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Dateline Disneyland

Lunar New Year Festival, Tractor dig, Little Mermaid progress, Animated changes, MORE

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by , 02-07-2011 at 04:15 AM
Disneyland celebrated the Lunar New Year over the weekend during its Family Fun Weekends event. Meanwhile, the rest of the park is seeing various refurbishments take place, including the on-going Main Street repaving project. Over in Disney California Adventure, the Disney Animation building is getting some "animated changes" and construction rages on at the major expansion and remodeling projects including Cars Land and the new Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure attraction, as the park turns 10 years old this week.

As always, more information on the construction projects featured in today's update can be found in the MiceChat Project Tracker threads — just look for a Project Tracker watermark and click that photo for more information and to join the on-going discussion.

There's a lot to see today, so let's get started!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

Sponsored by Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel - Anaheim Resort

The small, but charming Valentine's Day decorations are up in Town Square again this year.

Meanwhile in Town Square, and down Main Street; repaving work has wrapped up in some areas, continues other places, and is getting ready to get underway in new sections of Main Street.

The old pavement has been scored and prepped for removal here...

...and here its fresh and new.

Work on the trolley tracks has switched to the other side...

New street in the Central Plaza

Looks good.

Back in Big Thunder Ranch, the latest Family Fun Weekend event celebrating the Lunar New Year Festival brought great live entertainment and costumed characters out for guests to enjoy.

Signage explained how different Asian cultures celebrated the new year:

Unfortunately, the only unique vendor this time was a specialty tea company

Off-season refurbishments continue around the park. The Buzz Lightyear Fastpass machines are now behind refurb walls.

The Fantasia Gardens and former Motorboat Cruise dock (now a smoking area) is getting some work done.

The hearse in front of the Haunted Mansion is gone to get some TLC

In Fantasyland, the Castle Heraldry Shop is getting a facade refurbishment. The store is still open while work is being done.

Behind Fantasyland, City Hall in Mickey's Toon Town is behind tarps to get some paint.

In California Adventure, Paradise Pier is getting some wood replaced.

And back in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, the Disney Animation lobby is getting some changes. Currently, all of the screens that usually show clips and concept art from animated films are now displaying solid colors while a couple screens come to life every few minutes with a message from the Tinker Bell and the Imagineers.

A look at the on-going $1 billion remodel and expansion of Disney California Adventure park...

Disney California Adventure turns 10 tomorrow, but park guests won't be hearing much about the milestone anniversary while most of the park is behind construction walls. The OC Register's Around Disney blog had a great article and graphic showing all of the construction and projects underway in the park as it turns 10 this week.

Disney California Adventure marks 10 years
Ten years ago this Tuesday, Disney California Adventure opened with a sunny ceremony with fireworks, Mickey Mouse, top company officials and glitzy performances.

Then the rain started and lasted for weeks, dampening attendance at Disneyland’s sister theme park that received tepid reviews.

Seven months later, the Sept. 11 tragedy hurt tourism in general.

Even Disney’s current president has called California Adventure mediocre.

But the company is pushing to change that.

Last summer, the “World of Color” – a cutting-edge water-and-light show that features movie scenes projected onto large mist screens – debuted, part of a $1-billion makeover set to be completed next year. Disney says that show alone contributed to last summer’s 20-percent jump in visits.

Disney came up with ideas for a second theme park in the early 1990s, pondering a West Coast version of Florida’s Epcot, to be called Westcot. Officials instead made plans for a new hotel, a Downtown Disney retail and restaurant district and, of course, the theme park.

Surrounding streets were updated, with attractive palm trees lining them and street monuments; freeway ramps were added.

“Without California Adventure, you wouldn’t have seen that level of upgrades in the city and the investment,” said Curt Pringle, mayor from 2002 to 2010.

In the end, Disney greatly scaled back the development.

The company purchased “off-the-shelf” rides, ones already designed for elsewhere instead of Disney originals. Disney wanted to make it the “anti-Disneyland,” a place aimed more for adults, said David Koenig, an author of unofficial Disney books, including “Mouse Tales.”

Opening attendance

Disney had high expectations – 7 million visitors the first year. Instead, 5 million showed up, according to AECOM Economics, a research firm for an industry association. Immediately, visitors asked for more children’s rides – and a Disney feel.

“While they enjoyed the individual experiences, what was missing for them was the deep, emotional connection that they like to have with Disney parks,” said Mary Niven, vice president of Disney California Adventure.

Some changes came within the first year or two: Restaurant operators like Robert Mondavi and Wolfgang Puck pulled out. Attractions were altered or closed. In 2002, Disney erected A Bug’s Land with children’s rides.

The tweaks weren’t enough.

As of 2009, the last year that an attendance figure is available, the park had yet to reach its initial annual attendance goal of 7 million.

Expansion ideas

Disney president Bob Iger, who took over the company from Michael Eisner in 2005, knew the park needed something major, even calling the park mediocre in a recent Wall Street Journal article.

It surfaced that at one time officials considered merging Disneyland and California Adventure into one.
Instead, in 2007, the company announced a $1-billion, five-year makeover. That’s more than the initial cost for the entire park. A new theme will seek to turn California Adventure into a reflection of the California that Walt Disney experienced in the 1920s and 1930s; renovations are to be finished next year. [ FULL STORY ]


Work has gotten underway in the former Bountiful Valley Farms area for the upcoming Mater's Junkyard Jamboree attraction. Lots of digging going on for foundation work on the new ride.

Construction continues on the rest of Cars Land in the old Timon Parking Lot.

Construction continues on the Little Mermaid facade as the inside of the attraction continues to near completion...

A new stained glass window has gone up on the San Francisco Street side of the building

A nice touch

Nearby, work around Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle continues...

An aerial view of the Little Mermaid attraction, from Mickey's Fun Wheel

Goofy's Sky School has almost entirely been repainted at this point

Not much to be seen over at the upcoming park area that's replacing the former Maliboomer attraction

Disney rolled out the next in a series of new "Pixar Pals" shows in California Adventure a couple weeks ago. We missed it last week, but here's some photos and info now:

From the Disney Parks Blog:
Monsters Cause Mayhem at Disney California Adventure Park
Another “Pixar Pals!” show has popped up at Disney California Adventure park. This time, the lovable monsters from “Monsters, Inc.” are inviting guests to scream, laugh and dance in a 10-minute interactive fun experience called “Monster Mayhem.” It’s a scream! (Note: You really will scream and laugh.)

You can see this show Fridays through Tuesdays at 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. in front of the ElecTRONica stage (park entrance) and again at 1:00 p.m. at the cloud wall near the Hyperion Theater.

“Pixar Pals! Monster Mayhem” follows the debut of another show that has been popping up at Disney California Adventure park recently, “Pixar Pals! The Incredibles: Heroes in Training.” You can see that show Fridays through Tuesdays at 2:15 p.m., 3:25 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. [ FULL STORY ]

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A look at Disneyland Hotel work...

In Downtown Disney, the Anne Geddes store has announced a final date of operation.

From the OC Register's Around Disney blog:
Downtown Disney store sets closure date
The Anne Geddes store in Downtown Disney is set to close later this month.

The store of merchandise from the famous photographer will have its last day on Feb. 28, said Gary Brown, chief operating officer for the Geddes Group. Click on the photo above to see pictures of the store and its merchandise.

Until then, the store plans to run promotions, including one on Geddes’ latest book, “Beginnings.” The store does not plan to hold a liquidation sale, Brown said. See an interview with Anne Geddes about her new “Beginnings” book.

“It’s kind of a sad moment for us to be moving on, but it’s all good,” Brown said.

The Geddes Group decided to leave the Anaheim entertainment and shopping district after about five years. While the lease ended in October, Downtown Disney is keeping the store until the end of the month.

Disney has yet to announce a replacement for the Anne Geddes store, which sits next to the World of Disney. [ FULL STORY ]

Back inside Disneyland, Disney has placed scrims in many of the openings on the "it's a small world" facade. The scrims are to allow for a more even projection surface for the new "The Magic, The Memories & You" projection show that happens twice nightly. While they aren't a terrible addition, they are more noticeable than we would like.

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by our good friends at the
Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel - Anaheim Resort.
A short walk from the park, HoJo Anaheim is conveniently located next to Disneyland with nearby dining and freeway access. For more information on HoJo Anaheim, room rates, or to book your stay today, visit

Rooms now available for as low as $59 per night!
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See Disneyland from home via a live rotating video feed of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park from the rooftop of Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel - Anaheim Resort! The HoJo Anaheim's newly upgraded Disneyland webcam now features new views including video feeds of Disneyland's nightly fireworks! Check it out now!


Weekly Theme Park Hours
FEBRUARY 7 — 13, 2011
Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday-Thursday: 10am - 8pm
Friday-Saturday: 9am - 11pm
Sunday: 9am-10pm
Monday-Thursday: 10am - 8pm
Friday-Saturday: 10am - 10pm
Sunday: 10am - 9pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Theme Park Calendar

Closures and Refurbishment Schedule
Disneyland Park

  • Horse Drawn Streetcars: Closed through February 15 during Main Street repaving.
  • Main Street Vehicles: Closed through March 4, 2011 during Main Street repaving.
  • Critter Country: Entire land closed during Splash Mountain and Hungry Bear Restaurant refurbishments
    • Splash Mountain: Closed through May 26 for refurbishment.
    • Hungry Bear Restaurant, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, Pooh Corner: Attractions and shops closed through March 8, when restaurant refurbishment is complete.
  • Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed February 3 - 17 for refurbishment.
  • Star Tours: Closed for Star Tours 2 overhaul. Reopens May 2011.

Disney California Adventure

  • Playhouse Disney — Live on Stage!: Closed through March 24 for retheme.
  • It's Tough to be a Bug!: Closed through March 3
  • Maliboomer: Removed. Space will become new park-like area.
  • Mullholland Madness: Closed to be rethemed. Reopens May 2011 as Goofy's Sky School.
  • Pizza Oom Mow Mow: Closed for retheme to Boardwalk Pasta and Pizza
  • Burger Invasion: Closed for retheme to Paradise Garden Grill. Reopens May 2011.
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure: Under construction. Opens Spring 2011.
  • Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle: Store and dining location closed for remodeling through May 2011.
  • Red Car Trolley: Track under construction in Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Attraction set to open spring 2012.

Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Arcade, Jungle Cruise Remote Control Boats, Hook's Pointe, The Wine Cellar, The Lost Bar, and Croc's Bits & Bites (Disneyland Hotel): Closed permanently for removal as part of Disneyland Hotel remodel.

Hopefully this contract dispute will finally end soon
Disney breaks stalemate with hotel union
Disneyland Resort officials are breaking a negotiations stalemate with their hotel union by offering a new proposal three years after the contract expired.

Disney and the 2,100-member union, Unite Here Local 11, have engaged in a fierce battle marred by dozens of union protests, a one-day strike, walkouts and a week-long hunger strike. This is Disney’s first new proposal in more than a year and a half. The last contract expired Jan. 31, 2008.

“A lot of time has passed with no movement at all,” said Steve Eisenhardt, vice president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ labor relations. “We wanted to do something to get this started. It’s not fair for our cast members (employees) for this to continue to linger on.”

Leigh Shelton, a Unite Here spokeswoman, said the union is “delighted” that Disney is bringing forward a new proposal, but leaders have concerns.

Disneyland Resort has three hotels: Grand Californian, Paradise Pier and the Disneyland Hotel.

Disney and the union mostly have fought over health-care costs. In previous negotiations, Disney has asked the union to join its company plan, while the union has wanted to keep its own program that is free to workers.

For the first time, Disney’s proposal would give existing workers options: staying with the union-run health plan or buying Disney health benefits.

Workers would get up to a $5,000 cash bonus if they choose one of Disney’s plans. But they would have to make contributions to Disney’s health-care plan, which has different programs that range in price. The most similar program to the union plan would cost about $320 a month for a family.

Employees make no contributions to the union plan. Disney will continue to pay $2.55 an hour per employee to the union to run the health program, but union officials have said that is too little to cover their costs.

“Disney put more money on the table, but it’s still not enough money at the end of the day to avoid severe takeaways,” Shelton said.

For the full store, visit: Around Disney: Disney breaks stalemate with hotel union

Okay, that's it for this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland. Many thanks to the Howard Johnson Anaheim, our wonderful sponsor. If you're looking for a great and affordable hotel near Disneyland, we highly recommend the HoJo. It's got a great staff, clean rooms and is walking distance to the parks. You can't beat that!

Also, thanks to you for reading! We love to see your thoughts and discussion in the comments section below.

We're only here because of your support. If you enjoy Dateline Disneyland every week please consider helping us out by donating a buck or two so we can pay the bills and keep the updates coming! You can donate with a click of a button via PayPal — click here!

Also, remember that MiceChat has tons of new content all week long! 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!

Join us on Twitter and Facebook for great Disneyland news and information throughout the week!

See you at the parks!
- Andy

Dateline Disneyland

FTC-Mandated Disclosure:
Promotional consideration for the February 7, 2011 edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by
Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel
Anaheim Resort

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Updated 02-07-2011 at 01:00 PM by Dateline Disneyland (Corrected Critter Country closure information in Refurb Schedule.)

Disneyland Resort , Disney's California Adventure Remodel/Expansion , Disneyland Hotel , Downtown Disney


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  1. Ukulele Guy's Avatar
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    Great report- I love the stained glass on the VOTLM building. Can't wait to see more.
  2. mark's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great update! I love seeing the changes to DCA. By the way, for anyone who is interested, there is a week long series of articles on the creation of and reaction to DCA since its opening found here.
  3. lilamyb83's Avatar
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    I'm down here right now celebrating my birthday - which just happens to be February 8th as well! I'm a little bummed that all they seem to be doing is offering a pin for sale commemorating the anniversary...
  4. bamato's Avatar
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    Great update!
  5. Dick O Dell's Avatar
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    I don't mind the scrims on the Small World facade at all...a small price to pay for the magnificent show, Memories is....the majority of visitors won't even notice those scrims...
  6. StevenW's Avatar
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    The "$5,000 cash bonus" might seem generous, but my company plan can pay up to $10,000 depending on the plan you pick. Disney should ensure that they employees pay reasonably for their co-payments or matching premiums. That way it seems fair for low income employees. I'm sure many make between $20K and $30K.

    Nice recap of DCA's history from the OC Register.

    There's so much dirt at Paradise Pier. I'm wonder how they will finish to open the Little Mermaid in a few months.
  7. Internitty's Avatar
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    I know it's REALLY petty but the colour mismatch on the Little Mermaid ride between the old rotunda and and the new show buildings is driving me nuts. Other than that I love seeing the progress each week, thank you for always being so thorough.
  8. wulfblat's Avatar
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    Monday is my favorite day to visit MiceAge/MiceChat!

    Another fun photo filled update, and Dateline Disneyland is a lifeline for those of us who live too far away for regular trips to the park.

    I like seeing the old Festival area put to better use than corporate picnics. Year of the Mouse? There is no year of the mouse -- that should be year of the rat; little wonder folks were worried about the Disneyfication of history when Disney's America was proposed.

    It's nice to see regular up keep on the "mundane" things like Main Street paving.

    I enjoyed the 10 year recap of DCA's history: the park has come a long way, and the construction photos show how much further it will go in just a couple more years.
  9. Sparky's Avatar
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    One thing you guys missed - over the weekend I noticed that a portion of the Southern facade wall in the dining patio area of Pacific Wharf has been removed, so you can now better see into Cars Land from that area.

    Thanks for all the great construction points of view that I don't have the time to check out when I'm able to visit the parks. It just gets increasingly exciting to see the progress that is being made these days!
  10. Disneykin Kid's Avatar
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    DCA - Why does it sound amazing that Iger admits that it was mediocre? Nothing against him, I applaud him for his candor, it's just sad that the former management was so blind.

    The upgrade of the Anaheim Resort - I always thought they put too much money into those trees on the street! Look down Katella Ave, it's palm tree overload! It's oppressive, not relaxing the way palm trees should look. They could have done with half the number of trees, and put the money into DCA, but I guess maybe it's the city's budget, not Disney's?

    Disney wanted to make the original DCA the 'anti-Disneyland', is that true? Well, they sure got what they asked for, no other description could be more appropriate.

    Small World Scrims - While I understand them wanting to enhance the projections, I'm not sure that's a good idea.
  11. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update!
  12. Tragic's Avatar
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    Amazing update, thanks!!
  13. GoBotDotCom's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!
  14. DifrntDrmr's Avatar
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    Is it true that they are getting rid of Fast Pass for Buzz?
  15. doobwah's Avatar
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    Is it just me, or are those trees in the Paradise Gardens area awfully close together? Looks more like a jungle

    And I also was thinking that the color contrast between the new Mermaid building and the rotunda was kind of jarring. I'm sure they'll paint it before the ride opens though to match it better.
  16. AzGizmo's Avatar
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    Good update. Regarding the AstroBlaster Fast Pass machines, I just saw a news item (which I'm not taking as gospel until I see it reported elsewhere) that said the AstroBlaster Fast Pass machines were actually going away, and that the area where the machines currently are will now go to Star Tours when it re-opens.

    Can anyone else verify that?
  17. 4Apples4Disney's Avatar
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  18. Sleepy505's Avatar
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    Great Update as always, But I do have to say one thing that really BUGS me even though Dateline Disneyland is Sponsored by Howard Johnson every time I have tried to book this Hotel I never been offered a room at $59.00 a night even being a micechat member, never.
  19. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DifrntDrmr
    Is it true that they are getting rid of Fast Pass for Buzz?
    I don't think so. Timekeeper
  20. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzGizmo
    Good update. Regarding the AstroBlaster Fast Pass machines, I just saw a news item (which I'm not taking as gospel until I see it reported elsewhere) that said the AstroBlaster Fast Pass machines were actually going away, and that the area where the machines currently are will now go to Star Tours when it re-opens.

    Can anyone else verify that?
    Where did you hear about it? and from what site? Because I don't think they would install it over there, because they need the extra space for overflow, when it opens.

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