Summer, Halloween, Christmas and Spring Break: these are among the traditional busy seasons for Disneyland. Of course, MiceChat readers know that any day can be busy at any time of the year these days. Still, Disney treats these special times of year as different. Staffing is at a maximum, extra entertainment is added, and it’s rare to see an attraction down for refurbishment. But things are different right now. With Star Wars construction shutting down the river, train, and access to Big Thunder Trail, Disneyland feels different this year.
We have a lot to share this week, Autopia has a new theme, construction updates from Rivers of America, Pirates has a brighter look on life, and lots of little changes everywhere. Let’s take a look . . .
Honk If You Love Robots
Something new showed up at Autopia this week. Honda’s trusty robot, ASIMO, and his bird friend (simply named “Bird”) have invaded the attraction as they “embark on the ultimate road trip.” All powered by Honda, of course.
Disney claims that Bird is the “first character created especially for this attraction.” But those who have been on this ride in the past know that there were lots of car characters created for the previous version when it was sponsored by Chevron. Dusty, Sparky and Suzy (the three car characters created for the Chevron version of the attraction) would beg to differ with Disney Marketing.
All the cars have been repainted and now sport Honda emblems on the hood. The engines and tires have apparently been updated with Honda gear as well, though it still smelled like a fleet of lawnmowers to me.
Gone are the “car park” and the other world of living cars show scenes, which stopped being relevant once Disney built an entire Cars Land in California Adventure anyway. In their place are scenes of ASIMO and Bird camping, taking to the air and parking their stark white futuristic vehicles all over the place. While it’s all a bit disjointed, it does feel a bit more appropriate to a land of “Tomorrow.” Let us know what you think.
Unfortunately, none of the characters had any animation to them. They are all posed as though they are in mid action. But because they have no motion, they feel a bit like they are broken.
Please take a look at this great video from Scott Attula. Are the changes cute enough for you?Does the new version of the Disneyland Autopia toot your horn?Click To Tweet
Welcome to Disneyland
Time was tight this week and I really wanted to make sure you’d have a Disneyland Update on Monday morning. So I set out to the park on Friday evening with just a couple of hours of daylight remaining. That made for a mad dash through the park to get the key shots for you. But it also meant that a few of the photos have that really dramatic lighting that only comes at “Magic Hour,” that moment just before sunset when the light is at just the right angle.
Some may not think that the loss of the small River’s of America attractions means much to the overall operation of Disneyland. But you need only visit during busy seasons like this to see that those attractions where like a sponge, soaking up guests who would otherwise pack area walkways.
Thankfully, in another three months or so, this impact will lessen as attractions begin to return to the Disneyland lineup. But there’s a lot of work left to do. . .
The pace of the construction is clear. In just over a year, the river has been rerouted. The riverbed is being cemented. New rock work has been created to support an elaborate train trestle and waterfall, a walkway is nearly completed to connect Critter Country to Star Wars Land, and a complicated backstage dock has been created for Fantasmic float storage and maintenance. That was a lot of work in a very short span of time (especially for Disney).
Because I’d climb the highest mountain for you folks, I did the next best thing . . . I traversed the stairs of Tarzan’s Treehouse to see if we could spy some of the river construction. (Now I need a nap.)
You can see pretty far from a seven-story tall tree.
Including the new rocks and waterfalls at the back of the river!
Are you confused by Disney’s MaxPass announcement and how it differs from FastPass? Don’t stress the details. It’s just a way to get your FastPasses on your phone. However, Disney does want to change extra for it. Thankfully, regular paper FastPasses will remain available at NO additional charge. I really think we need to get the fans to NOT use the paid MaxPass. If Disney wants us using it, they should remove the fee. Resist the up-charge folks!
Back in Critter Country, Splash Mountain is preparing for MaxPass with an expanded queue entry. The former FastPass/smoking area near the exit to Haunted Mansion, is now the switchback entry for Splash.
Meanwhile, in Tomorrowland, the new FastPass entry to Star Tours has opened.
Just about all the new FastPass scanners have been installed. We think the system will start testing soon. Matterhorn comes back from refurbishment on April 28th with its new FastPass machines and that should be the last piece of the puzzle for this first stage of FastPass expansion.
Haunted Mansion was down for a bit on Friday, which reminded us how much we enjoy the little Magnolia Gardens area between Mansion and the train station. Unfortunately, once the ride reopened, this area became an extended queue again, largely because FastPass just slows down the standby line too much and causes it to back up.
At 50 years old, Pirates of the Caribbean remains one of the most popular Disney attractions of all time. So popular in fact that the line queues up throughout the river area of New Orleans and a sea of strollers need to be parked at water’s edge.
The attraction itself has been skillfully re-lit, which allows us to grab a few hard-to-get shots for you. (Our thanks to Scott again!).
Elsewhere in New Orleans Square, Pirates themed treats and menu items remain very popular, including the golden churro.
As the sun sets on our Disneyland adventure, here are a few more shots . . .
Join us again tomorrow for part two of our Disneyland Resort update. We’ll look at the latest reveal from Guardians of the Galaxy tower and see what’s happening at the Food and Wine Festival.
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ANNOUNCING THE 2017 GUMBALL RALLY
The World Famous Gumball Rally is a contest to see who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland and California Adventure in a single day. Are you the biggest Disney fan? Let’s find out. This year’s event pays tribute to the Pirates of the Caribbean, which turned 50 years old this year and remains beloved by generations of Disney fans. If you be brave enough to face a pirate’s curse, proceed!!! GUMBALL RALLY INFO AND TICKETS HERE