Disneyland Photo Update: Eat the Force & Towers of Light

Written by PhotoMatt. Posted in Disneyland Resort, Features

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Published on May 18, 2017 at 2:24 am with No Comments

Disneyland Resort is on the cusp of catching fire for summer. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout is about to, well . . . break out! Fantasmic will return this summer with new magic. And the entire river complex, including the trains, river boats and Tom Sawyer Island are also set to return to regular operation. None of this can come soon enough to meet the current demand. The parks have been absolutely packed with guests lately. Too many people with too little ride capacity.





Oppressive Overcrowding

What happens when Disney holds a runDisney race on Mother’s Day weekend at the same time folks are using up the last day of their SoCal 3-Day for $150 tickets? Massive overcrowding, if you were not at the parks this past weekend, consider yourself lucky. But don’t expect next weekend to be any less crowded as Grad Nights continue. Seems like we’ll need to wait until Summer for things to get somewhat back to normal.

On Saturday the park opened at 9am. I was at Ball and Anaheim at 8:30. Traffic was so bad I took a back route and tried Pumbaa. It was already closed. I then went to Toy Story and this was the fully extended line for the buses. I ended up walking. runDisney weekends park the parks earlier than normal and gridlock city streets. Don’t plan to go early on these mornings.

The line to get through security on the Harbor Blvd. side of the resort. On a positive note, they did have all lanes open plus a few extra.

And this was the line Dusty encountered from the Disneyland Hotel side of the Resort. The wait for a security booth was about 20 minutes long.

New Orleans Square becomes difficult to navigate when the line for Pirates gets crazy. This is what an hour long wait looks like. It reached 90 minutes later in the day. At that point, all of the available walkway space becomes queue for Pirates, except a narrow path along the river just behind a row of stroller parking (which you can see along the fence).

This is the beginning of the line to POTC.

You had to go all the way to here to get to the first switchback. And by mid-day, the line stretched all the way to the French Market and switch-backed up onto the Adventureland bridge as well.

Magnolia Gardens is now used for Haunted Mansion queuing more often than not. We hate losing this wonderful little out of the way resting spot. But the crowds waiting in line for this Disneyland favorite have to go somewhere.

With Mansion and Pirates more popular than ever, what’s going to happen when Fantasmic returns? How will Disney manage guests in extended queue lines with guests waiting for Fantasmic and even more guests just trying to walk through the area to get from point A to point B?  All the ingredients for chaos are brewing.

Tomorrow-landing

In two weeks a more classic version of Space Mountain will be returning. But don’t lament the loss of Hyperspace Mountain, it remains one of the most popular attractions in the entire resort, it will most likely become a seasonal offering that you’ll see again and again.

Along with Hyperspace, Season of the Force will also be departing once again. We wonder if all the current infrastructure that was installed for this overlay will linger for another round of this promotion later this year.

On a positive note, you could always go watch this film clip-show to relax and rest your feet in the air conditioning (there’s never anyone in line, so feel free to take a spot in the dead center of the theater.

Matterhorn Madness

Over at Matterhorn, waits have soared since the installation of FASTPASS. While the attraction commonly held waits of 30 minutes or more before refurbishment, it is now common for Matterhorn to have waits of 90 minutes or longer.

A TWO HOUR wait for Matterhorn by late morning.

You would think the Swiss would be anti-torture because of the Geneva Convention. I guess they changed their minds. These vehicles remain super painful to ride, with bruised knees and shins a common occurrence.

Keep in mind that MaxPass still hasn’t rolled out in the parks. We are certainly hoping for the best, but with waits worse than ever right now, we are worried about a further negative impact on standby lines when MaxPass launches.

New Face of the Frontier

The Rivers of America were refilled last week. While the journey to the “True backwoods” was previously a baffle of trees, a huge rock barrier is now the most visible element at the far end of the river. It’s quite a change, but we look forward to seeing what it will all look like with water effects running and trains once again plying the rails.

A construction zone not so far, far away . . .

We can catch a glimpse of the back of the river and even Star Wars land behind it, if you know which knot holes to look through.

A new pathway is being completed between the Hungry Bear and the River which will take you to Star Wars land.  It will be fantastic once Critter Country is no longer a dead end!

This area has been sealed off and the tables removed per the request of the fire department. This was done after they removed the stair case at the far end of this dining area. At some point the stairs will be rebuilt and the tables will likely return.

Rivers of America – Big Thunder Trail

And behind Big Thunder Mountain, the trail to Fantasyland is getting closer to a much needed reopening.

The pond in the lower left is the one with the jumping fish. The rock work and retaining walls on the left center are all new. Big Thunder is to the right. Lighting has been installed and it looks like this trail could reopen soon.

Rumor has it that Tom Sawyer Island is preparing to reopen soon. Disneyland certainly needs the capacity. While the island isn’t going to do much to lessen the waits of Pirates and Haunted Mansion, it will provide a much needed escape for those looking for a less crowded space in the park.

Anyone else miss the old fort on Tom Sawyer Island? The new one is just a changing room for Fantasmic cast without public access.

The tarps are down around the edge of the river and it looks like the trails are being cleared of construction materials.

The Disneyland Railroad exhibit at the New Orleans Train Station has been dismantled. The trains are now preparing for testing to make sure they can make the new grade and tighter turns on their route.

While readers of this column and the MiceAge Updates have long known that big changes are coming to Fantasmic, the Disney Parks Blog finally revealed a tiny bit of information with this photoshopped image of a new Aladdin scene.

Upon its return, “Fantasmic!” will feature new magic, including new mist screens that will combine with innovative, state-of-the-art projection technology for brighter and more vibrant visuals than ever before. The show will also feature new scenes inspired by Disney animated classics such as “Aladdin”; one of the dazzling new scenes finds Aladdin and Jasmine floating over a bed of fog on their flying carpet during “A Whole New World.”

If you look closely you can see the Fantasmic barges remain covered in tarps around the island, as their permanent home is still being worked on.

This and That

This display in the Opera House reminds us of a more dynamic time for Tomorrowland.

When Tomorrowland was full of movement, discovery, and space exploration.

 

Nearby, in Disneyana, there was some passholder special merchandise and items celebrating the 25th anniversary of Fantasmic.

 

We are always fond of checking out Disneyana and the Disney Gallery.

For those who missed the Railroad exhibits at the Main Street and New Orleans Square stations, there’s still a really nice exhibit in the lobby of the Opera House.

And here’s a few glamor shots from around the park . . .

Is the force stronger with Red Churro or Blue Churro? Click To Tweet

Choose your path to diabetes. But these totally need a paper lightsaber handle like the one shown off by StarWars.com below.

Fun, right?

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Disney California Adventure

California Adventure’s trusty old Pixar Play Parade has returned after a long winter’s nap. And the Tower continues to transform.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Prepares for it’s big debut next week

It’s hard to believe that so much could have been done to the old Tower of Terror in just five months. But in just a few days, guests will be riding a brand new attraction.

The exterior of “Mission: BREAKOUT!” has been fully revealed.

Over the weekend, the old Tower of Terror sign was completely covered.

And, by yesterday, the new Guardians sign has been revealed.

And an interesting new totem as well.

At night, the tower lights up like a Christmas Tree lit by a color wheel.

There’s no going back now, the transformation is complete. Time to cross our fingers and hope that the new experience is better than the old one.

 

Pixar Play Parade Returns

This is a really fun show with high energy, upbeat music and colorful Pixar themed floats. It’s a classic Disney daytime parade and we are so happy it didn’t get budget cut out of existence. While it would still be nice to have a brand new parade for California Adventure, this one is much better than the lack of a parade we’ve been living with since the food festivals began during the holidays.

Roz is the Blue Fairy of this parade and leads things off. . . 

California Screamin’ – Mission: BREAKDOWN!

One of the least reliable rides at California Adventure is also one of its most popular, California Screamin’. Sadly, when this ride breaks down, guests often need to be walked off in some uncomfortable spots. While guests get walked off of ALL theme park attractions from time to time, this one seems particularly dramatic because of the heights and fully exposed views.

One Gumball Rally team got trapped on the ride for nearly an hour the week before last. And when we visited the park this past weekend to photograph for this update, we just happened upon the ride broken down once again.

  

That’s not all that isn’t working in Paradise Pier . . .

Two things seem to be broken at Midway Mania:

  1. Stand-by waits have been completely broken by FASTPASS. What was once a 30 minute wait is now a 90 minute wait. No thanks!
  2. The brilliant Mr. Potato Head animatronic seems to be down more often than not. If they are going to make folks wait 90 minutes for a ride, the least they can do is keep the queue entertainment running well.

Even the Silly Symphony Swings had an insane line this past weekend. When was the last time you saw an extended switchback for this attraction?

Another “Attraction” which has a consistently long line is the Cove Bar. The wait was 90 minutes mid day on Saturday. Two years ago you could just walk right up to this bar on most days. Since then they’ve doubled the seating area, and still it runs insane waits.

With the bar much more popular than the restaurant, perhaps they should swap the space of the restaurant and bar. . . moving the bar to the much larger downstairs patios and the restaurant to the more visible upstairs spaces.  Or at least give the downstairs patios to expand bar seating.

Around DCA

Summer of Heroes is just about to begin. The summer promotion will run from

The Backlot stage is being prepped now. 

Star Lord and Gamora will be hosting the party. But it looks like a full sized Groot will also be meeting with guests.

Don’t forget about me . . . I’m a very important pirate . . . remember? A preview for the final installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is playing in the old Muppets theater. Have you seen it yet? It’s actually quite entertaining.

Disney Junior continues its transformation into a less expensive attraction to run. 

Linda Rick from Precious Moments was at Off the Page. Got to admit that that Ursula doll is adorable.

While I was in the store, I came across the Figment comics from Marvel. Has anyone read these? Are they any good? I’m a huge Figment fan and love the idea of this.

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About PhotoMatt

Matt is an exceptional photographer and Disney fan. He frequents Disney's parks on both coasts and enjoys sharing his images with all of you.

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