Published on January 13, 2014 at 5:10 am with 33 Comments
With the busy holiday season over Disneyland has now jumped into the winter off-season by taking care of refurbishment and construction projects around the parks. At Disneyland, the exclusive Club 33 has taken over New Orleans Square with construction walls as it begins its major expansion and renovation project. Meanwhile, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is wrapping up its year-long refurbishment project as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage closes to begin a major refurbishment that might end up being that ride’s end. Disneyland fans also goodbye to favorites Billy Hill the Hillbillies, who performed their final show at the park following over 20 years of entertaining Disneyland guests.
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.
Let’s get started!
Welcome to Disneyland!
The holidays are over at Disneyland and the Resort is now entering its brief winter off-season period.
The end of the holidays means a new marketing campaign for the Resort, which is now using the slogan “Keeps Getting Happier,” a continuation of the “Just Got Happier” slogan introduced summer 2012 for the Disney California Adventure re-launch.
Banners in Downtown Disney continue with the new marketing campaign
Note the new “Keeps Getting Happier” slogan
In Downtown Disney, the new Starbucks location continues construction as it moves toward its grand opening later this winter.
End of the Season
The holidays have mostly disappeared from the parks, with only some leftover decorations here and there still waiting to be removed and packed up.
No more Christmas tree
Spring color can now be found in park flower beds.
Hanging floral baskets returning in Town Square…
No more Christmas garland across Main Street but Sleeping Beauty Castle is still covered in snow for the time being…
Further down Main Street, what was left of the charming flower market that took over Center Street during the holidays has now been completely removed. I have my fingers crossed that it’ll return with spring flowers but we’ll see what happens…
No more flowers here
At the end of Main Street, Sleeping Beauty Castle is in the process of having its winter overlay removed. The snow is still in place, but garland and icicle lights have all been (mostly) removed.
Some icicle lights are still waiting to be removed.
Back in Fantasyland, “it’s a small world” will continue to celebrate the holidays through next Monday.
Elsewhere, holiday overlays are gone or currently in the process of being removed. The Jungle Cruise is back to normal…
But the Haunted Mansion is closed while Jack Skellington moves out
No more trash can on the Mansion roof until the fall
Over at California Adventure, the park is pretty much back to normal following the holidays.
Buena Vista Street window displays returned to normal and some even got additional mannequins added.
This window is seriously so embarrassing. It’s a shame the period-appropriate windows that Imagineering put together for the park were thrown out in an effort to sell more merchandise.
More mannequins were added in just about all of the Elias and Co. windows.
They aren’t exactly great additions…
No more Buena Vista Street Christmas tree
Spring floral in the park…
Over at Paradise Gardens, the spectacular Viva Navidad celebration has ended for the year and the regular menu of Mediterranean skewers has returned to Paradise Garden Grill (one of the best counter service meals in the parks).
Out in Downtown Disney, the Winter Village and ice skating rink just wrapped up its final weekend.
With the holiday season done and over with, Disneyland has transitioned into full refurbishment mode with lighter crowds and shorter operating days during the winter off-season.
Perhaps the most significant project currently underway at Disneyland is the major Club 33 expansion. Of course, the vast majority of park guests will never step foot inside the exclusive club in New Orleans Square, but most guests will have to navigate through the maze of construction walls while the private club is expanded and remodeled over the next several months.
The front of Cafe Orleans is now partially behind walls. The space immediately above Cafe Orleans is the Club’s main dining room.
Work continues above the Pirates of the Caribbean exit
The Club’s expansion and remodeling project includes the widening of enclosed bridges that cross over the walkways of New Orleans Square, connecting the Club’s various upstairs spaces. Passing through this tunnel leads you toward the now-closed Court of Angels and New Orleans Square bathrooms.
Here, the closed Court of Angels is directly in front. Through the left tunnel would be the Pirates of the Caribbean exit, Blue Bayou Restaurant and original Club 33 entrance door. To the right would lead you to the New Orleans Square restrooms and train station.
If you want to go to the restrooms or train station, however, you’ll have to go all the way around the building as the route is now a dead-end due to construction. You can, of course, still access the pin store here.
Confusing signage tries to redirect you around the building to the restrooms, but most guests end up asking the Cast at Mlle. Antoinette’s Parfumerie where to go.
No, this sign isn’t pointing you into the perfume shop
On the other side of the building, the restrooms could become more of a traffic jam than usual due to the construction walls and dead-end situation back here.
The French Market is also behind more walls now
Nearby, the Sailing Ship Columbia is in dry dock at Fowler’s Harbor for refurbishment.
On the river, Fantasmic is dark until Valentine’s Day due to refurbishment,
With Fantasmic dark, the Mark Twain is able to stay open late into the evening, presenting a rare opportunity for evening cruises. If you’re in the park anytime soon, take advantage of this great evening experience!
Wildest Refurbishment in the Wilderness
Nearby, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is now expected to reopen by the end of the month after a year-long refurbishment project.
Some of Big Thunder’s walls were recently removed along Big Thunder Trail
Over in Tomorrowland, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is now closed and behind construction walls. Disney has announced the ride is closed for an extended refurbishment that will run through the fall, but rumor is that Disneyland has closed the ride (the most expensive to operate) to save money while they wait to see if they’ll get the final green light to go ahead with a Star Wars-themed redevelopment of the area occupied by the Sub Lagoon. So far, it there doesn’t appear to be much movement in the lagoon but we’ll keep an eye on the lagoon to see if a refurbishment does get underway.
It probably doesn’t mean anything, but note there’s no reopening date noted on signage (Big Thunder Mountain Railroad walls have had a reopening date posted)
Access for the Monorail platform exit stairs and accessible elevator
The loading station is behind walls now
Wouldn’t it be a shame to lose this gorgeous view and historic attraction just so Disney can cash in on more Star Wars?
Take a final ride on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage with our video ride-through below:
A Great, Big Marvelous Tomorrow
Last week Disney announced that a new Captain America meet-and-greet will open this spring in Disneyland. While Disney was short with details, the expectation is that Captain America will join his fellow Avengers inside Tomorrowland’s Innoventions.
Inside, it seems like a no-brainer that Captain America will replace the strange Nanooze Labs exhibit that poorly tries to educate guests on the latest developments in nanotechnology.
Computer screens with information and interactive games
Free Nanooze magazines are available – the latest issue from 2012.
This space will definitely be far more effectively used by Captain America this spring.
It isn’t actually under refurbishment, but over at California Adventure, the terrazzo floor outside of the Carthay Circle Theater could use some work. This same terrazzo was ripped out and replaced just four months after the park’s grand reopening in 2012. Why do they keep having problems with it?
Lots of chipping and damage
Hopefully this can be properly addressed at some point. The Carthay terrazzo is beautiful and considering it isn’t very old, should still be in great condition.
Back in Paradise Bay, World of Color is dark until later this week to remove its “Winter Dreams” additions.
And the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in the Grizzly Peak area is closed for refurbishment.
On Monday, January 6, fan-favorites Billy Hill and the Hillbillies ended their 20+ career at Disneyland with a 45-minute show, performed to a standing room only crowd.
The band’s regular 20-minute set stretched for nearly 45-minutes for their final performance, which was a combination of the group’s holiday show and favorites from their regular set.
Throughout the holiday season, the Billies ended their holiday show by bringing out the Country Bears for a sing-a-long. The final performance drew huge boos from the crowd when Billy Hill suggested it was already time to bring out the bears — the crowd reaction turned into laughter when Billy Hill joked they accidentally turned 3,000 people against the beloved Country Bears.
Below, highlights from Billy Hill and the Hillbilly’s 45-minute farewell set.
If you don’t want to say goodbye forever to Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, the band has already found a new home at Knott’s Berry Farm. They’ve posted their current performance schedule on their website at KirkWallandtheHillbillies.com.
If a highlight reel isn’t enough for you, below is the full show:
With the holiday season over and the Hillbillies now gone, Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree has introduced a new entertainment offering called the Frontierland Troupe. The Frontierland Troupe includes meet-and-greets with rare Disney characters and live music, magic tricks, rodeo tricks and other walk-around entertainment.
A smaller stage has been set up for the pianist, but pay no attention to the big stage in the background….
Snacks and drinks
Smart move on Disney’s part to bring back the rare character meet-and-greets, which proved to be a big hit during last year’s Limited Time Magic promotion. Kinfolk:
The main stage sits empty unless there’s a visiting Performing Arts group
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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours January 13-19, 2014
Monday: 10 am – 7 pm Tues.-Thurs.: 10 am – 8 pm Fri.-Sat.: 9 am – 12 midnight Sunday: 9 am – 11 pm
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Closed for extensive refurbishment through January 31, 2013.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage: Closed through September 26, 2014 for major refurbishment.
Fantasmic!: Dark through February 13, 2014 for major refurbishment.
Sailing Ship Columbia: Closed through February 14, 2014 for refurbishment.
Haunted Mansion: Closed January 7-17, 2014 for removal of holiday overlay.
Jungle Cruise: Closed January 13-16, 2014 for holiday overlay removal.
“it’s a small world”: Closed January 21-February 7 for holiday overlay removal.
Splash Mountain: Closed January 21-28 for refurbishment.
Disneyland Monorail: Closed one day, January 22, 2014.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Closed January 27 through February 13, 2014 for refurbishment.
Alice in Wonderland: Closed February 3 through June 5, 2014 for enhancements and redesign of outdoor portion of ride track.
Disneyland Railroad: Closed February 24 through March 7 for refurbishment.
Space Mountain: Closed March 3 through May 22 for refurbishment.
Disney California Adventure
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed January 6 through February 27, 2014.
World of Color: Dark January 7-16, 2014.
Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular: Dark January 21-February 20, 2014.
Mickey’s Fun Wheel: Closed February 3-6 for refurbishment.
Soarin’ Over California: Closed February 18-June 5, 2014 for refurbishment.
Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train: Closed March 3-6, 2014.
Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels
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.
We’ve had record numbers of Addicts using our app this holiday! If you’re looking for a replacement for the Mobile Magic app, take a look at Mouseaddict’s unique features, for free!
Hotels are solidly booked at the end of this week, with most reporting near-capacity levels for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the Martin Luther King Day weekend. Who said there is an off-season at Disneyland?
Jingle Cruise closes this week to remove the holiday overlay, and this weekend sees the return of Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and World of Color.
Check the "Schedule" page in the Mouseaddict app for information on closures.
OK – That wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland. Are you sad to see the Hillbillies leave Disneyland? What do you think of the Club 33 construction and Submarine Voyage closure? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy writes the weekly Dateline Disneyland column, which can be found every Monday on MiceChat.