It goes without saying that 2012 was a huge year for the Disneyland Resort. While the big headline of the year was the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure which included the roll out of that park’s new 12-acre Cars Land area, there was plenty of other news across the Resort over the year. At Disneyland, the north-western block of Main Street, U.S.A. received a major overhaul following the opening of the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. Meanwhile, the iconic Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction got some attention over a five-month refurbishment project that included the complete re-painting of the mountain. Nearby, the upcoming Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area began construction and the park celebrated various holidays and offered various seasonal celebrations at the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. In addition to all that happened at Disneyland, Downtown Disney saw some big changes, including the construction and eventual opening of the popular Earl of Sandwich Restaurant.

With such a big year, our annual Year in Review will be presented in two parts, with the first part here today and the second part next week.

Get a closer look at today’s update! Click on any photo in today’s column for a large, high-resolution version of the image.

Welcome, 2012

The year kicked off at Disneyland with the usual celebratory countdown, fireworks and live entertainment, but some seasonal fog obscured the view of the midnight pyrotechnics. Despite the fog, big holiday crowds were treated to a spectacular photo op with Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle covered in fog and bursting with stunning beams of light.

At midnight, Disney officially announced its not-so-secret plans for hosting a 24-hour party at Disneyland and Walt Disney World for Leap Day 2012. The announcement for the event, dubbed “One More Disney Day,” came with the release of a promotional video advertising the event.

Makeovers on Main Street

Disneyland’s Main Street saw several major changes over the first half of 2012. First up was the completion of the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe that moved into the former home of the Plaza Pavilion. The new dining location opened the first week of January to long lines.

The new cafe-bakery opened with a Mary Poppins theme, bringing a bit of Fantasyland to Main Street. While the theme of the location was up to debate, the restaurant opened to generally favorable reviews from fans.

The interior is beautifully appointed with Mary Poppins-themed items in glass display cases.

The location serves up a wide assortment of pastries and other baked goods as well as a nice line-up of salads, sandwiches and soups.

With the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe open, Disney was able to shut down the popular Blue Ribbon Bakery which was converted into a new indoor dining space for the Carnation Cafe.

The Blue Ribbon Bakery wasn’t the only space to close in January. The entire north-western block of Main Street closed along with the bakery, including the Carnation Cafe, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Penny Arcade, Candy Palace and Coke Corner. The project consisted of various interior reworkings, expansions and remodels to address crowd flow and operational issues.

With Coke Corner closed, the ragtime piano was moved over the Mark Twain Riverboat, giving guests the rare opportunity to enjoy some live music aboard the Mark Twain.

In March, the former Blue Ribbon Bakery debuted a new color scheme as it prepared for its reopening as new indoor seating for the Carnation Cafe.

By the first week of May, three of the newly-remodeled shops had reopened. The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, the Penny Arcade and the Candy Palace sported new interiors and changes that helped with crowd flow.

The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor lost a lot of its intimate charm in the remodeling process, but gained a lot more space the help with crowd flow issues along with a lovely new art nouveau motif.

Next door, the Penny Arcade was probably the shop that suffered from the remodeling efforts. While much of the interior style remained the same, the shop lost even more of its antique arcade games so the Candy Palace could gain more retail space.

The Candy Palace was perhaps the shop that got the most out of the project. The candy store’s on-stage kitchen was expanded substantially and the retail space got a complete remodel which was surprisingly charming.

Great new lighting fixtures

The Candy Palace project did result in the loss of Coke Corner’s small indoor seating area for more candy retail space.

The Carnation Cafe finally reopened June 13 with its new indoor seating area and a completely revamped menu.

Dark wood tones and deep reds inside the dining room.

Great old photos of Walt Disney in the park

In late October, Disneyland discontinued its long-time custom art watches at the Fortuosity Shoppe on Main Street.

The end of a tradition…

Matterhorn Makeover

In addition to Main Street going under the knife, Disneyland’s iconic Matterhorn Bobsleds closed the first week of January for a major $1.3 million refurbishment project that included the complete repainting of the mountain along with track replacement and new ride vehicles. Scaffolding quickly covered the entire mountain as Imagineers began work in giving the mountain a complete facelift.

Construction walls detailed the history of the Matterhorn for park guests

By the end of February, the first signs of the mountain’s new paint job had begun to emerge as scaffolding began to come down.

And by April, scaffolding had come down and the repaint project was mostly wrapped up, revealing a stunning, refreshed landmark.

Disney released a time-lapse of the mountain’s repainting.

The attraction finally reopened the evening of June 15. The reopened ride didn’t sport many changes to the overall experience besides the attraction’s new ride vehicles.

A video ride-through of the attraction from the night it reopened.

New to the attraction are single rider queues

Festive Frontiers

Frontierland saw several special seasonal and holiday offerings this year. In January, Disneyland’s first Three Kings Day Celebration took place in Frontierland’s Zocalo Park.

Much like the Dia de los Muertos offering at Halloween Time, the Dia de Reyes celebration takes a look at the cultural significance of the Hispanic holiday.

The Dia de Reyes celebration will return January 4-6, 2013 at its new home at the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree.

Following the Three Kings Day Celebration, Disneyland offered a Lunar New Year Celebration in “it’s a small world” Promenade. Decorations, character meet-and-greets and live entertainment rounded out the celebration.

In New Orleans Square, Disneyland hosted weekend Mardi Gras celebrations February 10 through March 11.

Characters from “The Princess and the Frog” appeared in live entertainment and meet-and-greet opportunities

The New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band also performed

New Orleans Square restaurants served up a variety of special menu items for the Mardi Gras celebration

In May, Disneyland opened the old Festival Arena at Big Thunder Ranch as the new home for visiting performing arts groups since the Carnation Plaza Gardens had closed for construction. The space has since played host to various seasonal and holiday offerings including live entertainment, character meet-and-greets and activities for Halloween, Christmas and more.

In June, the Voices of Liberty debuted at the Main Street Opera House. A copy of a show from Epcot at Walt Disney World, the performers sing a cappella renditions of patriotic tunes before select showings of “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”

One More Disney Day

To celebrate Leap Day 2012, Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida stayed open for a full 24 hours, giving Guests the rare opportunity to stay up all night in a Disney theme park. While the event saw moderate crowds at Walt Disney World, the Disneyland event brought streets and freeways around Disneyland to a halt as guests poured in to enjoy the park into the wee hours of the morning.

Huge lines of folks lined up the night before the 24-hour party so they could snag a pair of limited edition One More Disney Day Mickey ears

People in the park were reporting online and on Twitter that the parks were relatively uncrowded, but crowds grew as people got off work and out of school and by 9:30 p.m., Disneyland was officially full.

Park gates eventually reopened, but conditions in the park were chaotic with Main Street reaching a standstill at one point and long lines at restaurants serving special menu items for the special event.

Faire Well

At the end of Main Street, next to Sleeping Beauty Castle, the historic Carnation Plaza Gardens venue closed in April to make way for the Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area that’s set to open in spring 2013. The change proved to be a controversial one for Disney, with fans concerned that the changes would mean the loss of the Carnation Gardens stage and live swing music.

Concept art shows the area transformed into a fairytale village

The final swing dancing night at Carnation Plaza Gardens in late April drew big crowds and social media lit up with photos and commentary by guests who attended.

Walls went up in early May and construction on the new Fantasy Faire got underway

Imagineers examine a scale model of the new Fantasy Faire area:

In August, vertical construction got underway:

Construction currently continues on the project with new details emerging:

In August, the Princess Fantasy Faire in the Fantasyland Theater closed to make way for a new show to debut in the space sometime in 2013.

The location was wildly popular and the new permanent Fantasy Faire next to Sleeping Beauty Castle will help with the demand for meet-and-greets when it opens this spring.

The huge Fantasyland Theater space was simply being underutilized. It’ll be good to see a proper stage show return here.

By August, the Princesses had relocated to a temporary meet-and-greet along “it’s a small world” Promenade.

As of December, construction on a new structure at the back of the theater progresses as work is underway to bring a new production back to the theater.

Alice’s Window

In May, Disney Legend Alice Davis received her window on Main Street, honoring her work as one of Disneyland’s early Imagineers. Her window is located above the Disneyana shop, next to the window of her late husband Marc Davis.

Happiest Place, Higher Prices

In May, Disneyland raised its prices with Annual Passports seeing the most dramatic increase.

Disneyland theme park tickets went up between $6 and $27, with Annual Passports jumping between $60 and $150. The price hikes were a result of the existing crowds at Disneyland in addition to the expected increase in demand with Cars Land opening just a month later. Below is the price break-down we featured here in Dateline Disneyland:

Disneyland Resort Theme Park Admission Prices
Effective May 20, 2012
New Price
Adult / Child
Previous Price
Adult / Child
Adult / Child
One Day
One Park
$87 / $81
$80 / $74
Up $6 / $7
One Day
Park Hopper
$125 / $119
$105 / $99
Up $20 / $10
One Park Per Day
$170 / $158
$158 / $146
Up $12 / $12
Park Hopper
$200 / $188
$173 / $161
Up $27 / $27
One Park Per Day
$220 / $205
$209 / $193
Up $11 / $12
Park Hopper
$250 / $235
$224 / $208
Up $26 / $27
So. Cal Select
Annual Passport
Up $70
So. Cal
Annual Passport
Up $60
Annual Passport
Up $90
Annual Passport
Up $150
Annual Passport
Up $100
Annual Passport
Blockout Ticket
Up $11
Annual Passport
Parking Pass
Up $30
For a complete list of new Disneyland ticket prices, click here.


In July, Disneyland turned 57 with a special celebratory moment in Town Square.

Disneyland also celebrated the U.S. Volleyball teams with a parade down Main Street. The teams were on their way to the 2012 Olympics in London.


In August, the Jungle Cruise reopened after a brief closure in which bumpers were added to the boats and dock to enhance guest safety.

New mooring lines were also added to tie the boats to dock when guests are loading/unloading.

New signage added to the queue to remind guests to mind the gap between boat and dock so they don’t fall in.

Nets were also added around the perimeter of the boats to help prevent guest hands from being crushed when the boats return to dock.

In September, Casey Jr. Circus Train and Storybook Land closed to widen some bridges and add some safety rails along the Casey Jr. train route.

The attractions reopened in November with widened bridges and new safety railing.

Our video of the safety-enhanced Casey Jr. is below:

Indiana Jones Adventure also closed in September for a complete refurbishment and show enhancement, however, Indy’s closure also included various safety enhancements for maintenance workers.

The attraction reopened in early December better than ever.

Below, a video ride-through of the refurbished attraction:


In late August, Disneyland introduced the “Glow with the Show” ear hats at Fantasmic. The ear hats debuted earlier in the summer at California Adventure’s World of Color.

Fantasmic’s Glow with the Show debut took place at after-hours Annual Passholder events where Passholders were encouraged to bring their ears to participate.

Glow with the Show has since expanded to Disneyland’s holiday fireworks show, but with the steep $25 per ear hat price tag, Disney has yet to get big crowds to adopt the interactive headwear.

Police Protests

In July, Disneyland got caught in the middle of protests Anaheim residents held against the Anaheim Police Department after fatal officer-involved shootings. The protesters took to the streets in front of Disneyland’s Harbor Blvd. pedestrian entrance to gain visibility. At times, the protestor presence resulted in Anaheim Police on horse and foot to ensure the protestors didn’t create any problems at Disneyland’s doorstep.

Downtown Changes and Hotel Happenings

Some major changes took place in Downtown Disney over the year, including the complete remodeling of the popular LEGO Store and La Brea Bakery. LEGO’s permanent location closed promptly after the New Year holiday and reopened in

By February, LEGO had set up shop in the former Islands Charters store while its permanent location was closed for remodeling.

Meanwhile, the LEGO Store got a full remodel, and by the end of March, new LEGO sculptures being added to the building could be seen peeking over construction walls.

The store reopened in early May with a fresh new look and several larger-than-life LEGO sculptures on, in and around the building.

In early June, the temporary LEGO Store reopened as Disney’s new WonderGround Gallery, where they showcase commissioned artwork with big price tags.

The La Brea Bakery closed partially in January for a expansion that included a larger, reworked quick service area as well as an onstage bakery.

The dining location reopened May 25 with new menus and expanded offerings.

New onstage bakery

Expanded quick service area

In late March, Compass Books closed after the company based out of San Francisco downsized due to the weak economy.

The bookstore and cafe had been a Downtown Disney fixture since the mall opened in 2001.

The space eventually reopened as the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant in early November, following a few construction delays and a week of soft-openings that brought huge lines.

TV Star Mario Lopez was present for the ribbon-cutting.

In April, the Sunglass Icon store closed for a remodel

It reopened at the beginning of June with a refreshed look and reworked floorspace

The Disneyland Hotel continued to see finishing touches applied in early 2012, with its main entrance updated and new Mary Blair-inspired carpet installed in the Fantasy Tower lobby areas.

Old water fountains that were unearthed during the hotel’s remodeling project were restored and turned back on.

New lighting fixtures and tea cup-themed seats were added to the Disneyland Hotel check-in area

A look at the giant retro animated wall map at the entrance to the Disneyland Hotel’s Fantasy Tower:

Ringing in 2013

As we enter our final week of 2012, our friends at Touring Plans have their crowd forecast for this notoriously busy holiday week.

Christmas is here! Expect heavy crowds and possible entrance closures due to parks reaching capacity. If you need tips for visiting during the holidays, check out our Disney Holiday eBooks! can also help you navigate the parks with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines – Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now is a good time to subscribe to to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!

Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.

— Fred Hazelton, Statistician,

[center][/center] [center]Overall
Crowd Prediction
Crowd Tips
Tues., Dec. 25 [center]10 /10[/center] Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:

  • Crowd levels are 10 out of 10 for the rest of the year.
  • Annual Pass blackouts are in affect for the rest of the year.
  • Disneyland Resort holiday decorations will be removed after January 6, 2013.
  • Due to its incredibly low capacity, consider riding Luigi’s Flying Tires standby right after starting your day by grabbing a FASTPASS for Radiator Springs Racers.
Wed., Dec. 26 10 /10
Thu., Dec. 27 10 /10
Fri., Dec. 28 10 /10
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.See Disneyland crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disneyland wait times on your iPhone, Android, or Smartphone.Do more. Wait less.

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by

Will you be ringing in 2013 at Disneyland? Below is a look at what Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will be doing to celebrate the new year.

Guide to New Year’s Eve 2013
December 31
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]Disney California Adventure[/B]
Hours: 8 am – 2 am

New Year’s Eve Countdown Central
at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle
Countdown party with live host, D.J. and character appearances.
9 p.m. – 12 midnight

New Year’s Eve Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks
in the Skies above Disneyland
Midnight fireworks above Disneyland to ring in 2013
12 midnight

Rockin’ the Rivers of America
Rivers of America, Frontierland
Countdown to 2013 between showings of Fantasmic! with live music, special effects and your Glow with the Show ear hats.
7:00 p.m. – 2 a.m.

“it’s a small world” Dance Party
at “it’s a small world” Promenade
Live D.J. and Disney Characters dance the night away.
7:00 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Suburban Legends at Tomorrowland Terrace
at Tomorrowland Terrace
Live performances by Suburban Legends and countdown to midnight.
8:45 p.m., 9:45 p.m., 10:50 p.m., 11:45 p.m., 12:45 a.m.

Hours: 8 am – 1 am

New Year’s Eve World of Color
at Paradise Bay
Countdown to New Year’s Eve with fountains and fireworks.
12:00 midnight

Mad T Party Countdown to 2013
in Hollywood Land
Countdown to midnight with live music and fireworks in Wonderland.
12:00 midnight

New Year’s Eve in Carthay Circle
at Buena Vista Street
Live swing music by The Tim Gill All-Stars.

Paradise Garden New Year
at Paradise Pier
The Ellis Island Boys ring in 2013 with live music.

Radiator Springs rings in 2013
in Cars Land
The Kelly Rae Band celebrates the new year with live country music.

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by our good friends at the

Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.

A short walk from the park, HoJo Anaheim is conveniently located next to Matterhorn Mountain at Disneyland with nearby dining, freeway access, FREE parking and FREE Wi-Fi. For more information on HoJo Anaheim, room rates, or to book your stay today, visit and Annual Passholder Discounts
Available Every Day!

The HoJo Anaheim is now offering deeper discounts for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! On select nights, Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders can get rooms for as low as $59 per night, plus tax. For more information visit the HoJo Anaheim Innsider Boards which features an up-to-date listing of available nights, or call (714) 776-6120 and ask for In-House Reservations to book. If your date isn’t listed, the HoJo Anaheim still offers rooms for 20% off their best available rate if you call (714) 776-6120.

Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
December 24 — 30, 2012
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]Disney California Adventure[/B]
Daily: 8 am – 12 midnight

Daily: 8 am – 11 pm
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Theme Park Calendar
[center]Expected Crowd Levels[/center] [center]presented by[/center]
[CENTER][B]Disneyland Park[/B][/CENTER] [CENTER][B]Disney California Adventure[/B][/CENTER]
[B]8.2—9.9[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[B]9.0—9.8[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10,
with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.

[B]For crowd predictions for the next 365 days, visit
[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]
[b][center]Disneyland Park[/center][/b]
  • [b]Mark Twain Riverboat:[/b] Closed January 7, 2013 through March 28.
  • [b]Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:[/b] Closed for extensive refurbishment January 7, 2013 through October 30.
  • [b]Haunted Mansion:[/b] Closed January 7-17, 2013 to remove Holiday overlay.
  • [b]Big Thunder Ranch:[/b] Closed January 7-17, 2013 to remove holiday overlay.
  • [b]Fantasmic!:[/b] Dark January 7, 2013 through February 14 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Alice in Wonderland:[/B] Expected to close early 2013 to install permanent safety railing on outdoor ride portion.
  • [B]Fantasy Faire:[/B] New princess-themed meet-and-greet area in former Carnation Plaza Gardens is under construction and expected to open in early 2013.
  • [B]Princess Fantasy Faire at the Fantasyland Theater:[/B] Fantasyland Theater closed August 12. Princesses have relocated to Small World Promenade allowing the Fantasyland Theater to close and prepare for a new show.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • [B]Muppet*Vision 3D:[/B] Closed through January 6 for Prep & Landing overlay.
  • [B]Silly Symphony Swings:[/B] Closed January 7, 2013 through February 17 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Grizzly River Run:[/B] Closed January 7, 2013 through February 28 for refurbishment.
  • [B]World of Color:[/B] Closed January 28-31, 2013 and February 4-7 for refurbishment.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • Annual Passholders can enjoy Early Entry most weekends January 5 through April 14 at Disneyland and California Adventure.
  • Three Kings Day Celebration will return to Disneyland at its new home in the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree January 4-6, 2013.
  • Disneyland adds a 10K race to popular half-marathon weekend line-up.
  • The OC Register reported that Disneyland canceled a speech for its half-marathon weekend by a three-time Olympian after she admitted to past work as a Las Vegas escort.
  • “Doc McStuffins” and “Sofia the First” will join “Disney Junior — Live on Stage!” at Disney California Adventure in March 2013.
  • The City of Anaheim clears the way for a large Convention Center expansion near Disneyland, reports the OC Register.
Alright, that wraps up this first part in our two-part Year in Review. We’ll be back next week with a full re-cap of Disney California Adventure’s big year. Happy Holidays!

We’re only here because of your continued support. If you’ve enjoy Dateline Disneyland over the last five years, please consider helping us out by donating a buck or two so we can pay the bills and keep the updates coming! You can donate with a click of a button via PayPal — click here!

For more Disneyland news, be sure to read MiceChat’s weekly In the Parks blog. And be sure to check out our sister blog, Dateline Disney World – a fantastic weekly photo blog covering Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!

Thanks for reading. See you at Disneyland!
[B]- Andy[/B]

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FTC-Mandated Disclosure: Promotional consideration for this edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by | Do More. Wait Less. and the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.