Changes underway from the Haunted Mansion to Soarin’ as Disneyland gets ready for its 60th Anniversary

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Dateline Disneyland, Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on January 26, 2015 at 5:05 am with 71 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy wrote the long-running weekly Dateline Disneyland photo, news and opinion blog here on MiceChat from 2007-2016. Andy continues to make occasional special guest contributions on MiceChat.

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  • Jabroniville

    Times like this I feel really sorry for those families that don’t pay attention to the refurbishment schedule and things like that- the advertisements on TV for “Frozen Fun” will call Disneyland newbies to the parks, only to find half the stuff closed. I guess they only have themselves to blame for not checking, but many wouldn’t even THINK to do that.

    • hhsdc34

      Yes, everyone plans their trip at the last moment rather than several months ago. Looks like half a park for full price for me this week. Can’t wait to see Paradise Bay sink hole.

    • Susan Hughes

      I feel sorry for the dudes who planned to propose to their girlfriends in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle on Valentine’s Day…DOH!

  • LoveStallion

    I have no qualms with the new speakers on the trains, but I guess I always kinda loved the old, tinny speakers, as if they were part of the experience.

    • Those old, terrible speakers had become a part of the experience for me as well, but I’d have to say that after riding a not-upgraded train and an upgraded train on Friday, I much prefer that new, upgraded experience.

      Thanks for reading!

    • StupidJudy

      How *dare* they remove those speakers! That’s how the train was designed to sound! The new speakers aren’t period-specific and look so out of place! They are ruining Walt’s legacy!

      • ayalexander

        Speakers didn’t exist in the 1890’s so they are not period specific. (1890s is the median year when most the trains were either built or based around)

  • CADisney

    Wow – an incredible amount of work happening all at once. Thank you for keeping us updated. I love the new mugs – do they have Starbucks logos on them at all?

    Any news or rumors about what happens to Taste Pilot’s Grill? Now that the “test pilot” desert theme is gone – does the grill get a new name or theme?

    • CADisney,

      Yes, the new mugs say “Starbucks” in vertical type along one side of the mug handle… here’s an example.

      Thanks for reading,
      Dateline Disneyland

  • MrPins

    Reading through this piece, I was making a mental list of what actually is open. It’s not a huge amount.

    The only thing I think a casual visitor would be really upset by is not getting a good picture with the castle.

    As a frequent visitor, all the closures would make me visit a few attractions I usually skip over. So that actually might be fun.

    • wave789

      95% of the attractions in the parks are still open.

      • bluekirty

        Well, about 78% but we get the point.

  • MyFriendtheAtom

    The AstroOrbitor is still up huh?

  • goinskiing

    I can’t think of any other reason for that wall in the Haunted Mansion other than the Hatbox Ghost. I think Disney has been hinting at it for a while now with merchandise and the location of it is about right. 🙂

    • DanO

      They even showed the Hatbox Ghost as a very expensive animatronic at D23. (How I wish I had been there.) I don’t think they’d build him if they weren’t going to use him. The only question is will you view him directly or using pepper’s ghost. I’m hoping it’s the latter as it would fit better and could also be why the addition is technically not in the attic. The problem with pepper’s ghost is making it so you can’t view the image directly. In the case of the ballroom, the animatronics are actually above and below the track, except for the ghost coming out of the organ. It would be difficult, but not impossible in the attic.

  • Vanellope26

    I love the new mugs. I wish they would’ve been there last time I visited. I think they should use that artwork style on more merchandise in the park. I also like that they included several landmarks from each park, not just the castle.

    • jcruise86

      Yes, thank you for that attractive park-specific merchandise . . .Starbucks. 🙂

  • acohen81

    Disney has a typo in the hotel name in their sign:

    “Grand California Hotel”

  • Njknight

    “No replacement has been announced for the Apricot Lane Boutique’s former home… but you’ll most likely see something brewing up here soon…”

    Does DTD really need TWO Starbucks stores? Can they put a Teavana in there instead?

    • sixalex

      Lots of things to be brewed, not just coffee or tea.

      Root beer for example. Yes, that must be it. A root beer parlor!

  • Awe_inspired

    Superb update! Thank you.

  • MrTour

    I think it would be nice when they refurbish the castle to trip the trees behind it. The scale is thrown for off by the trees. Just my opinion.

    • ayalexander

      They can’t trim the trees because they hide a tall building, and support beams for the removal of the storybook boats. There’s too much to see behind it, plus the Fantasyland theater would be seen looming over the castle, so the trees actually put the theater back into scale, making the castle re-appear as the tallest structure.

  • Disneykin Kid

    I always wondered why Walt didn’t make Primeval World a stand alone E ticket attraction. I could have been spectacular, but not like weak Ellen’s Energy Adventure, please. Maybe he didn’t have a better place to put it, although it might have fit in the back of Frontierland. All the basic elements are there, they just need to be expanded with a cool ride system. And dinosaurs – do you have to explain how popular they are, and will continue to be? Primeval World is a true treasure that deserves a better showcase. It would be great in DCA, next to Radiator Springs, but I know it will never happen. Maybe they should put it in the third theme park, along with Star Wars and Marvel.

    • ayalexander

      Well Walt didn’t build a stand alone E ticket for it because at that time he was working on the projects for the construction of New Orleans square and its two main attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, on top of that the administration was begging to get out of that temporary house/portable buildings that they were trapped in and needed a new, official administration building that would later be built with and as part of the Primeval World Diorama, plus Walt had his hands full with his Florida project and the installation of Lincoln, Small World and Carousel of Progress. Quite simply…there was just too much going on at once.

      I think though that the Primeval World diorama is far too outdated to do anything with, you have the issue that the way those dinosaurs appear is no longer relevant or even anatomically correct, and yet they are too old and historically significant to Disney for any kind of swift removal. I wish they would actually rip out those old gearbox puppets and just build a new diorama with better animatronics, special effects and dinosaurs that are a little more accurate, I would understand if they didn’t want to cover the new T. rex in feathers, but they could at least make it stand with its tail in the air and more hunched over instead of upright like this old version.

    • DarthSavage

      You mean like the now defunct Kingdom of the Dinosaurs at Knott’s?

  • Big D

    The wooden fencing in front of the castle looks very cool and very thematically appropriate, but I hate the sign that talks about the forced perspective of making the castle look bigger then it really is. You can discuss that kind of thing on videos and at expos like D23, or even in other parks like Disney Studios, but regardless of how many guests probably already know about it, you should not be revealing any behind-the-scenes aspects of Disneyland while inside the park.

    • ayalexander

      Why not? Walt did it. Disneyland was never really about hiding reality as part of a secret, it was about telling you how magic can be accomplished with such craftsmanship, that’s why the introduction to Lincoln says something like “now through the magic of technology, we bring you great moments, with Abraham Lincoln” -Walt liked to tell people a bit of truth while spouting the magic, for instance he was very open about the haunted mansion being a theme park attraction, created by offering a nice retirement home for ghosts from all over the world. Or referring to the “it’s a small world” children as dolls representing children from every continent. In the end it’s okay to tell people that the castle is made with forced perspective, as long as they don’t tell people that Sleeping Beauty doesn’t actually live there.

      • Marko50

        Well, he had to refer to the iasw children as dolls, didn’t he? It’d be a bit creepy otherwise.

  • dtnrhi

    Did Disney really re-use signs about the Castle refurbishment?

    “Nearly 50 years after its début”

    It’s nearly 60 at this point.

    • Hi dtnrhi,

      Good eye! Yes, that gate/wall and the signage on it is actually the same that was used in 2004/2005 when Sleeping Beauty Castle was closed for refurbishment and to install the 50th Anniversary overlay. This isn’t the only outdated construction wall signage, either — the Matterhorn’s current construction wall signs are the same that were used in 2012 when the Matterhorn was closed to install its current fleet of bobsleds. Shame they couldn’t even make minor adjustments to the signs so they’d be up-to-date.

      Thanks for reading,
      Dateline Disneyland

    • toonaspie

      I caught that too. I was scratching my head for a good five minutes over it.

  • gimackenzie

    At this point, listing what areas and attractions are actually open might take less time and effort. 😀

    I am very excited to see Grizzly Peak. DCA is really becoming a great park in itself, and everyone involved in undoing the gross Pressler era mistakes should be commended. We still spend 80% of our park visits in Disneyland, but as DCA becomes more and more fine tuned, I’m sure we’ll see that balancing out. Cars Lands is phenomenal, and Buena Vista Street is lovely. With the new Grizzly Peak Airport, the park is going to take another big leap. Now to work out how to make the Hollywood section less dismal and boring. My wish; a real lobby and entrance through the front of the Hyperion Theater, like a real 1920s show palace, instead of standing in a concrete lot and walking in boring side doors like you’re at the convention center. Complete the show, inside AND out, for a complete show! Remember that concept, Disney?

    • Golden

      I’d say I’m pretty close to 60/40 now, or at least 65/35. It would take an awful lot more attractions to make 50/50 really viable.

      I know a lot of people want more work done on the north side of Paradise Pier, but I agree with you – for me, Hollywoodland is the one which really needs a lot of work. It’s time to ditch the tired reskins of Electronica. Keep ToT, Disney Animation, Hyperion and Monsters Inc, but reskin the entire land to be in keeping with 1920s Hollywood – and not a backlot version of it. Including the Monsters facade (It fits inside a 1920s Hollywood building just as well as Toy Story Mania fits inside a Paradise Pier building… there is no reason why it couldn’t be done).

      By losing the ‘backlot’ feel, they could actually construct your ‘real lobby/entrance’ to Hyperion feel at the side, where the concrete is, and lose the need to make the front facade look like the entrance.

      With MuppetVision theater, the whole area where the Mad T Party takes place, Playhouse Disney, and Stage 17, there is a whole lot of land there which could definitely be used in a better way. It feels like you could fit another E ticket plus another C ticket in at least some of that space, and repurpose Playhouse Disney for non-ride entertainment which appeals to a wider demographic.

  • zugzug15

    Ariels Brothel Refurbishment? Will lobster Nachos be available somewhere else like the bread bowls are? Any news on what is happening with this refurbishment? I hope its an expansion and removal of the duffy meet and greet gazebo.

  • svonkco

    Disneykin Kid, the Primeval World was just a piece of a full ride and pavilion for the 1964 NY World’s Fair, Ford’s Magic Skyway. You rode in new, altered Ford Mustang convertibles on the ride into the primeval past, but also saw caveman, and then went into the future. Disney moved its World’s Fair attractions to Disneyland, with Small World, Mr. Lincoln, and the GE Carousel of Progress all moving over. But Ford decided not to pay for the move, and so Disney only moved the Dinosaurs on their own dime. The story is that he wasn’t all that happy at the time with the cavemen animatronics, but they do look pretty humorous in the World’s Fair special they made. According to the following story, Disney wanted Ford to pay for a huge new show/ride for Disneyland, using elements from the Magic Skyway, but Ford said no:

  • jcruise86

    OUTSTANDING update, Cory! That was (like Norm’s Universal Hollywood construction update last week), Micechat at its best!

    Cool they improved the train speakers, and I loved your enthusiasm in presenting this!

    Despite Tomorrowland, Disney is keeping the Disneyland Resort in great shape!

    • Hey jcruise86!

      Thanks for the great feedback! I really appreciate it, but my colleague Cory writes the excellent Dateline Disney World update and this is Dateline Disneyland 😉

      Thanks for reading!
      Dateline Disneyland

      • jcruise86

        Sorry, Andy! 🙂


  • tooncity

    Can we please bring back the old Matterhorn Sleds?
    I’ve rode this once and for the last time with the so-called new sleds. Truly awful. I’m 6’2″ 220, and these seats are worse than an airline seat. It’s discrimination against large people I tell you! It’s an evil scheme devised by short imagineers who are jealous of tall people. Doesn’t this state have any laws????

    • Chernabog

      I’m 5’6″ 140 and I can tell you that the new seats are just as uncomfortable to me.

    • daveyjones

      i’m 6′ 2″ 240lb, and i’ve never been uncomfortable in the new seats. i enjoy the front of either car, or the back. the middle is a bit more cramped. the key is to use the ENTIRE foot / leg pocket when sitting in the back, or to sit indian style in the front.

    • Kenny B

      6’2. 220 — your pretty much the new norm.

      And I’m offended by the term Large People. One, like you, I prefer to call a “tall specimen”.

  • daveyjones

    note: spelling error: “Mideval-themed construction”

    • tooncity

      Wow, someone feels powerless.

    • daveyjones,

      Well, it’s now been fixed.

      Thanks for reading,
      Dateline Disneyland

  • Figaroj

    You mentioned that Luigi’s Flying Tires is now off the closure/refurbishment schedule in the update but it is still listed as closing on Feb 3…which is accurate?

    I know that many feel it is a waste of space as a ride but our family has always loved it. The kids have huge smiles on their faces when they are moving to run into someone in their tire. We also loved it when the beach balls were out…had a lot of fun throwing them! The queue is also really well done with amazing details inside the building. Here’s one vote for keeping the ride there!

    • Hi Figaroj,

      I’ve updated the refurbishment calendar to reflect the change for Luigi’s Flying Tires. I’ll be sure to keep everybody updated if anything changes with Luigi’s!

      Thanks for reading,
      Dateline Disneyland

      • Kenny B

        I think a cheap, old fashioned bumper car replacement (using the characters from the movies for the skins obviously) would make a lot of people happy.

        And then DCA can take away my home park of Six Flags Great America’s record the largest bumper car floor.

  • RSZero1

    Question for anyone who may know – what happens to the fish and turtles in the moat when they drain it? There’s quite a few red-eared slider turtles that live there now.

    • jcruise86

      Do cats eat turtles?

      • Klutch

        Only when they take their shells off.

      • gimackenzie

        “Only when they take their shells off.”


        Thank you, good sir, for providing my daily internet guffaw. 😀

    • gimackenzie

      All joking aside, I am wondering now about the turtles as well. They don’t just drain the water and leave the animals to figure it out, do they? Can we get some insight from anyone? I’m really curious now.

      • Kenny B

        I’m sure they bring in the College kids, and have them solder the fragile ones with broken shells.

    • ayalexander

      If they are draining a small area like the moat or just the Jungle Cruise or just the pond at big thunder, they will relocate the fish and turtles to another area of the park. But if they do a big refurbishment like when they drain the Rivers of America, they have to donate the animals to a place that will take them because no area of the park is large enough to accommodate all the animals in the Rivers of America without upsetting territories and habitats. -Also Disneyland takes veterinary care of all of its feral cats, you can thank the good folks at Circle D corral for that.

  • Oathkeeper

    excited at the prospect of the hat box ghost coming back to the mansion! I really hope that is what that out of place wall is for.

    Kinda bummed out though to see that the stegasaurus is still not moving (when I was last at the park in october it was stationary). Unless its always been stationary? I’m pretty sure its head and its tail moved.

  • Haven

    I frankly don’t see the point in offering any further 3D previews in the Magic Eye Theater since Disney has abandoned it’s loyal 3D Blu-ray customers like me in the home video market ever since Frozen. And that’s all I have to say about it.

    • Jayce

      Exactly. Why even bother to tease us with 3D when they’ve abandoned releasing any 3D in the US. Having to order from over seas is annoying just to get the same version I saw in the theater here. At least Marvel is still releasing 3D to us here in the states. :-/

      • Kenny B

        3D is a crazy little thing to dance over. A lot of people have 3D TVs….

        I, personally blame redbox for not carrying them.

        I’m not the biggest fan of 3D movies….. but pulling my layZ boy close to the TV, and getting immersed in a 3D movie a great time. It’s a shame we have to wait another 3 years for its resurgence.

  • Sleepy505

    Great update as always Andy, It looks like so much is going on my family and I have been planning to go in May but I’ll think will pass till about the end of Summer or beginning of Fall It always seem at that time of the year everything is open and I do love the park set up for October as well. The 60th anniversary seems like it will be a blast.

  • jmuboy

    Lordy…..what are they doing to the roof line of the DL Hotel? After all the work they did to try and make those HIDEOUS DL Hotel towers and ground actually look nice.

    When are the safety police going to be finished ruining roof lines around the resort?

  • Berry Princess

    We were there today and checked out the Boudin Bakery. The video is still there with Rosie O’Donnell or Colin Mochrie but they got rid of that door that kept you in there. Its very opened up and has some added seats and tables now along the way. As well as a true or false thing to do about the bread. It looks like nice and we got our free sample of bread just like before.

  • baloo73

    Wednesdays with Walt for AP’s is moving to the Magic Eye Theater starting in February. Why don’t you know that?

  • Carrie317

    Excellent update with photos, etc BUT why would your first paragraph state “it
    s a great time to visit?” Outside of the weather, why would I want to visit for FULL price a park where half the rides are in refurbishment? I think it is irresponsible for them to have so many rides down at the same time. Other parks, do impact schedules which discuss “if we close ride A down, where do we put those people? We can only displace “X” amount of people at the same time.” I do NOT think Disney conducted an impact study for this at all. They thought – “we are on the slower side, we can close a bunch of rides, and we will have the AP’s come in – not compain, and who cares if we rip off people who pay daily admission?” IRRESPONSIBLE on the part of planning. (JUST FYI – I do work in a theme park’s planning department so I know we do it and it would NOT have been this way.)

    • ayalexander

      Carrie317, Disneyland Resort is not an ordinary theme park resort. Disneyland being one of the most popular theme parks on the planet (I think it ranks second to Magic Kingdom), what happened with the messed up refurbishment schedule is that Disney’s fiscal year does not start until a seriously short time before Disneyland’s anniversary. So when they decide at the beginning of the new year what rides are going under refurbishment, it become hectic to get it done before the anniversary, in this case the 60th is a milestone anniversary and so many more attractions are expected to shine and sparkle by May, that means a whole lot of popular attractions have to go down at the same time in order to accommodate. The entire corporation operates on the same fiscal year so they can’t change their fiscal year timing just to suit Disneyland Park, therefore what you see now is the most careful planning they can do with such a short amount of time and such a big list of attractions. And you can tell they planned it out because the E-ticket attractions are going down for refurbishment on a tapered schedule in order to allow guests to spend as much time on the more popular ones, instead of having them down at once. I’m surprised that someone who works in a theme park planning department -such as yourself- didn’t notice the careful planning of the refurbishment schedule and check it against the fact that this is Disneyland’s biggest off-season of the year. -The refurbishment schedule makes perfect sense.

  • ghosty4

    If this article was posted on January 26, 2015 and I’m now reading it on January 27, how is “UPDATE — January 29, 2:12 p.m.: It has come to our attention that the Disney Parks-branded Starbucks items at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure were completely sold out by Sunday, January 28.” possible?

    • Whoops! Sorry about that. The dates were wrong, but the time was right.

      The “Update” has been updated.

      Thanks for reading,
      Dateline Disneyland

  • popcorn

    “something brewing”…for the love of God not yet another Charbucks! I don’t even drink beer but I almost wish that was referring to a microbrewery or something (yeah as if!). Personally, for people sick of the same coffee brand and might prefer something different (and dare I say much BETTER?) how about an actual independent coffee place (ah Compass was so much better to me than Starbucks) or for a little friendly competition a PEET’S COFFEE? Boy that would be amazing but definitely not holding my breath on that one! I know a second starbucks had been long rumored to go into downtown Disney for those that couldn’t go another five min further away for one (or somehow missed getting it in either of the two parks! 😛 ) I cant imagine what the rent costs in those places so im sure its MUCH easier and appealing for a large corporate chain to add their visibility to another location than a smaller company…

  • Oregonmom2

    The new DL and DCA Starbucks mugs look short…it that correct? They seem much smaller than the traditional DL coffee mugs. I really want one of each, but they just don’t seem to look right. Maybe they look better in real life?

  • tigga please

    man, that new sound system sounds great! but now how will i fall asleep during the 24 hour events!?