Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, the replacement for the much-maligned Luigi’s Flying Tires soft-opened over the weekend. The new attraction brings Disney’s highly-lauded trackless ride system to the United States for the first time in a choreographed “dance” across Luigi’s tire yard in Cars Land. But is the 90-second ride, even if an improvement over the problematic Flying Tires, worth the wait in line? Meanwhile, Disneyland continues to clear the wilderness and see big changes backstage as it prepares for its upcoming Star Wars-themed expansion. On Main Street, the Disneyland Railroad is getting come attention while it’s down for Star Wars construction in the form of its own exhibit at the Disney Gallery. And across the Resort, Disney’s annual “Eggstravaganza” Easter egg hunt returns.

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We’re back from our side trip to Universal Studios Hollywood this week with a huge Disneyland update for you. Let’s get started!

Welcome to Disneyland!

Spring is in bloom at Disneyland and the parks are exceptionally beautiful as ever this time of year.

The Candy Palace has some springtime treats available

The tabebuia trees in the hub are in bloom and are really spectacular this time of year.




Luigi dances back to Cars Land

Over at Disney California Adventure, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters has finally opened in Cars Land after several delays. The new trackless ride replaces the beleaguered Luigi’s Flying Tires. The Flying Tires, a throwback to Disneyland’s classic (but also fatally flawed) Flying Saucers attraction, ran for less than three years (the Flying Saucers ran for 5 years in the 1960s) before being closed about a year ago to be transformed into the new Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters.

Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters held Cast Member previews last week before opening to Annual Passholders on Friday. The attraction soft opened to the public on Saturday and Sunday and officially opens today, March 7.

Long lines materialized for Friday’s Annual Passholder previews of the new 90-second ride.

The change from Flying Tires to Rollickin’ Roadsters has brought very few changes to the attraction’s facade and queue, save for a few updated graphics.

The wooden fence that lines the outdoor queue now has a large Rollickin’ Roadsters painted graphic.

Tire details remain — after all, Luigi still runs a tire yard.

New banners

The ride itself takes place on the same “tire yard” that the former Flying Tires took place on. Instead of gray and black tires, colorful mini Fiats (Luigi’s cousins) have moved in and spin and dance in choreographed patterns for 90 seconds.

Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is an important attraction for the Disneyland Resort, as it’s the first attraction in the United States utilizing the much-lauded “trackless” ride system that has helped raise attractions like Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland and Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland to the next level.

Despite Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty telling the Los Angeles Times that this latest version of the trackless ride technology is a “jaw-dropping breakthrough” for Imagineering, the resulting experience is mostly underwhelming for riders. For me, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is a disappointing lateral move from the Flying Tires — a mediocre ride experience that fails to leverage the potential its unique ride system. The biggest improvement here is that the Roadsters are incredibly cute and colorful and they actually move across the tire yard, creating a nice kinetic energy that the Flying Tires were never successful in creating. Despite the visual improvement, the actual on-ride experience isn’t great.

On-ride, the trackless vehicles are surprisingly jerkier than you’d otherwise expect but not in any way that adds to the experience. The choreographed “dancing” is a lot of fun to watch from afar but doesn’t translate very well when you’re on the ride, with much of your short 90-second experience feeling random and unfocused. The uninspired ride experience is really unfortunate as it simply comes off as lacking any real point or excitement.

Of course, it’s indisputable that the Flying Tires were wholly unsuccessful; they were aesthetically bland, nearly impossible for riders to successfully maneuver, and failed to offer any real kinetic energy for on-lookers. The Tires were often a walk-on, even as Cars Land’s other two attractions drew long lines. It may be too early to tell if the Roadsters will be a hit but even if they fail to impress adults, their undeniable cuteness and colorful curb appeal will attract kids in ways that the tires simply did not.

Despite Disney’s hyperbole about the new ride being “jaw-dropping,” Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters are nothing worth going out of your way to experience and is likely only worth a 10-15 minute wait, max. Of course, the ride isn’t meant to be a big E-Ticket ride, but even new C-Tickets can (and should) be good. Is Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters better than the Flying Tires? Yes, but that wasn’t exactly a high bar. With such great ride technology at work, it’s a shame that our introduction to it here in the United States is with this attraction — what a waste.

It’s also worth noting that the attraction is currently experiencing significant issues in the rain. Anaheim got some early morning showers Sunday and even after the rain stopped and the skies cleared up, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters was non-functional well into the early afternoon. The irony here is that the ride utilizes a newer generation of the ride system for Aquatopia at Tokyo Disney Sea — a trackless boat ride.

Below, our video shows you a full ride from its lookout point along the trail between Cars Land and A Bug’s Land, as well as a full ride from aboard the ride itself.

Of course, merchandise for the new attraction is available across the street from the attraction at Ramone’s House of Body Art.

Eggstravaganza 2016

Returning this year is Disney’s “Eggstravaganza” egg hunt in both parks and, for the first time this year, in Downtown Disney as well. The “Eggstravaganza” is always a fun little diversion and this year some of the eggs are actually pretty difficult to find. Egg hunt maps are available at select locations in their respective areas for $5.95 and can be redeemed (completed or not) for a free plastic character-themed Easter egg.

Below, a few of Disneyland’s eggs as they appear in the park.

Disney California Adventure’s egg hunt map, with a few eggs as they appear in the park

Downtown Disney’s egg hunt map, with a few eggs as they appear in the park

Look for these signs to find redemption locations to get your character Easter egg prize

In previous years you chose your prize egg at random but this year you get to choose your character.

The Frontier Awakens

Disneyland’s new Star Wars project will be unprecedented in terms of scale for the park, 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. Below, a map showing how the new land is expected to impact Disneyland’s landscape once completed in late 2018.

StarWarsExpansion-BeforeStarWarsExpansion-After

[ View Map Large ]

Relocating Backstage

Views from the top of the Mickey and Friends parking structure give great views at the work underway to clear the backstage land for Disneyland’s 14-acre Star Wars expansion. Last week, Disney announced the new land will officially break ground in April.

Trees have been removed from the berm and it’s being carved into, as it will be removed entirely and a new berm will be formed to separate Star Wars from the rest of Disneyland.

Rivers of America

Inside the park, the Rivers of America now have cofferdams in place, which will allow the front half of the river to remain filled while the bak half can be drained while it is reduced and rerouted to accommodate the Star Wars expansion.

The western cofferdam is in place just past the Splash Mountain splashdown turn in the River.

Looks like some lumber is stacked up on the Tom Sawyer Island

You can see the trees along the backside of the river being cleared.

Looking through the scrims on the upper level of the Hungry Bear Restaurant give a hazy view of the clearing of the wilderness along the backside of the Rivers of America.

The cofferdam in place on the eastern side of the River is in place, roughly parallel with the backside of Fort Wilderness.

Big Thunder Trail & Ranch

Along Big Thunder Trail, if you walk up alongside Big Thunder Mountain you’ll really get a glimpse at just how much of the wilderness has been cleared. Big Thunder Ranch is now completely gone along with all of the trees throughout the area. A bare berm is visible and the sight is pretty shocking.

Luckily, the old Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland rock work has been saved and will be retained as part of Frontierland, along the border of Star Wars Land.

The backwoods of Frontierland are now gone. While all the trees have been cleared for construction, Disney has saved around 20 of the existing, older trees and plans to replant them as part of Star Wars Land — which will be exceedingly lush — featuring over 1,000 trees, new and old.

Disneyland Railroad

Meanwhile, as the wilderness of Frontierland disappears, Disneyland has taken the downtime of the Disneyland Railroad as an opportunity to share with guests the history of the Disneyland Railroad and Walt Disney’s love of trains with new educational displays at Main Street Station and in the Main Street Opera House lobby.

A new banner hints at what’s found inside.

Click on images for large-resolution versions that you can read.

Across from the panel on Walt, information on Disneyland Railroad’s five locomotives

Renderings of the locomotives.

The backside features the Lilly Belle and Combine cars.

The other side of the station has another panel that showcases Railroad attraction posters and concept art from Disney’s various theme parks.

Nearby, the Disney Gallery in the Main Street Opera House has a new Disneyland Railroad exhibition up that complements the educational panels in Main Street Station.

Attraction poster and concept art for Walt Disney World’s railroad

Disneyland Railroad

A couple of Main Street Station’s panels are replicated here.

The “Living in Disneyland” display case that previously featured photos from Walt Disney’s firehouse apartment and the Disneyland Dream Suite is now gone, replaced by a copy of the “Disneyland Locomotives” panel from Main Street Station

Display cases feature Disneyland Railroad artifacts, including some on loan from the Carolwood Society that runs Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park.

Vintage postcards

Children’s menu for the Disneyland Hotel

A boilerplate from Walt Disney World’s defunct Fort Wilderness Campground’s railroad

Artifacts from Walt Disney’s famed Carolwood Pacific backyard miniature railroad.

Kudos to Disneyland for putting together the great educational signage in Main Street Station and this great Disney Gallery exhibit on Disney’s railroads. It’s all very classy and well-executed, shining the light on the history of the Disneyland Railroad at a time when it would have been quite easy to pretend it simply doesn’t exist. Great job!

Refurbishment Round-Up

In addition to the major Star Wars expansion, several other projects continue around the Resort.

Ticket Booths

Main Entrance ticket booths continue to get fitted with new digital ticket menu screens following Disneyland’s adoption of demand pricing for one-day tickets, which we detailed last week.

New vertical digital menus on the front of the ticket booths feature the new demand pricing for one-day tickets

The digital signs above the ticket windows aren’t being used yet

Jungle Cruise

The Jungle Cruise boathouse is under tarps while it gets some work done while the attraction is closed for refurbishment

Mickey’s Toontown

Facade refurbishments continue in Mickey’s Toontown.

Jack-O-Lindquist keeps watch over Toontown, even after the respected original Disneyland President’s recent death.

Autopia

In Tomorrowland, Autopia’s refurbishment continues…

The new blue and silver palette looks great so far

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe

In Disney California Adventure, a portion of bar seating in Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe has been removed along with a faux bulletin board prop to make room for a new merchandise case for Starbucks merchandise.

It’s unfortunate to lose nice thematic touches like the bulletin board, especially when all of this Starbucks merchandise is still offered in the queue for the Starbucks and had been offered previously in the adjacent Trolley Treats.

Luckily, the Buena Vista Bugle is still being published — it’s great that this has stuck around so long!

Grizzly River Run

Over in Grizzly Peak, Grizzly River Run’s refurbishment continues through next weekend.

The deck across from Rushin’ River Outfitters is still behind walls while it gets some TLC.

Frozen — Live at the Hyperion

In Hollywood Land, Disney announced the new “Frozen” musical will officially open on May 27.

Walls have gone up along the back part of the queueing area for the Hyperion Theater

Nearby, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post is now closed and its theming is being removed. We’re suspecting this space, along with the areas currently occupied by the Mad T Party, will be utilized as part of the upcoming Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival.

Speaking of Food & Wine, the backside of the Blue Sky Cellar continues to get work done. Will the Blue Sky Cellar be converted into a Food & Wine Festival venue?

Beyond the Berm

In Downtown Disney, Disney recently announced a second Starbucks Coffee location will open later this year the space next to the Disney Vacation Club sales center.

Over at the Disneyland Hotel, the E-Ticket Pool was getting ready to reopen following its recent resurfacing project…


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
March 7-13, 2016
Disneyland Park California Adventure
Mon.-Thu.: 9 am – 10 pm
Fri.-Sun.: 8 am – 12 am
Mon.-Thu.: 9 am – 8 pm
Fri.-Sun.: 8 am – 10 pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
Closure and Refurbishment Schedule
Disneyland Park
  • 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!
  • Jungle Cruise: Closed January 11-May 5 to remove holiday overlay and for extended refurbishment.
  • Autopia: Closed January 11-April 28 for refurbishment.
Disney California Adventure
  • Grizzly River Run: Closed through March 13 for refurbishment.
  • Soarin’ Over California: Closed January 25-28, February 1-4 to install new Soarin’ Over the World attraction.
  • Frozen — Live in the Hyperion: New stage musical show opens May 27.
Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels
    None.
Tomorrowplan Crowd Estimates for Disneyland Resort from Mouseaddict

March 7-13

Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun

  • Crowds are the new normal, but with the Spring Break period beginning next week this is the time to visit. Monday through Thursday are “Value” price days, the last until mid-April.
  • After a lengthy wait, the reimagined Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is up and running, to good reviews. Check it out!
  • As Spring Break approaches and demand pricing comes into play, plan your visit with two months of crowd projections with Mouseaddict’s Tomorrowplan. And when you visit, use our unique Wait Watcher feature to get notifications when the queues for your favorite attractions calm down. There’s more in Mouseaddict. Available on the App Store.

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.

Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.
  • Disney pledged $250,000 to the Walt Disney Birthplace project at its annual shareholders meeting last week. (NY Times)
  • Disney announced premium experiences for the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival including cooking demos, celebrity chef appearances, more. (Disney Parks Blog)
  • Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from “Zootopia” will make appearances at Disney California Adventure later this spring. (Disney Parks Blog)
  • Characters from “Finding Dory” will make appearances in Turtle Talk with Crush starting in early-May. (Disney Parks Blog)
  • Disney announced the construction of two new cruise ships for the Disney Cruise Line, to debut in 2021 and 2023. (Disney Parks Blog)
  • Disneyland Resort awarded 60 local influential teens with $1,000 college grants as part of new Dreamers and Doers program (Disney Parks Blog)
  • Anaheim releases map of new streetcar system that would link Disneyland to ARTIC transportation hub. (OC Disney)
  • Reservations are now being accepted for the new $79 World of Color dessert party at Disney California Adventure. (Disney Parks Blog)
OK — That wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland. Did you get a chance to ride Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters over the weekend? Did you enjoy your spin or were you underwhelmed? Let us know in the comments section below!

Before we say goodbye, a quick programming note: Dateline Disneyland will be on a vacation break next week but we’ll be back the following week! Stay tuned!

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