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Ghirardelli opens, Buena Vista details, Play Parade returns, Cove Bar changes +MORE!

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by , 06-04-2012 at 02:15 AM
With less than two weeks until the grand reopening of Disney California Adventure, final details are being added throughout the park at a fever pitch as it reaches the end of its major five-year expansion and remodeling efforts. Projects such as Buena Vista Street continued to get a layer of small details added as the new 12-acre Cars Land area hosted a series of preview events for employees at Walt Disney Imagineering and the Walt Disney Studios. Meanwhile, the Pixar Play Parade returned in dress rehearsals this weekend after being on hiatus for a year and a half due to park-wide construction. Over on the Pacific Wharf, the new Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop soft-opened, giving guests an early taste of the delicious ice cream sundaes and chocolates the shop will offer when it officially opens at the end of this week. In Disneyland, the Carnation Cafe's outdoor dining patio continues to take shape behind walls as that restaurant and the Matterhorn Bobsleds near the end of their major refurbishment projects.

Get a closer look at today's update! You can now click on any photo in today's column for a large, high-resolution version of the image.

Thanks to Fishbulb for some additional help with Cars Land photos this week.

It was another big newsweek and we have it all covered here, so let's get started!

Inside Dateline Disneyland
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Disneyland is gearing up to enter its biggest summer season in decades. Our friends at Touring Plans are here again with their weekly crowd forecast to help you plan your visit.
Crowds continue to pick up, but with less than two weeks until Disney California Adventure's Grand Reopening, now is the time to visit if you want to avoid the insanity. can help you navigate the parks with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines - Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. With huge summer crowds on the horizon, it's a good time to subscribe to to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!

Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.

— Fred Hazelton Statistician,

Crowd Calendar Prediction
Crowd Tips
Tues., June 5
Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you'll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
  • Full block outs on Saturday.
  • More Grad Nites this week.
  • Disney California Adventure is a 6.1 on the Crowd Calendar on Friday.
Wed., June 6
Thu., June 7
Fri., June 8
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
See Disneyland crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disneyland wait times on your iPhone, Android, or Smartphone.

Do more. Wait less.

The Disney Gallery's train exhibit will be closing soon to make way for a new show showcasing Disney's theme park castles.

More information on the new exhibit from the Disney Parks Blog:
Crowning Achievements – Creating Castles for Magical Kingdoms at Disneyland Park
I asked the talented team from Walt Disney Imagineering what in’spire’d the new exhibit for The Disney Gallery, opening June 30 at Disneyland park. Here’s what they had to share, and I couldn’t have said it better myself:
As evidenced in Walt Disney’s classic feature films, every great story begins with a call to adventure, an invitation to embark on a momentous journey that can take you away from an old world of familiarity and thrust you into a new world of excitement. For most Disney Parks, castles have taken on the role of trumpeting that call. Walt built Sleeping Beauty Castle, here in Disneyland park, to serve as an iconic source of inspiration, meant to enchant guests into continuing onward, beyond the lively, small-town comfort of Main Street, U.S.A., toward wondrous gateways leading to imaginative new frontiers. Every other Disney castle, from Florida to Hong Kong, successfully followed in their predecessor’s regal footsteps.

Just as Walt encouraged audiences to wish upon a star, the crowning achievements of the Disney kingdoms have become towering symbols of a dream come true, compelling guests around the world to follow their own dreams, both inside and outside the parks. Now, The Disney Gallery lowers its drawbridges to this royal retrospective on the art of the Disney castles so you can discover the inspiration and charm that helped bring these fantastic icons to life.

Visit for a complete list of artists scheduled to appear on June 30, from 9-11 a.m. [ FULL STORY ]

Work on the Carnation Cafe continues as that project nears its deadline.

The remodeled and expanded dining location is set to open June 13.

At the end of Main Street, the former Carnation Plaza Gardens continues to see demolition work as it becomes the new Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area

The uninspired Frontierland facades that were added in the 90s are already starting to be removed…

The Matterhorn Bobsleds conitnue testing as they prepare to officially reopen June 15.


As Buena Vista Street's June 15th grand opening approaches, finishing touches conitnue to be lavished on the park's gorgeous new first act. New billboards can be seen on rooftops along Buena Vista Street as you approach the entrance

New signs on the Oswald Gas station:

Los Feliz Five & Dime signage is up

Views down Buena Vista Street from the Monorail:

Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe

Looks like Starbucks signage has been added to the building

Another new billboard:

Elias and Co. Department Store

Lovely new lighting fixtures can be seen through the windows:

Street signs have gone up through Carthay Circle:

The Carthay Circle Restaurant marquee got some changes:

Nice new planters up on the Carthay Theater balconies

The Carthay Circle at night:

A couple weeks ago we showed you the new Cars Land-themed outdoor vending carts. This weekend, new carts debuted for Buena Vista Street:


Outdoor vending Cast Members have also receieved great new park-wide costumes:

Signage has popped up for the Red Car Trolley stops in Carthay Circle and in Hollywood Land:

Chain queue for the Red Cars is already set up


On Friday, the Pixar Play Parade returned after a year and a half hiatus. The parade went dark to accommodate construction in the park's main entrance and along Paradise Pier. A tacky pre-parade of outdoor vending carts preceeds the parade

Parade lighting rises from the top of the Carthay Circle Theater

While changes have been made to the parade due to new height restrictions from the Red Car Trolley wires, the parade still shines as a great offering at California Adventure.

Boo is no longer a walk-around character in the parade:

It's great to see the parade with the gorgeous Carthay Circle Theater as a backdrop

Jack Jack has been relocated due to the new height limitations

Violet is now featured on the back of the parade

The Ratatouille float has been omitted completely because of the Trolley wires. The rest of the parade is largely unchanged.

More Red Car Trolley signage is up in Hollywood Land:

A full chain queue is up at the Red Car stop next to Tower of Terror

New designs have replaced the old billboards on Hollywood Blvd.


In Pacific Wharf, the new Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop soft opened Friday. The new ice cream parlor replaces the former Mission Tortilla Factory, across from the Boudin Bakery Tour.

Inside, the new soda fountain is small and offers no indoor seating. You order at one of four registers at the entrance and then move on to the soda fountain counter where you pick up your sundae or Quake Shake at one of several windows.

A great animated mural spans the wall behind the counter.

Take a look at the animated mural in our video below:

Display islands and couple of wall display cases offer a selection of Ghirardelli chocolates for purchase.

Old Ghirardelli ads and photos decorate the walls:

The new Soda Fountain is currently in soft openings but is expected to remain open on a regular basis. It opens officially June 7.

Last weekend, the Cove Bar emerged from its refurbishment and remodel. We promised we'd have photos of the remodeled lounge for you this week.

The bar has received some great new theming and backstory of the ficticious Paradise Pier sign painters. The walls of the Cove Bar are now covered with old signs from Paradise Pier and vintage photos of the Paradise Pier sign painters on-the-job.

Great new lighting fixtures

Really fun stuff here.

New specialty drinks

And the bar food menu

Disney employees from Imagineering and Burbank got to preview Cars Land over the weekend, bringing the first taste of big crowds to the new 12-acre land.

On Friday, finishing touches were applied as Cast Members got final walk-throughs and training before the employee previews started on Saturday.

Disney released video clip of the Imagineers on their research trip to Route 66 from the early stages of Cars Land's design.

The new Cozy Cone Motel will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner to guests looking for a quick bite to eat when Cars Land opens.
Pull into the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park
We love all the neon signs and the retro restaurants in Cars Land. And wait ‘til you taste the fun and unique meals, snacks and drinks at each of five roadside “wig-wams” in Cars Land. Welcome to Cozy Cone Motel!

Cone #1: Churro bites with cinnamon-chocolate sauce, regular or cinnamon-spiced hot cocoa, and Ramone’s Pear of Dice Soda (desert pear and mojito flavorings topped with Sprite).

Cone #2: Soft-serve ice cream and “route” beer floats.

Cone #3: Breakfast features the bacon scrambled egg cone and scrambled egg verde cone. Lunch and dinner is chili “cone” queso and a chicken verde cone. Sip one of Fillmore’s Fuelin’ Groovy Ades (all-natural lemonade with wild berry foam, or pomegranate limeade with lemon-lime foam).

Cone #4: Pretzel bites with cheesy sauce. To drink, Red’s Apple Freeze (100% frozen apple juice with Red’s special flavoring topped with a hint of toasted marshmallow flavor, and passion fruit-mango foam)

Cone #5: With two flavored popcorns daily, you might find salt and vinegar, pickle, bacon and cheddar, sweet and spicy or nacho cheese. Also serving Doc’s Wild Grape Tonic (Sprite with wild grape syrup and wild berry foam).
[ LINK ]

New Radiator Springs trash cans and a sign for the Cozy Cone

Disney also released a couple of great "bird's eye view" photos of the new land on the Disney Parks Blog last week:

Last week, our friends at shared this Disney-produced "drive-through" of Cars Land last week:

Fans of "Cars" may be interested in the new toys available in Cars Land when the land opens June 15.
‘Toying’ Around Disney California Adventure Park
So now that you’ve seen some of the renderings of Sarge’s Surplus Hut, Radiator Springs Curios and Ramone’s House of Body Art, along with some of the merchandise that will be available, I’m anxious to know what you think… And of course, if you’re ready to see more! Because I have your first look at some of the Radiator Springs Racers and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree merchandise that you’ll find in Cars Land locations this summer.

What other fun things will you find? I’m glad you asked, because here are just a few of the “must have” toys available this summer, only at Disney Parks, according to Associate Product Developer Cody Hampton. I had the chance to talk with Cody, who had this to share about some of his favorite toys and how excited he is about the opening of Cars Land: “These projects are some of the best items I have ever had the chance to work on. I can’t wait to experience Cars Land for myself, test out all of the great attractions, visit the merchandise shops (of course) and taste the food from the town of Radiator Springs.”

Here are a couple of toys that I consider “must haves:”
  • Radiator Springs Racers die-cast cars, including two Sport Racers in red and blue and two Convertible Racers in green and teal.
  • Baby Tractor (1:55th scale) is reminiscent of the actual attraction vehicles, even allowing you to re-create the whipping cart action you’ll experience.

There’s so much more to come, so be sure to check it out this summer and prepare to make a pit stop at Sarge’s Surplus Hut and Ramone’s House of Body Art, and of course keep watching the Disney Parks Blog over the next couple months so you don’t miss a beat.
[ LINK ]

Some views from the Fun Wheel:

The temporary Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS distribution near "It's Tough to Be a Bug" looks like it's just about ready for launch

The area is still properly themed for the Bug's Land area

In Downtown Disney, the Sunglass Icon store has reopened after its remodeling.

The new storefront at night:

Inside, the shop has been reduced in size, but looks a lot more hip and upscale

An interactive feature lets you try on glasses, snap a photo and instantly post to Facebook

The new WonderGround Gallery is now set to open June 9.

More on the new store from the Disney Parks Blog:
WonderGround Gallery Grand Opening in Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort on June 9
June 9 is around the corner and the grand opening is something you won’t want to miss.

One of the things I’m most excited to share with you is the debut of the new Vinylmation 95 platform! Guaranteed to get your motor racing, this new 9” form is shaped like the one and only Lightning McQueen and pays tribute to his signature number, 95. What makes it even better is that six of our WonderGround Gallery artists have been commissioned to create one-of-a-kind pieces utilizing the new platform. In addition, Artist in Residence for June, Noah, will debut a limited edition version of his Lightning McQueen Vinylmation 95 platform the same day. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look as Noah puts the finishing touches on this classic new piece.

[ . . . ] WonderGround Gallery will feature an Artist in Residence program. Each month, a new artist will call WonderGround Gallery their home as they work on upcoming projects, live paintings, art demonstrations and more. Local Southern California artist Noah is scheduled to be our very first Artist in Residence and will be on hand every Friday and Saturday night throughout the month of June, from 5–9 p.m. In addition to our Artist in Residence, other local artisans will appear to showcase some of their new releases and collections.

There are so many great events planned for the opening and throughout the month. Here are a few things you should keep on your radar. For a complete list of artists that will be appearing on June 9, be sure to visit

Events/Artist Signings
  • June 9 – Vinylmation Signing, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • June 9 – 2D Artist Signings, 3 – 5 p.m.

Artist in Residence
  • June 15 – 16 – Noah, 5 – 9 p.m.

Artisan Showcase
  • June 16 – 17 – Mamas Little Babies, 1 – 4 p.m.
  • June 23 – 24 – Artisan, 1 – 4 p.m.
  • June 30 – July 1 – Artisan, 1 – 4 p.m.

Not only will you find original artwork on the walls, but you can actually find some of this featured art on an array of items, including limited-edition giclées, deluxe prints, t-shirts, mugs, magnets and more. In addition, look for art-inspired home and lifestyle products, including books, journals, note cards, picture frames, novelty pens, stencils, vases, paperweights and art figures, among other items [ FULL STORY ]

And work on the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant continues…

Back in California Adventure, the Bug's Land mural is still behind tarps…

…but Outdoor Vending carts in the land have gotten a bit of a makeover

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by our good friends at the
Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.
A short walk from the park, HoJo Anaheim is conveniently located next to Matterhorn Mountain at Disneyland with nearby dining, freeway access, FREE parking and FREE Wi-Fi. For more information on HoJo Anaheim, room rates, or to book your stay today, visit and Annual Passholder Discounts Available Every Day!
The HoJo Anaheim is now offering deeper discounts for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! On select nights, Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders can get rooms for as low as $59 per night, plus tax. For more information visit the HoJo Anaheim Innsider Boards which features an up-to-date listing of available nights, or call (714) 776-6120 and ask for In-House Reservations to book. If your date isn't listed, the HoJo Anaheim still offers rooms for 20% off their best available rate if you call (714) 776-6120.

Weekly Theme Park Hours
June 4 — June 10, 2012

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
8 am - 12 midnight
8 am - 11 pm
8 am - 12 midnight
10 am - 10 pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Theme Park Calendar

Expected Crowd Levels presented by
Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
MEDIUM 4.8—6.0 out of 10
MEDIUM 5.5—6.1 out of 10
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10,
with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.

For daily crowd predictions for the next 365 days, visit
Closures and Refurbishment Schedule
Disneyland Park

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed for major refurbishment including the addition of new ride vehicles through June 14, 2012.
  • Carnation Cafe, Blue Ribbon Bakery: Food service locations are closed for major remodel and set to reopen June 13, 2012.

Disney California Adventure
  • Mad T Party: New nighttime dance party currently in soft openings. Will officially begin June 15, 2012.
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and Soda Fountain: New Ghirardelli chocolate shop and soda fountain will open in the space formerly occupied by the Mission Tortilla Factory. New dining location opens June 7, 2012.
  • Buena Vista Street: Re-themed main entrance including new Red Car Trolley attraction are under construction through summer 2012.
  • Cars Land: New 12-acre land opens summer 2012.
  • Disney California Adventure: Entire park will be closed to the public to apply finishing touches and for a media event on June 14, 2012.

Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Island Charters: Downtown Disney retail location closed permanently. It will reopen as WonderGround Gallery on June 9, 2012.
  • Compass Books and Cafe: Book store and cafe closed permanently March 31. Earl of Sandwich dining location to open in space late-spring 2012.

Disney donates C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A letters to state fair
Disney California Adventure's defunct "CALIFORNIA" letters that once graced the park's main entrance have been dedicated to CalExpo in Sacramento.

Disneyland Resort Donates Iconic 'CALIFORNIA' Letters
The “CALIFORNIA” letters previously located in the esplanade of the Disney California Adventure park entrance have found a new home! The Disneyland Resort will donate the set of letters, which were removed to make way for the Disney California Adventure park expansion project, to the Friends of the California State Fair, a nonprofit organization that benefits California Exposition & State Fair (Cal Expo) in Sacramento. Cal Expo is the site of the California State Fair and hundreds of other events annually.

Plans are underway to make the letters an integral part of a new Cal Expo entrance. The “CALIFORNIA” letters will make their way to their new home sometime in late September and will be placed high enough at the entrance to be seen from Exposition Boulevard. They’ll continue to create memories at a fitting location as Disney California Adventure park welcomes Cars Land and Buena Vista Street!

The donation is the latest among several other Disney California Adventure park artifacts over the last five years, including:
  • The cab of the California Zephyr train that was formerly the home of Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream and Bakers Field Bakery was donated to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, Calif.
  • The sun icon that welcomed visitors to Sunshine Plaza was donated to the City of Anaheim for future use.
  • The giant toy train from EnginEARS Toys will be donated to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children’s) for future use.
  • Postcards and displays from the Greetings From California store at the main entrance of Disney California Adventure park were donated to many Southern California nonprofit organizations and educational facilities, including the Boys & Girls Club of Tustin, the Anaheim Family YMCA, the Child Abuse Services Team office in Orange, the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach, and Betsy Ross and Orange Grove elementary schools in Anaheim.
  • Signs and character displays from Greetings From California were donated to Pretend City in Irvine.
  • The Reboundo Beach surfboard basketball game was donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Garden Grove.
  • Benches from throughout Disney California Adventure park were donated to the City of Anaheim for use in public spaces.

Full Story: Disney Parks Blog: Disneyland Resort Donates Iconic 'CALIFORNIA' Letters

Okay, that wraps up this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland. Thank you for reading and please be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thanks again to Fishbulb for some extra help with photos this week.

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Don't forget that MiceChat has lots of new content throughout the week! For even more Disneyland news, photos and information check out the In the Parks column on Fridays. And MiceChat's Weekend Update, tours the world of Disney theme parks and other worldly sights and landmarks!

See you at Disneyland!
- Andy

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  1. DisneyDrums's Avatar
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    I have a couple things to say:

    First off: I'm FURIOUS that Disney is closing DCA on the day they promised us the park for Grad Nite! This is false advertising, if you ask me.

    Second: IS THAT CHUCK NORRIS?!?!?!
  2. ChrisFL's Avatar
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    • permalink
    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Hughes
    I've said this before and I'll say it again and again...Disney California Adventure will be THE BEST second gate Disney theme park in the world. More fun, exciting and entertaining than Epcot or Tokyo Disney Seas.
    And the early reviews are in. Radiator Springs Racers is THE BEST Disney ride ever.
    Have you actually BEEN to Tokyo DisneySea (no "s" at the end)?
  3. rytheguy's Avatar
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    • permalink
    Just returned from my trip, and I think I can honestly say racers is bar-none the best attraction at the resort now. Incredible show, incredible thrill, and completely immersive. The only fault I could find with it was that I noticed the ceiling tiles in one of the show scenes.... if that's all I could find to gripe about, I'd say they did a pretty amazing job with it!
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