Disneyland is 58 years old, Starbucks loses variety in Disney California Adventure

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in In the Parks

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Published on July 19, 2013 at 4:00 am with 60 Comments

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

FRONT GATE

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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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 . . .

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Paint is cracking and peeling

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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.

BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN RAILROAD

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.

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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!

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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.

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

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MORE TO EXPLORE

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.

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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

 

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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.

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

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STARBUCKS MENU CHANGES

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.

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

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The menu above now only features the usual Starbucks fare.

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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.

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Mmmmmmm floppy breakfast sandwiches.

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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?!

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$5.00, Really?

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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?

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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60 Comments

Comments for Disneyland is 58 years old, Starbucks loses variety in Disney California Adventure are now closed.

  1. 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.

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

      • Or the Earl of Sandwich :)

  2. 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.

      • 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.

      • 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).

      • 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.

    • 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.

      • By then his 3 years will be up ;)

      • 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…

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

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

    • 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 :)

      • That would be pretty awesome.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!!

  9. 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!

      • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

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

  10. 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.

    • “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!

  11. 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”.

    • 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.

  12. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

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

    • 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

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