The Space Shuttle Endeavour treated Disneyland guests to a special treat Friday, as the Resort was included on the list of California landmarks it flew over during its final flight. Endeavour’s historical final flight over California marked the end of an era for the United State’s space program and theme park guests packed the parks for a chance to catch a glimpse of the shuttle as it flew overhead. Meanwhile, construction continued on Disneyland’s new Fantasy Faire meet-and-greet village and refurbishments continued throughout the park as Halloween Time continued.

Special thanks to reader Shaina Eng for helping out with photos of the Endeavour fly-over.

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!

Our friends at Touring Plans have their weekly crowd forecast and touring tips:

Halloween time at Disneyland will bring in higher crowds over the weekend, but they’re still very manageable this week. 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. 25 [center]2 /10[/center] Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:

  • There’s a Mickey’s Halloween Party on Friday.
  • Partial blockouts on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Disneyland (park) is a 1.1 on Thursday.
  • Due to its incredibly low capacity, consider riding Luigi’s Flying Tires standby right after starting your day by grabbing a FASTPASS for Radiator Springs Racers.
Wed., Sept. 26 2 /10
Thu., Sept. 27 2 /10
Fri., Sept. 28 4/10
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 Penny Arcade has some nice, festive Halloween decorations

The base of the Partners statue in the Central Plaza recently got refinished.

It’s a bit darker now with texture.

The temporary bases for the Halloween Time jack-o-lanterns are a close representation of what the Partners base used to look like.

Soarin’ Over California Adventure

Friday marked the end of an era for the United State space program as Space Shuttle Endeavour completed the final leg of its journey to retirement with fly-overs over several California landmarks including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Griffith Observatory and Disneyland. Signs at the park entrance notified guests of the special occasion.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the shuttle’s fly-over Disneyland, noting guests went to the parks specifically for the fly-over photo-op.

Disney released a video clip of the fly-over:

Our friends at MouseInfo had an alternate view in their video below:

Construction Kingdom

At the end of Main Street, more walls have gone up at the upcoming Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area. The new walls completely close off access to Sleeping Beauty Castle’s western walkway that wraps around the edge of the Fantasy Faire area.

You can see green construction tarps blocking the view through the trees from the Castle bridge.

Refurb Round-up

On the other side of Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Snow White Wishing Well and Grotto area has emerged from its brief refurbishment.

Inside Fantasyland, the Boutique facade is still getting work done…

The Storybook Land and Casey Jr. refurbishments continue…

A look into the area shows the Casey Jr. bridges have been stripped down to their infrastructure

Rumor is that the bridges will get safety enhancements, which may include widening and safety railing.

Hopefully the additions aren’t too invasive, but we’ll see when the attraction reopens in November.

In Mickey’s Toon Town, Benny the Cab is missing from the facade of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin

Minnie’s House is closed for refurbishment.

And the Toon Town mountains behind Mickey’s House are getting some TLC.

In Tomorrowland, the Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port facade refurbishment continues, but the restaurant has reopened for business.

Don’t worry, it still looks very late-90s inside.

A few steps away from Pizza Port, Disney announced that characters from the upcoming animated film “Wreck-It Ralph” will make appearances in Tomorrowland’s Starcade this November.

Concept art for the meet-and-greet.

Turning the arcade space into a character meet-and-greet will be a welcome change as the arcade has been overrun by overflow Star Trader retail displays since the Star Trader was closed for refurbishment two summers ago. Arcade games remain, but only in a small corner

Or, if we’re really lucky, Disney will get the last speed ramps in Tomorrowland running again and host the meet-and-greet in the long-abandoned upper level of the Starcade. Currently, the speed ramps are blocked by a temporary cash wrap for the overflow retail space.

Yes, it really does look this bad in this corner of Tomorrowland.

Back on Main Street, the Mad Hatter has reopened after its refurbishment

Nice and freshened up inside

The Carnation Cafe entrance continues to get work. Looks like they’re widening the doorways just a bit.

Scaring up the Season

Back in Big Thunder Ranch, the new Halloween Carnival got some extra decorative touches since its debut last week.

Signs along Big Thunder Trail direct you to the Halloween carnival

Entertainment schedule

The area appears to draw more substantial crowds than it did over the summer with the very popular villains meet-and-greet, family activities and the live pumpkin carvers.

The Villains tent got some much-needed help. It was very plain with no signage when Halloween Time kicked off last Friday. It looks a lot better now

Fun banners advertising the villains meet-and-greet.

Lots of great flags and paper lanterns overhead.

Billy Hill and the Haunted Hillbillies put on a great show with Halloween-themed songs.

You might spot a ghost from time-to-time at the Carnival!

The Fab Five also make appearances here in their Halloween costumes

The pumpkin carvers are always a lot of fun

Welcome to California Adventure

Disney California Adventure was named Theme Park of the Year last week by Amusement Today, a publication covering theme park news and trends. Congrats!

A look at Sunday afternoon wait times at Disney California Adventure

Radiator Springs Racers pulling a 90-minute wait on a hot Sunday afternoon

Last week the Orange County Register reported that Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree will get some padding on its seats in early October after guest complaints and some reported injuries.

Souvenir Street

Back on Buena Vista Street, the window displays haven’t changed since we updated you on them last week. If last week’s changes were the extent of the compromise Disney’s merchandise department made to share the window space with Imagineering, then what we have is pretty disappointing.

Props including the antique diving helmet are still missing from Los Feliz Five and Dime’s windows

And other windows at Big Top Toys and Elias and Co. remain cluttered with piles of unnecessary merchandise.

Artists at the Atwater Ink and Paint Supply apparently use kitchen spoon rests to hold their glasses.

Just a few doors down from the Los Feliz Five and Dime window that is filled with Red Car Trolley merchandise, more of the same merchandise clutters an Elias and Co. window display (and don’t forget that the main Julius Katz and Sons window is filled with more of the same Red Car Trolley merchandise!). Maybe if the guests see piles of the same merchandise over and over again they’ll finally be convinced to buy some of it?

Minnie Mouse accessories and plush that you can find in numerous stores throughout the parks, Downtown Disney and in Hotel gift shops are scattered around in another Elias and Co. window.

In this Elias and Company window, both of the mannequins that merchandise added in front of the vintage mannequin that Imagineering’s designers originally included wear the same Buena Vista Street t-shirt, one of them also has a hoodie on that features the same art work that is featured on the hoodie.

Oh, look! Key chains with the same art from the t-shirts!

If the cluttered window displays lure you inside, you’ll be greeted by a big display with all the stuff you saw in the windows. All of it has the same painting by Noah Fine Art. Oh, what’s that? You wanted variety?

Building Sandwiches

In Downtown Disney, Earl of Sandwich construction continues. No word on when this location will finally open after being delayed several times this spring and summer.

Nothing really happening with the work at the Disneyland Hotel’s Fantasy Tower

This and That

Inside the parks, you might spot a familiar face on some new merchandise hitting store shelves, but it isn’t Mickey’s… Disney’s theme park merchandise team has apparently taken to putting Walt Disney’s face on more and more merchandise.

This is a trend that doesn’t feel right to me. On one hand you have the company getting rid of Walt’s name from “Walt Disney Pictures,” opting for simply “Disney.” And on the other you have the parks like Disney California Adventure trying to bring customers closer to Walt and his personal story. It’s one thing to have a theme park experience retell an idealized version of Walt Disney’s life story, but it’s another to turn Walt into a character that you’re merchandising like Mickey Mouse or an animated princess.

Disney should really re-evaluate if it’s appropriate to put an enlarged image of Walt Disney’s face on a $30 t-shirt. If the goal is re-introducing people to Walt Disney as the man responsible for this iconic American entertainment company, a couple of t-shirts with his face on them aren’t going to do the trick and it just comes off as being in poor taste.


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
September 24-30, 2012
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]Disney California Adventure[/B]
Monday-Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 8 am – 7 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 8 am – 12 midnight
Monday-Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 8 am – 11 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—7.4[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[CENTER][B]MEDIUM-HIGH[/B]
[B]3.7—8.0[/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]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]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]
    None.
[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 fall 2012.
[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • Disney CFO Jay Rasulo says the company will see a “significant” drop in capital expenditures next year, following the relaunch of California Adventure and the opening of Disney World’s New Fantasyland.
Well, that wraps up this week’s column. Were you at Disneyland when Endeavour flew over? Let us know how it was in the comments section below!

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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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FTC-Mandated Disclosure: Promotional consideration for this edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by TouringPlans.com | Do More. Wait Less. and the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.