Happy 4th of July. As we celebrate America’s independence, let’s take a look at that most American of institutions, Disneyland! On July 17th, 1955, Walt Disney said the following of Disneyland: “To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”  

Before we get to the photos of Star Wars construction and all the other Disney goodness, we’d like to take a moment to extend our deepest thanks to Andy Castro, who occupied this spot with his Dateline Disneyland column most Mondays for the past 8 years! Andy’s eye for what Disney was doing well, and what they could do better, was impeccable. Beginning with this update, you’ll see a rotating cast of photographers, writers and others who will continue to scratch your Disneyland itch. Our goal is to provide you with a variety of opinions and points of view about all things Disneyland in these Monday updates. Today’s principle Disneyland photography is from the amazing PhotoMatt, with DCA images from Shelly Valladolid and additional photos from Brian Pinsky.

Now, let’s strike up the band as we take a holiday stroll through the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy at the Happiest Place On Earth . . .

Disneyland

What’s red, white and blue, blue, blue?  Disneyland. With the 60th Anniversary celebration still plugging along, this is the 2nd Independence Day in a row where the park has forgone the traditional red, white and blue bunting in favor of the blue and white color scheme for Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration. With the anniversary campaign so long in the tooth, it sure would have been nice to see a little refresh with some classic Americana colors on Main Street. Still, there’s plenty of patriotism to be found at Disneyland at any time, and certainly during this most American of holidays.

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The Dapper Dans hitch a ride on the Main Street horse-drawn trolley.

 

The most patriotic of all Disneyland attractions can be found right on Main Street, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
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In the lobby, just outside the doors to the Lincoln theater, is this fantastic detailed model of the Capitol building.

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This painting is featured in the video presentation inside the theater. But what a lovely work of art it is. Lincoln looks pensively out the window, no doubt contemplating the state of the union. The red of the room echoing the deadly toll of the civil war.

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Animatronic Abe is a stunning achievement, not just in movement, but also in the artistic representation of one of our most beloved Presidents.

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At the entry to the Main Street Opera House is one of our favorite displays. This was the park bench that Walt Disney sat upon while watching his daughters ride the Griffith Park carousel. While sitting on this bench Walt had his first ideas about creating an amusement enterprise for the entire family, an idea which would eventually become Disneyland.

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The focal point of Town Square is the flagpole. If you haven’t done a flag retreat, it’s a wonderful and emotional daily celebration of America and the selfless service men and women who protect our freedom.

 

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One place you will find the red, white and blue is in the Candy Shop on Main Street.

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Hey, is that one on the back tray LIT?

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Star Wars the 4th continues . . .

What you really want to see are the construction photos. . . right?!  Well, we’ve got them for you. Keep in mind that construction on Star Wars land (or whatever they end up calling it) began just after the first of the year. Here we are 6 months later and quite a bit of work has been accomplished, with so much more left to do. The first order of business was to clear the Disneyland backstage areas (on the Northwest corner of the property) and reroute the back of the Rivers of America. The berm was moved, train tracks and warehouses demolished. Now we are starting to see signs on further progress. Soon, they’ll start constructing the show building and rock work around the Battle Escape attraction. That’s key because that’s how they hope to block many of our photos into the construction. Here’s how things looked this weekend:

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There’s no shortage of heavy equipment on site.

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Look how all that big equipment appears dwarfed by the massive hill of dirt.

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Star Wars Land construction goes all the way to the west side of ToonTown.

Behind the Fantasyland Theater, you can see a wall going up where the train tracks will soon be laid.

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Perhaps most exciting, we can see the beginnings of a foundation shaping up.

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Things are about to get much more interesting.

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Scaffolding has been spotted on Tom Sawyer Island. Looks like they are going to use this time to fix or change a few things.

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Photo – Brian Pinsky
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Photo – Brian Pinsky
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Meanwhile, on the river . . .
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This is the Explorer Canoe dock area.
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A new walkway will be constructed along the river (between Hungry Bear and Rivers of America) which will connect Critter Country to Star Wars Land.
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This shot gives you a great sense of scale of this project.

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All Work And No Play Makes Matt A Dull Boy

While running around to take photos, Matt took a few minutes to enjoy an air conditioned attraction . . . Buzz Lightyear! Enjoy a bit of eye candy.

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This and That

No trip to Disneyland is complete without a stroll through the park. Here are some of the highlights of our adventure.

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With this disguise I’ll fool them all.
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Do me a favor. Take a moment to do the Castle Walk-Through on your next trip to Disneyland. It’s a uniquely Disneyland experience and a great retreat from the summer sun.

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They can burn every spinning wheel in the kingdom, it’s just not going to stop Maleficent.

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So beautiful, so tired.
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Are you ready for the 60th anniversary to end? It’s scheduled to hang around through September.
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One of the frequently overlooked areas of the park is the Fantasy Faire Village. We particularly like this tribute to the old Carnation Plaza Gardens stage.
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Someone tell that bird to quiet down. He’ll wake the cat!
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Too late. You’re in trouble now birdie.

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Construction scrims have been spotted on Tom Sawyer Island.

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Roastie Toasties are the little characters who turn the popcorn drums at Disneyland.
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Low-light rides like Pirates of the Caribbean are a major challenge to photographers. Matt was able to snag you a few fun shots.

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Crowd levels were moderate in the park this holiday weekend. You may remember packed conditions on Independence weekends in the past, but this weekend was a dream. Annual pass blackouts and surge pricing appear to be making an impact on reducing overcrowding – but you can expect plenty of locals to show up in time for the legendary Disneyland fireworks on the 4th of July.

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Updated at 11AM (July 4th, 2016): We wanted to see the crowd levels this 4th of July, so we checked our wait time app, MouseAddict, to see the current conditions. The park is practically empty as of 11AM. It will no doubt get more crowded as fireworks approach, but this is a VERY low crowd level for a holiday weekend. We used to run warnings for folks to show up early, snag a locker and hunker down for busy day.

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Get Mouseaddict Here

You can keep track of the wait times and even where in the park people are congregating by downloading the app for yourself (iPhone only at this time).

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California Adventure

Over at California Adventure, there are a few interesting things going on. Soarin’ has reopened with its new ride film. But with the lower crowd levels, waits have hovered between 20 and 45 minutes. Not bad for a new-ish attraction. The Frozen musical remains very popular with guests. A Pete’s Dragon trailer is playing in the former Muppets building. And we were thrilled to find the Paradise Garden Grill has reopened with its Greek menu!

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Generally you’ll find the Esplanade between the two parks filled with guests on a holiday weekend. But not this past weekend. Also, note the security dog and officer. It’s rare to see this level of security in public view at Disneyland.

 

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Get MouseAddict HERE

Paradise Garden Grill Reopens!

When Paradise Garden Grill was closed in a budget cutting move, fans cried out (and Tweeted) in disapproval. The restaurant reopened this past weekend to meet holiday demand. Unfortunately, the parks were not busy, and at 11AM, neither was this location.

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This isn’t the sort of demand that can keep a unique location such as this open. Don’t expect the location and/or the menu to remain for long.
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The menu is delicious, unique in the resort, and a pretty good value. It’s just too bad that guests haven’t embraced this location.

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Nearby, Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta was also suffering from a dearth of visitors.

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This is a GREAT spot to eat folks. Two quick serve restaurant options, shady outdoor seating in a park-like setting, live entertainment. Why don’t more guests eat here? Is it location? Food choice? What are your thoughts?

The MiceChat Sunday meet-up group visited Soarin’ yesterday. They all seemed to enjoy themselves and really liked the new film. However, there was some great discussion about why Disney isn’t taking this technology to the next level. The new film, while beautiful and highly entertaining, doesn’t tell a story, doesn’t add 3D, doesn’t hide the ride system – it’s basically the same idea as the original film but with new featured locations. The flying film type of ride is now being built by non-Disney parks all over the world. Many of these new attractions blow Disney out of the water with their superior technology. For all the time that was spent developing the “Around the World” film, it’s a bit of a missed opportunity that Disney hasn’t stayed ahead of the competition with better technology, effects and story.  But don’t get us wrong, it’s still a fantastic ride.  We just hope that Disney is already working on a Soarin’ 3.0 upgrade which will reestablish Disney as the leader in this type of attraction.

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There’s something else new in DCA at the moment, an extended trailer for Pete’s Dragon. This is what has become of the old Muppet building. It’s a shame that we’ve lost an attraction to become a promotional tool for Disney Pictures, but at least the building doesn’t just sit unused like the old Millionaire and Hollywood and Dine buildings.

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Merchandise is already available for the film. And it’s pretty cute.

The small stage on the Hollywood Pictures Backlot had a Mariachi group on Sunday. They were a lot of fun and drew a good sized crowd. The Disney Performing Arts program invites all sorts of performance groups to display their talents (dance troupes, choirs, bands, etc).    IMG_0513

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The Frozen musical in the Hyperion Theater has been selling out four shows per day since it opened.  It is HIGHLY advised that you get a fastpass first thing in the morning and show up to the performance about half an hour before your Fastpass tells you to. While there is a standby line, you will end up with a less than optimal seat and may not be able to see the show at all if you opt for this option.

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Shop Til You Drop

Here are a few merchandise items which caught our eye this week. This isn’t all new, but we thought you’d enjoy seeing these items.

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Downtown Disney

There’s a 2nd Downtown Disney Starbucks location on the way later this summer. It’s located just next to the AMC Theater.

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Speaking of the theater, they’ve painted the pavement leading to the AMC theater with the logo for the Disney film The BFG. Giant footprints lead you to the theater. Sadly, that was not enough to boost the box office for this film. It performed terribly over the weekend.

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Thank you
We sincerely appreciate you taking time out of your busy holiday schedule to spend a few moments with us for this quick holiday update from Disneyland. We hope you enjoyed the photos and we’ll be back with you again next week. Also, if you haven’t been following the site throughout the week, we’ve been offering stand-along Star Wars construction updates from Darth Daver. They are well worth a look.

Are you a member of the MiceChat Sunday Meet-up Facebook group? If you are interested in meeting up with fellow theme park lovers, in the parks, please be sure to follow this group: MiceChat Sundays in the Park

Follow the MiceChat Facebook Page for news and updates from the parks:

Today’s MiceChat Disneyland Update contributors were PhotoMatt (Disneyland Section), Shelly Valladolid (DCA Section), Brian Pinsky (additional photos), Anthony Hayes (layout), Dusty Sage (Comments, photo processing, layout)

Are you a great photographer? Do you love the parks? Would you like to contribute to the Disneyland Update or other MiceChat columns? Contact Dusty Sage: [email protected]

 Have a safe and happy 4th of July everyone!