Happy New Year one and all. We hope your 2018 is off to a great start. As we look forward to amazing new things in the coming year, let’s take a moment to reflect on 2017 and a whirlwind of change which came to the Disneyland Resort. There were so many items and photos that we’ve had to divide this story into two parts. There’s a lot to remember . . .
Picture if you will the disappearance of a popular attraction. This, as you may recall, was no ordinary ride. But amid the glitz and glamor of Hollywood’s golden age, it dropped out of existence at the start of 2017.
In its final weeks, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror offered a “Late Check-Out” experience which allowed rides in the dark. While the ride had always been popular, it had never seen the sort of waits it did once Disney announced it would be going away. Sometimes you don’t appreciate a thing until it is about to go away.
Even before the tower was closed for retheming, it was shrouded in tarps so Disney could begin adding a plethora of pipes to the exterior.
The Silver Lake Sisters sang live in the lobby during the final month. It was a sort of irony to see so much extra life given to an attraction just before its demise.
But something new would be coming in just a few months. More on that in just a bit.
The year started the way it ended, with crowds. Massive overcrowding which caused parts of the park to become gridlocked.
Star Wars Construction Continues
The up-side of the huge crowds was a temporary opening of Big Thunder Trail to alleviate crowd-flow, offering a tiny preview of the Star Wars land construction project.
This was also our first look at the new bridges and rock work around the Rivers of America.
The Star Wars land construction looked like this at the beginning of the year:
An epic number of attractions were also closed at the start of the year due in part to Star Wars land construction and also some beginning of the year refurbishments:
- Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes – closed until Summer 2017
- Disneyland Railroad Main Street Station – closed until Summer 2017
- Disneyland Railroad Mickey’s Toontown –closed until Summer 2017
- Disneyland Railroad New Orleans Square Station –closed until Summer 2017
- Disneyland Railroad Tomorrowland Station –closed until Summer 2017
- Fantasmic! –closed until Summer 2017
- Fantasmic! FASTPASS Kiosk –closed until Summer 2017
- Mark Twain Riverboat – closed until Summer 2017
- Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island –closed until Summer 2017
- Sailing Ship Columbia –closed until Summer 2017
- Jungle Cruise – 01/09/17 to 02/03/17
- it’s a small world – 01/22/17 to 02/03/17
- Pirates of the Caribbean – 02/03/17 to 03/16/17
- Matterhorn Bobsleds – 02/06/17 to 04/27/17
All those closures obviously impacted the overcrowded feeling of the park and its pathways.
Festival of Holidays Wraps a Weak First Season
In part to encourage Disneyland’s crowds to migrate over to Disney California Adventure, a brand new food, wine and entertainment festival was created for the holidays. However, the crowds never materialized due to high prices and poor marketing of the limited time offering. When it ended in early January it was unclear if it would return.
Return of the Main Street Electrical Parade
As if Disneyland wasn’t busy enough already, January also saw the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade for a limited run while Paint the Night received a big refurbishment.
The parade was a bit shortened from the previous Disneyland version, but was extremely popular with guests.
Give and Take
Remember Dreams Come True returned to Disneyland on February 3rd, along with the enhancement of digital mapping projections on the castle, Matterhorn, Small World and on mist screens around the Rivers of America:
But prices go up like clockwork. Lower tier passes went up $10 to $20 and parking also increased by $2. But nothing is done to control overcrowding by eliminating the payment program or capping the number of annual passes sold. Too many pass holders continues to be a growing problem for the Resort and something which must be dealt with before Star Wars land opens in 2019.
|Pass||Benefits||Previous Price||NEW Price|
|Disney Southern California Select||
||$329||$339 (New – $10 Increase)
|Disney Southern California||
||$459||$469 (New – Increased $10)
||$599||$619 (New – Increased $20)
$579 (Renewal – Renewal discount now offered.)
||$849||$849 (New – No Change)
$799 (Renewal – No Change)
|Disney Signature Plus||
||$1049||$1049 (New – No Change)
$989 (Renewal – No Change)
|Disney Premier Passport||
||$1439||$1439 (New / Renewal – No Change)|
Disney begins offering preferred parking for $35. It’s an unnecessary cash-grab as it gets you only a few steps closer to the trams than with general parking. Considering the amount of walking you’d likely do in a theme park day, paying extra to save 30 seconds of walking is hardly worth it.
Traffic Flow Projects Begin
Crowd control construction begins. Disney starts to take steps to remove crowd flow obstacles. That means that planters, trees and other items need to be removed from high traffic areas, pathways expanded where possible, and stroller parking moved to less constricted areas. The first of these projects was the removal of built-in benches at the bases of the Peoplemover supports.
Disney Loves You
AP Days moved to Disneyland’s Starcade and was swamped with folks wanting to use the lounge, snap a photo with a character, or buy some limited edition merchandise.
Red Rose Taverne Debuts
The Village Haus restaurant becomes the Beauty and the Beast themed Red Rose Taverne. The work was all done after hours so the restaurant could remain open during the transformation.
Guests lose their minds over the Grey Stuff. Apparently, it’s delicious. Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes!
This planter and a few pastries is just about the only thing the park does for Valentines Day:
Another Food Festival
Chinese New Year festivities return to Disney California Adventure. Meet and greets, performances and special foods are all part of the celebration.
Beauty and the Muppets
A Beauty and the Beast preview was shown in the Sunset Showcase Theater (the old Muppet theater) and had some costumes on display. The movie goes on to be a massive success.
Splitzville construction in Downtown Disney takes the place of the old House of Blues. Disney promises a holiday 2017 opening.
That fire you feel isn’t just for your sweetheart on Valentines Day, it could be a car on fire in the Mickey and Friends parking structure (which caused a parking lot evacuation, but was put out quickly).
Pirates of the Caribbean, and all of New Orleans Square, celebrated 50 years in March. While Walt was able to see a nearly final version of the attraction, he didn’t live long enough to see this project open to the public. Today, it is more popular than it has ever been.
Of course, there was special Pirates merchandise available.
No Waiting Please
Disneyland attempted to implement a new rule preventing guests from saving spots for parades hours in advance. I don’t think any of you would be surprised to learn that guests weren’t very cooperative.
The color scheme of the Guardians of the Galaxy tower is revealed as the tarps on the back of the structure are removed. Many folks are reminded of the Tomorrowland 98′ color scheme.
Another, Another, Another Food Festival
An expanded California Adventure Food and Wine Festival returns. It’s very expensive, but mostly delicious.
Star Wars construction begins to go vertical in earnest.
We spot the first signs of an AT-AT being built in the Star Wars construction area.
Meanwhile, lots of rockwork is happening along the Rivers of America where the train and river are being rerouted.
Tom Sawyer Island comes out from behind tarps and reveals some new decor designed to hide digital mapping projectors which will be used during the new version of Fantasmic.
Honk if You Love the Autopia
Honda becomes the new sponsor of Autopia. A new theme of robots on vacation is added as an overlay throughout the attraction.
Easter month arrived at the Disneyland Resort with an Easter Egg hunt
Eggs are hidden all over the resort.
And Easter themed treats of course.
The former Tower of Terror is finally uncloaked and it’s covered in pipes. In Disney’s own words, it is inspired by the highly reflective elements of an oil refinery.
Our poll shows that most fans don’t like the new look. But will they like the actual attraction when it opens. . . we’ll get back to that question in a moment . . .
Fastpass is added to Toy Story Midway Mania.
Star Wars Land Info
Imagineering releases a video with tidbits of information on Star Wars land.
The concept art has a Herb Ryman-esque look and features a large covered marketplace.
Could this be a queue for an attraction? Very hard to tell. But thematic detail is strong with this one.
In the video, a character is revealed when the liquid in the tank drains.
The Millennium Falcon appears under the arch. That’s likely the entry area for the ride.
This pod appears to be the ride simulator for the Millennium Falcon attraction. It’s very similar to the experience built for the Disney Cruise ships, but much more detailed here. Below, we see a pre-visualization of an AT-AT in a hanger. This is very likely one from the show building we’ve been documenting during construction.
The Heraldry shop in Fantasyland becomes the Castle Holiday Shoppe.
Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout opens to guests with a 5 hour wait!
The verdict on the new attraction? The fans seem to almost universally love it. While most still dislike the look of the exterior and lament the loss of the Tower of Terror, Guardians is a solid hit. Though, after just a few weeks, Radiator Springs Racers regains its spot as the longest wait in the park.
Starlord, Gamora and Groot make guest appearances in a dance-off show and meet and greets.
Summer of Heroes also launches at DCA. And while the Guardians attraction is popular with guests, Summer of Heroes quickly fades into obscurity.
Puppets Replaced by Dance Party
Disney Jr. Live on Stage closes to remove the unionized puppeteers.
Later in the month Disney Jr. Dance Party opens. While it’s high energy, it pales in entertainment value to the show it replaced.
40 Year Old Mountain
Space Mountain reaches a milestone, but many fans lament that it was masquarading at Hyperspace Mountain at the time.
Even More Fastpass
Matterhorn adds Fastpass.
Disneyland begins to refill the Rivers of America.
A day later it’s full!
Star Wars Framing Up Fast
By May the 4th, Star Wars land construction looks like this:
Eat the force. Red and blue Star Wars inspired Churros become the hot thing in Tomorrowland.
Dead Men Do Previews
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales begins extended previews at the Sunset Showcase Theater.
Meanwhile, Cars 3 is previewing in the Bugs Life Theater. That’s a lot of movie advertising for one theme park.
And the MiceChat Gumball Rally rolled into Disneyland.
Don’t miss the 2018 Gumball Rally (February 3rd), find out all the info HERE.
A new $40 firework viewing and dessert party on the second floor of the Innoventions Building began. It is not popular with guests. Perhaps there is a limit to what folks will buy.
Season of the Force Ends
Classic Space Mountain Returns
It was a great start to the summer season when Space Mountain returned.
Eastern Gateway Project Stalled
All work on the Eastern Gateway is stopped pending Anaheim City Council approval.
Big Thunder Trail Reopens
The pathway from Frontierland to Fantasyland finally reopens for good. This relieves some of the bottlenecking in the Fantasyland area and restores a major park artery. It will also become the entry point to Star Wars land in 2019.
Happiest Horses On Earth
Circle D Ranch is relocated to Norco. Disneyland’s horses have quite the daily commute. But their new home is luxurious.
New Fastpass System Debut
New Fastpass/Maxpass scanners are installed at all Fastpass attractions.
And by the end of the month the system is finally rolled out to guests.
Adventureland Traffic Abatement
The traffic-flow project continues and takes over Adventureland. Planters are removed, shops are switched around, and the old fruit stand by Jungle Cruise becomes stroller parking.
We are only half way through 2017 and you can see that it was a year packed with change for the Disneyland Resort. How much of that did you forget about? What were the top stories for you? Continue reading PART 2 HEREWhat was the top #Disneyland story of 2017 for you? Click To Tweet
|Upcoming MiceChat Events|
The world-famous MiceChat Gumball Rally is rolling your way on February 3rd. This year we’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. Don’t be late for this very important date. Get all the details on the MiceChat Gumball Rally HERE
We are going nuts for the MiceChat Anniversary this year. In addition to the Gumball Rally, we’ll also be hosting a cocktail party and panel discussion on Friday the 2nd, and a day of fun at Disneyland on Sunday the 4th of February. We’ll have more information for you very soon. If you aren’t on our events list, please sign up below to be notified as soon as tickets and information become available: