Disneyland is 58 years old this week and we were there to help the gracefully aging park celebrate with an event held in Town Square on Wednesday.  We also stop by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to check on the progress of the multi-month refurbishment taking place on that much missed e-ticket attraction.  There are also some troubling issues in the esplanade that need addressing.  Are they cause for concern?  Finally we consider the dumbing down of the menu at the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure.  Good thing?  Bad thing?  You be the judge.


Disneyland celebrated its 58th birthday on Wednesday with a small celebration in Town Square on Main Street. Crowds lined the streets, eager to see what would happen at the special moment.  Guests were encouraged to show up by 2:00pm to learn how they could take part in the 2:30pm event – by 1:30, there was already a large crowd waiting in the oppressive heat.  At 2, the Mayor of Main Street took to the podium in Town Square and introduced a perky Disney choreographer.  She welcomed the crowd and explained how they could all take part in the celebration.




Don't cry for me Argentina!

 She ran the entire group of guests through basic arm choreography to the pop remix of, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.”  After she ran us all through the moves, she did the whole number two more times just to be sure that we were all overheated and sweaty.  At this point, those around yours truly were beginning to grow weary of the hyper-processed, auto-tuned version of the song.





I never thought I would see the mayor of Main Street doing this.
Spot the hidden Andy Castro. Go ahead, we'll wait.
Lots of people on the Train Station.


The ceremony began and the Mayor invited 58 of his best friends to come out and join the party.


Suddenly the streets filled with characters who all took their positions and began the dance that we were all taught half an hour earlier.












Low-level pyrotechnic effects were launched from the rooftops of the Emporium and Disney Showcase, Walt’s original opening-day speech played, then it was over.  It is a nice thing to see the park allow guests to celebrate a moment like this.  Especially considering the strong feelings of ownership that Disneylanders have for Walt’s original Magic Kingdom.

However, there were a few odd little details.  The gimmick of having 58 characters populate the street was a fun one. But teaching the guests banal upper body dance aerobics felt more like a stab at filling the space with non-paid performers.  But the curious thing that many were asking is, where was Michael Colglazier, the new President of the Disneyland Resort?  It just seemed like the perfect opportunity to connect with the die-hard fans and guests.  We would have loved to have seen him.


Despite our minor quibbles, we have to commend Disneyland for acknowledging the importance of this moment in time and marking it with a celebration.


While crossing through the esplanade between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure we noticed something that many folks may just ignore, but which has been increasingly bothering us.  You see, during the original planning of DCA, a more garden-like central plaza was considered for the area between the two parks.  Sadly, all that we ended up with was a brick paved area, funded mostly by fans who paid to have their names displayed on a brick, and the terrazzo compass in the center where a fountain should be.


Well, the compass area has remained a headache for management since its installation. It continues to break and chip due to the direct weather conditions and heavy traffic that it contends with.





Sadly, rather than patching with matching stone and grout, they are just using tinted concrete (and in some cases not even tinted).


In this case, they aren’t even trying to camouflage the damage.


While our first reaction was disappointment at this scene, we began to wonder what this level of disrepair really means. It could just be that there is a diminished level of concern for maintenance in the parks. But we hope that it really means that they aren’t bothering with the expensive repairs because the long rumored retheme of the area into a greener space with a fountain might be close at hand.  Not far away, Disney spared no expense in replacing the almost indiscernible issues with the terrazzo entry into the Carthay Circle Theater Restaurant.  But here, out in the esplanade area, a similar terrazzo has been left to the mercy of the elements.  Let’s hope that a bigger, better future is in store for this area soon.


Speaking of the main entrance area, while waiting in line at Disneyland, we noticed that the entrance gates were in need of a little bit of attention as well. From a distance, all looks well. But as you get closer . . .

Paint is cracking and peeling
There’s a lot wrong in this photo, cracking paint all over and even a missing shingle.

Remember those premium prices the next time you cross the esplanade or spin the turnstiles.


This week saw the return of a few key effects on the Big Thunder Mountain attraction.  Not the least of which is the iconic, dynamite-eating goat at the top of the second lift hill.


Remember the movie Westworld? We saw a little something fun that reminded us of that campy 1973 film while taking our photos this week. As the goat was being installed, you could see the inner workings of the figure as they fine tune his performance.  It’s something you almost never see in the parks and was really a really neat opportunity!

Talk about a goat trick!

Along the side and front of the attraction, scaffolding continues to migrate around the outer surface of the rocks.  The painters are revitalizing the worn ochre tones with vibrant brick and orange hues.








Rainbow Ridge seems to be nearly complete as the diorama’s buildings have been aged and look ready for final dressings.








We have two fascinating podcasts for your today. The latest MiceChat Podcast is seeing record downloads for our show featuring Ursula the Sea Witch (Pat Carroll) and Bob Gurr. If you haven’t taken a moment to listen in, we invite you to do so today. And Pat has a message for you and your kids, so invite the family to listen along, it might just ignite their passion for greatness.

Direct Link iTunes Link

We also have a special treat from Disney Historians Jeff Kurtti and Keith Gluck, in which Jeff discusses his time in Disney Imagineering and the magazine he created for the department called the WDeye. It’s really fascinating stuff from the Coffee With Kurtti Podcast.

Listen in as Jeff fills us in on who these AMAZING people on the cover of the magazine are. You’ll never forget this photo.

Direct Link |iTunes Link



As we enter Disney California Adventure, we can’t help but appreciate the wonderful work the Imagineers did in setting the optimistic tone for the park from the moment you set foot in it.



Our favorite citizen, Donna, was out again to great visitors to her lovely part of town.



A regrettable change has occurred at the charming FF&P Starbucks location that has left a bad taste in our mouths.  No more cheesy roast beef or roasted vegetable sandwiches.  No more soup.  Those items that were unique have been removed in favor of items that have far less prep time.  The menu has been simplified and food options have been narrowed down to either cold sandwiches and salads, or the usual breakfast sandwiches you can order at any local Starbucks.



Do you want a sandwich?  Serve yourself.  It’s still just as expensive though.







The menu above now only features the usual Starbucks fare.







The cooling case that used to display the nice variety of food options now simply shows off the very basic choices that can be found at any Disney bakery or local Starbucks.


Mmmmmmm floppy breakfast sandwiches.
This display case does little to tempt us with the boring breakfast sandwiches that we’ve all been buying for years from our neighborhood Starbucks. Where’s the creativity?!


$5.00, Really?



We understand that changes must sometimes be made in order to more efficiently serve the thousands of guests that visit a location.  But why such a drastic, unilateral, change in a menu that previously offered something different and quite appetizing?  This alteration is regrettable in that it is abundantly clear that neither guest satisfaction nor customer experience were seriously considered.

What do you think about the changes to the menu at the FF&P?  Were you there for the 58th Birthday celebration for Disneyland?  If so, did you enjoy it?  What would you like to see happen to the esplanade between the two parks?

  • BC_DisneyGeek

    A shame about the menu changes, the hot roast beef sandwich was one of the best things I ate in the resort the last time I visited.

    • Susan Hughes

      Fortunately, just a hop and a skip away is the Jolly Holiday Bakery at Disneyland with a KILLER roast beef sandwich. Made fresh everyday.

      • Internitty

        Or the Earl of Sandwich 🙂

  • DCAfanatic

    Why is Michael Colglazier in hiding , very interesting! I think his reign will be short!

    • I don’t think he’s in hiding. But it would have been good PR to be seen and give a short speech at such an auspicious occasion. I really like Michael, but he needs to learn that the locals crowd in CA is much different than the mix of folks in FL. Lots more folks out here who take an active interest in the parks and want to see and get to know their park president.

      You are an attractive well-spoken man Michael, get out there and own your PR.

      • LoveStallion

        Amen to that. I think Colglazier doesn’t understand local crowds yet. Everyone in OC is not a forgettable tourist with money to burn. They are people who love the park and treat it like a part of their family.

        Mike dropped the ball here. Was it a necessary appearance? No, but if you are heading the park, show up to celebrate its birthday, for goodness’ sake.

      • Paindudess

        Actually, it”s rather disrespectful he was not present for the “celebration”. George was there last year, up at the train station, with an entourage. Maybe it was too hot for Michael…coming from Fla. that seems a stretch, though. Corporate just does NOT understand the big difference in cultures/demographics between Disneyland, with its very devoted to Walt fan base and WDW, mostly of a transient and widespread visitors/cast demographic(and by transient, I mean not built-in, like we have in SoCal).

      • RandySavage

        Colglazier left Animal Kingdom in far worse shape than when he “found” it. He might be an affable guy, but theme park quality diminishes under his leadership.

    • Norman Gidney

      Oh Michael is a great guy, very nice, very welcoming. But the fans out here in Disneyland are the rare breed of park goer that WANT to know who is in charge of their beloved park and they like to have a voice. It’s a far cry from Florida where the majority of guests there wouldn’t know him from Adam.

      I think he is certainly sincere, obliging even. I have faith that he will learn that public appearances and interaction are invaluable out here.

      • Disneymike

        By then his 3 years will be up 😉

      • Westsider

        And he’s only got two years and five months left. January, 2016 and then he’s on to other things, or he “retires” so he can “spend more time with family” and ends up at another company 60 days later.

        January, 2016. Tick, tick, tick…

  • Susan Hughes

    I hope that the decay inside the Entrance Plaza does indicate they will be giving it a renovation. Perhaps in time for Disneyland’s 60th birthday. Or maybe they just figured this area is free to the public, so why bother.

    • Gullywhumper

      Disney often will put temporary patches on places awaiting a major redo. I hope the Esplanade receives an upgrade, perhaps starting as early as this late August, at the end of the summer season. A fountain in the center of the Esplanade surrounded by floral landscaping, some stately, tall, large trees on both the east and west sides of the entry plaza, just behind the ticket booths, trees tall enough to cast shade into the heart of the Esplanade. This alone would transform the space without removing the commerative paving stones. I have three commemorative pavers, one with the names of my family, one with the names of friends I’ve gone to the park frequently with over the last 40 years, one with the names of friends and family I went to Disneyland with July 17th, 2005. I hope the commemorative bricks are there for a long time to come.

  • Gregg Condon

    Wow, quite disappointed in the menu changes. The Roast Beef was delicious and was one of our favorite new things we ate on our last visit in January.

  • judearmstrong

    The celebration reminds me of the parade where they plucked guests from the crowd and gave them hats, stuck them in the omnibus and called it a parade. I always thought it would be neat to see a reenactment of Walt’s speech done, not only the dedication of the park but of all the lands as well. It is an off anniversary but maybe for the 60th? Just don’t bring back Arnold in his gold suit.

    The esplanade is that awkward no mans land between the resorts, at least a fountain would break it up. That area gets extremely warm durning the summer what with all the concrete, my family does have a brick there so I hope they don’t tear that part up, but it would be nice to something creative that would enhance that area

    And further, I’m quite surprised at the pricing at Starbucks, I thought it would cost an arm for a coffee and a leg for a latte, boy was that surprising to see that at least the drinks are reasonable

    • Erik Olson

      I thought the prices at WDW Starbucks location were among the most reasonable in the MK park.

    • Internitty

      Tom Hanks should totally reenact Walt’s speech for the 60th or next year at least to promote Saving Mr Banks. I think something like that though would be cool for the 60th and people would get it 🙂

      • pineapplewhipaddict

        That would be pretty awesome.

  • eicarr

    Everything is looking great!!

    I wish they put any money laying around into Tomorrowland band-aids rather than the esplanade or the constant Main Street remodels. The black top parking lot worked fine for over 40 years outside the entrance.

    Obviously Michael is already looking ahead to his next position, but he seemed nice and I wish him luck wherever he’s going.

  • Marko50

    Last Tuesday I went and complained at the Chamber of Commerce (because I forgot the Tuesday before) about the change of menu at the FF&P Cafe. All four or five of the CM’s agreed with me and said if enough people complained they might change it back again. So on their behalf – and mine – and hopefully yours – please go to the CofC and complain. Who knows? It might work!

  • mcstewart37

    Starbucks is rolling out La Boulange pastries and sandwiches to stores in LA sometime in September, hopefully they also come to DLR. The new pastries are SO good!!

  • themur

    If Michael Colglazier had made an appearance which may have included some prepared words how many people on this site would have complained that it was a slickly handled PR moment and why is he taking away from DL birthday?

    The one unknown regarding the menu changes is how many sandwiches were actually being sold. It is great to have interesting menu items and we may like them but if they aren’t selling then you move on to something else.

    I do hope that the plaza undergoes a remodel. A fountain and more green would be great.

    • That’s overly cynical. We never complained when George Kalogridis made appearances. Quite the opposite, it was one of the reasons we loved him so much. Michael can get to the same status, but he has to get in front of the fans to do it!

      • themur

        Didn’t mean necessarily the contributors to the site but the members. Always seems that for every positive take their is a loud naysayer. Just the way of a passionate fan group!

    • unclemike

      He is the president of the place. Would have been nice for him to make an appearance on DL’s birthday.

      Nobody complained when he stepped behind a cart and served popcorn back in February.

      • Norman Gidney

        Well, yes they did actually. But not on this site. Other sites asserted that it was a staged publicity stunt with MiceChat. lol. I was there. I took that shot. Had I walked down Main Street two minutes later I would not have run into Michael near Coke Corner and said hi, nor would I have learned he was about to go learn how to work the popcorn cart. It was total chance that I was there.

    • DLFan1995

      If they weren’t selling the GOOD sandwiches, how would they expect to sell the cold off-the-shelf ones?

  • bayouguy

    I was becoming a fan of FF&P Cafe. The menu change was a stopper. The cafe has turned into a 7-11. So I’ll eat elsewhere.

    • Disneymike

      “The cafe has turned into a 7-11”
      Nope, into a Starbucks that you can find on any street corner in the US.
      Now that I think about it, it is like a 7-11!

  • DisWedWay

    Hope they put the signage and star back on the crown of the Mineral Hall facade as it was in Natures Wonderland days. The window isn’t enough. It doesn’t matter if the lower level of the Mineral Hall building is now a part of the Mexican restaurant. They could always offer “Stone Ground Tortillas”.

    • DisWedWay

      I remember when Imagineerings David Mumford (The Nickel Tour) was selling the WD Eye’s and NewsReels at the old Disneyland Disneyana Conventions. Black and white issues were about $12.00, and special color editions could be $25.00. I saw some of the old 1980 Walt Disney World magazines on E-Bay recently from a retired employee.

  • rwsmith

    Until the recent refurbishment, dining at DCA sucked. The Chicken shish kabobs & Flo’s were transformational not only because of their quality, but where they were located. You can eat your chicken in a nice patio area shaded by oak trees and entertained by some cool music. Flo’s diner is thematically cool and the food is excellent and priced well. The final choice for me when I wanted something quick or near the front gates was the cheesy roast beef sandwich. It was a little pricy, but outstanding. What a shame we’ll no longer have this choice.

    • Norman Gidney

      Agreed. Flo’s is a restaurant that I catch myself craving every so often. That NEVER happened with the dining that was there before. But the marriage of location and good food is a hallmark of a Disney park. They got it right in the redo.

      • martinjbell1986

        What do you like at Flo’s? I keep looking at their menu and nothing ever pops out at me so we’ve never eaten there.

      • DavePurz

        Flo’s is now our 1st choice for dining at DCA. We’ve had the Roast Beef, BBQ Pork Loin, and Citrus Turkey Breast. ALL were delicious. I especially like the Vegetarian Baked Beans. They are very flavorful and taste a bit like Staggs Chili. Our other fave are the Mediterranean Skewers at Paradise Garden Grill.

        FF&P was on our “try” list, but now they’ve been removed.

      • El Bandolero

        Breakfast at Flo’s is also pretty good. They have this Chicken Tamale breakfast dish that is incredible, find myself craving it often!

    • rwsmith

      The roast beef is awesome, easily worth $11.99. Considering my late, great cheesy roast beef sandwich was over $9.

      And before the remodel the dining was dead center and hot dogs and rock hard chicken strips along the front with very bad burgers. Food, good food, is more spread out. Not as much anymore, however, without my cheesy roast beef sandwich.

  • melissafent

    The roast beef and cheddar sandwich at FF&P was really good,as APs we would go just for those so it’s a shame they took away these unique items and dumbed down to a generic menu!

  • SiRocket

    ridiculous on the cookie cutter menu items…. the gf loves starbucks and would visit here since i would get a hot “NON COOKIE CUTTER” sandwich, and she would get her coffee… We have no intent on visiting here.

    Shouts to disney for charging us more but taking the good stuff away.. classy.

  • martinjbell1986

    The plaza remodel would be a great idea! Another great picture spot would be nice since the CALIFORNIA leters are gone

  • Skimbob

    It could be the new president is buried in coming up with new attractions since the big boss was just there recently. I hope Bob got the budget he was asking for because to me the parks are everything and the movies as of late are only so so. I spend a small fortune on both coasts so I want to see some love thrown to the parks. DCA is a prime example of doing something spectacular. This is the Disney I know and love. Thank you Walt for starting this 58 years ago. Your legacy lives on.

  • scarymouse

    Great job fish once again,The espanade definetly needs attention. It always feels like walking across the desert, green it up put something alive in the space.As for Mike, well it is dissapointing because he started so good.Do you think Walt would have missed a birthday at the place he held so dear to his heart ? I for one don’t think so. Maybe he should be more “what would Walt do?” Although I’m sure he is busy with all the plans for the new attractions maybe a e ticket dark ride for the esplanade they could squeeze out another 20 bucks from people waitng to get in……..lol

  • Big D

    Well, I’ll be the dissenting opinion on here, I like the Starbucks menu so I prefer the changes myself. I’m going to guess here that they may have gotten a lot of complaints when people saw there was a Starbucks in the park, and then when they went into the restaurant they discovered that they couldn’t get their chocolate chip banana nut cake or their spinach feta wrap. However, I do hope that Disney decides to offer the original items from FF&P at a different location since so many people did like it.

    • I don’t think so. They have offered the Starbucks breakfast items since day one. All they’ve done here is remove the interesting Disney stuff and replaced it with WAY over priced cold stuff that you pick up yourself from the fridge. It’s a cost cutting move and an efficiency thing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t enhance the location. It’s a cutback.

      • Disneymike

        Yep. Once again all the FF&P Cafe is now is JUST a Starbucks in a theme park. Nothing special about it at all.

  • JCSkipr79

    Notice how this menu change happened after MKs Starbucks opened? Maybe Queen Megara told Michael to do it?

    • With One Disney, we will likely eventually end up with the same offerings at all of the Disney Starbucks locations. The WDW version offers even less than the DCA version. 🙁

  • DavePurz

    FF&P was on our list to try in October, but now that the menu has changed, we WON’T be eating here. The whole POINT of trying it was its unique offering of hot handmade sandwiches and soups. I REFUSE to pay $11 for a cold sandwich that’s available at any 7-11 or just about any gas station, especially when you can get FAR bigger portions and better quality at your local Quiznos.

  • Micah

    That’s too bad about the disrepair showing up in these spots. Any update on the Splash Mountain animatronics that have been broken for a couple months?

  • PatMcDuck

    Just to say that while the “Mayor” of DL’s Main street might be a very nice guy, the “Mayor” at the MK is truly an outstanding cast member, just a really nice guy, so friendly and sweet, I love talking to him…

    Great report as usual.

  • Edward Allen

    Well, at least the billy goat is going to be back on the refurbished Thunder Mountain RR. I’m truly surprised – I thought they would dump him as another cost cutting move.

    Now how about putting that black leopard back on his rock where the Disneyland RR tracks approached Adventureland? He didn’t move but at least he was something to look at as you steamed past. Maybe all the dough they’re saving on food and repairs to the plaza could bankroll that.

  • danielz6

    Boy I gotta say I’m really getting tired of the Disney experience eroding while prices continue to soar. FFP cafe was one of my favorite things about DCA 2.0. It was wonderful sitting and enjoying a hot sandwich while watching the beautiful Buena vista street outside. Its not just about the food, its an entire experience that we’ve lost. In the future I guess ill eat at Earl of sandwich or jolly holliday. But I’m about 90% sure that I will not be renewing my Disneyland AP until I see the US Parks getting as much care and investment as the foreign Parks. I just came back from Tokyo Disney sea and the difference between that and DCA is staggering. The park is immaculate. The attractions are the best I’ve ever experienced anywhere, and the cast members are the icing on the cake so to speak. I believe there is no better example on earth of Walts ideas of continual plussing, and quality of show and storytelling as Tokyo Disney.
    In the coming years I’ll be using my normal Disneyland dollars and spend them visiting Universal Orlando and Tokyo Disney resort. I encourage everyone to get to Tokyo for a 4 day visit. It will be the best theme park experience of your life, as it was for me.

    • Marko50

      Tokyo parks aren’t owned by Disney. That’s why they’re so much better.

    • Gullywhumper

      Daniel, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • Tinkbelle

    We never buy cold sandwiches at DLR – NEVER. It seems ridiculous to have an indoor sit-down restaurant that doesn’t offer hot food. Preposterous.

    That is nice that the birthday parade had some rare characters in it. It is too bad that Michael didn’t show. I’m also distressed that the park isn’t being kept up as it should. I miss Ouimet 🙁 . Come back to us, Matt!

    Are we sure that BTMRR is behind schedule? It looks ahead of schedule in the pictures. (Still holding onto the outlandish hope that it will open in September).

  • Crazee4mm

    They also recently stopped serving BBQ ribs at The Taste Pilots Grill too. Now it’s just burgers and salads mostly.

    • pineapplewhipaddict

      I went there recently with a large group and we were pretty disappointed about that.

  • pineapplewhipaddict

    I’m hoping that the esplanade gets that makeover – it would be so nice! Truthfully, any time I see that something at DLR is in significantly bad shape is when I have the most hope. Last time I visited Disneyland I went to Innoventions (shocker, I know) to show someone the Iron Man exhibit. Guests enter now through the exit and have been for a while. As I was leaving, I just had to ask a CM, “Will Tom Morrow ever see the light of day here again?” and the CM immediately and confidently responded with, “No.” Which tells me that Disney is just waiting on that Tomorrowland re-do and that Innoventions won’t be around much longer.

    The Starbucks menu change is a bit of a bummer, but truthfully I never purchased a sandwich there so it really doesn’t bother me too much. I’ve only gone there to get a Starbucks drink.

    Neat find with the goat, though it’s making me feel like I’ve seen some sort of bizarre taxidermy 0_0

  • ghosty4

    The soups and sandwiches at FF&P were SO GOOD! Possibly my most favorite at the resort. Curse you Starbucks for ruining the FF&P Cafe!! *shakes fist*