The spooky season is well under way at Disneyland and we aren’t just talking about pumpkins on Main Street. This week brought news that Disney will soon be rerouting the Rivers of America, as well as the Disneyland Railroad, to make extra room for the upcoming Star Wars Land.  While Disney will likely do a very good job with the revised river experience, it’s still a frightening proposition for those of us fans who love the quiet escape of the Northwest corner of Disneyland’s wilderness. Today, we’ll take you on a tour of the true back woods of Disneyland. It will be at least a couple of years before we see the final result of the river redo, so let’s enjoy things the way the are while we still can.

Halloween Time

Entering Disneyland, you’ll see that they’ve done a great job of blending Halloween with the 60th Anniversary decor.

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My grandmother would be prodding poor Goofy to EAT. He’s all bones! Love it!
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The fall foliage is simply stunning.

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This is on a week day in the off season folks. A decade ago, the park would have been nearly empty during the work week in the fall.
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The 60th Anniversary diamond D looks good with a little fall color behind it. It’s a nice contrast to not have EVERYTHING in blue.

 

Rivers of America

We thought now would be a good time to take a ride around the Rivers of America and give the old girl some much deserved glamour shots. So we climbed aboard the venerated Mark Twain and headed into one of the most delightful and immersive experiences in the theme park industry.

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Generally, the Columbia remains docked on all but busy weekends and peak seasons. But it’s well worth an exploration of that amazing ship if you see it sailing on a day with some cloud cover.
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As you pass this section of the river, you realize just how unique this waterway really is. Not only does it wrap completely around another attraction, Tom Sawyer Island, but it’s also the home to the Mark Twain, The Columbia, the Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island and the Explorer Canoes. And, in the past, it also hosted the much missed Mike Fink Keel Boats.
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One of our favorite spots in the park is the patio of the Hungry Bear restaurant. It’s such a delightful escape to sit up there and relax as the train passes behind you and the river traffic slowly glides by in front of you. There’s nothing else quite like it.
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This is also approximately the point at which the future becomes less certain. At some point in the back 25% of the river, things will need to be moved south to allow the train to be rerouted. That means the back portion of the island will be shortened and the river moved south as well. It’s uncertain which if any of the scenes we are about to see will simply be moved or if entirely new scenes will replace them.

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One of the old Keel Boats is parked as decoration next to the formerly burning cabin. It’s a nice reminder of days gone by.
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Dear Deer.
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Now we come upon a stretch of river with quite a number of outdoor human animatronics. Their movements are subtle but convincingly real.
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This particular scene has been one of my favorites since I was a little boy. I used to worry about the little Indian boy whenever it was cold or raining. There’s just something very sweet and real about this little boy fishing from a log with his attentive dog. The pooch is staring at a fish which sometimes jumps just in front of this pair. I do hope this scene makes the transition to the revised river plan. It would certainly be easy enough to move.
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One of the highlights of the river is the Indian Village. The storyteller is just ahead. He has a remarkable range of movement and seems to have captured the attention of the village children.

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After passing the Indian Village, things become a bit less interesting. There’s a beaver dam, some moose, and forest. It’s lovely, but changes to this section of the river wouldn’t be as sacrilegious.

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The train tracks on your left are a remnant of the old Mine Train Through Natures Wonderland.

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And we are just about back where we started. What a lovely journey that the whole family can enjoy, young, old, all experiencing an attraction together.
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Where to next?

Haunted Mansion Holiday

Why? Because we love it.

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The pumpkins have returned to the hillside, alone with the new retaining walls and lots of new vegetation which does a good job of hiding the show building.

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Jack Skellington came here from Halloween Town. You might find his handiwork scattered around.
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How many changes can you spot between this image and the next?

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This year’s gingerbread house is huge and impressive. And we love the gingerbread men storming the table.

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Hurry back . . .

 

Innoventions

The big project for the short term is the reinvented Innoventions building and the associated Star Wars and Marvel additions coming to Tomorrowland later this winter. We’re looking forward to Seasons of the Force.

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The 90’s copper color scheme has give way to the white and blue based color palette used elsewhere in the land.

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New Popcorn Cart

Here’s something cute . . . a new popcorn cart with an adorable inhabitant . . .

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Brand new astronaut roastie toastie. She has a sort of fun retro Lost In Space outfit.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean returns

Pirates was down for a two week refurbishment. They likely made some enhancements which allow all rows of the boats to be loaded again. They hadn’t been loading the back row of the boats since a safety incident at Walt Disney World last year in which a guest lost the tips of two fingers he had been dangling in the water.

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Does this photo make you feel like you are being watched?

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Blue Bayou is decorated for Halloween. It’s the location of an up-charge dining experience during Mickey’s Halloween Party. Have any of you done this Mickey’s Halloween Party experience? Is it worth the price and time away from the rest of the party?

 

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Unfortunately, Barbosa’s face wasn’t moving during our ride.

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Jack Sparrow’s face was also frozen on this ride through. Hopefully it was just a quirk that they’ve been able to fix.

 

And now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company . . .

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We’ll see you again really soon folks. Andy Castro returns with a full Disneyland update on Monday. We hope we’ve provided you with some beautiful images to tide you over (much thanks to Norman Gidney for the great shots today).

Now that you’ve had some time to think about it, how would you like Disney to handle the reworking and shortening of the river? Do you want them to keep some or all of the current show scenes and simply relocate them? Or would you like them to work new magic? The best ideas always come from you folks. Let’s hear your thoughts about how to satisfy the fans and ensure that the river remains vibrant for decades to come.