Welcome back to Dateline Disneyland! This week we take a look at Disneyland‘s various springtime refurbishments as the parks continue through the busy spring break season. Major projects underway include a major rethinking of the outdoor portion of Disneyland’s classic Alice in Wonderland attraction, the ongoing Club 33 expansion project, a new look for Disney California Adventure‘s Pacific Wharf area, and more. Meanwhile, Disney has rolled out a mixed bag of new merchandise offerings while making disappointing changes to Main Street USA‘s 20th Century Music Shop. We also take a detour from Disneyland to recap Knott’s Berry Farm‘s fantastic Boysenberry Festival, a part of that park’s larger Knott’s Berry Bloom promotion.
Don’t miss your weekly Disneyland Resort crowd forecast — provided by our friends at MouseAddict — in the Weekly News and Information Roundup at the end of today’s update!
Get a closer look at today’s update! Click on any photo in today’s blog to see a larger, high-resolution version.
A big thanks to Norman and the In the Parks team for filling in for Dateline Disneyland on Mondays while I was away on my extended break! We’re back now and hope you’re all ready for a full update! Let’s get started.
|Welcome to Disneyland!|
Carnation Cafe will be getting menu updates including the return of eggs Benedict for breakfast and a new sourdough bacon cheese melt. The updated menu debuts April 30.
In Adventureland, Indiana Jones Adventure is set to reopen by the end of next week.
In New Orleans Square, the major Club 33 expansion continues.
The former entrance to the Court of Angels isn’t looking too hot as construction takes its toll. Looks like they may be getting ready to install the rumored stained-glass wall that will separate the average guest in New Orleans Square from the Club 33 member waiting for their reservation in the Court of Angels.
In Fantasyland, the classic Alice in Wonderland dark ride is closed for its refurbishment and safety enhancement project. The “vine” portion of the ride track that takes guests outside of the ride’s show building has been trimmed and new wooden beams have gone up along the route…
Over at “it’s a small world,” the boat ride is once again closed following its brief reopening for the ride’s seemingly last-minute 50th anniversary celebration.
Back in Mickey’s Toon Town, the land’s big water features as well as the Gadget Go Coaster are behind construction walls for refurbishment.
In Tomorrowland, the Finding Nemo Submarine’s Voyage refurbishment continues but not much work is visible in the lagoon.
Nearby, Space Mountain’s new Cal/OSHA safety additions are in place, including a new “ring” around the top of the peak. Still, the mountain is covered in filth and looks worse every week.
Over in Disney California Adventure, the Pacific Wharf refurbishment is starting to wrap up, revealing a brand new color scheme and it really looks great.
On Paradise Pier, the Little Mermaid attraction is wrapping up its refurbishment and will reopen by the end of next week. The enhancements you’ll see when the ride reopens include a black light-based re-Imagining of the “Under the Sea” room and another new hairdo for Ariel in that scene. Plans to rework the ending of the attraction didn’t make it through this refurbishment but are still expected to come at a later date.
Across the bay, one of the gazebos that originally served as extended queue for Toy Story Midway Mania and later meet-and-greet space for Toy Story characters is behind walls to address some wood rot issues.
The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail has reopened after its extended closure. The attraction reopened without any noticeable changes, although all of the suspended bridges and net crawl-throughs in the Squirrel Scramble area remain closed.
Nearby, Grizzly River Run is now dry for refurbishment just as temperatures are about to heat up.
Over in “a bug’s land,” the new 3D preview for Disney’s Maleficent is pulling in decent audiences after opening a couple weekends ago.
The preview itself is a ~20-minute extended preview of the movie that incorporates some of the theater’s built-in special effects. If you have even a slim interest in this upcoming film, the preview is worth checking out and might help sway you either way in seeing it.
|One step forward, two steps back…|
All of the new plates, bowls and serving dishes in this line can be found at the China Closet on Main Street and are made of plastic. The designs are really fun and colorful and would be great for parties. Retro bowls and platter, $29.95
Unfortunately, none of it is microwave-safe and only partially dishwasher-safe. It’s a bummer because that’ll likely be a sticking point for a lot of folks who would like to buy this stuff, which could translate to poor sales and that could be used by Disney as evidence that there’s not enough interest in items like this. Fantasyland bowl, $4.95
Also released alongside all of the new retro Disneyland stuff was a bunch of great stuff that was obviously made with Walt Disney World in mind but designed just loosely enough to also sell at Disneyland. Over the weekend it seemed the most popular of these new items were the Disney trashcan salt and pepper shakers…
Ultimately, all of the new merchandise is a good step in the right direction. More well-designed merchandise, especially park, land and attraction-specific merchandise is needed and it’s great to see Disney continuing what they started with the recent line of excellent Haunted Mansion merchandise. It’s just too bad that everything has to be designed to be sold on both coasts. Sure, production costs are a valid issue but with the ever-increasing cost of admission as well as the price Disney charges for a lot of these items ($34.95 for a pillow!), separate items made of quality materials that are truly unique to Disneyland and Walt Disney World really isn’t that much to ask.
Unfortunately, whatever baby step forward that was made with the Adventureland and retro merchandise was undone when Disneyland turned Main Street’s 20th Century Music shop into a pin trading location.
I can’t help but feel like Disney is missing out on a huge opportunity to release rare theme park audio. After the huge success of the Disneyland 50th Anniversary box set, you’d think Disney would have been eager to cash in on the portion of their audience that will pay big money for high-quality theme park audio collections.
Meanwhile, in Frontierland the shops are now selling generic “western”-themed merchandise that is in no way related to Disney. On one hand I’m not opposed to this – I think it’s good to have variety but at least some of it should be made by Disney and unique to Disneyland/Frontierland. Instead anything “western” that you currently find in Frontierland shops likely has no relation whatsoever to Disney. That’s unfortunate and hopefully the Adventureland merchandise, despite its issues, will be successful and encourage Disney to launch a line of Frontierland-specific items or, at the very least, a couple Big Thunder Mountain Railroad-themed souvenirs.
|A Berry Good Time|
Over the weekend I visited Knott’s Berry Farm to check out their spring Knott’s Berry Bloom promotion before it ended for the season. The main draw for me was the Boysenberry Festival in the park’s historic Ghost Town. I went to the event after hearing good things and didn’t plan to feature it in this blog but I was so impressed that I thought it was worth mentioning.
The Boysenberry Festival paid homage to Knott’s history with a recreation of the farm’s original berry stand, which acted as an information booth and a place to buy preserves and other items during the festival.
What was really nice was that all of Ghost Town was transformed into what felt like a real, down-home local festival. Oversized boysenberry decorations were scattered around, pop-up food booth served up specialty food items for the festival, and you could find events like boysenberry pie-eating contests.
Food locations throughout Ghost Town all sold specialty boysenberry-flavored items. Tasting cards were available for $20 and let you sample six of the most popular items. Something like this at Disney would have easily cost at least $50 and portions would have likely been much smaller.
For theme park enthusiasts, Knott’s has recently become a really interesting place to visit. Over the last few years Knott’s has completely restored its iconic Ghost Town area, revitalized and turned an area in the back of the park into a pleasant new Boardwalk area, and transformed its classic Log Ride into one of the best dark rides in Southern California. The park management is simultaneously working to reverse some of the mistakes of the past, restore classic experiences, and update the park so it can truly compete in 2014. It still has a long way to go, but so far what’s been done has proven that Knott’s has what it takes to really become a significant player in a way that it never was before. While rethinking major areas of the park, adding new rides, and revitalizing classics are the big headlines, events like the park’s Knott’s Berry Bloom and the Boysenberry Festival are examples of Knott’s really doing things right on all levels. Kudos to Knott’s for taking its own park history and tastefully using it to create a really engaging experience for guests with the Boysenberry Festival — this sort of thinking is something Disney could learn from. Southern California theme parks like Disneyland, Knott’s, Universal and even Magic Mountain are rich with unique history that people are have emotional connections to and are interested in learning more about. Everybody loses when that history is underutilized, ignored, or lost. I can’t wait until next year’s Boysenberry Festival.
|This and That|
|Weekly News & Information Round-Up|
|Weekly Theme Park Hours
April 28 — May 4, 2014
|Disneyland Park||California Adventure|
|Mon.-Thu.: 10 am – 9 pm
Fri.-Sat.: 9 am – 12 am
Sunday: 8 am – 12 am
|Mon.-Thu.: 10 am – 8 pm
Fri.-Sat.: 9 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 10 pm
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
A weekly look at projected crowd levels at the Disneyland Resort.
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.
|Alright, that wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland. What do you think of the new Adventureland merchandise? Do you like it or do you wish it was more Disneyland-specific? Let us know in the comments section below!
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