MiceAge Update: Disneyland Scrooged At Last

Written by MiceAge. Posted in Disney News, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features, MiceAge Update

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Published on May 21, 2013 at 4:00 am with 73 Comments

With the last few days of the spring off-season slipping away before the summer crowds arrive, the Disneyland Resort is rushing to finalize details for the upcoming 24-hour party to try and prevent the night from devolving into utter chaos and gridlock like the last overnight party did. While summer is about to get started, TDA also has their eye on this winter and beyond as several major entertainment and attraction additions are headed to the two Anaheim parks. In this update we’ll fill you in on what will be under the Christmas tree at DCA this year, what may or may not be announced at D23 Expo in August, and provide you with a full run-down on the logistics and timing for the Monstrous Summer All-Nighter for the 24th and 25th to help you decide if you want to join the fun.

There’s a lot to get to today, so poach that egg and slap it on some whole grain Irish buttered toast and let’s get to it!


While we’ve detailed in previous updates how the rebirth of Disney California Adventure last June radically transformed the business model and visitation patterns for the entire Anaheim property, it bears repeating that the re-launched DCA is a full-blown runaway success that has exceeded the most optimistic projections for the re-launch. The fallout from that stunning transformation in 2012 is that Team Disney Anaheim (TDA) and WDI have been spending most of 2013 deciding how to better utilize slower areas of the park. The crowds still aren’t letting up there and tourists in particular are spending entire 10 hour days at DCA without leaving for Disneyland. Both spending and length-of-stay patterns are way up in DCA, and Burbank is thrilled with the results.

The quickest and easiest way to add capacity to succesful theme parks is to add new entertainment. Believe it or not World of Color turns three years old in a few weeks, most locals and many tourists have already seen it at least once, and TDA is finally ready to offer an alternative to the original show from 2010. So, in November an all-new holiday themed World of Color will debut for the Christmas season to reinvigorate the evening hours at DCA. The Christmas version of World of Color will be a full 23 minute rework using all new Christmas material and songs, while still featuring a few familiar themes like Princesses and the popular Pixar characters. Full scale testing of the new show will begin late this summer, and this new World of Color is tentatively planned to debut around November 8th.


Christmas color coming?

The broader goals for the Christmas World of Color fall into three main categories; to keep tourists staying later into the evening and feeling like they got their money’s worth, and to bring the locals back to the park and keep them renewing their Annual Passes, many of which are conveniently purchased that time of year as family Christmas gifts. The third reason behind the new World of Color show is to soften the blow when the inevitable private parties begin at Disneyland during the Christmas season. We’ve explained in previous updates how the full-service Christmas offerings at Disneyland were in the crosshairs of the One Disney team based out of Orlando who want Disneyland to move to a private-party concept like that used at Disney World. Disneyland’s parties will force the Christmas Fantasy Parade and Believe In Holiday Magic fireworks and snow shows to move to an extra-cost ticketed event, much like the HalloweenTime parties in October are now the only way to see the Halloween Screams fireworks and the Halloween parade.

The plan would be to offer the Soundsational Parade during the day before the parties along with the usual Remember fireworks on non-party nights, and then roll out the major Christmas entertainment only during the parties in the evenings. The good news is that much like Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy running in October, the Holiday versions of Small World and Haunted Mansion would still be available to park visitors daily without purchasing an additional ticket to an evening Christmas party. And while Disneyland closes early in December to host Christmas parties, the crowds can move over to DCA where the new Christmas World of Color show will soften the blow of being kicked out of Disneyland. Or at least that’s the hope, and if the new show is good enough that plan might actually work. Steve Davison and his WDI Creative Entertainment team will be hard at work on the show in the next few months, trying to summon up the frosty Christmas spirit during the hot Southern California summer.

While adding new entertainment to a theme park is the easiest and fastest route to increasing park capacity, the more complicated (and more expensive) route is to add new attractions. And rest assured that DCA is still on the front burner in both TDA and Burbank’s opinion with another big chunk of money slated to be released by Burbank later this year. The plan to turn the sleepy northern half of DCA’s  Hollywood Land into Monstropolis with a thrill-ride Door Coaster as the featured E Ticket attraction is still moving ahead quickly. At the same time, the other new thrill ride using the ride system once planned for a Tron-themed Lightcycle coaster on the PeopleMover track is also finishing up design work. It’s no longer “if” on these two new E Ticket attractions, it’s “when”.


Light Cycles speeding above Tomorrowland? Thoughts?

The Tomorrowland project is the most problematic, as reworking the old PeopleMover route and its loading station in the center of the land will require several years of ugly construction. The similarity between Tomorrowland in its current state and DCA of five years ago is quite apt, since DCA had several popular attractions that were located in a lackluster environment that weren’t aesthetically pleasing or particularly inviting. Space Mountain and Star Tours are two of the most popular thrill rides in Anaheim, while Buzz Lightyear, Autopia and the Submarines offer solid attractions that offer important capacity to children or those looking for non-thrill excitement. But Tomorrowland’s aesthetic appearance is disjointed and aging poorly, and it comes up repeatedly in visitor surveys as a place that people don’t particularly enjoy.

Disneyland’s Tomorrowland is tired and worn out, and WDI and TDA acknowledge that. The goal of the Tomorrowland redo isn’t just to add a ride back to the PeopleMover track and move the Rocket Jets back up to their rightful place above the loading station, the project is also designed to reskin the existing Tomorrowland structures and create a cohesive and relevant “futuristic” environment for the 21st century.

And that’s going to take a lot of construction and hassle, right as Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary party kicks off in 2015. The discussions in TDA now center on getting the timing right for both projects, and likely beginning the work on Monstropolis first before 2015 since that will take up a quiet back corner of the park. Compared to the massive construction DCA underwent in recent years from the front of the park for Buena Vista Street and all the way along the central spine of the DCA parade route for Little Mermaid, Cars Land and the Pier remodel, the Monstropolis construction in the corner will be a cakewalk for the experienced DCA teams.


Preliminary work on Tomorrowland could begin before the 60th Anniversary is over, but the bulk of that construction wouldn’t begin until 2016 while the Monstropolis project finishes up and debuts. But either of these two projects are far enough along that they could be announced at the Parks & Resorts keynote address at D23 Expo in August, with a few key artist renderings and models on display in the Imagineering Pavilion on the exhibit hall floor. The announcement of either Monstropolis or Tomorrowland will offer more information and more artwork to display than the last big attraction announcement at D23 Expo in 2011, when Bob Iger bizarrely announced that Avatarland was coming to Animal Kingdom, but without offering any artwork or content to discuss even several years later.



But before TDA can gloat over its success at D23 Expo, they’ve got to get through this weekend and the monster headache created by the Monstrous Summer All-Nighter. This idea was not born in Anaheim, where it would have been shot down immediately if anyone had dared to suggest they repeat the disaster of the One More Disney Day event from 2012. Instead, the All-Nighter was dreamed up by the notoriously out of touch Disney Parks & Resorts marketing team holed up in a generic office park in Celebration, Florida. And now it’s up to the Anaheim teams to figure out how to manage it and prevent another night of gridlocked streets, backed up freeways, and near-riots at the main entrance turnstiles.

The first overnight party for Leap Year Day in February, 2012 started out mellow enough that morning. But after 5:00 P.M., when all the executives and senior managers had gone home, things began to unravel quickly. By 7:00 P.M. the Santa Ana Freeway was backed up several miles to the LA County line, and the surface streets around Disneyland had gridlocked. The Parking team hadn’t made arrangements to staff or use overflow parking at the Anaheim Convention Center or GardenWalk, and the 20,000 Disney-owned parking spaces usually at their disposal were already full. DCA closed at 8:00 P.M., while Disneyland began to fill quickly way beyond capacity. Shuttle buses carrying Cast Members in from employee parking lots were stuck in the gridlock. Several buses were literally stuck in traffic for several hours just a few blocks from Disneyland while the CM’s sat helplessly inside and plotted mutinies against the bus drivers who refused to open the doors in the middle of frozen traffic. When the turnstiles were closed just before Midnight, the crowds in the Esplanade grew restless and ornery and there were thousands of people still trying to purchase tickets and get into the park in the early morning hours. When it was all over the next morning, 105,000 people had attended the overnight party in Anaheim even though the original estimate for the day was barely 50,000.


Will it be one more Disney nightmare?

This time, they are planning for 125,000 people to attend and DCA will be added to the mix to help soak up crowds. But the parking and transportation logistics are already stretched way beyond their limit, and there’s a frank understanding that they won’t be able to handle 125,000 people, most of whom will arrive by car. The fallout is that every parking space in Anaheim has been commandeered, and Cast Members will be parking that day at Angel Stadium and bussed in. What happens in the evening when the CM shuttle buses get stuck on a gridlocked Katella or Harbor isn’t really known, although this time the bus drivers are going to have the authority to open their doors and let the CM’s out if the bus is stuck in gridlock for more than one hour. The Anaheim Police Department and California Highway Patrol will be on alert that evening, to help assist with surface streets and monitor off-ramps.

Knowing that access to Disneyland and parking will be an extreme challenge after work lets out on Friday, if you are still planning on attending it should be noted that not much extra will be on offer in either park. Some entertainment times may change, and a few Monsters U merchandise offerings will be for sale, otherwise it’s just a long drawn out day for the Anaheim parks.

In addition, that night was already pre-sold as a DCA Grad Nite for 10,000 students before the marketing team in Florida pulled the trigger on this event without checking in with the operations teams in Anaheim. That means that Cars Land, Paradise Pier and Tower of Terror will all be closed to regular visitors at 11:00 P.M. and only wrist-banded Grads will be allowed to remain in those popular areas of DCA, pushing the overnight party envelope into just the Mad T Party, Buena Vista Street and Condor Flats sections of DCA.

Still think you want to go? Here’s the timeline of major elements of the 24 hour event from start to finish.

Thursday, May 23rd

6:00 PM – Harbor Blvd. Drop-Off Lot closed to all vehicle traffic for the remainder of the event.

7:00 PM – Fantasyland closes for Media Party for Mickey & The Magical Lamp debut.

8:00 PM – Entry Queue and Media Riser setup begins in Esplanade between both parks.

9:00 PM – Disneyland closes for the day (with Media Party in Fantasyland).

9:30 PM – Mickey & Friends Parking Structure, Toy Story Parking Lot and Downtown Disney Parking Lots closed to all traffic, with all arriving vehicles directed to park in Pumbaa Parking Lot on Disney Way. No shuttle service will be offered in Pumbaa until 8:00 AM on Friday morning.

10:00 PM – Early arrivals will be queued in Harbor Blvd. Drop-Off Lot, before being moved to roped queues in the Esplanade. Monsters University “Eye” glasses given out to first few thousand people in Esplanade. Monstrous Summer buttons to be given out at turnstiles for first few thousand people through the gates in the morning.

11:00 PM – Grad Nite begins in DCA, until 3:00 AM.

Friday, May 24th

5:00 AM – Mickey & Friends Parking Structure and Toy Story Parking Lot open with tram and bus service.

5:55 AM – Small kickoff ceremony and media event in Esplanade as both parks open for the day.

6:00 AM – Both parks open for the day, with Cars Land, Tower of Terror and some Paradise Pier attractions not open yet due to delayed overnight maintenance from Grad Nite the night before.

5:00 PM – Pixar Play Parade, from Tower of Terror.

6:30 PM – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, from It’s A Small World.

7:00 PM – Pixar Play Parade, from Paradise Pier.

9:00 PM – World of Color at DCA, Fantasmic! at Disneyland.

9:00 PM – First of four special Monsters Inc. screenings of full movie begin at MuppetVision Theater.

9:00 PM – Mad T Party opens, no alcohol served due to Grad Nite guests in attendance.

9:30 PM – Magical Fireworks Spectacular at Disneyland.

10:15 PM – World of Color at DCA.

10:30 PM – Fantasmic! at Disneyland.

10:45 PM – Cars Land, Paradise Pier & Tower of Terror closed for Grad Nite; only Grads with wristbands allowed in these areas until 3:00 AM (Radiator Springs Racers will close for the night at 2:00 AM and not reopen).

12:00 Midnight – Character Pajama Party in Toontown, dancing and Disney cartoons screened at outdoor theater, cocoa & cookies served.

12:30 AM – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, from Town Square.

2:00 AM – Monsters U light show at Castle, Disneyland.

3:00 AM – Cars Land & Paradise Pier reopen after Grad Nite. Radiator Springs Racers, California Screamin’ and Tower of Terror all will remain closed for overnight maintenance.

5:30 AM – Mad T Party and Toontown Pajama Party closes.

5:55 AM – Farewell Announcement played in parks, set to the tune of “Now it’s time to say goodbye” song from Mickey Mouse Club.

6:00 AM – DCA and Disneyland close.

9:00 AM – DCA and Disneyland reopen for normal Saturday operation, with several major attractions delayed in opening due to overnight maintenance.

After the 24 hour party, both Disneyland and DCA kick off their first “Small World Celebration” weekend on Saturday, celebrating the culture and cuisine of Greece. It goes without saying that this new offering will likely be completely lost in the frenzy of the overnight party and media events for Mickey & The Magical Lamp. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, as this is just the first of many planned Small World Celebration weekends that will feature different countries. But the Small World Celebration is a concept cooked up by TDA’s own in-house marketing team and designed to attract locals and engage Annual Passholders. The Monstrous Summer All-Nighter is a concept from Florida and it simply steamrolled over any plans TDA had already approved and funded for Memorial Day Weekend.

The Small World Celebration idea is a good one though, and the most interesting offerings will be held far from It’s A Small World. DCA’s Paradise Gardens will offer Greek celebrity chef Argiro Barbarigou and Greek winemakers hosting live cooking demonstrations, along with authentic Greek music, dances, dress and culture on display. The Greek exhibit at Disneyland in the Small World Mall will feature the Disneyfied version of Greece, with a rare Hercules meet n’ greet as the main attraction. But those interested in genuine Greek culture will want to stop by Paradise Gardens in DCA this weekend, as sort of a small-scale Food & Wine festival. Hopefully the next Small World Celebration in Anaheim can be held on a weekend when the marketing team in Florida is on vacation.

Well, that’s what we’ve got for you today. New attractions on the way, Christmas going behind lock and key and 24 hours of insanity. We are very curious to know if you’ve been tempted by the 24 hour party and its expected crowds of 125,000. And, if you are going, what time do you plan to arrive to assure your spot in what is very likely to be Disneyland’s busiest day ever?

Many of you have wondered about the increasingly elusive Al Lutz. If you missed our last MiceChat podcast (episode #7), we reveal the circumstances regarding his health situation and his deep affection for all of you. You can click either of the links below the embedded player to browse the older episodes. Please take a moment to listen in when you get a chance. Below, we’ve embedded the latest episode for you, so don’t forget to subscribe to us on iTunes HERE.

Direct Link  |   iTunes Link

If you enjoyed today’s update, we’d really appreciate your sharing it with friends and family, and we highly value your comments below as well. They mean a lot more than you may imagine. It takes a village folks, Opa!

About MiceAge

The MiceAge crew was started by Al Lutz in 2003, and is committed to bringing you the inside Disney story that you just can't get anywhere else. As much as we'd all like to see more frequent rumor updates on the site, we only publish when reliable news and rumors are available to share. The MiceAge news Editor can be reached at: Editor@MiceChat.com

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  • Crazee4mm

    There are so many pros and cons with article/podcast. While I am excited to hear that there are plans for the old Peoplemover track as well as the replacement of the Rocket Jets, I am equally unsettled that there was no mention of the lingering Innoventions building. That place has been a White Elephant for so long that it’s becoming laughable. What happened to the proposed Iron Man ride in it’s place? Instead, we get a collection of Iron Man suits from the films. The building needs to go, and soon. It’s faded, outdated, and occupies too much room for something so irrelevant. A 2015 redo of Tomorrowland is far too distant to let this eyesore remain.

    As for DCA, I think it’s great that they will have a designated Christmas version of World of Color (instead of the Prep & Landing prelude tacked on to the beginning). Monstropolis? Ho-hum. Kids should like it.

    Pay extra for Christmas? Not out of MY wallet. While I loved the extended Candlelight ceremonies last year, I believe that extras like this should be included, rather than separated from the day visitor. I am appalled too that there are plans to make the Holiday fireworks and Christmas Fantasy parade hard ticketed parties for those who pay more is an outrage. Disneyland is already the most expensive park in the SoCal area and it’s obvious they are dripping with money to burn. The fleecing of the public continues unabated. The place is already so big that you can only do just so much there. 365 days a year of capacity crowds just isn’t enough for Disney anymore. Now they have to fill the parks twice a day instead? How long before we see “day” or “night” tickets (with an hour in between to clear the parks before reopening).

    As for the esteemed Mr. Al Lutz. I have never had the pleasure of meeting the man in person YET I feel that whenever he wrote an article, he was speaking directly to me. He made writing the articles seem like an easy task and his ability to describe something complicated in terms that even I could understand grants him massive amounts of respect in my book. The site that he created has given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful, like minded, talented, creative people. I’m not just talking about the “celebrity” people. No, I’m talking about us “regular” folks who admire and respect each other as members of an ever-growing extended family. Prior to MiceAge/MiceChat, I felt that my love of Disney was viewed as strange and “childlike” by others. I have formed friendships and relationships with people, through MiceAge/MiceChat that are very special to me. Al, in his own special way, created a place where adults and children of all ages can come to interact in a safe and mutually enjoyable manner. Al, Dusty, and many others have continued to build this site into a living breathing manifestation of our love of Disney (among others) that welcomes all who enter it’s portals. I attended the MiceAge/MiceChat 10th. anniversary weekend at Disneyland and when I said “hi” to Norm (“Fishbulb”) and “Dusty Sage” I was greeted with hugs before I even had the chance to tell them my name. It’s that instant inclusion in something we all love and appreciate that I thank Al for creating (after Walt, of course). Al carries Walt’s vision with every article he writes. He has the critical eye that keeps Disney’s feet to the fire. The other gifted writers of articles for this site share in that vision as well. Al has done much to make sure the site continues on after he backs out. It is in the very capable hands of Dusty who is every bit the steward Al is. While I am saddened (selfish?) that Al no longer participates in the site as much as he has, he certainly isn’t left behind. He is the patriarch of this site and he always will be. Thank you Al for everything you have done for us. Maybe, some day, I too will be greeted by you with a hug that says more than the thousands of words I would want to say, but couldn’t. The window you received is just a small token of how we, out here, feel about you and your contribution to our community. We couldn’t have don (or become) this without you. The hearts and thoughts of tens of thousands of us are with you. Thank you for being there when we needed you.

    • jcruise86

      I second that last paragraph! :)

  • mondo

    I think the Tron Light Cycles should have some kind of a showroom building either at the Innoventions location or elsewhere. It would be a let down if the Light cycle does not enter the Grid where it can look like the movie. Going out in TL won’t work as well because the Grid was dark and had no sunlight and the lights won’t have the same effect/appearance. At night would be the best and the whole TL could look like the Grid. Entering the Grid exactly how it appears in the movie should be the priority and reusing the track route secondary. I wish the Light Cycle would replace Innoventions and the track reused for a PM type ride. IMO

    What are the designs for the “cohesive and relevant “futuristic” environment” ? Will it be Tron theme so the Light Cycle can fit better? But Star Tour, Space Mt , Blab, etc wouldn’t because they don’t have the same look. Will it be a Space theme? But then Tron Light Cycles wouldn’t fit.

    Whatever they do, it better make up for the ’98 redo.

  • davidrusk

    I didn’t know Al had Parkinson’s until I listened to the podcast at the end of the post. My step mom had that. Apparently only outstanding people get it. Dusty, I have so much respect for you for what you’ve done for Al. You guys don’t know me and never will, but all the same you both touch my life in a good way.

    • LoveStallion

      They need to use Disqus for their commenting engine so that I can +1/Like your comment.

  • 4Apples4Disney

    I find it odd that Disney acknowledges the huge problems the overnight events were due to what? CROWDS! But yet there seems to be no balance between a jammed pack park on regular days and visitor satisfaction.

  • tonyrr1

    First off, prayers to Al…

    Secondly, a lot is being made of the difference in marketing approaches from the TDA crew to the WDW crew. What I’d be interested in learning about is why these two groups of marketers evolved their individual approaches to marketing their products / experiences. It also seems to me like someone in the Disney hierarchy thought that marketing could be put into a shared-services kind of model where marketing directives flow to both properties from one group. As a businessperson, I have to wonder what the person who made that decision was thinking because it’s so glaringly obvious there are materially different groups of consumers that frequent the two properties that makes it almost impossible to craft a single marketing message that speaks compellingly to both groups. You could do marketing as shared services, but you’d have to have sub-groups within that organization to craft appropriate messages and initiatives for each property separately. The place I see the single-message marketing mindset very clearly is in the merchandise offerings and placement within the parks. I’m an old-school Disneylander (started visiting in 1978), and I still have in my possession a buckskin leather drawstring pouch that I bought from a Native-American-themed store just up the walkway from the Country Bear Jamboree. I’ve kept it specifically because it was the only place I’d ever seen one of those for sale when I was a kid (it’s still in great shape btw). It really hit me how badly they’d lost their marketing way when I saw Haunted Mansion merchandise for sale in the store at the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean. I just couldn’t reconcile in my head why the heck they had done that.

    Sorry to ramble folks… One last comment which a few others have noted. I wish Disney would let their folks start to build lands or attractions that demonstrate some originality in terms of theme and/or subject matter. Everything has to be derived from some existing entertainment property these days. Cars Land is good stuff I’ll grant you, but there’s some bit of Walt’s soul missing from the place somehow… Maybe it’s just me…

  • DisneyIPresume

    In regards to the all nighter couldn’t TDA have spit off an email to TDO simply saying “no”?

    As for the Christmas parties — it’s not going to work. USH is free. Knotts is free. For Disney to think the locals are going to flock to a paid event they are in for a big surprise. Halloween is one thing. Christmas is something entirely different.

  • Disneylandfan85

    I won’t be going until hopefully late June, so I should be able to dodge a bullet here.

  • reoking

    I think that you meant to say Mickey and the Magical Map (which I happened to see at the CM preview yesterday. BTW, pretty cool integration of live stage and video.

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update

  • SiRocket

    so you are telling me that my Premium AP that went up $150 last year isn’t going to be good for christmas disneyland offerings?… I guess ill have to get my money back more often from “free” refills at pizza port, and food complaints at carthay… it’s only fair right? ;)

  • toonaspie

    I can’t tell you how upsetting this whole Monstropolis project is. I wish they had pitched this idea to WDW one more time were it is more needed and more fitting to theme. And with that in mind, the fact that WDW getting a Carsland without an E-ticket (currently) over a unique is already disappointing enough…even if we did get the coaster in the future, it will have been cloned over from DCA.

    Someone get me some contact information since this is the closest I can get to knocking some sense into the nutjobs running the US parks right now.

  • laurainwonderland

    I hate the Christmas party idea! That means they are going to close the park early and charge the same price on a Friday. I could care less about the parade and fireworks, I just want to go ride the rides until midnight. Now I have to pay and extra $60 to do that? I was planning on taking my daughter for her 28th birthday, but now I’m rethinking the trip. It’s a lot of money to pay for flights and hotels just to be kicked out of the park at 7pm.

    What if everyone started to post their opinions of this Christmas party nonsense on their Facebook page?

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  • parkduck

    If the hard ticketed event will mean that you can see the Christmas offerings without being crushed to death, then I’m all for it. If they oversell and crowd the party, then it will be pointless. I really don’t think that they are supposing that the locals will “flock to” these events, as someone previously suggested was their thinking; I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were hoping that they wouldn’t. I know when I used to be a local passholder I tried to experience the Christmas offerings as many times as possible during their run; that was fun for me but perhaps it is more equitable this way. The locals that do go will most likely only go once, and then more people will get to see things once in an enjoyable fashion, rather than a miserably crowded one. Also I don’t see them as being too worried that this issue or the price hikes will cause some people not to renew their passes; again, they might see that as an upside. Vacationing visitors are becoming increasingly distressed by the crowded conditions and many of them are vowing “never again” after their most recent frustrating visit. As a current WDW CM, I will continue to visit no matter what they do, of course; nothing could make me quit Disneyland, but I have to say that the crowds there these days are a real bummer.