Disney California Adventure‘s Little Mermaid dark ride reopened over the weekend with significant enhancements including a really great black-light re-imagining of the attraction’s big “Under the Sea” scene. Across the esplanade, Disneyland has begun work today on the long-rumored Main Street, U.S.A. bypass corridors. The new “Guest Flow Corridors” will open this fall but will only be lightly-themed bypasses used during peak attendance days. Meanwhile, Disneyland’s various refurbishment and construction projects continue, including the new Cal/OSHA safety changes at Alice in Wonderland and the major Club 33 expansion in New Orleans Square.
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.
We’ve got a big update today, so let’s get started!
|Welcome to Disneyland!|
Note that the unofficial Bats Day in the Fun Park events will take place over this weekend, May 16-18. Like with the unofficial Gay Days event, Disneyland is getting into the spirit with a variety of baked treats available around the park. Below is a list of what you can get and where.
- Bat Day Cupcake: Chocolate cupcake, purple and black white chocolate mousse, black buttercream, chocolate bat wings, chocolate rose on top. Available at French Market, Rancho del Zocalo, Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe.
- Bat-shaped Mickey Cookie: Available at Coke Corner, Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, Market House, Pizza Port, Village Haus, Stage Door Cafe, Royal Street Veranda, Begal BBQ, Golden Horseshoe, Hungry Bear Restaurant.
- Bat Day Red Velvet Cake: Red Velvet cake with purple cream cheese frosting, chocolate Jack Skellington decoration, chocolate sprinkles. Available at French Market, Rancho del Zocalo, Plaza Inn.
- Bat Day Red Velvet Cake in a Cup: Red velvet cake with cream cheese filling, purple cream cheese frosting, chocolate Jack Skellington decoration. Available at River Belle Terrace.
Starting today, Disneyland is starting construction on the long-rumored Main Street, U.S.A. themed bypasses. The project will essentially be a place-making project meant to make the existing backstage corridors behind Main Street presentable to guests when in use as overflow walkways on busy days.
Disneyland typically opens the backstage areas behind the Main Street buildings to alleviate Main Street crowd congestion during parades and fireworks on peak attendance days. However, the un-themed and dirty backstage corridors are now an issue as guest usage of them continues to increase along with annual attendance figures.
The new construction aims to make the backstage trip from the Central Plaza to Town Square more pleasant for regular guests on the busy days when the backstage routes are open for easier egress. However, it seems even the rumored plan to theme the corridors as “Victorian alleys” originally reported by Al Lutz in September 2012 was too ambitious for Disney. In his September 18, 2012 article, Lutz detailed the project as it was then-planned:
As it stands now, the plan would get underway in approximately two years and be completed by mid-2015. A twenty foot wide alley, themed as quite literally an authentic looking back alley behind Victorian-era Main Street, would extend from the current patio near between the Disney Showcase shop and the parade gates and end at what is currently the Baby Care Center and Make-A-Wish Lounge and First Aid building.
This back storerooms of the existing Main Street shops would mostly be cut off and demolished, while the back facades of the existing Main Street buildings would be built up as themed structures with secondary doors leading into the existing retail spaces where only back walls have existed since 1955.
None of the existing shops or attractions along the east side of Main Street, including the Main Street Cinema, would be removed or significantly altered. The one exception to that would be the Main Street Cone Shop, which would take up residence in a new storefront built approximately 20 feet east of where that little ice cream window currently stands.
WDI is looking forward to creating buildings and facades that are much more themed than some of the very basic and lightly themed facilities that are there now, many of which date from the 1950’s or 60’s. The current First Aid, for example, dates from the early 1960’s and is a cheap and simple box with only some lattice work applied to the roofline. Fresh from their work on Buena Vista Street, WDI has cooked up a design scheme that would improve the park sightlines and themed story in that area immensely.
The new east alley would house rebuilt facilities for non-retail purposes, including a new locker location right up front near the current parade gates, an expanded and improved First Aid and Baby Care Center at the opposite end of the alley, and a new Wish Lounge for the Make-A-Wish foundation. That would create an walkway that is themed to complement Main Street USA, but houses most of the necessary customer amenities a theme park needs without being cut off by parades or fireworks crowds.
With this project set to open by fall 2014, it’s clear that these new corridors will be far less ambitious than the “Victorian alley” plan that Lutz outlined and even that version of the project was a cheap alternative to the Liberty Street, International Street or Edison Square concepts that Walt Disney and WED Imagineers had planned for the space decades ago (space which was partially occupied later by Space Mountain). Indeed, according to a talking points memo released to Disneyland Cast Memmbers, the bulk of Imagineering’s plan now is to simply dress up the backstage areas with “Victorian themed fencing” (yes, Disney is officially describing it as “themed fencing”). Disneyland attraction posters, background music, and themed lighting fixtures will “complete the look” for the new Guest Flow Corridors. To be fair, these newly-“themed” corridors will still only be used on peak attendance days, but still, with park admission costing $92 per day and Parks and Resorts operating profit up 19% in the last fiscal quarter, does Disney really have an excuse for choosing the bare minimum? The silver lining here is that “themed fencing” can easily be replaced with a more permanent and Disney-quality solution in the future without being much of a loss on investment.
Operationally, construction will impact guest facilities only on the eastern side of Main Street. The Main Street Lockers are now closed as of today, May 12. Guests needing a locker will need to use the locker facilities in the esplanade or at Disney California Adventure. The project will also include a remodel of the existing First Aid center. A start date for that remodeling project is not yet announced but during construction First Aid will relocate to the existing locker facility on Center Street.
The Disneyland Wish Lounge will also be closed and remodeled, during construction the Wish Lounge will be relocated to the backstage Main Street Conference Room. Cast Member information notes that First Aid and the Wish Lounge will “only slightly move in location,” so that could mean significant re-working of the existing facilities to allow for more direct guest access to the new corridor — it would be nice to see these buildings get proper Main Street facades. Below: the existing First Aid and Wish Lounge facilities.
The west Guest Flow Corridor will run between the Jungle Cruise and West Main Street buildings, starting between Coke Corner and the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe and emptying into Town Square next to the Disneyland Fire Department in Town Square.
The big news last week was the reopening of The Little Mermaid dark ride across the esplanade at Disney California Adventure. The attraction reopened on Friday following a two-month refurbishment project that included some notable enhancements that really help bring the quality of the show here in line with Disneyland’s classic dark rides.
The first change riders will notice is a lot of extra sea life scattered throughout spaces in the attraction that were previously pretty sparse. The “descent” underwater scene where you look up at an animation projection of Ariel and Flounder is now surrounded by fish and sea horses looking back at you.
The transition corridor to the big “Under the Sea” room has some extra fish added in addition to those that were already there. A painting of King Triton’s Castle is now on the wall here, too, a simple addition but a lot better than what was previously a blank wall.
The changes are most evident, however, in the Under the Sea room, which got a top-to-bottom makeover in black light paint that really transforms the space in a great way. With black light being the primary method of lighting the scene now, the black ceiling finally recedes and all of the HVAC, lighting fixtures, and other infrastructure is hidden because of it. This minor thing makes a huge difference, allowing the scene to really become immersive in a way that it never was able to achieve before.
The new black light paint colors throughout the scene also help create a connection with Disneyland’s classic Fantasyland dark rides, which really helps with selling the whole experience. It looks great and really just feels right. In addition to completely repainting and re-lighting the entire “Under the Sea” scene, a lot of new fish figures were scattered throughout, especially higher up, helping to flush out a few areas that needed some extra help.
In the “Kiss the Girl” and finale scenes, the Ariel and Prince Eric animatronics got new “real” hair, replacing their original “plastic” hair. I didn’t notice this change on my first ride-through – it’s a really little thing that just feels right. The “real” hair for animatronics that are “above water” is a good choice and helps make King Triton in the finale with his “real” hair and beard fit in better.
The changes here aren’t really that major, but its the culmination of a bunch of small things that help the bigger picture. While there are fundamental flaws with the attraction’s design, this round of changes prove that there are a lot of small things that can still really help. The more dramatic changes rumored for the ride in the last two scenes, including a proper demise for Ursula, didn’t materialize this time but hopefully Disney will continue to see the value in tinkering with this attraction. It doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated – the work the Imagineers did in this last round of fixes really does make a big difference. Kudos.
In New Orleans Square, Pirates of the Caribbean remains closed for refurbishment through the end of next week as Club 33 expansion construction continues throughout the rest of the land.
New doors up on the balcony that overlooks the entrance to the Court of Angels. The upstairs corridor will now be open to Club 33 members, so replacing the doors with ones with windows here makes sense.
In Tomorrowland, Space Mountain is scheduled to be closed starting today for a refurbishment that will go through late June (just in time for Grad Nite season). CORRECTION 5/12: Space Mountain is now scheduled to close starting May 27.
More of the new retro and Adventureland merchandise lines continue to trickle out, some of it being really great and some of it missing the mark. Below, great new tumblers with attraction poster art from Disneyland’s Fantasyland.
As we previously discussed, a lot of the new merchandise was designed to be sold at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This dual-design approach is probably the most obvious with these new attraction poster glasses that feature a Walt Disney World attraction poster on one side and a different Disneyland attraction poster on the other.
Who decided this was a good idea? People want souvenirs from the theme park they paid $92 to get into, not a souvenir that’s half from that park and half from another park. Below, glasses with Walt Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean poster and Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion poster.
New attraction poster drink coasters are available as well, but the art quality on the coasters isn’t great. Unlike the plates, where the art looks crisp and vibrant, the art on the coasters looks very grainy.
|This and That|
Around both parks, the new Nikon Picture Spots that replaced the old Kodak Picture Spots have received nice new signs that replace the temporary signs that popped up back in February.
|Weekly News & Information Round-Up|
|Weekly Theme Park Hours
May 12 — 18, 2014
|[B]Disneyland Park[/B]||[B]California Adventure[/B]|
|Mon.-Thu.: 10 am – 9 pm
Friday.: 9 am – 12 am
Sat.-Sun.: 8 am – 12 am
|Mon.-Thu.: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 9 am – 10 pm
Sat.-Sun.: 8 am – 10 pm
|[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar[/CENTER]
|[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]|
|[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]|
|[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]|
A weekly look at projected crowd levels at the Disneyland Resort.[/center]
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
|Alright, that wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland. What do you think about the plans for the new Guest Flow Corridors on Main Street? Do you like the changes at the Little Mermaid attraction? Let us know what you think by joining the discussion in the comments section below!
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