Walls have gone up in Critter Country and Frontierland as Disneyland gets started in earnest on its new 14-acre Star Wars-themed expansion. The first major step, besides reshuffling and moving backstage facilities, is rerouting the Rivers of America and Disneyland Railroad. Railroad tracks have already been removed and trees along the river are tagged for removal as Disney moves quickly on the fast-tracked Star Wars project. While the Railroad is down, Disneyland is now offering guests the opportunity to step back in time and see the original Frontierland Railroad Station up-close in New Orleans Square. Meanwhile, Disney California Adventure‘s Bug’s Life Theater is now taking guests to Zootopia in an extended 3D preview of the upcoming animated film.

Before we get started, we’d like to thank all of you for your support and readership over the last couple weeks as we covered the major Star Wars-related closures at Disneyland. We saw our readership numbers spike over the last two weeks thanks to all of you liking and sharing our posts across various social media platforms. Dateline Disneyland is a work of love and we appreciate your readership! If you’d like to support what we do, please consider donating via PayPal or by becoming a patron on Patreon (and get fun rewards in return!). Thanks!

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!

This week’s update is finally here after a couple unexpected delays this week, so let’s get started before something else happens! 🙂

Welcome to Disneyland!

The park looks great this winter as it continues through its 60th Anniversary celebration. It may be the off-season with all of the refurbishments underway, but the crowds haven’t budged — the parks are still busy, especially at night.

The Frontier Awakens

Last week the latest MiceAge Update detailed the latest rumors on the upcoming Star Wars project, which is now in progress in the northwest corner of Disneyland. The report included maps giving the first detailed look at the upcoming project, which we’ve embedded below along with interactive below-and-after slider maps.

The project will be unprecedented in terms of scale for Disneyland, dedicating 14 acres to a single property with massive new facades, rock work, and massive E-Ticket attractions that dwarf even Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones Adventure.

StarWarsExpansion-BeforeStarWarsExpansion-After

A satellite view of the project. While a good portion of the river is being removed as part of the project, it is thankfully far less than what we initially expected. Overall, the river is expected to come out of the project with signifiant thematic upgrades despite some reduction.

Slider image. Move the center bar back and forth to see before and after.

StarWarsExpansion-Map-Satellite-Before-1StarWarsExpansion-Map-Satellite-After

On overlay of the before and after maps.

Disneyland Railroad

The Disneyland Railroad will remain closed through mid-2017 while construction is on-going, but New Orleans Square Station is quickly and unexpectedly becoming a unique alternative experience worth checking out.

A new “bridge” over the railroad tracks has been installed here, allowing guests to cross the tracks and, for the first time since the mid-1960s, see the the original Frontierland Railroad Station up-close and personal!

It’s a really great opportunity to see this building up close and experience a bit of Disneyland history again for the first time in decades. If you’re in the park, don’t miss it!

Cast Members were excited about the installation of the bridge and are hoping to bring in some educational signage and displays in the future… there was even talk about possibly reopening the station’s interior for guests to walk through again!

The telegraph machine is still spelling out Walt’s dedication speech…

Tracks have already been removed along the portion of railroad beyond this tunnel as early work is already underway on rerouting the tracks for Star Wars Land.

You can see progress underway already in Critter Country, on the trestle bridge that cuts through the land.

Tracks have been removed if you look closely from the Splash Mountain queue…

The doors on the tunnel behind the Hungry Bear has been closed.

Over at Mickey’s Toon Town Depot, you can see where the tracks have been removed and will eventually reconnect at the station…

Rivers of America

On the Rivers of America, walls have finished going up along the path to Critter Country where the River can usually be seen. Coffer dams should go in soon, allowing the back portion of the river that will be rerouted to be drained for construction.

Tags have gone up on trees, likely indicating which will remain and which will be removed.

Meanwhile, the Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia have swapped places and the Twain is now docked at the Frontier Landing.

The Columbia is now in Fowler’s Harbor and closed to guests for the time being.

Big Thunder Trail

On Big Thunder Trail, walls have gone up at the bridge between the old Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland tunnel and Big Thunder Mountain. Guests looking to access Fantasyland from Frontierland will need to go back into the hub and through Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Expect plenty of construction in this area as the existing trail is reworked and new pathways to Star Wars Land are carved out.

A clear view of the Mine Train’s old tunnel can still be had. This feature of Big Thunder Trail is expected to survive the Star Wars expansion.

Peeking around the construction wall from the edge of the bridge…

Not much to see yet…

A pathway to Star Wars Land should open up along the left hand side here in the coming months and years…

The other side of Big Thunder Trail is of course closed as well…

Refurbishment Round-Up

In addition to the Disneyland Railroad and the Rivers of America, several other attractions in both parks closed over the weekend.

Detour to Adventure

Walls are up at the gateway to Adventureland as its bridge gets some work done.

Dole whip and Tiki birds are still available, however.

End of Season

In New Orleans Square, the Haunted Mansion has reopened with its traditional show after the removal of its holiday overlay.

Unfortunately, the ride is back with Fastpass, which is unnecessary with such a high-capacity attraction like this.

The Mansion’s funerary wreath is back as well.

New wrought iron fall safety fencing has also been installed along the berm in the Mansion’s extended queue.

Meanwhile, New Orleans Square is now fully decked out for Mardi Gras…

Over in Fantasyland, “it’s a small world” was still celebrating the holidays over the weekend but is now closed while that holiday overlay is removed.

Honk for Honda

In Tomorrowland, Autopia’s refurbishment is well underway as the classic attraction prepares for its rumored new Honda sponsorship.

Repainting rocks…

Rollickin’ Along…

In Cars Land, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters continues to inch closer to opening.

New flags and banners have gone up

Nearby, the backside of the Blue Sky Cellar is getting some work done…

It’s Tough to be a Bunny

In A Bug’s Land, the Bug’s Life Theater is now hosting an extended 3D preview of Disney’s upcoming animated film, Zootopia.

Guests over the weekend we given free Zootopia headbands — either bunny or fox.

The preview is cute and gives a good look at the plot of the film, with some criticism that it may give away a little too much. Still, it looks like a fresh and fun take on the buddy cop movie trope with great animation. If you’re in the park, the preview is a nice diversion and worth checking out.

Merch Madness

Around the parks, new ceramic figurines based on classic Disney characters and attractions have begun hitting the shelves.

Small World hippo

Peter Pan croc

In Disneyland’s Dianeyana, the latest in the Disneyland decades collection has been released.

In California Adventure, Off the Page is a great stop for great Disney art books


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
January 25-31, 2016
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
Monday: 8 am – 11 pm
Tue.-Wed.: 10 am – 8 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 9 pm
Friday: 9 am – 12 am
Saturday: 8 am – 12 am
Sunday: 9 am – 12 am
Monday: 8 am – 10 pm
Tue.-Thu.: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 9 am – 10 pm
Saturday: 8 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 9 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]
  • Disneyland Railroad: Closed for over a year starting January 11 while the Railroad path is rerouted for Star Wars Land.
  • Rivers of America: All River traffic and attractions are closed for over a year starting on January 11 while Star Wars Land construction reduces and reroutes the northern portion of the River. The extended closure includes:
    • Mark Twain Riverboat
    • Sailing Ship Columbia
    • Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island
    • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
    • Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes
    • Fantasmic!
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday: Closed January 11-21 to remove holiday overlay.
  • Jungle Cruise: Closed January 11-May 5 to remove holiday overlay and for extended refurbishment.
  • Autopia: Closed January 11-April 28 for refurbishment.
  • “it’s a small world”: Closed January 25-February 4 to remove holiday overlay.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters: New attraction opens early 2016.
  • Soarin’ Over California: Closed January 25-28, February 1-4 to install new Soarin’ Over the World attraction.
  • Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular: Closed permanently starting January 11. A “Frozen”-inspired musical stage show will take its place.
  • Grizzly River Run: Closed January 11-14 for refurbishment.
  • World of Color: Closed January 19-February 1 for refurbishment.
  • [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

January 25-31

Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Mon

  • It’s becoming clear that there is on longer an “off season” at Disneyland – crowds continue to materialize, especially in the late afternoons. Remember, our crowd projections are an average for the entire day.
  • Plan ahead now – use the Tomorrowplan feature in Mouseaddict to help find the best day to visit.
  • With heavy construction underway, bottlenecks will be common for the next year. Use the unique Crowd Map in Mouseaddict to avoid to worst gridlock.

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]
That wraps up this week’s Dateline Disneyland. Thanks for reading and please join the discussion 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.