Disney California Adventure has ramped up its offerings for the holidays this year with a dazzling new holiday version of its hugely popular “World of Color” water-and-light show. In addition to the new “World of Color” show, the park has also debuted a brand new cultural celebration. The new Viva Navidad celebration on Paradise Pier celebrates the holidays with excellent live Latino entertainment, delicious Mexican food and cultural crafts and activities. Meanwhile, Disneyland‘s holiday festivities continue as well while park hosts live filming of the ABC daytime talk show “The View” in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle throughout the week.

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!

Note – November 18, 2013, 2:30 p.m. PST: We’ve corrected a few errors that were originally part of today’s update and added a couple bits of information that we had left out. Corrections and additions include information regarding changes to the “A Christmas Fantasy Parade,” more information on “The View” taping, and several typos throughout the article.

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We’ve got a big update today, so let’s get started!

Welcome to Disneyland!

The holidays are now in full swing at Disneyland. With last week’s filming for the the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade over, Disneyland’s Christmas Tree has been moved in place and the garland has been strung up across Main Street, U.S.A.

Disneyland’s popular A Christmas Fantasy Parade is now performing daily along Main Street, U.S.A. The parade is largely the same but did get a few minor tweaks and changes this year.

Duffy is no longer on the lead float and the original bear has returned to his place.

Duffy instead is now located on the top of the Santa’s Mail Room float, bumping Pluto back to the Gingerbread Treats shop.

The Winter Wonderland float now has skiers that “ski” along the parade route.

With Pluto bumped from the Santa’s Mail Room float, he’s now working on the gingerbread house with Goofy, which means no more Max here.

The Seven Dwarfs and their tree decorated with gems and jewels have been cut from the parade this year. The Dwarfs traditionally led the Santa’s Sleigh finale portion of the parade, followed by carolers and reindeer.

Not the best ‘View’

Filming may be wrapped for the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, but you won’t be getting a clear view of Sleeping Beauty Castle quite yet. This week ABC’s daytime talk show The View will film live in the park, which means a huge new stage and filming set-up throughout the week in front of the castle.

While this filming won’t affect fireworks or parades like the Christmas Day Parade filming did, it still blocks access to Sleeping Beauty Castle, which is a bummer for guests visiting for their annual holiday visit this week. The filming will delay morning operations of Fantasy Faire, Main Street Vehicles and the Astro Orbiter, so plan accordingly if those attractions are on your list.

Filming for The View is scheduled every weekday this week, November 18-22. Tickets to filming have been available for some time now but if you’re interested, you can still try to request some by emailing [email protected]

Refurbishment Round-Up

In Fantasyland, Dumbo the Flying Elephant has reopened after its brief refurbishment.

Over in Frontierland, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishment continues…

Meanwhile, the facade work at the Pirates of the Caribbean exit continues in New Orleans Square

Walls are still up on the backside of the French Market as well…

The tarps are still up along the roof of the French Market, too

Welcome to Disney California Adventure

The big news last week was the major new holiday offerings that debuted at Disney California Adventure. California Adventure is really becoming a major holiday destination with its growing lineup, including the spectacular seasonal offerings along Buena Vista Street that debuted last year.

The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers bring some great live entertainment to the neighborhood during the holidays.

This year, Hollywood Land got some great new Christmas decorations.

These new decorations are inspired by Christmas decorations that were actually seen on the real Hollywood Blvd in the late 1940s. It’s great to see the Resort enhancement team really doing their research and delivering great themed decorations like this.

Facades in Hollywood Land got new garland as well this year

A new Santa and sleigh has been added to the backdrop at the end of Hollywood Blvd. The placement is a little awkward here, but it looks great and makes for great pictures at this popular photo spot.

While we’re in Hollywood Land, it’s worth noting that the Disney Animation building’s lobby got upgraded with digital projections and the result are clearer, brighter projections that look great.

Viva Navidad

All-new this year at California Adventure is the new Viva Navidad celebration in Paradise Garden. Similar to Disneyland’s Three Kings Day weekend that takes place at the end of the holiday season, this new cultural offerings celebrates the holidays with Latino entertainment, activities and food.

Viva Navidad does a great job of breathing some additional life in this back corner of the park which is usually a bit quieter. Throughout the day you can find various entertainment including live Latino music at the Paradise Garden Bandstand, dance lessons, crafts, face painting, and a new street party that is one of the Resort’s best live streetmosphere entertainment offerings in years.

Character meet-and-greets in the gazebo here

Crafts and face painting

A merchandise cart has a selection of logo merchandise and cultural souvenirs

A big surprise here is a large selection of special menu items available in the area during Viva Navidad. The entire regular Paradise Garden Grill is gone during the holiday season and in its place is a new menu of special Mexican food options.

I got to sample a lot of the special Viva Navidad menu items available at the restaurants here during a special media preview on Thursday night. My expectations for the food here were low because I’ve never been particularly impressed with Disneyland’s Mexican restaurants like Rancho del Zocalo. Despite my low expectations, I was very pleasantly surprised with the offerings. The food here is packed with authentic flavor and definitely worth trying.

Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta is still offering its full lineup of flatbread pizzas, salads and pastas but has added a few additional items during Viva Navidad including pretty tasty homemade pozole and the show-stealing Chorizo Flatbread Pizza.

Homemade pozole

Shrimp cocktail (unfortunately made with baby shrimp)

The delicious chorizo flatbread

The moment when Viva Navidad truly shines is during the unexpectedly fantastic new Viva Navidad Street Party, which performs several times throughout the day along the stretch of parade route in front of Paradise Garden.

The street party stars the Three Caballeros on a single float with quite a few Mexican and Brazillian dancers and musicians performing on the street. Mickey and Minnie join the festivities along with the delightfully strange mojiganga floats that roll out during the procession.

Santa and Mrs. Claus

Below, a video clip of the Viva Navidad live entertainment

Congratulations to the team that put together the Viva Navidad celebration, especially the street party. There’s a lot of energy and passion there and the whole event back in Paradise Garden comes off as genuine and offers a lot of fun for guests without feeling forced. This is Disneyland’s best cultural holiday offering they’ve done so far and it’s great to see a bit of Disney’s classic “edutainment” approach shine through in these cultural offerings. Hopefully Viva Navidad proves to be a success with guests and returns next year bigger and better.

If you’re planning a visit this holiday season, be sure grab lunch back there and check out the entertainment – Viva Navidad is a holiday must-see.

World of Winter Dreams

Of course the big headline for last week was the debut of California Adventure’s all-new “World of Color – Winter Dreams” show.

The new show replaces the regular World of Color show for the holidays and is a new 25-minute show celebrating the holiday season with characters, songs and clips from Disney and Pixar films including the upcoming “Frozen,” “Tangled,” “Bambi,” “Toy Story” and more.

Overall, the new Winter Dreams show is a significant over the regular “World of Color” show, which comes of as a random Disney clip show rather than a cohesive show. “Winter Dreams” opens with a haunting rendition of “Glow,” the new holiday song written specifically for the show. The song is performed by an “honor choir” comprised of singers that submitted recordings to Disney online. While it can be hard to understand what the choir is singing, it’s a neat way to start the show.

The show is hosted by Olaf, the snowman from Disney’s upcoming film “Frozen.” I don’t mind Olaf as a character as much as other fans online seem to, but the snowman does offer a few cringe-worthy moments in the show, most notably leading a holiday sing-a-long with the snowman’s butt (no, really) bouncing from the words projected on the water screens in Paradise Bay (“just follow my dancing butt!”). Still, the snowman and his child-like innocence and charm often shines through and he ends up being a good host for the show.

Highlights in the show include the “Frozen” portion with Elsa singing “Let it Go” from the film as well as an arguably out-of-place but visually beautiful segment featuring “I See the Light” from “Tangled.”

Like the regular “World of Color,” “Winter Dreams” suffers from simply being too long. This show probably shouldn’t be nearly a half-hour, but it is and that makes the Olaf butt sing-a-long stand out as a segment that could really be trimmed along with the lengthy and entirely out-of-place “Toy Story Nutcracker” portion of the show.

Even if you don’t like any of the content and think the show is too long, it’s worth watching the entire way through if for no other reason than it has a really fantastic finale. Santa Mater (from “Cars”) makes an unfortunate appearance in the finale, but new the lights that light up California Screamin’ and Paradise Pier in a spectacular new way are worth sticking around for. Really, all of the new lighting effects throughout the show are surprising and impressive and are a big strength of the show.

Overall, the show is a very strong new addition to the holiday lineup at the parks, and if you have to choose between seeing Disneyland’s aging “Believe in Holiday Magic” fireworks another time or see the new “Winter Dreams,” I’d recommend “Winter Dreams.” It isn’t a perfect show but it improves on the original version, packs a lot of fun and has several truly impressive and beautiful moments.

Below, a video with some highlights from the show:

Limited Time Magic

[center]Glow with “World of Color – Winter Dreams”
at Disney California Adventure
November 18-24, 2013
This week Disney is offering a special viewing area for guests attending the new “World of Color – Winter Dreams” show wearing their Glow with the Show ears. Details below:

Get ready to glow at Disney California Adventure Park‚Äîas part of Limited Time Magic, make your way to a special viewing area for performances of “World of Color – Winter Dreams”! This wondrous nighttime experience brings to life the spirit of the season with beloved Disney characters, heartwarming holiday music and dazzling special effects. And when you wear your Glow with the Show Ears, you can even gain access to a special viewing area‚Äîavailable to Guests with valid “World of Color” FASTPASS tickets! This viewing area has a limited capacity, and entry will only be offered for a limited time, on a first-come first-serve basis. Don’t miss out on this glowing opportunity!

[center]World of Color: Winter Dreams for Annual Passholders
A Limited Time Annual Passholder Magic Event
at Disney California Adventure

On select dates in November and December
Annual Passholders can attend exclusive showings of the new “World of Color: Winter Dreams” at California Adventure on select nights this November and December.

    World of Color Winter Dreams Showings

    Celebrate the warmth and wonder of winter with the all-new nighttime spectacular in Disney California Adventure Park — World of Color – Winter Dreams!

    Annual Passholders are invited to attend a special viewing. Event participants may also receive a special holiday ornament, while supplies last.

    November 15 through November 22, 2013
    December 2 through December 6, 2013

    Show Times
    9:00 PM show time on November 15, 16, 17, 22 and December 6, 2013
    7:00 PM show time on November 18, 19, 20, 21 and December 2, 3, 4 and 5, 2013

    Event Ticket Information

      • Registration must be completed in person, by each participating Passholder, at the Grizzly River Run Disney FASTPASS Service machines on the day of the event only; no phone reservations, registration by someone else or other forms of registration will be accepted. Registration and distribution of Disney FASTPASS tickets for each Passholder show will be based on availability. Space at this event is limited and not guaranteed.
      • Cast Members will be available at the Grizzly River Run Disney FASTPASS location to assist Passholders with event registration and to hand out holiday ornaments, while supplies last.
      • Participating Annual Passholders must present their active Annual Passports to an event Cast Member to check event availability and to register and receive a Disney FASTPASS ticket. Photo ID may be required.
      • Registration and Disney FASTPASS ticket distribution for this special event is available on each event day when Disney California Adventure Park opens‚Äö√Ñ√Æcurrently scheduled at 9:00 AM on November 15, 16, 17, 22 and December 2, 3,4,5, 6; and 10:00 AM on November 18,19, 20, 21.
      • It is recommended that all members of your party register together at the Grizzly River Run Disney FASTPASS location to help ensure that everyone receives a Disney FASTPASS ticket to the event.
      • This is an all-ages event. However, all participating Guests ages 3 and older must be valid Annual Passholders on the day of the event. Children under 3 may attend the event as long as there is space available and they are accompanied by an adult (age 18 or over) with a valid Disney FASTPASS ticket. Children under 3 will not receive an ornament.
      • A valid Annual Passport is required to receive a Disney FASTPASS ticket to a Passholder show and the accompanying holiday ornament.
      • One ornament and one event Disney FASTPASS ticket for each registered Passholder on each event day will be distributed at the Grizzly River Run Disney FASTPASS location, while supplies last.
      • Passholders will not receive a holiday ornament with a Disney FASTPASS ticket for any of the general audience shows.
      • More information

Below is the free ornament that Disney is giving to Annual Passholders attending the special AP showings of “Winter Dreams”

Downtown Village

Outside of the parks, the Downtown Disney Winter Village has opened for its second year. This time around it is night-and-day difference in terms of quality and presentation. The ice rink is out in the open with a Christmas tree rising from the center of the rink. Around the ice, a small “village” of six little, lightly-themed merchandise booths offer themed merch and snacks.

The little village is apparently themed to the upcoming “Frozen” film, but aside from the signage, it just looks like your average “holiday” theming but it’s a huge improvement over what was offered last year and looks very nice.

A spacious area around the ticket booth is available for guests to queue up and put on their skates.

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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
November 11-17, 2013
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
10 am – 8 pm
9 am – 12 am
8 am – 12 am
10 am – 8 pm
9 am – 10 pm
8 am – 11 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]Jungle Cruise:[/B] Delayed opening at 12:00 noon. December 2-5 and 9-12, 2013.
  • [B]Storybook Land Canal Boats:[/B] Closed December 2-12 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Casey Jr. Circus Train:[/B] Closed December 2-12 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Alice in Wonderland:[/B] Closed January 6 through May 22, 2014 for enhancements and redesign of outdoor portion of ride track.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • [B]Flik’s Flyers:[/B] Closed through November 22 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Twilight Zone Tower of Terror:[/B] Reduced capacity through January 1, 2014.
[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]

November 18-24, 2013


About This Week’s Estimates
Our Addictometer™ crowd estimates are an average for the entire day. Expect higher crowds than this in the late afternoon and evenings. For real-time crowd levels — and where the crowds are in the parks — download the free Mouseaddict app.

  • The holidays are ramping up, so expect crowds at times, especially in Adventureland, New Orleans Square, and Cars Land. Relatively speaking, this will be the last "calm" week before the year’s biggest crowds start arriving next week.
  • ABC’s "The View" will be broadcasting live all week from Sleeping Beauty Castle’s forecourt. The actual broadcast takes place before the park opens, but attractions near the Hub – such as Fantasy Faire, Main Street Vehicles, and Astro Orbitor – will be disrupted in the morning.
  • You’ve already helped these predictions by reporting your wait times in the Mouseaddict app. Thank you!

Download the all new, redesigned, reimagined, and remarkable Mouseaddict app for iPhone and iPad for the amazing Addictometer crowd map overlay that shows exactly where crowds are gathering, right on the map! The free Mouseaddict update features more than five dozen categories of searchable resort information, park and show schedules up to two weeks in advance, and your favorite MiceChat blogs right in the app. Learn more about the new features at mouseaddict.com.

[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • Firefighters investigated smoke coming from a storage facility behind “it’s a small world” early Wednesday morning. (NBC 4)
OK, that wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland! Have you seen Winter Dreams or experienced Viva Navidad yet? If you have, let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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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.