Disneyland Update: Mother Nature Shakes Things Up

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Features, In the Parks

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Published on March 31, 2014 at 3:00 am with 25 Comments

A lot can happen over a weekend.  Rides get refurbished, crowds amass, and earthquakes strike without warning.  Yes, today we bring you a Monday edition of In the Parks. Andy is taking the week off and the In The Parks crew brings you the latest happenings from Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.  Aside from the shaking mother nature gave the parks this past weekend, huge crowds still showed up for some Spring Break fun.  We also bring you the latest pics and info from the Alice in Wonderland  and other refurbishments, around the parks!  Plus, there are some adorable Springtime activities going on in Disneyland that we thought you’d like to see.

Addictometer Crowd Estimates for Disneyland Resort

March 31-April 6, 2014








With the beginning of the end of Spring Break, we’re moving into an unsettled time before the summer crowds appear…

  • The annual United Spirit Association Nationals continue through Tuesday. Expect an influx of cheerful, spirited teens during their off hours at the start, then a little peace and quiet in the middle of the week.
  • Hotel rooms continue to be very scarce, so the parks may be less crowded but certainly not deserted!
  • Your wait time submissions in the Mouseaddict app have already helped us with these crowd projections. To ensure accurate and timely wait times, report your time spent in queues by tapping on the attraction’s wait bar.

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.


Friday evening (March 28th) a series of earthquakes struck the area near Disneyland, prompting the closures of rides and halting shows.  At about 8pm a 3.6 magnitude earthquake hit just a few miles from Disneyland in La Habra.  That is a relatively mild quake, but was strong enough to trigger the procedural closures of attractions until rides could be inspected and reopened.

Then, an hour later, just as attractions were coming back up, a second much stronger quake hit in the same area.  Measuring 5.1 on the richter scale, the quake centered again in La Habra, shook Disneyland hard.  Fantasmic stopped mid-show, just as the cannon from Captain Hook’s ship blasted the audience, adding a rather unique, 4D element to the show. Rides were evacuated, fireworks were cancelled. Those attempting to gain access to Disneyland were refused entry. Guests inside the park, with nothing to do and no guarantee the temblors would subside, left the park in droves. Given that further aftershocks were inevitable, and that there were only a few hours left of scheduled park operations, most guests just gave up and left.


Photo courtesy Joseph Mora

Some cast members jokingly gave out the pins commemorating the event.


The following morning Dustysage posted an editor’s note that read…

If you are headed to Disneyland, please be advised: There have been at least 33 small earthquakes near the park since the 5.1 shaker last night, the last of which was a good sized 3.4 in La Habra about an hour ago. As long as the ground keeps moving, there’s a chance Disneyland may have to suspend operation for your safety. Most rides shut down automatically during a quake and must be manually inspected and cleared before reopening. Please don’t be upset if Disney is forced to close attractions. They have excellent emergency preparedness procedures and are on high alert at the moment.

Dusty also did some sleuthing and came up with a rather striking fact.  It seemed that there was a hidden Mickey behind all of the seismic activity (or should we say seisMICKEY).


Earthquake hidden Mickey. I was creating a map of the recent earthquakes near Disneyland and look what popped up. The green zones are the quakes in the last 24 hours. The red text is Disneyland. Thanks for the help Mickey!

Thankfully there were no accidents or injuries and everything was handled with expert care by Disney’s cast members.


Despite the shaking, crowds have been plentiful at the Disneyland Resort as the Spring Break season continues.  It is commonplace to see Radiator Springs Racers run out of Fast Passes about an hour after gates open.  It is also now a normal thing to see 60 minute wait times on such rides as Pirates of the Caribbean and Matterhorn Bobsleds.


A picture from the wait time board in Disneyland at 11:30am on a Tuesday.


Near the bridge heading into Toon Town, large groups of strollers are parked.


The wait for Pirates stretches through New Orleans Square and the tiered viewing areas for Fantasmic.



Pic taken at 11am on Sunday morning.




Sunday, 11am




If you do come to the resort, bring your patience. Crowded conditions can bring out the worst in other guests and tempers often flair. However, the parks CAN be enjoyed during times of heavy crowds if you know what to expect and go with the flow. Use Fastpass, visit smaller attractions such as the Tiki Room, Tarzan’s Treehouse, Tom Sawyer Island as well as shows and parades.  Most importantly, if riding attractions is most important to you, arrive early. It takes a few hours for the parks to fill up in the morning. The earlier you arrive, the better off you’ll be.

We now jump into Disneyland for the week in news from the happiest place on Earth.

Springtime Round Up

Now through April 20th, Big Thunder Ranch will be home to the Springtime Round Up.  The festival includes floral decorations, country music, a bunny hop, and a bevy of characters including Roger Rabbit, The White Rabbit, Rabbit from Whinnie the Pooh and more.  Kudos need to be given to Disney for this flex area being used as a rotating venue for special park events.  It’s a wonderful use of space that guests really seem to enjoy.













There are also Springtime vittles at the outdoor vending cart for you to enjoy.



Alice in Wonderland

Here we are at Alice in Wonderland.  Nothing much has changed since our Friday update.  However you’ll note that many of the leaves and supports have been marked with blue tape and some have been labeled with white tags which sport barcodes. Let’s hope that they have developed a clever way to keep the thrill of the outdoor sequence and still satisfy Cal/OSHA.






So far, nothing has been done to the queue.




Nikon Photo Spot

Another Nikon Photo spot has been installed near the castle. Oddly, they did so during the operating day. Generally, this sort of thing happens during 3rd shift when guests are out of the park.


Spring wear

Along with Spring Break, the 2014 Spring Break wear has hit the shelves in the Disneyland emporium.





Tomorrowland plantings

The plantings in front of the Tomorrwland entrance have been changed from Swiss Chard and lavender to nasturtium and marigolds.  Still keeping in step with the theme of agrifuture, where all plantings have an edible element to them.




Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

No discernible progress has been made at the Finding memo submarine voyage.  While that indicates little, we do know that Iger has outright confirmed the return of the ride in September. Which means that other projects which were scheduled to begin in Tomorrowland this year have likely be delayed or canceled.






it’s a small world

The classic boat ride, it’s a small world, debuted at the ’64 World’s fair on April 22nd, 1964.  Not one to miss a chance at synergy, the Disney company is capitalizing on this anniversary by offering everyone around the globe an opportunity to join in a virtual choir to sing the famous Sherman Brothers song. To submit a video, aspiring singers can go here to record their entry.





Keep in mind that the ride will remain closed for refurbishment through April 9, 2014.  It will then reopen for the worldwide celebrations and ceremonies, including a special Good Morning America taping. Following which, It will close again from April 21, 2014 to May 29, 2014 to finish up the Cal/OSHA access fixes in the ride.












Projectors are being placed for the 50th anniversary sing along.


Toontown Tidbits

The ToonTown Gas station has been enhanced and now offers snacks.  A nice utilization of the small space.




Also, we are happy to report that a portion of the decorative mechanism inside the Toontown Five and Dime is working again.


The glove hands are moving out of the gag-o-matic. But nothing is going in.


Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Sneaking over to Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island we check up on a few items. To begin with, the tree that toppled due to the heavy rains that hit Southern California a couple of weeks ago has been cut down.  It was a necessity, of course.  But still a bummer.



Also the Dead Man’s Grotto has reopened after a small refurbishment.




The treehouse on the island has been cut off from foot traffic.  Paths around the pinnacle of the island have been blocked off, dirt eroding and unkempt.







We do hope that this feature of the island does not fall victim to Disney Legal’s demands for a bubble wrapped environment.

One Disney Strikes Again

If you saunter into the Elysian Arcade on Buena Vista Street, you will chance upon the opportunity to buy Walt Disney World goods.




What’s that we see?


Anial Kingdom mugs


and Epcot and Magic Kingdom mugs!


There is also Haunted Mansion Merchandise. We’re sorry to see such sloppy merchandising.



As we have told you in the past, Grizzly is set for a strange and unseasonable refurb leading into the summer months.  The park’s only water ride will be closed for refurbishment April 21, 2014 to June 19, 2014



Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail will return on April 21st.



The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

The Little Mermiad is closed for refurbishment March 20, 2014 to May 9, 2014.





Bodin Bakery

We see that parts of the Boudin Bakery have been unveiled.  The “attraction” is open during refurbishment.








Wooden Gazeebo

The moisture from repetitive World of Color showings have taken their toll on the two meet and greet Gazebos near the Paradise Pier Lagoon. We’ve been showing you the wood rot on the structures for weeks. Work has finally begun on one structure, and we hope the other will follow.






Ending the update on a high note, we are happy to report that the fountain in Downtown Disney is back open and fully operational.  It looks a amazing.









That about finished things from the Disneyland Resort this week. In the Parks will be returning on Friday to share the latest information from Universal Studios Hollywood.  Be sure to look for us on Friday!

We will 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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  • eicarr

    Great photos/update!!!

    At the Toontown Gas Station I wish they could bring back that cool gurgling/flashing drinking fountain.

    Pleased they did such a great job handling the earthquake. I’m not sure if I’ve EVER experienced an evening quake. Kinda rare.

    • ayalexander

      I didn’t know they took out the drinking fountain? I was there a few months ago and the fountain had just returned from a refurbishment, fully operable.

  • Ravjay12

    Earthquakes are no joke. Bravo to Disneyland for their emergency preparedness. They seemed to have done a great job keeping everyone calm, especially during Fantasmic.

  • jcruise86

    A most excellent update–THANK YOU, Norm! The earthquake part will be of interest to a larger audience than our (substantial) group of Disney park enthusiasts, so this update will be a good link to send to out of state friends and relatives about the quake.

  • DisneyLover66

    Fantastic update and pictures! Thank you.

  • LoveStallion

    I’m shocked if this is true, but I’m left to wonder whether Disney intends to actually leave the existing Alice routing as is and merely work in some creative fixes to satisfy OSHA. The attraction has been down long enough now that yanking out the track would have happened at this point.

    There’s a good chance I’m wrong, but it would be great if they managed to keep the current setup.

    • Algernon

      I sure hope you are right!

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      I hope they DO leave the route as is and simply extend a platform off to the left between the track and the wall. That would be awesome! However, all that blue tape has me thinking that things will soon be coming down.

    • BradyNBradleysMom

      I’ve noticed something strange, LoveStallion. Doesn’t it appear they are being weirdly careful with the track? I mean, if they were going to rip it out, why are they being so careful with it right now? It feels like they intend to reuse the track and just build railing and things around it.

      • mondo

        The track is covered. So why cover it? Is it to protect it or could it be so the workers wont hurt them self if they trip over it.

  • zugzug15

    anyone else think that picture of the guy in the dead mans grotto look a lot like WWE wrestler The Undertaker? I mean… it makes sense.

  • LarrySubs

    Wish spring break was at it’s end…unfortunately I know of lots of schools/school districts that have had them as yet. And that does even count the private (religious) schools that most aren’t out until the week before or after Easter!!! Lot more spring break to come!!!

  • Algernon

    I was at home when the earthquakes hit, and it was like being on the Small World Ride without the music, everything moving around. Looking at the map photo, the quakes were a little bit too close for comfort.

    Those crowds sure are big.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    What is up with the Walt Disney World coffee mugs on Buena Vista Street? Do the merchandisers not know the difference between the resorts? Last I checked, there was no Spaceship Earth at the Disneyland Resort (though I’d love for them to build one).

    • dazyhill

      It used to be that if Disneyland accidentally received an item with Walt Disney World emblazoned on it, it would be pulled from the store shelves and sent to Company D. Now with the One Disney philosophy it doesn’t matter. It should however. Those mugs should never be seen at Disneyland. They represent icons of Walt Disney World and part of their brand. I know many who won’t care, but they should. The parks are in danger of losing their unique identities.
      Disney is blessed with a large portfolio of character and attraction art and a gifted staff ready to create merchandise that is unique to parks it will be sold in. Many theme park groups would give anything to have a tenth of what Disney has.

  • seenoevil

    I was getting into my Jeep in the parking structure when the 5.1 hit. Talk about the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness!

    The Downtown Disney fountain looks wonderful! It was really pumping out the water on Friday night!

  • ayalexander

    As yet another born and raised citizen of Orange County, I’m used to quakes and they don’t freak me out, even the 5.1 did catch me off guard but I knew during its intensity that all would be okay. However the thing that DID unnerve me was the 100 aftershocks that came afterwards, some being as high as 4.1, I felt that maybe the time for “the big one” is soon and that is what got me rattling.

    Being a former Disneyland Resort cast member I was a trainer for the emergency evacuation procedures and let me tell you, the procedures are quite effective for saving lives, as long as hourly cast members follow what they are taught. Unfortunately, lots of hourly trainers, forget to include evacuation procedures in their 3 day training period because they don’t see it as a useful tidbit or even, something “necessary”. Disneyland has safety zones where for the most part, there is an open air clearing for keeping guests during fires and earthquakes and keeping them away from tall structures, for example: areas such as The Rivers of America, The Hub, Small World Promenade, Buena Vista Street, Paradise Gardens (World of Color viewing), and Pacific Wharf seating area, are currently considered “safety zones” and during a fire or earthquake, guests are routed into these open areas until evacuation routes can be opened and cleared. Main Street, Toontown, Critter Country, Buena Vista Street, Condor Flats and Paradise Pier are evacuation route exits and were deemed so because of the integrity of the newer (more earthquake surving) structures that line the area. Yes Main Street is one of the oldest areas of the park, but the building structures have been completely replaced with more modern earthquake surviving structure, that it is relatively safer than areas like New Orleans Square or even Tomorrowland (not for long if Star Wars land has anything to say about “New Tomorrowland” structural safety -as stripping the buildings to their bones would give them a chance to retrofit the buildings much better)

  • mondo

    So they put in new plants in the planters near TL rocks? If they are taking out AO and the rocks, why would they put in new plants?

    • ayalexander

      Well they have to keep the area pretty, up until the end of its life there, plus it takes no effort to remove those plants overnight, so to them, there’s no harm in maintaining the plants and changing them around.

  • Captain Pitchfork

    Loved the seisMICKEY! Wish I had seen the first earthquake buttons, that was cool and clever. We were in the queue for Star Tours and the cast member response was immediate and efficient. We were on the ramp entering the droid baggage check and I was leaning over the rail to get a snap shot when the whole ramp began swaying back and forth followed by a loud thump! It was exhilarating! I looked at my wife and said ” THAT was an EARTHQUAKE”! They came over the PA system and evacuated everyone immediately. We walked out and straight down Main Street where crowds were waiting for the fireworks show. We just took a seat in between the 2 park entrances and watched everyone leaving. We felt the aftershock and sat there till about 1030. The kids were really scared so we just sat and then got ice cream back at the Paradise Pier where we were on the 7th floor. Ride systems were up and down all day Saturday and the talk in the lines was all about “where were you when it hit?”.

    Great Job cast members on keeping everyone safe and calm. Disney class all the way!!!

    • ayalexander

      When the quake hit, did the droids automatically shut off? How did the cast announce it exactly? I like to know these trivial facts :)

  • Crazee4mm

    I was waiting for the fireworks when the earthquake hit. It was disorienting and the Astro Orbitor made loud noises as it’s top was whipped from side to side violently. We could clearly hear the clanging of it from the hub, over the music. One thing that sort of upset me was that Disney made no announcements after the quake. Many minutes later, an announcement that the fireworks were cancelled, “Due to unforseen circumstances”, but it would have been nice if Disney had made an announcement about the rides closing due to the earthquake. Once the announcement was made, almost everyone around me had the same thought of racing to their favorite rides because the fireworks crowd was still in the streets. I just think that it would have been informative of Disney if they could have announced what their proceedures were and what we, the guests, should expect. Maybe even give us some info/directions regarding earthquake safety in the park at that time. Unfortunately, other than the fireworks cancellation announcement, there was nothing announced over the public address system. I feel that if the quake is strong enough to trigger the rides/shows to go 101, then we should be told what to do/expect in such a situation from Disney.

    • Haven

      It is interesting that no earthquake announcement was made after the event. A year ago I watched several YouTube videos of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea taken during the massive quake there that set off the tsunami, and there was definitely a pre-recorded spiel in Japanese and then in English reassuring guests that the park was built to ride out earthquakes, remain calm and please follow the instructions of cast members. I wonder what happened in Anahiem….

  • Lakerfan3224

    So is the Astro Orbiter still getting taken out since you said in your column today that all of the projects planned for tomorrowland have been postponed or canceled?

    • HollywoodF1

      You realize you’re asking someone who makes a hobby out of speculation, and doesn’t really know the answer, right?