In The Parks Disneyland Resort Update: Candlelight Nights and Skyway Memories

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

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Published on December 06, 2013 at 3:00 am with 31 Comments

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort.  This is the time of  pageantry, spectacle and this weekend it will also be a time of reverence.  The Candlelight Processional returns for 2013, for this one weekend only.  We explain how to either avoid, or survive, the event here.  But there is also a bit of news to cover.  It seems that after many years of neglect, the Skyway chalet in fantasyland will finally become history.  We also get to the bottom of the dirt collecting on Space Mountain’s white dome and what’s being done about it. And we have news on how guests of the resort can give to Toys for Tots, even though Disney has put an end to the annual cast member christmas party toy drives that generated a huge amount of donations.

Editor’s note: We have clarified the information regarding Disney Company and their donations to Toys For Tots. Our original wording seemed to be misunderstood in the opening paragraph, inferring that Disney does not donate to that charity any more. They DO donate to the Toys for Tots organization, however they have since stopped holding their annual cast member Christmas parties which asked for a toy donation to enter.




Candlelight Processional at Disneyland this Weekend

The Candlelight Processional will run December 7 and 8, 2013 with two performances each night, at 5:30 and 8:00 pm. The two presenters this year will be . . .

  • December 7:  Blair Underwood
  • December 8: Kurt Russell

By Tuesday of this week the set was already up and ready to go, aside from a few botanical touches.









The control booth foundation is built at the base of the flag pole in Town Square.



There are only a few ways to enjoy the Candlelight Processional this year if you are not a Club 33 member, VIP, or invited guest.  There will be specific benches on the outer flanks of the seating area that will be designated for day guests.  You can, if you choose, take a seat at park opening and stake your spot until the show later that evening.

Another option is to leave things to chance and wait on the side of Town Square until the 5:30 showing concludes and its audience dissipates.  You can then try to swoop in and take a seat then.  It’s a more high-pressure approach, but it doesn’t take the whole day up.

If the Candlelight Processional is not your thing and you would really like to just enjoy the park, it’s going to be pretty easy to do.  Last year, the cast members in crowd control got plenty of practice making the park function despite a month of Candlelight presentations.  Our guess is that, with only two nights to worry about, they will be able to keep Town Square moving just fine (even though a full-fledged stage extravaganza is being performed in the center of the main traffic artery for the park).

Still, if you’d like to avoid the Candlelight choke point at the front of the park, you can always try to enter the park using the Monorail from Downtown Disney.

Space Dirt

Sharp-eyed visitors have been noticing the increasingly dirty dome on what should be a pristine white Space Mountain dome.  The reason?  Fall protection of course.



In Space, no one can hear you clean.


But don’t worry folks, safety systems have been installed and this dirty situation should be cleaned up by Christmas.

Storybook Land Canal Boats and Casey Jr. Circus Train

The small complex of the Storybook Land Canal Boats and Casey Junior Circus Train enjoyed a very brief refurbishment this week and, as of this morning, they should both be back up and running.  Here are some pics from their refurbishment.








Frozen Meet and Greet

Frozen is an unqualified hit this holiday season.  Having made a healthy $93.3 million, breaking box office records for opening weekend of a film on Thanksgiving weekend (even though Hunger Games walked away with an even higher gross for it’s 2nd weekend) and earned a CinemaScore of A+. That’s better than Disney could have hoped for. So, how is this translating to Disneyland . . .


The film’s popularity is also evidenced by the massive wait times for a simple meet and greet inside Fantasyland.


The animatronic Olaf watches the crowds from above.


Congratulations to Disney animation for their tremendous early success with Frozen. What did you think of the film? Would you like to see more Frozen in the parks? Is it perhaps time for Disney to dust off the Marc Davis plans for a Snow Queen boat ride in Fantasyland?

Skyway Chalet to go away

It was announced by Disney that, after many years of neglect, the structure that used to act as the load/unload area for the Fantasyland Skyway will soon be demolished.  While it is sad to see another special bit of Disney history join Yesterland, it was pretty much inevitable.

Firsthand accounts from cast members tell of rat infestations and dilapidation.  ”It’s pretty much beyond saving” said one cm.


IMG_3665 IMG_3667



Armchair activists cry foul as many have though this would be the perfect spot for a character meet and greet or coffee spot (if only ADA accessible walkways could be built). Sadly, the building is not to remain and the last vestiges of the Skyway will soon be no longer.

Our guess is that they will just plant a few more trees to obscure the area further until they can get a budget approved for something more substantial in the future.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

We have goat!  Yes, the famous dynamite-chewing goat is back on his little peak, chomping combustibles.



Hello old friend.


Big Thunder is still on track, heading towards a February opening.  That’s just a few months kids!

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies moving to Knott’s

Well, it seems that you can’t keep a good act down.  Even though Disney has decided to part ways with the crowd pleasing antics of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, front man Kirk has notified fans that they have a very interesting non-Disney gig coming up.


The Hillbillies will be performing one night, on New Years Eve, at Knott’s Berry Farm to help ring in the new year.  This will certainly be a great opportunity for the Billies to strut their comical, musical chops for a brand new crowd, and a few loyal fans. And if they prove popular with the crowd, perhaps we’ll see even more of the Hillbillies in the park after their Disney job ends in January.

Anyone up for spending New Year’s Eve at Knott’s this year?

Pirates Exit Refurb

The refub at the exit of Pirates continues…



Haunted Mansion Holiday

The new week brings a new Jack Skellington face on the Gingerbread house in the Ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion.  Let’s take a look, shall we?




Even if you are disappointed by the rather boring revelations from the advent calendar, you can’t help but enjoy this wonderful overlay.



Guests Can Give to Toys for Tots

Disney management nixed the cast member holiday parties last year, which invited cast members and their families to enjoy the park in exchange for a toy valued at $20 or more, donated to Toys for Tots.  However, the management team in Orlando decided that this tradition, that began with Walt himself, no longer had a place within the One Disney initiative.

To quote the Disney Parks Blog…

Disney was a founding sponsor of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots when the program began in 1947. Disney artists even designed the first Toys for Tots promotional posters and Walt Disney personally supervised the creation of the original Toys for Tots logo, which is still in use today!

Disney is still trying to recover from the nasty public relations mess this has left them with, but is still unwilling to resume the after hours parties that were a large generator of toy donations.  Instead, they are now suggesting paying guests pay Disney prices inside Downtown Disney and then donate to Toys for Tots.


Collection boxes are stationed in the doorways of nearly every storefront in Downtown Disney.









If TDA really wanted to save face in this mess, without going against their orders from One Disney Orlando, they would simply donate a certain amount of money to Toys for Tots.  Another idea might be to have a highly publicized toy drive event in Downtown Disney, offering discounted prices or tickets into the park.

Members of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and Anaheim Fire and Rescue will be on hand December 7 and December 14 from 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. to collect toys at the west end of Downtown Disney District, by AMC Theatres and ESPN Zone.


While there is not much to see just yet, we still can’t wait for this to open as it will take additional pressure off of the busy in-park locations (especially the oft-packed Buena Vista Street location).







Hotel Decorations

It’s old news, yes, but The lobby decorations have gone up in both the Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotel.


This tree is one of our favorites. It has a rustic elegance about it.



Don’t forget to give to Toys for Tots.




Inside the Disneyland Hotel, a large, fiberglass, gingerbread house has been erected.


It’s artfully gingerbready.


The entry has festive decorations above.


Don’t forget to give.




The LONG awaited next episode of the MiceChat Podcast is back and it’s a fun one. Robo-Dusty and Doug Barnes lead us on a quest to save Walt’s Birthplace, look at Christmas in the parks, explore the latest Disney Imagineering rumors, and jump into danger at Orlando’s IAAPA theme park expo. You won’t want to miss a minute of this action packed show:

RSS  |   iTunes   |  Direct Download



MiceAge/MiceChat Anniversary Weekend

aniversary  Save the dates of Feburary 7th, 8th and 9th, 2014 for special Disney presentations, cocktail parties, Lunches, breakfasts, meets in the park, giveaways, friendship and more. Make sure you don’t miss out, add your name to the Anniversary Weekend Email List HERE:

Gumball Rally 2014 – Saturday May 3rd


The world famous MiceChat Gumball Rally will be rolling your way the first Saturday in May. Lots of fun and surprises are in store. Join the info list now so you won’t miss out on early discounted registration (just after the first of the year).  Last year’s event sold out in record time with over 100 names on the waiting list. Don’t end out shut out of the best fan event of the year, add your name to the list HERE and we’ll notify you when tickets go on sale.




What’s better than a Disney Cruise? A Disney Cruise to an exotic location with beloved Imagineering legend Bob Gurr!!! Join us on the reimagined Disney Magic (Aquadunk anyone?) as we travel from Barcelona Spain to Monaco and several ports of call in Italy. And if you are REALLY up for adventure, add an extension after the cruise to join us in Disneyland Paris! This is the journey of a lifetime that you simply can’t miss. Contact MiceChat’s Fairy Godmother, Teresa Cory, at [email protected] for full trip details and pricing (it’s MUCH more affordable than you think)!


That about wraps things up from the Disneyland Resort for this week.  What do you think should go up where the Skyway building is now?  While we know who’s narrating Candlelight this year, who would YOU like to see narrate the annual event?  We would also like to invite our readers, if they have the ability, to support the U.S Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program by making a donation. Brighten up Christmas for someone less fortunate, you’ll be glad you did.

That’s it for now. See you 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.

Browse Archived Articles by

  • FerretAfros

    Where did Disney announce that the Skyway chalet was going away? I thought this was all word-of-mouth; it seems like an awfully strange thing for them to make a public announcement about, since it’s been off-limits to guests for nearly 2 decades

    • Dusty Sage

      You are correct. Disney hasn’t made this announcement directly. They leaked it to David Koenig.

    • grrandram

      I don’t buy the rat infestation reasoning either. That’s bull. There are no rats at Disneyland, only mice.

  • eicarr

    Is there an official budget for Frozen? Recently Disney cartoons have been budgeted north of $200,000,000. With half of ticket sales going to theaters and a $20–$50 mil ad budget, hopefully toy sales, global ticket sales, and dvd sales will justify more high quality cartoons, in an age of cartoons with 1/5th of Disney’s budgets are making the same amount.

    The empty skyway buildings, motorboat ride waters, the mail boomer’s base and peoplemover tracks I’ve always viewed as an embarrassingly cheap way to save demolition money by pretending guests wouldn’t notice these abandoned structures. One down…

    • Anthony Hays

      Production Budget for Frozen was about $150,000,000.00 they have almost made that all back in box office ticket sales. Disney doesn’t make these movies for ticket sales but for Retail and DVD sales later in the future.

    • Tinkbelle

      Tangled made about 200 million here in the U.S. but it made close to an additional 400 million overseas. So that was almost 600 million in sales on a 260 million dollar budget. Tangled only made 68 million in its first weekend, whereas Frozen made 93 million. I think Disney is feeling pretty comfortable about making a profit off of Frozen at this point.

  • Kiba

    As someone who donates quite a bit to toys for toys, I can tell you I’ve gone into plenty of store and donated items from other, mainly cheaper, stores. And if you have a color me mine by you, some of them will give you a free ornament to paint (studio time not included) in exchange for a t4t donation,

    • Dusty Sage

      Exactly Right. If Disney would offer an exclusive pin or ornament for a donation, or perhaps a shopping discount in the parks in exchange for a donation, a lot more folks would drop something in the box.

      • GhostHost

        For the last few years Disney has been collecting toys for Toys For Tots at the Disney Soda Fountain in Hollywood and they create an exclusive pin to give out with donations that have Disney characters and the Toys for Tots logo. The first few years, the pins were limited from 150-300 each year. Last year they made 3 pins with an edition size of 200 each to bring in over 600 toys and this year with the new Studio Store, they had 3 pins, each with an edition size of 500 to bring in 1500 toys for the kids.

        No reason why the parks couldn’t do something similar to help get more donations.

  • notlemc

    Great update! Anything happening in DCA that we should know about?

  • rocknjosie

    People are going to throw trash in those Toys for Tots bins. Tired busy parents looking to shed coffee cups on their way in and out of the park, that’s gonna happen

  • Yeeeoww

    One possible way to protest the Toys For Tots fiasco without penalizing the kids would be to bring a distinctly NON Disney toy – like a Shrek plush or Despicable Me doll – and put that in the bin.

  • martinjbell1986

    Went to the parks this week with the family. It’s easy to say Disneyland and DCA have never been better. Loved everything, except I was slightly dissapointed with World of Color Winter dreams. LOVED the new effects but thought the show itself was lacking. Can’t wait to see the new effects added to the existing show! BTW, we loaded up on the free ornaments :)

  • Kevbot217

    I will donate to Toys for Tots through you if you give me some incentive to do so. A pin. A gift of my own, maybe? Money? The only thing about charity that I like is when I get something in return.

    • Norman Gidney

      It’s not about getting something in return. Charity is about giving of yourself.

    • bingie


      How about making a child’s Christmas? That’s a pretty good incentive.

  • Gregg Condon

    Why should people demand something “in return” when donating to charity? Has it really come to that? There are PLENTY of places to drop of Toys for Tots things other than Disney. I even think our local Kmart has a drop off box.

    • Norman Gidney

      That is precisely the point! Drop toys at ANY other toys for tots location. You could even bring toys TO downtown Disney. But you needn’t pay the absurd resort prices to do so and the kids would get far more from it.

      • Gregg Condon

        Like GhostHostJeff below, my comments weren’t really in relation to the article, but just “in general”. =)

  • GhostHostJeff

    Are we really having a discussion on this website whether Disney should “offer” something for free so you donate to Toys for Tots? I understand it would perhaps motivate people to donate more, but it makes me sad that we have come to the point where some will feel more inclined to donate anything if they get something in return. The satisfaction that a little boy or girl will be getting a toy they can cherish the year round on Christmas is an offer that nobody can give you but yourself.

    And who cares if it’s a Disney toy or not. Anything should do!

    • Dusty Sage

      That’s not the point of the article. But if Disney really wants to motivate folks, an incentive works wonders. Many parks offer discounted entry with a toy donation for example. It wouldn’t be hard for Disney to do the same and would really increase the toys collected for the charity. This is about collecting the most toys possible to make up for the canceled cast member Christmas parties which would collect thousands of toys.

      • GhostHostJeff

        I never meant my comment to be about the article, but the comments that some are making. I completely understand that some other parks give discounted admission, etc. What I’m saying is that it is sad that it’s come to that. The Cast Member party aspect though is sad.

    • wdimike55


      Step 1. Go to World of Disney.
      Step 2. Grab a toy of the shelf.
      Step 3. Go to the register. (Optional)
      Step 4. Drop it in the Toys for Tots bin on the way out.

      Done! : )

  • Wendygirl

    I was really disappointed to read on the Disney Blog how Disney is trying to get gifts to Toys 4 Tots. I think this is a great organization but to try and get their paying guests to do this instead of bringing back the CM cast Party was really short sighted on their part. I don’t believe they are going to get anywhere near the amount the CM’s used to give!

    And yes, I will see you at Knotts for New Years Eve – where the Billies go, I go. Also the former Miner 49ers (now Knotts’ Ghost Town Miners) will be there (and they are performing Fridays through Sundays during the Holidays) and former Disney CM now on his own and famous comedian/magician Dana Daniels will also be performing there that night.

  • StevenW

    These toy drives are just merchandising opportunities. Regardless of whether you should buy the toy at Disney or a cheaper big box store like Walmart, you’re buying off-the-shelf imported toys and giving them away to kids, and we really don’t know who the kids are.

    I’ve done it once already. It seems like other charities are also in the game. My work has started a toy drive itself. I guess I will buy another toy and give it away. It is a strange situation to feel like maybe if Disney doesn’t want to give, maybe we shouldn’t as well. I’ll keep my cash in my pocket and cut back on Disney.

  • swrdfghtr

    You know, to be fair, Disney World is letting guests buy Duffy dolls for $5 each, to donate to Toys for Tots. So the company isn’t entirely stingy. I’m not aware of many other businesses who offer T4T donation boxes who also offer at-cost merchandise to put in it. Disneyland could certainly do the same. Sure, not everyone wants to give or get a Duffy, but it’s certainly a nice gesture.

    And it’s funny to see folks missing the get-in-cheap-for-a-toy cast party. I seem to recall folks beating up a bit on Disney, along the lines of, “you pay your cast members so little, you should let them in whether they bring a toy or not” kind of thing. Guess you can’t make everyone happy.

    Frankly, although it’s not as warm-and-fuzzy, the charity could probably do more if you just donated cash, not toys. Companies like Toys R Us have long been in the habit of selling to them at wholesale, rather than retail, meaning they get about 30% more toy for the dollar.

    • Internitty

      Ok first of all I want to say I am all for helping any children’s charity no matter what they are trying to do for them, HOWEVER, please don’t kid yourself about what Disney is doing when they “allow” guests to buy a Duffy bear for $5.

      Duffy is a line they can’t move, so they tell you you can buy this bear and give it to a child $5 will be just under their cost price when tax season comes around the bears they couldn’t sell and had to liquidate at $5 become a wonderful write off, they are now a loss plus they are a charitable donation so they are a double wammy, BUT WAIT YOU WANT MORE? Disney have now distributed through Toys for Tots hundreds if not thousands of unsellable bears, a child who doesn’t have many toys is going to love Duffy (and that is a wonderful thing, there’s nothing better than making a child happy… Oh and World Peace!) now Duffy is gaining his audience through these donations. Disney is an old company so they know they can prepare now for the future, the kids who receive Duffy will have very fond memories of him as they come into adulthood and they will buy the clothes, buy their children a Duffy because they had one when they were little and they loved him.

      Should you buy a $5 Duffy and donate it, of course you should if you think it will make a child happy (and what child doesn’t love a Teddy Bear) but just be aware of what is really behind the donation of that bear.

      Personally I’d love to be able to design a charity bear with no corporate or personal affiliation, make it super cute and charge just enough to people who wanted to donate one to cover costs so kids could have something sweet and wonderful to keep for always but I don’t know how that would or could be done.
      I turned 50 a few weeks ago and I still have my childhood bear, he’s a little worn but he sits in my bookcase and brings back memories of childhood and love and in the words of Burt Bacharach and Hal David What the world needs now is love sweet love.

    • CaptainAction

      WDW is getting a tax benefit for something they can’t sell.

  • Stormy

    My Dear MC friends,

    Don’t let the perception that Disney is playing ‘Scrooge’ discourage you from donating to T4T or any other toy giving charity. Last year my DH and I had the blessing of being at the toy-giving party for underprivileged children when my DH was asked to be the photographer for the ‘Santa pictures’. To see the expressions on the children’s faces (and their parents, too) was an experience (humbling and uplifting at the same time) that I won’t forget. It brought back to me the magic of Christmas in a way that even Disney can’t. Give a non-Disney toy if you wish, but do give what you can, if you can.

    The last lines from Dicken’s Christmas Carol; “and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

    Have a wonderful season, everyone.

    • Internitty

      Well said

  • KCmike

    I might have to pay a visit to Knotts Berry Farm someday if Kirk and friends will be over there!!!