It’s time for a Disneyland and Disney California Adventure edition of In the Parks. Old school Fantasy in the Sky fireworks have returned to Disneyland until the fancy new 60th anniversary fireworks are ready later this Spring. We’ll show you the short and simple show in photos and video. Frozen Fun has finally officially opened at both parks and we’ll have a look at the last remaining bits that opened just in time for the kick off date this past Wednesday. A new exhibit, Snow Queens, Art of Ice, has opened in the Opera House, while a charming retelling of Frozen has opened at the Royal Theatre in the Princess Fantasy Faire. Of course, we have already told you about the beautiful additions to the Storybook Land Canal Boats, but they are worth repeating as they are quite lovely to see. The big news is the opening of Olaf’s Snow Fest in Disney California Adventure. The real-snow playground and meet and greet is impressive and we tell you how to navigate the crowds there. We’ll share our thoughts on the First Time in Forever Frozen Sing Along and Freeze the Night, both of which are in Hollywood Land in DCA. Lastly, we see that walls have finally gone up around Soarin‘ and the Condor Flats area as they prepare the area and the ride for a major makeover. Let’s get started.
In Disneyland the holiday decor is melting, giving way to spring time plantings and modest refurbishments until the new 60th Anniversary campaign begins.
Not a single stick of Christmas to be found here on Main Street.
Tomorrowland’s planters have also been touched up with a bit of early springtime color.
Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks Returns
For a very brief period, from now until the 60th celebrations this summer, you can step back in time and catch Fantasy in the Sky fireworks. Originally run from 1958 to 1999 the show has appeared periodically since then. The version that premiered last night was a scant 5 minute show that included little of the razzle dazzle that we have grown accustomed to from Steve Davison and his pyrotechnic wizards. But that’s really OK. This show is just a temporary offering while Steve and his team prepare the newest generation of Disney fireworks for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary.
A special thank you to Andy Castro for offering a few shots that he took on the first night of performances (Thursday, January 8th).
Below is full video of the show. The video has one minor cut in the middle due to a technical issue. However, a mere 3 seconds was lost.
Snow Queens Art Of Ice
If you just don’t think that you have gotten enough vitamin Anna or Elsa in your diet, there are some interesting bits of art in the lobby of the Opera House.
The Royal Theatre
The Royal Theatre has another wonderful show on their stage as Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones present the story of Frozen. The infectious energy of the performers shines here as the troupe reenacts the basic plot points from the film while avoiding the songs. This show, however, strips the story down to the bare essentials exposing the rather convoluted structure of the source material.
In the end, the show is arguably the most entertaining offering in this spot right now. This show offers fast pass return times so it is advisable to run over to the Hub, where the Walt and Mickey statue is at the center of the park, and pick up a ticket for the next available showing.
Matterhorn Under Refurbishment
The Matterhorn has gone down again for a refurbishment that will see cosmetic changes including rumored upgrades to Harold the yeti. Any chance we can have some new, more comfortable bobsled seats?
Frozen Fun Disney California Adventure
At Night, this ornament is a little more interesting.
Olaf’s Snow Fest (Stage 17)
The new Olaf’s Snow Fest is a surprisingly well executed play area featuring real snow and a meet and greet with the titular snow man himself. There are two ways to wait in line for this experience. You can get in a line to see Olaf, which is of course a much longer wait, or you can queue up just to enter the play area (check things out, and play in the snow without seeing Olaf). Either way, there is a wait.
To the right of the building is the queue to enter Snow Fest and meet Olaf…
Yes, that is 150 minutes or rather 2 and a half hours. Upon entering, guests in this line are taken to the Olaf Check-In counter inside and given a pager. Once their turn to meet Olaf arrives they are called over to get into a final line that leads to ol’ carrot nose himself.
If you just want to go in, see the sights, buy the expensive food, and merchandise, and play in the snow, that is a comparatively shorter wait off to the right of the building.
Upon entering we were absolutely blown away by this indoor meet and greet and play area. Guests are suddenly transported to a Norwegian inspired courtyard out of Arendelle. At the far end of the expanse is the slender rooftop under which Olaf is meeting guests. Directly in front of you is the large, elevated, snow play area. A gazebo punctuates the near right corner of this play spot and acts as a stage for atmosphere actors and musicians.
Playing in the Snow
The big gimmick of this indoor play area is the snow. The play area is open to all, but they occasionally close it to freshen up the compacted snow.
If you queued 3 hours to meet Olaf, they at least try to keep you occupied while you wait inside. Once you enter you receive a pager that holds your place in line as you wander the Arendelle courtyard. When your pager goes off, you will then check in to meet the snowman.
After check-in you will be guided to the small queue that ramps up the right side of the village.
Soon you will be face to face with the cutesy Olaf.
To the left of the entrance is a food stand offering all manner of themed vittles. The price for the basic offerings is high, but the area looks spectacular.
To the right of the entrance is a basic merchandise area. If you didn’t hit Wandering Oaken’s outside, you can grab something in here.
Olaf’s Snow Fest is a surprisingly pretty “temporary” meet and greet that Disney should be very proud of. From the design, to the execution, everything is well done. There is no way to reduce the silly wait times to meet these characters, it’s just what it is. The kids love them and Disney has heard the message loud and clear.
Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome
Want to meet Anna and Elsa? Okay. Get over to the Animation building and grab your FastPass in the beginning of the day. Located just outside the Art of Animation to the left, the mobile FastPass carts distribute tickets to see the Royal pair inside.
Freeze the Night
Freeze the Night is officially open. Where the T Party offered a riot of sensory overload, Freeze the night dishes out a bland pallet of blue lighting and dance music.
The real test will be the weekend crowds as the family night party kicks into full gear tomorrow. Unfortunately it all comes across as a watered down, under saturated, reason to play dance music.
The worst part of all versions of the DCA dance parties is the effect that the “temporary” structures have on the theme of Hollywood Land itself. If management is still concerned about such things as area theme they might find a better way to handle the nighttime events in this area. As it stands now, if you wander through this area in the day, it feels like an abandoned music festival.
For the First Time in Forever, A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
The interior retheme of the Muppet Vision Theater is, for the most part, impressive. The show is a mix of film clips and character appearances, framed by a “history” lesson that serves only to recount each plot point from the movie.
This sing along show is beautifully crafted from a production standpoint. This is a much higher quality of execution than the Florida version. What we are saying here is that everything looks wonderful. That is it. The conceit that we are in a theatre devoted to historical reenactments is a total stretch. It’s a transparent device that facilitates screening the songs from the movie and trotting out the characters… again. But we all know that they literally could have gotten away with Elsa and Anna reading selections from Craig’s List and kids would flock to it. So it doesn’t really matter, does it?
Grizzly Peak Aviation Field
This week we saw walls go up in the former Condor Flats area of Disney California Adventure. Say buh-bye to the Pressler-era, airfield of exposed steel beams and suggestions of theme. We will now get an expansion of the National Park theme from Grizzly Peak with a more vintage look throughout. This will also include the refurbishment of Soarin’ with the highly anticipated digital projection, new screens, and refurbished ride system,
That closes this week from the Disneyland Resort. If you have seen the Frozen Fun offerings we would love to hear what you have to say about them. Until next week, we will see you In The Parks.