In The Parks: Disneyland Resort Off Season is Blissfully Uncrowded

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Features

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Published on January 17, 2014 at 3:00 am with 20 Comments

What a difference a week makes.  The holiday crowds have vanished, making this a wonderful period to visit the Disneyland Resort. Attractions like Space Mountain and Indy rarely crest over a 30 minute wait during the day and there is plenty of room on the paths to simply wander.  Today we catch you up on the current wave of refurbishment happening at the resort, along with our photos and thoughts.  But keep in mind that this is the weekend of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.  So as uncrowded as things are during the week, things will change over the weekend.  But before we start, we have to tell you about the BIG weekend coming up in February

Amazing MiceChat Anniversary Weekend – February 7-9th, 2014 – Disneyland Resort

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Don’t miss out on the big, MiceChat anniversary weekend.  Every day has amazing fun and excitement in store .  Meet Disney Legends, take a trip into Walt Disney’s home and history, and have the best time at the park you will ever have.  Click here to learn more about all of the activities we have in store!

 

Friday, February 7th

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

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Join the folks at the Save Walt Disneys 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 (Tickets Available Soon)

 

Saturday, February 8th

Building The Dream – The Magic of Disneyland Paris SPECIAL EVENT

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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 (Tickets Available Soon)

DCA MiceQuest – 3pm

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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

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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 Magic Game Show – 7pm

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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

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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! 

Send me info about the MiceAge/MiceChat anniversary events:

Off-Season Disneyland

It’s the glorious beginning of the off-season at Disneyland.  What does that mean?  It means that there is a far greater chance of the park being manageable on any given day, as opposed to the record attendance experienced last month.

Every last sign of Christmas has been removed from Main Street and Town Square  the new year is starting off, bright and cheery.

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The Disneyland Band is back in their traditional garb.

Flower beds are filled with colorful blossoms.  The square is preparing for what is sure to be a beautiful spring season coming up.

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We see that a portion of Main Street is now under an exterior refurbishment.  The façade for Fortuosity is all under wraps right now, with its corner door facing the Carnation Cafe closed to traffic.

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The TInker Bell Half Marathon

This weekend the Disneyland resort will be holding the popular TInker Bell 1/2 Marathon.  Races are held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and run throughout the resort and surrounding areas.  Here is a full schedule of the main races.  Click here for the entire schedule.

Neverland Family Run 5k
Friday, January 17, 2014
Start Time: 5:45 a.m.
Start/Finish: Disneyland Resort

Tinker Bell 10k
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Start Time: 6:00 a.m.
Start/Finish: Disneyland® Resort

Tinker Bell Half Marathon
Sunday, January 19, 2014
5:00 a.m.
Start/Finish: Disneyland® Resort

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If you are arriving at the Disneyland Resort before noon, on Saturday or Sunday, we would suggest aiming for the Toy Story Parking Lot.  Avoid the MIckey and Friends parking structure  until later on in the day.

Sub Lagoon

Walls now wrap around nearly every inch of the lagoon perimeter and the water level has remained about 2 feet below normal since closure.

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The covered portion of queue for the attraction is now behind walls as well.

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This blue screen was added to the queue for the Monorail which would normally offer a view of the lagoon.

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Divers were out in the lagoon on Tuesday morning.  We can only guess at what they were doing with the buoy.  The seagulls are gone.  It’s likely that that they want to remove the buoy before the water in the lagoon is drained.

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Since last weeks update we received quite a few comments that proved helpful and begged further investigation. According to two sources, pieces of concrete began to fall from the ceiling of the cave where the subs exit the show building, under the waterfall, and return to the dock.  The cast member piloting the submarine apparently saw the pieces fall and immediately halted the vehicle, triggering an e-stop of the entire ride.

After the ride was evacuated, it was found that the rebar holding the rocky ceiling in place had indeed rusted through and was falling into the water below.  With the possibility of more debris plummeting into the water and with one final day of operation left, the subs were suddenly shuttered.

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Big Thunder Ranch

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The cabin and petting zoo at Big Thunder Ranch have returned after being stripped of their holiday dressings.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is inching closer and closer to its supposed return date of February 1st, 2014.  Eagle-eyed visitors should look for the walls around the attraction to come down any day now.  We can also expect to see Cast Members in the familiar costume being trained on operations soon.

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Sailing Ship Columbia

The iconic sailing ship is now shrouded in scaffolds, enjoying a top-to-bottom refurbishment.  Extensive work is being done on the masts as there was said to be considerable wood rot in spots.  Considering they have stunt people swinging on the ship nightly for Fantasmic, it is understandable that they would do everything they can to ensure that it’s all in perfect working order.

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Fantasmic Down

The nightly spectacular, Fantasmic is planned to be down until Friday, February 14th.  Get those nighttime ride on the Mark Twain in now! It’s a rare and wonderful opportunity.

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Club 33

The Club 33 expansion project is now going full steam ahead.  More walls have popped up in New Orleans Square.

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The scaffolding near Blue Bayou towards Court of Angels has become more fortified.

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But if you go forward from this point, past the crystal shop that is on the right, you can only go as far as the pin trading store.  Access to the train station and restrooms from this spot has been blocked.

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To get to the restrooms and train station, you must make a right, past Café Orleans, then a left around the back side of French Market (on the train station side).

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The space above French Market is fully cloaked now.

The second story of French Market is being turned into a private jazz era themed lounge for the private club.  The project is moving along on target for a June opening. Framing is said to be nearly done in the new space and ready for drywall.

MiceChat Podcast: Looking Into The Disney Crystal Ball

January is a great time to reflect on the year past and the year ahead. On this episode, we share our favorite and biggest theme park moments of 2013 and our predictions for 2014 and beyond. What will be our biggest story of 2013? Listen on to find out. Then we turn our attention to 2014 and what is already shaping up to be a magical year for the theme park industry. Plus, Disneyland Subs, Tomorrowland Star Wars projects, construction delays and more. We even have a cameo by Robert Coker about the project to save Walt Disney’s birthplace in Chicago. Today’s special podcast guest is Joseph Kleiman of InPark Magazine.

Direct Link  |  Find Us On iTunes

Haunted Mansion:

We eagerly await the return of the classic version of the Haunted Mansion on Saturday, January 18th.  There is always a chance of a soft opening before then, but one never knows.  Ghosts are sometimes fickle and tend not to perform on command.

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Disney California Adventure is also enjoying spacious conditions during this off season. It’s a wonderful time to take advantage of the light crowds and walk on to your favorite attractions.  But don’t worry.  It’ll still take an hour or more to get on to Radiator Springs Racers.

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One of the most frequent email questions we receive is, “when’s the best time to go to Disneyland?”  This update proves that the answer is NOW. Spring Break crowds will be here soon enough. Get out there and play! Are you planning to take advantage of Disneyland Resort off season?

We’ll see you again soon . . .  In The Parks!

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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20 Comments

Comments for In The Parks: Disneyland Resort Off Season is Blissfully Uncrowded are now closed.

  1. With the races this weekend, I’d actually recommend that day guests head for Mickey & Friends. With the flyover, access will be maintained during the races, and the trams can operate as normal. Additionally, it’s before mile 1 of the 10K and Half Marathon, so runners should be clear of that area well before 7:00 both days( through traffic on Disneyland Dr won’t be allowed until later, as both courses cross it just before the finish). The east and south sides of the resort area are later in the race and will experience road closures much later in the day, including the usual Toy Story shuttle route

  2. Thanks for the report Norm.

    Interesting bit of information on the subs. I imagine there will be plenty of Micechatters taking pictures over the fences and tarps as the weeks go on to see if there is any progress being made. Since the closure was already planned I can’t imagine this development had much impact on the decision one way or the other. I think your last report that indicates this closure is a cost cutting measure is probably spot on. Meg Croften strikes again. Bringing her brand of “economics” to the Disneyland Resort. Can’t wait to see what closes next for a lengthy refurb followed by a “we couldn’t save it” statement as it’s being cut up in the parking lot.

    Time will tell I guess.

  3. How convenient that the ceilings begin to collapse one day before the rides schedule closure for refurbishment. Sounds like the torpedoing of WDW’s 20K Leagues is happening all over again with our Submarine Voyage.

    • I don’t know about you, but this Nemo ride is not “my” Submarine Voyage. The one that was emotionally “mine” was the one that closed many years ago…the Jules Verne inspired one. I have no emotional connection to the Nemo version.

      I do think, however, that the “falling concrete from the ceiling” is the first little hint at a bigger lie that Disney will tell to give cover to demolishing the ride. I was a communications major in college and before I had my boys and became “Mommy!” I worked in marketing. When we’d want to make a change to something that customers liked, we’d do it in phases…dropping little clues that a change was coming and getting people used to the idea. In our office, we called it “frog boiling”…because you could never introduce the permanent change too fast or the “frog” would jump out of the pot and not boil along with the water.

      In this case, Disney first said the subs would be closed for renovation, to reopen at some vague time in the future. That was “phase one” of the marketing campaign on this. “Phase two” of the campaign is to introduce the information that the concrete is crumbling and falling and had become dangerous. I bet “Phase three” will be something to do with the environment, and how the lagoon is just not “green” and is doing something harmful to the environment. This will be “discovered” when the lagoon is drained and engineers find something dangerous or bad for the environment (like the water had been leaking into the aquifer or something). “Phase four” will be the news that the structural problems on the show buildings and cavern were much, much more severe than first thought…and that the buildings would have to be completely torn out and rebuilt. “Phase five” will be acknowledgement that this is a very old ride and it will be very, very expensive to rebuild and have it meet today’s safety and environmental standards. Disney will say it wishes this was not the case, but that is the reality.

      And then, “Phase six” of course will be the news that Disney is replacing the subs with a Star Wars Land. But it will be marketed with the Star Wars Land is coming part first…to get people excited…and to dull the impact of the closure.

      Classic marketing strategy for when the public is not going to like a major change and needs many months to be acclimated — or frog-boiled — into accepting it.

      • “I bet “Phase three” will be something to do with the environment, and how the lagoon is just not “green” and is doing something harmful to the environment.”

        That’s not going to happen. The submarines are currently electric-powered. That’s as green as you can get.

        With all due respect, I realize that you a a little biased toward the ride (no offense) but there is no reason to think there is a conspiracy going on.

        The DL fan “Mintcrocodile” recently gave a very logical explanation for why he believes the “closing forever” rumors are NOT true;

        “If I thought the Submarine Voyage was closing for good, I would have jumped in line, rode the ride, and taken pictures. But I didn’t. Why? Because I don’t think they are closing for good. I believe that the Submarine Voyage will go down for a refurbishment that will unfortunately take almost a year to complete.

        A few have mentioned that Disney has done if before in the past. They would state an attraction will be going down for a refurbishment (Rocket Rods) or a parade (Light Magic) will get some retooling, only to have them never return. But you see, Rocket Rods and Light Magic pretty much got a bad rap from the start. And with the constant issues they had, those in charge (like Michael Eisner, Paul Pressler, and Cynthia Harris) didn’t want to admit their mistakes. So what did they do to save themselves the embarrassment of publicly getting rid of something? Why just say they are going to get refurbished and fine tuned. That way, as time goes on, Disneyland will distract the Guests with something else so that they forget about Light Magic and Rocket Rods.

        But now it’s a different time with different people running the Parks. With an attraction that’s been in operation for nearly 6 1/2 years, if they were going to get rid of it, I think they would just come out and say “with the changing times of today and the needs to serve our Guests with better experiences, the Submarine Voyage will be closing yadda yadda yadda.”…you know, the typical canned reasoning Disney PR always gives. And knowing Disney, if a “beloved” attraction is about to go away forever, they will try and milk it as much as they can with merchandise and any other PR stunt they can throw at it.”

        At this point, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the sub voyage will not reopen.

      • “The one that was emotionally “mine” was the one that closed many years ago…the Jules Verne inspired one. I have no emotional connection to the Nemo version….”

        Do you mean the WDW version? The DL version never had anything to do with Jules Verne.

      • @ScottOlsen –

        What do you mean the Disneyland version “never had anything to do with Jules Verne”?

        Excuse me, but the ride was based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (though it was called Submarine Voyage at Disneyland and the one at WDW was actually called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage).

        The storyline of the original subs ride (before Nemo) was that of an updated Jules Verne story, with people diving and farming under the ocean and exploring the world underwater. One of the subs was even named the Nautilus. The animatronic sea life was all meant to be like things you would have seen out of the portholes of a ship like Verne’s Nautilus. The subs themselves looked like modernized versions in the late 1950s. Yes, they were not Victorian looking…but the spirit of them was very much Jules Verne and exploration, not Finding Nemo.

        All of this was removed and turned into a Finding Nemo theme when the subs were reopened in 2007.

  4. Since I need to visit my aging parent in S. Ca. soon, I will risk a Feb. visit to D’Land with my adult son with autism. Don’t know if we will bother spending time trying to get him a DAS if crowds will be low – any crowd prediction for Thursday the 6th? I can only afford one day at this point.

    • You might as well get the DAS in case you need it. It might be necessary for you for rides like Racers and some of the E-Tickets.

      The week days in February are a very good time to visit. It’s mostly the weekends (and sometimes Fridays and Mondays during holidays) which get moderately busy at this time of year.

      I hope you have a WONDERFUL trip and that your son has a great time!!!

  5. Thank you for the update. It’s a little strange seeing guests in the parks dressed as if it were the middle of July. The temperature along the Pacific coast yesterday got up into the 80s F so I can only imagine how hot it must have been inland in Anaheim. Stay cool Tinkerbelle Half Marathon and 10K runners.

    • Having grown up in Kansas, it’s still strange for me to see folks in shorts and tshirts in January . . . and I’ve been living here for 20 years. It’s been so hot in LA that we had the air conditioning on the other day.

      Should be good news for the local theme parks as more folks opt to get outside and enjoy the weather.

  6. Great update!

  7. Great update! Looking forward to our visit in a few weeks and riding BTMRR again.

  8. I hope the sub ride stays if for no other reason than its picturesque lake. It also forms a great accompaniment to the Matterhorn next door, something as a mountain lake would. If I were in charge, the subs themselves would be changed into that like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the Nemo theme would be dropped.

  9. Can Nemo. Bring back the original Submarine Voyage.

  10. Subs should be turned into a deep sea exploration. Given that only 1% of the ocean has been explored, this would serve the theme of “tomorrow ” well into the future. It could have a climactic ending with some giant fantastic sea monster similar to Journey to the Center of the Earths climax. Save star wars for the third gate where a proper land can be made!

  11. Thank you for a great post!

    My husband Jeff had a class in Irvine this week, so we made it a Disney/Work trip. I spent the day in the parks and then hubby joined me after his class. It was wonderful being in the parks after the holiday rush. I had lunch at Carthay Circle in California Adventure and recommend it highly. It’s a few bucks more that other sit down restaurants, but the food and ambiance are well worth the price.

    I have a handicap and was really worried about going back to the parks after not having a pass for a couple of years. I am very happy to state that the new DAS system is fairly painless. It does mean spending a little more time at the parks as you have to wait for your return time, but in the low season, it’s really a breeze.

  12. Would it not be cool if they could figure out a way for the Jazz being played in the Club 33 jazz Lounge to filter out on to the dining patio of the French market, and then when the musicians up in the jazz club are on break that would be when the French market bands would play THEIR sets, and the music could fiber back the OTHER way so the folks inside would still hear musics during THIER musicians breaks, in otherwise there would always be a group playing in one venue or the other providing continuous music for both.

  13. bigbrian,
    genius idea! Walt would have jumped on it. I hate that
    disney corp basically ignores online fan ideas for
    fear of litigation. Or at least that was their stand at
    one point.