Yesterday we began our look back at Disneyland in 2017 (Part One HERE). It was a dazzling list of projects and events. But that was only half the year. Let’s jump to July of last year . . . a really BIG month for Disneyland news.
This half of the Disneyland Year in Review starts off with a bang! It’s 4th of July and all sorts of things are about to burst into Disneyland: New Fantasmic, return of the river, the Trains, Tom Sawyer Island, MaxPass, a boatload of info from the D23 Expo and a whole lot more. It was a huge month.
The River Returns
Trading cards are handed out at Disneyland teasing the return of the following attractions:
Tom Sawyer Island was the first of Disney’s classic river attractions to reopen.
The new version of Fantasmic debuts in time for Disneyland’s birthday and it’s quite different from the original. The music has been rescored with a more uptempo beat. It also features some newer content, digital projections and the swap of Peter Pan for Pirates of the Caribbean.
Then, at the end of the month, all the remaining river attractions open. The park is a madhouse. The Train has a line you wouldn’t believe and it stayed that way for the remainder of the summer. It just goes to show you how right Walt Disney was. He wanted to build attractions the whole family could enjoy together. Disneyland was his train set . . . and this was HIS train.
And it’s not just the wilderness section of the train that was updated. The Grand Canyon and Primeval World was also spruced up and given digital projections in the background.
But one of the best ways to see the changes to the river is to ride the Mark Twain or Columbia.
As old attractions began to return to Disneyland, annual passholders showed up in droves, grinding the park to a halt, especially in the evenings.
MaxPass launches resort-wide. Scanning of admission media, rather than Fastpass tickets, create bottlenecks at several attractions.
The Adventureland crowd-flow project wrapped up in June and guests found a reorganized land in July. The fruit stand moved across the way into what was once a shop. The Indiana Jones shop becomes seating for the Bengal Barbecue
In its 50th year, Disney announces that they will be updating Pirates of the Caribbean to alter a scene which depicts the selling of women at auction. This created a bit of weirdness as Disney had several Pirates of the Caribbean themed panels, displays, etc. at their D23 Expo.
Everything’s coming up Star Wars. As the land starts going up, the D23 Expo reveals the entire model for the land and it’s nearly identical to the map MiceAge shared a year ago. It’s all incredibly detailed and promises to be highly interactive.
The Expo’s entire Imagineering pavilion was themed to Star Wars this year.
The model of Star Wars land is massive:
During the Parks and Resorts pannel at the Expo, Pixar fireworks are announced for Disneyland. The Pixar Play Parade will be updated and moved to Disneyland as well.
Pixar Pier is announced for Disney California Adventure.
The Halloween changes that MiceAge spoke about are confirmed:
MiceAge rumors about Marvel Land are also confirmed.
John Lasseter, Disney’s top creative, wanted to acknowledge the legends whose own railroad interests furthered Walt Disney’s love of trains. So he arranged for Ollie Johnson and Ward Kimball’s locomotives to take a trip around the new rails at Disneyland. It was a lovely tribute.
Glowing Away Once More
The Main Street Electrical Parade glows away once more at the end of August. For a time, Disneyland has a daytime and nighttime parade as well as Fireworks and Fantasmic. It is likely to be a very long time before we see that happen again. All those nighttime spectaculars resulted in MASSIVE crowd conditions.
Halloween Prep Begins
The Haunted Mansion closes at the end of August to become Haunted Mansion Holiday. It’s still hot and humid in Anaheim, but the park begins its transformation to what has become one of the most popular seasons of the year . . . Halloween!
By late summer we notice that many of the lights in Splash mountain have been burned out for months, leaving much of the attraction in the dark.
Frozen Let It Go
The Frozen Musical at DCA makes cuts and adjustment which help bring the show under an hour in length.
Part of Toy Story Midway mania’s queue is enclosed to allow for air conditioning.
The Bloom Is Off The Rose
By the end of August, Guardians of the Galaxy waits drop significantly from early summer when it debuts. Sorin’, Midway Mania and Radiator Springs Racers all routinely have longer waits. But all that will change next month (yes, we tease).
Talking Mickey tests at California Adventure. But the test is very short lived. Do you love it, or do you think it is creepy?
On Top Of The Universe
Star Wars land tops out. From this point on we start noticing changes at a much faster pace as rockwork begins filling in and buildings are enclosed.
We learn that RideMakerz, Build-A-Bear, and Chapel Hats will be closing to make way for a new restaurant. And Fossil and Vault Disney would be closing for a Star Wars VR experience.
September starts off hot, hot, hot. The thermometer breaks 100º several times.
PINGO cards were available at select locations at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. You collect stamps by buying pins. When you get 5 in a row (or diagonal) you can redeem your card for a “Surprise Pin”
Halloween Time begins
The exciting new things are all in DCA. Cars Land’s new Halloween decorations are amazing and a bat-themed decor is installed on Buena Vista Street. It’s all so popular that Disney has approved even more money for next year’s display.
The Guardians have successfully escaped The Collector’s Fortress, but they accidentally left Groot behind! That’s the premise of Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark. This Halloween overlay of the brand new Guardians attraction was very popular. Sadly, it was only available in the evenings, which made for VERY long lines.
Coco takes up residence in the Paradise Garden Grill area.
Disneyland’s offerings remain mostly the same: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, Haunted Mansion Holiday, pumpkins on Main Street and Mickey’s Halloween Party (which should be moving to DCA this year).
The biggest hit of Halloween this past season was the Oogie Boogie popcorn bucket.
Summer of Heroes Ends . . .
And no one is sad.
Our poll shows that only 10% of those responding wanted to see Summer of Heroes return as it was. The majority either wanted major enhancements or for it not to return at all.
River Belle Terrace Transformation
The restaurant made a full change over to table service this past year. The old quick serve lines were removed to make way for more seating.
Star Wars Rocks
Rockwork around Star Wars land begins to flesh out.
And the First Order/Battle Escape attraction begins to be enclosed at long last.
It was a year of Star Wars . . . and even in October, there was new Star Wars news as Jake the robot began rolling around Tomorrowland.
Crowds, crowds, crowds
It was also a year of crowds. Let’s face it, Disneyland is popular. Busy. And Halloween brought everyone out to the Resort. There were many times when you just couldn’t move through New Orleans Square.
Disney Wants You To Dress Up
With the Disney Vault closing in Downtown Disney, the dapper dresses were moved to Le Bat En Rouge.
Orange County fires obscured the sky and turned the midday sun into a creepy orange glow.
Thor Previews in DCA
I see so few films in the theaters any more that I actually enjoy these extended previews. But I still wish this was an actual attraction and not just a giant commercial for Disney Pictures.
Star Wars VR Tickets On Sale
The VOID releases a teaser of the upcoming Secrets of the Empire VR experience which will open in January in Downtown Disney.
Anna and Elsa Give Up Their Dreams
The Anna and Elsa Boutique is briefly closed and reopens as almost the same store, but with less decorations. Welcome to the Disney Dream Boutique.
Siemens gives up their Small World sponsorship.
Run Disney Gives Up
Disneyland has given up on Run Disney races for now. You’ll have to go to Orlando or Paris for Disney races.
Eastern Gateway Canceled
Disney tires of battling the Anaheim City Council and cancels the Eastern Gateway project. New parking will be built next to Mickey and Friends instead and a new hotel built at the Western end of Downtown Disney, practically touching the Disneyland hotel. It’s an awkward placement.
Pixar was in the news in November. Disney released concept art for Pixar Pier. AND Disney’s chief creative, John Lasseter, was ousted for sexual misconduct.
We asked you for your thoughts. You don’t seem very impressed so far. Disney’s going to need to dazzle you!
Christmas at the Disneyland Resort
Halloween immediately transitions to Christmas these days. In fact, there was already snow on the castle before Halloween.
Disneyland opts not to decorate Jungle Cruise for Christmas in 2017.
Over at DCA all those brilliant Cars Land Halloween decorations were removed and replaced with a Christmas overlay, including for the two flat rides.
Festival of Holidays returns to DCA. Prices are still too high, but the crowds seem to be
Viva Navidad delights the crowds near the Paradise Garden patio.
CrazyShakes . . . Need We Say More?
Disney finally announces who is replacing Build-A-Bear and RideMakerz. Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, a New York restaurant, will be opening a California location in the hole left by the departing businesses. They are famous for Burgers and “CrazyShakes.” We shall have to wait and see.
Star Wars, Nothing but Star Wars
As the December premiere of Star Wars: Last Jedi approached, all sorts of things started happening. Some new destinations popped up in Star Tours . . .
And Mark Hamil himself surprised riders in the attraction. WOW!
It sounded like the premise for a horror film, but there was a real life Legionnaires’ outbreak at Disneyland! Cast members and guests were exposed and some got quite sick. Disney traced the disease back to two cooling towers in New Orleans Square.
The $469 Southern California Pass was discontinued suddenly the week of Thanksgiving. But the impact won’t be felt for a long time. There are still a lot of SoCal pass holders in the system and they’ll likely be able to continue to renew.
Space Mountain Trials Single Rider
Keep an eye open when you visit and ask about Single Rider at this attraction. It just might be available.
River Belle Terrace Reopens
And it’s sort of boring. The food is good but expensive. It’s nice to have another table service option. Unfortunately, they took a beautiful venue and stripped it of much of its character.
Disneyland After Dark
Disney announces Disneyland After Dark event for January 18. “Throwback Nite” will be like Dapper Day, but official.
Cuckoo for Candy Canes
Long lines of guest queued up for the opportunity to buy a single very expensive candy cane. We don’t know why these are so popular, but they are.
There’s Gold In Them Thar Ears
But perhaps the most surprising phenomenon of the season was the Rose Gold mouse ears. Disney simply couldn’t keep them in stock. They’d sell out the moment they were placed on the floor. Women were buying them by the arm load. Folks were posting as soon as they’d be restocked and guests would swarm the store and buy every single one.
December began with one of Disney’s most impressive traditions, Candlelight. The performance happens for one weekend only and is a difficult ticket to get. But if you are able to see it you’ll be treated to a choir of 300 singing Christmas hymns while a famous narrator tells the story of the first Christmas. The narrator for 2017 was Chris Hemsworth. Swoon.
Again with the fire. There were all sorts of little fires at Disneyland this past year. Thankfully none serious. This one was at the Splitzville construction site.
— Keith Lapinig (@keithlapinig) December 10, 2017
Launch Bay Update
The old Carousel of Progress building got a bit of an update in December with props, video and merchandise inspired by The Last Jedi. They also placed a small piece of the Star Wars land model in the building. It’s worth a visit.
Star Wars Land
And by the end of the year, this is what the Star Wars Construction looked like. The buildings are all framed up, mostly enclosed and the rockwork is well on the way.
And we got some great aerial images of the construction from our friends at Nearmap.
And 2017 ended as it began, with a sea of guests all trying to claim their piece of the magic.
|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: