It was a busy news week at Disneyland. Long Lost Friends week brought rare characters out for special appearances in Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree as part of the on-going Limited Time Magic promotion. At Disney California Adventure, more window displays were dramatically changed in the park’s new Buena Vista Street main entrance area, which is still not even a year old. But the big news happened over the weekend with the opening of the first Marvel-themed attraction at Disneyland. The new Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries exhibit in Tomorrowland drew big crowds despite occupying only a small corner of the huge Innoventions building. Still, the exhibit brought the biggest crowds Innoventions has likely seen since it opened in the late 1990s, with guests waiting up to an hour to enter to building on Saturday. Meanwhile, as guests lined up to take a look at Tony Stark’s Hall of Armor in Innoventions, Disneyland had opened Saturday without three major E-Ticket attractions. Disney abruptly closed Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds and Soarin’ Over California voluntarily following citations from California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

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.

A special thank you to Norman Gidney (Fishbulb) from MiceChat’s In the Parks blog for extra help with some photos this week.


Welcome to Disneyland!

Disneyland has returned to reduced theme park hours following its busy spring break season, but the parks saw plenty of news this week. At Disneyland, Disney Legend Harrison “Buzz” Price was honored posthumously with a window on Main Street.

The window, located on the front of the former Guided Tours building, Buzz’s window pays tribute to his role in finding and securing the land for Disneyland and Walt Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan.

Below, the Disney Parks Blog released a video clip from the dedication ceremony held on Tuesday morning, April 9.

A Stark Contrast

Over in Tomorrowland, Disneyland opened its first Marvel-themed offering over the weekend. The embarrassingly stale Innoventions is now host to “Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries.” The experience utilizes a pretty small area in the upper level of the Innoventions building that was recently used for a Honda Civic car display.

New banners announce the arrival of Iron Man at Innoventions. The new exhibit proved to be wildly popular over the weekend, drawing wait times of up to an hour long Saturday morning.

Inside, the exhibit features two parts — the Hall of Armor and the “Suit Up” experience that lets guests virtually test out Tony Stark’s latest Iron Man suit — the Mark 42.

The Hall of Armor is pretty fun to check out and has already become a popular photo op with guests.

The new Mark 42, which will be seen in Iron Man 3 when it hits theaters in May.

Seven previous incarnations of the Iron Man suit are on display:

Guests interested in trying on the Iron Man armor can do so virtually by playing what amounts to a Kinect-style video game that allows guests to see themselves in the Iron Man armor and interact with the suit in real time. The experience is only available at two stations and is very popular, drawing long wait times.

After “suiting up,” you exit through a corridor with oversized stills and posters from the film:

In the context of its surroundings, the Iron Man Tech exhibit is a notable contrast to and a lot more fun than anything else featured in Innoventions — but if you’ve ever been inside Innoventions you know that isn’t a tall order. In reality, Iron Man Tech isn’t anything terribly special and isn’t worth waiting more than 10 minutes to see. Don’t plan a special trip to come see it — it isn’t worth it. Is it a nice addition to Innoventions? Absolutely, but anything new and interesting would be welcome in the building. Is it a solid standalone attraction? No way. It’s a fun diversion for locals and worth a quick look for out-of-towners who were already planning a trip. Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries is open now through September.

DOSH Downtime

On Saturday, MiceChat broke the news that several attractions in both theme parks had been ordered closed by DOSH, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health due to employee safety concerns including “fall protection” issues. It was unclear what brought on the closures or how long the rides would be closed, but what was clear was that guests were finding three popular E-Tickets closed: Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds and Soarin’ Over California.

By Sunday, the Associated Press confirmed that the closures were related to DOSH citations issued in November when a contracted worker fell while cleaning the exterior of Space Mountain. The Cal/OSHA citation noted that Disney had “willfully failed to address known hazards” in the workplace and the six citations filed for Space Mountain totaled $234,850 in fines.

The Matterhorn Bobsleds reopened Sunday, but Space Mountain and Soarin’ Over California remain closed indefinitely.

A Cast Member at the Matterhorn Bobsleds trades pins with guests while closed on Saturday.

At Soarin’ Over California, Cast Members held paper airplane contests with guests.

You could make and decorate your own paper airplane at tables outside the attraction

And then see how far your could throw your plane

Refurbishment Round-Up

Back on Main Street, the weekend marked the final days of operation for the Market House coffee shop and housewares store as well as the popular Disneyana collectibles shop. The spaces will reopen later this fall as an expanded Market House coffee shop serving the full lineup of Starbucks beverages. If you’d like to take a final look at the spaces as they appeared before closing, check out our blogs from November 10, 2013 and March 25, 2013.

In Fantasyland, the tarps came down on the rooftop of Alice in Wonderland. Appears to have just been a castle turret refurbishment.

No word yet on when Disneyland will close this attraction to install permanent safety railing on the outdoor portion of track.

Lighting towers along Small World Mall continue their refurbishment and repainting.

Nearby, the old Fantasyland ticket booth that had been used as a Kodak camera supply kiosk remains closed. It appears one of the Kodak signs has been broken and removed and now an outdoor vending cart sits in front of the unused kiosk, selling cold drinks during the day.

Hopefully they’ll find a better use for this piece of Disneyland history soon.

Steps away, work continues on the upcoming “Mickey and the Magical Map” stage show at the Fantasyland Theater.

Over in Frontierland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s refurbishment project continues…

Meanwhile, the Mark Twain Riverboat’s extended refurbishment should be wrapping up this week.

Limited Time Magic

[center]Long Lost Friends Week
at Disneyland Park
April 8 — 14, 2013
[/center]
Last week, Disneyland welcomed tom “long lost friends” back to the park in Frontierland’s Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree.

A variety of characters made appearances throughout the week. Below is a selection from Friday morning… The gang from Robin Hood:

Scrooge McDuck and Ludwig von Drake from Duck Tales

The gang from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Pocahontas and Meeko

Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather from Sleeping Beauty

Food including special cotton candy and Monte Cristo Bites were available:

[center]Celebrate Disney Fairies Week
at Disneyland Park
April 15 — 21, 2013
[/center]
Up next for Limited Time Magic is “Celebrate Disney Fairies Week” at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The offering seems a bit desperate since both coasts have dedicated meet-and-greets for the Disney Fairies already. It seems like the only offering for the week will be increased appearances by fairies other than Tinker Bell, including Terence, the Pixie Dust-keeper.

[center]Free Iron Man 3 Poster
at Disneyland Park
Though April 19, 2013 or until supplies last
[/center]
Disneyland is giving guests free Iron Man 3 movie posters through April 19 (or while supplies last) at the Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries exhibit at Innoventions. Below, a photo of the poster:

Welcome to California Adventure

Struck Out

We’ve been chronicling the continued changes to the Buena Vista Street window displays over the last 10 months that the area has been open to the public. In that time, the windows went from highly-themed displays supporting the backstories of each shop to displays cluttered with merchandise Disney sold in the stores. Back in mid-March, the windows at Big Top Toys and Atwater Ink and Paint were completely changed. All of the original props that Walt Disney Imagineering had specifically chosen for the windows were removed and new props were brought in along with more merchandise. The Big Top Toys window, in particular, looks like a second-rate imitation of Disney work while the Atwater window is floor-to-ceiling visual clutter.

Whoever is calling the shots is spending a lot of money to make windows look cheap and unappealing in an effort to sell more merchandise. I’d be amazed if it’s helped even in the slightest.

Now, the fan-favorite windows at Los Feliz Five and Dime have gotten similar treatments. All original props have been removed and new shelving units have been moved in with themed prop merchandise mixed in with Disney merchandise available to buy in the stores. Thankfully, the windows don’t look as bad as the Big Top Toys window but to be honest, it would be a challenge to make something worse than what they did there.

Still, what was done is a huge blow to Buena Vista Street’s integrity. Below, the former baseball-themed window that featured custom-made Buena Vista jerseys and trading cards has been replaced with shelves full of merchandise.

While it maintains the Buena Vista Street time period, there’s nothing special or unique about the new display.

What’s interesting is that in the change-out, they walled off significant portions of both of the Five and Dime’s front window displays, effectively making them smaller. So, in an effort to lift up sagging merchandise sales in Buena Vista Street stores, they cut the window displays by a third and crammed the rest with visual clutter and tacky theme park merchandise that apparently few people actually want. Good plan!

On the other side of the Five and Dime’s front doors, the former book window is completely gone as well, replaced with more shelving units covered with merchandise.

Note the walled-off portion of display space in the back of this shot

All of the books with custom-designed cover art by Walt Disney Animation Studios artists are now gone. It’s a shame to lose the books as they were a big hit with park guests when Buena Vista Street opened last summer — Five and Dime Cast Members would be asked by dozens of guests every shift if the books were for sale. Unfortunately they never were made available to guests and now they can’t even be seen from the window. Ironically, this all came just as Disney finished gutting their hand-drawn animation studio.

It really is a shame to see Disney continue to water down Buena Vista Street so much, so quickly. California Adventure had to be so heavily invested in because of its initial lack of success in part due to thematic laziness and lack of quality. You’d think Disney would know better than to do what they’ve done over the last ten months to Buena Vista Street. The good news is that this is a relatively easy fix if Disney wants to put in just a little bit of effort — diversify your merchandise offerings and make stuff people want to buy and fix the windows. People are willing to buy good, quality and interesting merchandise — just look at the recent line of Haunted Mansion merchandise that the parks can’t keep stocked because it is so popular. Filling Buena Vista Street with the same junk sold in the Emporium and World of Disney isn’t going to work. Just because you gave the old Sunshina Plaza shops some pretty new facades doesn’t mean they’re going to sell more merchandise. Buena Vista Street can only be worth the investment if you actually follow through with it. The Imagineers did their part and made a gorgeous, inviting new space — now it’s the merchandise team’s turn to do their part and get some new merchandise that people actually want to buy.

Below, a couple of Disney-produced videos that show off the window displays and props in the stores as they originally appeared when Buena Vista Street opened last June. None of the windows showcased in the video appear as they did last June except for the Trolley Treats windows, which have so far remained untouched.

Note in this video: the 1930s-era mannequins in Elias and Company have been inexplicably taken apart, put back together and redressed. A couple mannequins now feature body parts that belong to other mannequins and some have had their clothes changed for no reason. The mezzanine where the mannequins are located has also had props changed and added, adding unnecessary visual clutter to the space.

This and That

Back in Disneyland, Fantasy Faire has gotten some minor changes over the last couple weeks.

The old Carnation Plaza Gardens bridge got some new gold accents.

A couple prop crates with WANTED posters for Flynn Rider have appeared.

And a village bulletin board in the tunnel leading to Frontierland has been added.

More WANTED posters for Flynn (they just can’t seem to get the nose right)


Fun stuff!

Also, the rooftops are looking nice now as their clear coat finishes curing

In Frontierland, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies have been displaced once again. You’ll currently find them playing outside in Frontierland while Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree hosts more community performing arts groups. The Golden Horseshoe stage plays host to ragtime piano.


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
April 15 — 21, 2013
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
Mon.-Thurs.: 10am – 8pm
Fri.-Sat.: 9am – 11pm
Sunday: 8am – 11pm
Mon.-Thurs.: 10am – 9pm
Fri.-Sat.: 9am – 11pm
Sunday: 8am – 10pm
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
[/CENTER]
[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]
[b][center]Disneyland Park[/center][/b]
  • [b]Space Mountain:[/b] Closed indefinitely starting April 13 following recent DOSH citations.
  • [b]Matterhorn Bobsleds:[/b] Closed April 16-26 for “testing.”
  • [b]Mark Twain Riverboat:[/b] Closed through April 17.
  • [b]Main Street Opera House:[/b] Closed through May 2 for refurbishment.
  • [b]Jungle Cruise:[/b] Closed April 29 through May 1 for refurbishment.
  • [b]Goofy’s Playhouse:[/b] Closed May 6-8 for soft play material replacement.
  • [b]Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes:[/b] Closed May 8-9.
  • [b]Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:[/b] Closed for extensive refurbishment through October 30.
  • [b]Market House:[/b] Closed for conversion and expansion for new Starbucks location. Opens fall 2013.
  • [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] New stage show to debut May 2013.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • [b]Soarin’ Over California:[/b] Closed indefinitely starting April 13 following recent DOSH citations.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
    None.
[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • Iconic star of Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Club” show Annette Funicello died last Monday following a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis.
  • Fullerton Railroad Days returns May 4 and 5 and will feature the Disneyland Railroad’s Ernest S. Marsh Locomotive and Kalamazoo handcar on display and open for tours
  • Disneyland’s Star Trader store in Tomorrowland has opened the new “Droid Factory” build-your-own-droid experience
OK — that wraps up this edition of Dateline Disneyland. Thanks for reading! Have you visited the new Iron Man Tech exhibit at Innoventions? Let us know what you thought in the comments section below!

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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 the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.