The fine-tuning of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure continues as the park’s new 12-acre area sees some temporary changes already underway for the upcoming holiday season while one of its gift shops gets expanded. As Cars Land gets a head start on holiday preparations, Disneyland continues its popular Halloween Time season while refurbishments start to wrap up and construction continues on the Fantasy Faire project and Casey Jr. Circus Train refurbishment. Meanwhile, the annual unofficial Gay Days event brought an estimated 30,000 LGBT guests and their friends and family to the Resort over the weekend, and for the first time Disney got involved, albeit quietly, in the festivities. Dateline Disneyland returns this week with the latest news and photos from the Disneyland Resort after I took last week off to celebrate Epcot’s 30th Anniversary at Walt Disney World in Florida. I’ll have some short thoughts on that at the end of today’s update.

Big thanks to MiceChat’s Fishbulb for his help with some additional photos in today’s update.

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:

Another week of Halloween season crowds at Disneyland Resort. 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., Oct. 9 [center]3 /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.
  • CHOC Walk is on Sunday.
  • 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., Oct. 10 2 /10
Thu., Oct. 11 2 /10
Fri., Oct. 12 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.

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Construction Kingdom

The City Hall, Guided Tour and Fire Department building refurbishment continues in Town Square…

At the end of Main Street, work on the Fantasy Faire project is progressing nicely, with a better idea of how the facades will look starting to take shape…

In Fantasyland, the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique facade is out from behind tarps. Doesn’t look like much was changed from a guest perspective.

Back at Storybook Land and the Casey Jr. Circus Train, the bridges for the train are still being worked on…

The ride is expected to reopen with new safety additions for Cast Members.

Monstro is still covered up for his repaint.

New construction walls are up alongside the restroom facility at the Fantasyland Theater. The restrooms are still open during construction.

Pretty much all of the old forest-themed stage dressing at the theater is now gone.

In Mickey’s Toon Town, the hills above Mickey’s house have finished their refurbishment.

Minnie’s House has reopened, despite on-going work on the side of the house

Minnie also got a new wait time sign. It’s huge and whoever designed it phoned it in with the Walt Disney handwriting font.

In Tomorrowland, Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port emerged with a new paint job…

Quiet Support for Equality

Over the weekend, the annual Gay Days Anaheim event was held at Disneyland. The event, which is not sponsored by Disney, is an annual tradition for the Southern California LGBT community and according to the OC Register, typically draws over 30,000 guests to the Disneyland Resort over the weekend-long event. Disney doesn’t officially sponsor the event, but they have started to show more quiet support for the event.

Additional red balloons were made available over the weekend, as red is the official color of the event with attendees encouraged to wear red t-shirts.

Stores including California Adventure’s Elias and Co. had special rainbow-themed merchandise displays over the weekend.

It’s nice to see support for the LGBT community from Disney, even if it’s quiet and unofficial.

And select restaurants at Disneyland served up special menu items that were served with rainbow Mickey cookies.

Tomorrowland Terrace’s special Gay Days menu offering

Welcome to California Adventure

In Disney California Adventure, Oswald’s Gas recently started rolling out some new Oswald-themed merchandise.

It’s great to see some nice merchandise for this character in the park. The popular Oswald ear hats that recently hit shelves have sold out and according to Cast Members at Oswald’s, more are expected to arrive in mid-December.

The Oswald illustration and logo from the Oswald’s Gas location in California Adventure is now the basis for new merchandise sold at the gas station-themed shop. The tin sign below is a lot of fun, but a bit pricey at $36.

Cars Land Changes

In Cars Land, new telephone poles have sprung up along Route 66.

The poles along the left-side of the street have been there since opening, but the new poles on the opposite side of the street are new. The new poles are being put in place for the upcoming holiday season, which is expected to bring quite a bit of holiday cheer to Cars Land.

MiceAge’s Al Lutz shared some information on the new telephone poles with me:

A second line of telephone poles has been installed along Route 66. These were designed by Disneyland’s decorating department, with heavy input from Pixar and WDI, so that a full treatment of Christmas garland can be strung down the entire street. TDA is sparing no expense for the first holiday season in Cars Land. The extra poles were installed a few weeks early in case there were any first year problems to overcome. They’ll be removed in January with the rest of the decorations, and then reappear next November just ahead of the garland.

Of course, new holes were cut for the new poles…

A new pole:

Below, a look at how one of Cars Land’s original telephone poles meets the ground:

At the end of Route 66, Ramone’s House of Body Art has started its expansion into the space formerly set aside for Radiator Springs Racers’ permanent FASTPASS distribution area. The location of the permanent FASTPASS distribution space just proved to be impractical for guest flow in the area, and the attraction’s FASTPASS machines are expected to permanently remain in place at their current home near “It’s Tough To Be A Bug!”

Garage door windows are blacked out while work gets underway inside.

A temporary sign has replaced the neon sign that directed guests to FASTPASS distribution.

Around the corner at Ramone’s, keen-eyed guests may spot where the current shop will open up into the expansion space.

This display will pop out, opening up the shop into its new, expanded space.

A look at how the two spaces work together from outside

Over at Radiator Springs Curios, new shirts featuring some of the fun Cars Land neon sign designs are now available.

Nice to see a Radiator Springs postcard available to send off, as well.

Building Sandwiches

In Downtown Disney, work on the Earl of Sandwich is getting serious now with the outdoor patio structure coming together and a new paint job emerging on the restaurant’s facade. The removal of the former Compass Books newsstand kiosk was finally completed as well

Construction inside…

Nearby, crews were building what appeared to be a temporary stage set-up over the weekend.

30 Years of EPCOT

As you may have noticed, Dateline Disneyland took last Monday off while I spent the weekend at Walt Disney World to celebrate EPCOT’s 30th anniversary. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on Walt Disney World here to end today’s column.

I’m not an expert on Walt Disney World. My first trip of memory to Walt Disney World was in 2005, just a week after Disneyland’s official 50th anniversary in July. I’ve visited several times since and have garnered an ever-deepening appreciation for the Florida property. Yet, my fondness for Walt Disney World doesn’t stem from things like Disney Vacation Club or Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom… Rather, I’ve come to appreciate the property thanks to a deeper understanding of the ambitious 1970s-era Walt Disney Productions that created the Vacation Kingdom of the World in central Florida (this understanding assisted by spectacular blogs such as Progress City, USA, Passport to Dreams and others).

I attended the D23 Epcot 30th Anniversary event, which consisted of the fan club’s usual panel discussions and multimedia presentations. The event was largely well-produced and interesting information was plentiful. It’s always interesting to hear from folks who built the parks; it’s a privilege that will become more and more rare in the coming years. What’s truly unique about events like those put on by D23, is the opportunity to take a look at a company that no longer exists. Disney is no longer the company that built Walt Disney World in the 1970s and pushed forward with the spectacular EPCOT Center in the early 1980s. The forward-thinking, remarkably ambitious Disney Company that built The Vacation Kingdom was dedicated to pushing the boundaries of technology in ways that extended beyond attractions selling the latest film franchise. Disney was interested in culture, education, technology and the future.

There will be some who disagree with my assessment, but I find it increasingly apparent that Walt Disney World is an island of vast potential in Central Florida that has largely been left to stagnate by the Walt Disney Company. Present-day corporate politics prevent any true progress or creativity. Innovation and fresh ideas are stifled by the prevailing corporate interest in popular film properties, pseudo-interactivity and Disney Vacation Club.

What’s memorable at Walt Disney World is largely found in what remains from its early days. The Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square and Adventureland areas are lovely. Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and Tom Sawyer Island are wonderful experiences where your imagination can run free. EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land rides are things that all guests should make a point of experiencing. World Showcase remains a magnificent experience with beautiful shows including Impressions de France and The American Adventure. Meanwhile, Disney’s Hollywood Studios needs the level of attention that Disney California Adventure recently got. It’ll be interesting to see if the rumored Cars Land copy for the park will help it in any meaningful way, or if it’ll just be an expensive band-aid for a park that really needs a top-to-bottom overhaul.

Walt Disney World has a lot of potential and I look forward to seeing where Disney goes next with the property. Despite all of its flaws, good things are happening in Florida. The Magic Kingdom’s new Storybook Circus area is beautifully crafted, rich in detail. Items of cultural significance to the Florida property have been restored such as the Orange Bird at the Sunshine Tree Pavilion. Attractions like the classic Haunted Mansion actually deliver on the promise of “Disney magic,” which can too often feel like a meaningless marketing pitch. A lot is happening in Florida. As competition at other parks such as Universal gets serious Disney has a golden opportunity to do something special, unique and significant. I hope they do.


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
October 8-14, 2012
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]Disney California Adventure[/B]
Monday: 8 am – 11 pm
Tuesday: 8 am – 6 pm
Wednesday: 9 am – 8 pm
Thursday: 9 am – 9 pm
Friday: 8 am – 7 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 12 midnight
Sunday: 10 am – 12 midnight
Monday: 8 am – 10 pm
Tuesday: 8 am – 8 pm
Wednesday-Thursday: 9 am – 8 pm
Friday: 8 am – 12 midnight
Saturday: 8 am – 11 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 11 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-HIGH[/B]
[B]1.1—9.4[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[CENTER][B]MEDIUM-HIGH[/B]
[B]4.0—10.0[/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]
Alright, that wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland. Are you excited to see how Cars Land is done up for Christmas this holiday season? It should be interesting to see garland stretched across Route 66…

We’re only here because of your continued support. If you’ve enjoy Dateline Disneyland over the last five years, please consider helping us out by donating a buck or two so we can pay the bills and keep the updates coming! You can donate with a click of a button via PayPal — click here!

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.
  • brem

    Crazy busy this weekend! Spent most of our time at DCA since it seems to handle larger crowds better.

  • eicarr

    Cool update.

    Love the new Cars Land and Oswald shirts.

    So many people I’ve talked to just can’t take that awful humid/hot Disney World experience. I used to brave the rain and long shuttle rides/waits every 5 years till ’98, but the loss of Disney World’s 70’s mojo just made me sad on my last visit. They replaced cool well thought out experiences with cheap rides and exhibits. EPCOT used to have that great 60’s World’s Fair vibe. They did to my favorite swamp park EPCOT what they did in the 90’s to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.

    Every radiator springs Racers video on YouTube I’ve ever seen has comments from Disney World regulars saying its just a copy of their “Test Track” and some say their original version is faster/better. So maybe they’ll just add Carsland.

  • Gregg Condon

    What’s the point of taking the healthier option with a Turkey Burger if they are going to put all that crap on it and serve it with Fries and a Cookie? Come on Disney, if Carl’s Jr. can figure it out, you should be able to as well.

  • jcruise86

    Thank you, Andy!
    I especially appreciated your incisive & eloquent Walt Disney World comments.

  • WheresMickey

    Great update!

  • Irving

    I am completely agree with your thougts of Walt Disney World porperty. I was also at Epcot for the 30th anniversary, and honestly, it was kind of sad to see the park in its current state. 30 years ago there used to be a great educational, yet fun park, with great adventures in Communications (current version of Spaceship Earth is not as “rich” as it was before), Energy (Ellen’s is so old and tired theme), Health, Future living (we all miss Horizons), Motion (While a thrilling experience, Test Track, it is not as educational as World of motion was), Imagination (Is there imagination left at that pavilion?) The Land and Seas (Now a mere aquarium with not a futuristic, but cartoonish theme). I think WDW management needs to refocus Epcot as a showcase to new techonogies, and a as a promise of a great future, as it is suposed to be, and it was during its early years.

    Great update Andy!

  • DVerstegen

    Great update, Andy!

    One question – does anyone know why the parks open at 10:00 on Sunday? Usually they open earlier, but just this Sunday, both parks open kind of late.

    Thanks everyone!

    • Pipeek

      Choc Walk is Sunday.

  • Pipeek

    That’s not a stage they’re building near Earl. It’s an Ice Skating Rink for the holidays.

  • SpectroMan

    WDW is one example of GOOD 70s architecture/design. They really need to preserve what’s left; it stands as a monument to excellent craftsmanship and design vs. all the cheap crap being put out today.

  • DisneyDrums

    I’ll be there in a few days. Going to Price is right on Wed, then DL for Thu, Fri, & Sat. Just can’t wait!!!!!

  • bummerkit

    Are they supporting Gay Days or just trying to profit from it?

    • TodAZ1

      Who cares??? I love the support! I love the red shirts! I REALLY love the red balloons!!

      Well done, Disney!!!

  • BC_DisneyGeek

    Can’t argue with your comments on WDW.

    Thanks for the update.

  • lnsemsf

    Might be time to remove Alice in Wonderland from the refurbishment schedule. I don’t think it’s going to make that early September closing.

  • chesirecat

    Disney Hollywood Studios is built out, there isn’t room for Carsland.

    Been visiting WDW for decades, the Florida property was bought with the idea of building Walt’s version of Epcot, not a theme park. Under pressure from reporters and the public, and wanting a second gate, Disney did Epcot. Artistic yet, but not Walt’s Epcot, (a futuristic city). While World of Motion and the Wonders of Life Pavilion had some vague educational aspects, i.e. teaching kids that people used horses for transportation (and that white blood cells attack splinters stuck in your finger!), but this glamorized version of pseudo-educational rides wasn’t really educational.

    Yes, there is an optimistic/futuristic vibe, but this is just the theming. Same theming, the attractions have changed though. Test Track might be more educational than World of Motion given that it might lead kids to think about car design versus old types of transportation. All borderline educational experiences anyway.

  • girlonawire

    I want one of the rainbow shirts! Hope they will be available online.

  • Redd Rockett

    Andy,

    As always, thank you for your update this week.

    A comment about the Fantasy Faire project that bothers me a little bit:

    One of the original buildings just to the right of the old Carnation Plaza dance floor is a two story wooden building with a big square window on the second floor facing the hub. The progress photo posted today shows a steel frame structure going up around it. The fact that Disney has chosen to box in this old structure rather than tear it down may be revealing something about their design approach to this new area……

    1. The design team charged with changing over this area may have been told they had to work within a specified budget so rather than starting with a clean slate, they were forced to work around the existing structures. I think this may be the case, after all they aren’t tearing down the circular dance floor cover either.

    2. The City of Anaheim and the State of California may drive new higher property tax requirements on a new structure. Remodeling the old one with this sloppy boxed-in approach may be a way around it.

    Either way, I’m disappointed that the imagineers appear to have been given some severe limitations on what they were going to be allowed to do. This is not good construction practice and Disney should always be striving for the best possible show first and not settle for sloppy work like this.

    Redd

    • Ravjay12

      It’s actually part of Rancho Del Zocallo Mexican restaurant structure and restrooms pass thru. The wooden building above is just a facade with no purpose. To tear it down they probably would have had to rip into the restrooms. The structure itself isn’t as old as the stage. They built it in the late 90’s? They could’ve just repainted the old facade there if they wanted to be cheap. They are building out the rest of it to house the meet and greets. From the models and concept drawings it looks like its going to be well themed. This was probably the best way to change it without tearing into a perfectly good restaurant.

  • Tinkbelle

    I was thinking the same thing, bummerkit.

    We missed Dateline Disneyland last week, Andy! Glad you are back. It may be time to update the refurb schedule, though.

  • TodAZ1

    They’re going to sell balloons anyway. They’re going to sell t-shirts anyway. And cookies. And antennae toppers. The fact that they were mindful enough to know their guests and cater to them is awesome.

    I love it!!!

    I also love the Oswald t-shirt!!

  • Tinkbelle

    Yeah, they will sell those things anyway, but I think they knew they would sell much MORE of those things if they catered to the large group of visitors who were there celebrating something.

    The red balloons were pretty.

    • TodAZ1

      It’s along the same lines of selling Christmas items at Christmas. Halloween at Halloween. I mean, would anyone buy a 4th of July t-shirt at Thanksgiving? Probably not.

      • Tinkbelle

        I agree with you. Just because they do the candlelight ceremonies or sell Christmas stuff, does not mean they support Christianity or at least not over other religions. They do things to make money. People who are in the parks to celebrate Halloween may be more likely to buy a treat or merchandise if it is Halloween themed etc. It is knowing your customer and marketing. They take advantage of special events and occasions to make money. If they know there is going to be a large influx of a people celebrating something it makes sense to market to them.

  • Timekeeper

    On Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port, I have to wonder why they picked various shades of yellow? (Is it because it’s shades of cheese, pasta and Alfredo sauce?) Also, great update.

    Timekeeper

  • ayalexander

    I don’t like the paint job of Pizza Port… it resembles the old copper tones of the “New Tomorrowland 1998”. You’d think they’d go with shades of blue, white and silver like the rest of tomorrowland…
    Disney may be making profit on those things for Gay Days, but like someone else said, they are going to sell those things anyway and think about what Walt would say: “Its what the guests want”

  • troyer

    Thanks for the update Andy. I missed not seeing it last week.

  • Completely agree with your assessment of WDW. I have the opposite perspective in that I have been going to WDW since the 1970’s and my first trip to Disneyland wasn’t until 2002, but feel the exact same way.