritz. And finally, a big thank you to photographer Ryan Pastorino for his excellent Paint the Night photos found in today’s column!

Okay – let’s get started!

Diamond in the Rough

Disneyland’s big 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration kicked off over the weekend with a round of media events capped off with the 24-hour launch party that saw the public debuts of three new nighttime shows — “Disneyland Forever” fireworks, Paint the Night Parade, and World of Color Celebrate.

The new shows officially premiered at media events on Wednesday and Thursday, with Disney CEO Bob Iger speaking to the media before the debut of Disneyland’s new parade and fireworks Thursday night. Fans could watch the Thursday night premieres online via live streaming video.

Friday saw the public launch of the Diamond Celebration festivities, with this year’s version of the 24-hour party focused around the 60th Anniversary promotion.

The park saw big crowds turn out for the 6 a.m. launch of the 24-hour party. In years past, Disneyland’s 24-hour parties have typically seen a surge of guests in the morning, with crowds thinning throughout the day until locals start getting off work and head to the parks for the evening.

This year, however, crowds started out heavier than ever before and only continued to grow, forcing Disneyland to restrict admission by 2 p.m. Disneyland’s official in-house Twitter account notified guests the park was closed but that Disney California Adventure remained open.

The closure of Disneyland didn’t deter locals from showing up en masse and getting in line, with the hopes of eventually getting in.

Unfortunately, the park was at capacity and simply could not open and guests were forced to either enjoy Disney California Adventure or head home. Meanwhile the @DisneylandToday social media team continued to send out “updates” that Disneyland was indeed, still closed.

Disney’s social media team continued updating Twitter with the “Disneyland is still full” status throughout the night and nobody following along seemed surprised that guests weren’t leaving the park. After all, the highly-acticipated new parade and fireworks hadn’t yet debuted. The crowds continued to impact the Resort in various ways; security checkpoints were closed, the Resort ran out of parking, and alcohol sales were ended early. This changed by 10 p.m. — the first showing of Paint the Night had come and gone; and a mass exodus of guests was underway, following the conclusion of the 9:30 p.m. fireworks show. But before anybody could get their hopes up of finally getting into Disneyland, word started circulating that Cast Members were notifying guests that Disneyland had been ordered to stay closed for the rest of the night by Resort President Michael Colglazier.

At this point, thousands of guests were in a standstill. The Main Entrance Esplanade, both security checkpoints, and the inside of Disney California Adventure were packed with guests that Disney wasn’t communicating with. The issue went from frustration to anger when photos started hitting social showing a near-empty Disneyland. Queues for the now-closed security checkpoints weaved through Downtown Disney and Disney California Adventure was nearing capacity but Disneyland had mostly cleared out, with guests now only concentrated along the parade route. E-Ticket attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain were walk-ons cycling empty ride vehicles. Photos being posted to Twitter showed large areas of the park virtually empty.

As guests that were still inside Disneyland enjoyed a nearly-empty park, Disneyland’s social media team continued to Tweet out the same “Disneyland is still closed message.” This scenario played our for over four hours following Disneyland’s fireworks show, while the tempers of thousands of trapped guests rose. The problem only got worse as guests began checking Disney’s own in-park web cams and seeing Main Street with guests sprawled out before the final 1 a.m. performance of “Paint the Night”

To add insult to injury, around 11:30, Disneyland’s other Twitter account cluelessly invited guests to “go on a ride” — if only people could have gotten into the park to do so!

At 1 a.m., the third and final performance of “Paint the Night” rolled down the parade route and yet, Disneyland remained closed and continued to get emptier.

Then, just before 2 a.m., the @DisneylandToday Twitter account announced that guests inside Disney California Adventure were now allowed to park hop to Disneyland. The announcement excited the very frustrated masses inside Disney California Adventure and the scene on Buena Vista Street turned from busy to dangerous as thousands rushed the park gates but weren’t allowed to leave to Disneyland. As it turned out, the Cast Members in the parks hadn’t been notified that DCA guests could parkhop and were struggling to enforce what they had previously been directed to do — keep guests from going to Disneyland. The complete communication failure resulted in a situation that turned dangerous and could have (but luckily didn’t) ended badly.

It took another 20 minutes for Cast Members in the parks to get the news and the esplanade to be cleared enough so California Adventure guests could hop over to Disneyland.

With only four hours left in the event, Disneyland finally began seeing new guests enter around 2:20 a.m.

Below, crowds were finally streaming back in around 2:30 a.m.

The launch of the 60th Anniversary promotion would have been enough to make this year’s 24 hour party the biggest one yet for Disneyland, but it was the addition of three new nighttime show premieres on top of everything that really pushed the limits of what Disneyland could handle. Disneyland may deserve credit for attempting to really make this 24-hour event special but somewhere along the line the ball was dropped and wasn’t picked back up. That Disneyland remained practically empty for over four hours while the rest of the Resort turned into a near-mob scene of frustrated guests is a massive failure on Disney’s part. If Disney had legitimate safety concerns about admitting new guests to Disneyland before the final parade of the night was finished, then so be it. But concerns about guest safety does not mean Disney should stop communicating with their guests in high-pressure situations like Friday night. It also doesn’t it make it OK to replace one potential safety risk with another by filling the esplanade, Downtown Disney, the Harbor Blvd. transportation hub, and Disney California Adventure with hordes of guests because there wasn’t a proper strategy on how to safely introduce new guests back into Disneyland.

How did this happen? Were Disneyland’s new guest flow corridors behind Main Street not built to help with situations like this? Was there no clear plan in place, knowing that it was inevitable that Disneyland would hit capacity? Why was communication between Disney, its cast, and its guests so lacking? Communication could have gone a long way in helping the situation Friday night, but instead guests saw photos of an empty Disneyland for hours while Disney refused to offer them any explanation. Complaints were so bad at California Adventure that extra Guest Relations Cast Members were called over from Disneyland as backup. At a certain point complaints had become so bad that the Chamber of Commerce simply started giving out complimentary tickets, no questions asked, to dissatisfied day guests (non-Annual Passholders).

The OC Register ran an interview with Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier on Friday, conducted just after the park had started its 24-hour party in which Colglazier insisted that Disneyland was fully prepared to handle the impending crowds:

“We have planned for days like today,” Colglazier said in an interview. “We are prepared and have new ways to flow crowds back and forth on Main Street, [U.S.A.]; we have more hands on deck.”
[…] Colglazier said park managers spent the past six months getting ready for the Friday/Saturday 24-hour party that officially kicked off Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration.

All of that after six months of preparation. Prepared, indeed.



Dazzling Debuts

Despite the operational failures of the 24-hour party, Disneyland’s new nighttime entertainment lineup debuted to high praise from fans and critics alike.

Disney Paint the Night

The new Paint the Night parade in Disneyland is a welcome return for the electrical parade concept. Visually stunning, the parade employs over 1.5 million lights for a really spectacular experience. My only gripe is that the parade trots out the same Disney and Pixar films that we’ve seen used over and over again in parades and live shows. It’s pure Disney synergy on parade, which made it feel more cold and corporate than it did sincere or nostalgic.

Under the Sea

Toy Story

Beauty and the Beast and princesses

Nice to see Rapunzel’s hair glowing

New for the Disneyland version of the parade, the Frozen float.

It’s the tallest in the parade and its quite nice.

The finale Mickey float.

Below, a couple videos of the new parade.

Disneyland Forever Fireworks

The 60th Anniversary fireworks show is my personal favorite of the new entertainment lineup. While the content isn’t as emotionally satisfying as the 50th Anniversary’s “Remember… Dreams Come True” show was, “Disneyland Forever” is full of great characters and music, with the Mary Poppins, Jungle Book, and Lion King segments standing out. The integration of the Matterhorn during the Finding Nemo segment is clever and while the Frozen segment trots out the tired “Let It Go,” the sequence is visually impressive combining projections, snow, lasers, spot lights and fireworks all at once.

Below, video of the new show:

World of Color — Celebrate!
The Wonderful World of Walt Disney

The final new nighttime show for the 60th anniversary is an all-new version of California Adventure’s popular World of Color show. The new show celebrates Walt Disney and Disney history by tracing Walt’s earlier creations all the way to the creation of Disneyland and beyond. The show is hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse and, while ambitious, unfortunately never seems to find its rhythm. There’s a good show buried in there, but unfortunately is bogged down by awkward pacing and forced synergy with Frozen, Star Wars and more.


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
May 25-31, 2015
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
Mon.-Thur.: 8 am – 12 am
Fri.-Sat.: 9 am – 12 am
Sunday: 8 am – 12 am
Mon.-Thur.: 8 am – 10 pm
Fri.-Sat.: 9 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 10 pm
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
[/CENTER]
[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]
[b][center]Disneyland Park[/center][/b]
  • Peter Pan’s Flight: Closed through July 1 for refurbishment and enhancements.
  • Innoventions: Closed.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • Luigi’s Flying Tires: Closed for re-Imagineering into new attraction. Reopening not yet announced.
  • Muppet*Vision 3D: Dark indefinitely while theater is used for Frozen-themed show.
  • [B]Blue Sky Cellar:[/B] Closed indefinitely.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
    None.
Tomorrowplan Crowd Estimates for Disneyland Resort from Mouseaddict

May 25 — 31

Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun

  • Welcome to the summer season at Disneyland! Last Friday’s 24-hour party was, we think, a very strange aberration and we don’t expect Disneyland to be closing the gates again any time soon. But be prepared for higher than normal crowds in the evenings with the new parade and fireworks.
  • Don’t look for any Good Neighbor Hotel deals this week – they’re all betting on summer crowds and not offering discounts.
  • There will be some cool weather and potential rain this week, but there are also three Grad Nites, so we don’t think crowds will be reduced much.
  • Have you checked out the new Wait Watcher feature in Mouseaddict? When you don’t want to wait in a long queue, just tell us what time you’re willing to wait. Wait Watcher will notify you when the wait time reaches that time. Only in Mouseaddict.

The free Mouseaddict app for iPhone and iPad features more than five dozen categories of searchable resort information, weather forecasts, park and show schedules, the latest news and articles from MiceChat, and more. Download free on the App Store or at mouseaddict.com.

[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
OK, that wraps up our first part in our two-part Disneyland Diamond Celebration launch edition. Were you at the 24 hour party? Did you get stuck outside of Disneyland or did you enjoy a relatively empty park? Let us know your experience in the comments section below!

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Thanks for reading. See you at Disneyland!
[B]- Andy[/B]




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FTC-Mandated Disclosure: Promotional consideration for this edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.