It’s a sad but somewhat exciting start to the new year as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ends its run at Disney California Adventure today to make way for a new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. We’ll take a final look at this popular ride and also show you a teaser of the construction going on at the back of Disneyland in preparation for Star Wars land. The insane holiday crowds at the park necessitated the temporary reopening of the Big Thunder Trail, and that means exciting new photos for you!
Tower of Terror Drops Out Tonight
It was a very short (nearly) 13 year run for a major E-Ticket attraction. While Anaheim’s version of the attraction didn’t quite live up to the spectacular Disney World version, it was none the less a much needed experience in a fledgling DCA lacking in major attractions. Tower of Terror was the anchor of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. The attraction will soon give way to a new Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, which will use the same ride mechanism and space but with an entirely new theme and set decoration.
A live trio portraying the “Silver Lake Sisters” has been playing in the lobby since the announcement that the attraction would be closing. They are amazing!
It would be great if the sisters were given a permanent home in either the lobby of the Carthay Circle lounge or perhaps at the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe (Starbucks) on Buena Vista Street. They fit the theme of the area so perfectly.
Full Ride Through video from MandolinAdventures:
The normal Tower merchandise is almost entirely sold out, with only a few designs left.
The attraction can be seen from all over DCA. Guests can spy the infamous tower from Bugs Land, Cars Land, Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peak, and even the Esplanade. That view will soon be covered in pipes for the “oil refinery” look that Imagineer Joe Rhode and crew have been talking about proudly in promotional videos.
Now that you’ve had months to come to terms with the closure and replacement of Tower of Terror, how do you feel about the transition? Time for something new, or sad to see a popular attraction close after a relatively short run?
Disneyland’s Crushing Holiday Crowds
We are about to show you some anxiety-inducing photos of Disneyland at gridlock conditions. However, it’s notable that those entering the park from the west side of the resort (Mickey and Friends, or either of the west side Downtown Disney security checkpoints) can breeze right into the resort with little wait due to the significantly improved security procedures. It may not look pretty (It actually looks horrible by Disney standards), but it is a major operational improvement for guest flow.
However, once in the park, things were a different story during the holiday week (Except for the two rainy days which were blissfully uncrowded). While the first few days of passholder block-outs (For all but Signature Plus) were nearly empty, all that changed in the days leading up to Christmas through New Year’s weekend.
Dive, Dive! The first thing I noticed was a much longer switchback queue for the Submarine Voyage. At one point, it nearly collides with the Matterhorn queue, which was about double the normal length.
Here’s the scary news. Pirates is supposed to get the new Fastpass+ service when it rolls out. That means even MORE people in the standby queue, and that the standby queue will move even slower than before. PLEASE DISNEY, rethink what you are doing with attractions in this area! There is no room for additional switchbacks on a busy day and shouldn’t be as many as there are even now. I’ll come right out and call this a crisis situation. It’s a real shame that the Fire Marshall doesn’t care to monitor guest conditions in exterior areas of Disneyland. Disney needs to come up with a solution ASAP. This quite simply should NEVER happen to any guest ever again. I’m not so much angry that I got trapped in this hell, but rather that all those folks who paid top dollar for a peak-day admission into the park were subjected to hellish conditions in certain areas of the park. Not just bad show, but potentially dangerous conditions. Really, really disappointed by how Disney continues to allow this to happen. They know what the net result of overcrowding is going to be, and, yet, they continue to allow too many people into their parks anyway. END RANT.
Insane overcrowding at Disneyland. If you’re not in the parks, consider yourself thankful.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Before you think I’ve soured on Disneyland forever, please rest assured that I love the parks. I really, really do! I just don’t understand why Disney doesn’t set safe and sane attendance levels. Luckily for folks visiting on New Year’s Eve (And the Friday before), attendance levels were awesome due to rain. If there’s one thing tourists can’t handle, it’s moisture. They simply melt right out of the parks.
This Is Not The Pathway You Are Looking For
The “Frontierland Construction Project” is advancing rapidly. Of course we all know that Star Wars land is on the way to the back of Disneyland. That has forced the shortening of the river and the rerouting of the train tracks as well. As a result, Big Thunder Trail closed earlier this year to make way for demolition of Big Thunder Ranch and construction of the new rail tracks in the area. Due to the massive overcrowding in the park, documented above, Disneyland management was forced to resolve a major bottleneck by temporarily reopening a dirt path between Frontierland and Fantasyland in the Big Thunder Trail area. While conditions aren’t the best on this trail, it did allow for some stunning views of the new construction. This is a preview of what you’ll see when the Big Thunder Trail reopens this summer. Star Wars land behind it is still years away.
It’s getting real folks. Glad to see so much detail, even at this early stage.
Disney California Adventure
tival Of Ho lida ys continues at California Adventure. While the park wasn’t even remotely as busy as Disneyland, it did still have solid attendance . . . which is why it is strange that the Festival of Holidays booths were so empty. Everyone we have spoken to loves this new celebration. The food is great, the entertainment is wonderful . . . there’s just one big (giant) problem. . . the prices are way too high for sample sized portions. We hope Disney realizes that the festival isn’t the problem, their pricing is.
And that’s a wrap on 2016.
Those of you who read my updates know that I love the parks. However, there are times that I just feel we need to speak up and defend the guest experience. Especially at the new record prices the park charges. With the massive attendance and super high prices, there is just no excuse for the guest experience to be anything other than top-notch at all times. That’s what folks are paying for . . . a premium Disney experience.
For the most part, things are good at Disneyland. This 61 year old enterprise looks better today than it ever has. But heavy crowding exposes the park’s real weakness, it just can’t handle as many guests as modern management had deemed acceptable. The tight 1955 pathways, queues, and much of the infrastructure aren’t made for the masses. This situation is only going to get worse when Star Wars land opens. Disney needs to figure this all out quickly. Even with nearly all pass-holders blocked out for the last two weeks of the year, Disneyland was miserable for much of last week. Some of the solutions aren’t going to be popular with pass-holders, but there aren’t many options beyond limiting access to the parks, re-evaluating the annual pass program (as well as the payment plan) in the sort run, and massive (rapid) resort expansions to soak up the crowds going forward. It’s clearly time for that 3rd park and more E-Tickets at DCA to level out crowd patterns.
Here’s your moment to shine, folks! Let us know your thoughts. What do you have to say about Tower of Terror closing? The new construction along Big Thunder Trail? And the severe overcrowding at Disneyland last week?
Join us again tomorrow for the 2016 Disneyland year in review.
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