The message boards lit up this week as a load of news was broken by Al Lutz regarding huge changes coming to the Disneyland resort.  It seems that Tomorrowland as we know it will become a thing of the past in favor of movie themed attractions. But that’s just the beginning. Disneyland Fastpass will soon undergo a major change that you need to know about.  It’s not all bad news though.  A variety of projects around the resort are progressing nicely.  In fact, the Fantasy Faire Village is promising to be visually interesting if nothing else.  But let’s get right to the big story first.  We’ll have time to salivate over those Earl of Sandwich pictures at the end of the update.

Al Lutz reported in his most recent update that guests have until February to “enjoy” Innoventions. Apparently the plan is to make way for a new Iron Man themed E ticket attraction.  Now, if that were to go through, Disneyland’s Tomorrowland will be mostly filled with film-franchise based attractions. Only Autopia, The Monorail, and Space Mountain would be non-movie and neither really has much of a story behind it.

Marvel is on the way to Tomorrowland . . . does it fit?
Would you like to see Iron Man find a home here? Should a different attraction go here instead (Tron perhaps)?
Tomorrowland is filled with franchise based movie attractions like this…
And this . . .

There will then be a total of four film franchise attractions inside the boundaries of Tomorrowland; Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters  and the upcoming E-ticket.  But before you go crying foul, lighting the torches and raising the pitchforks, understand that this trend is nothing new.  There have been franchise attractions in Tomorrowland since the beginning. The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea walk-through exhibit stood for 12 years, (1955-1967). Though, until the Eisner era, Tomorrowland was primarily a showcase for futuristic ideas and technologies. Although the Circarama films were not very futuristic, the technology which brought it to you was. Even the Monorail, Autopia and Subs once seemed futuristic (and perhaps the Monorails still do after all these years).

For many of us, it is sad to see Walt’s idea of a bright, hopeful and visionary tomorrow being thrown by the wayside in favor of an easier idea.  An Iron Man attraction is certain to be astounding.  When Imagineering gets something right, they knock it out of the park.  But how will the lore of Tony Stark and Stark Industries dazzle us with a bright and positive outlook on the future?

Attractions like the Monorail, The Peoplemover, Carousel of Progress or even Adventure Through Inner Space invited guests to experience an idealized version of the future in which science fiction became reality.  Guests could experience the impossible or the fantastic by stepping into Space Station X-1 and hover 50 miles above the Earth’s surface, they could stroll through the House of the Future and see what their house might look like in 1987, or they could enter a large telephone booth and call home without the use of a telephone receiver (early speakerphone).

We aren’t saying that Tomorrowland should be one big science fair.  But it has strayed so far from Walt’s original notion that it is more like Sci-Fantasyland these days. And perhaps the time has come for Disney to just level with us and change the name and stated focus of the land once and for all.

The future, experiencing a flight through outer space? We are on the verge of Virgin Galactic taking real passengers into space. It’s still futuristic!
This one is an anomaly. It’s a film, it’s fantasy, but it can hardly be looked at as “Tomorrow”. Unless we assume that our future holds an evil space queen whom can only be subdued by magical dancing.

We’re conflicted not just on Iron Man, but on what Tomorrowland has become in general. The building of this new attraction alone won’t fix this land. We are looking forward to hearing more about the overall plans for Tomorrowland and how it will be given a cohesive theme (whatever that may be).

As a heads up, it was also appears that Fastpass return times will soon be enforced at Disneyland. Since the implementation of the Fastpass ticket system, guests were never told that they were too late for their reservation window.  You could never show up early, but as long as you showed up after your reservation time, Cast Members would allow you to ride without question  Not so now. By the end of the year, cast members will be instructed to enforce the return time window rule.   

How do you find this return time?  Well…

At the entrance to each attraction that utilizes Fast Pass you will see a Stand-by wait time
and a RETURN BETWEEN time. Here we see that they are offering a return time between 1:25pm and 2:25pm
Cast Members will help you locate the Fast Pass Distribution machines. Just scan your regular ticket by inserting it into the machine and you will be given your Fast Pass.
See? Easy! My Fastpass says I can return between 1:25pm and 2:25pm.

This is going to be a hard lesson for us locals to learn after being able to take advantage of the system for so long.  But, really, rules are rules.  Maybe, if used properly, the Fastpass system won’t be such a burden on the park. Only time will tell.  Oh, and send your thoughts, prayers and good vibes to the front line CM’s that are going to have to break the bad news to loads of upset passholders. Yikes, we can only imagine how difficult it’s going to be for the cast and crew of the resort for a while.

The Fantasy Faire Village is showing even more interesting peaks and rooftops as more steel framing has been installed.

The City Hall Facade and nearby restrooms are still under refurbishment as well.  City Hall is open, but if you need to powder your nose, try the restrooms near the Disney Gallery or the ones near the Carnation Cafe.

Some sudden refurbishment has begun on one of the facades for the shops near the Golden Horseshoe.

Work continues on this attraction complex in which the whimsical Casey Jr. Train intertwines with the canals of Storybook Land.  It is rumored that during this refurbishment, OSHA mandated hand rails might be installed on the bridges.  As much as we appreciate OSHA helping to keep us all safe, they have been pushing for some overly aggressive changes to some classic attractions.  Let’s hope for the best.

More upkeep is taking place in ToonTown.  That’s a good thing!  This time it is the restrooms in the center of the land.

Minnie’s house
The landscape work continues near Minnie’s house.

But the hills behind her cute cottage look really bad.

Here we are at Bennie Watch 2012.  So far, Bennie still has NOT returned.  We will keep you posted if we spot him elsewhere in the park.

And now for an ADORABLE random picture:

THAT is what Disneyland is about.

Speaking of the restrooms, work is still going on at the location near the Fantasyland Theatre (aka former Princess Fantasy Faire)

Disney California Adventure continues to persuade the remaining skeptics and is pulling in crowds that often match Disneyland itself.

Construction walls are still up to the right of the entrance where the final entry planers will be built.

Another Random picture that we shot which was too funny to leave out:

Who can come up with the best caption for this photo?

The new Disney California Adventure Christmas Tree will soon be installed in front of Elias and Company in the round planter currently occupied by ficus trees.

Perfect spot
Oh, ficus tree, oh ficus tree, you’ll soon be gone and Christmas-y

Ice Skating is ready to go in Downtown Disney.  Yes, it’s a tie-in for another mid-grade, direct to video animated film, but what a fun novelty for the season. Who remembers the annual ice skating at the Disneyland Hotel before the Neverland Pool was built?

The rink could open any day now for soft openings.  But it will have a grand opening on October 23rd to mark the release of Secret of the Wings.

According to Disney the prices will be
$15 for adults and children
$12 for toddlers
with an additional $3 for skate rentals.

We can’t leave the Downtown Disney area without giving you the latest from the Earl of Sandwich shop.  The intricate paint scheme is a little loud, but somehow it works.

Finally, the interior looks like a real restaurant.

There’s an homage to Compass Books in the wallpaper.

And finally, before the big Christmas Tree is installed, the rug in the center of the Grand Californian is being replaced.  Thankfully the beautiful pattern remains.

This is the second time (we believe) that the carpet has been replaced since the hotel opened. The first was due to a fire in the Christmas Tree a few years ago which caused soot and water damage.

Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company.  We look forward to the future with timid optimism and hope that Walt’s spirit will be retained.  We aren’t sure what to think about Marvel in Disneyland. It’s sort of a worst case scenario for the Disney purists. We’ve all hoped that Disney would reserve Marvel for the Studio parks or for a new super hero theme park. Disneyland is not a museum and we are all in favor of the disappointing Innoventions being replaced. But, if not Marvel, what would you fans like to see built in its place? (keep in mind that the entire building, back stage area, part of Autopia and Sub Lagoon are all part of the expansion area).  That’s a lot of room to build something which might tie Tomorrowland together again.

Just a final tip: If you haven’t yet, take a look at Today’s Dateline Disney World which features images of the newly opened Fantasyland Expansion at Walt Disney World.