Happy Halloween! Disneyland will host its final Mickey’s Halloween Party of 2012 on Halloween this Wednesday night, but guests trick-or-treating in the park will find much of it already decorated for the next big holiday season. The overlap of Halloween and Christmas decorations may be jarring, but preparation for the holiday season is well underway as is set to officially launch on November 12. As snow appeared on Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland welcomed the stars of Disney’s upcoming animated film “Wreck-It Ralph” to Tomorrowland‘s Starcade. The character meet-and-greet puts brings guests face-to-face with Ralph and his friend Vanellope and allows fans of the film to play the “Fix-It Felix” video game from the film. Meanwhile, Main Street is losing another bit of tradition as hand-painted watches fade into history and Downtown Disney prepares to open its newest restaurant.

Thanks to MiceChat’s Fishbulb for some extra help with some photos today.

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!

Expect Disney California Adventure to see after-dark crowd levels jump Monday and Wednesday nights as Disneyland hosts its final two hard-ticket Halloween parties of the season. 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 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. 30 [center]1 /10[/center] Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:

  • Disneyland will host its final Mickey’s Halloween Party events Monday and Wedneday nights
  • Partial blockouts on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Disney California Adventure’s lightest crowds will be Tuesday, when it’s a 3.2.
  • 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. 31 1 /10
Thu., Nov. 1 1 /10
Fri., Nov. 2 5 /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.

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by TouringPlans.com.

Disneyland continues to test out having an additional gate open for guests in wheelchairs.

The parks are also testing out a separate entry gate for guest with four-and-five-day tickets, where they are required to show ID along with their tickets. It’s an effort to cut down on ticket fraud where multi-day tickets with extra days leftover are being sold on the secondary market, which is against Disney’s non-transferable ticket policy.

Inside Disneyland, window awnings are retracted on Friday as the first strong Santa Ana winds of the season swept through the park.

Time’s Up

A long-time Main Street tradition has ended as Disney has discontinued its custom watch program at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

The Fortuosity Shop was the home of Disneyland’s custom watch program. In fact, the store was previously known as New Century Timepieces until Disney downsized the presence of the watch program and reopened the space as the half-hearted “curios”-based Fortuosity Shop in 2008. The clock from its days as a dedicated watch store remains on the facade.

Saturday was the last day custom art and watches were made at the shop. Remaining watches in stock will continue to be sold at the location for the time being, but working artists will no longer be present in the store.

With cell phones increasingly replacing watches, it’s understandable this offering is being discontinued in the parks. That’s not to say the loss is unfortunate, however. These sort of themed offerings beyond the basic t-shirts and plush are important to the overall Disneyland experience. Unique offerings like the watch shop, silhouette studio and Penny Arcade are part of the character and DNA of Main Street, U.S.A. Unfortunately, this DNA continues to be chipped away at in favor of expanding retail space for generic souvenirs or candy.

There are undoubtedly some who will read this and reply that Disney is a business and businesses are designed to make money. This is true, but Disney theme parks weren’t always designed with the intention of turning a profit in every corner. There was a time when Disney didn’t view their theme parks as profit centers, but rather “entertainment centers” that turned a profit if the experience was right. The interest now isn’t so much if the experience is right but if every profit is hitting its maximum potential in every available inch of retail space.

The silver lining here is that artists aren’t gone entirely from Main Street. The Disney Gallery will continue to feature live sketch artists in the Gallery’s studio space and some of the watch artists will move to this space. The remaining watch artists will relocate to Burbank where they’ll paint animation cell reproductions found in the parks.

Construction Kingdom

In Town Square, the scrims have come down from the City Hall, Guided Tours and Fire Department buildings as the refurbishments here wrap up.

Rumor was that the facility was being repainted in more appropriate colors for the filming of the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks” film, which will take place in the park November 6 and 7. While the refurbishment took place and filming is scheduled, it now looks like the two were possibly unrelated as the color scheme isn’t any closer to its 1960s colors.

Still, the repainted buildings look good now after some TLC.

More progress can be seen at the new Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area next to Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Back in Fantasyland, work continues on the Casey Jr. Circus Train and Storybook Land refurbishments.

Walls have been extended around the waterfall and rock work next to Monstro, near Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

The Goofy’s Gas refurbishment in Toon Town continues….

Christmas Countdown

Snow fell on Sleeping Beauty Castle last week, as the park gets ready for the popular holiday season, which kicks off November 12.

The overlay looks largely the same as previous years so far, with perhaps more glitter shimmering in the faux snow. We don’t expect any changes, but it would be nice if the icicle lights on the Castle got an aesthetic upgrade this year…

“it’s a small world” is now closed as it gets its holiday overlay installed.

Meanwhile, more Christmas lights are up on the facade.

Meanwhile, New Orleans Square is already completely decked out for the holidays.

Welcome, Ralph

In Tomorrowland, the new Wreck-It Ralph meet-and-greet opened Friday.

A banner points the way to the rear entrance of the Starcade for the meet-and-greet.

Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz from the film greet guests at the portals to their games…

The meet-and-greet empties into what’s left of the Starcade and it’s here that guests can find a couple of arcade cabinets featuring the Fix-It Felix 8-bit video game from the movie.

A fun touch to feature these here

Welcome to California Adventure

Over at California Adventure, construction on the west side of the main gate continues, with progress closing the gap in the wall that will separate guest areas from backstage.

Inside the park, the terrazzo replacement at the Carthay Circle Theater is still underway.

California Christmas

Cars Land’s new telephone poles are ready and waiting for their new holiday garland…

And Christmas lights have been strung up through Pacific Wharf…

Building Sandwiches

Earl of Sandwich is getting its finishing touches applied as the new Downtown Disney sandwich shop gets ready for its grand opening, now set for this Friday, November 2

A peek inside…


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
October 29—November 4, 2012
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]Disney California Adventure[/B]
Monday: 8 am – 6 pm
Tuesday: 10 am – 8 pm
Wednesday: 8 am – 6 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 9 am – 12 midnight
Saturday: 9 am – 12 midnight
Sunday: 8 am – 11 pm
Monday-Wednesday: 8 am – 8 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 9 am – 9 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 9 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—7.8[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[CENTER][B]MEDIUM[/B]
[B]3.2—6.6[/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]”it’s a small world”:[/B] Closed through November 8, 2012 to install holiday overlay
  • [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]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] Expected to close early 2013 to install permanent safety railing on outdoor ride portion.
  • [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]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][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
    None.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
  • [B]Earl of Sandwich:[/B] New restaurant officially opens November 2.
[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. What do you think of Disneyland discontinuing its custom watch program? Is it a non-issue or a sad loss for Main Street, U.S.A.? Let us know in the comments section below!

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.
  • mratigan

    cant wait for Earl of Sandwich

    • jcruise86

      Then why aren’t you in line with at this very moment, you fair weather EoS fan?

  • Great job Andy. It’s sad to see the watch artists go. I do understand the economics of it, since you don’t want an artist sitting around all day if no one is buying his wares. We do hear that the 5 artists will be reassigned to other artistic endeavors in the parks. So that’s encouraging. It will be interesting to see what they do with the shop as the watch inventory dries up. But you are absolutely right that not everything in a theme park should be there solely to make money. There’s been a dramatic shift in the way the park is run since the days of Walt, when the whole thing was a show.

    Was at the park on Sunday and the fake castle snow and Christmas decorations are jarring and distracting. Lots of comments from regular guests about how early Christmas is coming these days. It’s really a shame.

    Looking forward to seeing what they do with Cars Land this Christmas and can’t wait for the new Earl of Sandwich!

  • troyer

    Thanks Andy for the update. Your appraisal of the blind profit motive overseeing Disneyland is right on.(Penny Arcade/Clock Shop/Etc.)The trend, as you put it, seems to be to slowly “chip away”at any and every area where profits aren’t maximized. And you are about the sole voice regarding this unfortunate trend on Miceage, Al Lutz unfortunately having almost become part of corporate Disney in ingratiating himself with management so as to allow him the privilege of continuing to obtain inside information about the Parks. But for any of us who care about the detail, magic and genius of Walt’s creation, please let your displeasure be known at the offending location itself, Guest Services, or at the Disney website. Otherwise, plan on more and more of the unique Disney magic to be lost to corporate greed. Sickening…

    • jcruise86

      Cool! So Al is now insufficiently revolutionary and radicals like Troyer are now at the vanguard of overthrowing Disney’s capitalist pigs!

      (Watch) workers of the (Disney) World, Unite!

  • jcruise86

    Where the skies really that blue? (S. CA transplants alone will appreciate my asking that question.)

    Thanks for the update, Andy!

    The Earl of Sandwich, reportedly the world’s greatest fast food restaurant in Lake Buena Vista, will open it’s newest trunk on Nov. 2. Remember that next week’s updates by both Andy or Norm MUST be entirely about the opening of the Earl of Sandwich. Norm, I hope Tom Hanks stops by the EARL OF SANDWICH while he is filming at Disneyland on November 6 & 7, and if he does you could then include Mr. Hanks (or Mr. Banks) in your all-EARL update. Perhaps shots of Hanks & co. filming the Walt Disney movie would be a separate article, and perhaps this article could conclude with the author having dinner in the Earl of Sandwich.

    I was happily shocked that Disney found other work for the watch shop artists. That kind of thinking and effort could, over time if Disney started doing that regularly, make employees feel loyal to Disney. This would help them attract and retain better workers, which would improve guests’ satisfaction. (I’ll stop now because this paragraph contains a lot of new thinking for any Disney executives who might stumble upon it.)

    Well, honestly, I’m now rushing off to Anaheim to be the first in line to have an Earl of Sandiwch sandwich when it opens in four days on Friday, Nov. 2. It’s rumored (on Sandwichat.com) that the the first three people in line will get a large soft drink for the price of a medium!

    See you at the EARL OF SANDWICH, which opens this Friday, on November 2, 2012.

    • jcruise86

      D’oh! Norm/Fishbulb, Your Nov. 2 all-Earl update will be BEFORE Tom Hanks impersonates Walt on Nov. 6 & 7, so your Nov. 2 update won’t need any Earlless words. Whew!

    • jcruise86

      P.S. Am I the only one will be an Earl of Sand-witch this Halloween?

  • eicarr

    If I pay big $$ for a 5 day pass I want to be able to get in the shortest line, and not have to hunt down gates 15 and 16. I hope they hurry up with the finger scanners. The cutting by people with strollers was a major issue the last time I was there. They just kept on bypassing the line and heading straight up to the gate where they were let in. I know they want to remove all the turnstiles so strollers can pass through, so I guess this is a test.

    I hope Tom Hanks goes to the JOLLY HOLIDAY BAKERY to have a sandwich. There he can eat one of their awesome sandwiches while looking right out at the castle, matterhorn and smile as fun forms of main street transportation goes by.

  • pineapplewhipaddict

    The news about the watches disheartens me. I always planned to get one for myself when I had enough money…if the economy wasn’t so bad I’m sure sales for the watches would be better.

  • GreatAndoski

    Does anyone know what’s happening to Billy Hill & the Hillbillies after Wednesday? They’re completely absent from the Disneyland.com calendar as of November 1st. My hope is (and has been) that they’ll return to the Horseshoe, but even if they’re still stranded back at the Jamboree, it’s odd that there aren’t showtimes listed yet.

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update.

  • Wreckless Abrandon

    I get the economic reasons for the watch artists leaving, but it does sadden me that it’s going away. Watches are one of the few pieces of jewelry that I would actually wear. It’s form with function as I’m usually all about function before form. A phone can’t be brought out surfing without a case, can’t be used while rock climbing really… and using a watch is just much quicker to look at for my purposes.

    Can’t wait for the actual Wreck It Ralph movie to come out! I’m hoping it’s not just a bunch of fan service with a generic story and mediocre writing!

  • waymire01

    A big thumbs up to wheelchair access gates.. while not wheelchair bound my husband has to use an electric scooter whenever we are faced with long days and too much walking on our trips due to a permanent back injury.. and it was a very large pain in the butt to try to get into the old turnstyles as they had to take care of his ticket etc and then reroute him through a passdoor off to the side, which meant bothering everyone else in line while they made room for him to back up, turn around, and make his way over there. Unfortunately not everyone was as understanding and gracious about the inconvenience as they could have been.

    So sad to hear about the watches. I fully intended to buy one on our last trip.. but due to finances had to choose between it and a set of artist drawn character portraits.. and I chose the portraits. These beautiful “hands on” pieces of art and craftsmanship, not just the watches but all of the wonderful and unique items, are one of our favorite parts of Disney.. such a shame to let that experience go. I can’t imagine that simply cutting back on staff and keeping at least one artist would have been impossible. What’s next, the glass blowers? I certainly hope not.

  • SoCalFan

    Too bad to hear about the Artist watch program but it’s a sign of the times. Watches are no longer used as a practical accessory for telling time (we can all thank cell phones for that) and are more of a high-end, throwback fashion accessory now. I totally understand reason the program is leaving but sad nonetheless. Kudos to Disney for keeping these artist employed though.

    Just an idea but, wouldn’t it be awesome if the watch program was replaced by Artist cell phone case program. It doesn’t fit in as well as a watch program but I think it could be an awesome, unique, and relevant replacement. I would totally pay to get a custom, artist print/sketch for an iPhone case. Just an idea but I think Disney could make some serious money with that while still keeping the uniqueness of an artist made object

    • JMazz

      This is actuallllly a brilliant idea. I hope some Disney excecutive is reading this or the “100th monkey effect” happens. I too would buy these… and show it off!

  • ghosty4

    When I read that they were discontinuing the “personalized watches” I thought that literally meant they weren’t going to put a character of choice and the person’s name on the watch artwork anymore! I didn’t think it meant they were discontinuing the Artist watch program completely! That’s so disappointing!

  • ghosty4

    Aslo, Vanellope looks super creepy and not cute at all! 🙁

  • disneyohno

    Good riddance!! its insane at how much they charge for the “personalized watches”!!

    • second blue teacup

      It’s a custom-made piece of jewelry, hand drawn by a skilled artist.

      In any artistic field, custom work costs. I only wish that I had pulled the trigger on our last visit. 🙁

    • Wreckless Abrandon

      Considering it’s one of a kind, it’s worth the price compared to a mass produced Disneyparks watch that you can get at both DLR and WDW. It’s custom made just for you.

      I take it you’ve never had anything made by hand just for you?

  • Bubba B

    I wasn’t even sure what that artist did. I had no idea they made watches. That shop has been a mess since they tried to make it another Vault type store.

  • RatherBeAtDLand

    Please, for the love of god, don’t make an all Earl of Sandwich update. A review is fine and welcomed. But some of us really want all the Disneyland news, and some of us really don’t care that much about the Earl of Sandwich shop. It’s a sandwich shop for Pete’s sake. I’ll try it when I go to Disneyland.

    Thanks for the great update (as always), Andy! I love the Wreck-It Ralph meet and greet!

  • darkamor

    We get the good (Xmas Decor @ both Disneyland & Disney California Adventure getting put up – Earl of Sandwich almost open in Downtown Disney – needed refurbs getting done); as well as the bad (ending deluxe to the Theme Park specialty shops to make more space to sell cheap crap quality goods to the masses), with Tomorrowland’s StarCade finally getting utilized (Wreck It Ralph meet & greet looks like a lot of fun) ….

    Some necessary steps I’m sure Walt Disney would expect being done at his Theme Park, but other steps that would leave him spining in his grave yelling “Nooooooooooooooooooo!” …..

    C J

  • ralzap

    Let the Holidays begin. My mom will love the christmas overlay. Happy holidays everyone.