The weekend brought a taste of Hollywood to the Disneyland Resort as the taping for the annual Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade took place on Main Street, U.S.A. and in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. TV star Mario Lopez was host of the Disneyland portion of this year’s TV special which will air Christmas morning on ABC. Mario Lopez also played host to Friday’s grand opening ceremony of the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant in Downtown Disney. The new restaurant serves up a variety of sandwiches and salads at fair prices, adding another great dining option to the popular shopping and entertainment district. Meanwhile, construction projects continue in Disneyland as both parks continue to get decked out for the holidays.

A big thank you to MiceChat’s Fishbulb for help covering the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade taping for today’s column.

Welcome to Disneyland!

Some Halloween decorations remained in place over the weekend as Disneyland transitions to the holiday season. Our friends at Touring Plans have their weekly Resort crowd forecast below.

Expect moderate crowds throughout the week at both theme parks as Disneyland approaches the launch of the holiday 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., Nov. 6 [center]6 /10[/center] Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:

  • Partial blockouts through the three-day Veteran’s Day weekend.
  • Both parks will see their biggest crowds on Friday, with Disneyland crowds at a 9.3 and Disney California Adventure crowds at a 7.9
  • 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., Nov. 7 6 /10
Thu., Nov. 8 6 /10
Fri., Nov. 9 9 /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.

Hollywood holidays on Main Street

“Extra” host Mario Lopez replaced comedian Nick Cannon this year as the host of the Disneyland portion of the annual Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade. The special will air on Christmas Day on ABC with footage filmed at Disneyland this weekend as well as footage filmed in the coming weeks at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade took the spotlight in this year’s taping instead of the traditional A Christmas Fantasy Parade.

Phineas and Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ Dance Party and DJ from Cars Land made appearances on Main Street for the parade taping

On Sunday, musical guests Backstreet Boys and Toby Mac performed in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Construction Kingdom

Construction walls are down at City Hall, Guided Tours building and Fire Department.

The Guided Tours building no longer has its signage, probably because the facility is no longer used for Guided Tours, with all tour business done steps away in the guided tours garden.

At the end of Main Street, the new Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area continues to come together behind construction walls…

Back in Fantasyland, the Storybook Land and Casey Jr. Circus Train refurbishments and safety enhancement project continues as the attractions get closer to their mid-November re-openings.

Back in the Fantasyland Theater, new vertical construction is underway at the back of the theater’s seating area…

Construction walls have gone up at the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FASTPASS distribution area

Christmas Countdown

Throughout the park additional signs of the holidays continue to appear throughout Disneyland as the holiday season approaches. The holidays aren’t officially set to start until Monday, November 12, but the parks should be in full holiday mode by Friday, with the season’s first showing of the “Believe in Holiday Magic” fireworks scheduled for 8:45 that evening. The Castle’s snow overlay is now complete, save for the icicle lights which will be now be added following the completion of the Christmas Day Parade taping

Frontierland is all decked out for the holidays

We showed you New Orleans Square’s seasonal decorations already up in last week’s update, but now that Halloween is over, the temporary Pirate’s League in the Court des Anges has been removed and replaced with the annual holiday ornament shop.

Nearby, Haunted Mansion Holiday now has FASTPASS.

The attraction opened at the start of Halloween Time without FASTPASS and wait times, while long, were manageable. Expect stand-by wait times for this attraction to climb higher now with FASTPASS reinstated and Christmas crowds hitting the Resort.

Critter Country is now decked out for the holidays as well…

In Fantasyland, “it’s a small world” will reopen November 9th with its annual holiday overlay.

The attraction flume is drained during overlay installation

Mickey’s Toon Town is also ready for the holidays

Goofy’s Gas is still behind walls for refurbishment.

Welcome to California Adventure

Progress can be seen over the construction walls at the California Adventure entrance

The Carthay Circle Theater terrazzo replacement project continues…

California Christmas

Disney California Adventure is getting ready for the holidays as well, with lavish decorations coming for the new Buena Vista Street and Cars Land areas. Disney released a rendering of the Carthay Circle Christmas tree last week on the Disney Parks Blog.

Despite the strange style of the rendering, the Buena Vista Street holiday overlay promises to be truly special, with a period-appropriate Christmas tree in the park area in front of Elias and Co., and a Santa Claus meet-and-greet inside the department store itself.

The ficus trees have been removed to prepare the area for the installation of the new Christmas tree

Elsewhere in the park, holiday decorations continue to go up…

Donald poses in his holiday attire

…And in Cars Land, the first signs of the holidays have appeared with some Christmas lights strung up at Radiator Springs Curios…

According to the OC Register, Disney will be using the Muppet*Vision Theater for 4D screening the made-for-TV animated special “Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice.” The “Prep and Landing” screenings are set to begin November 15.

Welcome, Earl

In Downtown Disney, the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant began hosting soft openings on Monday, offering guests a 25% discount on all orders throughout the week. The new dining location drew long lines, with many guests reporting waiting up to an hour to get their food after ordering.

Sure, an hour to wait for a sandwich might seem unreasonable, but the restaurant, crammed into the relatively small area that was formerly home to Compass Books, was being put through its paces for the first time. Restaurant employees were very nice and as helpful as they could be during the long waits.

The new dining location is a welcome addition to Downtown Disney, offering a high-quality quick-service option at reasonable prices. All sandwiches and salads are $6.99, with various sides and desserts available as well as breakfast options.

Workers put the finishing touches on the restaurant’s marquee Monday evening

On Friday, the restaurant was ready for its grand opening ceremony, bringing together Downtown Disney general manager Janet Knox with restaurant co-founder Robert Earl, former Angels player Bobby Grich and “Extra” host Mario Lopez.

Earl of Sandwich co-founder Robert Earl and Downtown Disney general manager Janet Knox:

Angels player Bobby Grich joins the stage

TV star Mario Lopez is welcomed to the stage to cut the ribbon

The ribbon is cut…

…and the new restaurant is opened with a confetti blast.


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
November 5—11, 2012
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]Disney California Adventure[/B]
Monday-Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday-Sunday: 9 am – 12 midnight
Monday-Thrsday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday-Saturday: 9 am – 11 pm
Sunday: 9 am – 10 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]MEDIUM—HIGH[/B]
[B]3.6—9.3[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[CENTER][B]MEDIUM—HIGH[/B]
[B]5.2—7.9[/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]
    None.
[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • The big news over the week was Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, officially making Star Wars into the Disney fold. The Hollywood Reporter has more on the big news and Al Lutz shares his thoughts on the purchase.
  • Disney will release “The Circle Sessions: The Music of Carthay Circle,” a selection of songs pulled from the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge’s fantastic background music loop. The disc hits store shelves in the park on November 6.
  • Disney has poured over $300,000 into local Anaheim candidates and committees this election season, according to the OC Register.
Okay, that wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland! Thank you for reading and please join in the discussion in the comments section below! Were you in the park for the filming of this year’s Christmas Day Parade? Will you be watching on Christmas morning?

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.
  • Trumpet

    Great update Andy

    Shame when i visited the resort in August Earl of Sandwich was not open, maybe next August

    I cannot wait to see the holiday decorations in Cars land and Buena Vista Street. Even though I will not visit, your updates make me feel that I am right in the parks.

    Thanks again Andy,

    Trumpet

  • There’s something really fun about seeing them film the Christmas Parade on Main Street. But note the date folks. When the parade airs and they try to make you think it’s all live, know that it’s all just a big lie. 😉

  • Gregg Condon

    Wow, quite a large to-do for the opening of a sandwich shop.

  • WheresMickey

    Great report!

  • pinkertonfloyd

    Hmmm… HMH had fastpass working 2 weeks ago when I was last in the park. I used it myself in fact.

    On the bright side, they merge the fastpass into the line, it’s much shorter, but they were still sending you through the queue (it just goes around while the “standby” backtracks a few times. the wait times ran about 10 mins with fastpass, about 45 Without. (I remember in the past where they would have fastpass walk directly up to the mansion.

  • eicarr

    Thanks for the slow service warning about that sandwich chain. I’ll instead enjoy the themed experience of eating inside the park. Eating in Carsland buena vista street or main street is part of the experience I’m paying for.

    • We went to Earl of Sandwich yesterday. It was fantastic! You are really missing out if you’ve decided you aren’t going to try it just because it isn’t “inside the park.” For once, there is an actual affordable option inside the resort that’s good. I think folks are really going to like this location!

  • AB Born

    The real question is whats happening inside Indiana Jones. 🙂

    • Director_Guy

      I guess we’ll find out in… a whole month?! Aww maaannnn…

    • ayalexander

      I’m curious about that as well, with Disney buying the Lucas companies they own some of the Indiana Jones “movie thing” don’t really know what to call it… but anyway. I have my suspisions that the attraction has been shuttered way too long for a simple “dusting”. What if they are making and programming additions now that Disney owns a big chunk of Indiana Jones?

  • 4Apples4Disney

    Great update as always!

  • Disneylandfan85

    How long will Fastpass be unavailable for Big Thunder?

  • Dizzey

    Anybody else find the Christmas trees in DL and DCA a bit on the gaudy side? There sure isn’t much “tree” to the tree – more like a pyramid of ornaments. The beauty of a tree is lost. As a visitor to someone’s home (or theme park, in this case), I like to give a Christmas tree a good look-over to find any “special” ornaments, or those that might be particularly attractive. These trees are too visually overwhelming for any of that.

    Oh well. Minor gripe. Fabulous Update, Andy! Thanks for keeping us all so well informed.
    .

    • ayalexander

      I agree. Ever since they replaced the REAL tree in town square with a fake one the trees have become too *loud* and are a little too picturesque to be seen as real. I like seeing spacing on a tree such as that on a Douglas fir, this takes Douglas fir to a whole new and yet fake level. And the ornaments are too plentiful. The truth is the trees are merely a met rod down the center with hollow sections of a GIANT cone that snap together on the column.

  • sixalex

    Great Update and fun pix!

    The Earl of Sandwich debate is interesting to me. We regularly exit the parks to eat (Trader Sam’s anyone?), but we also enjoy the great theming inside as well. Zocalo is so beautiful at night, Hungry Bear is great to relax in the afternoon, the new-ish Paradise Grill with the amazing live music of Ellis Island Boys (and the girl!) or Valadez, or the Cove Bar (Seriously, Guinness on tap!) and of course a churro at the end of the day make DisneyLand dining a true pleasure.

    But I’m looking at the pricing of the Earl’s breakfast sandwich and thinkin’…

    We’ll be there tomorrow to try it out, after we vote of course!

    Any MiceChatters planning on an Election Day reprieve from the madness of polls and pre-counts and electoral college nuttiness? Look for me there. I’m the tall bald guy with a grin on his face.

  • Bongo

    Personally, I never knew about the ABC filming every first Saturday of November, so it took me completely by surprise because I was expecting a normal day at Disneyland. A fun day nonetheless, but still took me a bit off guard. Especially when they canceled some attractions such as the Main Street Transportation, the Lilly Belle, and didn’t bring out the Disneyland Band for the flag retreat and instead used pre-recorded music.

  • Internitty

    Still no sign of Benny in Toon Town

  • Chernabog

    Awesome update. And Mario Lopez has a deal with the devil. Does he age?

    (And fishy we need more pics of the cute cameraman 😉 )

  • Fantasmic4

    surprised no one commented on the absence of the Christmas Fantasy Parade.

    • Bongo

      I believe they were there. I didn’t pay attention to the parade because I was doing other things in the park but I do remember passing by a group of Toy Soldiers waiting for their cue to step forward. I don’t remember much of the parade, but I do believe the toy soldiers are part of the final act.

      • Bongo

        Oh, nevermind. My bad. They’re part of the first act of the parade, so I guess they came a little later in the day.

  • QPerth

    Wow. What a seriously gorgeous Dateline Disneyland! Thankyou so so much Andy and to Fishbulb also for your photo contributions!

    Oh Mario Lopez, sooo handsome! Thanks for these shots too! ;p

    ALL the photos in this update are just stunning. Amazing colour and so many beautiful shots! Christmas at Disney looks just breathtaking and, (here comes the corny but true) magical! One day I will see it for myself, but until then, my deepest thanks for sharing it with everyone through these wonderful Dateline’s.

    Thanks again for Dateline Disneyland, when those tweets show up in my timeline I get so excited! And I set time aside to really enjoy reading them and looking at the wonderful photos and updates. Till next time! -Q

  • Notorious1

    Great update!

    I love checking these every week, it gives me my weekly dose of DLR and holds me over until my next visit!

    Does Disney ever announce who will be performing in advance?? (New Years Eve)