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Setting sail On Stranger Tides, Disney Junior, Animated changes, DowntownDisney +MORE

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by , 03-28-2011 at 12:37 AM
Disney debuted a special 3D sneak peek at its latest Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides film to big spring break crowds at Disneyland over the weekend. The special preview will run through May, and fans of Jack Sparrow won't want to miss it. Meanwhile, Disneyland work crews continue to work on new attractions in both parks including the new Star Tours and Little Mermaid rides opening at the start of this year's summer season. But until the major new rides open this summer, guests can check out Disney California Adventure's new Disney Junior show, take a break with new animated magic in Disney Animation, or catch a glimpse of Captain Jack Sparrow in 3D at Disneyland.

As always, more information on the construction projects featured in today's column 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.

We've got a big spring break update ready for you, so let's get started!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

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Spring break continues at Disneyland with big crowds in two theme parks that are littered with various construction and refurbishment projects. Our friend Fred at Touring Plans has a recap of last week's crowd levels throughout the Resort that can help you prepare for your upcoming spring break trip to the Disneyland theme parks:

Spring Break crowds continued last week at Disneyland Resort. Our predictions for the overall resort level were accurate every day except for Thursday where it was off by one. We expect that these higher level crowds will continue until Easter, especially on weekends.

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. Mar. 20
Mon. Mar. 21
Tue. Mar. 22
Wed. Mar. 23
Thu. Mar. 24
Fri. Mar. 25
Sat. Mar. 26
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
See crowd predictions for the next 365 days and get wait time predictions on your Mobile Phone. Do More. Wait Less.

Inside Disneyland, walls have come down around the planters in front of the Main Street Opera House in Town Square. It appears the planters have shrunk, freeing up the walkway a bit more for heavy crowds. While it might be a little disappointing to see Disneyland's landscaping cut back just a bit, this change should prove to ease crowd flow during the busy summer season, especially as Disneyland prepares to debut its new Mickey's Soundsational Parade.

You can see discoloration in the bricks, where new bricks were installed when the planters were reduced in size.

Disneyland is hyping its new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides sneak peek, located in Frontierland's Festival Arena. The nighttime event takes a page from the popular ElecTRONica event in California Adventure, which offers a 3D sneak preview of TRON: Legacy, which apparently still draws healthy crowds despite the release of the Tron film on DVD and Blu-ray next week.

Guests arriving at the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure are receiving flyers promoting the new offering:

Disney has put a lot of effort into the new nighttime Pirates "experience" (as Cast Members have been calling it). The event primarily offers Guests the chance to see an extended scene from the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie in 3D, but it also features a sort-of pirate pre-show and lots of themed set dressing to make the whole thing feel like an immersive experience, rather than just a giant movie screen in the back of the park.

Signage promotes the new nighttime offering...

...warns that it may scare the young ones...

...and forbids photography and video recording of the film presentation.

Jack Sparrow appears for meet-and-greets in front of Big Thunder Ranch during the day.

And in the evening, singing pirates entertain guests waiting in line.

An animatronic parrot (that may be familiar to long-time Walt Disney World visitors) interacts with guests in line near the entrance to Big Thunder Ranch

Inside the Festival Arena, the entire area has been dressed with ship sails, skulls, fire and more. Pirates stand on perches and hang from ship shrouds above the crowd

Aside from having to sit on the ground, the overall experience is a lot of fun. Pirates holler at each other—and the crowd—and provide some loud, obnoxious entertainment while the crowd settles in to see the preview. It's by no means a full-fledged stage show, but the live entertainment that accompanies the glorified movie trailer is sufficient. Is the whole thing worth the hour-long queues its been drawing? If you've enjoyed the previous three Pirates films, then it's worth checking out. But if you haven't been a big fan of Jack Sparrow to date, then this probably isn't for you.

As you exit the sneak peek, Jack Sparrow somewhat awkwardly stands on some crates in Big Thunder Ranch pointing the way out: "By my calculations, the Fountain of Youth is that way"

Merchandise carts and some refreshments are available to those waiting in line, including the insanely priced non-acoholic "Pirate Grog." At $6.25 per cup, this is some expensive fruit punch!

Over in Tomorrowland, work continues behind the huge Star Tours tarps on repainting the facade.

The awning that once covered the Star Tours FASTPASS machines before they were removed a few years ago and later became shade for the extended queue and stroller parking is getting some work. Hopefully it's being completely removed — it doesn't provide enough shade to meet that need which results in an awkward structure in the middle of the outdoor queue.

In the back of Tomorrowland, Innoventions' main entrance is closed. Guests now enter through a temporary entrance that goes up the building's exit ramp.

The Innoventions sign and clock have been removed

Temporary entrance at the attraction's exit ramp

Looking back towards Star Tours from the top of Innoventions:

Across the Esplanade, construction continues on major projects throughout Disney California Adventure...

Work continues on DCA's new main entrance turnstiles.

Pan-Pacific Theater architecture takes shape behind the green tarps

In the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, the newly re-named Disney Theater has reopened with its updated Disney Junior—Live on Stage! show.

The show retains the popular Handy Manny and Little Einstein characters, while introducing the new Jake and the Neverland Pirates crew:

From the Disney Parks Blog:
‘Disney Junior – Live on Stage!’ Gets High Ratings from Our Younger Guests
Along with Jake and his pals, “Disney Junior – Live on Stage” brings back cast members from three audience favorites – “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny” and “Little Einsteins.” The production is jam-packed with music, dancing, beloved characters and Disney storytelling.

Dan Fields, creative director for the show, said it was exciting to be able to add Jake and his pals to the production within a month of their appearance on Disney Junior.

He added: “‘Disney Junior – Live on Stage!’ is the only place where Mickey and friends are the same size as toddlers, so the show is very approachable and fun for young guests and their families. The Disney characters directly ask the audience to be part of the action. Plus, there are more than a dozen musical moments in the show, so it’s pretty action-packed if you’re four or five years old!”

The new television creation Disney Junior launched in February, introducing “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” to children across the country. The park production opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida earlier this month. [ FULL STORY ]

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Just down Hollywood Blvd in the Disney Animation pavilion, the updated animation loop is now playing in the attraction's lobby. Films like Disney's "Atlantis" and "The Emporer's New Groove" and Pixar's "A Bug's Life" have been removed to make way for modern Pixar classics including "Finding Nemo," "Up," and "Toy Story 3." Other additions include Disney's latest hit, "Tangled" as well as "Lilo and Stitch." The new clip show is great, and while it may sound like there's a lot of Pixar, it doesn't feel bogged down by it — there's plenty of classic Disney present here still.

Some of the new additions — Finding Nemo:

Toy Story 3:

Monsters Inc:


Lilo and Stitch:




Work continues on Cars Land...

More trees have been placed in front of the new Little Mermaid attraction. The shade will be a welcome relief to the big crowds waiting to see the new ride this summer.

The Palace of Fine Arts rotunda is getting new paint to match the rest of the attraction



Scaffolding has gone up around Goofy's Sky School as work progresses on this attraction makeover.

Work continues on the new arched dining patio coverings

Paradise Garden Grill:

Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta

The new beer stand is coming along nicely...

Work seems to have ramped up at the new Maliboomer Park area. The space still looks like a long-term placeholder for something bigger and better in the future. How long-term? Who knows, but with the leftover Maliboomer platform, railings and shade structures; the park certainly doesn't look or feel like a permanent attraction for this corner of Paradise Pier.

New lattices for vine plants will help this park feel more like a park.

The new walls have been painted tan

Lush new park?

The white decorative handrails are new

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

Signage has gone up at the new homes of Sanuk and BLINK in Downtown Disney. The Sanuk signage looks temporary as of now, but the sign for the BLINK denim pop-up shop look ready for the store opening.

Both shops open later this spring

Back in Disneyland, Splash Mountain remains closed for its extended refurbishment.

A look at the dry splash-down curve from the Mark Twain Riverboat

In California Adventure, the looming Grizzly River Run bear's paddle has been re-painted to look wooden and less-modern. The change is another small step towards re-theming the ride to a more period-specific experience rather than the hip-and-contemporary extreme water rafting theme that it opened as in 2001.

Easter Bunny Duffy is now available at select DCA shops

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

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Weekly Theme Park Hours
MARCH 28 — APRIL 3, 2011

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday-Thursday: 9am - 12midnight
Friday-Sunday: 8am-12midnight
Monday-Thursday: 10am - 9pm
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
HIGH 6.7—9.5 out of 10
HIGH 7.4—8.8 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

  • Star Trader: Closed for refurbishment through April 30
  • Stage Door Cafe: Closed for refurbishment May 2—26
  • The Golden Horseshoe: Closed for refurbishment May 9—26
  • Indiana Jones Adventure: Closed for refurbishment May 17—18
  • Splash Mountain: Closed through May 26 for refurbishment.
  • Star Tours: Closed for Star Tours 2 overhaul. Opens June 3, 2011.

Disney California Adventure

  • 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 June 3, 2011.
  • Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle: Store and dining location closed for remodeling through May 2011.
  • Red Car Trolley: Attraction set to open spring 2012.

Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Tangaroa Terrace Restaurant and Trader Sam's Bar: Replacing the former Hook's Pointe, Wine Cellar and Lost Bar, the new tiki-themed dining complex will open Spring 2011.

From the OC Regsiter's Around Disney blog:
Disney president tackles union dispute
Disney shareholders on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have limited the pay of top company executives — an issue put on the ballot by the Disneyland Resort hotel union, according to preliminary results.

Unite Here, which represents 2,100 Disneyland hotel workers, wanted shareholders to back a plan that would restrict how top Walt Disney Co. officials get bonuses.

Twenty-nine percent of shareholder votes favored the union’s proposal, not enough for passage.

The vote was announced Wednesday at the Walt Disney Co.’s annual shareholders meeting in Salt Lake City by John Pepper, the board’s chairman. The official vote will be filed next week. A majority of shareholders’ votes was needed to pass.

The Disney board opposed the union’s proposal.

Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive officer, took in 35 percent more last year than he did in 2009, making about $28 million. Of that, about $13.5 million was a performance-based bonus, according to Disney’s proxy statement. Read a full story about top Disney executives’ pay.

The Disney board has flexibility in calculating executives’ bonuses, allowing members to use different criteria. The union’s proposal asked that the board only use one formula. Before the results were announced, Pepper said the board has scrutinized the issue and believes the current system works.

A union representative has said that the bonuses need to be tied more to the percentage or revenues and profits. Read a previous story about the Disney hotel union proposal.

“It’s purpose is actually very simple,” said Andy Lee, a Unite Here researcher, when addressing shareholders.

The hotel union has been without a contract for more than three years during a tense negotiations battle. Disney officials said they believe the union pushed for the ballot proposal because of the contract dispute.

Four Disneyland hotel union members addressed Iger and Pepper during the question-and-answer period of the 2-1/2-hour meeting. In a rare move, Iger discussed Disney’s latest union contract proposal, after declining to do so last year because of federal mediation at the time.

Iger said he has been personally involved in the issue and approves of the current plan, which gives employees the option of joining Disney’s health benefits or keeping the union program. Workers would get bonuses of up to $5,000 if they join the company plan.

“We thought we took a big step in trying to resolve this matter,” Iger said.

The union is preparing a counter offer, said Russell Maitland, a Disneyland Hotel bellman.
For the full story, visit: Around Disney: Disney president tackles union dispute

Also from the Around Disney blog:
Disney president promises to fix ID-theft risk
Disney president Bob Iger‘s ID card has the same problem as his employee’s: It’s embedded with his Social Security number.

On Wednesday, Iger promised that the company has a plan to fix the problem that some employees claim puts them at risk for identity theft.

“We are addressing this issue. This issue will be completely fixed. We’re trying to do it as quickly as possible,” Iger said Wednesday.

Iger responded to the problem during a question-and-answer session at the Walt Disney Co.‘s shareholder meeting in Salt Lake City, after a representative of Disneyland Resort‘s hotel union asked about it.

Members of the union, Unite Here that represents 2,100 hotel workers, filed last month a federal lawsuit against the Disney company, saying the employee ID cards are illegal. The bar codes can be read by smartphones and other devices — technology that wasn’t readily available when the cards were developed.
For the full story, visit: Around Disney: Disney president promises to fix ID-theft risk

Okay! — that wraps this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland. Thanks again to our wonderful sponsors at — and thanks to all of you for reading!

Don't forget to join the discussion in the comments section below! We love to see your thoughts and comments!

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!
- Andy

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  1. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!
  2. bamato's Avatar
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    Thanks for the awesome update!
  3. StevenW's Avatar
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    The Little Mermaid building is getting much better. It is certainly getting plused up.
  4. StevenSokulski's Avatar
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    With the Innoventions signage, that wall sure does end up looking like a big piece of swiss cheese.
  5. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update!
  6. Disneykin Kid's Avatar
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    Disney Animation Lobby - Removing Atlantis and Emperor's New Groove - Sheesh it's about time. Adding 6 Pixar films does seem like a lot of Pixar, although I guess we're just one big happy family, right?

    DL Hotel construction - What's the theme of that big triangular dome on the Goofy's Kitchen side of the building? Are they matching the blue spire on the right, that looks 70's-ish?

    GRR Bear - They should just replace that completely with something that looks more classic early 1900s California, I think it's supposed to look kitschy, but it's not kitschy enough, I remember some of those old odd looking giant statues along the highways in the 50s.
  7. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Excellent update!
  8. Walcer's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!

    Definitely don't like the trees in front of Mermaid. Why build a building with all that detail, then just cover it up with foliage? Bad move, Disney. If it's a question of shade, why then did they build those blue canopies over the queue - isn't that enough? I thought they were just storing them there temporarily until more popped up on the east side of the building. Oh well.
  9. mondo's Avatar
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    What are they doing with Innoventions?
  10. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    Nothing, sadly. Thought there are rumors of an E-ticket being put in there if they ever get around to putting some money into Tomorrowland.
  11. jcruise86's Avatar
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    I can't wait to see the new clips and pictures in the Animation lobby! That's my favorite place in DCA besides the Soarin' Theaters.
  12. jtamura69's Avatar
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    Exellent update as usual. We appreciate the time and effort that go into these updates. Can't wait till all the construction is finished so we can experience the new improvements.
  13. SoCalFan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disneykin Kid

    GRR Bear - They should just replace that completely with something that looks more classic early 1900s California, I think it's supposed to look kitschy, but it's not kitschy enough, I remember some of those old odd looking giant statues along the highways in the 50s.
    That's good then because the era they are shooting for and are slowly retheming towards is a 1950s Yosemite summer vacation type feel.
  14. Awe_inspired's Avatar
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    Regarding DCA's Goofy's Flying School ( I think that that is the name) I wish they would install several of these for clouds.
    YouTube - Flogos are floating logos. Texas has Houston, Dallas, Austin
  15. Dadoo's Avatar
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    Holy Crap! The shareholder meeting was held HERE, in Salt Lake City? Now, why didn't I know about that!!
  16. mttk2724's Avatar
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    cool update!!
  17. bayouguy's Avatar
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    Can't wait to see the new animation loop. It looks good.
  18. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Nice update! I will miss the old sections in the animation building.