Disneyland Can Breathe Again

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


Published on January 10, 2014 at 3:00 am with 62 Comments

Disneyland resort has moved into the off-season between New Years and Spring Break. This is a rare opportunity for you to enjoy the resort without oppressive crowds (mostly), but you’ll also find it without quite a few attractions as refurbs take advantage of the lower crowd levels. Big Thunder Mountain is nearly ready to return after over a year of refurbishment, but numerous closures and refurbs are underway or planned throughout the parks, including Alice in Wonderland, Haunted Mansion Holiday, it’s a small world, and of course the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

Plus, we have some VERY exciting announcements at the end of this update that you won’t want to miss! So please be sure to read all the way through.  :-)

The frost is receding and the holiday cheer is rapidly leaving the resort.


Primrose planted in the peripheral planters of Town Square foreshadow spring.


As of Tuesday the tree was still up.


Here we see the Horse-drawn carriage and City Hall behind it removed of Holiday decor.



Disney Showcase was immediately switched over to a generic non-holiday theme, with the window displays taking the lead.



No Christmas here.



Here’s a particularly cute display.

Flood of Maintenance

The new year also brings a flood of maintenance projects throughout the park.  Work crews can be seen nearly everywhere making touch-ups to spots around the park.








Big Thunder Mountain

As we learned from the most recent MiceAge update, Big Thunder Mountain is well on its way to soft openings by the end of January and cast member testing as early as January 15th. In fact, Disney has the ride scheduled open to the public on Saturday, February 1st.  This is no guarantee, mind you.  But the ride is being tested non-stop now and the walls around the attraction could soon disappear.















Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage lagoon is in the process of being walled up for its long winter nap.



As it currently stands the subs are being closed as a cost-cutting measure by the resort until things are more financially clear up in Burbank.  It is the single most expensive attraction to maintain and operate and the money saved, just having the attraction closed, will actually be tremendous. It also allows more time for final decisions to be made on the Disneyland Star Wars projects, as the Subs and Autopia sit where expansion will take place.


The lagoon will soon be drained and the subs mothballed.











Sailing Ship Columbia

The Sailing Ship Columbia is currently down for refurbishment and is scheduled to return on Friday, February 14th. While the ship is down, Fantasmic takes a break as well.






Haunted Mansion

Jack Skellington is now vacating the Haunted Mansion.  The classic dark ride is supposed to return on Saturday, January 18th.  That is a rather quick turn around for such an elaborate overlay to be removed.  No real changes are expected upon its return.



Refurbs coming

Another major refurbishment is finally happening at Alice in Wonderland.  The exterior portion of the ride will receive a permanent solution and we wait eagerly to see how it turns out.  If you want to ride the attraction in its current form you have until Sunday February 2nd to see it.  The attraction will be closed beginning February 3rd with no return date set.


it’s a small world holiday

Another holiday overlay needs to be removed too.  But it has to wait a bit with so many other attractions currently closed.  it’s a small world holiday will close beginning Tuesday January 21st, with a return set for February 8th.


Club 33

New Orleans Square is shrouded in scaffolds and Trompe-l’œil coverings as the private Club 33 above gets an overhaul.  Thankfully, this is planned to only last until June and everything will soon be back to normal.




Just opposite the old club doorway, the tunnel leading to the Crystal shop is being reinforced.


Above is a lookalike screen of what was there before.


Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?


Peeking up into the scaffolds, little can be seen.



Over near the perfume shop and Cafe Orleans, a new bridge is in the works. This bridge will allow servers to bring food from the club kitchens into the new private Jazz Club.


New Orleans Square is a rather tight labyrinth of construction walls at the moment.



Near the New Orleans Train Station, we look back towards the construction.


Back on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure the Holidays are being removed quickly too.  But, throughout the week, the window displays were still playing catch-up.




No more holidays for you!


Oh the irony. The one window they restored first is the one we all hate. We really hoped they’d use the holiday break to come up with something new and a little more inspired.


Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is now closed for refurbishment and will be through February 20th.


Soarin’ Over California

As the recent MiceAge Update mentioned, Soarin over California will be closing for refurbishment on Tuesday. February 18th.  They will be upgrading the projectors to 4k, High definition along with giving the entire attraction a major refurbishment.  Eventually, the attraction will get the new HD Soarin’ Over the World film, which is being prepared for Shanghai Disneyland.






Apparently the ride apparatus and even the smells will be refurbished and upgraded.


That includes a totally new, hi-def ready screen and sound system,.


If you want to get your ride in, do it before February 18th.

No More Navidad

Alas, ¡Viva Navidad! has gone.  But the good news is that the insanely delicious greek inspired food has returned to the Garden Grill.


Dusty likes the Lemon Oregano Chicken with Chimichurri sauce and I like the Spicy Meatball with Chili Sauce. There’s something for every taste here.






And that just about wraps things up for this week.  We will work tirelessly to keep you up-to-date on the latest information regarding refurbishments in this unusually difficult time of financial shuffling, entertainment cutbacks and complex scheduling.


DON’T MISS OUT: MiceChat Anniversary
February 7th through 9th – at the Disneyland Resort! 

Add your name to the email list below for first notification of tickets and detailed information for these great events.

FRIDAY February 7th

An Evening with Walt Disney – Friday Evening, February 7th

Join the folks at the Save Walt Disney’s Birthplace project as we explore what it was like in 1901 when Walt was born and what Walt’s early years in Chicago would have been like. The event will be filled with very special guests, presentations, dinner, drinks, meet and greets and even an opportunity to bid on some unique items with all proceeds going to support the wonderful project to save the home Walt Disney was born in. Space is strictly limited to 70 guests.  This is a SPECIAL TICKETED EVENT


Building the Dream: The Development of Disneyland Paris - February 8th


Celebrated Imagineer Tim Delaney will lead us on a journey through the building of the most beautiful Magic Kingdom of them all, Disneyland Paris. Learn about the challenges, creative opportunities, and wonderful stories that make this park so unique in the universe of Disney theme parks.  This will be a breakfast event at the ESPN Zone (bacon, bacon, bacon) with a 90 minute audio/visual presentation and an opportunity to meet a true creative genius. Event is limited to 125 guests and will sell out quickly. SPECIAL TICKETED EVENT

DCA MiceQuest – 3pm


Put your Disney skills to the test as Fishbulb presents one of his famous eye spy/scavenger hunt events. This is a two hour event which will be free to enter (you’ll just need park admission). There will be fun prizes sponsored by Fairy Godmother Travel and this is always a great way to meet fellow MicePals and have a great time in the park.

Communicore Weekly Musical Meet-up – 6:30pm

Meet Jeff Heimbuch and learn more about the epic Communicore Weekly Musical project. This event will be presented in the same location as the Game Show. Two great events, one great location.

Monorail Man’s Extra Limited Time Magical Game Show – 7pm

The game show has become a MiceChat anniversary tradition. Why? Because Monorail Man isn’t just a Disney nerd but a game show nerd as well. And what excuse do we need to have a good time and win prizes? The show lasts for about an hour and prizes will be given throughout.

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 9th - MiceChat/MiceAge Classic Sunday in Disneyland 

Breakfast at the Riverbelle Terrace, a grand circle tour of Disneyland aboard the Disneyland Railroad, Mark Twain trip around the Rivers of America, MiceChat noon meet with prize giveaway, group photo, lunch with friends, “Practically Perfect Tour,” farewell meet with grand prize giveaway. It’s a MiceChat tradition that’s not to be missed. All are welcome to join us for as much or as little of this day of magic as they’d like.

All events, except for the Evening with Walt Disney and the Breakfast with Tim Delaney are free (you just need theme park admission).  Add your email address below to be notified the moment tickets become available for the special ticketed events and to receive the final event schedule with dates/times/locations of all of the above listed activities and more!


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.

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  • BradyNBradleysMom

    I wonder when we will know if the subs are really gone for good. Will they start removing things? Or will they let everything rot in place.

    I bet at some point the lie will be that while prepping for a remodel they discovered some kind of structural problems that could not be fixed. I know the lagoon had been leaking water into the ground for years. Maybe they could use that as an excuse. Say that it was an environmental problem that had to be fixed and the subs area just could not be repaired.

    • They will leave everything exactly as it is until they have a final approval on Star Wars and construction is ready to start. If Star Wars is cancelled or delayed by a year or more, then the Subs could reopen for the 60th if there’s budget to operate them. Aside from the subs being in the way of Tomorrowland expansion, they are also an operational nightmare (leaking lagoon, expensive, slow loading, maintenance problems). So even if Star Wars expansion doesn’t start soon, the Subs will very well likely remain closed.

      • TacAlert

        On Thursday at the park, the 3 birds were still on top of the red floating thing (don’t know what to call it). On Friday, today, they were gone.

        The Columbia is completely covered in scaffolding now, as compared to the picture above.

    • angle

      It’s unfortunate that the whole sub shutdown is being done in a “sneaky” way, but even in fairly small organizations, there’s a tremendous amount of internal infighting for money and resources. The tactics being used here are a very typical corporate (or governmental) way to insure that the money that’s earmarked for the subs doesn’t get taken away from the DLP budget. No matter how substantial you may think the park’s profits are, DLP is still a very small cog in the Disney Empire.

      If the sub ride is as much of a money sink as is being alleged, that will be a tremendous pool to draw from in order to fund refurbishments and new attractions… not to mention the fact that it takes up a fair amount of land in a park that has very little room to expand.

    • tooncity

      Dusty, the thing that bothers me about he Subs closing, is the loss of kinetics. All the movement is just gone. Except for the monorail, of course, but that’s not consistent. It really was fun just to see the Subs moving around the lagoon. It just feel the area has loss so much. The whole area was based on movement.
      Motorboats, Subs, Monorail, People Mover, Carousel of Progress, Rocket Jets, Autotpia,

      Disney Corporate just doesn’t value these attractions beyond budgets. People love to go to the park for these intangibles that don’t show up on a ledger. Or any other park. Yet, they are all gone or will be gone.

      • Larry Parker

        The lake the subs move thru makes the Matterhorn more scenic as well. But accountants greedily occupied with $$ and not park quality will cut every corner possible to make more $$. In my view, petty and sickening…and this kind of greedy mindset was in large measure responsible for out entire county’s recent financial meltdown.

  • Park Hopper

    Great pictures. I always look forward to your updates.

  • bamato

    I find it almost eerie to see the sub lagoon so still. It surprises me that TDA decided not to keep the water effects going, as anyone riding the monorail will the the show building entrance/exit plain as day now.

    • The lagoon has approval to be drained. So they don’t need to run the pumps for the waterfalls as it will all soon be exposed anyway.

  • Susan Hughes

    I’m glad to hear Soarin Over California is finally entering the 21st century and getting rid of those scratched up, dust ridden film projectors. A big screen like the one used for Mickey and The Magical Map will be so much better.
    I’m also glad to hear that the Autopias may be going away too. I know it’s a favorite of guests, but those smelly, gas powered old cars are certainly not part of a “Tomorrow” theme. Let’s get this Star Wars Party started!!!

    • Even Bob Gurr, who created them, has famously told Imagineering that it’s time for the 50′s technology Autopia to go. Of course, that leaves an opportunity for Cars Land to add a similar electric version of the attraction if they decide to go that route. I have a feeling momentum for that option will pick up steam for the expansion pad East of Luigi’s and South of Bugs Land. It just makes too much sense not to do at some point.

      • Bob Gurr

        Autopia cars in Cars Land? Oh, now that’s just too logical.

    • Larry Parker

      Another option besides Autopias’s closure would be to use cars of the future along the lines of Tesla.

  • Barbaraann

    Thanks for including information about the Anniversary Weekend. Even though I won’t be able to attend the event this year, I do like keeping “in the know” about the specifics. I do find it odd that these announcements are not being posted in the MiceChat Forums, as they have been in the past.

    • The announcement will be added to the forums, but I was working on the text at midnight before going to bed and then turned it over to Fishbulb for images. So I’ll take some version of this and post to the forums and send out in an email today ;-)

  • DannyeF

    Thanks for the update! I love being able to keep up with the parks while we are at home. But I have to say, we don’t all hate the circus window. I didn’t like the older stuff, but the way they have it now is adorable. Tigger!!

  • LoveStallion

    I tell ya, there are few things I enjoy as much as a quiet Disneyland, even with some attractions closed for refurbishment. The park is just magical when it is peaceful and feels more like, well, a park.

  • Enjoy this moment in time folks. Once Christmas is fully packed away, you will see Disneyland as it is intended to look with no holiday or marketing decorations. That’s a rare thing these days. Lowered crowds and classic Disneyland = time to make a trip to the parks!

    • M69

      Will do! :-)

    • Coasterfan

      That’s the plan! Be there Feb 20th.

  • MonkeyDishwasher

    The tree was down as of Wednesday.

  • GrumpSkellington

    How long is the estimated refurb for soarin?

  • lightofdarkness

    “Jack Skellington is now vacating the Haunted Mansion. The classic dark ride is supposed to return on Saturday, January 17th.”

    One of three things happened here:
    1. You made a typo and meant: Friday, January 17th, or Saturday, January 18th.
    2. Disney made a typo and meant: Friday, January 17th, or Saturday, January 18th.
    3. This is the longest tear down for Christmas EVER and it really is Saturday the 17th, which is a full year away!


    • Norman Gidney

      lol Got it. Thanks!

  • bayouguy

    We had a rather good time this past Wednesday. No fireworks, no Fantasmic, well controlled crowd conditions. It was ol’ fashion Disneyland. I think it’s time to stop the fireworks stoppage, as it creates an insane crowd condition and takes away from the enjoyment of Fantasyland attractions.

    • themur

      I can only imagine the AP outrage if they stopped the fireworks in favor of operating Fantasyland attractions!

    • TacAlert

      I noticed the same thing Thursday night. No fireworks. No Fantasmic. Nice and quiet. Even got to take the Mark Twain at night which was nice.

      Leaving tonight at 7:30, the big crowds were coming into the park. We joke that it is the same people who come to see the fireworks all the time for the same show.

  • sdawn99

    Thanks for the great update. We are eagerly awaiting our trip in a couple weeks… we only get to venture to Disneyland every couple years… :)

  • mtn335

    We’ll be there 1/19 to 1/25…if there ARE soft opens for BTMRR, how would we know about it? We’d love to ride it if possible!

    • Download MiceChat’s Mouse Addict in-park iphone app. It’s free. If a ride soft opens while you are in the park, we’ll push a notification out to you.

      Unfortunately, Disney attempts to keep soft openings very closely guarded to avoid a mad rush of fans swarming an attraction (which causes all sorts of operational issues and creates disappointment when the ride is suddenly closed so the Imagineers can keep working or fix something). Still, there is a very good chance that MiceChat will have some sort of heads up we can post to our front page (always read the Editors Note). We are just very reluctant to do so too early as multiple times in the past Disney has decided at the last minute to cancel a soft opening specifically because we posted about it ahead of time.

      • mtn335

        Understood and makes sense – thank you!

        One more question – is there an android app also? I won’t have an iOS device with me… :-)

  • amyuilani

    I wonder if, when they drain the lagoon, they’ll cover it with a giant tarp that looks like the water the way they do with the buildings.

    • parkfreak

      ^^^ :D ^^^