Springtime refurbishments and merchandise mishaps at Disneyland

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Dateline Disneyland, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features

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Published on April 28, 2014 at 5:38 am with 65 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy writes the weekly Dateline Disneyland column, which can be found every Monday on MiceChat.

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  • drnigelc

    Ha! The mugs next to the “Disney Adventureland” plate pic are also from Walt Disney World – Animal Kingdom to be exact (I have one!).

    • Stormy

      That mug is adorable!

      • drnigelc

        It’s one of my favorites! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • LoveStallion

    1. Let’s face it. No one is really going to see “Million Dollar Arm” unless it surprises us with very strong reviews. Otherwise, it’s Don Draper teaching Indians how to pitch.

    2. I’m surprised they carry the Neal Gabler biography in the music shop. It’s a great read, but also an unflinchingly honest portrayal of Disney’s founder, faults and all. You’d think Disney PR might be concerned, but I doubt the book is pushing enough volume for anyone to care.

    3. The other merch stuff is bemusing, to be sure. Corporate synergy is, unfortunately, creeping more and more into the Anaheim properties. Anaheim for so long seemed immune to the lackadaisical attitude of top brass in Orlando, but it appears that such is no longer the case.

    • Zorro825

      I literally LOL’d at that first bullet point!!

    • WookieCookie

      “Million Dollar Arm” has been getting early buzz. Alan Horn said it was his highest-tested film since the first “Harry Potter” film. Here’s hoping it’s true and the film is a great one.

  • eicarr

    It will be interesting to see what happens on the next one of those gay days at DL with the Anita Bryant orange bird. Her scandal helped put that bird in the Disney vault quick. That’s one bit of Deep South merch I never expected in California. I’ll be skipping all the WDW merch.

    Love the Alice progress!!

    • Westsider

      There’s lots of gay CM’s and they seem to get a kick out of the Orange Bird exactly because of Anita Bryant. It’s obvious Anita lost that fight, and it’s ancient history now (long before most CM’s were born) as Anita sits quietly in a lightly attended dinner show in Branson. I think straight folks won’t know or care, and the gays think it’s a kitschy reminder of the fight they ultimately won. So out of the vault for the Orange Bird! It still doesn’t belong in Disneyland however.

  • Stormy

    Glad that it appears they aren’t going to change the track on Alice. I’d guess they’re going to extend it out on one side for an OSHA walkway.

    I do like the overall look of the new merch, but I agree that it would be nice if it were more park specific. But then again, a lot of guests won’t realize that.

  • Dhawkins1

    It is sad about the music shop, but. . . . . Most people now buy their music and videos digitally. CDs and DVDs are slowly going away. You can’t blame Disney for wanting to use valuable space for merchandise that sells. It is a business. That said, I wish they would still keep some of the sheet music around. It would keep the store a “music” shop.

  • Nland316

    Too bad about Mermaid! I was really looking forward to the new ending scene. Maybe this means that imagineers are gonna take their time to prep and conceptualized it more thoroughly. Hopefully it comes before the 60th!

    • Marko50

      While I also would like to see them make a really great Mermaid ending (?!?), I wonder how many more extended closures it’ll take on this attraction to get it the way they want it.

  • JCSkipr79

    Sorry, but I am SOOOO glad DL is finally carrying merch that is not DisneyParks crap. When was the last time Adv.Land had merch. ABOUT Adv.Land??? 20yrs ago??? Now if they could only redo the stores in New Orleans Square. And WTH is up w/ Small and Space??? They look as bad as they did before Cynthia came in!!!!!!

    • Internitty

      Personally, when I go to Disneyland I want to buy Disneyland souvenirs. When I want generic I go to Wal Mart or Hot Topic.

    • MyFriendtheAtom

      its so WDW specific tho its kinda not fun

  • Nola ron

    So no total improvovement for mermaid? Why dont they just tear it out if there gonna close it every few months for a month or two update. Might as well keep it closed. Will all referbs wouldn’t want to be at DL full price for a view of tons of walls? And maybe Disney should just admit that memo is lost at sea. And follow their own advise and “Let it go”

    • LoveStallion

      The real beauty here is that the Fantasyland dark rides have not shut down so much for random tinkering and show/story improvements. It seems like Ariel is constantly on the mend. When was the last time anything drastic changed in Fantasyland?

      • Marko50

        Guess you mean besides Alice.

      • ayalexander

        Alice is the first in a Fantasyland Dark Ride redo. Trust me, change is on its way.

      • bluekirty

        Well, those Fantasyland dark rides have been around for almost 40 years to almost 60 years. And as others pointed out, they’re getting their tinkering done even now. But Ariel is very important to DCA due to its ride capacity. They want it to be very successful. To me, it’s fine the way it is, but I do look forward to seeing these changes (as long as we can still see Mr. Limpet)

  • Internitty

    “I canโ€™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, youโ€™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.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I picked up the remastered CD of the original Haunted Mansion record a couple of years back and I was SO hoping they would remaster the Small World record for the 50th anniversary of the ride. Even if things like that were limited edition it would be nice. There are so many park related records out there that would be nice to have on CD as well, just search Disneyland LP on eBay.
    Thank goodness I never stopped collecting vinyl I guess.

  • SLUSHIE

    It almost looks as if they are going to install some safety netting around the sides of Alice in Wonderland.

    Not sure how the OSHA rules define what type of barrier or what have you has to be installed, but I think a netting would be less intrusive visually.

    • LoveStallion

      I think netting would look too tacky for Disney standards. And is netting even OSHA compliant? It would catch you, sure, bit you could also slip a leg through it on accident and twist something.

      • mbyrd

        Agreed. A net would look really tacky. Cheap too, like a fair ride or something. But who knows maybe you’re correct and that IS what they are doing.

      • CaptainAction

        How often does Jerry Lewis ride Alice with the Three Stooges?
        They all fall out of the car, over the lap bar, then wander over the edge, turning around in circles wildly and then fall into a net, catching their legs, and twist something while yelling, “Waaa..haaa..aaaa?!?”
        Are you joking?
        If I had a nickel for every Guest and Castmember who fell to their death from the Alice ride – what a travesty.
        Sometimes on our vacations to Disneyland there were just piles of Guests laying around moaning in agony all around the Alice ride. We had to distract our kids and run passed all of them.
        Nanny State!?!

    • ayalexander

      What you are seeing with the wooden installations arent permanent, they look to be measurement placers for what is to be permanent. Most likely, they are building an ADA compliant walkway up there for guests who could be stranded on the ride and also for workers. A walkway would not be built on those flimsy wooden rods. They’re temporary.

    • CaptainAction

      Why don’t castmembers put helmets on all guests riding Alice, along with bungie cords.
      Then put helmets on all guests below Alice standing in the que.
      Problem solved.
      Nanny State!?!

  • Tinkbelle

    Yay! Dateline is back! Welcome back, Andy.

    I really like the plates and mugs for the specific lands. Did they have any for New Orleans and Critter Country?

    Those boysenberry treats look delicious. Especially the churros and ice cream.

  • coprogressfan

    What the heck is “Disney Adventureland”?!??!

    Again, the marketing and product development geniuses just miss the mark. So much of that merchandise is really cool and stuff I WANT to buy. But I’m never going to buy anything that says “Disney Adventureland” because it just makes no sense and reeks of clueless executives who are only concerned about branding, rather than the actual product.

    I love the mugs too…but if they’re not microwave/dishwasher safe…well, I’m really not about to start hand washing my coffee mug every morning.

  • DuckyDelite

    Thanks for posting about Knotts Berry Bloom. I had noticed some earlier articles here about the event and finally made it out there on Sunday and had a great time. With the Wine and Beer sampler plus all the berry themed food, it was a great way to spend an afternoon. It felt more like spending an afternoon at a local neighborhood park than a giant amusement park. The reasonable prices were nice too! Good job, Knotts. I hope they continue to do this every year.

  • michael darling

    LAND-specific merch is the way to go. This allows guests to really go after something specific to their visit.

  • MyFriendtheAtom

    im with andy on the whole music thing

  • Algernon

    Whatever they do to Alice, I’m certain you will no longer have that uneasy feeling that you are about to go off the sides of those leaves. Too bad.

    If they do any work on Fantasyland, I hope they don’t install projections (like Nemo–I have a TV at home that will do 90% of that ride) or do other things to ruin those classic rides. I wouldn’t mind seeing a more detailed nighttime city-scape on Peter Pan, though. The exact same scene, only more 3D, with more miniature buildings below, like the E.T. Ride at Universal used to have.

  • daveyjones

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the retro merch plates, bowls and mugs. but NOT dishwasher safe?!? and they’re PLASTIC?!? i was so thrilled to see these pictures and get ready to scoop them up on my next park trip…and then my heart sank when i read the captions.

    even kevin kidney and jody daily’s fancy glassware and ceramics are all dishwasher safe. same with all the shag stuff.

  • Sparky

    I agree that the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival was a very nice event. They needed to run it longer, though. I had to sacrifice another event to be able to fit it into my schedule. One thing that could have been done better was to provide a listing of the locations of the specialty food items. We had to really hunt to find the items that we were interested in. None of the event specific merchandise appealed to me. So, hopefully, that will also improve next year. They do have some nice t-shirts at Cordy’s with some vintage attraction poster images. Originally, the shirt with the Calico Mine poster was a season passholder exclusive, but it is now out in the store. There is also now one with the Ghost Town Railroad poster and one with the Stagecoach. They are all good quality cloth, unlike the chincy ones at Disneyland, and are only $9.99 each. At Disneyland they’d cost three time that much for thin cloth cut for people with slight builds. They also have a new pin that looks like a vintage postcard, along with some neat attraction related pins.

  • phruby

    >>At least they arenโ€™t removing the track entirely and building a new, shorter and less interesting track as was previously rumored.

    Wasn’t it you guys that STARTED that rumor?

    • mondo

      Yes I think Mice Age started the rumor or at least believed it and put it in several of their articles. The rumor was the track would have wrapped around the wall. SMH

  • danielz6

    Algernon I’ve been thinking that for years! A detailed replica of London would be amazing imagine how much even more popular that ride would be if that were the case?

    Pictures from the boysenberry festival were just torture!

  • RonNYC

    The retro Disneyland plates, serving plates, and bowls aren’t Disneyland specific and instead feature both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland icons on them. I bought them on my trip to Disneyland last month and almost didn’t because it wasn’t DL specific. I’d prefer merch specific to my trip but in the end I bought them because they’re good kitchsy fun.

    Also, I know there’s been an uproar about WDW merch around the DL resort, specifically the ugly coffee mugs but also on my trip last month I bought the EPCOT Spaceship Earth mug because not only was it anachronistic to DCA but I’d looked it over on my trip to Epcot earlier this year and then regretted not buying it. It’s so ugly, it’s cute. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    When I asked a clerk at DCA why the mugs were there he told me that sometimes merchandise intended for WDW shows up there and it’s cheaper to sell them at the park then sending them to WDW, and vice versa. Hmm.

  • Lakerfan3224

    Disneyland must be cutting back on the little mermaid refurbishment and other projects because they are probably saving money for the first phase of Star Wars since they assigned Scott trowbridge to oversee the project at disneyland

  • jawknee

    Welcome back, Andy — great update. Pretty much agree with all of your criticism this time around (music shop, Disney Adventureland merch, non-microwave safe kitchenware).

  • HausofMcKenna

    I think everyone is complaining way too much about Space Mountain being dirty. It’s a large, white building in the middle of SoCal- what do you expect it to do, of course it is going to get dirty. I get that it is disappointing to see that it is not getting time to be cleaned when the Mark Twain is going down for it’s 100th refurb in what seems like 2 months, but seriously people there are only so many people that work at Disneyland, give them a break. I think there are more important things to be concerned about then a dirty dome.

    • mondo

      At Disney parks it is about good show. Dirty Space Mt is bad show.

  • Esmeralda

    Excellent update, as always!

    I do love those new dishes, but will be counted among the many who do not purchase them on account of not being microwave safe. Sure, I can do dishes by hand (though dishwasher safe would be awfully nice too), but what if I want to reheat something on the plate? Please, we’ll pay a few extra dollars for higher quality merchandise!

  • bayouguy

    Since I cannot afford to buy merchandise and tickets at the same time, it really doesn’t mean much to me what is offered. What I already have is treasure enough for me. Greed just killed off all my desires to buy Disneyland stuff.

  • tgdiver

    So glad the Alice track is going to remain; just hope the OSHA compliant stuff isn’t as tacky as the rails and vinyl drapes were……….

    It is too bad about the 20th Century store, but honestly, they were seriously overpriced. The only thing I ever bought there were books. I will miss the sheet music; it was cool. Still, I am kinda tired of the pins. They’re sort of fun, but I feel they have become as intrusive and annoying as princesses and pirates.

    I do love the retro plates, etc. Will probably pick up a set on my next visit. Dishwasher safe would be nice, but melamine (not plastic) has never been microwave safe. We have a lot of melamine plates for snacks and sandwiches, and know not to micro them. No biggie.

    Yeah, would it be too much to ask for WDW to stay in Florida? Too many encroachments on so many levels from the WDW management model. It is a great resort, with lots to offer, but it is not DL. Different guest base, different everything. The One World thing is really irritating. I agree about the merchandise; when I go to DL, I want to purchase DL stuff. And, yes, the non-Disney stuff doesn’t belong. Kinda like the Roxy/Quicksilver stuff in the Adventureland market. I want those brands, I’ll drive to Huntington Beach.

    I love the idea about a small tweak to Peter Pan (always one of my favorite rides). I don’t want the Fantasyland dark rides to go all 21st Century, but the idea of a more detailed London is cool.

  • diskid

    The new merchandise is almost a step in the right direction, but I still have many issues with it, most of which relate to quality:

    1. Not theme park specific.
    2. 90% of these items are hard plastic..if I want a plate or bowl, I would prefer if it were ceramic.
    3. Practically all of the dishware says it’s not dishwasher or microwave safe..that even applies for some of the items that ARE ceramic… (actually I have some 2013 Epcot Food/Wine glasses that are also not dishwasher or microwave safe, and even after hand washing them, the artwork will still come off occasionally…)

    If only they would source their products from somewhere other than Thailand or China…

  • mbyrd

    Welcome back! What a great update to get you back up and running. I agree with most criticism and your credit given to the park where it is doing things right. This refurbishment business is disappointing though. So much is down! I remember when they closed Nemo and it was hypothesized that it was a cost saving move. Now it seems like everything is a cost saving move. What can really be accomplished in a two day refurb of the Mark Twain? I could be off base, it just seems odd. Plus when things are closed for a long time and then re-open, but operating at less than 100% (redwood challenge), it seems all the more possible that they just wanted to trim operating costs. The summer rush is practically here and they have four major attractions shutting down this month (Indy, Pirates, Space, Grizzly)!

    I’ll end by saying that I still love the parks and it’s still a great experience. I hope they continue to improve the park, eradicate their shortcomings and continue to deliver a fantastic experience.

  • Big D

    So a couple of thoughts:

    1. If you like specific merchandise and want more, buy the generic stuff in Frontierland, even if you give it away to someone else, just to let Disney know that you want more. I personally don’t see what the big deal is about mixing Disneyland and WDW so I’m fine with that merch (and I would have probably bought the trashcan salt shakers if I still had an AP), but if you don’t like it, then find any Disneyland specific merchandise you can and buy that. Also, don’t buy your pins in stores where you feel like they don’t belong. This is our only voice to Disney anymore in order to let them know what we do and don’t want.

    2. The boysenberry festival sounds like it was awesome, although I’ll have to take your word for it that the spicy boysenberry BBQ wings were actually good. That sounds horrible to me.

    3. Million Dollar Arm probably should have been straight-to-DVD. And why are they spending so much money promoting this film? This one’s obviously going to suck, while Guardians of the Galaxy looks like it could actually be funny (all it needs is Bruce Campbell)

  • a-mad

    Breaking news… Iger just announced that they are pouring in another $800 million into the Shanghai Disneyland resort. Looks like the China market is going gangbusters… and the anticipation of success is so high, that they’re starting expansion now, and not later. Not sure if this will be in additional park infrastructure, or hotels and shopping…

    What does this mean to the rest of Parks and Resorts? I’m guessing it could affect capital spending at DLR… and perhaps another postponement of Star Wars?

    • CaptainAction

      More themed bathrooms and meet n greets for WDW!!!

    • Park Hopper

      It’s gonna be My Magic Plus! Because that’s what the folks in China really want!

  • SoCalFan

    I asked a RCCT CM about the nets being blocked off and he said they are continuing to tighten and adjust them and that they should all be open by next week.

  • ShannonA

    I love these articles. You have Space Mountain listed as closed to June 26th, which is what I thought it was. I was looking at the Disneyland map today and they have it posted to July 3rd. I really hope that this is a mistake.

  • 4Apples4Disney

    It’s sad that more land specific merchandise isn’t sold. I love some of these new ideas, but would Disneyland specific items be too much to ask? I’m also INCREDIBLY disappointed in the music selection. I would love to have the main street loop, or frontierland music, but for some reason they don’t sell it. C’mon Disney, I bought the Frozen CD, now give me the rest of the long lost but cherished music. To be able to buy something like this in the music shop on Main Street would be incredible, and in my mind would increase sales too.

  • jcruise86

    Thank you, Andy, for covering Knott’s too! I love that park and recommend their passes for families saving money by not getting Disneyland passes every year. When Harry Potter opens at Universal, some Americans might consider a trip to S. California instead of Florida.

  • malofilms

    Seeing all the pins at the Music Shop is is odd and disappointing. I personally loved buying books at the Music Shop. Yes, they were expensive, but I appreciated them more because I bought them at the park. It was one of my favorite places to stop at during my visits. Well, at least people FINALLY have a place to buy pins at since they’re SO difficult to find around the park, on Cast Members, on other people AND Downtown Disney. Oh, well.

  • ralzap

    Boysen Berry Pie rules….Heat and add vanilla ice cream.

  • danielz6

    A additional 800 million to the already spent 4 billion!? And here at Disneyland a simple Little mermaid show enhancement can’t get funded and the yeti can’t be fixed for a decade? Well we all can see where Disney’s priorities lie and it sure as heck isn’t here. Then when Shanghai doesn’t meet expectations like Hong Kong and Paris they’ll pour billions more into “saving” the resort. You can all kiss your star wars/marvel/New tomorrowland dreams goodbye. This is why I’m more and more supportive of universal.

    • CaptainAction

      Yep Daniel, and then the Iger minions yell at us, “You are not the target audience anymore! WDW is after novice theme park folks who think a fast pass to Imagination is a good deal.”

      We theme park lovers are the target audience for Universal, so that’s where you find my family of 5. Dropped AP’s at WDW for Universal, and loving the attention. Nice to be appreciated again.

      Then the Iger supporters try to find anything to gripe at Universal about like Universal is the enemy!?! These folks are very conflicted, enjoying being dropped as the target audience by WDW and preferring themed bathrooms over several new E Ticket attractions.

  • jenmurray

    So glad you are back Andy!!! I LOVE the retro stuff. I’ll still buy the cheaper priced items if I can get my hands on them. It is silly though to not make it dishwasher/microwave safe. Thank goodness about Alice! Boo on the music store. ๐Ÿ™

  • toemblem

    We returned to Disneyland after a 4 year hiatus during holy week. We were largely delighted with the changes but the condition of Small World was a disappointment. I wasn’t worried because I knew a refurbishment was forthcoming but now I read that they are not repainting and that disappointment becomes a major disappointment. Also, I visited the 20th Century Music shop and noticed all of the pins. I was able to find the CD set I was looking for but it is a shame that they chose to water down this cool spot.

  • JerrodDRagon

    Just a heads up…..I found an awesome and (cheap) Darkwing Duck Pin in the Music store on Main Street today and only a few left….so if you want him go get him

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