Welcome to the final Dateline Disneyland of 2009! It has been a busy year at the Disneyland Resort, from changing classics at Disneyland, to the constantly-evolving construction projects at California Adventure; the theme parks saw plenty of activity this year. However, work at the Resort didn't stop at the park gates — the opening of the Grand Californian Hotel's expansion marked the first Disney Vacation Club properties on the West Coast, and the classic Disneyland Hotel began a major multi-year remodel project.
It's been a busy year — there's lots to get to, so let's get started!
New Year's Eve 2009 kicked off the new year with a foggy start. Dense fog blanketed the Resort, completely obscuring midnight fireworks from guests.
The 2009 "What Will You Celebrate?" marketing campaign brought to Disneyland a new line of decorations consisting of confetti, party hats, and Mickey balloons as the park "Celebrated Today!" all year.
The new Celebrate! A Street Party street show replaced the popular Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams. The parade was met with mixed reviews for its stripped-down float design, contemporary music choices, and interactive street show format, which some fans thought paled in comparison to the more traditional Parade of Dreams that had been running since Disneyland's 50th Anniversary in 2005.
Back in Frontierland, Disneyland re-opened Big Thunder Ranch as a dining location after several months of renovations to the area. The new all-you-care-to-enjoy Celebration Ranch and Barbecue sit-down character restaurant failed to draw in guests with its steep prices, eventually resulting in the removal of the stage show featuring popular Toy Story characters, a revised name, and a slight adjustment to the menu and price points.
"it's a character world"
As the year got underway, "it's a small world" reopened with the controversial new Disney characters and "Spirit of America" room.
As Disneyland celebrated, Disney's California Adventure pressed on in construction mode. The first big change was the removal of the sun face from the former Sun Wheel as it began its transformation into Mickey's Fun Wheel.
And the Mickey icon from California Screamin' began to be dismantled and replaced with a new illuminated Paradise Pier sign and painted sunburst.
Nearby, the Games of the Boardwalk were transformed into fun pay-per-play games featuring classic Disney and Pixar characters, housed in beautiful new Victorian-style facades. The new Games of the Boardwalk opened in April.
As the Games of the Boardwalk opened, Mickey made his mark on California Adventure's giant Ferris wheel.
Mickey's Fun Wheel officially opened in early May.
But as the Mickey's Fun Wheel and Games of the Boardwalk projects wrapped up and opened to summer crowds, the massive new Disney's World of Color show brought a tremendous amount of construction to the drained Paradise Bay.
Construction walls were decked out in advertisements for the new show
As construction on the massive new show platform pressed onward, work on the 9,000-guest viewing area got underway, along with Silly Symphony Swings construction, Cars Land groundbreaking, and demolition of the Golden Dreams Theater in July for construction on the new Little Mermaid.
In June, Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack, a California Adventure opening-day feature was permanently removed.
And by late October, water was once again flowing into Paradise Bay as major construction on World of Color had completed.
The average guest wasn't left out of the loop on all the construction in Paradise Bay for World of Color — along with informative signage on the Paradise Pier bridge, guests could also get a sneak peek at the upcoming show in the Blue Sky Cellar, which debuted a new show focusing heavily on World of Color in July.
NIGHTASTIC FUN AND FRUSTRATION
Summer marked the kick-off of Disneyland's new Summer Nightastic! promotion, which focused on the enhancements of key nighttime entertainment at the theme parks, from a new summer fireworks show ("Magical"), to new additions to Fantasmic! and Disney's Electrical Parade.
While the marketing focused heavily on a new dragon for Fantasmic!, the animatronic beast never managed to materialize during the summer promotion due to a series of technical issues that caused crews to work around the clock throughout the summer. Instead, crowds waited throughout the summer hoping the dragon would finally appear, but instead just got new Flotsam and Jetsam characters and a new Croc for the Peter Pan segment.
The new nightly fireworks show featured Dumbo flying over Sleeping Beauty Castle for the first time.
And over at California Adventure, Disney's Electrical Parade introduced the new Tinker Bell lead float along with a couple returning favorites and a reworked soundtrack.
Summer Nightastic! ended with mostly positive feedback except for that pesky Fantasmic! dragon, which eventually debuted three months later than originally planned, in early September.
D23 EXPO COMES TO ANAHEIM
In September, Disney hosted the inaugural D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, just steps away from the Disneyland Resort. The four-day event included a huge Disney theme park display with Imagineers on hand to answer questions for eager fans, along with several key announcements including Star Tours 2 and a major expansion for the Magic Kingdom park in Florida.
Expo attendees got a sneak peek at Star Tours 2 in 3D and renderings for Walt Disney World's expanded Fantasyland.
MiceChat's booth in the Collector's Forum had loads of prizes, a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride car photo-op, and appearances by MiceAge and MiceChat columnists.
SCARING UP THE SEASON Disney's Halloween Time returned at the end of September for another year of Halloween festivities with a couple new offerings. The new Halloween Screams fireworks show drew big crowds and got generally positive reviews from fans. The show included new projection effects along with Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas making an appearance in the skies above Sleeping Beauty Castle.
And Space Mountain launched guests into Ghost Galaxy, a new seasonal overlay involving close encounters with intergalactic ghosts.
Impressive, spooky new nighttime lighting was added for the overlay.
THE DISNEY GALLERY RETURNS
On October 2, the Disney Gallery returned to Disneyland in the former Bank of Main Street. The Bank, an opening day feature at Disneyland and most recently the Annual Passport Center closed in early July to begin construction on the new Gallery.
The Gallery retained the bank aesthetic while opening up space for both art exhibitions and retail.
THE DISNEYLAND STORY &
GREAT MOMENTS WITH MR. LINCOLN
Next door to the new Gallery, The Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln moved into the Main Street Opera House. The Disneyland Story is essentially a reworking of the great lobby exhibits from Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years and reopened at the same time as the new Disney Gallery.
The Disneyland Story features a small viewing area for a slightly edited version of the "First 50 Magical Years" film starring Steve Martin and Donald Duck, which originally debuted as part of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration.
"Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" finally opened on December 18, after months of work bringing the new state-of-the-art Audio Animatronics figure to life.
GIVE A DAY, GET A DISNEY DAY
In October, Disney announced the Disney Parks 2010 promotion: Give A Day, Get A Disney Day; aimed to promote community volunteerism with Disney theme parks tickets as incentive.
The Muppets star in these clever TV spots for the new marketing campaign.
MAGIC KINGDOM HONOREES
Disneyland honored three Imagineers this year with windows on Main Street: Imagineers Don Edgren, Rolly Crump, and Marty Sklar.
TIME SHARES AND MAKEOVERS
The Disneyland Hotel kicked off its major multi-year remodel in August.
...And the new wing of the Grand Californian Hotel opened at the end of September, which included the first West Coast Disney's Vacation Club timeshare units.
BYE-BYE ED, HELLO GEORGE
In late October George Kalogridis took over as President of the Disneyland Resort following the retirement of Ed Grier.
Monday - Wednesday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Thursday/New Year's Eve: 8 am - 2 am
Friday - Sunday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Disney's California Adventure Park
Monday - Wednesday: 10 am - 10 pm
Thursday/New Year's Eve: 10 am - 1 am
Friday - Saturday: 10 am - 9 pm
Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm
NEW YEAR'S EVE ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE
At press time, no official New Year's Eve schedule had been made available. Please visit Disneyland.com closer to December 31 for more information. [ LINK ]
CURRENT ATTRACTION CLOSURES & REFURBISHMENTS
Haunted Mansion: Closed January 4 - 14 to remove holiday overlay.
Big Thunder Ranch: Closed January 4 - 12 to remove holiday overlay.
Main Street Cinema: Closed January 4 through February 1 for refurbishment.
Starcade: Closed January 4 through February 1 for refurbishment.
Le Petit Chalet Gifts: Closed January 4 through February 10 for refurbishment.
Corn Dog Wagon: Closed January 4 through May 4 for refurbishment.
Tomorrowland Terrace: Closed January 4 through May 4 for refurbishment.
Rivers of America: Closed January 4 through May 6 for a major refurbishment. The closure of the river will result in the necessary closure of the following attractions:
Sailing Ship Columbia: Closed January 4 - May 6
Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed January 4 - May 6
Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes: Closed January 4 - May 6
Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island: Closed January 4 - May 14
"it's a small world": Closed January 18 - 28 for holiday overlay removal.
Disney's California Adventure Park
Grizzly River Run: Closed January 4 - 8 for refurbishment.
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed January 11 through February 19 for refurbishment.
It's Tough To Be A Bug!: Closed January 20 - 21.
Francis' Lady Bug Boogie: Closed January 25 through February 4.
Silly Symphony Swings: Under construction. Rethemed attraction opens Spring 2010
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure: Under construction. Opens 2011.
Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle: Store and dining location closed for remodeling through May 2011.
Disney's World of Color Nighttime Spectacular: New show under construction in Paradise Bay. Debuts Spring 2010.
Paradise Park: The former Golden State Amphitheater is closed. The new, larger Paradise Park viewing area for Disney's World of Color viewing is under construction in the same location and is scheduled to open February 2010.
Okay — that's it for the final Dateline Disneyland of 2009. Thanks, as always, for reading and thanks again to the talented photographers (Fishbulb, 2DieFR, Mac Daddy, Abominable Snowman, Darkbeer, Photo Matt, Capt Phoebus, and all the others) who helped throughout the year.
Have a happy and safe new year!
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