Crowds hit Disney California Adventure hard last week, leading the park to break its all-time attendance records on multiple occasions. With its first real taste of success in its 11-year history, California Adventure continues to satisfy big crowds with its new 12-acre Cars Land featuring the major new Radiator Springs Racers E-Ticket attraction that regularly sees wait times exceeding three hours. Meanwhile, crowds are finding that the new offerings in the park don’t just stop in Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, with new entertainment offerings ranging from tacky dance parties in Hollywood Land to delightful new fountain shows on Paradise Bay. In Disneyland, mountaineers are once again scaling the icy slopes of the iconic Matterhorn Mountain and work continues on the new Fantasy Fair princess meet-and-greet area at the end of Main Street, USA.
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Summer crowds are here and Cars Land is proving to be extremely popular with guests. Our friends at Touring Plans are here with their crowd forecast and tips for your visit to the Disneyland Resort.
Last week’s Grand Reopening of Disney California Adventure launched what should be the busiest summer season in the history of Disneyland Resort. TouringPlans.com can help you navigate the parks with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines – Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. With huge summer crowds on the horizon, it’s a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!
Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.
— Fred Hazelton, Statistician, TouringPlans.com
Crowd Calendar Prediction
|Tues., June 26||Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
|Wed., June 27|
|Thu., June 28|
|Fri., June 29|
Get Disneyland wait times on youriPhone, Android, or Smartphone.
Do more. Wait less.
If you’re visiting this summer and are looking for a way to beat the crowds, Disney is offering several opportunities for early entry into Disneyland and Disney California Adventure:
For Your Information: Early Admission Opportunities at the Disneyland Resort
We’ve already told you about Extra Magic Hour benefit for Disneyland Resort hotel guests, but that’s not the only way to enter Disneyland park or Disney California Adventure park early. Read on to learn how Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders and guests who purchase 3-Day, 4-Day or 5-Day theme park tickets prior to arrival can also enjoy early admission benefits.
Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders
Annual Passholders have the opportunity to register for Annual Passholder Early Entry, which allows a valid Passholder early admission to select attractions at a Disneyland Resort theme park beginning one hour prior to scheduled opening between June 18 and September 13, 2012.
- Offered on the following days:
- Disney California Adventure park on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays
- Disneyland park on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
- Passholders must register in advance for Annual Passholder Early Entry by visiting disneyland.disney.go.com/passes/early-entry/.
- Availability is limited each morning, and Annual Passholders may only use the privilege once at each park.
- Must be at least 18 years old to register and must have an Annual Passport that is valid for Theme Park admission at time of registration and on the date of the event.
Disneyland Resort Guests with 3-Day, 4-Day or 5-Day Theme Park Tickets and 2012 Southern California CityPass
Disneyland Resort guests who purchase 3-Day, 4-Day or 5-Day theme park tickets prior to arrival at the resort and those with valid 2012 Southern California CityPass can choose one day during the duration of their Theme Park ticket or Southern California CityPass to enter Disneyland park (only) one hour prior to scheduled opening on any of the following days: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays or Sundays.
Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests
As a continuous, ongoing benefit for Disneyland Resort hotel guests with valid theme park admission and active hotel key, early admission to the parks occurs one hour prior to scheduled opening the following days. Guests will be required to present valid theme park ticket and active room key for admission.
- Disneyland park on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays
- Disney California Adventure park on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
- Early admission at Disney California Adventure park will include access to select attractions, food and beverage locations, and merchandise locations in Cars Land, Hollywood Land and Paradise Pier, subject to availability.
Inside Disneyland, the Voices of Liberty continue to entertain guests during their engagement at the Main Street Opera House
Despite the big crowds that hit the parks thoughout the week, Saturday saw a brief break for the Disneyland Resort theme parks. With full Annual Passholder block-outs on Saturday, the parks saw crowds that were remarkably manageable. Here, Main Street at mid-day with minimal crowds.
We showed you a few weeks ago that the long-closed Aladdin’s Oasis had partially reopened to allow Guest access to its Companion Restroom. The restroom was opened when the Carnation Plaza Gardens Companion Restroom was closed to allow for Fantasy Fair construction.
While it’s a shame there’s no show or restaurant in this space, it is nice that it’s being used. Hopefully bigger plans for this space are in the works (a revival of the Tahitian Terrace restaurant would be spectacular)
AND ALL-AMERICAN COLLEGE BAND
Last week we took you on a ride at the newly-reopened Matterhorn Bobsleds. This week, we take a look at the return of the Matterhorn mountain climbers. The climbers have been a Disneyland staple for decades and were last seen during the park’s big 50th anniversary celebration.
While the mountaineers scale the icy slopes of the Matterhorn, the voice of Disneyland periodically interjects tidbits of trivia as Swiss music plays in throughout the area. Take a listen in our video below:
Take a look at this year’s band below:
DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE!
Still, despite the big strides made in the park over the last five years, it’s important to remember that there are still big issues in California Adventure. Brady MacDonald at the Los Angeles Times has a great recap of what still needs to be addressed in the park and why Disney shouldn’t let Cars Land be the end of the road.
Disney California Adventure: How we got here and what’s next
After more than a decade in existence and $1.1 billion in renovations, Disney California Adventure still probably needs another billion dollars in improvements before it can be worthy of the Disney name.
As the hoopla surrounding the grand reopening of the Anaheim theme park dies down, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at what DCA was, has become and could be.
The story of DCA actually starts way back in 1991 when Disney announced plans to build the $3-billion Westcot in the old Disneyland parking lot. For myriad reasons, the West Coast version of Disney World’s Epcot was eventually canceled and new plans were unveiled for an edgy and hip 55-acre theme park celebrating California pop culture.
Located a football field away from Disneyland, the $1.1-billion Disney California Adventure opened in 2001 to dismal reviews and low attendance thanks to an absence of Disney characters, on-the-cheap carnival rides and bad word of mouth from early visitors who complained about the laughable theme, bad puns and lack of children’s attractions.
By the end of the first year, high-profile, high-end restaurants by Wolfgang Puck and Robert Mondavi pulled out of the park, operating schedules were scaled way back and Disney officials scrambled to come up with a way to put lipstick on a pig.
The problems were endless and all self-inflicted. The nighttime “Luminaria” pyrotechnic water show spewed a constant and heavy plume of smoke on the crowds lining a man-made lagoon. The poorly conceived and ill-received Eureka parade featured stilt-walking Chinese food takeout boxes perched on chopstick legs. And among the meager 23 attractions on the park map were a bread-baking demonstration and a tortilla-making exhibit.
The Paradise Pier area of the park was the worst offender, leading some to dubiously dub the park “Six Flags California Adventure.” The land with the seaside amusement park theme included a wave swing inside a giant unpeeling orange, a sunglass shop inside a towering dinosaur and a McDonalds restaurant inside a hamburger-shaped spaceship.
DCA was a stinker and everybody knew it — except Disney, which threw good money after bad at the park. The addition of a bug’s land kiddie area, Tower of Terror drop ride and Monsters Inc. dark ride failed to significantly goose interest, improve attendance or fix the park’s faulty conceit.
Finally in 2007, Disney admitted defeat and conceded the obvious: DCA was broken and in serious need of repair to the tune of $1.1 billion. Over the next five years the company dutifully set about correcting the mistake.
[ FULL STORY ]
Still, despite its faults, the new offerings at California Adventure are something to be celebrated. Buena Vista Street is filled with detail and the special touches that only Disney can do. The window displays, which at the time of most previews were largely incomplete, have come together in the last couple weeks and look phenomenal. For the most part, they remain absent of the tacky theme park merchandise that the stores actually sell. The windows stand as individual works of art that help Buena Vista Street become a believable escape into another time and place.
Don’t let those wait times fool you, though. The park saw big attendance over the week — the Orange County Register has details:
Disney California Adventure breaks attendance record, blog says
Eleven years ago, visitors waited just five or 10 minutes for rides during Disney California Adventure’s first, rainy weekend.
But visitors stayed in line for up to six and a half hours on the day of the park’s grand reopening, Friday, when Disney unveiled keystones to a $1 billion transformation, most notably Cars Land.
Over the weekend, guests endured hours-long waits.
“It’s night and day,” said David Koenig, an author of unauthorized Disney books, including “Mouse Tales.” “The place was empty (in 2001).”
Although Disney won’t discuss attendance figures, Miceage.com, a Disney watchdog site, said California Adventure enjoyed its all-time record Sunday.
On Sunday, about 45,000 guests visited the park, more than any day since the park debuted in 2001, reported Al Lutz of Miceage. Reopening day – Friday – it reportedly drew about 43,000 people.
Disney did acknowledge the park was busy.
“As expected, Disney California Adventure’s grand re-opening weekend proved to be extremely popular,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, in a statement. “Thanks to countless hours of planning by our operations teams, we were able to accommodate all of our guests who raced to the resort to be among the very first to experience Cars Land.”
Visitors waited about two hours Saturday and about three hours Sunday for Radiator Springs Racers, the attraction that goes through the mountain backdrop in Cars Land, said Kelly Johns, founder of Mousewait.com, an app that tracks wait times. [ FULL STORY ]
Yet, for all its progress, Disney California Adventure continues to suffer from the whims of the Disneyland Entertainment Department. While the team did a fine job on the Buena Vista Street entertainment, some of the other offerings added to the park this summer could be omitted from the schedule entirely. The biggest offender this summer is perhaps the new Dancin’ with Disney offering in Hollywood Land.
It’s bizarre, tacky and feels cheap. This large facility should be offering a real attraction to guests, not an awkward dance party for toddlers. The stage from the old “Disney Channel Rocks” show in Paradise Park has been repurposed here.
A video clip:
The girls inspect the new car as he introduces himself. Somehow the request for oldies music is made and classic car-themed songs start playing and the girls take to dancing in the street, enamored by the blue car.
Then DJ mixes things up and introduces the 1950s girls to some hip new tunes and magically the innocent 50s waitresses are overtaken with hip new dance moves to match the songs. It’s a strange progression of events and not once does it feel like show writers were even trying.
A clip of the show:
The guest interaction might be nice and it’s sure to please plenty of guests, but the show felt out of place in Cars Land. The land really doesn’t try to be hip or edgy and succeeds in being immersive and relaxing in a very classic Disney way. This show contradicts heavily with that, which is unfortunate.
Also in Cars Land, the Red to the Rescue! street show featuring the firetruck from Cars seems to have been reduced to a meet-and-greet due to the large crowds the continue to come to the new land.
Red appears for photo-ops and occasionally squirts guests, but that’s about it.
There is one new offering that proved to be a very pleasant surprise. On Paradise Bay, the new “Instant Concert! …Just Add Water” show featuring Maestro Goofy is a really great addition. Utilizing the World of Color fountains, the show is delightfully retro in its approach and really feels like a classic Disney experience.
Take a look at one of the concerts below:
California Adventure has several new outdoor vending carts that are nicely themed for their locations, a great change from the generic carts that were previously seen throughout the park. Below, great new churro and merchandise carts near Corn Dog Castle, matching the aesthetics of the nearby Paradise Garden.
It’s really surprising that this is allowed to go on. It may entertain some guests passing by, but it looks surprisingly cheap in a park that costs over $80 to enter. A hula-hoop and a basketball toss aren’t things that really look like they fit in at the premium experience that Disney is selling, no matter how much they dress up the cart that they tote these things around in.
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June 18 – 24, 2012
8 am – 12 midnight
8 am – 11 pm
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
6.9—10 out of 10
9.7—10 out of 10
with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
For crowd predictions for the next 365 days, visit
|Disneyland ends five-decade Grad Nite tradition
This summer’s final Grad Nites marked the end of an era as the Disneyland tradition permanently relocates to Disney California Adventure in 2013. Details from the OC Register:
|Disneyland hosts final Grad Nite party|
A five-decade rite of passage for millions of high school seniors will come to an end early Saturday when Disneyland finishes hosting its final, private Grad Nite party.
Starting next year, the overnight, private parties will move to Disney California Adventure for the 2013 high school graduates.
Seniors are able to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure during regular park hours. But the most prominent part of the Grad Nite experience – the late-night parties – will move across the esplanade.
Disneyland’s last Grad Nite party is scheduled to start tonight.
“Plans are to make the expanded Disney California Adventure park available for Grads in 2013, allowing them more time to experience all their favorite attractions … but also to experience “World of Color” and the all-new Cars Land,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, in a statement.
Disney has hosted more than 5 million graduates from thousands of high schools, mostly in Southern California, since the tradition began in 1961.
That year, Disneyland held Grad Nite on just one night, but the event grew to about seven or eight times a year. At first, seniors had to follow a strict dress code, including ties for boys. The after-hours parties, when the attractions are open, lasted until the sun came up. Some big-name bands of the eras have played at Grad Nite, including No Doubt, Berlin and Dazz Band.
|Full story: OC Register: Disneyland hosts final Grad Nite party|
|Okay! That wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland! Thank you for reading and please join the discussion in our comments section below. What do you think of California Adventure’s new entertainment offerings? Are you a fan of the dance parties?
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