Disneyland celebrated the Fourth of July holiday with special fireworks and live entertainment but the holiday weekend brought some new magic and marvelous sneak peeks to the park. In Fantasyland, the classic Alice in Wonderland dark ride reopened with a safety-retrofitted outdoor portion and spectacular new enhancements inside. Meanwhile, a 3D preview of Marvel‘s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie has temporarily replaced Tomorrowland’s Captain EO. And in Frontierland, props are in place for the new Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush! interactive experience, which will debut later this week.
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.
It’s a big update today with an in-depth look at the new Alice in Wonderland changes, a preview of the interactive Frontierland experience and much, much more! Let’s get started!
|Welcome to Disneyland, U.S.A!|
This year’s Fourth of July holiday has come and gone at Disneyland but if you were at the parks last week, you might not have realized it was even a holiday weekend. Crowds continue to be very manageable as the summer season continues, thanks to Annual Passholder blackouts for the season.
You can watch the show below:
On Thursday, Disneyland’s classic Alice in Wonderland dark ride soft opened for a few hours, showing off its wonderful new enhancements and upgrades. The ride has been closed since mid-March to finally install a permanent fix for the outdoor portion of the ride track that had been covered in safety scaffolding and tarps since July 2010.
The elevated, outdoor portion of the track (commonly referred to as “the vine”) has been expanded and retrofitted with new safety railings in parts. The safety additions come following a 2010 incident in which a Cal/OSHA inspector recommended, but did not mandate, the addition of safety railings for the vine. Disney voluntarily added the temporary scaffolding and safety rails in 2010 following the inspector’s recommendation, and finally installed a permanent fix this spring. The result is a vine that is now significantly wider, with new anchor rails for maintenance employees to connect their harnesses to as well as permanent safety railing along portions of the track.
The four-month closure also brought a number of enhancements inside the ride as well, including the addition of new projected animation effects that have been blended seamlessly with the existing attraction.
New animation effects greet guests immediately as they fall down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. I’m usually pretty weary of projections integrated into existing rides but I was very pleasantly surprised as soon as I entered the show building. The new projections throughout are pretty flawlessly integrated; they’re vibrant, crisp and feel natural to their surroundings, not awkward or forced. Below, Alice chases the White Rabbit at the end of the rabbit hole.
…and along the rest of the vine, the wider track puts an end to the mild thrill you used to get zipping along that track, feeling like your caterpillar might fly off at any moment. The mild, but madcap thrill you used to get bursting out into the sunlight and zipping down that track is now pretty much gone. Still, the charming novelty of emerging outside in the middle of the ride is still there and it remains a unique experience.
Below, we have before and after ride through videos. The before video was shot in January, showing the ride as it appeared just before it closed in March. The after video was shot on Friday, on its first official day of operation following its refurbishment.
Alice in Wonderland — Before:
Alice in Wonderland — Now:
Overall, the ride looks really fantastic. The Imagineers did an excellent job with all of the interior enhancements, bringing in new projection technology and integrating it with the practical sets and props in a way that reinvigorates a classic while feeling very natural and appropriate. If this is what we can expect for the rest of Disneyland’s Fantasyland dark rides, then I am very excited. Adding projections to existing rides has always been a mixed bag, with more misses than hits. Additions like the Davy Jones waterfall in Pirates of the Caribbean, Constance (the bride) in the Haunted Mansion, or the projection-heavy Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage are examples that come to mind as awkward or unconvincing implementations of projections in existing rides, but recent additions in Indiana Jones Adventure, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and now Alice in Wonderland show how this technology can really work to enhance existing rides without feeling unnecessary or forced. As for the vine, Disney’s continued voluntary retrofitting of rides and structures throughout the park with new fall safety equipment seems a bit excessive. These fall safety additions to rides like Alice that have been without major incident for 50+ years seem a little unnecessary, but if this is how things have to be, then at least the vine isn’t covered by that temporary scaffolding anymore. The permanent fixes at least look nice, even if the ride experience on the vine may have been lessened. Nevertheless, kudos to the team that worked on this project — it really shines.
Over in Frontierland, the new Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush! interactive experience officially debuts on Wednesday. The new experience is part of Disney’s continued efforts to make the parks more interactive experiences through attractions and shows. This new experience will allow guests to enter an in-progress game/story where their actions in the game can affect its direction or outcome. Props for the new experience could already be found in Frontierland last week and more are certainly on their way before Wednesday’s launch.
Disney has filled in Cast Members on how the new interactive game, which will operate daily, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., will work and we have some of the information on it below.
Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush!
Frontierland and its neighbor, Rainbow Ridge, are in the midst of a good, ol’ fashioned land feud. Rainbow Ridge – a once-booming mining town – has dried up, and they have their eyes set on Frontierland. The good folk of Frontierland want to keep the town safe and free of outlaws and bandits. Rumors are beginning to spread about gold being found under the town and in mines belonging to Frontierland. Whether the rumors are true or not, the desperate folks of Rainbow Ridge have one thing on their minds: take over Frontierland!
Guests can pick up a Legends of Frontierland map in Frontierland and join the game at one of seven stations throughout Frontierland. Guests playing will be identified with a special name tag and will be expected to adhere to the following rules:
We’re always respectful in Frontierland We solve all disputes by using Rock/Paper/Scissors or the “The River Water Challenge” Be mindful of others and their property No need to climb or crawl Always stay on the marked paths Always travel at a leisurely stroll
Guests and Cast Members alike will be able to use a “Time Out” hand gesture to pause the game at any time for safety reasons or other concerns. The time out stays in effect until the Guest or Cast Member says “time in.”
The whole of Frontierland is the setting and gameplay area for Legends of Frontierland, but there are seven stations where more activities will take place and where Guests will be able to earn and spend “bits,” or the currency in the gameplay.
Trading Post: This is the meeting hub for new and soon-to-be, citizens of Frontierland. Guests may learn how to join in on the play and gather news on the developing story. Specialty merchandise may be purchased to add to their character’s wardrobe, including mustaches, beards, costume pieces and accessories. The Map: The map acts as a leader board and allows citizens to know where their town stands in the “land grab” Rainbow Ridge is waging against Frontierland. This location allows citizens the opportunity to collect deeds to the town’s various parcels and structures using “bits” that they’ve earned. Telegraph Station: This is the information center for the Frontier. Telegraph operators may receive news and send messages via a telegraph about notorious outlaws that have taken up residence in town. The townsfolk at this post deliver the mail, while drawing up outlaw bounties for the Sheriff’s Office. The Jail and Sheriff’s Office: It is here that outlaw Guests serve time for crimes committed or make elaborate plans for escape. Guest deputies may draw up wanted posters, form posses, and bring the bad guys, once again, to justice. Hide Out: This haven provides Rainbow Ridge outlaws an opportunity to secretly meet and share the latest happenings in their takeover of Frontierland. It is here that deals are made and plans are hatched. Miss Rose Talent Agency: Inside the Golden Horseshoe, the Miss Rose Talent Agency prides itself on finding the best talent in the west. They hold auditions for musicians, singers, dancers, jugglers, magicians, and basically any type of act that people will want to watch. Plus, they are always looking for new set designs and costume drawings. Card Table: Inside the Golden Horseshoe there is an ongoing game of “High Card.” Two players set down a card, and the player with the highest card is awarded “bits.” Here you can sit with local heroes hearing about their adventures or you find yourself with a band of outlaws as they plot their next escapade or confess to their latest crime.
Gameplay money (“bits”) comes in three values — wooden nickels (5), pyrite (50), and game coins (100) and are only used for buying land in the game. Players will be able to achieve one of five different “status” levels in the game, ranging from “Friend” to “Legend.”
The Golden Horseshoe and L.B.’s Extraordinary Elixirs
Of course, there will be things you can buy. In addition to the previously-mentioned costume pieces available at the Trading Post, the Golden Horsehoe will have a strange “hidden menu” where you can order drinks and food in various “styles.”
River Water: Punch filled with Rose Color Verjus and unsweetened Lemon Citric Acid. This may be obtained as part of the “River Water Challenge” to settle disputes. This lip puckering potable is used to aid in a good, ol’ fashioned staring contest.
Wild style: Add wild raspberry syrup to root beer Campfire style: Add toasted marshmallow syrup to root beer Plain Jane style: Add vanilla syrup to root beer Eureka style: Add caramel syrup to root beer Outlaw Style: Add mixture of black beans, roasted white corn, red onion, Serrano chilies, tomato, green red & yellow peppers, garlic, cilantro, tabasco, olive oil and lime! Available atop any entree.
There will also be a “L.B.’s Extraordinary Elixirs” cart in Frontierland selling special “elixirs” that come in three varieties that give players special “powers.”
If you’re confused already, don’t worry because you probably aren’t alone. The game sounds pretty complex for a theme park setting, not to mention potentially problematic with guests (sort of) competing against each other and able to put each other in “jail.” Add in the money and rankings that are also part of the game and it’ll be interesting to see how all of this actually works in practice. Will guests join in or will it be too involved for the average tourist?
In Tomorrowland, the new 3D extended preview of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy officially opened in the Magic Eye Theater on the Fourth of July. Below, a poster for the 3D preview replaced the Captain EO poster in the eastern main entrance tunnel.
Back on Main Street, the new Guest Flow Corridors will really start to get underway today, with construction walls expected to have gone up overnight in front of an old facade in the northeastern corner of Town Square.
This space was formerly an outdoor dining patio for several restaurants over the years, including the Hills Bros. Coffee Garden, the American Egg House and Town Square Cafe. The patio was connected to a larger restaurant space next door, which is now used as overflow Disney Showcase retail space. The cash wrap space inside the shop was formerly an omelette station during the American Egg House years.
This facade, which has changed little over the years, also served as a backdrop for never-realized expansions like Liberty Street.
In New Orleans Square, work on the major and somewhat controversial Club 33 expansion continued even on the Fourth of July holiday as crews work hard to get the project wrapped up by the deadline later this month.
The re-done facade here has been aged and looks to be finished. The large picture window has replaced two smaller windows that featured awnings and faux balconies. It’s not exactly an aesthetic improvement from the ground, but surely the views for Club members will be lovely.
With the club’s main entrance moving to the former Court of Angels, rumors are now circulating that addresses in New Orleans Square might be shuffled around a bit so the address marker for the club’s new entrance won’t be out of place…
If you know someone with Club 33 access, now might be the time to stock up on club logo merchandise. The great, original logo will be rendered obsolete when the club reopens later this month with a new logo that has been met with criticism online. A lot of Club merch can still be found at its temporary home in the Grand Californian Hotel’s gift shop.
|This and That|
|Weekly News & Information Round-Up|
|Weekly Theme Park Hours
July 7 — 13, 2014
|[B]Disneyland Park[/B]||[B]California Adventure[/B]|
|Daily: 8 am – 12 am||Daily: 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]|
July 7 — 13, 2014
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A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
|Okay, that wraps up this week’s super-sized edition of Dateline Disneyland! What do you think of the new Alice in Wonderland enhancements? Will you play the new Legends of Frontierland game? Please join in the discussion and let us know what you think in the comments section below!
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