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Dateline Disneyland

Mardi Gras, Undercover Star Tours, Little Mermaid details, Park crowd levels, +MORE

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 02-21-2011 at 03:53 AM
The rain helped thin out crowds at the Disneyland Resort theme parks the first half of this Presidents' Day weekend, but they returned in massive numbers to enjoy the sunshine on Sunday. Still, crews continued to work on construction projects, despite the wet weather. Tomorrowland's Star Tours is now covered in scaffolding as work gets underway on the building's facade while the Star Trader closes for refurbishment. Over in Disney California Adventure, details continue to emerge on the facade of the impressive new Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure attraction and construction on the massive Cars Land mountain range continues while the remodel of some Paradise Pier eateries press on. Yet, even with the construction in both parks, Disneyland launched a new Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans Square, and California Adventure hosted its second annual "Celebrate Gospel" concert event over the weekend.

With so much going on in both parks, visiting the parks is never a dull experience. That's why we're thrilled to announce our new partnership with our friends at — an exceptional resource to help you plan your perfect Disneyland Resort vacation. We'll have more on that inside today's column along with a special offer from TouringPlans!

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.

It's another big week, so let's get started!

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We at Dateline Disneyland are thrilled to announce our new partnership with Beginning today, TouringPlans Statistician Fred Hazelton will give us a complete re-cap of the crowd levels at the Disneyland Resort and its two theme parks from the previous week. We believe that TouringPlan's fantastic content will help you when planning your visit to the Disneyland Resort. With detailed crowd level statistics, a fantastic app for your mobile phone, and much more, TouringPlans is an excellent resource to help you make the most of your Disneyland Resort visit. Please join me in welcoming TouringPlans to the Dateline Disneyland team!

Well another Valentine’s Day has come and gone and crowds return to normal off-season levels at Disneyland Resort. The threat of an end-of-week storm raised mid-week crowds a little higher than expected and lowered the wait times on Friday and Saturday. We still expect a busy Presidents Week ahead with wait times reaching the top 10% of all days.

Big thanks to our Disneyland Research team and our fabulous LINES users who reported wait times throughout the week. Here’s how their submissions compared to what our professional statisticians predicted on the Crowd Calendar.
— Fred Hazelton Statistician,

Crowd Calendar Prediction
Actual Crowd Levels
Sun. Feb. 13
Mon. Feb. 14
Tue. Feb. 15
Wed. Feb. 16
Thu. Feb. 17
Fri. Feb. 18
Sat. Feb. 19
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
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Main Street's repaving work in Town Square and along the trolley tracks wrapped up before the start of the long holiday weekend.

The Horse-Drawn Trolley stop in Town Square got an extra bonus during the Main Street work: brick pavers to indicate the trolley stop.

A nice touch.

Repaving down Main Street is done - for now.

The 20th Century Music Shop is open again after its brief refurbishment.

iPad and laptop accessories are now available here

Along with plenty of books

And a somewhat reduced CD and DVD selection.

After months of practically no outside progress at Star Tours, scaffolding has gone up on the attraction's facade as we inch closer to the ride's reopening later this spring.

Meanwhile, the Star Trader gift shop has closed for some work, could we see a heavier Star Wars theme inside in time for the attraction's reopening?

While the major Star Trader retail location is closed, the major merchandise offerings have been moved over to the underutilized Starcade space.

The Starcade has been a significant waste of space for some time now, with the entire upstairs portion of the space empty and blocked off. Unfortunately, the temporary store relocation here hasn't changed that. The arcade games have been pushed to the sides of the ground floor, merchandise racks have filled in the gaps, and a temporary cash wrap has been placed right in front of the unused speed ramps.

Disneyland's Family Fun Weekends offerings have moved from the Big Thunder Ranch Festival Arena to New Orleans Square as the event switches to a three-week Mardi Gras celebration, running through March 6.

Mardi gras beads drip from New Orleans Square's wrought iron balconies

Mickey and friends march out in their mardi gras costumes.

They do a little dance to some live music and then pose for photos and autographs with the crowd

Mickey heads off on his own to the Court des Anges during the meet-and-greet session.

Princess Tiana and her friends from The Princess and the Frog also appear during the mardi gras festivities for some singing and dancing along the riverfront.

These characters are great in New Orleans Square.

Prince Naveen is back for the live performances during Family Fun Weekends

Carts in Magnolia Park offer New Orleans and Mardi gras-themed items from Downtown Disney's Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen and face painting.

Cafe Orleans has a special dessert offering for Family Fun Weekends

Over in Disney California Adventure, work continues on the park's $1 billion remodel and expansion...

Work on the upcoming Buena Vista Street and initial work on the new entry turnstiles continues...

Construction continues on the massive 12-acre Cars Land.

A peek behind the construction walls surrounding the future site of Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.

Lots of exciting details continue to be added and revealed at the new Little Mermaid attraction

Work on the attraction marquee space


Red paint has started covering the queue structure at Goofy's Sky School.

Work continues on the ground for the new Paradise Garden dining patio

Walls have been expanded a bit to include the space where a new beer stand will be installed.

Disney hosted its second-annual Celebrate Gospel concert in DCA on Saturday. The one-day event brings various gospel groups from Southern California to perform in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot's Stage 17.

Disney gospel event reaches African Americans
Mark Saunders, a 38-year Disney employee, said he often talks to fellow members of the African-American community who don’t realize many jobs are available to African Americans at the Disneyland Resort.

So, as a member of an African-American-focused employee group, Saunders wanted to help bring the community as a whole to the park. On Saturday, Disney California Adventure hosted its second Celebrate Gospel event, which featured 15 choirs from 14 churches in Southern California. The event is tied to Black History Month. Read a previous story about Celebrate Gospel at Disney California Adventure.

“It’s a perfect way to build that bridge, where we keep it grassroots and make it a show,” said Saunders, who coordinates theme-park attractions.

The Celebrate Gospel event brought in hundreds of gospel musicians to perform at the Stage 17 building in the park. The choirs include two from Friendship Baptist Church in Yorba Linda and one from New Spirit Baptist Church in Santa Ana.

Between 200 and 600 people came in and out of the shows throughout the morning. Many were tied to choirs, while others were general park visitors wearing Mickey Mouse ears and lanyards with Disney pins.

African Americans make up about 2 percent of Orange County’s population. “Even though we’re small in population, it gives us an opportunity to say, ‘We’re here and this is what we’re all about,’” said Leon Clark, a pastor of New Spirit Baptist Church in Santa Ana.

The event also gave some children the chance to both sing and have fun at a Disney park. Elijah Slaney of Cerritos and Sean Jones of Buena Park, both 10, said they planned to ride Twilight Zone Tower of Terror after performing with the Yorba Linda choir.

“I thought it was fun and a little scary because it was my first lead (performance),” said Kristopher Carrington, 10, of Placentia.

Saunders, who is a member of a Friendship Baptist Church choir, said his church’s groups have performed throughout the area, including a Los Angeles Clippers game, prisons and senior centers. He sometimes hears that community members don’t see people who look like them in parks, but he emphasizes the job opportunities, saying the resort has “every job on the inside here.” The Disneyland Resort is Orange County’s largest private employer with about 21,000 workers in two theme parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney shopping-entertainment district. [ FULL STORY ]

Outside the parks, the Disneyland Hotel remodel continues...

The Downtown Disney Monorail Station's entry stairs have been rebuilt and are now open.

Walls have now gone up around the exit stairs.

It's the final week for the Anne Geddes store. The shop is set to close February 28.

Back in DCA, work continues on Paradise Pier on some work next to the Cove Bar.

Over in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, the Disney Animation lobby screens now say the "animated changes" will arrive in March.

St. Patrick's Day merchandise has now hit the shelves in select gift shops.

Back in Disneyland, repainting has wrapped on Toon Town's City Hall

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Weekly Theme Park Hours
FEBRUARY 21 — 27, 2011

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday (Holiday): 8am - 12midnight
Tuesday-Thursday: 9am - 9pm
Friday-Sunday: 8am-12midnight
Monday (Holiday): 10am - 10pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 10am - 8pm
Friday-Sunday: 10am-10pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Theme Park Calendar

Expected Crowd Levels presented by
Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
MEDIUM/HIGH 4.5—9.6 out of 10
MEDIUM/HIGH 3.3—9.8 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

  • Main Street Vehicles & Horse-Drawn Streetcars: 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, The Briar Patch: Attractions and shops closed through March 8, when restaurant refurbishment is complete.

  • Sailing Ship Columbia: Closed March 7-9 for refurbishment.
  • Goofy's Playhouse: Closed March 7-10 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 February 28-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.

Disney's 'NextGen' initiative will let guests reserve ride times from home
Last week Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs gave the first official details on Disney's secretive and long-rumored "Next Generation" initiative. The initiative heavily focuses on vacation personalization and theme park interactivity. So far, the news of this hasn't been too favorable on MiceChat, with fans worried that NextGen may take away the spontaneity of the vacation experience. It's a valid concern, but with details NextGen still being so vague, we can only wait to see how the entire thing will pan out. The Orlando Sentinel has more information:
Disney says guests will be able to reserve ride times from home
Future visitors to Walt Disney World will be able to reserve ride times from their home computers and bypass hotel check-in desks once they arrive at the resort, the head of the Walt Disney Co.'s global theme-park division said during an investors conference Thursday.

Those advances are among of a series of technological initiatives Disney is developing in hopes of making visits to its increasingly crowded theme parks easier to plan and less intimidating to navigate, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs said at the conference in Anaheim, Calif.

"In the coming years, we'll introduce a broad set of systems and tools that will help us create a more seamless and personalized experience and help guests get more out of their visit with us," Staggs said. The ultimate goal, he added, is "to welcome more and more people, while making their experience more satisfying, more personal and more immersive."

Staggs' comments provided the first detailed glimpse at a secretive initiative dubbed "Next Generation Experience," or "NextGen," that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has been working on for more than a year. The budget for the project is said to be around $1 billion — as much money as Disney spent to build its recently launched Disney Dream cruise ship.

In his remarks Thursday, Staggs described a "version of Fast Pass for an entire Disney vacation." Future guests, he said, will be able to reserve specific ride times for popular attractions, secure seating for shows, make restaurant reservations and pre-book other experiences before they leave their homes on vacation.

They will also be able to obtain their room keys in advance, eliminating the need to check into hotels and allowing them to proceed immediately to their rooms or a theme park once they arrive on Disney property.

Other advances, he said, will include personalizing rides and character greetings for individual guests, adding more interactive queues to entertain people while they wait in line for attractions, and designing behind-the-scenes systems for operations workers to better monitor and steer crowd flow to ease congestion.

Disney will also aim to cull more personal information from its guests, which Staggs said "will put better information into the hands of our cast, so they can deliver even better and more personalized service for our guests." Although Staggs did not specify what information Disney would seek, possibilities range from simple details such as names and birth dates to favorite characters and credit-card numbers. Access to such information would allow Disney to target more personalized sales offers to guests, even as they wander around its parks.

Staggs didn't go into further details about how Disney intends to implement some of the plans, and the company would not elaborate on his comments. But there is widespread speculation among former Disney executives and bloggers who follow the company that some of the plans will use radio-frequency identification, or RFID, microchips that can be implanted into tickets or wristbands, loaded with personal information and used to interact with sensors installed in everything from hotel-room doors to ride animatronics.

Disney has signed a confidentiality agreement with a California company that manufactures RFID wristbands, whose clients include other amusement operators such as Great Wolf Resorts.

Staggs declined to say when Disney will launch many of the initiatives, though some elements — such as interactive queues — have been slowly rolling out in parks in recent months. Staggs said Disney has applied for "a number" of patents related to the work.

"It will be some time before we roll out the bulk of these developments," he said. "But we're well into development."
For the full story, visit: Orlando Sentinel: Disney says guests will be able to reserve ride times from home

Disney voluntarily recalls kids watches sold at theme parks
From Around Disney:

Disney recalls watches that irritate kids’ skin
Disney and federal regulators are recalling about 1,200 children’s watches that were sold in theme parks and shops, including the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

Disneyland Resort shops sold 254 of the watches, which irritated or caused burning sensations on children who are allergic to nickel, said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokesman.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, along with the Walt Disney Co.’s parks division, announced the voluntary recall Wednesday. Consumers will be refunded $40 when the watches are returned. (The watches sold for about $30.)

“Disney is committed to the quality and safety of the consumer products it sells, particularly those that are enjoyed by children,” Brown said in a statement.

The light-up, shiny watches have Buzz Lightyear, Tinker Bell and Lightning McQueen designs.

In addition to the Disneyland Resort, the watches were sold at Walt Disney World, shops on Disney Cruise ships and stores in Orlando International Airport from November to January. The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim runs shops in its two theme parks, hotels and the Downtown Disney shopping-entertainment district.
For the full story, visit: Around Disney: Disney recalls watches that irritate kids’ skin

ElecTRONica extended at California Adventure through Labor Day
Disney has extended ElecTRONica through summer, but doesn't it already feel like it's overstayed its welcome?

Disney park extends ‘Tron’ parties through summer
Disney California Adventure is extending the popular “Tron”-themed parties into the summer, the company announced Monday.

ElecTRONica, a nighttime entertainment experience based on the “Tron: Legacy” movie, originally was to stay until April. But the feature has been such a hit that the park decided to keep it longer.

The company made the announcement Monday on the Disney Parks blog. In an interview last month, Mary Niven, vice president of Disney California Adventure, discussed why the park was considering keeping ElecTRONica.

“Some guests, who are not here during this time of year, would love this kind of experience,” Niven said.

ElecTRONica features performances that start near the park’s entrance and move into a laser-decorated Hollywood Pictures Backlot after dark when visitors continue dance parties. Visitors can also buy cocktails, go to Flynn’s Arcade with retro video games and see a 3D clip of the movie.

Disney launched ElecTRONica in October, more than two months before the Dec. 17 premiere of “Tron: Legacy,” a sequel to the 1982 movie. So officials were unsure how theme-park goers would react after the movie came out.

Turns out, January attendance at ElecTRONica was as high as it was in October when the parties started, Niven said.
For the full story, visit: Around Disney: Disney park extends ‘Tron’ parties through summer

Okay, that's it for this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland. Many thanks to our fantastic new partners at TouringPlans! Be sure to check them out at or on your iPhone or Android mobile device.

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

For even more photos from this week, visit the Dateline Disneyland Smugmug where all of the unedited photos we shot for this week's update can be found for your browsing pleasure.

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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!

See you at the parks!
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  1. bamato's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update! Really enjoyed it!
  2. Zoe Necrosis's Avatar
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    These updates are of course the highlight of my Monday. And I can see an argument for characterizing ElecTRONica as staying past its relevance, as the film is leaving theatres and a street party seems highly inappropriate to promote a DVD that won't be released for months.

    That being said, what could potentially replace it? Nothing but the same three, tired attractions the locals have experienced over and over? Or a different kind of nighttime experience themed around... what? One of these vapid pre-teen singing tarts? I don't think so. With half of DCA behind walls for the forseeable future, doesn't ElecTRONica provide the kind of highlight the park needs this year?

    Personally, the extention of ElecTRONica is a great boon to the event I've scheduled in March, and was until recently afraid would be bereft of its centerpiece: Harry Potter Day At Disneyland!: Potter Day Lite: March 13th, 2011
  3. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update! Thanks!
  4. Concieved@DL's Avatar
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    Great update. 92 days till the annual trip to the Mouse's house. Looking forward to seeing some of the current projects done by then.
  5. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update.
  6. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Fantastic update and I plan to sign up for Touring Plans right away. Looks awesome and they are a great addition to the column!
  7. daveinfontana's Avatar
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    If they don't cover the exposed steel structure it will be in bad showmanship on Disney'spart.
  8. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Oh, why oh why don't you use the upper floor of the starcade for Shopping, Disney? (again, a WASTE OF SPACE, and has the potential of the merchandise being stolen!) Well, at least they now offer a Crape at Cafe Orleans (I wish they would serve more. different types even after the Mardi Gras.)

  9. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update!
  10. jett's Avatar
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    Timekeeper: as far as I understand, there's no elevator access to the second floor of the Starcade. Yes, Disney could install an elevator to reactivate the space, but probably wouldn't want to spend that kind of money until they have a great concept for it.
  11. Kuzcochik's Avatar
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    Still upset about them taking out the Animation Loop. Still terribly worried it'll be nothing but Pixar. Still upset they'll surely take out the less "popular" movies like Emperor's New Groove and Atlantis. Still not gonna get over it unless the new loop blows me away :/
  12. bluefairy's Avatar
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    Thanks, as always, for a terrific update!
  13. Oathkeeper's Avatar
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    I'm really loving the sculpted archway thats going over the entrance to TLM, its looking fantastic. And I'm glad to hear elecTRONica will be in the park throughout the summer! Haven't gotten a chance to see it yet and my siblings and I are planning a trip to DLR sometime in June (so glad I won't miss it!)
  14. StrikeYerColors's Avatar
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    confused about the crowd level statistics. are they based on the amount of people inside the park (what disney predicgts and the actual in-park number?) or are they based only on attraction wait times? they two are related but not equal. the park may be very crowded and "feel" crowded on the street, with crowded stores and long food waits, but very fast attraction wait times. or other days, the park may be and "feel" very empty with no wait times for some attractions but very slow moving and long wait times for attractions with lines. For example, lines that look short but do not move due to only one side of a ride being open. That's considered a very uncrowded day (weekday, maybe even bad weather), but you might wait a lot longer for big attractions than an ordinary busy sunny saturday.
  15. redjag's Avatar
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    Great update! These really are the highlights of my Mondays.

    Does anyone know if the guy playing Prince Naveen is the guy who was the MC for ElecTRONica's first night and the guy from the older Disney Park Blog videos? It sure does look like him.
  16. PigletAndPoohFan's Avatar
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    I was wondering the same thing , so I went back and looked at the DCA coming soon videos. It is the same guy...Eddie!!
  17. BassBone's Avatar
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    The upper level of the Starcade is not handicapped accessible, so it's blocked off for the foreseeable future.
  18. clara's Avatar
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    I went to just about every show of the Gospel event. It was fantastic! And yes, like those 10 year olds between shows I was riding Tower and Monster Inc.
  19. skybluefusion's Avatar
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    Great update (They always are) and welcome to touringplans. Looks like they have made a nice addition
  20. ZestyNoodle's Avatar
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    Fantastic update! Can anyone tell me what that Haunted Mansion book is within the photo of The 20th Century Music Shop? Does anyone know if it is any good, and/or where I could buy it besides Disneyland (i ain't going til the Summer). Thanks!