Disneyland is rapidly clearing large areas of its backstage to make way for its new 14-acre Star Wars-themed expansion, which is expected to officially break ground sometime this month. The work has significantly ramped up since last week, with several buildings now completely removed and more and more of Frontierland‘s backwoods cleared. The speedy pace is indicative of Disney’s desire to get the massive new land built and open as soon as possible to compete with Universal Hollywood‘s newly-opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is expected to get the much-celebrated Diagon Alley expansion very soon.

Programming note: Dateline Disneyland will be taking the next couple of weeks off while I head on vacation to Tokyo, where I’ll be visiting Disney’s Japanese theme parks, including the highly-lauded Tokyo DisneySEA! We’ll be back in early May!

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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!

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We have a quick Star Wars expansion update for you this week! Let’s get started.

Welcome to Disneyland!

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.


[ View Map Large ]

Relocating Backstage

The backstage area that will become home to the showbuildings for the 14-acre Star Wars expansion is rapidly being cleared.

Below, a look at how quickly this backstage space has changed over the last two months. The first image, from our February 8 update, shows backstage with the Circle D Ranch undergoing the first stages of its demolition. The second photo, from our March 7 update, shows the Circle D Ranch completely removed and the tree removal along the berm underway. The third photo, from last week’s blog, shows several buildings still in place that have now been completely removed. Click images for larger view!

A panoramic view of the construction site from the top of the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure

Let’s take a closer look at the current state of the construction site…

Buildings were here last week and are now completely gone, just the cement they sat on remains.

Are these buildings next on the chopping block?

Rivers of America

Inside the park, crated trees have been shuffled around to better block the view of the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure, which had become very visible after trees had been removed from the back portion of the Rivers of America.

It’s great that key sight lines like this are being addressed, even during construction.

A peek at the Rivers of America, looking from above the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes dock toward the back of the river.

A look at the back of the river and former Disneyland Railroad path from the back of the Hungry Bear Restaurant deck

No visible change from the eastern side of the Rivers of America.

Big Thunder Trail & Ranch

The Big Thunder Trail area continues to be cleared and looks nothing like it once did.

A peek through the construction wall at the bridge next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, looking toward the backwoods area of Big Thunder Trail

To compare, here’s a pair of similar views from the Big Thunder Trail bridge. The first image is from our January 18 update, taken just before construction walls went up. The second image is from the next week’s update, January 26, just after walls had gone up. Click images for larger views.

MiceChat Gumball Rally
10th Anniversary!

There is only one event in the world of Disney fandom which holds the status of the legendary… MiceChat Gumball Rally. It is a full day adventure through Disneyland to see how many attractions you can ride in a single day. Sound easy? It isn’t. However, we are told over and over again that this is the most fun our attendees have ever had in the parks.

  • Compete in teams of 2, 3, or 4 people.
  • You don’t have to be a trivia buff, ride warrior, or theme park nerd to play. The game is designed to put everyone on a level playing field.
  • You can play at the speed that you like. Take it easy or tear through the park. It’s up to you.
  • For one low price you get the game and Awards Party, complete with entertainment and prizes. (admission into the parks is NOT included)
  • Prizes will be awarded for 1st – 10th place, Best Team Logo, Best Team Name, and Spirit of MiceChat Award. There are plenty of chances to win!
  • Plus, while you are waiting for the results, we’ll present you with great entertainment and prizes!
  • An all day race through Disneyland to see who can ride the most attractions in a single day . . . There is simply no better way to challenge yourself, what you think you know about Disneyland, and have a fantastic time with your family and friends (whether you win or not).
  • Two types of tickets available – General ticket includes coffee, juice, and breakfast pastries in the AM and access to the Award Party in the PM. Please note that the Awards Party will take about two hours. You’ll have an hour and a half between the end of the Gumball Rally and the Awards Party to relax and find something to eat for dinner before the party.
  • VIP TICKETS – In addition to the above, VIP ticket holders will receive early registration, full breakfast at the ESPN Zone, full post-Rally dinner at the Anaheim Plaza Hotel, VIP Reserved spots up front for both the kick-off and the Awards Party, Rally T-Shirt, and special commemorative Tenth Anniversary Gumball Rally pin. Make your Gumball Rally experience extra special with our VIP package! (the VIP package is a value of over $90 plus guaranteed seating and express game-day registration for just $75 extra per person). This is your best Rally deal!

For more information or to register for the event, CLICK HERE!

This & That

Food & Wine

Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival continues. Some oversized food props have been added to the Mad T Party area of the Festival. It’s something but doesn’t really help change the fact that the Mad T Party setup is still here and doesn’t match Food and Wine at all.

Disney has also reduced the price on the Annual Passholder Tasting Passport from $45 to $39 — a notable admission that they were overcharging.


Autopia is still getting its new marquee and logo as Honda moves in as sponsor.

The new paint job looks great.


The new Starbucks is moving into the space next to the Disney Vacation Club sales center in Downtown Disney.

Enjoy retro fun just steps away from Disneyland at
Howard Johnson Hotel & Water Playground

A short walk from the park, HoJo Anaheim is conveniently located next to Matterhorn Mountain at Disneyland with nearby dining, freeway access, FREE parking and FREE Wi-Fi. For more information on HoJo Anaheim, room rates, or to book your stay today, visit HoJoAnaheim.com/MiceChat

Save with MiceChat & Passholder Discounts Every Day!
The HoJo Anaheim is now offering daily discounts for MiceChat members and even DEEPER discounts for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! For more information visit the HoJo Anaheim Innsider Boards which features an up-to-date listing of available nights, or call (714) 776-6120 and ask for In-House Reservations to book. If your date isn’t listed, the HoJo Anaheim still offers rooms for 20% off their best available rate if you call (714) 776-6120.
Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
April 11-17, 2016
Disneyland Park California Adventure
Mon.-Thu.: 9 am – 9 pm
Friday: 9 am – 11 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 12 am
Sunday: 8 am – 11 pm
Mon.-Sat.: 9 am – 9 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 9 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!
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Closed April 11-14 for refurbishment.
  • Disneyland Monorail: Closed April 11-May 19 for refurbishment.
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed April 18-22, April 25-29 and May 2-6 for refurbishment.
  • Autopia: Closed through April 28 for refurbishment.
  • Jungle Cruise: Closed through May 5 for extended refurbishment.
Disney California Adventure
  • Silly Symphony Swings: Closed April 11-June 9 for refurbishment.
  • Grizzly River Run: Closed April 18-May 17 for refurbishment.
  • Frozen — Live in the Hyperion: New stage musical show opens May 27.
Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels
Tomorrowplan Crowd Estimates for Disneyland Resort from Mouseaddict

April 11-17


  • With Spring Break over, we expect a return to lower crowd patterns Monday through Thursday, with the usual uptick on the weekends. But “lower” is a relative term!
  • More refurbs begin this week, including an extended closure of the Disneyland Monorail and a short downtime for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
  • Take advantage of the Tomorrowplan crowd projection feature in the Mouseaddict app to plan your spring and summer visit!

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 COO Tom Staggs unexpectedly stepped down from his job last week, following heavy scrutiny from the Disney board on whether he could perform well as CEO:
  • Disney says MagicBands won’t be coming to Disneyland or any other Disney park outside of Walt Disney World (Orlando Sentinel)
  • A maintenance worker was found dead inside Disneyland Paris’ Phantom Manor attraction (NY Post)
  • D23 announced dates for its 2016 Destination D event at Walt Disney World for November 19-20. (D23)
  • Enter to win a Disney Parks vacation as part of the Chewbacca Challenge sweepstakes. (Disney Parks Blog)
Alright, that wraps up this week’s Dateline Disneyland! What do you think of the massive changes underway at Disneyland to make room for Star Wars? Are you excited for Star Wars or sad to see the wilderness disappear?

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Thanks for reading. See you at Disneyland!
– Andy

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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.