Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! We have a feast of photos for you today from the Disneyland Resort. Star Tours has launched new voyages, Space Mountain is testing single rider, Popcorn buckets and Minnie ears have folks going crazy, and there are lots of little changes throughout the resort. We promise more treats than turkeys today. But there is one item which will have some of your cheering and others screaming . . .

End of the SoCal Pass

The $469 Southern California Pass was discontinued today. The pass is frequently used as Christmas present, so Disney’s decision to discontinue it now, rather than after the first of the year, shows that they are evaluating the impact of lower cost passes on the resort. But don’t panic just yet, if you already have a SoCal pass you’ll still be able to renew it. Strangely, the SoCal Select pass, which is cheaper and offers about 45 fewer available days, is still being offered.  Should that one be discontinued as well?

Should Disney discontinue all of the Southern California Annual Passes? Let us know which passes or options you think should be discontinued in the poll below:

Star Tours Updated

Star Tours last got an update with the release of The Force Awakens in 2015. Lucky for all of us the latest Star Wars film, to be released on December 15th, is also prompting an update of Star Tours. The two new destinations have already launched and you can enjoy visiting Crait and Batuu during your voyage. Crait is a destination in The Last Jedi, Batuu is the planet in the upcoming Star Wars Land at Disneyland.

To promote the upcoming film, Mark Hamill surprised a cabin full of Star Tours guests last week. Just imagine the surprise of seeing this legendary hero show up in your cabin after you’d already been locked in.

Mark Hamill on Star Tours at Disneyland

Or don’t imagine, watch the video.  😉

I grew up a huge Star Wars fan. And while I didn’t find all of the films fully satisfying, nothing can stop me from buying a ticket to see the upcoming film. Really looking forward to this one. . . and it still hurts to see Carrie Fisher.

The Star Tours poster at the front of the park has been updated with the new destination.

If you just can’t get enough Star Wars in your diet, character sourdough bread is now available in the park.

Vader is available at Pizza Port.
And Stormtrooper at the Tomorrowland fruit cart.

Singles Have All The Fun

 

Disney’s trying something new at Space Mountain. Guests are being invited to trial a new single rider line.

If you get a chance to try it out, let us know what you think.

The Biggest News In The World

Well, maybe it’s not the biggest news. Ok, it’s not really news at all. But it’s something that many fans will be thrilled about none the less.  Following the taping of the Disney Christmas Special, the wreaths were installed above Main Street for the first time since Paint the Night made its debut for the 60th.  It sure makes a difference.

Here’s something. Disney shared a video of the Disneyland Christmas tree lighting on Facebook in exchanges for you giving them likes. And they got a lot of them too.

Half a million people tuned in to watch.

River Belle Terrace Reopens

After a long refurbishment, the River Belle has been completely redone on the inside to remove all vestiges of its old counter-serve past. While it all flows much better now, there were some cute details of the old restaurant which have been removed. The decorations in the new space are minimal, but it’s nice to have a moderately priced table service option.

There’s a new host desk inside the restaurant
Some interesting riverboat art in the entry

Please forgive the dark photos of the interior. I had to take them on the run and wanted to mask the folks eating. But we’ll have detail shots for you shortly.

The lighting throughout is very nice, but the artwork and decorations are minimal.

Sadly, the round seating in the center of the restaurant around the pole has been removed. The space now feels larger, but without the warmth and character of the old dining room.
Outside, the hedge wall separating the table service side of the patio from the general seating for the Stage Door quick-serve has been replaced with a wrought iron fence. Unfortunately, it looks awkward and doesn’t provide a luxury feeling for the folks who are paying for table service. The old hedge provided a better buffer between the two sides of the patio. Perhaps a brick planter with tall shrubs and/or trees would be a more elegant solution.

You’ll recall that there were two doors in and out of the restaurant on the Adventureland side. One of those doors is now a window.
It seems to be a popular stroller parking spot.

Prime Discounted Monthly Offering

While the removal of the old queue and counter was well done, I’m not thrilled with the lack of design of the new dining room. It feels like a budget-engineered dining space and not at all in line with the price point of the meals.  This one is a mixed bag.

We Have All Gone Insane

It’s true. All sorts of little products like mouse ears, mugs and popcorn buckets have been generating massive fan interest and sell-out conditions. . . which just makes the products even more of a must-have. We all want what we think we can’t get. Or perhaps it’s just folks speculating on stuff they think they can sell on Ebay. 

Adorable, right?
Pluto popcorn buckets are very popular. Just look at that ugly sweater he’s wearing.
Captain Phasma is now a mug. It was only a matter of time.

Now, where can I score a Phasma mug?! 😉

Date Night At Disneyland

Here’s a little ditty that will excite some of you but which is stirring up some drama among Dapper Day devotees. Seems Disney is trying to take a bite out of the Dapper apple.

When night falls, the Disneyland Resort lights up with even more magic – and beginning next year, you will be able to experience this enchanting time with a new series of events. Disneyland After Dark kicks off January 18 with its first after-hours event – Throwback Nite!

Step back in time to the ‘50s and ‘60s for a taste of the classic after-dark experience at Disneyland. Come dressed in your best to enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth under a million twinkling lights, swinging to the tune of the bands and enjoying your favorite rides in the cool moonlight ‘till the clock strikes 1 a.m.!

Original attraction posters of Disneyland experiences from yesteryear welcome you as you commemorate the evening with special photo locations – and unlimited digital downloads are included with your event admission! Live music and dancing bring the bygone era to life throughout the park, and the sky lights up with an exclusive showing of “Fantasy in The Sky” fireworks. Guests will receive a commemorative lanyard and a vintage-inspired park map that will highlight the special experiences taking place throughout the evening.

This trip down memory lane will truly be one for the ages! Tickets for Throwback Nite will be available on Disneyland.com for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders beginning Nov. 30 and for general public beginning Dec. 7.

So, what are your thoughts folks? Are you excited about Disney’s Dapper event or would you rather they leave that to the fans?

Around the Park

Now that we’ve got the big stuff out of the way, let’s take a look around Disneyland, which has been busy decking the halls for the holiday crowds.

The character lines have been REALLY long lately. But I did see an adorable moment which I just had to share. Cruella was absolutely wonderful with the kids, and particularly with this little girl.

I’ve long been a fan of Disney artist Noah. He was signing at the Disney Gallery over the weekend and I thought you’d appreciate some of these delightful works:

I was also excited to see two pieces from Patty Peraza. Patty and her husband Mike are dear friends and longtime Disney animators and fine artists.  We’ve really got to get them both to another MiceChat event soon.

The Christmas Parade is packing in the crowds.

There was a pre-parade with what seemed like hundreds of young dance students.

I’m a sucker for the toy soldiers.

Fortuosity on Main Street always seems to have the most whimsical decorations. The crows from Halloween are a favorite and have now given way to stockings and vintage decor.

The most photographed spot in Disneyland (and one of the most photographed buildings in the world) is looking beautiful for the holidays.

But one thing that has long bothered us are the awkward icicles with their cable-tied Christmas lights and yellowing curled ribbons. The Magic Kingdom uses molded icicles which have a much more elegant look. This is one thing I’d really like to see imported from the Florida parks.

Fiber-optic lights are embedded in the rooftops and snow for a glittering snowfall effect.

As you might expect this time of year, crowds are heavy. But you really start noticing the influx of visitors mid-afternoon as throngs of guests show up for parade, fireworks and Fantasmic.

Santa is stationed in Pooh Corner again this year.

Just beyond the Mark Twain, we catch a most interesting look at Star Wars Land.

New Orleans Square looks beautiful again this year, but there are far fewer decorations than in the past.

Well, that’s what we’ve got for today. But there’s still DCA and Downtown Disney yet to come. So get that turkey stuffed, the rolls baked, and the kids filled with figgy pudding because we’ll be back later this week with more news and photos! And if you’d like over an hour of Disney and theme park info, please check out the latest MiceChat Podcast which was JUST released:

NEW! MiceChat Podcast: It’s the hap-happiest time of the year as the Disney theme parks unveil their holiday offerings for 2017. But that’s not the only jingle jangle for this show. We have the rundown on all the big new attractions set to debut next year AND the theme park industry awards for the best of last year. This show is PACKED with holiday and theme park delights from your MicePals Doug and Dusty.  But beware, they’ve been drinking too much eggnog. . . as usual.

Direct Download | Find on iTunes

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Much thanks to Scott Attula, Brian Pinsky, Dsny Debbie and Suzane Lee for additional support with today’s update!