MiceAge Update: Return of the Hatbox Ghost

Written by Al Lutz. Posted in MiceAge Update

Tagged: ,

Published on October 21, 2014 at 3:00 am with 66 Comments

We have a mini MiceAge update for you today with some really big news.

The Disneyland Resort has had some very busy weeks lately, with the popular Halloween Time season playing to Anaheim’s two key demographics; local Annual Passholders and families from the western states and Canadian provinces on school holidays. The result is full hotels and daily attendance approaching 100,000 for both parks combined on Fridays and Sundays, while the Resort’s parking infrastructure stretches close to the breaking point. Meanwhile, back in TDA, things are just as hectic as the executives and planners struggle to make some unusual decisions on two major initiatives.

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The first big offering still hasn’t been announced by Disney, but we’ve been telling you about it for months, and that’s the plan to install several Frozen offerings temporarily into the Hollywood Land backlot area. The roster of activities still includes the sing-along stage show replacing MuppetVision, an indoor playground featuring ice skating and snowman making with real snow in Stage 17, a nearly complete takeover of the Disney Animation building by Frozen meet n’ greets and character activities, plus special Frozen merchandise, food and décor throughout the area.

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What’s unusual is the timeline TDA has now cooked up for this offering. Instead of opening this winter wonderland in mid November when the rest of the Christmas offerings debut, TDA now has plans to purposely wait until Saturday, December 20th to open the new Frozen mini-land. That’s the first date that offers a triple blockout on most Annual Passes, and begins two of the very busiest weeks of the year.

TDA’s strategy is to plus up the Resort’s offerings for the busy Christmas weeks when the Resort is packed with domestic and international tourists, and purposely avoid November and early December when the local Annual Passholders will descend on the Resort in huge numbers anyway. Then in early January, when the blockouts are lifted and the tourists go home, the AP’s can flood in and see the Frozen offerings that would be two weeks old by that point.

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The plan is to be able to tout something new for the AP’s over the winter, and all the tourists at spring break, as both Anaheim parks enter a very aggressive schedule of closures and refurbishments through May, 2015. Soarin’, Splash Mountain, World of Color, and Luigi’s Flying Tires are just some of the things scheduled to close in early January for long refurbishments, upgrades, or the complete rebuilds we told you about in the last update.

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The on again off again plan to add the Hatbox Ghost to Haunted Mansion is on again with a budget carved out from the 60th funds, and the regular January refurbishment of Haunted Mansion will include prep work to prepare for the Hatbox Ghost to be installed at the last minute next May. The rooftop work on the It’s A Small World building was also prep work to include fall protection facilities to the façade ahead of the repainting that had to be delayed due to the fall protection needs around the park. As we mentioned earlier, there are many dedicated senior managers in TDA who have worked at Disneyland for decades who want to see the park at its best for the Diamond Celebration. Meanwhile, the bosses in Team Disney Orlando scratch their heads at all this money and energy their Anaheim peers pour into showmanship and upkeep.

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The basic Fantasy In The Sky will replace the bigger Remember fireworks this winter while they install new equipment for the 60th fireworks and new night parade. The new backstage crowd control alleys behind Main Street will be done by Halloween, and should be pressed into service a few hours each day by the operations team in November. While the alleys were designed to improve crowd control during the 60th night parade, they’ll come in handy this holiday season for the Christmas parade and snowy fireworks that have always caused headaches on Main Street for Cast Members and visitors alike

The Frozen installation would remain in Hollywood Land through early May, then be yanked after May 3rd as Disneyland gets ready to launch its Diamond Celebration with a big media push. The marketing team is contemplating a 60th kickoff with the conveniently catchy opening day of Friday 5/15/15, and that’s when all the new 60th entertainment would begin. That media debut would be followed up by a 60 hour party over Memorial Day weekend, and by then the last of the spring refurbishments would be completed and the digital version of Soarin’ would open for that holiday weekend.

This upcoming winter and spring will have closures and constructions walls up all over both parks, and TDA hopes the Frozen offerings will take the edge off of all that work while they work to get both parks ready for the Diamond Celebration. All of Disney’s theme parks were very late to the Frozen phenomenon, but TDA hopes they can keep the craze relevant through at least May, 2015.

If you enjoyed today’s update, please be sure to share with your friends on Facebook and TwitterWe’ll see you again soon.

About Al Lutz

The MiceAge crew was started by Al Lutz in 2003, and is committed to bringing you the inside Disney story that you just can't get anywhere else. As much as we'd all like to see more frequent rumor updates on the site, we only publish when reliable news and rumors are available to share. The MiceAge news Editor can be reached at: [email protected]

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  • Lakerfan3224

    Thank goodness the Hatbox Ghost is coming back, maybe the 60 year anniversary won’t be bad after all. Is there any word on if Ariels Undersea Adventure will get the ending scene upgrades for the anniversary and when Pinocchio, Mr Toad and Snow White will get their upgrades.

    • FerretAfros

      Of the 14 years of the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay, how many of them have *not* included a rumor of the return of the Hatbox Ghost? Perhaps 2 or 3, in the early years? I’ll believe it when I see it.

      • Internitty

        The 60th anniversary is very different to a holiday overlay, especially when there is so little being offered for the 60th.

    • tooncity

      ”Ariels Undersea Adventure” I could never figure out, WHY the theming for the actual attraction didn’t start at the entrance to the building. While you’re waiting to load up into the Clamshells. Sort of like Pirates, when you go through the doors, the Pirate theme starts. Just kinda short-sighted.

      • ChazM

        In both cases, I think it was to help the transition. A shipwreck in the middle of New Orleans Square would be a bit jarring, but a New Orleans style building with subtle pirate motifs woven into the queue and exterior doesn’t look as out of place. Once guests have accepted this theme within a theme, the attraction can capitalize on the pirate motif. It’s the same reason why Paradise Pier didn’t get Eric’s castle like the Fantasyland equivalent of the Mermaid ride in Magic Kingdom did. Instead, the exterior of California’s attraction is based off an old aquarium that existed on the California coast, and imagineers place subtle suggestions of the Little Mermaid property (the mermaid tile mosaics on the floor, the seahorse weather vane things, etc.) before guests hit the loading area.

        I always have wondered why it was decided to have a pirate-themed ride in the middle of New Orleans. If anyone had any insight in that department, I’d be happy to read.

      • Slightly

        ChazM,

        The “golden age” of piracy occurred in the Caribbean islands.

        The Caribbean islands are located directly southeast of the Gulf of Mexico.

        New Orleans is in Louisianna, just off the Gulf of Mexico.

        New Orleans is and was a major U.S. port.

        Jean Lafitte was one of the “great” pirates of the era and “considered by many to be the last buccaneer.” Lafitte operated a smugglers warehouse in New Orleans.

        I’m not saying Lafitte is the sole inspiration behind PotC living in NOS, but it is one noteworthy example of piracy in and around New Orleans.

      • ChazM

        Ah, thanks for clearing up the geography there, Slightly.

      • AvanteGardens

        ChazM: If ”Ariels Undersea Adventure” was meant to be an aquarium, why isnt there any way to tell? How about a sign that says “AQUARIUM” on the building, or perhaps some fish tanks built into the queue? How cool would that be to be looking at fish one monent, and then the next to descend into an imaginary fish world. Sort of like looking at shrunken atommobiles before being shrunken yourself on “Adventure Through Innerspace”. For your perusal:
        http://waterandpower.org/2%20Historic%20Photos%202/Venice_Aquarium.jpg

    • wec

      I hope they bring it back but I’m not holding my breath.

  • thejonesman

    I am excited at the prospect of The Hatbox Ghost, but I will really get excited if it actually happens. Seeing IS believing.

    • tooncity

      Why haven’t they installed the Hitchhiking Ghost projections, like they have in Orlando. That was pretty cool and much more ethereal.

      • DLFreak71

        I really hope they (Disney) don’t do to the Disneyland HM what they’ve done to Disney World HM. I don’t care for the “fun house” feel they’ve added to ghost when you pass by the “mirrors”.

      • superlarz

        I cant wait for them to install that upgrade as well, it looks like such an awesome, modern upgrade. Some of the “Fans” around here will have a fit when it happens though.

      • BrendanR

        I loved those additions when I visited Orlando! The Mansion in California could definitely use a refreshing touch like that.

      • theswillmerchant

        I agree. I go to WDW about once a year and I am always jealous at the shape that their Haunted Mansion is in compared to Disneyland’s. I like the projections but I would at least take the audio upgrades that the WDW version has (especially the stretching room).

    • 9oldmen

      “How cool would that be to be looking at fish one monent, and then the next to descend into an imaginary fish world.”

      Or how about seeing imaginary fish FIRST, and THEN seeing real ones, oh, wait, I just described “The Seas w/ Nemo and Friends” at EPCOT.

  • Ravjay12

    Man! I was hoping Mansion was going 3d! Is hatbox ghost something to be excited about? I’d almost rather see a Hall of Presidents, or a new attraction.

    • CoffeeJedi

      How exactly is the Mansion not “3D” already?

      • Marko50

        Can’t be 3D. You don’t wear 3D glasses.

  • eicarr

    What happend to the Fantasyland dark ride upgrades that would help make up for the lack of major new attractions in the foreseeable future? Waiting for and standing through a nighttime parade is something I’d just want to avoid.

    • Freddie Freelance

      Fantasyland Dark Ride updates & upgrades are supposed to be just for Pinocchio, Pan, & Toad, are supposed to be minor enough to squeeze in with small down times, and paid for out of special 60th Anniversary funds. If you’ve been on Alice since their upgrade you’ve seen the kind of updates to expect.

      • Slightly

        I really hope Snow White’s Scary Adventures gets a little bit more love too.

        I know it got a little bit of projection mapping not too long ago… but more could really improve it overall. Especially through the spooky forest.

  • jcruise86

    How does WDW’s Prez, George K., the once the popular Disneyland Resort Leader feel about his lack of new E-attractions and broken Yeti in Florida? He answers to Thomas Staggs and Meg C., doesn’t he? Who are the bad/mediocre leaders of WDW?

    • Monorail Dreamer

      There’s always a negative comment about Orlando in these articles. I’m glad to see the significant investment at WDW – Avatar, Disney Springs, updating & enlarging the central plaza, Astro-orbiters refresh, etc… The negativity makes the articles seem less reliable. Just tell us what is happening at Disneyland and leave out the WDW negativity.

      • Westsider

        If occasional routine maintenance, a shopping mall remodel, and a park expansion based on a movie no one ever bought merchandise for is your idea of WDW love, then that’s cool. But I’ll take the hipper and friendlier Disneyland management over the WDW corporate swamp borg any day.

      • Monorail Dreamer

        I don’t know that I have ever had the feeling that management is good or bad – or hipper – at either park. My comment was in reference to the line in the article about head scratching over money spent for showmanship and upkeep (routine maintenance). I hope that management at both parks are maintaining and improving the parks while also making a respectable profit, thereby ensuring that they will continue to be great vacation destinations for many years to come. From what I can see, they are doing exactly that.

      • OriginalMousekteer

        @WestSider–“friendlier Disneyland management”?

        Right. Talk to New Orleans cast members dealing with the insane traffic reroute being tested for Fantasmic! in preparation for adding FastPass in Nov/Dec. Better yet, talk to the scores of irate guests caught in the gridlock.

  • Freddie Freelance

    So Hollywoodland would be Frozen during the day, but still Mad “T” Party at night? I wonder if the band will acknowledge their day time rivals, maybe with a rocked out version of “Let It Go”…

    • JulieMouse

      I heard a rocked out version of “Let It Go” being played there on Saturday night!

  • jcruise86

    And the Gatbox Ghost is cool, but check out this CNN article with construction photos and drawings about the most exciting theme park developments/proposals in the world:
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/19/travel/future-theme-parks/index.html?hpt=hp_bn10

    • jcruise86

      ^H! Hatbox. Sorry again. 🙂

      • Kennyland

        I think a Gatbox Ghost would be cool!

      • Marko50

        Or a Hatbox Host.

  • Susan Hughes

    Nice to see that TDA is going all “Frozen” when the APs are blocked out. That’s a smart move because the resort needs more word of mouth from out of towners (and out of country-ers) that a Southern California vacation…which includes The Disneyland Resort…doesn’t always turn into a nightmare of overcrowding and bad behaviour from the local passholes.

    • Disneymike

      You still on with the whole “passhole” thing? Maybe you should give it a rest since nobody takes you seriously anymore and your cred is in the dumpster.

      • Susan Hughes

        Then the “cred” for everyone who works at The Disneyland Resort is in the “dumpster”. Passhole is a CM term they use, not the average park visitor…local or otherwise.

      • tooncity

        I take her seriously. You’d have to be blind, not to see the entitled arrogance, strolling around the park. They should block out most of the year from pass holders.

      • Disneymike

        So then Susan, are you a CM since you seem to want to copy what they supposedly say? You sure “everyone who works at The Disneyland Resort”
        says that? And how did you hear that “everyone” says that? Hearsay?

        tooncity – So you are lumping every passholder into that catagory?

      • Skimbob

        I am a Premier passholder and I don’t expect anything special and I am not arrogant like some of you have stated. I have met many CMs on both coasts and have found them to be very friendly. I doubt that they all are slamming passholders. I am sure that there are passholders that are jerks. Some regular guests can be jerks too so don’t blame it all on passholders. I know CMs get tired of guests and crowds that don’t listen when given instructions. I myself get irritated and will support the CMs with words of praise.

      • tooncity

        I guess we’re seeing that passhole thing from YOU. I Simply stated, that I take her seriously, when you said nobody does. They should just block year long except during for the first 3 months of the year, during refurbs, And September.

      • Disneymike

        Sorry, wrong tooncity. I am not a passholder. Try again.
        And I’m quoting YOU – “You’d have to be blind, not to see the entitled arrogance, strolling around the park. They should block out most of the year from pass holders”.
        Those are your words, you and Susan obviously have a hatred for passholders
        which is YOUR problem.

      • Kennyland

        @Disneymike – Sadly, there will always be people who have an “us vs them” mentality.

    • JulieMouse

      As a passholder, I must say that not all cast members view their their passholder guests as jerks. I have many friends who are passholders and we have becomes actual friends with many cast members and are on a friendly (recognizing/happy to see each other) basis with many others. Out of any group of one million people, there will be some entitled jerks; you’ve probably seen long lines of people waiting to get off one particular freeway off-ramp and the few who think they can cut in the front of the line at the last second, right? They are everywhere, but I think to call passholders “passholes” is just as ridiculous as calling all tourists “angels”, neither is a true representation of the people in that particular group.

    • FixitKronk

      Hey Susan just for you I’m going to take my son this Saturday, I’m going to bring snacks in so I don’t buy lunch, keep refilling my coffee to go cup with soda at plaza inn cause they don’t check, use the kid swap to double down on there ticket rides, and throw my big blanket down around 6 to save a big spot for fantastic and then show up right before it starts all while using my stroller as a battering ram on people’s ankles, should be a great day!

      • Susan Hughes

        Now that’s funny FixitKronk. Sadly, it’s also TRUE, but still funny the way you described it.

  • phruby

    Frozen during the day…Mad T Party at night? Why not just completely replace Mad T Party with a Frozen version and call it day?

    Hat box ghost returns? I’ll believe that when Ewoks learn to swim.

  • a-mad

    So a scheduled closure for Peter Pan, but not any of the other dark rides? So I’m guessing the Diamond Celebration will include “plussing” for Peter Pan, but not for Snow White and Pinocchio?

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I think how backwards Disney is thinking nowadays. OK they are making the Frozen area to attract guests into the park, but they don’t want to do it during the lower attendance times, but during the most crowded time of the resort. If AP’er are so disliked, why do they offer the program? Other businesses give special perks to its most loyal customers, but Disney avoids doing anything that would benefit them.

    As to the hatbox ghost… It is a nice piece of nostalgia but not worth an extra trip to the park to see. It seems to reflect that Disney is out of ideas and does not understand that whole new attractions are needed to draw people to the park, but just one element added to one ride. How cheap can they get?

    • Westsider

      I had to go re-read the update, but I still think you are confused. They are going to launch Frozenland during the busy Christmas weeks, and purposely avoid the AP weeks before that in November and December when APs flood the parks regardless to see the decorations. The tourists get to see Frozenland first.

      Then, two weeks later, Frozenland will still be there for four more months. That’s when the APs can come in and have Frozenland. Four months. That gives the APs plenty of time to see it, but it saves the already busy weeks of November/December from adding an unnecessary overlay to an already busy time.

      Darn smart businessmen there in TDA. It’s really a smart move, if that’s what they are doing.

      • Susan Hughes

        And as I stated, Disney wants to build it’s reputation as the vacation choice for people from out of state and out of the country. That reputation can only be ruined when, during the busiest vacation times of the year, they have to deal with the overcrowding and bad behaviour of Annual Passholders…AND…Passholes.
        That’s why during the summer the lower tier Passholders/Passholes were blocked out. It made the resort absolutely pleasant and civilized. And that means they’ll think favorably of returning next summer.

  • HT77

    Everyone seems to lament the same things :

    Lack of attractions, no new ideas, cutbacks.

    But those same people lament the costs rising for the park.

    I get it, the rising costs of the park has made me think twice about the park (though I’m a Disney kid at heart and would love to always go).

    But you can’t have it both ways. With everyone’s armchair imagineering, they would have a new attraction going in every two years. But financial needs as well as available real estate and honoring the attractions that we know and love have to be taken into consideration.

    Universal moved quickly on Harry Potter – they had a great property on their hands — one that Disney had the option to have, but ultimately couldn’t see it under their brand.

    This is a serious question — would you rather see the costs go up year after year, but offer a new attraction in that same time period (similar to the expansion of Universal’s Simpsons (25 years into the property, I might add) or have them take their time, and do it right, but keeping it affordable for families to be able to visit, annual passholders (runrate) and the once-in-a-lifetime tourists alike?

    • phruby

      I’m still waiting for that Oliver and Company e-ticket ride.

    • MickeyMario

      They’re neither keeping it affordable, nor building new stuff.

      • jcruise86

        ^^ 🙂

    • TodAZ1

      I hate to spoil your soapbox time, HT77, but Disney IS raising the costs year after year (tickets, food, merchandise, hotels, you name it) AND NOT offering new attractions at all. And, to be honest, families are finding it harder and harder to try and afford a Disney vacation. It’s as if Disney has turned it’s back on the families that they are going after. I gues they just want rich families, not poor families, huh? You just need to look at Club 33 and the re-dressing of New Orleans Square to see that happening. Oh, and throw in the Disney Dream Suite, turning a very popular “public” area (The Disney Gallery) into a high priced/members only/”it’s who you know” kind of space.

      You talk as if it’s 1995 and none of the things Disney has already done haven’t happened yet. But they have happened and this is what happens. The public reacts.

      And there’s plenty of real estate inside of Disneyland that could be used for new attractions that is either empty (old Motor Boat Cruise area) or no one would lament in losing (Innoventions). But…………you guessed it, it costs too much for Disney to pull the trigger.

  • Geezer

    Seems like there’s very little offered for the 60th…and very sad how much of a splash the marketing department will make of these meager offerings. As long as the attendance stays so high, they have no incentive to improve the park. Yes, I said “park”….this is Disneylands birthday, not the resorts…..evenb though they’re counting DCA Frozen as a plus for this.

    • Westsider

      Frozenland doesn’t count for the 60th. Re-read the update. Frozenland gets yanked out of DCA in early May, and is gone by the time the 60th is launched on May 15th.

      Were you around for the 50th? From all the stuff mentioned in the last few updates here, it sounds like the 60th will actually have more to offer inside the park than the 50th did.

      • Geezer

        the 50th…yup…and I wasn’t all that impressed with it either. We still go to the park occasionally, but the last time we had passes was in ’95. There is so much more that they could be doing to improve the experience.

  • Ppanfreak11

    60 hour event!?

  • Disneygayguy

    I won’t believe ANYTHING yet until I see it with my two eyes. So far its just a rumor since I have friends who are cast members in the know. Even they don’t know about it

  • John69

    A Frozen Land can’t happen this holiday. Disney already announce the resort’s Christmas season dates, shows, and events during the holiday season. Plus if it did happen, Disney would already start turning the Backlot into Frozen now, since Christmas is already in Disneyland Park already.

  • Grinning Ghost

    I won’t believe the Hatbox Ghost will ever return until we actually see it. So many rumors, so many disappointments…

  • ADDel

    i’m with everyone else…

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

    MC reported that the Nemo subs were going away. Am I right?

  • nickdean707

    All this talk of “passholes” can we come up with a term for passholders like me who treat everyone with respect and aren’t entitled and/or bitchy? I’m actually good friends with a few cast members. Just because I’m a premium passholder doesn’t automatically make me a jerk 🙁

    • ADDel

      +100000000000

  • danielz6

    Susan, passholders are blocked out not because they are unpleasant but because the parks cannot handle the capacity of both large crowds.

    Haunted mansion is absolutely 3D, as well as most other disney rides. Real world is 3D, thanks to our binocular vision. If you are wearing 3D glasses that is virtual 3D.

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