Disneyland will implement its new Disability Access Service this week, bringing an end to the popular but highly abused Guest Assistance Card program. The new system will function similarly to the Disney’s FASTPASS service, issuing return times for disabled guests. Meanwhile, last weekend tens of thousands of LGBT guests and allies visited the Disneyland Resort theme parks for the annual Gay Days Anaheim event. The event continues to grow each year and Disney’s support continues to increase every year as well with increased merchandise offerings and a growing number of special menu items for the weekend. Around the parks, various off-season refurbishments are underway and the first signs of holidays are starting to appear.

Don’t miss your weekly Disneyland Resort crowd forecast — provided by our friends at MouseAddict — in the Weekly News and Information Roundup at the end of today’s update!

Get a closer look at today’s update!
Click on any photo in the blog for a large, high-resolution version of the image.

There’s plenty to see today, so let’s get started.

Welcome to Disneyland!

Disability Access Service starts October 9

This week Disney will launch its new Disability Access Service (DAS), the controversial replacement for the existing Guest Assistance Card (GAC). The GAC system has notoriously been abused by guests and recent undercover investigations by news programs like the TODAY Show and publications including the New York Post exposed how far the abuse of the system had gone.

The new DAS Card system will go into effect on Wednesday and will essentially work as a FASTPASS for disabled guests. Like GAC, DAS Cards will be issued at City Hall in Disneyland and the Chamber of Commerce in Disney California Adventure. Obtaining a DAS Card will include a new registration process that will include guests having their photo taken, which will act as an additional way to curb abuse. The new system will allow guests to avoid waiting in traditional queues by issuing return times based on the attraction’s stand-by wait time. Similar to FASTPASS, the new DAS system allows the user to “skip the line” by waiting in a virtual queue, rather than the physical queue at the attraction. This is a big departure from the GAC system which essentially acted as an unlimited “front-of-line” pass, allowing guests to show the card and jump to the front of the line at a majority of attractions. The new system will now have disabled guests wait as long as everybody else for any given attraction, just not in the actual queue.

At Disneyland Resort, Guests using DAS will go to new kiosks located throughout the theme parks to obtain return times for attractions they wish to ride. The new DAS system only allows you to have a return time for one attraction at a time, similar to the FASTPASS system. Guests using DAS are encouraged to utilize Disney’s FASTPASS service in conjunction with DAS.

As with any major change, it’s always important to understand that there will be growing pains for everybody involved. If you are a guest needing assistance and plan on using the new Disability Access Service, please be patient with Cast Members while the new system is launched. There will likely be bumps along the way but keep in mind that Disney is doing their best to implement a working system that is fair and accommodating for all guests.

On Friday, Disney finally outlined the new DAS system to the public via the Disney Parks Blog. In addition to a lengthy FAQ list (copied below), Disney also released a letter Disney Parks and Resorts President Meg Crofton recently sent to organizations representing the autistic and disabled communities.

      Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card Fact Sheet
      Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment and accessible experiences for guests.
      Disney Parks is modifying the current Guest Assistance Card program, which provides access to attractions for guests with disabilities, so it can continue to serve the guests who truly need it. The new program is designed to provide the special experience guests have come to expect from Disney. It will also help control abuse that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate.
      The new Disability Access Service (DAS) Card will replace the Guest Assistance Card on Oct. 9. Guests at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort can request a Disability Access Service Card at Guest Relations. DAS Cardholders will receive a return time for attractions based on the current wait time.
      Disney Parks has long recognized and accommodated guests with varying needs. Guests can visit Guest Relations to discuss their individual situation, and Disney Parks will continue to provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      • What is a Disability Access Service Card and how does it work?
        The DAS Card is designed to accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities). A Disability Access Service Card will be issued at Guest Relations main entrance locations and will offer guests a return time for attractions based on the current wait time. As soon as the Guest finishes one attraction, they can receive a return time for another. This service can be used in addition to Disney’s FASTPASS Service and Disney FastPass+ service.
      • What will Disney Parks do if a Guest is concerned the DAS Card doesn’t meet their needs?
        Disney Parks have long recognized and accommodated guests with varying needs and will continue to work individually with guests with disabilities to provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances. Guests should visit Guest Relations to discuss their individual needs.
      • Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?
        Disney Parks’ goal is to accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities). Guests should visit Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.
      • How will guests get a Disability Access Service Card?
        A Disability Access Service Card will be issued at Guest Relations main entrance locations. Guests will participate in a registration process, which also includes having their photo taken.
      • Why is Disney Parks doing this?
        Disney Parks is modifying the current Guest Assistance Card program so it can continue to serve the guests who truly need it. The new program is designed to provide the special experience guests have come to expect from Disney. Disney Parks also hopes it will help control abuse that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate.
      • Does the DAS Cardholder have to be present to obtain a return time at an attraction?
        No. Another member of the DAS Cardholder’s travel party may obtain a return time but the DAS Cardholder must board the attraction with his or her party.
      • Where do DAS Cardholders go to receive return times?
        At Disneyland Resort, guests will go to Guest Relations kiosks located throughout the parks to receive a return time. At Walt Disney World Resort, guests will go to the attraction to receive a return time.
      • Does a DAS Cardholder have to ride the attraction at the exact return time listed?
        No. Return times are valid until redeemed by the DAS Cardholder.
      • How long is a DAS Card valid?
        A DAS card is valid for up to 14 days depending on a guest’s ticket entitlement.
      • Is a DAS Card issued at one Disney theme park valid at other Disney theme parks?
        Yes, the card will be valid throughout the resort at which it was issued.
      • Why doesn’t Disney Parks ask for proof of disability, such as a doctor’s note?
        Disney Parks takes Guests at their word and there are legal restrictions around asking for proof.
      • Is this the only service available to Guests with disabilities?
        Disney Parks offer a variety of services to guests with disabilities, such as Disney‚Äôs Handheld Device that offers assistive listening, captioning and audio description. Additionally, Disney Parks has developed a “Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities.” This serves as a tool on how best to experience its theme parks and is expected to be available online by mid-October.

        Disney Parks will continue to provide excellent guest service and accessible experiences. Guests should visit Guest Relations at any park should they feel they need assistance due to a disability.

      • Does a Guest whose disability is based on the necessity to use a wheelchair or scooter need a DAS Card?
        No, a Guest whose disability is based on the necessity to use a wheelchair or scooter does not need a DAS Card. Depending on the attraction, the Guest will either wait in the standard queue or receive a return time at the attraction based on the current wait time. For some attractions at Disneyland Resort, these guests will go directly to an alternate entrance. Guests with additional needs should discuss them with Guest Relations.
      • Will Disney Parks continue to provide a service to wish-granting organizations?
        The change will not affect those who are visiting on trips organized by wish granting organizations. There is a separate program for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Gay Days at Disneyland

Over the weekend the annual Gay Days event came to Disneyland with an estimated 30,000 LGBT guests and allies hitting the parks wearing red.

Last year Disney quietly increased their support for the event by adding a couple of special meal combos in Disneyland that included rainbow Mickey cookies and moving rainbow-colored merch to the front of stores. This year continued the trend with even more special menu items, including a couple that sold out, proving to be wildly popular with guests.

Special 2013-dated rainbow pin and t-shirt designs were available.

The Plaza Inn at Disneyland and Pacific Wharf Cafe in Disney California Adventure served up special rainbow cake which was a huge hit, selling out by Saturday afternoon.

Tomorrowland’s restaurants featured special items, including a spicy turkey burger combo at Tomorrowland Terrace and a special spicy sausage marinara pasta in Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port.

The Hungry Bear Restaurant offered a special “Bear Meal” with a chicken-and-waffle sandwich and a rainbow Mickey cookie.

At California Adventure, Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream had a special rainbow ice cream cookie sandwich

And Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta had special flatbread pizza combos with rainbow Mickey cookies and the Golden Vine Winery’s Alfresco Lounge was an alternate location to enjoy the Cove Bar’s popular Lobster Nachos.

The huge photo op in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle on Saturday was also the site of a touching marriage proposal (if you were wondering, he said “Yes!”)

Big kudos to Disney for their continued and increasing support of this event, even if it is unofficial. It’s great that Disney continues to be a safe place for every one and every type of family.

First signs of the Holidays

The first signs of Disneyland’s holiday season have started to appear. At Sleeping Beauty Castle the shrubs and trees in the area are getting their “snow” lights.

Over at “it’s a small world,” light strings are now going up along the iconic facade.

The individual light bulbs go in after all the strings are in place.

On Main Street, the 2013 line of Hanukkah merchandise is now on shelves at the China Palace. This year, Hanukkah begins the evening of November 27.

Refurbishment Round-Up

On Main Street, the Magic Shop marquee has been removed for some work.

Further down the street Penny Arcade and Candy Palace facades are now behind scaffolding for refurbishment. Tarps covering the scaffolding were pulled on Saturday due to the winds that hit the parks over the weekend.

Temporary signage lets guests know that the Candy Palace is still open and accessible through the Penny Arcade main entrance

Over at Fantasy Faire, the walkway along the edge of the Royal Theater to Frontierland has reopened after its repaving project.

The tall fake shrubs are still up, presumably waiting for a permanent railing of some sort for fall safety protection. Also note that the stone wall is now beveled along the side facing the walkway.

On the other side of Sleeping Beauty Castle, Snow White Grotto and Wishing Well have reopened and look very nice.

In Fantasyland, the fall safety work continues along the rooftops

This new turret is going up atop Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Over at Alice in Wonderland…

The new turret here looks good even if it is in an awkward spot.

Meanwhile, King Arthur Carrousel continues its refurbishment.

In Frontierland, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad continues after Disney confirmed last week the rumors that the attraction won’t reopen until “winter 2014” which could be anytime from January to March.

Back in New Orleans Square, the Court of Angels remains open, despite rumored closing dates. As of now, the closure of the Court of Angels to become the new lobby for Club 33 has been confirmed to club members, but no date for the courtyard has been officially released yet.

They might be “just stairs” but you can still enjoy the beauty of this space for the time being.

Note: October 7, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.: As of today, Monday, October 7, the Court of Angels is now closed. Twitter user @ElizabethNDP broke the news late Monday morning with a cell phone photo taken in the park.

Work will now begin in the Court of Angels to convert the space into the new lobby for Disneyland’s private Club 33. The project will include constructing a new elevator for handicapped guests and closing off the courtyard to the general public. What was once a quiet retreat open to all park guests will now only be seen by an elite few.
– Andy

For guests looking for Christmas ornaments, the L’Ornament Magique shop which opens into the Court of Angels has now closed. The former ornament shop will act as the new front door to Club 33.

Soon to be 33.


Over in Adventureland, the tree removal near the Enchanted Tiki Room has finished and walls are down.

Nearby, Tarzan’s Treehouse is now closed for refurbishment and likely additional fall safety additions.

And in Tomorrowland, the new Thor meet-and-greet in Innoventions is taking shape now that the former St. Joseph Hospital Healthy U exhibit has been removed.

And a small bit of walls up on the side of the Tomorrowlanding shop, underneath the Orbitron.

Limited Time Magic

[center]Check Out the Downtown Disney Chalk Art Festival
in Downtown Disney
October 5-6, 2013
Over the weekend, Disney hosted a Chalk Art Festival in Downtown Disney, where visiting artists created works of art in chalk on walkways in Downtown Disney.

The low-key event was a nice addition to Downtown Disney and it would be nice to see it return and grow next year.

[center]Discover New Surprises at Haunted Mansion Holiday
in Disneyland Park
Starting October 4, 2013
On Friday, Disney announced that as part of Limited Time Magic, new surprises had been added to Haunted Mansion Holiday to celebrate its 13th anniversary. Details below:

Celebrate the 13th season of Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park as the denizens of Halloween town add a sprinkling of Limited Time Magic to their fiendish festivities! For a limited time, the Haunted Mansion has been gifted with a ghoulish bounty of frightfully fun delights. The Pumpkin King himself‚Äîa.k.a. Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas‚Äîhas placed 13 surprise objects inside each area, from the foyer and the attic to the ghostly graveyard below. Climb aboard your Doom Buggy and keep your eyes peeled as each turn reveals yet another treat. Can you spy them all? Visit Haunted Mansion Holiday to find out for yourself. And don’t forget to scream with glee when you do!

[center]Collect an “Iron Man 3”
and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Poster

at Disneyland Park
Now, while supplies last
You can get a free double-sided poster promoting Iron Man 3 on Blu-ray and the new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show for free at Innoventions, while supplies last. Below is Disney’s official information on it.

Experience the latest Iron Man technology firsthand at Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries, an interactive exhibit at Innoventions in Disneyland Park. This is your chance to virtually “suit up” and test out Iron Man’s Mark 42! Plus, as part of Limited Time Magic, you can take home a special poster celebrating the release of Iron Man 3 on Blu-ray as well as ABC’s new TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö√Üboth debuting September 24th! Enjoy all the action as you go behind the mask with Tony Stark on his latest adventure, and don’t miss the premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM / 7:00 PM Central on ABC.

Welcome to California Adventure

Ding ding!

At California Adventure, the Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar is now closed.

The space had most recently hosted a preview for Disneyland’s Fantasy Faire which has been open since March. With that exhibit no longer relevant, the venue is now closed until Disney is ready to announce their next big project, which is expected to be a Monsters Inc-inspired retheming of the Hollywood Studios portion of Hollywood Land.

Guests redeeming lanyard vouchers are new being directed to do so on Buena Vista Street.

Nearby, the Pacific Wharf Cafe’s facade refurbishment has wrapped up

And on Paradise Pier, a new photo op for Toy Story characters is getting ready to open over in the park area where the Maliboomer previously stood.

This and That

A new Hatbox Ghost Mickey popcorn bucket is now available at Disneyland popcorn carts during Halloween Time.

Speaking of Halloween Time, the pumpkin carvers in Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree continue with their impressive work.

Fab Five versions of the Haunted Mansion’s stretching portraits were carved into one pumpkin

In Downtown Disney, work on the new Starbucks location progresses with big changes underway on the facade.

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by our good friends at the

Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.

A short walk from the park, HoJo Anaheim is conveniently located next to Matterhorn Mountain at Disneyland with nearby dining, freeway access, FREE parking and FREE Wi-Fi. For more information on HoJo Anaheim, room rates, or to book your stay today, visit HoJoAnaheim.com/MiceChat

MiceChat.com and Annual Passholder Discounts
Available Every Day!

The HoJo Anaheim is now offering deeper discounts for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! On select nights, Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders can get rooms for as low as $59 per night, plus tax. For more information visit the HoJo Anaheim Innsider Boards which features an up-to-date listing of available nights, or call (714) 776-6120 and ask for In-House Reservations to book. If your date isn’t listed, the HoJo Anaheim still offers rooms for 20% off their best available rate if you call (714) 776-6120.

Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
October 7 – 13, 2013
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
9 am – 9 pm
8 am – 6 pm
9 am – 9 pm
8 am – 7 pm
8 am – 12 am
10 am – 12 am
9 am – 8 pm
8 am – 8 pm
9 am – 8 pm
8 am – 12 am
8 am – 10 pm
10 am – 10 pm
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]
[b][center]Disneyland Park[/center][/b]
  • [b]Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:[/b] Closed for extensive refurbishment through February 2014.
  • [B]King Arthur Carrousel:[/B] Closed through October 10 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Mad Tea Party:[/B] Closed October 14-24 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Storybook Land Canal Boats:[/B] Closed October 14-24 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Casey Jr. Circus Train:[/B] Closed October 14-24 for refurbishment.
  • [B]”it’s a small world”:[/B] Closed October 27-November 7 to install holiday overlay.
  • [B]Dumbo the Flying Elephant:[/B] Closed October 28-November 11 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Alice in Wonderland:[/B] Expected to close early 2014 to install permanent safety railing on outdoor ride portion.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • [B]Disney Animation:[/B] Partially closed September 30-November 12 for refurbishment.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
  • Starbucks Coffee: New Starbucks store under construction in former BLINK by Wet Seal location. Opens this winter.
A weekly look at projected crowd levels at the Disneyland Resort.[/center]

October 7 – 13, 2013


About This Week’s Estimates
Our Addictometer™ crowd estimates are designed to give you an idea of how busy the resort feels. These estimates are an average for the day — levels will fluctuate from open to close. At this time of year, we expect larger crowds in the evenings after work and school.

  • Mickey’s Halloween Party takes place Tuesday and Friday night. This will only have a minimal impact on the day’s crowds, toward the late afternoon.
  • Hotels are heavily booked Thursday through Sunday. This is likely due to business events.
  • The Columbus Day holiday will tick up guest numbers a bit but we don’t expect significantly larger crowds than a typical fall weekend.

Are you already a Mouseaddict? Your wait time submissions have already helped us with these projections. Thank you! Keep those submissions coming!

Download the free Mouseaddict app for iPhone and iPad for current crowd estimates, crowd maps, and wait times along with 60 categories of searchable resort information and your favorite MiceChat blogs.

[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • Police seized phony tickets for Disneyland, from yet another Craigslist scam. (NBC 4)
  • The Affordable Care Act has prompted Walt Disney World to offer full-time employment to 427 part-time employees (Think Progress)
OK – That wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland. Thanks for reading and be sure to join the discussion below on this week’s big headlines including the new DAS Card system and Gay Days!

We’re only here because of generous readers like you. Do you enjoy reading Dateline Disneyland every week? Consider helping us out by donating so we can pay the bills and keep the weekly updates coming! You can donate with a click of a button via PayPal, click here!

For more Disneyland news, be sure to read MiceChat’s weekly In the Parks blog. And be sure to check out our sister blog, Dateline Disney World – a fantastic weekly photo blog covering Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!

Thanks for reading. See you at Disneyland!
[B]- Andy[/B]

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FTC-Mandated Disclosure: Promotional consideration for this edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.