Disneyland‘s annual Candlelight Processional and Ceremony was held over the weekend, narrowly missing rain that could have otherwise washed the show out. The popular event packs in thousands and brings Town Square to life with music, light and the story of the first Christmas, told by celebrity guest narrators. While Town Square hosted Candlelight, the rest of the park carried on with the rest of its regular holiday offerings and various refurbishments. On Main Street, a colorful new flower market has sprung up, paying tribute to the park’s past. Over in Disney California Adventure, a couple shows on Buena Vista Street got some minor updates. Meanwhile, new 2014-dated merchandise has debuted across the Resort, just in time for the new year.

If you still need to get some holiday shopping done, be sure to check out our gift guide near the end of today’s update. It’s full of gift ideas for the Disney fan on your list and purchasing anything after clicking those links will help Dateline Disneyland pay the bills to keep the updates coming -at no extra cost to you! Your support is what keeps us here – Thanks!

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 today’s blog to see a larger, high-resolution version.

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

Welcome to Disneyland!

Outside the park, the lockers and restrooms next to the Guest Services windows have finished their facade refurbishment.

The snowflake decorations above Disneyland’s main turnstiles have been in place since the start of the holiday season, but this year they’ve never looked quite finished.

The bases of the decorations were never quite lined up when installed and we’ve been hoping they’d be fixed, but they still don’t look great — it’s not a major issue, but anybody who looks up at the decorations (which is the whole point) can see the issue here.

Last week, Main Street Station was covered with Candlelight Processional set-up, including some temporary character cut-outs on the top of the train station.

The character cut outs were meant to help camouflage some of the Candlelight set-up on top of the train station, but if anything the drew more attention to it.

Luckily they were only temporary for last week.

Inside the parks, flags were at half-staff over the weekend in memorial of Nelson Mandela and also for Saturday’s Pearl Harbor anniversary.

Rain and Shine

On Saturday, the Resort was hit with rain through much of the morning and early afternoon that put that evening’s Candlelight ceremony into question. Despite the rain, crowds didn’t shy away from the parks

A look at Disneyland wait times just before noon on Saturday

The rain put Fantasyland classics like the Mad Tea Party and Alice in Wonderland out of commission.

Crowds were thinner at California Adventure during Saturday’s rain.

In Cars Land, the land’s big Radiator Springs Racers E-Ticket continues to have problems operating in the rain and was often closed on Saturday due to “technical difficulties” caused by the rain.

Cleared queue

No races in the rain!

Cars Land’s two other rides were still open for business, though

Saturday’s rain eventually lifted and the sun broke through, making for a really gorgeous afternoon in the parks.

Candlelight 2013

Saturday and Sunday evening Disneyland hosted its annual Candlelight Processional and Ceremony in Town Square. This year the event returned to its traditional two-night run for invited guests-only after running for 20 nights with plenty of public seating opportunities in 2012.

Candlelight means alternate entrances for Main Street Station and reduced operating hours of the train station and other attractions and shops in Town Square.

Of course, the very limited first-come, first-served public seating in Town Square gets claimed at park opening, with guests camping out all day for the coveted seats.

Luckily the rain didn’t wash out Saturday night’s performances and the shows went off without a hitch.

Even if you aren’t religious, Disneyland’s Candlelight Processional is a really beautiful production and worth checking out if you ever have the opportunity or have the patience to deal with the huge crowds that pack into Town Square for the show.

The trumpeters atop Main Street Station are always an amazing moment.

Great vocal performances

And live narration by celebrity guests. Saturday’s performances were narrated by actor Blair Underwood and Disney Legend Kurt Russell on Sunday.

Our friends at MouseInfo have video of Sunday’s performance with Kurt Russell.

Main Street Flower Market

On Main Street, between Disney Clothiers and the Market House, a new flower market sprung up Friday morning on Center Street.

A few flower carts are parked on Center Street, filled with fake flowers and seasonal plants.

The flower market is a throwback to a similar flower market that was once featured on West Center Street (where the current outdoor patio for Carnation Cafe is) and later here on East Center Street.

The original flower market had flower for sale, but you can’t buy the flowers on display at Main Street’s new flower market.

You might not be able to buy a bouquet of fake Disneyland flowers to take home, but it’s still really great to have this here. It add a lot of color and a ton of charm to the area – which is nice considering the impersonal, cavernous Market House sits next door.

I love that the flower market is back and hope it sticks around with seasonal updates. Kudos to the team that put this together – it’s great.

Refurbishment Round-Up

In Fantasyland, Storybook Land Canal Boats and Casey Jr. Circus Train are closed for a brief refurbishment.

In Frontierland, the extended Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishment continues

In New Orleans Square, the work continues at the Pirates of the Caribbean exit…

…and atop the French Market.

In Tomorrowland, flags are still up along Space Mountain and the Star Trader for upcoming fall-safety protection.

There wasn’t enough rain over the weekend to wash away much of the filth on Space Mountain…

Welcome to Disney California Adventure!

In Carthay Circle, Five and Dime got a minor update with a new dress for Dime.

This show continues to be a great little part of Buena Vista Street.

The Red Car News Boys also got a small holiday segment added to the regular show – a nice touch for the holidays.

Limited Time Magic

[center]Embark on an Adventure for Elf Days
at Disney California Adventure
December 9 to December 15, 2013
This week Disney will offer special “elf training” activities at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail as part of Limited Time Magic. The holiday-themed event will run throughout the week – below is Disney’s blurb:

Train to become one of Santa’s secret helpers during Elf Days‚Äîa yuletide Limited Time Magic event happening at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in Disney California Adventure Park. Santa’s elves are looking for a few good Guests to join their ranks‚Ķ but only if these recruits can tackle a series of master challenges! From the Jingle Bell Bridge to Stocking Stuffers and Present Tracking, test your bravery by taking on each task. Not only will you receive your own official Elf name and learn the secret Elf Handshake, but you can even take a photo flying in Santa’s sleigh! So slip on those curly-toed shoes‚Äîbefore you know it, you’ll be jingling all the way!

[center]The Santa Clause Screening for Annual Passholders
A Limited Time Annual Passholder Magic Event
at Disneyland

Thursday, December 12, 2013

    The Santa Clause Screening

    In celebration of Holidays at the Disneyland Resort, Passholders can join the journey of an ordinary man magically recruited to take the place of Santa—in the family favorite film, The Santa Clause.

    Date and Times
    Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.

    Main Street Opera House in Disneyland

    Event Registration and Wristband Distribution

      • Registration and wristband distribution for the event will begin at 2:00 PM on the day of the event at the Opera House on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park.
      • Registration and distribution of event wristbands will continue while event wristband supplies last.
      • Each participating Annual Passholder must present their active Annual Passport to the event Cast Member to check event availability and to register and receive an event wristband. Photo ID may be required.
      • Registration must be completed in person at the Opera House on Main Street, U.S.A. on the day of the event only; no phone reservations or other registration will be accepted.
      • 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 movie screening as long as there is space available and they receive an event wristband during the registration process.
      • It is recommended that all members of your party register together to help ensure that everyone receives an event wristband.
      • For assistance, you may contact the Annual Passport Member Services team at (714) 781-PASS (7277).
      • More information

Dateline Disneyland
Holiday Gift Guide 2013
Give some Disney magic this year!
The holidays are here and we have a list of some of the great offerings Disney released this year that any Disney fan would love to have.

So jump in and check off some names from your list with the Amazon links below! By buying through the Amazon links below you’ll also be helping support Dateline Disneyland at no additional cost to you!

Happy Holidays!
– Andy
Dateline Disneyland

Great Disney Books

Spectacular Diamond and Anniversary Edition Animation Blu-ray

Everything Frozen

New Animation Blu-ray and more

Great Anniversary Edition and New Release Live Action Blu-ray

Amazing Marvel Blu-ray and more

New Year, New Merch

The 2014-dated merchandise has hit the shelves in time for the first visits of the new year.

A couple of other new merchandise offerings hit the shelves recently as well, including these new tacky holiday sweater t-shirts.

Fun new Oswald the Lucky Rabbit antenna toppers

And Disney theme park food refrigerator magnets (at a pricey $12.95 each!)

This and That

In Downtown Disney, a new kiosk is going up across from La Brea Bakery – could this be the new Starbucks kiosk?

Not too far away, work continues on the full Starbucks store, next to Sunglass Icon.

Throughout Downtown Disney, you can donate to Toys for Tots at various drop-off bins in participating stores.

It’s too bad Disney no longer hosts the Cast Member holiday parties at Disneyland, which also doubled as Toys for Tots donation drives. Hopefully the community steps in to fill the donation void left by the canceled holiday parties and donates at the Downtown Disney drop-off locations.

The Toys for Tots drop-off bins will be in place through December 14.

Over the weekend a table drop-off location was set up in the main entrance esplanade.

Finally, at World of Disney, another new window display has been installed, this time promoting the Glow with the Show ear hats. The display is actually really fun at night, with the lights from Mickey’s Fun Wheel and the ear hats lighting up the display.

Below, a video of the nighttime lighting in the new window displays.

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
December 9-15, 2013
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
9 am – 9 pm
9 am – 10 pm
9 am – 12 am
8 am – 12 am
9 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 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]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]

December 9 – 15, 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.

  • Overall Disneyland holiday gridlock this year are turning out to be less than in previous years — a sign that California Adventure is clearly doing its job by absorbing large numbers of guests. Wait times are up and down all day rather than solidly long, and Fastpasses are still available even after 6pm.
  • Weather is tricky this time of year, and a little rain can drastically reduce crowds. These projections are based on a forecast for mostly sunny skies with mid-60s temps.

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

[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • A Kickstarter project has been launched by a team that is planning to restore and reopen Walt Disney’s birthplace home in Chicago as a museum. (Kickstarter)
  • You can enter Disney’s “Show Your Ears” Sweepstakes for a chance to win a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation. (Disney Parks Blog)
  • Film producer Jerry Bruckheimer will be visiting Disneyland to sign his new retrospective coffee table book on December 14. (Disney Parks Blog)
  • Disneyland Paris continues to struggle with a frayed relationship between its management and staff. (The Guardian)
Alright, that wraps up this edition of Dateline Disneyland! Did you brave the Candlelight chaos? What do you think of Main Street’s new flower market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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]

Support Dateline Disneyland

Support Our Sponsors

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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.
  • FerretAfros

    If you were in the parks on Saturday, the flags were likely at half mast in memory of Pearl Harbor rather than Mandela

    • You’re partially right. Flags would have been at half-staff on Saturday for Pearl Harbor’s anniversary but flags were also ordered at half-staff from Thursday until sunset today, December 9th, in honor of Nelson Mandela. So, there was overlap and I have corrected the information in the original post.

      Thanks for reading!

      • FerretAfros

        Thanks! I didn’t realize that. I guess two half (staffs) don’t make a whole!

  • JCSkipr79

    The optics of having the Flower Mart back “open” is pure genius. It adds more to Main Street without taking anything away and brings a BIT of Yesterland back. Now if we could just get the full Penny Arcade back.

  • WickedScorp

    What’s up with the reduced capacity on TOT?

    • MainSt1993

      Maintenance, one drop tower at a time.

  • rstar

    Great update, thanks! I love the parks during the holidays!

    My Christmas wish is that Mousaddict would come out with a version for Android! I’ll leave you milk and cookies! 🙂

  • Larry Parker

    Great to see the Flower Carts on Main Street-and nothing for sale to boot! Uncharacteristic of the crass profit motive usually so evident in other park changes. Hope to see more changes with park quality at the forefront!

  • SoCalFan

    Everything looks great! I got some great BVS shots as the storm cleared Saturday as well. It was gorgeous. And there was a great blue hour on Sunday, perfect for that Carsland neon! Thanks as always for your gorgeous photos.

    We LOVED the flower market this weekend. We stopped by after Starbucks on Sunday morning and there tons of people admiring and commenting on it, and even more taking pictures with the beautiful holiday arrangements in the background.

    One thing I’ll note is that despite calendars saying TOT is at reduced capacity, we went on yesterday and all three sides were loading and were loading on both levels.

  • vnormth

    Anyone missing the customary poem about Jesus at the end of Candlelight this year? Another victim of PC?

    not cool.

    • Algernon

      Soon it will be the “Holiday Candle Light” in honor of the first “Holiday.”

      • tcsnwhite

        Why would that be a problem? The word “Holiday” is derived from “holy”+”day”…essentially meaning holy day. Holiday refers to the supposed “holiness” of the day just as “Christmas” does. Relax.

    • SpectroMan

      Yes indeed, a CM mentioned that it was cut due to guest complaints. Pathetic, I know.

    • MikkiandtheMouse

      *eye roll* That’s so sad. I’m not religious but, that’s what Candlight Processional. If I don’t hear about the first Christmas and Jesus and Mary and the whole thing, it’s just not the same. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate it.

  • hmorales1992

    I am planning on visiting Disneyland on Sunday. But the crowds are estimated to be high. Do you think it’s worth the trip? I am coming in from DC Saturday and leave January 9th.

    • sixalex

      If possible, always try to visit during the week. Usually Tuesdays through Thursdays are the least crowded. I say “usually,” but understand that crowds can swell for any variety of special events. The weekends get the bulk of visitors by dint of being the days when kids are off school and folks with regular nine to five style jobs are off.

      There is something to say about being in the mix of a large crowd. It can be fun. But if you are not local with an annual pass, the best way to maximize your time and fun is to be there in the quieter moments. Those are getting rare these days!

      Whatever you decide, be flexible. Be friendly. Say please and thank you to the hard working Cast Members. Have fun.

  • garyman

    We were there Thursday through Saturday, We had a great time. We saw dreams as AP. Show was OK, but they really need to show the main stuff on multiple water screens so everyone can see it. Even at the AP event, there were plenty of people viewing it but not many could see the whole show as space was still tight.

    Saturday was great, with the rain in the morning the crowds were way less than expected, Friday was more crowded. Even with that, we did not have to wait much more than 25 minutes for any given ride. The modified Fastpass Systems has made us change our patterns, but still allowed us to ride most everything more than once each day.

    Jungle Cruise had the longest line I have seen in a while, the Jingle Cruise theme really packed them in.

    Billy HIll was great as always and we like the Magical Map Performance.

  • johntodd

    We were at the resort Monday through Wednesday, and I have to say, I was disappointed with ride maintenance. At one point on Tuesday morning, Space Mountain and Indy were both down, Matterhorn was operating only the left side, BTMRR was still rehabbing and Radiator Springs Racers was down all day.

    Matterhorn never operated both sides, and Indy was up and down the rest of the afternoon.

    Like I said… disappointing.

    • Baloo

      I actually noticed how unorganized some of the CM’s where. A few CM’s kept sending guests against traffic then others sending them back the way they came. saw a few people going around in circles.

      Burbank and TDA really need to push ahead with the rumored side arcade for mainstreet to help the flow of traffic during events and parades.

      To make it worse a few of the leads were telling cast members to stand at the doors of stores and not allow anyone inside them unless they were purchasing something so that guests would not use the stores as a way to get thru mainstreet. For the event last night the street was closed off and the sidewalks used for pushing people thru, they left no viewing sections like they do for parades which was another huge mistake.

      It was really badly planned, something that has not been that much of an issue before

      • Baloo

        The above was suppose to be a response to MrOCT31

  • Baloo

    both parks were packed on Sunday, California Adventure had both Screamin and Racers down add Grizlley to that and the park was in need of attractions to fill the void.

    Several frustrated guests when it came to Racers, the line was packed when the ride went down then when it finally came back up they decided to ignore the standby line and just load fastpass guests. For every large group of 40 or 50 fastpass guests they would load 3 or 4 standby guests.
    Standby Guest started leaving the line until only the glass house had people waiting and that small line took 150 minutes.

    I understand that they wanted to accomodate the fatspass guest but many of the guests in standby were already in line when the ride went down and had waited over an hour then again are made to wait another 2+ hours.

    They really need to revise their fastpass policy and if for some reason your pass had a time slot during a ride breakdown then you pass becomes void. It made no sense to have the fast pas line completey filled and overflowing into the entrance area while having the standby guests just wait. Everytime a new group of fastpass guests arrived the CM would announce that the 150 minute standby line would be longer.

    • Westsider

      Your description of Racers reopening from a downtime is EXACTLY how the Fastpass system is supposed to work. The Standby line (that name chosen on purpose) is not the priority. The priority is the Fastpass line and the Guests who hold Fastpasses. If you don’t want to wait in Standby, get to DCA early enough to get a Fastpass or choose another ride. The CM’s were doing EXACTLY what they should be doing when reopening after an extended downtime, and it sounds like they were spieling to the queue and keeping you informed of the additional delays to the Standby line beyond the 150 minute posted wait before the ride broke down. So you had information to act upon if you wished.

      Priority goes to Fastpass Guests, as it always has. Standby Guests are standing by to be accommodated, like waiting for a seat on a plane via Standby. Nothing new there. Those CM’s were doing exactly as they were trained to do.

  • MrOCT31

    We were also there yesterday and yes is was PACKED at both parks! We made the mistake of coming back to DL during the candlelight show and it’s just awful how they route you in and out of the park during the performance. I thinks it’s really outgrown that part of the park and I almost thing they could take it outside between DL and CA that way for those of us who don’t want to see it we can stay in a park and not have to deal with it!

    “Anyone missing the customary poem about Jesus at the end of Candlelight this year? Another victim of PC?”
    From what I heard of the reading is was plenty religious enough, if that’s your religion! What about everyone else there who’s not of the Christian faith? The whole thing doesn’t come off as very small worldly to me!

    • TodAZ1

      Well, if the intent is to celebrate Christmas, as the Candlelight Procession is, a Jesus reading wouldn’t be offensive, I would think. And this is coming from an agnostic!

      • MrOCT31

        I think anyone who’s not Christian has had to not be offended by pretty much everything Xmas related so yeah, they were otherwise busy in line at the HMH or PoC during the show!

    • MikkiandtheMouse

      and lets be fair, if you’re offended by the poem about Jesus in the Candlelight Processional, don’t go! It’s an optional event that you wait hours and hours for unless you’re an invited guest and then you complain? I’d think you would know what you were getting into. Just my 2 cents.

  • waltopia

    L-O-V-E-S the return of the Flower Market to Main Street!! What a surprise.

    Some extra nice photos this week, thanks for keeping us updated throughout the year, it is truly appreciated.

  • Algernon

    It will be interesting to see how much of the old Disneyland they recreate in “Saving Mr. Banks.” Hard core fans will know the difference if they show Disneyland as it looks today. It would be nice if they did away with the Main Street and other area paving stones in the movie.

  • Sparky

    I noticed a couple of things when I was in the parks last week during the week that I haven’t seen mention of. First, they have added a few things to the Jingle Cruise. I believe they added a little bit more decor to the queue. But, they have also added a bit to the ride. In the scene with the apes wrecking the safari camp, one of the gorillas now has a Santa hat and beard on, other apes have on Santa hats and there is torn up gifts strewn about. I saw that on Thursday. I don’t know if more has been added since then. They were opening the ride late on some days last week. I guess that’s why. Secondly, over in the Jingle Jangle Jamboree, I noticed some costume changes. Mickey and Minnie’s more formal attire was replaced with Mr. & Mrs. Santa type outfits. The Country Bears had some Christmasy “accessories”. I’m not sure if those are new or I just didn’t notice them previously. I love the new Flower Mart. I will look forward to seeing it when I return to the parks next week during the week.

  • SpectroMan

    The Flower Mart is awesome. Did they relocate the fruit cart that nobody bought anything at? Hmm…thinking about this, the one-time charge of placing all those fake plants vs. paying the fruit cart cast member = they probably are coming out ahead and loving it on their balance sheets. Win win for everyone (except the poor cast member)

    • SpectroMan,

      No, the fruit cart is still there, the Flower Market is just set up behind it, filling up the rest of E. Center Street. 🙂

      Thanks for reading,

  • Tinkbelle

    I really appreciate that Disney continues to do the Candlelight service. In a country that seems to be pushing harder every year to make everything secular, it is refreshing and beautiful to see this service take place. I hope it continues forever.

  • dlfreak

    People wear ponchos!

  • TwilitWings

    Those Disney holiday “sweater” t-shirts would be a whole lot less tacky if they were actually sweaters. Can’t imagine who thought this was a genius merchandising idea, to be honest.

  • Chernabog

    Well hello Red Car News Boys…… rawr!!!

  • WorldLover71

    The flower market is very pretty and hides the no longer operating ice cream window. So does that make it a plus, a minus or neither?