Nothing says Merry Christmas like the threat of getting a potentially lethal disease. Unfortunately, that’s a very real scare going on right now at Disneyland as 15 visitors/residents of Anaheim have come down with Legionnaires’ disease with two fatalities. 11 of those cases visited the happiest place on earth. In response to the epidemic, Disneyland has shut down two cooling towers located backstage in New Orleans Square which had high levels of the bacterium which causes the disease. If you visited the Disneyland Resort any time since late August and have any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor: A Fever of 104º or higher with muscle pain, chills, cough (often with blood), shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion or other mental changes. Hopefully, the shutdown of the cooling towers has isolated the threat.
But that’s not the only news in today’s jam-packed update! The Disney Holiday Special was taping in the parks this week. Additional decorations have been added to Christmas displays around the resort. And Mark Hamill himself showed up to surprise a cabin of Star Tours guests to help promote a new destination which will start showing up in the ride later THIS WEEK!
This past weekend we posted a special Holiday update covering the general Christmas offerings at the Disneyland Resort this year, including the Festival of Holidays at DCA. We noted a general cutback in holiday decor, but at least in DCA, we’ve seen some additional decorations go up this week.
Disney Parks Holiday Special
This week was Disneyland’s turn for the taping of the Disney Parks Holiday Special that will air on Christmas morning. Most of the parade and entertainment will actually come from Disneyland this year, they essentially canceled the parade portion of the taping for Walt Disney World. As in years past, celebrity appearances and performances were recorded in front of the castle and throughout the resort.
Lea Michele, Idina Menzel, and Kristin Bell were all caught on stage.
Idina Menzel took the stage to sing for the taping.
We can only hope that the folks putting together this year’s Disney Parks Holiday Special actually get back to the business of creating something entertaining and stop treating the special like a giant commercial. It’s gotten so bad in recent years that it’s become nearly impossible to watch, even if you are a huge Disney fan like I am.
Buena Vista Street
Buena Vista Street is brimming with holiday cheer as everyone gets ready for Christmas.
All the citizens of Buena Vista Street are getting in on the fun with holiday caroling.
Santa’s real popular on this Christmas tree.
I do like these bell garlands, especially at night.
The new holiday Pluto popcorn bucket has been drawing long lines at popcorn carts all around the resort. Have you gotten yours yet?
I’m drawn to details like the lamp posts, especially on BVS.
Festival of Holidays
For detailed info on the Festival of Holidays, including the food items I tried, make sure you check out that extra special Holiday update we did this past weekend.
Instead of a welcome center in the front this time, there’s a character meet and greet. It was nice to see Clarabelle Cow out to greet guests.
Brian Pinsky spotted Pluto dressed as a reindeer in this same spot as well.
There are a lot of options for entertainment during the festival as well. The wharf had some a cappella singers.
I just missed the Toy Drummers, but they’re always a delight.
There’s a big (mobile) stage just like the one at Food and Wine inside the viewing area for World of Color. I noticed multiple different shows were happening throughout the day, but this Indian-inspired show was going on when I walked by.
Brian caught a fun Jewish band playing. I’m all for more of that.
I also noticed that the garland on the booths actually light up. A nice touch!
If you’re looking for holiday shopping, there are a few options at the marketplace, near the Cars Land entrance. A good portion of the merchandise is branded Festival of Holidays apparel, but the shirt designs are a bit more interesting this year.
There are tons of ornaments available at the shop as well.
Personalization of the ornaments is also available, which is a pretty great addition.
The Annual Pass Corner has been moved to the Sonoma Terrace, close to Ariel and Paradise Pier. You can stop in to pick up the Sip and Savor pass for the festival, grab a holiday photo, get an AP button, or charge your phone.
Hollywoodland was under-dressed this weekend when the holidays started, this is pretty much all there was over the weekend:
It seems like a few more decorations have been put up since, though.
Glad to see some of the more iconic decorations up.
And the garland around the light poles:
I figured they ran out of time, so I’m glad Disney is still dedicated to getting everything up.
The few food locations in the area have some holiday-themed items.
Over at Schmoozies there were some pretty tasty, sweeter looking options.
The donuts here go fast from my understanding. I never did get to try the Halloween one, but maybe next week I’ll get a chance to try this Yule Log donut. It’s rather expensive for a donut!
Trying the promotional smoothies at Schmoozies is one of my favorite things since I first tried the caramel apple smoothie. I’ve seen several holiday smoothies now, but this year it is pumpkin pie. While I thought this was pretty decent (and better than last year’s mocha flavored one), I think they made it wrong…still, I wish they’d bring back the holiday harvest smoothie, that was the best Christmastime one I’ve had so far.
Thor and Loki have been spotted taking pictures with guests (with rather long lines) to promote their new film, Thor: Ragnarok. As a side note, I can recommend that film, it was quite good.
Last weekend was Veteran’s Day so it was a great time to skip some of the long lines and hit Monsters Inc instead.
Guardians of the Galaxy has returned to its normal operation since the end of the Halloween promotion “Monsters After Dark.” I kind of miss it, though. Those nighttime projections on the facade looked great.
I realized something else to add the list of inconsistencies in this attraction. Beyond the fact that in the timeline Peter Quill shouldn’t have his Walkman, the Walkman is loaded up with music that he doesn’t have. Songs like “Free Ride” were not on either of his mixes. I should know, right? I dressed up as him for the Halloween party…
Disney released the Monsters After Dark soundtrack, though. The track was always fun but with no substance, so the album version is no different, but I’m glad that it’s available. Disney needs to officially release more of their park music more often. Below, I’ve queued up the track for you on Spotify.
Santa took over at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
I really like the garland around the trail during this season.
After visiting Santa, drop by the “Treats for Santa” booth for what looks like delicious desserts. That white hot chocolate sounds better than the one at Hollywood Land, we’ll have to see how they compare.
We didn’t notice any more decorations than were already up this past weekend, but this area does have some cute ones. These lights in mason jars are such a neat idea.
While you’re in Grizzly Peak, make sure to stop and see Wendell near Grizzly River Run’s water wheel. I really enjoy seeing the Country Bears in the park, it’s obvious that they’re still ingrained into the heart of Disneyland even with their show missing. Speaking of their show . . . surely there’s a way to build a theater for them somewhere in this park.
Wendell was one of my favorite recent character experiences, he was really playful and goofy. We even look a bit alike.
Cars land is in the spirit of the season, and I’m happy to confirm that since our holiday article there have been more decorations added that were previously missing.
The two things to look forward to this year are the two holiday overlays at Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl.
The Cozy Cone has tons of holiday snacks.
I also picked up one of my favorites, the Pair of Dice soda. It’s basically a virgin mojito, but it’s refreshing. It’s also quite easy to make at home as well.
The horn-o-plenty is still here, but it’s been redressed for the holidays.
Nighttime is when the real magic happens in Cars Land, though. Debbie was able to point out a couple of decorations that have been added since this weekend.
Luigi’s stack of tires is now a Christmas tree, star and all, while it was undecorated earlier this week.
Flo’s also was undecorated but now has garland and gas can decorations.
We’ll be watching to see what else might have been missed as the season goes on.
Radiator Springs Racers went down for a quick refurbishment this week, but should be back up and running today.
The pier’s days are numbered, but over at the Paradise Gardens, Viva Navidad continues to delight guests with two adorable shows.
The first is the amazing Viva Navidad show.
I’m glad this show keeps returning, it’s a beautiful show about traditional Christmas in Mexico and parts of South America. It’s truly fantastic and has a lot of heart.
Elena’s Royal Welcome has also returned. Elena doesn’t get enough coverage in the park, so it’s a welcome return.
Also returning is the delicious Viva Navidad menu. I wish it would stay all year.
I also took a ride on California Screamin’, I’m going to miss it in its classic form when it switches to the Incredicoaster next year. But, as Dusty always says, if a new ride can improve upon what was there before, it’s a step forward. Let’s hope that’s what this is.
The big news out of Downtown Disney is that they’ve finally announced what will be replacing Ride Makerz and Build a Bear. Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, a New York restaurant, will be opening a California location in that hole left by the departing businesses. Burgers and “CrazyShakes” . . . I’m intrigued. . .
Here’s what Disney had to say about their new tenant:
Known for its award-winning burgers and signature CrazyShake™ milkshakes, Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer will open its first California location in the heart of Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort next year.
Black Tap is creating a customized concept for its Downtown Disney District location, which will feature indoor and outdoor seating. The burger and beer joint will be set in a casual atmosphere reminiscent of a classic American luncheonette, but with a distinctly New York vibe.
Black Tap’s menu will include burgers ranging from the classic All-American to The Vegan Burger. In addition, their specialty “CrazyShakes” will boast whimsical and over-the-top decorations and flavors, such as The Cotton Candy Shake and The Bam Bam Shake.
Construction is scheduled to begin soon, across from Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar.
Downtown Disney has made a full conversion to holiday time.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Construction
Mountains are starting to take serious form over Galaxy’s Edge.
Soon we won’t be able to see much, the walls are closing in!
And here’s a photo inside the park.
Something fun we thought we’d share with you, Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, was riding with passengers earlier this week to promote the new Star Wars film that’s just about a month away now (exciting times indeed!).
Don’t forget that tomorrow is the debut of the new Crait destination for Star Tours. This will be our first real glimpse at that location from Star Wars: Episode VIII. Earlier this week, Disney revealed some concept art of what that will be like.
Are you all excited about an extra destination? What did you think of the last addition for Jakku two years ago?
That just about wraps things up. As I was typing this all out, I couldn’t help but wonder if Disney told any of the stars or their management about the Legionnaires’outbreak. And that has me thinking of how this might impact park attendance if people continue to die or more infections are recorded. Please let us know your thoughts on the poll below and in the comments section.
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Much thanks to Brian Pinsky, Dsny Debbie, Suzanne Lee, Katrina Smutny and Dusty Sage for additional support with today’s update!