Major projects are being prepped for early January construction at Disney California Adventure. They just need to get through a much busier than planned holiday season first. As annual pass block outs hit the resort, Disney expected at least one week of low crowd levels. However, that has not materialized. In fact, crowds have been so heavy that Disneyland has extended hours to 11 pm and DCA is doing a slow close.
Tis The Season: Crowds
With both SoCal passes, Deluxe, and Signature passes all blocked right now, it should be nearly empty at Disneyland Resort . . . but it isn’t! Disney had clearly been planning on lower attendance as they had lowered staffing levels, ordered less food for the restaurants, and had earlier closing times. However, the parks have been packed the last few days leading Disney to scramble to bump up their resources. What’s fueling the masses? Cast Members! Disney did away with the Cast Member holiday parties this year and instead sent them holiday tickets they could use to take their families to the resort. However, the tickets are only good for Disney California Adventure. So, California Adventure is packed! But what Disney wasn’t counting on is that their employees have apparently been saving up their regular “Main Entrance Passes” as well so they could take their families to Disneyland in addition to DCA. Add the holidays on top of it all and you’ve got an extremely busy resort . . . even without local annual pass holders.
Paradise Reborn – Pixar Pier On The Way
January 7th is your last chance to dine with the princesses at Ariel’s Grotto or take a ride on California Screamin’. Beginning January 8th, major construction will begin on the South side of Paradise Bay. Everything from Ariel’s Grotto to the old Maliboomer will be rethemed to Pixar. Let’s look at the Pier and what we can expect to see very soon.
Farewell to princess dining at DCA. Once the retheme of Ariel’s Grotto is complete, there will be no more princesses dining here, or anywhere else in DCA.
The pretty interior, which was originally built for Wolfgang Puck, will undergo a transformation. We don’t know if they’ll be keeping some of the theme and possibly adding Nemo and Friends or if this will be a complete gut and retheme.
The patio views are fantastic. However, few guests opt to eat outside.But the really popular spot in this facility is the Cove Bar. The bar has been so popular that they recently expanded the patio. But that did little to lessen the lines of guests waiting for a table. We hear that there will be minimal changes to this bar during the retheme.
The next big change is to California Screamin’, which will go down on January 8th to receive an Incredibles overlay. There will be quite a bit more done to this attraction than just new music. The loading platform will gain a new mid-century look, the scream tubes will be enclosed with some character props placed inside, and a show scene starring Edna Mode and baby Jack Jack will be added the the beginning of the attraction.
The front of the load platform will get a mid-century overhang:
Scream Tunnels will be enclosed in sections and Mrs. Incredible will be found inside.
One of my all time favorite Pixar characters is Edna Mode. I’m thrilled to see here added here.
A farewell hat has been produced for California Screamin’ “And Away You Go.”
King Triton’s Carousel sits in an area which will be rethemed to Toy Story. A large Jessie figure stands in front of the space in the concept art. While it looks like the facility will be enclosed, we don’t know if it will remain a carousel or another experience will take over this spot.
Games of the Boardwalk will each get a Pixar Theme.
Also being added to the Pier will be a theater and a Confectionary. Bing Bong’s shop is part of an Inside Out area and takes over part of the Sideshow Shirts complex.
Each of the cars on the Fun Wheel will get a unique Pixar character theme.
And at the far end of Pixar Pier will be the relocated Flik’s Flyers in the space which once contained the Maliboomer.
While the Pixar overlay of Paradise Pier may seem quick and easy, it’s important to point out that many of the Pier’s problems and lack of Disney-quality theme are being addressed. I’m happy to see a real attempt being made to give this area of the park the sort of placemaking that it needs. Are you going to miss Paradise Pier? Is this enough?
Festival of the Holidays
We’ve already covered the Festival multiple times. However, while the Festival seems to be doing much better than last year, it’s still hit and miss as to which booths are busy and which are always walk-ups. Have you found anything at the Festival that was so delicious we all need to know about it? Let us know in the comments.
Bye Bye Bugs Land
While we know the date the Pier is closing, we don’t have a date or even confirmation from Disney on the closure of Bugs Land. However, survey markers are now up backstage. A company called Culver Group is doing the survey work for Disney and brass survey markers have been placed behind the Bugs Life Theater and in the backstage areas of the theater itself.
Another clue . . . the murals outside the Bugs Life Theater continue to decay. While they’ve tried to paint the exposed area, it’s getting pretty bad. Faded, torn, and generally bad show. Clearly, Disney doesn’t want to spend money on something which will soon be going away.
How soon will Bugs Land close? We don’t know. But here’s a clue . . . if Flik’s Flyers is moving to Pixar Pier, then at least this part of Bugs Land is going to start construction sometime this winter/spring. The attraction will need to be completely rebuilt with an all new theme. That’s going to take some time and the Imagineers are going to want to get their hands on the attraction sooner rather than later.
The rest of Bugs Land isn’t really much of a loss. There’s a turntable ride in Cars Land, so Lady Bug Boogie isn’t really necessary.
The Tuck and Roll bumper cars go SOOOOO slow that they never have much of a line. The average kid can walk faster than these “Buggies” move.
And the big disappointment of Bug’s Land for me has always been Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. It’s plenty cute but embarrassingly short. It takes longer to load than the actual ride takes. Had they made this more of a Casey Jr. type of experience, it could have been fantastic. Great music (movie theme with train sounds added), wonderful narration from Heimlich, but too little of the actual ride.
Goofy Sky School Return
Have you missed Goofy? This carnival coaster returns Thursday the 21st. Just a day away.
Much of the rust has been painted over on the flats.
But not on the metal supports. As a result, the flats will all be covered in rust again after the winter rains (if we ever get them).
DCA This and That
Have you checked out Santa’s Holiday Visit in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail? It’s plenty cute . . . but I do have one complaint.
LOVE the natural environment they’ve bult for the jolly old elf.
Santa’s even got his route all mapped out.
Unfortunately, they are promoting a food location which is nothing more than to outdoor vending carts pushed together. Couldn’t they at least have created a little wooden cabin or something? Even Knott’s Berry Farm does that much. Santa deserves better than this. But at least you can get a warm burbon cider to make you forget.
It’s always a treat to see the Country Bears. They’ve been out for meet and greets during the Festival. Though, their placement makes me sad. During DCA’s planning, they cut the concept of building a show space under Grizzly Mountain. It sure would have been the perfect place to put a version of the old Country Bears show.
There are two delicious sweet treats at Smokejumpers Grill. You can get a hot and gooey smores and a cobbler shake.
Meanwhile, Minnie, Goofy and Elena are meeting guests in Paradise Garden.
There’s a lot going on in Downtown Disney as well. Many of the shops you know and love are about to close forever. In addition to the ones already gone, like Fossil and Vault Disney, Build a Bear, Ride Makerz, and D-Street area all about to close to make way for new experiences.
Splitzville is nearly complete on the exterior. You’ll be bowling and eating sushi before you know it.
Star Wars Secrets of the Empire is also nearly ready. The sign is up and you’ll be competing to save the galaxy soon.
It’s hard to imagine the popular Build A Bear will be leaving to make way for a brewpub.
Likewise, Ride Makerz will be closing soon as well. The staff are all up in the air as they don’t know when their last day is.
Another big surprise was the announcement of D-Street’s pending January closing. It will be replaced with a Disney Home store.
Mickey and Friends
Mickey is about to get new friends. The early work for the new parking struction to be built between Mickey and Friends and the Disneyland Hotel is moving forward. The first survey marks have been spotted in the plaza area. The tram will need to be rerouted first to accommodate construction.
Looking for something else to occupy your time today? Listen in to my latest podcast.
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|New Year’s Eve at Knott’s with MICECHAT|
What are you doing for New Year’s Eve this year? MiceChat is offering another amazing event to ring in the new year. This time around it features Mrs. Knott’s Famous Fried Chicken and a full buffet of delectables. There will also be a Knott’s history presentation from Knott’s Preserved co-author Eric Lynxwiler, VIP seating for the ice show and fireworks at midnight! Plus rides, shows and attractions! It’s a great way to spend an evening, especially since most of the Disneyland passes are blocked out that day.
|Gumball Rally Team Entry|
Journey down the rabbit hold with us as the world-Famous MiceChat Gumball Rally celebrates the 50th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. This Rally will be curious and curiouser. We can’t wait to share this amazing adventure with you.
What’s a Rally? It’s a competition to see which team can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. It’s every bit as fun as it sounds.
Information on how the Rally is played, photos of previous events, and ticket information HERE.
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I’d like to take a moment to thank the entire staff of MiceChat for their hard work and dedication to providing you with photos, news and entertainment throughout the year. They are the unsung heroes of the site and you might not realize that they do it all out of the kindness of their hearts because they hope you appreciate it. The holidays are a season of giving and I encourage you to leave comments on the articles of your favorite authors and let them know you value them. It means much more than you might realize.
I’d also like to wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday. While many of you are preparing to settle in for a warm and jolly holiday, I know that some of you are alone this year, struggling through hard times, or are grieving the loss of a loved one. The holidays can be as painful as they are beautiful. Please know that you aren’t really alone. MiceChat exists because I left Kansas and everyone I knew to follow my dream of living near Disneyland. But when I got here, I didn’t know anyone. I was truly alone and deeply sad. Over the years I’ve lost loved ones, struggled through financial difficulties, and suffered more than a few trolls. But one thing has always gotten me through, and that’s the kindness and support of the MiceChat community. A fellow theme park fan is just a post away. Join the forums or our Facebook Group and don’t allow yourself to be alone. Please know that we appreciate you and are thinking of you this holiday season and always.
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all
My thanks to Brian Pinsky and DsnyDebbie for their additional photos and assistance. Are you a photographer? Do you love the parks? Would you like to contribute to the Disneyland Update or other MiceChat columns? Contact Dusty Sage: [email protected]
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