Billy Hill and the Hillbillies say good bye as Disneyland dives into refurbishment season

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Dateline Disneyland, Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features

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

Published on January 13, 2014 at 5:10 am with 33 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy wrote the long-running weekly Dateline Disneyland photo, news and opinion blog here on MiceChat from 2007-2016. Andy continues to make occasional special guest contributions on MiceChat.

Browse Archived Articles by

  • Internitty

    “Keeps Getting Happier” how? With the loss of The Court of Angels, The Billies and The Subs exactly how is it getting better? This is an incredibly sad time for DLR and may become sadder if this Star Wars-ization goes ahead. I am a huge fan of the original cuts of the original films and have great hopes for episode 7 and would love to see some more Star Wars related attractions but turning Tomorrowland into Star Wars Land is as bad an idea as the prequels.

    • Algernon

      I agree. That’s why I’m getting an $84 Universal Studios annual pass instead of going to Coney Island–I mean Disneyland, this year.

      • jcruise86

        Check out the Costco 5 visits deal. You may find that that will be more than enough till Harry Potter opens.

        I also recommend eating at Karl Strauss in Universal City Walk. We’ve had a couple of bad overpriced meals inside the park, though Mel’s has dependable burgers, if your heart is willing.

  • eicarr

    Bring on the Star Wars and MARVEL ASAP!!! Low capacity rides, awkward abandoned spaces and tracks and a car ride found at every local park make for a HUGE blank canvas to incorporate Disney’s most popular and profitable charicters. Bring on the Marvel, Star Wars, crowds and buckets of cash!!! Dead TL is an embarrassment that could turn into the biggest draw in the park’s history.

    Knotts has a better western area, so I can’t wait to see the Billies there. With the new log ride and Calico train refurbishments… Knotts is firing on all cylinders again.

    I’ll take cracked Terazzo over the inevitable cement replacement anyday. Gives it a little charicter.

  • Oregonmom2

    Is there a reason that Disneyland didn’t renew their contract wth Billy Hill and the Hillbllies?? They were there for 20 year and were always packed with people at the shows? Is there something behind the scenes that happened? So sad that they are gone 🙁

    • LoveStallion

      Chances are there is some sort of gag clause in their contract, but I hope that MiceChat will be able to unearth something once the moratorium expires.

    • It came completely out of the blue to the guys. Essentially, they found out just before it was announced in the Disney Parks Blog.

      On the operations side, it is a combination of cost savings and wanting to change things up.

      As the 60th plans get finalized, we may see the Golden Horseshoe Review return to Disneyland. The Billies weren’t likely to survive into the 60th even if they had made it through one more year on the budget due to the expense of trying to run both the Review and the Billies show at the same time.

      In some ways, they are better off now at Knott’s Berry Farm, which is perfectly themed for their show. And they help Knott’s by bringing in some formerly loyal Disney fans (which they’ve already done). It’s sort of a win/win situation.

      I’m very sorry to see them leave Disneyland, but think they’ve got a great new home. And I’m looking forward to seeing what Disney ends up doing with Frontierland entertainment over this next year.

    • tardistrekkie

      According to a guy who would occasionally sub in with the Hillbillies, the issue was with them being hillbillies in frontier land, which is supposed to be about cowboys. In other words, they couldn’t make the Hillbillies story line fit in Frontier Land. This may be in conjunction with the possible return of the Golden Horseshoe Review for the 60th. (Take from this what you will, as it is not an official explanation, but rather what he told me in December)

  • MrOCT31

    Well they need to do something with yesterdayland! Way to much wasted space and rides that need to be updated, autopia, EO and Innoventions, being 3 of the biggest wastes of space there are in the park at the moment and a people mover track and the old rockets home that need to have something put back in to use this also very wasted space.

    Was at the parks Friday and we really liked the evil step sisters and step mothers characters! The cast members seem to be having a really good time and interacting well with the crowd, was good fun!

    • Internitty

      I think the problem with Autopia in the minds of people is they forget how much the kids love it. I’ve worked in theme parks myself and to see how excited kids get when they think they are driving a real car is an absolute joy. Autopia is unique among these types of rides because of its length. I personally like Autopia on behalf of the kids. I think what I would like to see is Autopia moved to DCA which seems to be more kid friendly in the amount of attractions aimed directly at them.

      • Marko50

        Which is possibly the best arguement for leaving it in DL.

  • Princess Victoria

    Are the holiday decorations removed from Cars Land?

    • Marko50

      When I was there Saturday, I noticed the Christmas trees were still up in Flo’s. The trolleys also still had garland on them, but those were the only things I noticed.

  • amyuilani

    As someone who could care less about Star Wars, I agree that taking over that much of Tomorrowland with that theme will be overkill. If they had taken over just Innoventions, I think that would have been enough.

    How do they decide what characters to put out there? Do they just go with whatever costumes are the cleanest? I agree that it’s a treat to see Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters, but they don’t really go with that area. And how often do people recognize the Robin Hood characters these days?

    • Tarakeet

      Well, my five-year-old is SO EXCITED that he might get to meet Robin Hood! He’s been watching the movie over and over, since it’s become available on Netflix for streaming. I hope the characters aren’t going to rotate, but will still be there in a couple of weeks when we go. I’m really enjoying seeing my kids fall in love with some of the older movies on Netflix (even though we own them all on DVD).

  • Big D

    This is the first time since I gave it up that I miss having my AP. I LOVE doing night cruises on the Mark Twain. I’d be down there tonight if I still had it. Too bad…

  • martinjbell1986

    About a year and a half ago I received a survey from Disney Parks about a possible Star Wars Land. It was very extensive and asked opinions on characters to rides and attractions. I’m sure whatever they add will partially be from results of that and other surveys that people have responded to.

  • Jungle Trekkie

    “Wouldn’t it be a shame to lose this gorgeous view and historic attraction just so Disney can cash in on more Star Wars?”

    The subs are almost 60 years old. I love them, but I would love to experience a 21st century “Star Wars” attraction, especially a speeder bike race, more than an occasional nostalgic sub ride, so no, it would not be a shame.

    • Golden

      Agree completely. It would be a shame to lose the lagoon view, which is lovely. But I wouldn’t find it a shame to lose the submarine ride at all. The Finding Nemo reskin was a complete flop, for me (and I loved the movie). Other than the lagoon, the only thing I’d miss are the seagulls on their buoy. I won’t miss Autopia, I won’t miss Innoventions – what a huge chunk of space which could be far better utilised.

      I honestly don’t understand the world view around here, which seems to be completely contrary to Walt’s ‘constant progress’ view of the world.

      I would like to see them endeavour to fix the lagoon so that it can hold water without its significant leakage issues, and incorporate it into their redesign (on the edge of the endor forest? It could work…) But it seems pretty unlikely, and I would sacrifice it for what sounds like it could be a significant move away from the concrete jungle that Tomorrowland is today.

  • Tinkbelle

    Wow, DLR is a MESS right now.

    • Internitty

      Who couldn’t see it coming when Michael Colglazier was put in charge? Admittedly not all his fault, he is probably just Meg Crofton’s scape goat and he is residing over the MM+ cut backs insanity but honestly who didn’t see this day coming.

    • Golden

      Having come off a widely successful complete reskin of DCA, Disneyland are enthused enough to put grand scale plans for taking on large scale projects for the most neglected areas of both parks – Hollywood Backlot, Tomorrowland and the back side of Frontierland.

      And yet DLR is a mess – why? Because they are thinking of demolishing an expensive, low capacity ride with a massive area footprint, because they close a courtyard, and because they don’t renew the contract for one musical act.

      I’ve no particular love for the subs, admittedly, but I loved the Billies and the Court of Angels was my favourite spot in the entire park. But I just can’t see how DLR is a mess (the mymagic thing is, but it aint at DLR yet).

      But hey, I remember people saying the same about Eisner’s leadership as he upgraded Fantasyland significantly, brought in attractions like Splash Mountain, Star Tours and Indiana Jones, and gave us an entire new gate, albeit a subpar one. People have been saying this day has arrived since Walt was gone, basically – and in that time I’ve constantly seen my experience improve and the number of days I want to spend per visit go up, while at the same time my desire to go to Knotts and Universal Studios has gone down.

      25 years ago, the park was good for a couple of days of fun but was far from being what it is today. 15 years ago, I’d spend about equal time in Knotts and Disneyland. Now, I spend no time in Knotts at all, and three times as much time at DLR to fit everything in. And I come back more often.

      • Tinkbelle

        That is not what I was referring to when I said it was a mess. I was actually talking about the number of walls and scaffolding that are up right now along with shuttered attractions. It is maintenance season (and holiday removal time) at DLR and it is a mess. I don’t agree with many of the decisions being made at DLR right now, but that was not what I was referring to.

      • Internitty

        DLR is a mess, in the other way Tinkbelle did not mean, because they are pumping good money after bad to prop up a bad project in WDW. I admit I like the subs and will miss them but their fate is out of my hands as it is everyone who isn’t in charge of Disneyland or bound to bad decisions because of the One Disney policy, HOWEVER, to leave a large area like the submarine lagoon empty for goodness knows how many years to come is bad show and to do it while they keep hiking prices up is just showing a complete lack of respect for the guests.

      • Golden

        Fair point tinkbelle, from that perspective you are completely right.

  • flayrah

    Great news that Kirk and the ‘Billies are now at Knott’s. We will definitely be going to Knott’s more now. I wonder where they’re performing? If you are happy Knott’s signed the group, please send the park a ‘thank you’.

  • CheshireGrin

    I am sad to see the Hillbillies leave – we live in another state and only get to Disneyland every year or two, and we only have time and money for Disneyland, so I guess we won’t be seeing them! 🙁
    I am wondering if you get your information for what rides will be closed somewhere besides the Disneyland website? They do not have Pirates listed as being closed in Feb (when we will be visiting…) My family will be so sad if it is!

  • KCmike

    Good riddance Winter Dreams…I hope you don’t make a return engagement.

  • Sleepy505

    Last year my family and I Invited friends from over here in New Mexico and let me say my family and I been going for 22 years straight and this was the worst vacation ever visiting Disney not because of Disney at all but because of the people we took. Let me start by saying they stole are discount tickets and gave them to their sons friends and all they did was complain about everything from cost to the rides what a night mare really it had frustrated me so much I didn’t want anything to do with Disney but looking at Micechat and Billy and the Hillbillies makes me happy to be a Disney family and I will try my best to keep going every year I just learned a few bad apples can’t spoil a whole tree, Thank you Micechat for keeping my Disney Spirits up.

  • Law of Tickles

    Is Tom Sawyer Island still shut down/having problems because of all the OSHA stuff? If so, couldn’t they put all the Big Thunder Ranch/Craft Fair Stuff there and actually use that giant stage for a Woody or Pocahontas movie or show?? Something that would eat a lot of guests? Just a thought.

  • Mousekagal

    If they want to add Star Wars, ok, but keep it somewhat limited and keep the main part of Tomorrowland to being ” Tomorrowland ” ! If most it changed to Star Wars it would be like most of fantasyland being all about just Peter Pan ! Boring !! If they must use the space for Autopia for SW then how about reinventing Autopia to the People Mover Track ?! It would save the ride and make it futuristic at the same time. Flying cars while adding a model -T in there every few cars or so as a nod to the absent minded professor ! Definately not the same engineering as the rocket rods but smaller 4 person cars ! Sounds crazy maybe but I’m sure it could be figured some how. Sounded fun anyway
    For the Skyway chalet, something simple but maybe not in the exact area.
    Fantasyland could use another eatery in the surrounding area besides the Village Haus. How about a Lady and the Tramp ristorante ! Pasta is cheap and pet merchandise attached could provide what seems to be hard to find in the park anyhow. I’d love to buy Pluto or Lady and the Tramp themed or replicated collars, bowls, leashes, etc for my pup !

  • Mousekagal

    Just watched bits of the “Billies” last performance and was of course truly sad. If Disneyland wants to put in a new show, ok ! I’m all for new or renewed experiences ! The thing is, is that people aren’t going to miss the “Billies” as much as they are going to miss the guys themselves ! Kirk Wall was the single most talented person at Disneyland and they let him go !! Put in another show or alternate but keep the talent ! He made my visit worth so much more than just being another attraction !

  • Skimbob

    Change can be a good thing. Look at Cars Land. I will miss the seagulls amd maybe they can incorporate them somehow in the area. 🙂 What I am upset about is Club 33 and the loss of one of the most quiet and well themed areas of the park. The Court was awesome and the whole New Orleans Square area had charm. impersonally would have dumped Club 33 and done something else that fit within the current area.

    I used the Magic Band for the first time this last weekend and it does have some great advantages. My only problem with it was it would not open my resort room door which was a bit of a problem. luckily I had a room key as well so I dodn’t have to run back to the front desk all the time. There are still unresolved issues with it but it will eventually get there.