Disneyland Update: Refurbs Everywhere, Old Friends, Cars Land Improvements

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Features

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Published on January 27, 2014 at 3:01 am with 44 Comments

Disneyland in the off-season is a give and take situation. On the plus side, the parks are generally less crowded (though they were PACKED this past weekend due to the annual NAMM convention). But with the lower crowds comes refurbishments and the associated ride closures. Splash Mountain, it’s a small world, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Sailing Ship Columbia, Fantasmic, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular and the Dole Whip stand are all currently closed. Though, any Disneyland fan can tell you that there is still plenty to see and do. 

Andy Castro and Dateline Disneyland are taking a break this week for some deserved downtime. But our In the parks crew has stepped in to bring you your fix of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure news. Enjoy the update folks and please let us know your comments below.  Let’s start with the crowd forecast from MiceChat’s MouseAddict app . . .


January 27 – February 2, 2014

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If you’re looking for a replacement for Disney’s Mobile Magic app, take a look at Mouseaddict’s unique features, for free!

  • The coming weekend will bring the Happy Lunar New Year Celebration.
  • Next Sunday is the big game, and signs point to high crowds — at home in front of the television.
  • Hotel rooms are highly available all week.

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.

Main Street

Welcome to Main Street U.S.A.  The sky is blue, the flowers are in bloom, and we enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.

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SPECIAL AP EVENT

On Wednesday, January 29th, Annual Passholders are invited to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Sleeping Beauty with a special screening of the film in the Lincoln theater plus an additional 2 hours—after Park closing—to enjoy select Fantasyland attractions.

  • Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train

Registration begins at 10am in front of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln Opera House in Town Square. You must register in person and all members of your party must be with you to claim a ticket (unfortunately, you can’t reserve a ticket for someone who may be at home or at work). The screenings are at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM with special after-hours access to Fantasyland from 8:00pm to 10:00pm

Fortuousity

The lovely Fortuousity shop on Main Street continues with an exterior refurbishment. But, as you can see below, the exterior pathway to the restrooms has been blocked.  However, access to the restrooms on Center Street can be obtained through the shops.

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Corn Dog Cart

The Corn Dog Cart is, again, toying with their queue.  Gone is the switchback that was set up previously in favor of the classic, single-file line.

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 Spring in Disneyland

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle’s frost and snow has finally melted away. The birds are singing and the flowers are in full bloom.  Rejuvenation is radiating from the center of the park as the iconic, pink-blossom, Pau d’Arco trees are showing the first signs of their annual bloom. We are about to begin one of the most beautiful seasons of the year at Disneyland.

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Red and pink Cyclamen practically burst from the outer hub’s flowerbeds.

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Tomorrowland

Storm Troopers were out meeting and greeting with guests again this weekend.  But what we noticed was the grouping of management looking on as the guests enjoyed the Star Wars™ characters.  The troopers are always out with nothing more than a character attendant.  This was interesting.

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Captain America

The Disney Parks Blog recently announced that a Captain America meet and greet would be coming to the park to coincide with the April 4th release of Captain America: Winter Soldier. While no location has been officially specified, we are pretty sure he will end up alongside Ironman Tech and Thor inside Innoventions.

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Space Mountain

According to the Disneyland website, Space Mountain will be going down on Monday, March 3rd  for a lengthy refurbishment that will last until May 22nd.  Scaffolds and screens have already begun to appear on the exterior in order to begin the cleaning outside.

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Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is about the same as last week.  For now, the water remains in the lagoon until the subs can be stabilized and prepped for dry-dock.

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Alice?

In the recent shell game of refurbishments we noticed that Alice in Wonderland has been bumped back to  March 10th.

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it’s a small world

The classic attraction, it’s a small world is currently down to remove the holiday overlay.  It will return on February 8th.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder continues to be delayed, with no return date currently listed on the Disneyland website. Despite that bad news, the attraction can be heard running and testing almost nonstop.

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Big Thunder Ranch: Round up of Traveling Disney Friends

With the departure of the holidays, as well as the ending of the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies contract, there was a gapping hole left in Big Thunder Ranch. Since last year’s Limited Time Magic offering of Long Lost Friends Week was so popular, Disney has brought it back.

Currently running Friday through Sunday, you’ll now find the “Round up of Traveling Disney Friends.”  Same idea, better name (lol).  This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the lesser-seen characters in the Disney family.

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A Piano entertainer plays between main stage acts.

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Sailing Ship Columbia

The towering mast of the Sailing Ship Columbia is shrouded in construction scaffolding.  But it returns February 14th, the same day as Fantasmic.  But soon after, on Monday February 24th, the Mark Twain Steamboat is scheduled to take a break. Though Fantasmic can continue without the Mark Twain (they replace the ship routine with a version performed on the central stage).

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New Orleans Square and Bayou Bash

New Orleans Square is all set for the upcoming Bayou Bash event (the annual celebration of Mardi Gras), despite the unprecedented amount of construction happening in the area.  Walls are up to accommodate the Club 33 expansion, but are draped with decorative flourishes that make everything seem almost, well, normal.

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Splash Mountain Refurb

Chickapin hill is bone dry as Splash Mountain begins a month-long refurbishment.  The attraction is set to return on March 1st.  You can already see the scaffolding being constructed near lift hill number 2 and the final drop.

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Dole Whip Down!

It is making the Lanai of the Tiki Room a little bit tight, but they are working on expanding the very small Dole Whip location here.  Be patient folks, it’s coming.

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Closure and Refurbishment Schedule

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Closed for extensive refurbishment through March  2014.
  • 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.
  • Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed through February 24, 2014 – February 28th for refurbishment.
  • “it’s a small world”: Closed January 21-February 7 for holiday overlay removal.
  • Alice in Wonderland: March 10th – TBA
  • Splash Mountain: Closed January 21- February 28 for refurbishment.
  • Indiana Jones Adventure Monday, March 3rd – TBA
  • Disneyland Monorail: Closed one day, January 22, 2014.
  • Disneyland Railroad: Closed February 24 through March 7 for refurbishment.
  • Space Mountain: Closed March 3 through May 22 for refurbishment.

Essential Listening – MiceChat Podcast #14

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? Will it be the bust of Disney’s MyMagic+, SeaWorld’s Blackfish problem, Tony Baxter’s retirement from Disney . . .? Listen on to find out. Then we turn our attention to 2014 and what is already shaping up to be a magical year for Universal as Harry Potter 2.0 – Diagon Alley – prepares to open at the Orlando park. Plus, Disneyland 60th anniversary prep, Tomorrowland Star Wars projects, project delays and much, much more. We even have a cameo from Robert Coker about the project to save Walt Disney’s birthplace in Chicago. Don’t miss this one folks!


Direct Link | iTunes Link

Starbucks

The new Starbucks™ Location in Downtown Disney is coming along slowly, but very surely.  Much like the eternal wait for a blended drink, this process seems to be taking forever.  But keep in mind that this was previously retail space and did not already have a kitchen or any of the necessary equipment a Starbucks would need.

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Disney California Adventure is also beginning to burst with the riotous colors of spring.  Buena Vista Street’s flower beds are beautiful and intense.

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Cars Land Merchandise

We were recently tipped off to take a look at some of the merchandise now being offered in Cars Land as the mix of items being sold has been improved. We are impressed with the change.  While the rest of the resort pushes the same collection of homogenized merchandise, Cars Land is choc-full of new and original merchandise.

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We start off with Ramone’s.  If you haven’t gone through here to browse you might want to take a look.

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These are some of the coolest coffee mugs ever.

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Over at the Curio Shop, they have taken out all of the generic merchandise we complained about when the land opened and replaced it with some wonderful collectables and clothes.

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The Flo’s oven mitts and aprons are awesome.

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The pins are gone in place of Cars Land key chains.

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They even have some left over Christmas merch if you missed it over the holidays.

We suggest you go take a look at what the curio shop and Ramone’s now have on their shelves.  We think you’ll agree that the merchandise situation in Cars Land has been greatly improved.

Closure and Refurbishment Schedule

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  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed January 6 through February 27, 2014.

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  • Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular: Dark January 21-February 20, 2014.
  • Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train: Closed March 3-6, 2014.

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  • Soarin’ Over California: Closed February 18-June 5, 2014 for refurbishment to add HD projectors, replace the screens and make some general improvements to the attraction.

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  • Mickey’s Fun Wheel: Closed February 3-6 for refurbishment.
  • Radiator Springs Racers: Closed Tuesday, January 28th

 

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

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Don’t miss out on the big MiceChat anniversary weekend February 7th – 9th.  Every day is packed with fun activities, meets, events and games.  Meet Disney Legends, take a trip back to Walt Disney’s birthplace and help us save it.  Click here to learn more about all of the activities we have planned for you!

Friday, February 7th

An Evening with Walt Disney 

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We Need YOUR SupportALL Proceeds from your ticket will go toward
saving the home Walt Disney was born in!!!

Journey back with us to the year 1901. William McKinley was President of the United States, Major League Baseball had just been formed, and a man named Walt Disney was born in a small house in Chicago Illinois. The modest family home on the corner of Tripp Avenue and Palmer Street was designed and built by Flora and Elias Disney, Walt and Roy Disney’s mother and father. Both Walt and Roy were born in this home and lived there until Walt was four and Roy was twelve years old.

Join the folks at the Save Walt Disney’s Birthplace project as we explore Walt’s early history and discover how we can preserve the home where he was born! We guarantee you’ll be wowed and entertained and leave satisfied that you are doing something very important.

Very Special Guests: Bob Gurr & David Price (son of Disney legend Buzz Price)

Space is strictly limited to 70 guests for this FABULOUS event.
PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS FOR AN
EVENING WITH WALT DISNEY HERE

Saturday, February 8th

Building The Dream – The Magic of
Disneyland Paris SPECIAL EVENT

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Celebrated Imagineer, Tim Delaney, will lead a fascinating presentation about 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.

Tim Delaney’s 34 years at Walt Disney Imagineering included 19 years as a creative director and Vice President of Design. He has been instrumental in all phases of design from initial concept through design development, corporate sponsorship, project production and onsite construction supervision through completion. As a designer, illustrator, painter, creative director, producer and art director, Delaney has lead teams that have designed and constructed over $1.2 billion of Disney Parks and attractions worldwide, including Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Hong Kong.Tim has been awarded the 2002 Ray Bradbury Award for Lifetime of Creative Excellence. He was the subject of the popular BBC documentary ”Shoot the Moon.” And, in, 1995 he was awarded the Themed Entertainment Association award for best attraction for Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris.

Tim will sign copies of Disneyland Paris From Sketch To Reality (copies of this beautiful book are available at a VERY special price for this event only)

Tickets for this event are nearly sold out. Secure your spot today! 

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 two hour event 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.
SIGN UP FOR INFO HERE

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.  SIGN UP FOR INFO HERE

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 RailroadMark Twain trip around the Rivers of America, MiceChat noon meet with prize giveaway, group photo, lunch with friends, D23 Fanniversary Scavenger Hunt, “Practically Perfect Tour,” farewell meetwithgrand 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 when the final event schedule with dates/times/locations of all of the above listed activities is available. SIGN UP FOR INFO HERE

If you plan in coming to the parks for the MiceChat Anniversary events, our Friends at Anabella Hotel are offering a spectacular rate just for you!

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  • $99 standard rate – Use rate code MCAnniversary when booking
  • $114 rate includes room upgrade and $25 food and beverage credit at Tangerine restaurant – Use rate code MCAnniversaryPlus when booking this offer
  • Call to book your reservation now! 800.863.4888

We leave you with a special contest from our partners at the Carousel Inn and Suites. Good luck folks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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44 Comments

Comments for Disneyland Update: Refurbs Everywhere, Old Friends, Cars Land Improvements are now closed.

  1. Wonderful update btw!

  2. Thanks for the great update and super pictures.

  3. Great update! I hope Disney notes the demographics excited to see the Stromtroopers. I whiz past cartoon charictors but stop for Disney’s classic Star Wars and Marvel charictors.

    • I think Princess Leia could take down Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White and the rest with one hand tied behind her back…

  4. Thanks for filling in Norm and In The Parks Team!

  5. I know there is still plenty to see at the park. But it makes me wonder, has there ever been this many E-ticket attractions down at once before now? After reading your great update and seeing all the closures, one would think that a first-time, or few times guest could perceive that a good portion of the park is closed. Since they say perception is reality, me thinks that asking almost $100 for a one day ticket is a bit much. Just my humble opinion.

    • This would be a good time for them to trial seasonal tiered pricing.

      • We have the locals passes right now. A discount. Not too shabby.

      • We have the locals passes right now. 2 day for $129. Not bad.

    • I hope Universal Studios isn’t shut down with refurbishments. That’s where I’m going. Somewhere between the time they took out the Pirate Ship and Skull Rock, the Peoplemover, the Skyway, the old Submarine Voyage, the Carrousel of Progress, the Main Street Electrical Parade, and put safety railings and paving stones all over the place, it quit being Disneyland and started being someplace else. After they ruin the Alice in Wonderland Ride by getting rid of the leaves at the end, and after they redo the rest of the Fantasyland dark rides, there will be very little Walt Disney left in the place. Hopefully, when the Occulus Rift virtual reality glasses come out later this year, somebody will recreate a previous version of Disneyland I can visit.

      • Have fun at a place that has been dead since the morning of June 1, 2008 when King Kong was killed in the backlot fire. And without E.T. and Back to the Future the Ride USH might as well not exist.

      • Where universal might lack in nostalgia, they make up for in construction for the future. While all of these e ticket attractions close, and plans just stop dead, you have to wonder why and where to go in California. 2013 was a dead year of the Disneyland resort, and it looks like 2014 will be the same.

      • Dead? You obviously haven’t been there in 2013. Or, for that matter, paid attention to attendance.

      • I meant in new attractions, and not Princess Meet and Greet. As I live in the UK, I have to look whether there is something to really pull me across the pond. Attendance was high and I am very pleased for the Disneyland Resort, but I would like something new! I am going this year to the resort and Universal, so I will see what has changed for better or for worse.

      • Really, Indy Fan 1? The Mummy is way more fun than that cheeseball ET ride. The Simpsons Ride is more fun than Back to the Future and the area is definitely more fun. King Kong came back stronger than before. Then they built Transformers. And the Minions are bringing four attractions with them this year. The Simpsons will have a themed land by summer. Harry Potter is coming next year. And a big new Fast and Furious attraction will be added to the Studio Tour between the two. NO theme parks have been building as much as the Universal parks in the past five years.

    • Completely Agree with you Wedway. Personally I feel they shouldn’t have more than 1 eticket down at any given time. People should voice their disappointment with the chamber of commerce when they visit. I try to do that as often as possible.

  6. I agree with wedway. $100 for a park, with most of it’s best attractions closed, seems like a rip-off. Think, if you went with a family of 4, $400 for all those closed attractions. In a Park that really hasn’t built any major attractions since Indiana Jones, 20 years ago. But those shops never close. They’re always open, even during a refurb, they go to the extra effort to make sure everybody can get in.

  7. Wow instead of a refurbishment calendar it might be easier to say what’s still open. GEEZ. I love the off season and less crowds but seems like everything is down or covered up. And the traffic situation created by the Club 33 expansion by the bathrooms in New Orleans is terrible! They need a sign that says No Outlet or stop you can’t get through, only come this way if you need to use the restroom!

  8. Along with the Stormtroopers this weekend were two filmmakers armed with DSLRs filming an internal documentary and a couple of handlers getting release forms signed for interactions with guests that the filmmakers liked.

  9. Good to see Splash getting a refurb…we visited in mid November and I’ve never seen it looking so haggard. There were no fewer than 5 characters in complete darkness on the ride due to failed light bulbs.

    • And I wonder if the can-can ladies ever got working again after they went down last May? They were still out of commission when I was there at the end of October. Does anyone know if the animatronics issues were addressed? I suspect not if the lighting wasn’t fixed, as that was an issue when I was last there as well. Is it just me, or is it unacceptable to leave the ride in that state for so many months, and just wait until it’s scheduled off season closure 8 months down the road?! I’m no expert, but how long can it take to replace some lighting & tinker with the animatronics? I think an unexpected closure of a week or so would have been worth it, as I found the ride really creepy & completely UN-MAGICAL with the dark, motionless animatronics. It’s normally one of my favourites but it just depressed me with all the problems.

      • I haven’t been on the Splash Mountain, but by observing from the Disneyland RailRoad trains, I noticed that the three geese on the top deck were animated in December and January

        WillG

  10. I really hope that Alice and Indiana Jones are open when I visit the park in June I cannot wait till then its been almost five years since I’ve last been.

  11. Great update! I wish Norm would take over Mondays.

  12. Indy is going down??!! Is it a short refurb or a lengthy one? I was last in the park in October 2012 and it was down then, I’m returning in March. I’m going to loose it if I miss it again, especially considering I’m paying for a 5 day and 1 day pass since they got rid of the 6 day passes. Disney, you’re really pissing me off!

    • Heard it was being pushed back, but no confirmation yet. My husband and I were going March 10th and 11th and saw it was scheduled to be down until April 25th :( We may push back our vacation even further since it says POTC will then be down from April to May!

  13. Great update Norm, Say I was wondering if anyone has noticed on Disney and more site that he has a artist rendering of Starwarsland set to open 2017-2018.In the rendering there is a picture of a large dinosaur in a lagoon actually there are two and a fighter in the foreground. What is notably missing is one the subs, and two the monorail, and three autopia.It shows a heavily forested area and what appears to be a dining area ? Very interesting ,this is the first of any that I have seen. Throwing it out there for your perusal .

    • Sounds like you’re describing the Star Tours area at Disney Studios in Orlando. Gertie the Dinosaur is in the Echo Lake re-creation there. Would also explain the absence of the subs, monorail and autopia.

  14. Make of it what you will, I’ve given up making sense of the refurb schedule anymore, but Indy and Space are no longer shown as going down in March on the official DL website calendar.

    • Oh this is good news for me if it’s true!!!

  15. Scarymouse can you post a link to the picture of Star Wars land

    • disneyandmore.blogspot.com/ its in the flash portion of his blog in the header

      • Yeah, in the pic you’re describing, you can see the Earful Tower in the background. Definitely Orlando.