The good views along Buena Vista Street were bombarded with Disney merchandise this week as Disneyland’s merchandise department went into the beautiful period-specific window displays and added mannequins and piles of theme park merchandise in an attempt to draw more customers. Never mind the carefully-crafted themes and histories Walt Disney Imagineers created for Disney California Adventure‘s new main entrance plaza — merchandise has taken over, chipping away at the magic in the process. Meanwhile, Disney-branded printed napkins, soft drink cups and even turkey leg bags are being phased and replaced with cheaper, more generic products out across the resort — but at what cost to the Guest experience? In Disneyland, the off-season is in full swing as refurbishment walls are up throughout the park and preparations are underway for Halloween Time, which officially kicks off this Friday.

Get a closer look at today’s update! Click on any photo in today’s column for a large, high-resolution version of the image.

Welcome to Disneyland!

Disneyland crowds will be light this week, but that won’t last for long as Halloween Time starts this weekend. Our friends at Touring Plans have their weekly crowd forecast and Touring Tips below.

Light crowds continue this week until Halloween Time kicks off on Friday, when crowd levels are expected to see a jump. TouringPlans.com can help you navigate the parks with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines – Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. With Halloween and holiday crowds on the horizon, it’s a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!

Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.

— Fred Hazelton, Statistician, TouringPlans.com

[center][/center] [center]Overall
Crowd Prediction
[/center]
[center]TouringPlans.com
Crowd Tips
[/center]
Tues., Sept. 11 [center]1 /10[/center] Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:

  • Disneyland’s popular Halloween Time starts Friday.
  • Partial blockouts on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Disneyland (park) is a 1.1 on Thursday.
  • Due to its popularity, grab a Haunted Mansion Holiday FASTPASS to avoid a long wait during the busy Halloween season.
Wed., Sept. 12 2 /10
Thu., Sept. 13 1 /10
Fri., Sept. 14 6/10
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.See Disneyland crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disneyland wait times on your iPhone, Android, or Smartphone.

Do more. Wait less.

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The Guided Tours building, City Hall and the Main Street Fire Department are all behind scrims this week for refurbishment.

The Guided Tours Garden next to the tour building is still open

A look at wait times Friday afternoon

Construction Kingdom

Fantasy Faire construction continues in the former Carnation Plaza Gardens area

Views from the Omnibus:

Back at the Fantasyland Theater, work continues on bringing the space back to a working live performance venue

More walls have gone up on the other side the Troubadour Tavern snack stand

Refurbishment Round-Up

With the summer season officially over, refurbishment walls went up around the park. In Fantasyland, the Casey Jr. Circus Train and Storybook Land Canal Boats are now closed for refurbishment and rumored additions of safety infrastructure.

Monstro is behind tarps for a repaint.

Casey Jr. is behind walls

Facade work continues over at Fantasyland’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

In Adventureland, the popular Indiana Jones Adventure ride is now closed through mid-December for refurbishment.

In New Orleans Square, Haunted Mansion will reopen Friday with its annual Nightmare Before Christmas-themed overlay.

Holiday decorations can be seen all over the Mansion already

Nearby, the French Market was closed for a couple days, with just a Cast Member out front telling guests “We’re closed all day today.” Meanwhile, more Nightmare Before Christmas decorations are up at the restaurant, which typically offers special-themed menu items for the season.

Back in Frontierland, the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree will host its own “Halloween Carnival” this year, according to the Disney Parks Blog.

The new Halloween Carnival will expand on Big Thunder Ranch’s traditional Halloween offerings, such as crafts for kids and live pumpkin carvers. The Jamboree space will allow Disney to add Disney character meet and greets, including relocating the Disney Villains from Small World Promenade. The Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree stage will host Billy Hill and the Hillbillies performing Halloween-themed songs as well as the new “Magic Cauldron Sideshow” featuring Disney Villains.

In Tomorrowland, Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port is now closed for refurbishment.

Tasteless

Earlier this summer paper napkins at restaurants across the Resort went blank. At first it was unclear if the blank napkins were the result of supply issues but it now appears that Disney is phasing out all custom-printed paper goods for its foodservice locations.

Last week @EPCOTcitizen on Twitter reported that generic soft drink cups appearing at Walt Disney World restaurants. On Friday, I noticed that the generic Coca Cola cups have made their way to Disneyland as well.

Display cups at dining locations still show the Disney-branded printed cups, but you might not actually get a Disney cup.

At outdoor vending carts, it appears the Disney Parks-branded bags that hot dogs, turkey legs and chimichangas are served in are starting to be phased out as well. Bags that turkey legs are served in appear to be the first to go, as generic white bags with the words “HOT FOOD BAG” emblazoned on them have replaced Disney’s custom bags. “Hot Food Bag” … appetizing, right?

Hot dogs and chimichangas were still being served in the Disney Parks-branded bags over the weekend. We’ll see how long they last.

Printed popcorn boxes remain the same for now.

It’s important to acknowledge that plain cups and napkins and food bags aren’t something that will make or break vacations. But these are small parts of the overall Disney experience that add up and when too many of these small details start disappearing, Guests start noticing. These things add up. Disney is charging for a premium experience more than ever, so why serve $9 turkey legs in “hot food bags” anybody can buy online in bulk? Likewise, a $2.99 soft drink at Disneyland is now served in the same cups Costco food courts charge 50¢ for. Disney is known (and often credits itself) for its attention to detail in every aspect of the theme park experience. Food service is a huge part of the Guest experience at theme parks and every detail should be accounted for.

Welcome to California Adventure

Construction walls on the west side of California Adventure’s main entrance have now expanded to accommodate construction of a new floral planter, matching the planter on the eastern side of the main gate.

A look at wait times Friday afternoon.

In Cars Land, off-season wait times are still high but significantly lesser than they were over the summer.

Luigi’s Flying Tires down to 30 minutes

Radiator Springs Racers — only a 55 minute wait.

Over at Fillmore’s the bead curtain has been removed from the backside of the geodesic sphere.

Souvenir Street

Back on Buena Vista Street, the honeymoon appears to be over as Disneyland’s merchandise department has gone in and drastically re-worked the themed window displays.

At Los Feliz Five and Dime, mannequins wearing Red Car Trolley and Cars Land apparel have been added to both of the main window displays, with various Red Car and Cars souvenirs scattered around and piled onto period-appropriate props.

Below, the window featuring books based on Disney’s animated classics (with covers designed by artists at Walt Disney Animation Studios) is now filled with Red Car Trolley merchandise. Books have been pushed aside to make room for new mannequins and Red Car Trolley souvenirs are piled atop stacks of books.

I asked a Cast Member on Friday if the books in the window display were available for purchase in the store. The Cast Member politely smiled and informed me they weren’t for sale and quickly told me that she wished they were. I asked how often guests ask about the books and she said that, at just two hours into her shift, I was the twelfth person that day to ask if the books were for available to buy.

Unfortunately, with so much merchandise clutter added, it’s hard to see many of those great books now.

Five and Dime’s baseball-themed window is now covered in Cars Land merchandise.

Where custom-designed vintage baseball cars were, cell phone cases and Cars Land notecards are scattered around now.

You now have to go inside Five and Dime and look at the backside of the window display to see the baseball jerseys Imagineering had custom-made for this display.

At Julius Katz and Sons, window displays designed to support the backstory that this is a clock and radio repair shop now features a mannequin wearing Red Car Trolley apparel and the rest of the display has been covered by Red Car Trolley tin sings, conductor Mickey ear hats, souvenir photo frames and other items, all piled on in multiples.

The Atwater Ink and Paint Supply functions as Buena Vista Street’s shop for Disney kitchenwares but is themed as an art supply store.

The window displays reflected this theme with an artist’s desk in the window inspired by Disney Legend Mary Blair’s. The window now features a mannequin wearing a Mickey Mouse apron and various stacks of plates, drink coasters and other kitchen items stacked up on the desk.

Awful.

Window displays at Elias and Co. were also tampered with. Vintage toys and model trains in windows have been pushed aside for character plush and more Red Car Trolley merchandise.

The only window displays that didn’t appear to have been tampered with are the still-beautiful Trolley Treats displays, filled with model train sets and prop candy that looks good enough to eat. Hopefully they survive.

It’s a shame that Buena Vista Street could only survive its first summer season before getting serious and negative changes. These aren’t small changes, folks. Significant changes in nearly every window on Buena Vista Street have effectively made the displays look like piles of clutter. Many of the windows are barely recognizable now, with custom-made props pushed to the side and antiques covered by piles of cheap theme park merchandise. The original window displays now live on in photos and videos the official Disney Parks Blog recently released featuring Imagineer Brandon Kleyla talking about the props that helped make Buena Vista Street feel real and “lived-in.”

But don’t blame the Disney Parks Blog or Imagineering for promoting Buena Vista Street’s great theming and then ruining it. This is an example of Disney’s various, competing departments doing what they want with no communication between one another. Disneyland’s merchandise team made these drastic changes without notifying Imagineering and they did so with obvious disregard for the authenticity and credibility these displays are designed to give Buena Vista Street. The merchandise team doesn’t care that you’re supposed to be transported back to 1920s Los Angeles; their main goal is to sell product. What better way to do that than by adding a ton of it to the carefully-crafted window displays? Many of these windows were works of art in their own right and featured items guests would were willing to buy, had the merchandise team had the bright idea to sell replicas inside the gift shops.

It’s important to note that all of the merchandise thrown into these window displays can be found over and over again at shops throughout Disney California Adventure. Red Car Trolley and Cars Land merchandise isn’t only available at Los Feliz Five and Dime; it’s all found at numerous shops throughout the park. If Disney thinks that guests are having a hard time seeing the merchandise available, then they’re wrong. When shops carry so much of the same merchandise over and over and guests aren’t buying enough of it, then perhaps it’s time for a better, more diverse assortment of products. Cluttering window displays with junk merchandise isn’t going to sell more of it, it just makes your park’s multi-million dollar new entrance complex look tacky and more like a Disney Store and less like a world-class theme park.

If you are unhappy with the changes you see in these windows, then let Disney know. Stop by the Chamber of Commerce the next time you’re in the park and ask to write a written complaint. Tweet your displeasure to Disney California Adventure’s official Twitter account, @DCAToday. The @DCAToday account is the first time Disney has officially managed a Twitter account that interacts throughout the day with guests and you can bet people in Team Disney Anaheim are paying attention to it.

Building Sandwiches

Earl of Sandwich construction continues in Downtown Disney…

Work at the Disneyland Hotel continues as well…

This & That

Pixie Hollow recently welcomed Periwinkle, from the upcoming Disney video “Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings.” Periwinkle, apparently a frost fairy, apparently brought along snow to Pixie Hollow.

Below, a publicity image from Disney of Tinker Bell and Periwinkle in their winter costumes

Back in California Adventure, the larger marquee for Dancin’ with Disney has been removed

A smaller sign is now in place, closer to the soundstage that hosts the dance party… and a big red carpet has been rolled out to welcome guests.

And finally, Disneyland’s former 15-minute parking lot on Harbor Blvd. has reopened as a three-lane loading zone.

Two outer lanes are open for temporary parking for passenger loading only and the center lane is for passing through.

The lot does have a couple spaces designated for taxis.


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
September 10-16, 2012
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]Disney California Adventure[/B]
Monday-Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 9 am – 12 midnight
Saturday-Sunday: 8 am – 12 midnight
Monday-Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 9 am – 10 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 8 am – 10 pm
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
[/CENTER]
[center]Expected Crowd Levels[/center] [center]presented by TouringPlans.com[/center]
[CENTER][B]Disneyland Park[/B][/CENTER] [CENTER][B]Disney California Adventure[/B][/CENTER]
[CENTER][B]LOW-MEDIUM[/B]
[B]1.1—5.9[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[CENTER][B]MEDIUM[/B]
[B]3.0—6.8[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10,
with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.

[B]For crowd predictions for the next 365 days, visit
[/B]
[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]
[b][center]Disneyland Park[/center][/b]
  • [B]Princess Fantasy Faire at the Fantasyland Theater:[/B] Fantasyland Theater closed August 12. Princesses have relocated to Small World Promenade allowing the Fantasyland Theater to close and prepare for a new show.
  • [B]The Haunted Mansion:[/B] Opens September 14 with Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
  • [B]Storybook Land Canal Boats:[/B] Closed through November 15, 2012 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Casey Jr. Circus Train:[/B] Closed through November 15, 2012 for refurbishment.
  • [b]Indiana Jones Adventure:[/b] Closed through December 7, 2012 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Space Mountain:[/B] Closed September 10-13, 2012 for Halloween overlay installation.
  • [B]Big Thunder Ranch:[/B] Closed September 10-13, 2012 for Halloween overlay installation.
  • [B]Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes:[/B] Closed September 17-18, 2012.
  • [B]Sailing Ship Columbia:[/B] Closed September 18-20, 2012.
  • [B]Mark Twain Riverboat:[/B] Closed September 25-28, 2012.
  • [B]Starcade:[/B] Closed October 8-18, 2012.
  • [B]”it’s a small world”:[/B] Closed October 22-November 8, 2012 to install holiday overlay
  • [B]Big Thunder Ranch:[/B] Closed November 1-8, 2012 to remove Halloween overlay and install holiday overlay
  • [B]Space Mountain:[/B] Closed November 5, 2012 to remove Halloween overlay
  • [B]Alice in Wonderland:[/B] Rumored to close early September to install permanent safety rails to outdoor portion of ride track.
  • [B]Fantasy Faire:[/B] New princess-themed meet-and-greet area in former Carnation Plaza Gardens is under construction and expected to open in early 2013.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!: Closed September 5, 2012 for software upgrade.
  • Muppet*Vision 3D: Closed September 10-13, 2012.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
  • [B]Earl of Sandwich:[/B] Former Compass Book store and cafe will reopen as the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant summer 2012.
[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
Okay, that wraps up this week’s column. What do you think about the merchandise invasion on Buena Vista Street? Is it too soon for Disney to be chipping away at DCA’s brand new entrance or is it not that big of a deal? Let us know in the comments section below, and if you’re as unhappy as we are about the changes don’t forget to let Disney know!

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For more Disneyland news, be sure to read MiceChat’s weekly In the Parks blog. And be sure to check out our sister blog, Dateline Disney World – a fantastic weekly photo blog covering Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!

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

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