Annual passholders got to see something new at Disneyland this week. A new Glow-With-The-Show version of Fantasmic was presented at a special after-hours party. We have lots of video and photos to share from this nice enhancement to an aging but still wildly popular show.  Meanwhile merchandise in the stores continues to indicate that Disneyland Halloween Time is just around the corner.  We also cover a troubling bit of news from Pirates of the Caribbean, the progress of the Fantasy Faire Village near the Castle, wait times in Cars Land, and the slow march of death for the plant life near Radiator Springs Racers.

As you can see from the wait time board below, things are pretty mellow at the park right now.

Tuesday night, annual pass holders were given the opportunity to see a special Glow-with-the-Show version of Fantasmic after normal park operating hours.  Glow-with-the-Show first launched at World of Color early this Summer and involves interactive light up mickey mouse ear hats which are available for purchase at $23.00 a pair.

The party began at 10pm as Passholders streamed into the west side of the park.  Guests were encouraged to bring their own glow-ears this time around as they weren’t going to be offering complimentary ears as they did with World of Color.   Indy, Pirates, and Big Thunder were open for people to enjoy as they waited for the 11:30pm performance.

Special food
A collection of restaurants were offering specialty items to celebrate the night, most of which were recycled from the Fantasmic 20th Anniversary Show.  Cafe Orleans carried the most tempting items including a panko crusted red snapper and the Fantasmic Cupcake (Note: They have improved on the dragon topper technology. It doesn’t fall as it did during the One More Disney Day event)

The Show
The Rivers of America shimmered in a rainbow of colors as the audience waited for the show to begin.

Once it did, it became apparent that the Glow ears lend themselves even better to Fantasmic than they do with World of Color.  Part of the reason is that Fantasmic is simply a better show, with better pacing and show elements. But this could also be attributed to the fact that imagineers are becoming more adept at using the ear technology as part of a show experience.  Below is a video of highlights.



The party revelers marching down Main Street seemed to have had a nice time.  We know that we did.  The show was expertly done and the synchronization of the hats has certainly gotten better with time.  We do have to commend Disney on the Annual Passholder events that they have been holding lately.  They are a nice gesture to a loyal fan base that includes just enough to make one feel that the price of the passes may not be quite so painful after all.

HalloweenTime runs from September 14th to October 31st this year with the arrival of Haunted Mansion Holiday, Ghost Galaxy, and  a smattering of other offerings to the normal day guest. But little bits of Halloween are already making their way into the park . . .

Here we are back at Disney Showcase.  Last week we saw that Halloween Merchandise has moved in.  They were, apparently, still in the middle of decorating at that time, so we withheld any criticism.  But, we were told that they are now done.  It seems a little weak compared to previous years.

The window displays used to feature lush detail and delightful Victorian inspired decorations.  But this year continues the slow departure from the details with more emphasis on the merchandise over theme.  We get it, it’s a store.  Stores are about merchandise, agreed.  But the charm and art form of the window displays on Main Street have been under attack for years now.  It is even more evident this year as they have only taken a few bits from previous years and shoved t-shirts and costumes in as the only focal points.  Could these elements have been worked in with a little more elegance?

Some of the windows aren’t too bad, like this table of stuff

But then there is this.

Inside the merchandise is piled high. And you’ll note that the highest shelves which in previous years held elaborate displays have been severely demoted this year.

$64.95 and your boy could look like Cap’n Jack Sparrow

So everything you can buy is front and center.  That’s fine.  We then look just above eye level and see that there wasn’t as much care and attention given to the decore as in previous years.

This display above a clothing rack is not much better than a poster this year.

Again, the centerpiece display is paired down. Acceptable, but not as amazing as in previous years by a long shot.

Instead of the lovely retro-Hallow’s Eve art, we are treated to knick-knacks and red paneling.

Let’s hope that more is added before the season begins. And if not, that they note the lackluster decore was not well received and restore the displays next year.

Haunted Mansion Holiday
Don’t go to the Mansion expecting to see the killer bride and Master Gracey.  They are wintering in Boca right now.  Jack is getting ready for his annual housesitting gig that lasts far too long and begins in just a couple of weeks, on September 14th.

It is normal to see animatronics suddenly missing every once in a while for maintenance. For instance, right now the pirate that is wallowing with the pigs has gone missing.  No big deal.  But an iconic pirate has been modified inside the ride and we are hoping that this change is only for the interim.

Nope, everything looks fine here.

These prices are reasonable.  All is well.

Wait a minute!  The Hat Pirate hasn’t any hats! And hasn’t since he returned from his refurb.

The pirate stepping on to a boat, head stacked high with hats, was a particular feature that Walt himself referenced often during the development of the attraction.  He is a tricky one to maintain as he has one leg on shore and another in a bobbing boat while a towering stack of hats sits precariously on his head.

After a recent refurbishment of this beloved character, he returned, functioning as he should, but with his trademark hat collection missing.  Instead, he had one hat on and is carrying stolen treasure.  Is a stack of hats that hard to keep up?  We could ask him we suppose.  But why is it gone?  Will they be returning it soon?  Whatever the case is, we hope it returns soon, as it is an iconic gag in the ride.

The Fantasy Faire Village is coming along well.  Today we have a view of one of the spires topping out.

There we are, the highpoint of the update! 😉

All dressed up and no place to go.
The old Princess Fantasy Faire is all behind walls and being redone for future entertainment offerings.

Meanwhile, the Princesses are sharing meet and greet space with each other on the Small World Mall.  Despite the hot sun, they are still commanding a 50 minute wait.

“I can convince your daughter to give your money away… TO ME!  AHAHAHAA”. Actually, she’s quite lovely isn’t she?!

Another bit of info; Bennie the Cab has been removed from the facade of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin for maintenance.

Some work on the outside of the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique has walls wrapping around the exterior of the shop.

Work continues on the Coke Corner archway.

Disney California Adventure is now operating at a more reasonable, steady pace.

As the wait time board on Buena Vista Street indicates, if there is enough for people to do, they will spread out.

The wait for Luigi’s was almost as long as Racers.

Over in Cars Land the attractions are holding up like champs.

Mater’s is often a walk on, in-part to its relatively high capacity

Luigi’s currently averages 30 minute wait times throughout the week.

Still no beach balls – they are gone for good.

Radiator Springs Racers
For the first time we’ve noted since the opening of Cars Land, Radiator Springs Racers stayed below a two hour wait time all day on Tuesday.

Despite that, the intricate attraction still falters at times with frequent shut downs (many of them extended). The evergreen trees at the beginning of the attraction are only getting more and more brown. (see dying).  While on the inside of the attraction, there is always at least one show effect bugging out.  On this trip, the Sheriff character was frozen.  Completely stationary, voicing lines, but no movement.

Some of you think the trees are just turning brown because of the heat.

But it seems that it is just the trees in Cars Land dying. The rest of the evergreens in the resort are doing just fine.

“Guys you shouldn’t be speeding, but, well, I’m stuck and can’t pursue you.”

Finally, we have Halloween Time offerings inside Disney California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street.  The things being offered here are pretty much the same as they are over in the other park, so there is no real reason to go shopping in DCA in particular.

There you have it.  A successful addition of the Glow-With-The-Show ears, to the already popular Fantasmic, will certainly drive more sales of the expensive ears.  Disneyland Halloween is on its way but may end up being a bit less detailed this year (at least in the shops and windows on Main Street).  Disney California Adventure is at that point where all of the people that said, “I’m gonna wait till the crowds die down.” should be going now.
Thanks for reading folks. What’s on your agenda for the long Labor Day weekend?
  • Gregg Condon

    Glad to hear the Glow with the Show for Fantasmic went well. It’s an interesting idea but my whole thought on the thing was “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”.

    How were the sight-lines with everybody wearing the ears? That was my biggest concern.

  • jcruise86

    Thanks for the update!

    The $23 mouse ears are interesting because the wearer can’t see her own ears. Buying these is altruistic.

  • eicarr

    I don’t understand why pirates would be stealing frilly hats and not valuable treasure. It shows them getting their booty and not just wrecking a town.

    While I think World of Color is far superior, I’ll now have to check Fantasmic out for the 1st time in years with the glow with the show.

    At Stanford Universist in the new Computer Science Quad they planted the same trees, the same size on a new artificial elevated area. The 8-12 got sicker and sicker over the course of a year(the branches lowered and wilted more and more) and big cranes came in and replaced them all. But the new ones all took hold. If unsure they’re should contact their renowned grounds staff.

    Great update! The parks are looking darn good.

  • Algernon

    Doesn’t all the light from all those ears stop down the viewer’s night vision, making the show harder to see?

    • Norman Gidney

      @ Algernon Strangely, no it doesn’t. I mean, I guess it might for some, but it seems to add to the periphery.

  • xalesa

    Wonderful update!! I was at the parks about a month and a half ago and didn’t get to ride RSR. Was super disappointed, but it sounds like it’s kinda normal for that ride to be down a lot. And that’s sad.
    But the glowing cups/ears are a neat addition. Anyway, everyone have a great Friday!!

  • JerrodDRagon

    Question: In the “avatar” or front picture for this on the site…the picture is of the Mickey Mouse from “Run Away Brain” is that a toy you can buy in the parks? Or something else

    • Norman Gidney

      Sadly, no. It is just an image used in the displays.

  • lnsemsf

    Here in Florida our hat balancing pirate was missing his hats for what seemed like the better part of a year, Eventually though it returned back to normal out of the blue one day. I’d bet that they are still working on them and overnight one night they’ll be installed when the effect is ready. They probably just wanted to get him back in the show as soon as they could.

  • RSZero1

    Didnt Bennie the Cab just return from a refurb not too long ago? I remember it was missing for quite some time and had just come back?

  • victoriaskitten

    Great update, thank you very much. I am sad that the Halloween decorations aren’t up tp par. That is one of the biggest reasons I go in the fall. Hopefully they will add to them. Disney are you paying attention?
    The Fantasmic Show with the ears looks really nice. I enjoy the videos very much. They keep me excited for my trip.

  • orli113

    I was at the Glow with the Show Fantasmic viewing. Although I really enjoyed it I thought that there were sections that could have had the ears light up but didn’t. I love Fantasmic but think the ears work better with World of Color.

    PS you caught my boyfriend with me there. He is the crazy tall guy in the close up shot with the green ears. Hehe!

  • SpectroMan

    I have to wonder if the evergreens were grown locally or brought in from Oregon where they were accustomed to their true climate. They really need to be started here and grown from saplings if they’re going to flourish here.

    • Anaheimhomeboy

      Good Point SpectroMan. As someone in the biz, the trees are showing signs of stress. This can be caused by a number of reasons including what you said about not being properly climatized. It can also be from not enough water or from too much water. I’m guessing that the irrigation was not increased in the past few weeks when it got hot. Right now the Contractor that installed the trees is probably still in charge of the maintenance for trees and is probably getting a phone call an hour on the state of the trees. That being said the trees can still make it. This is just the critical time to see if they do. Hopefully they do.

      It should be noted that this same thing happened over in Grizzly Peak a few years ago and those trees came back too.

  • Susan Hughes

    I attended both Annual Passholder Glow with The Show events for World of Color and Fantasmic. Sadly, not enough people have bought the ears to replicate what the Passholder events look like on video.
    World of Color only has a sprinkling of the hats, which has no effect at all. I’m guessing Fantasmic will have the same problem. Unless there are a lot in the audience, you wouldn’t know anything as going on.
    As for the renovation of the former Princess Fantasy Faire, I am keeping my fingers crossed that this location will be used for the Candlelight Processional…all 20 days of it. I can’t imagine the mess if all those performances were in Town Square.

  • ABW

    Thanks for a great update, as always!

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update!

  • AvanteGardens

    What, the animatronics on Radiator Springs Racers are breaking down? Lets get Garner Holt in here to explain himself. Ha-ha.
    At first I thought it was a good idea that they were booting the princesses out of Fantasyland Theatre and that down in WDW they backtracked on making the Fantasyland update all about princesses, but when I see an update like this, where the wait for Space Mountain is 10 minutes but the wait to see a princess is 50 minutes!!?? What the heck, I guessI was wrong. Apparently the parks we need more princess capacity, it seems to be what the customers want.

    • Susan Hughes

      Of all the Disney characters that people can meet at the parks, the Princesses create the biggest reaction from the guests. Here at Disneyland when I hear yelling and screaming, followed by running, I know who just showed up.
      Yes, Mickey and the rest of the Fab Five are icons, but you can’t interact with them. For the little ones, talking to a real live Disney character is the most exciting. And that’s why the Face Characters are so popular. And the most popular of the Face Characters are those gorgeous Disney Princesses.
      And not just with the kids. I’ve seen grown ups with smiles just as wide and eyes just as bright. You never outgrow the Disney magic.

  • NashvilleCat

    The best part of the Fantasmic video comes about 3:00 in, when you can hear a little girl exclaim, “I can’t believe it!” as Belle and the Beast float by. THAT’s the magic of Disneyland.

  • donsullivan

    The Sheriff came back to full operation with movement and all animation on Wednesday and was running normally the rest of the week during all of my rides. When I rode on Monday and Tuesday the mouth and eyes were moving but he wasn’t moving forward and backward behind the sign.

  • TheThreeImagineers

    I miss the old DCA entrance. I love WDW, and I love Disneyland, but I love them even more when they’re separate. I like to go back to Disneyland for a more classic Disney experience, and then I like to go to WDW to see what’s new. The DCA entrance resembles the Hollywood Studios entrance just too much. But, oh well, I suppose, since it is more fitting with the Buena Vista renovations. Looovvveee Disneyland all decked out in Halloween decor, by the way. Always one of the best parts of the fall season. ^_^