Welcome to Dateline Disneyland’s final edition of 2013! This week we take a break from our regular format for our annual year in review. Today we’ll look back at the new additions and changes that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure saw over the last year – from the on-going Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishment, to the opening of Fantasy Faire and Starbucks in the Market House, to this year’s various Limited Time Magic offerings – we have a full recap of this year’s most noteworthy goings-on at the Happiest Place on Earth! And at the end of today’s update is the schedule for New Year’s Eve at Disneyland and our weekly crowd forecast from our friends at Mouseaddict to help you plan your New Year visit!

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

Ready to say good-bye to 2013? Let’s get started!

Planning for New Year’s Eve? We have a full schedule of Disneyland’s New Year’s Eve goings-on at the end of today’s update. CLICK HERE

Welcome, 2013!

Disneyland kicked off 2013 with packed theme parks and a New Year’s Eve fireworks extravaganza broadcast live by Univision.

California Adventure got to celebrate the New Year in new ways with classy swing dancing on Buena Vista Street and Route 66-flavored live music in Cars Land.

Disneyland’s New Year’s Eve festivities were still the star, however, with midnight fireworks over Sleeping Beauty Castle the big draw for the evening’s celebrations.

Limited Time Magic

For their 2012 promotion, Disneyland and Walt Disney World offered Limited Time Magic, which was a series of offerings that only lasted for a short time. The promotion was a strange way to market the parks since there was no master list of offerings released for guests to plan their trips or vacations around. Instead, the offerings were generally announced just days before they happened via Disney’s Limited Time Magic web site or on the Disney Parks Blog. Ultimately the promotion just came off feeling half-baked and many of the offerings seemed like they were thrown together last-minute, week-by-week. Below we’ll recap some of the better offerings from the year, saving you (and us) from the tedium of reliving every special ice cream sundae or special merchandise item that Disney used as filler far too often for this year’s promotion.

Dia de Reyes

Limited Time Magic didn’t kick off with anything special for 2013. Instead, it was a return of the great Dia de Reyes (Three Kings Day) cultural celebration in Disneyland’s Frontierland. What was new for Dia de Reyes was moving it to and expanding it significantly in Frontierland’s Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. This was a great move and we look forward to seeing this cultural offering return at the start of 2014!

A look at the Dia de Reyes live entertainment

Fiesta Mickey and Minnie

A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue

Perhaps the best Limited Time Magic offering of the year happened at the start of the new year. The Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue set expectations high for the rest of the year but the show was such a treat and highlighted just how underused the Golden Horseshoe facility has become in recent years that it was hard for anything else to top it.

The show became an instant hit, with tickets for the show “selling out” for its performances which ran Thursday-through-Monday.

The 20-minute show zipped by and packed in a lot of fun and featured a tribute portion that made note of the show being gone for some time and it being Walt Disney’s favorite Disneyland attraction.

Below, a bit of video from the show:

New Orleans Bayou Bash!

Like Dia de Reyes, the annual return of the New Orleans Bayou Bash was sold as a Limited Time Magic offering in 2013. Despite this, the Mardi Gras-themed celebration continued to be a great offering filled with great food, characters and entertainment and it’ll be great to see this return again in the coming weeks.

Happy Lunar New Year Celebration

In February, Disneyland’s Lunar New Year Celebration moved to Disney California Adventure, offering special live entertainment, character meet-and-greets, food, arts and crafts and more. The Lunar New Year festivities are another great cultural celebration and it was great to see them return and expand in 2013.

Some of the live entertainment from the Lunar New Year Celebration:

True Love Week

Disneyland celebrated Valentine’s Day with True Love Week that featured decorations in the park, character meet-and-greets and a nightly lighting show on Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Eh…

Dapper Dans sing Boy Bands

In one of the more cringe-worthy Limited Time Magic offerings all year, Disney had the classic Dapper Dans of Disneyland sing a medley of boy band songs for a week (and then had them do it again in July).

Dapper Dans singing boy band songs was one of the more unfortunate offerings from the Limited Time Magic promotion, but thank goodness we don’t have to ever endure it again (hopefully).

Vinylmation Easter Egg Hunt

For Easter, Disney California Adventure celebrated with a weird Vinylmation-themed Easter Egg hunt around the park. Guests could participate for $5 and get a set of Vinylmation keychains upon completion.

Spring Fling

The week after California Adventure’s Egg hunt, Disneyland hosted Spring Fling, featuring Easter Bunny meet-and-greets and a special street party with various Disney bunnies including a popular Roger Rabbit appearance.

California Adventure got into Spring Fling with a second egg hunt back in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.

Long Lost Friends Week

In April, Limited Time Magic brought Long Lost Friends Week to Disneyland. The rare characters proved to be quite popular with guests and Disney recycled the offering again later in the year with different characters.

Independence Week

In July, Limited Time Magic celebrated Independence Day Week with special meet-and-greets with patriotic Mickey in Town Square, special treats and Fourth of July fireworks nightly at Disneyland.

Music on the Matterhorn

Following Independence Week, Limited Time Magic brought the return of live music to the Matterhorn. A brief, but very welcome return of a great tradition.

End of Summer Party at the Pier

The end of summer brought a small, but pretty fun party on Paradise Pier with live sideshow acts and character meet-and-greets.

Friday the 13th

To kick off the annual Halloween Time season, Disneyland hosted a special Friday the 13th event, keeping the park open until 1 am and featuring special food, entertainment and character meet and greets. The event proved to be hugely popular and an unprepared Disney sold out of just about every special food item for the event and overcrowded walkways and dance party zones.

The insane dance party at New Orleans Square Station had to be experienced to be believed.

Pirates Week

In September, Disneyland celebrated Pirates Week with special meet-and-greets with Jack Sparrow and live entertainment on Tom Sawyer Island.

Getting In

At the start of the New Year, Disneyland cracked down on ticket scams by implementing a new system at the theme park entrances. Before passing through the entrance turnstiles, guests arriving to the parks had to get their tickets pre-scanned before reaching the turnstiles. Guests with multi-day Parkhopper tickets had to get their photo taken, which would be linked to their park ticket and appear on the Cast Member’s screen when entering the park.

The new system added an extra step into getting into the park and noticeably impacted wait times to get into the parks early on as kinks were worked out. For the most part, Cast now has the system down and it doesn’t really impact the experience in getting into the park.

Cropped Out

In January, Kodak’s sponsorship with Disney ended and the camera sponsor slowly disappeared from the parks, with park maps losing their sponsorship and logos right away

The Kodak signage in the parks stuck around until early May when signage around the parks began disappearing. In January:

By May:

The Kodak picture spots stuck around for a while until they too were finally removed. In November, Nikon and Disney announced a new partnership that will make Nikon the official camera sponsor of domestic Disney theme parks, which will include the return of in-park picture spots, but with the Nikon branding instead.

The Kodak kiosk in the old Fantasyland ticket booth near “it’s a small world” has been vacated. No word on if Nikon will take over this space but as of this writing, the kiosk remains empty as it slips into disrepair. It would be unfortunate to lose this bit of Disneyland history and hopefully Disney can find something to utilize this small space soon.

Brown Bridge and Broken Windows

Early in 2013, Disney California Adventure’s Glendale-Hyperion Bridge on Buena Vista Street underwent a series of inexplicable repaints over the course of several weeks before ultimately settling on a color scheme that was pretty much the same as its original color.

By mid-February:

Back to normal by March

Shortly after the bridge repainting was wrapped up, the windows on Buena Vista Street got more changes after seeing multiple changes less than three months after Buena Vista Street opened in 2012.

The changes got rid of the original period-appropriate props and staging and replaced them with rather tacky merchandise displays.

By April, the Five and Dime window displays disappeared and the fan-favorite custom-designed books were later relocated to a shelf high up inside the store.

No need for theming when there’s merchandise to push!

Time’s Up

In February, Disneyland began enforcing FASTPASS return times, ending the long tradition of honoring FASTPASS tickets anytime after their return time. Walt Disney World had begun enforcing return times nearly a full year earlier than Disneyland did, as that Resort was preparing for the phased roll-out of their MyMagic+ next gen experience.

The expectation is that Disneyland is also preparing for an eventual introduction of some variation on the MyMagic+ system, prompting the enforcement of FASTPASS. However, with multi-month delays and rumors that MyMagic+ is proving to be a bit of a burden for Walt Disney World and Disneyland’s vastly different visitor demographics, it’s now unclear if Disneyland will ever implement the system.

Oz floats in

In mid-February, Disneyland hosted the hot air balloon touring the U.S. in promotion of Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful.

Video of the balloon in the main entrance plaza.

As part of Limited Time Magic, Disney California Adventure also hosted a preview of the film in the Muppet Vision 3D Theater.

And Award Wieners served up a specialty hot dog and drink for the film:

A Faire Addition

Disneyland’s only major new attraction addition this year was the new Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet village next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. The new Fantasy Faire area, which carries the distinction of being Tony Baxter’s final project for Disneyland, replaced the historic Carnation Plaza Garden area and brought more of Fantasyland into Disneyland’s Central Plaza.

In January, Disney offered an in-depth preview of the new Fantasyland addition over at California Adventure’s Blue Sky Cellar.

Ultimately, the new storybook village area opened in March and proved to be a charming and richly-detailed environment with entertainment and details for all fans, even those that aren’t particularly interested in meeting the princesses.

Figaro catnaps and plays with a bird in Fantasy Faire

Clopin’s Music Box brings some old-world charm to the village

And the understated shows in the Royal Theatre are some of the better shows Disneyland has produced in recent years.

In June, Disney made good on its word and brought back swing dancing to the former Carnation Plaza Gardens. Weekends through summer, swing bands brought live music and dancing to the Royal Theater stage once again and fans turned out to continue the tradition.

Starbucks Street, U.S.A.

Disneyland’s Market House closed in April to begin its conversion into the park’s new Starbucks location.

The charming Dorothea Redmond-designed Market House interior was one of few remaining Main Street interiors that had largely gone unchanged over the years.

Next door, the Disneyana shop closed to make way for the expanded Market House.

The Starbucks project ultimately meant the loss of the unique Swift Birthday Cake Room.

The closure of Disneyana forced the shop to relocate to the Disney Gallery, evicting the art gallery permanently.

By late June, the Disney Gallery became the new Disneyana and the gallery moved into a corner of the Main Street Opera House lobby.

Expensive art prints replaced Imagineering art work and gallery seating was replaced with more display cases and artist sketch stations.

Unfortunately, the Disney Gallery grew even smaller when it moved to its new location in the Main Street Opera House lobby and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gallery is eventually phased out completely.

By August the new Market House Starbucks location was getting closer to opening and a peek inside showed that the interior had been radically changed.

August also brought new signage for Starbucks as well as the new name for the space formerly occupied by Disneyana. The Book Rest is a themed seating area for the new Starbucks location.

The new Market House finally opened in late September, ready to serve up Starbucks drinks to the masses.

Lots of queue space, not much charm.

Special lighting fixtures

The classic Party Line telephones returned

…as did the checkers board

What remained of the former Disneyana shop became the Book Rest, a themed seating space for Starbucks guests.

The potbelly stove was retained but relocated to a strange location inside the Book Rest area.

Big Blunder Mountain

In Frontierland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad closed at the start of the New Year for what was originally expected to be a 10-month refurbishment project that included a complete track replacement and train upgrade. The project hit a major delay when Disney decided to install Cal/OSHA-compliant safety railing throughout and by late September, Disney had to finally announce that the project would stretch into early 2014.

A complete ride-through of Big Thunder Mountain from August 2011, before it closed in January for refurbishment.

The refurbishment included the removal of the original, aging mining town of Rainbow Ridge and a complete reconstruction of it.

Track replacement in April:

Certain portions of the mountain were repainted.

And in July and August, Big Thunder Trail was repaved.

By the fall, the rebuilt facades for Rainbow Ridge were completed and looked fantastic from afar.

By late October, the first of the Big Thunder trains returned to the tracks and now trains can be heard testing frequently as the attraction gets closer to its reopening.

Baxter Bows Out

In February, Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter announced his retirement from Walt Disney Imagineering and stepped down from his position as Senior Vice President, Creative Development. Baxter’s unexpected retirement sent ripples through the fan community and lent credibility to long-time rumors that Imagineering’s internal politics have created a hostile and toxic work environment in Imagineering’s Glendale headquarters. What was most important, however, was perhaps realizing just what kind of legacy Baxter left upon his retirement – he is responsible for some of the most iconic Disney attractions including the Indiana Jones Adventure, Big Thunder Mountain and Star Tours. Baxter has been a long-time champion for the preservation and respect of Disneyland’s rich history while continuing to bring groundbreaking new attractions to the park. Beyond Disneyland, Baxter is credited with work at EPCOT Center and leading the Euro Disney (Disneyland Paris) project.

Below, excerpts from his retirement letter.

AN OPEN LETTER TO FELLOW IMAGINEERS

Decades ago, Imagineering had the bold notion to start the 21st century 18 years early by unveiling the “future” at Epcot in 1982. This positive look at tomorrow had a numbing effect on the bleak vistas depicted in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. As a kid beginning my career at Disneyland in the mid 1960s, both of these “futures” were far off from a universe where Disneyland was the only Disney park, Mr. Lincoln was a state of the art attraction, and everything operated under Walt Disney’s guidance.

Today, while there is a new set of “futures” to explore, the time has come for me to evolve my role at Walt Disney Imagineering. Beginning this February, I will be transitioning to a position as a part time advisor. While I will not be here on a regular basis, I will continue to be available to any and all of you as needs arise. Though my time will be limited, my passion for the magic WDI creates will be just as strong.

Since early last year, I have been thinking about what I would say to all of you when this time arrived. It has been a wondrous 47 years spanning the opening of Walt Disney World to Big Thunder and Star Tours … from Epcot’s original Journey into Imagination to Disneyland Paris and Indiana Jones. The Imagineers I have known and shared these times with have provided invaluable experiences not to be found anywhere else on earth.

As one of the lucky second-generation Imagineers, I had the unique opportunity to experience firsthand the core philosophies of our company. I was fortunate enough to work with Claude Coats, Marc Davis, John Hench and the many others who built this industry alongside Walt Disney. I was able to soak up their wisdom and partner with them on creative projects. I have passed forward many of their key philosophies, and as our culture and scope have evolved, I have tried to balance my support of these foundations, with the business of charting “what’s next.” Now the 21st century brings a new reality … for the first time, the younger generation is master of the key technologies driving the future. While upcoming generations deal with tech tools that are evolving almost daily, many of Disney’s keystone philosophies remain stable and relevant.

[ . . . ]

Going Forward – No company is perfect, and like any other corporation Disney has its own politics and challenges. We are artists, engineers, managers, filmmakers and musicians. But our company is unique; there is no place like it on earth. We are lucky. At the end of the day, it is my hope that this letter will add to the special culture that I have been privileged to grow in. I see the probability for that happening in my interactions with younger Imagineers like Michel, Josh, Zach, Dylan, Laura, Manuel, Vanessa and Brandon, which are beyond rewarding to me. At a time when “unlearning” is as critical as “learning,” it’s important to listen to the way these people think and enjoy the things they do. Creativity I have mined from their game-changing perspectives, now effectively influences my own design process. I hope that when their careers peak some decades from now, they will look back on our time together as I value the time I was able to spend with Claude Coats.

And now it comes down to the point at hand. I am not suggesting that I could be a mentor to you all, but that said, you should all have someone you can turn to in this manner. I do hope to be available to help support your ideas, give advice or even join a team whenever appropriate. My role will be one of supporting your visions in the best way I can, and encouraging you to maintain and build upon this already special place. I will have availability, and if you would like my assistance in any way, please e-mail Bruce Vaughn’s office to request my time.

This is not a goodbye, but hopefully a letter of introduction to the many of you that I have not yet had the chance to meet personally …

Tony Baxter

Feb. 1, 2013

In August, Baxter was honored at the D23 Expo by being named a Disney Legend and on November 1, he was given his own Window on Main Street.

A Great Big Marvelous Tomorrow

In April, Tomorrowland got some new life breathed into its stale Innoventions attraction with the addition of an Iron Man exhibit and interactive experience based on Marvel’s Iron Man 3 film.

The Iron Man Tech exhibit was originally set to run through September but was later announced that it had been extended. Iron Man Tech is still open in Innoventions and it’s unlikely it’ll go away anytime soon.

In late October, Innovention’s Marvel presence grew, with a wildly popular new Thor meet-and-greet added next to the Iron Man Tech exhibit.

Thor: Treasures from Asgard includes movie props on display in the queue and inside the meet-and-greet room.

Cal/OSHA’s Safetyland

Around the same time Iron Man landed in Tomorrowland, Disneyland suddenly closed several attractions in both parks. The closures were the result of a citation from California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health in which Disney was fined $234,850 for a November 2011 incident in which a contractor fell from Space Mountain while cleaning it. The fines were reduced upon Disney correcting the issues, but the initial fines meant significant changes in the park throughout the rest of the year.

The Matterhorn Bobsleds and Soarin Over Califronia reopened within days but Space Mountain remained closed for three weeks.

The Cal/OSHA citation resulted in Disney going back through the parks and retrofitting buildings and attractions with preventative safety railing. Ropes and flags popped up along rooftops and new railings began being installed along Main Street, in Frontierland, and throughout Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Tom and Huck’s Treehouse closed on Tom Sawyer Island and has yet to reopen.

In August, work began on installing permanent safety additions to Fantasyland rooftops.

By the end of September the new Fantasyland safety additions began to emerge from construction…

Layers of castle walls and new turrets

Meanwhile, Space Mountain continued to build a layer of filth all year. Without a safety railing system in place no workers could access the mountain for cleaning.

We’ve been hearing a safety solution for Space Mountain is ready to be implemented soon and a proper cleaning will follow.

Happiest Place, Higher Prices

Disneyland’s annual price hike came at the start of June this year, just in time for the busy summer season. The price changes saw increases across the board, including significant increases for Disneyland Resort Annual Passports. How high will tickets and passes go in 2014?

Below is the breakdown of the price increases from summer 2013.

Disneyland Resort Theme Park Ticket Price Increases
Effective June 2, 2013
Ticket New Price
Age 10+ / Age 3-9
Old Price
Age 10+ / Age 3-9
Price Increase
Age 10+ / Age 3-9
5-Day
Park Hopper
$300 / $279 $290 / $270 + $10 / + $9
5-Day
1-Park Per Day
$265 / $244 $260 / $240 + $5 / + $4
4-Day
Park Hopper
$285 / $265 $275 / $255 + $10 / + $10
4-Day
1-Park Per Day
$250 / $230 $245 / $225 + $5 / + $5
3-Day
Park Hopper
$260 / $244 $250 / $235 + $10 / + $9
3-Day
1-Park Per Day
$225 / $209 $220 / $205 + $5 / + $4
2-Day
Park Hopper
$210 / $197 $200 / $188 + $10 / + $9
2-Day
1-Park Per Day
$175 / $162 $170 / $158 + $5 / + $4
1-Day
Park Hopper
$137 / $131 $125 / $119 + $12 / + $12
1-Day
1-Park
$92 / $86 $87 / $81 + $5 / + $5

Deluxe and Southern California passes saw the biggest increase for Disneyland-only passes. The bi-coastal Premier Annual Passport that allows guests to visit Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World saw the largest price jump – a whopping $130 spike, raising that pass’ price to just under $1,000.

Disneyland Resort Annual Passport Price Increases
Effective June 2, 2013
Annual Passport New Price Old Price Price Increase
Premier
(Disneyland & Disney World)
$979 $849 + $130
Premium $669 $649 + $20
Deluxe $499 $469 + $30
Southern California $359 $329 + $30
Southern California Select $279 $269 + $10
Block-Out Day Ticket $84 $70 + $14

Parking prices went up as well but only by a dollar.

Monstrous Summer All-Nighter

In late April, Disney used Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World to announce a bi-coastal 24-hour day to kick off its “Monstrous Summer” promotion.

The 24-hour event drew big crowds, with guests camping out the night before so they could be the first in for the event.

Fireworks kicked off the event.

Mike and Sulley from Monsters University met with guests at their new meet and greet

Lots of special food and treats for the event.

And special entertainment throughout the evening

Special “monstrous” lighting at Sleeping Beauty Castle

The Pixar Play Parade also got an update for “Monsters University” as part of the Monstrous Summer.

The Monstrous Summer All-Nighter Weekend also hosted Disneyland’s new Opa! A Celebration of Greece cultural celebration that took place in both theme parks.

Specialty food for Opa!

Magical Maps

In January, the Fantasyland Theater was still in the process of being converted back into a working theater for the upcoming Mickey and the Magical Map show.

By late-May the Fantasyland Theater had a new marquee and Mickey and the Magical Map was ready to open in time for the Monstrous Summer All-Nighter Weekend.

The new show blended a giant new multi-tiered screen with live actors, characters and music with some mixed results. With a weak premise and some overused songs and characters, the show isn’t Disney’s best but it is nice to have a show back in the theater after it had been underutilized for years as the Princess Fantasy Faire.

Premiere Ranger

Disney California Adventure hosted the world premiere of The Lone Ranger in June, rolling out the red carpet for celebrities including the film’s stars, Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.

50 Years of Enchantment

In June, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room celebrated its 50th anniversary with special merchandise. Today, the historic show remains popular with guests.

The anniversary was celebrated with an exhibit in the Disney Gallery and a lot of great Tiki Room collectibles released in Disneyana.

Lots of new art and great collectibles for the anniversary

58 Years of Magic

In July, Disneyland celebrated its 58th anniversary with a rededication ceremony and flashmob in Town Sqaure.

Mara’s Makeover

In August, the idol Mara in the Indiana Jones Adventure got a major upgrade and makeover. New projected effects, lighting and a new voice track meant major changes for Mara and for the most part, the update was well-recieved — except for Mara’s new voice. The new voice was met with huge backlash from the fan community with some fans even signing an online petition to restore Mara’s voice to the original.

Video of the updated Mara effect.

Members Only

In late August, news hit the fan community that Club 33 would be expanding, resulting in major changes for the private club that would also impact regular park guests. While the Club itself would see notable changes, including the loss of its original entrance and its Trophy Room, regular guests would lose access to the beautiful Court of Angels.

The closure of the courtyard hit a nerve with many in the fan community, sparking a heated discussion on message boards and social media about a space that some regarded as “just stairs” and others thought it was an important part of Disneyland’s history and legacy.

On October 7, the Court of Angels closed for good. It will remain largely intact but will receive a new elevator as part of its conversion into the new Club 33 lobby.

The Le Ornament Magique shop is also closed as it will act as the front door for the expanded club.

In December, work began on widening the upstairs walkway/bridge that Club 33 guests will use to access the new Jazz Club.

Disability Access Service

On October 9, Disney launched its new Disability Access Service for disabled and handicapped guests. The service replaced the Guest Assistance Card program which had become so widely abused by guests it had become a major headline on local and national news programs and online news outlets.

The debut of the new system initially brought long lines to City Hall as guests and Cast Members converted over to the new system.

Kiosks popped up in both parks for guests utilizing the new system, which requires making ride reservations for attractions that disabled guests cannot stand in or navigate the queues of.

By now, the new system has worked out its bugs and seems to be operating fine on a day-to-day basis, which is good news from Disney who endured quite a bit of negative press for the problems with the old system as well as issues with the new system.

A California Christmas

Of course, the holiday season rounded out the year and this year several notable additions brought some extra holiday magic to the parks.

In Disneyland, the Jungle Cruise became the Jingle Cruise for the first time ever – bringing a new holiday-themed spiel to the Jungle Skippers and some subtle holiday decorations throughout the queue and on the ride.

Below, a full ride-through of the Jingle Cruise:

In Big Thunder Ranch, the popular Billy Hill and the Hillbillies began their final season performing at Disneyland.

In Fantasyland, the new Frozen meet-and-greet proved popular with guests wanting to meet Anna and Elsa from the hit new animated film.

The holiday season really shined in California Adventure with two impressive, major new additions. The new World of Color Winter Dreams show delivered a fantastic holiday spectacle, introducing new lighting and special effects to the World of Color infrastructure.

The real star of the holiday season, however, was the wonderful new Viva Navidad cultural celebration in Paradise Garden. The new offering brought a special menu, fantastic live entertainment and the truly excellent Viva Navidad Street Party.

Holiday Flowers

In December, Disney unveiled a new flower market on East Center Street, off of Main Street, USA. The flower market pays homage to a similar flower market from Disneyland’s past. The addition was unexpected and was quietly installed overnight — a pleasant surprise.

I really love this new flower market and hope it sticks around with seasonal floral overlays.

Ringing in 2014

Disneyland will ring in 2014 with a variety of live music, dance parties, fireworks and more throughout both theme parks. We have a full entertainment schedule, tips and survival guide for New Year’s Eve below! Happy New Year!

Guide to New Year’s Eve 2014
Disneyland Park
Park Hours: 8 am – 2 am
Extra Magic Hour: 7 am
Disney California Adventure
Park Hours: 8 am – 1 am
Extra Magic Hour: None
New Year’s Eve Countdown Central
at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle
9 p.m. – 12:30 am
Live music and countdown featuring Tomasina

New Year’s Eve
“Fantasy in the Sky” Fireworks

in the Skies above Disneyland
12 midnight
Midnight fireworks above Disneyland to ring in 2014

Swingin’ New Year’s Eve Party
at Fantasy Faire
Throughout the evening
Swing Party with live music from Stompy Jones

Swingin’ down the Rivers of America
Between showings of Fantasmic!
Throughout the evening

Live music on the Rivers of America with the Jambalaya Jazz band

French Market New Year
in New Orleans Square
Throughout the evening
Celebrate the New Year with a live pianist and French Market fare

“it’s a small world”
Promenade Dance Party

at “it’s a small world” Promenade
7 pm – 2 am
At this fabulous Fantasyland party, Disney Characters join a spectacular DJ spinning popular music

Tomorrowland Terrace Dance Party
at Tomorrowland Terrace
8:45pm, 9:45pm, 10:50pm, 11pm and 12:45am
Live music, dance party and midnight countdown featuring Suburban Legends

World of Color Countdown to Midnight
at Paradise Park
12:00 midnight
Watch Paradise Bay come to life with a spectacular countdown to 2014 with fountains and fireworks followed by a special showing of World of Color Winter Dreams

Mad T Party Countdown to 2014
in Hollywood Land
7 pm – 1 am
Step through the Rabbit Hole and enter this off-kilter Holiday T Party that features a dazzling display of pyrotechnics!

New Year’s Eve in Carthay Circle
at Buena Vista Street
8 pm, 9 pm, 10:15 pm, 11:15 pm and 12:15 am
“Swing” in the New Year dance to the big band sounds of The Tim Gill All-Stars.

Viva 2014
at Paradise Garden
8:15 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:45 pm, 11:35 pm and 12:35 am
Live Latin music from Hermanos Herreras

A Route 66 New Year’s Eve
at Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land
8 pm, 9 pm, 10:15 pm, 11:15 pm and 12:15 am
Hit the open road with The Kelly Rae Band’s unique, high-octane brand of country music.

Wine Country Washboard Jazz Concert
at Sonoma Terrace
8 pm, 9:15 pm, 10:30 pm and 11:35 pm
Ring in the new year with live music from the Ellis Island Boys.

New Year’s Eve Weather at Disneyland
from Weather.com
Day
High 73° F

Mostly sunny with a few passing clouds
Chance of rain 0%
Humidity 38%
Night
Low 46° F

Clear skies. Winds light and variable.
Chance of rain 0%
Humidity 72%
[center]New Year’s Eve Party Favors
Complimentary New Year’s Eve party hats and horns will be available beginning at 6:00 p.m. at designated distribution areas in each theme park:
Disneyland Park: Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, Frontierland
Disney California Adventure: Near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Hollywood Land and near Silly Symphony Swings, Paradise Pier.

New Year’s Eve Dining
Call Disney Dining at 714-781-3463 or go online
for availability and reservations.

  • Carnation Café at Disneyland:
    Surf and turf with shrimp and sirloin steak.
  • French Market at Disneyland:
    Roasted pork chop with Calvados applesauce, braised greens and sweet potato soufflé.
  • Blue Bayou at Disneyland:
    Seafood pot pie.
  • Cafe Orleans at Disneyland:
    Flat iron steak with bone marrow demi-glace, garlic mashed potatoes and acorn squash.
  • Flo’s V8 Café at Disney California Adventure:
    Meat loaf with Coca-Cola barbecue sauce and two sides.
  • Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel:
    Prixe fixe, three-course menu including spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette, filet and lobster.
  • Storyteller’s Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel:
    Prixe fixe two-course dinner with with porcini-rubbed rib-eye with scampi-style prawns.
  • Jolly Holiday Bakery, Fidler, Fifer & Practical Cafe, Pacific Wharf Cafe and White Water Snacks: New Year’s Cupcake with dark chocolate cake, Nutella filling, Belgian white chocolate frosting with black and silver decorations.

New Year’s Eve Survival Tips

  • Arrive early! Disneyland Resort theme parks will be extremely busy and Disneyland often closes for periods of time on New Year’s Eve to newly-arriving Guests. So arrive early, pick your park and stay put, otherwise you may be locked out!
  • Avoid traffic: When arriving to the Resort, avoid Harbor Blvd. and Ball Rd. if at all possible. Katella Ave. is generally a better option. When arriving or leaving the Resort, drive safely and defensively.
  • Smart Parking: For an easier parking experience, avoid the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure and utilize the Toy Story and Pumbaa Parking Lots instead.
  • Have a Plan: Arriving early will give you the opportunity to rent a locker and obtain FASTPASS tickets before they sell out. FASTPASS Return Times are not yet being enforced at Disneyland Resort theme parks, so keep this in mind throughout the day. Utilize services and smart phone apps like Mouseaddict, which can help you track attraction wait times and get the most out of the day.
  • Pack a Game: Space Mountain and Radiator Springs Racers will be there next year (and with shorter wait times). Packing a small board game, a deck of cards or a book to read will give you something to do (instead of waiting in long lines) while you wait for the midnight countdown.
  • Keep in Touch: Don’t forget to pack a charger or back-up battery for your cell phone (or other devices). You’ll want to keep in touch with your party should you get separated. With so many people in the park, smart phone battery life is often reduced as phones try to remain connected to overwhelmed voice and data networks.
  • Don’t forget to eat and hydrate: Long lines will be present at theme park restaurants throughout the day, but especially during peak meal times. To avoid even longer lines, plan your meals at off-hours. Also consider bringing lightweight but satisfying snacks like granola bars or Pop Tarts to help get you through the day.
  • Have fun!: Bringing a lot of patience will help make your New Year’s Eve celebration one to remember. Plan for big crowds and don’t expect to go on many rides. Instead, be kind and courteous to other Guests and Cast Members and focus on enjoying a day in the park with those you’re celebrating with.

Below, our friends at Mouseaddict have their weekly crowd forecasts to help you plan your New Year visit to the parks! Be sure to check out the Mouseaddict app for iPhone when visiting the parks this week. With Disney discontinuing their Mobile Magic app, Mouseaddict is a great option for finding crowd information, wait times, and touring information while in the park.

December 30 – January 5

MON
TUE [NYE]
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN

Happy New Year!
We’ve had record numbers of Addicts using our app this week! If you’re looking for a replacement for the Mobile Magic app, take a look at Mouseaddict’s unique features, for free!

  • It’s the last week of the holidays at the resort. Heavy crowds continue, and Disneyland has been closed to new guests for a few hours at a time each day. However, the park-wide "can’t move" crowds haven’t materialized like in years past. In addition, California Adventure walkways have been relatively normal and ¡Viva Navidad! is a fantastic celebration to escape to.
  • New Year’s Eve events will bring heavy crowds to Disneyland, in the evening.
  • Hotels are sold out through New Year’s Eve, and extremey busy through Saturday.
  • Check the "Schedule" page in the Mouseaddict app for up-to-the-minute news and notes on park conditions.

Looking for the best replacement for Mobile Magic on your iPhone? Download the 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, and more. Download on the App Store or at mouseaddict.com.


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 30, 2013 – January 5, 2014
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
Daily:
8 am – 12 midnight
Tues. / New Year’s Eve:
8 am – 2 am
Daily:
8 am – 11 pm
Tues. / New Year’s Eve:
8 am – 1 am
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
[/CENTER]
[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]Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage:[/b] Closed January 6 through late 2014 for extensive 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.
[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
Alright, that wraps up our final edition of Dateline Disneyland for 2013! We hope you all have a very happy and safe New Year and we’ll see you in 2014!

Before we end the year, I’d like to give a big thanks to all of you for reading throughout the year. Dateline Disneyland celebrated its sixth anniversary last month and I wouldn’t still be here doing this every week if it weren’t for all of you. So – thanks! Also, a big thank you to those who contributed this year to the blog in any way – by contributing photos, clicking ads, donating via Paypal, or buying something through an Amazon link — thank you so much! Here’s to 2014!

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.
  • garyman

    Great Recap, have to be at work today.

  • Peoplemover Priit

    Great look. Crazy year. Haven’t quite decided if a good year for the resort. Such polarizing highs and lows…

  • SoCalFan

    I forgot how great that summer party was on the Pier! I wish they would always have those kind of amazing sideshow acts on the boardwalk! They add some much more energy and character to that land. Makes it feel more “lived in”, if that makes sense. The characters vintage beachwear is also really great!

  • Irving

    Andy,
    It’s a great recaputulation of what 2013 was at Disneyland. Living far enough I was very fortunate to visit the Resort twice this year. It is wonderful to see that, despite all the changes, Disneyland is still full of great offerings, first quality seasonal entertainment, and of course great Cast members.
    Thanks MiceChat crew for these Datelines!

  • Big D

    WOW, what an amazing update! That was a great look back, thank you so much Andy! It must have been a heck of a lot of work to put together. I didn’t attend the Greek festival, but from the pictures, that looks like the most interesting of the LTM events to me. I did go to the Friday the 13th party and that was a mistake. It was way too crowded to be fun. Nevertheless, Disneyland on a bad day is still better then anything else. Thanks again Andy!

  • Larry Parker

    Thanks Andy for the great photos and commentary. The two main negatives I see to this year’s changes were the closing of the Court of Angels(I recall your comment at the time regarding how Disneyland endlessly markets its magic, yet increasingly ignores that magic with for-profit changes like the closing of the Court of Angels); the other negative is the new Starbucks replacing the homey and beloved Market House.(I love your comment; “Lots of queue space, not much charm.”)A better and much less impactful location for the Starbucks would have been in the old restaurant space next to Disney Showcase near Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. But ever since Eisner, it’s profit over quality and charm.(You recall the current CEO Iger was handpicked by Eisner.)It’s a pattern of disregard and non-appreciation of Walt’s genius which started then and which primarily remains today. It’s sickening…I just hope more Disney fans will make our displeasure known when such changes occur(which no doubt they will)in the future.

  • msjstricker

    Thanks for posting Tony’s retirement letter. I had missed that somewhere along the line this year. It was nicely written, but did make my ears perk up a bit at the specific mention of Imagineering politics. Just how bad is it over there?

    Among my many many Disneyland trips, I was lucky enough to spend 4 days in WDW this year. I got to see MyMagic+ in action, and while my opinions about it are still materializing, it was a great trip.

    It was a good year, but overall I think this was one of the most controversial years for Disney in awhile. They did some things that truly scared me and made me nervous about the future of the parks. Hoping things only get better in 2014!

  • MonteJ

    What a great pictoral report! Your really get a great perspective of the year at Disneyland.

    And while I’m commenting … it interesting how MiceChat itself has transitioned from covering every little development in the major transformation of RCA (what color did that beam finally end up being, anyway?) and than back to covering the ongoing activities and news surrounding the resort. It’s always a great way to get a Disney-fix and I want to express my gratitude and best wishes to all the MiceChat staff and members.

  • mightymicroscope33

    I hope they don’t ruin club 33. This was quite a big year for disneyland.

  • Tinkbelle

    There were 3 major negative happenings that cloud 2013 at DLR for me:
    1. Fastpass return time enforcement
    2. Court of Angels closing
    3. The announced forced retirement of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies

    We have no plans of visiting in the year to come, but I hope it brings better things than 2013 did.

  • pattimarie

    Losing Court of Angels is a blow to my heart. Like many families, we took pictures of all of us on the the stairs every few years. I went there by myself many times just to take it all in. They did such a good job on it–there was a certain magic there. It’s not a little thing to me. The fact that they couldn’t figure out another way to service the members of a club many of us cannot possibly aspire to join leaves me very disappointed and concerned. Being a passholder and regular visitor kind of makes you feel like you are a member of something special, but this makes me feel very helpless and like I’ve been put in my place. I wish I felt that someone in management even cared how heartbreaking this is. I don’t think they get it.

  • CasaFamilia

    Great job Andy! Your update brought some bittersweet memories but mostly great memories from 2013. This Casa family had some amazing times at the Parks this year and your updates helped us plan effectively for our weekly trips.

    I especially loved the picture from the “Getting In” section-Suburban Lawns! Janitor and Gidget goes to …………………

  • RodeToad

    Thanks for the great recap, and as always your photos are fantastic.

    Still hoping the Court of Angels isn’t closed off for good – personally, that would be the worst thing to happen to the park in a long time.