Disneyland kicked off its busy spring break season with the opening of brand new princess meet-and-greets and entertaining stage shows in a charming fairytale village. But how did Fantasy Faire fare in its first week of operation? Did crowds materialize for the lavish new princess area? Meanwhile, the park is in bloom with spring color and activity with on-going refurbishment projects and the reopening of the Tomorrowland Starcade with over two dozen classic arcade games. In Disney California Adventure, Buena Vista Street continues to be met with aesthetic changes for the worse, not even a year after the area opened to the public as part of the park’s $1 billion revitalization and expansion project.

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 to Disneyland!

Main Street Station’s refurbishment is just about wrapped up, with the refurbishment scrim now down revealing a nicely refreshed building.

Our partners at Touring Plans have their crowd forecast below to help you plan your Spring Break visit this week:

The busy spring break season continues at Disneyland. TouringPlans.com can 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 more than ever, it’s a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com 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, TouringPlans.com

[center][/center] [center]Overall
Crowd Prediction
[/center]
[center]TouringPlans.com
Crowd Tips
[/center]
Tues., Mar. 19 [center]7 /10[/center] Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:

  • Saturday is a 9 out of 10.
  • There are no Annual Pass blackouts in effect this Monday through Thursday.
  • Thursday is the best day to visit Disneyland.
  • Fastpass tickets for Radiator Springs Racers usually “sell out” within the first hour of DCA’s regular park hours.
Wed., Mar. 20 7 /10
Thu., Mar. 21 6 /10
Fri., Mar. 22 9/10
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 TouringPlans.com.

The beige tarp that ran along the railing atop Main Street Station pre-refurbishment hasn’t returned. Hopefully it won’t — sure, you can see parade lighting rigs, but the beige tarp looked worse.

Disneyland’s official population has increased to 650,000,000 — the first time it’s been updated since the 50th Anniversary in 2005 when it was updated to 500,000,000.

Walls are still up at the Town Square-side of the station. Main Street Station is set to reopen March 28.

Springtime at Disneyland

Disneyland is now in bloom with spring color as spring crowds hit the parks.

Main Street windows are all decked out for spring

Main Street’s Candy Palace is once again making fresh fudge Easter Eggs. The 8 oz. solid-fudge eggs are priced at $9.95 and come black walnut fudge and chocolate nut fudge flavors.

The Easter Eggs will be made daily through Easter Sunday. A Candy Palace confectioner told me peanut butter fudge and regular chocolate fudge flavors will be available later this week.

Easter rice crispy treats

and cupcakes:

A look at wait times Friday afternoon:

Ducklings can now be spotted around the park!

First Week at the Faire

Next to Sleeping Beauty Castle, the new Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet village officially opened to the public on Tuesday. The area has been busy, but wait times for the Royal Hall meet-and-greet haven’t seemed to pass the 60 minute mark, with much of the queue space going unused and the extended queue on the bridge to Fantasy Faire being taken down by the weekend.

Lots of queue space available!

Nearby, Tangled Tower has been delighting guests with a small but nice special touch after dark.

At night, Tangled Tower comes to life every five minutes starting at 7pm. Rapunzel’s hair lights up as a familiar tune from the movie plays.

Below, a video of the effect.

If you’re a fan of Disneyland history, the new area reveals a bit of Disneyland history dating back to park opening. Below is a view of the uncovered portion of Fantasy Faire’s Royal Hall queue.

If you look closely, you’ll see a very gray castle wall and a less colorful Castle turret hidden in the foliage

The turret comes into view, revealing a part of the Castle hidden behind lush vegetation for years. This “hidden turret” and section of Castle wall eluded public view and the brightly-colored 50th Anniversary repaint job that you still see on the rest of the Castle.

Fantasy Faire construction resulted in the thinning of the foliage along the berm in this area. Imagineers working on the project reportedly decided to leave the newly re-exposed turret and castle wall unpainted as a nod to the past.

Back to the Future

Over in Tomorrowland, the back portion of the Starcade has reopened, revealing a reworked retail space mixed in with about a half a dozen vintage arcade games.

Unfortunately, the Starcade didn’t get a full makeover, which it is in desperate need of if Disney insists on including merchandise displays in the space. Still, it’s a good improvement — lots of classic, fan-favorite arcade games are now available along with popular Disney titles including the original TRON and four cabinets of Fix-It Felix Jr. from Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph.”

TRON!

Unfortunately the temporary cash wrap and lighting trusses remain throughout the area, and the speed ramps to the closed second level remain blocked off. Too bad.

Refurbishment Round-Up

On Main Street, the Refreshment Corner archway continues to be rebuilt

Over in Frontierland, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishment continues…

The Rainbow Ridge facades are now being rebuilt.

Nearby, the Mark Twain Riverboat’s should wrap up by March 28.

Back in Fantasyland, the lighting towers along “it’s a small world” mall continue to get repainted.

The Princess Royal Walk has been removed now that Fantasy Faire is open.

And nearby, the Brave meet-and-greet remains in place for now.

The Gumball Rally Strikes Back!
MAY 4, 2013

Can you conquer every attraction at Disneyland in a single day? MiceChat’s famous Gumball Rally returns this spring to put you to the test — Tickets on sale now!

Welcome to California Adventure

Spring is in bloom in California Adventure as well.

A couple weeks ago, we showed you that the Packard had returned at Oswald’s Filling Station. Unfortunately, only one of the car’s headlights work. The Packard had been pulled offstage due to power supply issues, but at least one headlight is still out.

Both taillights work

On Paradise Pier, the Silly Symphony Swings are getting ready to reopen later this month.

Bad Views on Buena Vista Street

Back on Buena Vista Street, Disney’s merchandise folks have once again made some big changes to some of the themed, period-specific window displays. Changes were first made back in September, only three months after Buena Vista Street opened, when Disney added a bunch of merchandise to the Buena Vista Street windows. This time, the Big Top Toys and Atwater Ink and Paint windows have been radically changed, with almost all of their original props removed.

The Big Top Toys window has none of its original props or set dressing and the new display is painfully amateurish.

The display consists of Disney plush posed awkwardly on circus animal bases. The Disney plush is being watched by an audience of more Disney plush, most of which is depicted by a poorly-Photoshopped cardboard cutout.

The whole display looks rather second rate and replaces a gorgeous window display that the Disney Imagineers had filled with antique period-appropriate toys.

Tinker Bell looks ready to jump. I don’t blame her.

Across the street, the Atwater Ink and Paint shop hasn’t been without notable changes before. This time, however, it’s different. The artist’s desk inspired by the one used by Disney Legend Mary Blair is now completely covered and barely noticeable under all of the new props. Everything else from the original window has been completely removed.

The new window is filled with a strange mix of Disney kitchenwares and various “artist” props. It’s a ton of junk including a spotlight shoved in the corner, artist supplies scattered around, and lots of coffee mugs and kitchen gadgets.

A wooden serving platter that you can buy inside the store stands in as an artist palette, because, you know, that will sell some serving platters.

A huge new shelving unit is on the back wall now and filled with loads of visual clutter.

The rest of the back wall is covered with various sketches, including numerous Disney characters. Nevermind Disney’s own backstory for Buena Vista Street — the Los Angeles Walt Disney experienced when he first arrived in California … so, you know, if we’re to go with Disney’s story, none of the characters on the wall existed yet. It’s all about story, folks.

The entire window display is floor-to-ceiling clutter. None of it is particularly arranged with any artfulness. Really, the display almost looks like it’s from an episode of Hoarders.

The changes we keep seeing in the Buena Vista Street windows are apparently Disney’s desperate attempt to sell more merchandise on Buena Vista Street. I understand if sales numbers aren’t high enough, but really, is this approach really going to solve the problem? Maybe it’s time to start diversifying merchandise options more. Only a few items in all of Buena Vista Street’s shops are exclusive to Buena Vista Street. Do they really expect guests to buy the same merchandise they’ve already seen in countless other stores in California Adventure, Disneyland and Downtown Disney?

Limited Time Magic

[center]Vinylmation Easter Egg Hunt
at Disney California Adventure
March 18 — 24, 2013
[/center]
The latest Limited Time Magic offering is here for Easter week only and this time will cost you $5 to participate. Disney California Adventure will host a “Vinylmation Easter Egg Hunt” that will lead guests around the park in search for hidden Easter Eggs with special sticker maps that cost $4.95 each. Once you finish the egg hunt, you can redeem your map for a special Vinylmation prize. Details on the event are below:

    Vinylmation “Easter Egg” Hunt
    Get Started
    Visit Elias & Co. on Buena Vista Street to purchase your special Eggs-perience park map and stickers, available for $4.95, plus tax.* Then, let the fun begin!

    The Experience
    Explore the park and search for hidden eggs, using your map as a guide. As you locate eggs, mark the map with your stickers.

    When you’re ready, take your map to one of the redemption locations and pick up your prize—a gift box with 2 Vinylmation key rings ($12.95 value).

    Purchase as many as you’d like—while supplies last—and play again and again.

[center]Long-Lost Friends Week
at Disneyland Resort
Online voting through March 21, 2013
[/center]
Disneyland will play host to “Long Lost Friends Week,” similar to the one offered at Walt Disney World back in January. Disneyland is putting their selection of long lost friends to vote and you can participate online through March 21.

[center]Oz: The Great and Powerful Sneak Peek
at Disney California Adventure
Through March 31, 2013
[/center]
Continuing this week is the eight-minute sneak preview of Disney’s new movie, “Oz: The Great and Powerful.” “Oz” is in theaters now. The preview at California Adventure will run through March 31.

[center][/center]

Award Wieners is also offering a couple special menu items in conjunction with the Oz: The Great and Powerful sneak preview.

[center]Disneyland: The Way We Were with Dave Smith
Limited Time Annual Passholder Magic Event
at Disneyland Park
March 22, 2013
[/center]
Disneyland Annual Passholders can enjoy a special presentation by Disney Legend Dave Smith chronicling the history of Disneyland in photos as part of Limited Time Magic.

    “Disneyland: The Way We Were” with Disney Legend Dave Smith
    Take a photographic journey through the attractions, shops, restaurants and other pieces of Disneyland history. Disney Legend and Chief Archivist Emeritus, Walt Disney Archives, Dave Smith will take Annual Passholders on a nostalgic look at some bygone history of Disneyland Park in this very special event.

      Date

    • Friday, March 22, 2013
      Event Location

    • Opera House, Main Street U.S.A. – Disneyland Park
      Event Times

    • 5:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.
      Event Registration and Wristband Distribution

    • Passholders may begin registration at 11:30 a.m. at the Main Street, U.S.A. Opera House in Disneyland Park.
    • All participating Guests (ages 3 and older) must be valid Annual Passholders on the day of the event.
    • Registration must be completed in person at the Main Street, U.S.A. Opera House on the day of the event only; no phone reservations or other registration will be accepted.
    • It is recommended that all members of your party register together to help ensure that everyone receives an event wristband.
    • All participating Annual Passholders must present their active Annual Passport to the event Cast Member, who will check event availability. Photo ID may be required.
    This and That

    Later this spring, Disneyland and California Adventure will both host a new cultural celebration with food, live entertainment and more. For some reason the event isn’t being included as part of Disney’s “Limited Time Magic” promotion, but Opa! A Celebration of Greece will run May 25-27 and promises to be another great addition to Disneyland’s growing lineup of small seasonal cultural celebrations including Dia de los Muertos, Dia de Reyes and Lunar New Year.
    [center][/center]

    Below, the information on the celebration from the Disney Parks Blog:

      Opa! A Celebration of Greece
      Featuring music, dance, art, food, history and more! Festivities will take place in both “it’s a small world” Mall in Disneyland and Paradise Gardens in Disney California Adventure. Mickey Mouse will even be there in his Fustanella attire!

      Each day from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., these two areas will offer special experiences such as:

        “it’s a small world” Mall

      • Olympics training with Hercules
      • Atmosphere entertainment by “The Citizens of Greece”
      • Live performances from Greek musicians and dancers
      • Special Greek food offerings

        Paradise Garden

      • Greek wine tastings
      • Live performances from Greek musicians
      • Kalamatianó line dances
      • Special Greek food offerings
      • Atmosphere entertainment by “The Citizens of Greece”

      And on May 26, you’re invited to join Greek celebrity Chef Argiro Barbarigou and Greek winemaker Christina Boutari for a special dinner at the Golden Vine Winery in Disney California Adventure park. Reservations and tickets may be purchased online starting March 25.

Meanwhile, in Downtown Disney, the Fossil store has reopened after a quick remodel.


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MiceChat.com and Annual Passholder Discounts
Available Every Day!

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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
March 18 — 24, 2013
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]Disney California Adventure[/B]
Monday-Wednesday: 9 am – 10 pm
Thursday: 9 am – 11 pm
Friday-Sunday: 8 am – 11 pm
Monday-Thursday: 9 am – 10 pm
Friday-Saturday: 8 am – 11 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 10 pm
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
[/CENTER]
[center]Expected Crowd Levels[/center] [center]presented by TouringPlans.com[/center]
[CENTER][B]Disneyland Park[/B][/CENTER] [CENTER][B]Disney California Adventure[/B][/CENTER]
[CENTER][B]HIGH[/B]
[B]8.0—9.7[/B] out of 10[/CENTER]
[CENTER][B]MEDIUM—HIGH[/B]
[B]7.1—8.4[/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
[/B]
[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]
[b][center]Disneyland Park[/center][/b]
  • [b]Mark Twain Riverboat:[/b] Closed through March 28.
  • [b]Disneyland Railroad — Main Street Station:[/b] Closed through March 28.
  • [b]Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:[/b] Closed for extensive refurbishment through October 30.
  • [B]Alice in Wonderland:[/B] Expected to close in 2013 to install permanent safety railing on outdoor ride portion.
  • [B]Fantasyland Theater presenting Mickey and the Magical Map:[/B] Fantasyland Theater closed August 12, 2012. Princesses have relocated to Small World Promenade allowing the Fantasyland Theater to close and prepare for the new “Mickey and the Magical Map” show scheduled to open Summer 2013.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • [B]Disney Junior — Live on Stage!:[/B] Closed through March 21 to install new show.
  • [B]Muppet*Vision 3D:[/B] Show on haitus while “Oz: The Great and Powerful” sneak peek plays in theatre through March 31.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
  • [B]Downtown Disney Stage:[/B] Closed for enhancements. Temporary stage available for performances and events during main stage construction.
[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • From the OC Register: Effective March 23, Disneyland guests under the age of 14 will have to be accompanied by another guest age 14 or older.
  • Disney Cast Members raised thousands for local charities with recent competitions.
  • Disneyland Resort was honored by the Clean the World Foundation for donating 20,000 pounds of recycled soaps and bottled shampoos from Resort hotels.
OK! That’s all for this week’s Dateline Disneyland. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to join in on the discussion in the comments section below!

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

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