In The Parks: Pumpkins, Bumpkins, and a Little Starbucks Somthin’

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disney, Disney News, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, In the Parks

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Published on September 20, 2013 at 3:00 am with 29 Comments

It’s Halloweentime at the Disneyland resort and the season is just about ready to kick into high gear.  The first Mickey’s Halloween Party will stroll into Disneyland park a week from today (on September 27th) and the new Starbucks location on Main Street will be opened on September 25, just in time to serve up Pumpkin Spice Lattes to all the revelers.  In the meantime, the Fantasyland railing work continues and King Arthur Carousel is down for several weeks of TLC.  Over in Disney California Adventure we go searching for signs of HalloweenTime and share our thoughts on the sweeping changes to the disabled access programs that broke in the MiceAge update on Tuesday.

Ahhhh, the autumn air breezes through the harvest style bunting on Main Street U.S.A and a world class theme park prepares to hold its annual Mickey’s Halloween Party, starting September 27th.

A LITTLE MUSIC TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD

MiceChat has partnered with the phenomenal Window to the Magic podcast on our MicePod network to bring you the sounds of the parks. Today, we’ve got a special recording in the park of the Main Street music loop. Hit play below and enjoy the sounds of Disneyland while reading this update. And for a special treat, put on some headphones, it’s simply amazing what you’ll hear on this high fidelity recording.

Direct Download

A Peek Inside Starbucks

This week we chanced by the new Starbucks location, set to officially open on September 25th. and found a large hole in the window covering.  So, we looked inside. Wouldn’t you?

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The store is on track and seems just about ready to open.  The menu boards do not appear to have been installed yet.  But notice there are already cast members in full costume being trained behind the counter.    Also, notice the coolers.  There are fresh, perishable goods, ready to be sold in the cold cases.  How long a shelf life can a yogurt parfait have?  Not long.  Which means we could see this location open sooner than expected . . . perhaps for cast member testing or limited soft openings.

HalloweenTime

Let’s take a moment to enjoy Halloween Time at Disneyland Park.  The bright, dazzling tones of orange, red, and yellow throughout are so much fun, as are the additions of the themed overlays of Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain. And don’t forget the ADORABLE Halloween Carnival in Big Thunder Ranch. For Family Halloween fun, you really can’t beat Disneyland at this time of year.  You might pay dearly for it, but it is the best.

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Celosia in Town Square.

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Pumpkins dot the balconies along Main Street.

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The hub with pumpkins representing every land in the park.

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The stunning floral displays at the Dia De Los Muertos plaza in Frontierland are often overshadowed by the colorful display.

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The Dapper Dans in their black and orange best.

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Haunted Mansion Holiday in the 13th year is better than ever.

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Holiday antenna toppers for those that still have antenna.

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Ghost Galaxy returns and provides an extra kick to the classic attraction

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Fantasyland Rooftops

Fantasyland continues with the safety railing enhancement project on the rooftops.  What has been revealed so far actually looks pretty good. If they have to install railings, this is the way to do it.

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The castle-like walls keep workers (who presumably can’t be trusted as the workers of the past 60 years could) from falling off the rooftops. But at least the new walls/railings don’t look too bad here.

 King Arthur Carousel

The refurbishment of the King Arthur Carousel allows the rust to be removed from the canopy, repaint the horses and care for the ride mechanism.  The attraction is not set to reopen until Friday, October 11th.

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It’s a shame that with all of the spectacular offerings inside Disneyland park, that hardly any Halloween decorations have made their way into Disney California Adventure.

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Nothing on Buena Vista Street that is overtly Halloween themed. Where’s the orange bunting, pumpkins and window overlays?

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Not much in the windows.

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Wait! Okay, rust-colored mums. That works.

Mad T Party has a few very subtle bits of theme here and there.  If you weren’t looking for it you would easily miss the Ikea style cut-out swirls and white spiders on the arch way.  But notice the funny, green candelabras.  See?  Spooky.

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While a mere shadow of the one season when they really decorated it for Halloween, the Tower of Terror does have a few knickknacks here and there.  They mainly populate the exit gift shop and the store windows there.

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Paradise Garden Grill is offering a stretch in the Halloween Time theme by offering extra garlic on a flatbread pizza.  Now that’s theme. ;)

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The lack of Halloween Time in Disney California Adventure is disappointing.  The wonderful retro Halloween decor that has been seen in the past is gone and not used.  Instead of decorations there is only the slightest suggestion of this increasingly popular holiday.

After the HUGE Friday the 13th crowds, perhaps Disney has learned that they underestimate the power of Halloween to draw a crowd. Adding decorations and attraction overlays in California Adventure could further enhance the resort’s bottom line, not take away from it. Ramp it up Disney. We want a haunted DCA. Give us a digital Halloween update to Midway Mania. Put a spooky new film in California Sorin’, add some pumpkins on Buena Vista Street. Put the vampire bat arch back up in front of Tower of Terror. Put the Cars Land characters in Halloween costumes. Have some FUN with this wonderful holiday.

Come on readers, give Disney some ideas in the comments section below. Hopefully we’ll see some of them implemented next year.

Boudin Exterior Refurb

The Boudin Bakery exterior has gone behind scaffolds to allow for exterior refurbishment.

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Duffy Halloween

There is a small bit of Halloween at the Duffy meet and greet.  We caught him without his festive backdrop, as it was still being constructed apparently.  But hey, Duffy’s in a pumpkin costume. Still no line of guest though. This adorable guy just doesn’t get the love.

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Please hug me

Paradise Garden

Lastly, we see that the Paradise garden area has gone back behind construction walls.  Could we be seeing something better here soon? PLEASE!

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DISABLED ACCESS IN THE PARKS – GAC/DAS

Finally, we get to the news that broke on Tuesday that the current Guest Assistance Card system which hundreds of thousands of disabled folks have used over the years is being completely transformed. In the place of the well known GAC will be the new Disabled Assistance System, or “DAS.”  The idea behind the change is to eliminate fraud in the system and restore fairness. Those folks who have been abusing the system won’t get much advantage out of the new system. And a wheelchair along won’t be enough to get  you right up to the front of the line.  Many unscrupulous folks who weren’t disabled learned how to use the GAC as the ultimate FastPass.

But, as described in the MiceAge column on Tuesday, the new DAS system looks like it will be able to tackle the cheaters without denying access to those who need it. Though, we are sure that there are kinks in the system surrounding issuing of the passes at Guest Relations and the creation of kiosks where DAS users will need to schedule their ride times.  It’s obvious that Disney wants to do the right thing here and they are to be commended for addressing such a touchy issue.

But, from the comments we’ve seen so far, MANY folks who used the old GAC system aren’t happy with the situation. Some are downright hostile about it. Which is why Disney will be staffing security at Guest Relations.

Through all the debate, pros and cons of this situation, we would like you to keep one thing in mind . . . the whole point of this system is to allow folks with injuries and disabilities to enjoy Disneyland. Take for instance Tim Grassey’s wonderful article on how the GAC card has helped to make his autistic brother’s visits to the Disney parks more enjoyable and less stressful. When we scoff at the cheaters in the system, we need to be careful not to condemn the folks, many of whom suffer through life, who really do need supportive services from Disney.

You can read all about the GAC/DAS changes in our last MiceAge Update.

Our guess is that while the system seems very strict and perhaps even complicated to some, Disney will find a way to make things work for those that need it.

And now, for your listening pleasure:

Need a feel good Disney experience? The last MiceChat Podcast delivers on that promise. In fact, some of you may even experience tears of joy, as our own Dusty Sage did during the recording of this episode. And the broadcast seems to have touched a nerve, delivering record downloads for the last three days in a row. Give it a listen and see if you have a similar reaction.

Direct Link | iTunes Link

That about wraps up this update.  We hope to see you soon In The 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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29 Comments

Comments for In The Parks: Pumpkins, Bumpkins, and a Little Starbucks Somthin’ are now closed.

  1. I wonder what the backstory is on why there are no Halloween decorations at DAC on the level that there are at Disneyland. It feels strange that they would have such a great set of displays just across the esplanade and then relatively nothing in the other park. Is it a budget reason? Or is the thinking that Disneyland is the Halloween destination and they want people to gravitate there for the MNSSHP? Maybe they think that if DAC was decorated for Halloween that less people would want to go to the ticketed event.

    I’m happy that the GAC program has been changed to eliminate fraud. It’s about time. But I hope we get a lot of scrutiny on this to ensure that no one who legitimately has mobility or other issues is inconvenienced and the only people losing access are the ones who were scamming and abusing the old system. It feels to me like the only people who would be angry and making noise about this are the ones who were abusing the card before.

    Those new railings they are putting everywhere prove that Disney is scared of lawsuits. There’s no way that someone with a disability will be denied appropriate access to attractions. If they are that scared of someone falling off buildings no one has ever fallen off before then I highly doubt that Disney is going to break the Americans With Disabilities statutes. That’s a PR nightmare for them. I think they are being extra super cautious to make sure the only people who will be cut out of the new GAC replacement are the ones who abused it in the past.

  2. How long has Disney been trying to establish Duffy here in the U.S.? It’s simply not working on either coast. Somebody high-up must be really be attached to the idea. Yes, I know he is very popular in the Japanese parks but they’ve had plenty of time to see if he “works” here and the answer is pretty obvious. I think he is just a bland looking “character” but if they really wanted to make an effort with him they really need to do something big like a TV series.

    • I don’t think they’ve been trying to “establish Duffy” on the scale of Mickey or the rest of the Fab Five. What I think they are trying to do with Duffy is to make him a feature of DCA (along with Oswald) so that park has some characters unique to it. I’m not 100% certain but I believe they used Duffy in EPCOT in Florida and once again I think the intent is to have Duffy in time become a recognizable figure of that park.

      I don’t believe they want to make Duffy a superstar here in the US, but in parks that don’t have characters that are instantly recognizable “home park” characters I think Duffy could serve a niche. I know for a lot of people in their 30s and over Figment means “EPCOT” to them and at first DHS was supposed to have Roger Rabbit…but DCA never had a character that primarily was all about DCA. I think Duffy and Oswald are being groomed to become that, one or the other.

      • Both Figment and Oswald have been marketed more than Duffy ever has. If they want people to care about Duffy, then he should be featured in the park maps and various other paraphernalia around the resorts. As is, most people stumble upon his meet & greets or see a small bit of merchandise in the gift shops and say “Who is this supposed to be?”.

        I guess I just don’t understand the half-hearted effort they are making with this character. If it is a though-out strategy I don’t see how it has succeeded or will succeed going forward. If the goal is a unique character for Epcot or DCA, then both parks have far better alternatives.

      • Not knowing anyone in Disney Consumer Products, I don’t know if Duffy is a priority for merchandise sales or if TDA or TDO has any desire to make Duffy a big deal.

        It kind of feels like Duffy is there because possibly fans from Asia ask about him. Disney might have gotten enough of these comments about “Where’s Duffy?” to put him in there…but not enough interest from US guests to do anything more with Duffy.

        But, he seems to make his fans happy by being there…though you are right in the fact that there’s no big effort to make Duffy US-based fans.

    • Funny, I was just thinking the same thing: How much longer are they going to try to make Duffy happen here?

    • The only place you see Duffy is in the stores. He ain’t remotely catching on. Never see any kid or adult with one or buying one. If it was desirable folks would see it and buy it. You don’t have to keep pushing and pushing it if it’s good.
      Time to pull the plug on Duffy.

      • Ok I was going to hold my tongue on this but I feel now I need to weigh in.

        I don’t know how it is in California, but at WDW I see people carrying around Duffy. Not everyone but some. I take my own Duffy with me when I visit WDW (which is once a month). I have guests and cast members come up to me all the time saying how cute he is and asking where I got whatever outfit Duffy is wearing that day (usually something from Build A Bear but sometimes he’s in one of his US Disney or TDS costumes). I’ve even personally talked people into buying Duffys for their kids or themselves.

        Duffy’s phenomenal success in Japan is a cultural thing. Over they they embrace anything that’s “cute” regardless if it has a backstory or not. Duffy merchandise sales count for at least 25% of the overall profit at the Tokyo Disney Resort. That’s HUGE. Here in the States, people can’t seem to connect to a character unless it’s from a movie or a TV show. Why can’t the American culture connect with an original character like Duffy? He has a backstory (take the time to read it sometime, he’s more than just “Mickey’s teddy”). the US parks saw the dollar signs and thought bringing him to the US again would be a big money generator and it’s not. They just don’t know how to market him on this side of the pond.

        I know I can’t change anyone’s mind who has theirs made up about Duffy. I just don’t get the hate for an innocent teddy bear that never did anyone any harm. I personally think he’s adorable and a great travel companion (a cute & cuddly version of the Travelocity gnome, if you will). But haters are going to hate.

      • Duffy is adorable, but isn’t even close to catching on in the states.

        I wish Duffy was more popular here. But short of putting him in movies or giving him his own TV special or series, I don’t think kids are going to latch on to him just because they sell him in the parks.

      • Personally I’ve never seen the appeal of Duffy from an American point of view. Mickey, donald, oswald et. al, are animated characters that starred in hundreds of cartoons. They are full of personality and character, wheras duffy is just a teddy bear. He seems vastly inferior to his animated counterparts. I don’t see any difference between him and a bear you can get at hallmark. Duffy is just disney trying to make money for nothing. I’d rather buy winnie pooh, or baloo if I want a disney bear, but then again I’m not a japanese girl either haha.

    • Whenever we walk by my wife gets a Duffy photo. The good thing is there’s never much of a wait. Duffy does seem to be more popular at Disneyworld.

  3. I know that the time period for the poularity of Halloween as we know it was after the time period that Buena Vista Street is representing. However, the same thing can be said for Main Street, USA. So I don’t think that can be the issue. And they did have a bit more theeming last year, so what is the problem here? If they want to draw in the crowds to the whole resort area, theme the whole of the resort! Both parks, Downtown Disney, and the Hotels! Even this article fails to mention Downtown Disney and the hotels. Did any one check them, Dusty?

    • To my knowledge, Halloween became a thing people decorated for in the 1950s. Before that, I think it might have been a regional thing in some places, but not on a big scale. I grew up in the 80s and everyone decorated but I remember asking my grandmother once and she said that she didn’t have Halloween when she was a little girl but she did dress my mom up in the 1960s and kids were trick or treating then. She didn’t remember when trick or treating started, but it was sometime between the 1940s and the 1960s that it became a thing that people did all over the country. It would be a fun thing to research how it started.

  4. I agree that the lack of Halloween decor in DCA is a bit disappointing, but for people who want to enjoy a park’s natural beauty and not be inundated with holiday paraphernelia (especially since it’s still technically summer), DCA is an excellent escape. If they want to dive in to some holiday feels, head back over to Disneyland and be immersed. I think of it as a win-win.

  5. Halloween has been a big thing since the early 1900s. Take a look at the vintage Halloween decorations on eBay and see what year they were made.

  6. Maybe Disney will add Halloween decorations to DCA in October.

  7. I really liked the Window to the Magic podcast. Almost like being there!

  8. What a really cool music loop.. thanks! I will look forward to more Window to the Magic podcasts! =)

    • We are glad that you are enjoying the show! There are nearly 400 back episodes for you to enjoy, if you get the urge. Just search “wttm” in iTunes!

  9. I agree it’s dissapointing they don’t have Halloween represented in DCA. However maybe they feel the new offerings in DCA are still such a draw they don’t want to mess with it for now. I think in time they will put more Halloween decorations up and maybe offer some overlays such as those Fishbulb mentioned. Lets hope! Halloween at the turn of last century was very popular and was considered more of an adult holiday. Later it became more of a kids holiday. Of course now people of all ages enjoy it. Check out History Chanels The Haunted History of Halloween.

  10. I look forward to the revamped GAC card. My daughter is autistic and has trouble dealing with the crowded lines and time is an issue. She has emotional episodes if schedules are not kept to the minute. We have used the GAC for the last 3 years and when Radiator Springs started doing it differently I was hoping they would change the GAC more along those lines. Presto, now its here!
    I hope this works out. It churned my stomach to hear of people selling them selves to get people to the front of the lines. This new system sounds like it will add structure to a daily visit which falls right in line with my daughters meticulous timekeeping nature.

    Happy belated International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Avast ye land lubbers, Captain Pitchfork off to sea!

    • Thank you Captain Pitchfork. I agree with you and think the program will work much better than many former GAC, and eliminate much of the abuse.

      There are many online who are up in arms about the changes, but I think that comes from a fear of losing a perk that they’ve long enjoyed rather than realizing this is a way of saving a system that could not have been maintained at its current level of abuse.

  11. As disappointed as I am in the discontinuation of the GAC, as it will greatly affect my visits in the future, I sincerely urge my fellow disabled folks to please refrain from venting our frustration at the park’s castmembers. They are good, hardworking people who played no part in this change and DO NOT deserve to be harassed. So please, let’s show that the disabled community is one with dignity and class and reserve complaints for letters to Disney or respectfully filled out cards at City Hall. We simply should not tolerate tirades or anyone making a scene on our “behalf” concerning this matter.

    • It’s too late. Have you read some of the stuff that’s being written. Looks like Disney knew exactly what they were doing when the planned to have security available at Guest Relations when this program launches.

      But I don’t think the program will impact you as much as you think (other than weeding out a bunch of teenagers who shouldn’t be using the system at all).

      In addition to DAS, you’ll also be able to use your Fastpass. That’s a tremendous amount of access. And on all but the busiest days of the year, there are lots of attractions which require very little wait at all. I think folks should experience the new system (which was thought out with the help of disabled advocates) before dismissing it as ruining their Disney experience.

      We shall have to wait and see.

  12. Visited Tower of Terror this morning and overheard some people with a GAC being asked to get a Fastpass for the length of the line and come back. The people were not amused, but they took the Fastpass nonetheless. Good to see Disney sticking to their guns on this one.

  13. I am so happy to hear that they have finally revamped the GAC system. There have been many times I’ve been to Disneyland when some excited teenager would come racing out of City Hall, cheering and waiving their GAC card to their friends, laughing about how easy it was to get one. This would always enrage and disgust me. I suffer from Fibromyalgia, and while standing in long lines can be painful, it’s nothing compared to what other people with disabilities have to deal with, which is why I never took part in the program. I would much rather have someone, such as an autistic person or someone who is confined to a wheelchair take advantage of the system since their needs are greater than mine. Thank you Disney for finally addressing this issue. It makes the suffering I endure for those who rely on the system much easier to swallow.

  14. To expand on dreamsinger, it’s aggravating to see those teens run up to the line with a giddy smile, waiving their pass. We need to work with Disney to make the new system work for those that really need it.

  15. We can see the scarred Hollywood Tower Hotel from Buena Vista Street. Certainly the townsfolk must talk about what happened that night, October 31, 1939? Personally, I like asking the Citizens of Buena Vista Street if they are planning to go to Tip Top Club for the Halloween party. (muah hah hah) So not decorating really doesn’t make sense, since Halloween is encompassed into the story of Hollywood Land!