Happy Birthday Disney California Adventure! This weekend, as MiceChat celebrates its 11th anniversary, DCA turns 13 years old. We’ll hold a scavenger hunt in the park to mark the occasion (see below). The park has never looked better and we wish it well. Today, we start our update in Disneyland park, where multiple refurbishment projects are underway. Splash Mountain, Sailing Ship Columbia, it’s a small world, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and of course, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage are all down. But the refurbishment schedule is going through lots of changes with projects being moved around and delayed. That’s not to mention the work being done on the private Club 33 restaurant in New Orleans Square. But it’s not all bad news here. Far from it. The Bayou Bash celebration is coming right up and Valentine’s Day is popping up in the park. Let’s take our weekly tour, and we’ll fill you in on what’s going on at the Disneyland Resort.
Spring in the Park
This is a time of year to relish the natural beauty of Disneyland. Spring is blossoming in Southern California and the Disneyland Horticulture Department is once again cranking up the color.
Steam Punk to Come to the Disney Gallery
The Disney Gallery will close soon to install a new exhibit. ““Mechanical Kingdoms: Steam-Driven Visions of a Victorian Future,” will open on February 22nd and feature the “Disney Side” of Steam-punk.
The show is described as:
Steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction loosely built around retro-futuristic visions of a steam-powered society, has been gaining (pardon the pun) steam over the past several years. The movement, which is expressed culturally and stylistically in everything from technology and design to music and fashion, was dubbed steampunk in the late 1980s. Though certainly not part of the steampunk “wave” (at least not consciously), Walt Disney Imagineers have been creating their own visions and versions of retro-futuristic technologies since well before that time, incorporating them into Disney parks and attractions around the world.
The Fortuosity shop on Main Street continues under refurbishment.
The refurbishment shuffle continues as the March 3rd date for Space Mountain’s closure has been removed from the official schedule and the ride is not listed as going down during the currently visible calendar. Despite that, Space Mountain is preparing for an exterior cleaning. OSHA approved railings and safety measures have gone up along the rings on top of the dome, delineating the clean upper level and the sullied lower portion.
It was confirmed this past week that the Nanooze Labs exhibit on the top level of Innoventions will be converted into the Captain America meet and greet, coinciding with the opening of the film, Captain America: Winter Soldier
Yes, the subs are still closed.
The water level is still hovering at 2 feet below normal as the subs are prepared to be stabilized. The lagoon is set to begin draining tomorrow (Saturday the 8th of February). It’s an elaborate environmentally sensitive plan which will restore water to the aquifer.
Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland filming at it’s a small world
The upcoming Brad Bird film, Tomorrowland, has been filming this past week, taking over it’s a small world. Blue screens were used to mask the existing facade and train tracks. The reasoning for this is that the film takes place at the World’s Fair and not at Disneyland. The blue screens will allow them to insert missing elements and make things look more accurate to the script of the film. This is in stark contrast to the approach that Saving Mr. Banks took when filming in the park. It is encouraging to see that Brad Bird and his team are going to great lengths to get things right.
There’s some wonderful period costume design for this film. Heavy on shades of goldenrod and avocado. They’ve perfectly recreated the costumes that cast members would have worn at the World’s Fair where this attraction debuted.
Looking in from the side, we get a look at the period boats placed in the flume for the shoot. They actually constructed new boats that look like the World’s Fair originals! Again, wonderful detail that will only inform the story and enhance the setting.
Camera and crew
During filming, MiceChat administrator, Monorail Man was in the crowd with fellow Optimists, checking out the filming. Optimists were, of course, the group of fans that took part in the brilliant, viral marketing campaign surrounding the film.
As they stood nearby, eagerly watching the filming, who stopped by? None other that writer director, Brad Bird! He graciously talked with them about the film and thanked them for their enthusiasm for the project. Upon returning to the filming location at the load platform he declared to cast and crew, “Hey there are Optimists here watching the filming!” Nice.
Incidentally, the Disneyland park website currently lists it’s a small world as down for refurbishment from now through March 20th with no actual reopening date posted (the 20th is just the farthest date we can currently explore).
Mardi Gras and Club 33 Construction
Construction continues above the streets of New Orleans Square on the revamped and expanded Club 33. Meanwhile, decorations are up for the Mardi Gras celebration. Another holdover from Limited Time Magic last year.
Big Thunder Delays
Big Thunder is nearly complete. However, there have been software issues controlling the trains which have forced delays. The new trains are not the same weight as the old trains, which has caused all sorts of issues with brake zones and timing of the attraction. Of course, all of that is controlled by computers. The good news is that they were able to get five trains on the track at one time this past week. That’s a very good sign. Once they get everything stabilized and fully tested, cast member previews and soft openings can begin. We’ll let you know when we hear more. Cross your fingers and let’s hope that testing goes well.
Splash Mountain Refurbishment
Splash continues to get the care it deserves as the month-long refurbishment continues.
Sailing Ship Columbia
The Sailing ship Columbia continues with refurbishment and should be returning on February 14th.
Amazing MiceChat Anniversary Weekend – February 7-9th, 2014 – Disneyland Resort
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
EVENT NOW SOLD OUT – ALL Proceeds from your ticket will go toward saving the home Walt Disney was born in!!!
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.
Saturday, February 8th
Building The Dream – The Magic of Disneyland Paris
EVENT NOW SOLD OUT!
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)
DCA MiceQuest – 3pm
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. REGISTER FOR THE DCA MICEQUEST HERE
Communicore Weekly Musical Meet-up – 6:30pm – Outside Back Patio of the Grand Californian’s Hearthstone Lounge.
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 – Outside Back Patio of the Grand Californian’s Hearthstone Lounge
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, 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.
For the third year in a row D23: The Official Disney Fan Club will hit the road with their Disney Fanniversary Celebration, visiting cities across the U.S. to commemorate dozens of magical Disney milestones celebrating landmark anniversaries this year. In honor of the event, which will kick off this fall, we have designed a game including some of the iconic attractions and films that are (or were) represented inside Disneyland Park. You will have to be fast on your feet and quick with your wits as you race to reach the finish line in time to win the grand prize. JOIN THE D23 FANNIVERSARY SCAVENGER HUNT 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!
- $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
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!
It seems that even more changes have been made to the refurbishment schedule. As time moves forward, dates are moved around for closures in a shell game of priorities and finances.
It was confirmed through the refurbishment calendar that The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure will be going down for a refurbishment beginning March 20th
But, the anticipated HD upgrade to Soarin’ Over California that was to start late February has been pushed back for technical reasons. Soarin’ will go down briefly from Monday, February 24th and reopening on Friday, February 28th. Unfortunately, there are issues with the new 4K projectors that have the IMAX folks and WDI at odds. Basically, the 4K IMAX projectors don’t quite work with Soarin’s screen size. There’s a lower scale HD projector that IMAX is offering in place of the 4K version, but WDI is firm on what then want and will wait for the 4K projectors to be ready. As frustrating as that is for everyone, it is probably the best thing for the long term operation of this attraction. We haven’t heard about any delays on the scheduled filming of the new film but we’ll keep you up to date as this story unfolds.
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
The play area, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is still under refurbishment and will be through February 27, 2014.
Speaking of the Redwood Creek area, the gate into DCA from the Grand Californian Hotel has reopened.
The nasty little bit of wood rot is still festering away at the Paradise Pier gazebo.
Paradise Garden Back to Normal
All good things must come to an end. Paradise Garden is back to normal after a wildly successful Chinese New Year celebration. Lines just to get a picture with Mickey and MInnie in traditional Chinese attire stretched past the 90 minute mark. Guests stood waiting for the character processions up to 45 minutes ahead of the performance times. It is sure to return next year.
But for now, we can go back to enjoying the yummy Greek food and sitting in the tranquil setting.
We round things out with some lovely shots of Disney California Adventure as the blossoms and other flora come alive at the park. It’s hard to believe that, just 13 years ago, this park opened with not one, not two, but FIVE film based attractions, tours of a tortilla factory, and the mantra that if it was “good enough for Six Flags” it was good enough for DCA.
Today, things are quite different. Theme and story telling have won out and have been folded into the park (especially Cars Land and Buena Vista Street).
That wraps things up for In the Parks this week. We encourage all of you to join us at the MiceChat Anniversary festivities. The paid events are now sold out, but the other events, including the D23 Fanniversary game are still available. See you In the Parks!