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Dateline Disneyland

Star Tours readies for launch, Billboards in Paradise, Mary's world of color, +MORE!

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by , 05-15-2011 at 06:55 PM
It was yet another busy week at the Disneyland Resort. Construction walls came down around Star Tours in Disneyland as well as part of the new Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure attraction at Disney California Adventure. At both attractions, Disney Cast Members were treated to special preview opportunities and reports trickling in say that Disney has two hits on their hands. Meanwhile, Disneyland opened its latest art exhibit at the Disney Gallery on Main Street, celebrating the art of Disney Legend Mary Blair, known for her remarkable use of color and distinctive style seen, most notably, in the classic "it's a small world" attraction in Fantasyland, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. Elsewhere in the Resort, construction continues at major new additions coming to California Adventure and the Disneyland Hotel. Plus, we took a detour to Walt Disney World this weekend to help our friends at MiceChat's Orlando Parkhopper cover D23's Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th event. More on that can be seen in our news section at the end of our column today.

Thanks to Fishbulb and 2DieFR for extra help with some photos in this week's update.

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.

Let's get started!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

Sponsored by | Do More. Wait Less.

Our friends at Touring Plans have the weekly crowd breakdown for you again this week:

Wait times hit a couple points higher than expected this past Friday and Saturday but overall our predictions for the week performed well. Quick review of what our numbers mean: These are rankings based on wait times for all days on record. When you look at a day ranked as a 1, think to yourself, “This day ranks in the lowest group when compared to all other days.” It doesn’t mean that the parks are empty, just that when compared to other days these wait times are in the bottom 10%.

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. May 8
Mon. May 9
Tue. May 10
Wed. May 11
Thu. May 12
Fri. May 13
Sat. May 14
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.

Some small refurbishment projects have popped up on Main Street. The gift stand next to the Guided Tour Garden has been walled off and gutted for refurbishment.

The China Closet's facade is getting repainted further down on Main Street.

The shop's main entry doors are closed off during the refurbishment.

Over in New Orleans Square, no signs of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides premiere remain. Walking through the area, you'd never know that just a week ago the world premiere of a Hollywood blockbuster took place here!

Back in Town Square, the Disney Gallery has opened its latest exhibit showcasing the incredible art of Disney Legend Mary Blair. The exhibit celebrates Mary's unique style as well as the 45th anniversary of "it's a small world."

The retail space offers a selection of Mary Blair-inspired pieces for purchase.

Walls finally came down around Star Tours last week, revealing a sleek new version of the Star Tours universe. It looks fantastic and reports coming in from both coasts say the new ride is incredible. We can't wait to ride!

Even less prominent signage gets the Star Tours touch

Work continues on California Adventure's $1 billion-dollar remodel and expansion...

Construction continues on the new main entrance turnstiles

The Lost and Found and Guest Relations windows along with lockers and restrooms to the left of the California Adventure entrance are now closed and behind construction walls.

A look at turnstile construction from inside the park

The Information kiosk and covered seating area in Sunshine Plaza are now completely gone.

On Monday, Valarie Sukovaty with Disney Public Relations posted a video on the Disney Parks Blog and shared the following information on the recent tour Disney animators took of the new Little Mermaid attraction at California Adventure:

“The Little Mermaid” Animators Tour The Little Mermaid~Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Attraction at Disney California Adventure Park
I know “The Little Mermaid” fans have been eagerly awaiting the opening of The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney California Adventure park. I’ve been waiting since I first saw the movie back in 1989! There are three other people who’ve also been hoping that someday a Little Mermaid attraction would open at Disney Parks: legendary Disney animators Glen Keane, Mark Henn and Andreas Deja. These three talented men are some of the creative minds behind all those lovable characters in the movie.

Recently, Walt Disney Imagineers Larry Nikolai and Chris Crump gave the animators a tour of the new attraction. I was lucky enough to also be on this tour, along with a crew from D23’s magazine, Disney twenty-three . You can read their extensive article in this month’s issue and here.

In this video you get to see a rare Disney moment: animators seeing their work come to life in a Disney Parks attraction. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And remember, The Little Mermaid~Ariel’s Undersea Adventure opens at Disney California Adventure park on June 3. [ LINK ]

Later in the week, walls came down on the eastern side of the facade, along the San Francisco Street area.

Overflow queue area. Looks good!

Under-the-sea themed plantlife


Over at Goofy's Sky School, new animated billboards have gone up. The signage illustrates the new story overlay being added here, giving riders Goofy's step-by-step directions on how to fly.

This might not be E-Ticket-worthy work, but it's an improvement over the tacky roadsigns and garish colors of Mullholland Madness.

Work on the re-themed dining area continues...

New palm trees planted along the covered patio.

The new Bayside Brews beer stand is progressing.

Nearby, the Seaside Souvenirs gift shop has gotten new signage, popcorn lights, and a new blue-and-white awnings.

Lipstick on a pig here, but it's a nice change until the area can be redeveloped in the future.

A look at the Cars Land expansion...

A quick look at work at the Disneyland Hotel...

Apricot Lane Boutique in Downtown Disney is moving into the former Kitson Kids location. Work being done already on the exterior paint.

The new permanent Sanuk footwear store has gotten its new signage installed

Back in Disneyland, work continues on the new structure next to the Mark Twain Riverboat dock in Frontierland

And some refurbishments are underway nearby...

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Weekly Theme Park Hours
May 16 — 22, 2011

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday-Thursday: 9am - 8pm
Friday: 9am - 12 midnight
Saturday-Sunday: 8am - 12midnight
Monday-Thursday: 10am - 9pm
Thursday: 10am - 8:30pm
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
LOW/MEDIUM 1.8—6.4 out of 10
MEDIUM 4.2—6.5 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

  • Stage Door Cafe: Closed for refurbishment through May 26
  • The Golden Horseshoe: Closed for refurbishment through May 26
  • Indiana Jones Adventure: Closed for refurbishment May 17—18
  • Splash Mountain: Closed through May 26 for refurbishment.
  • Star Tours — The Adventures Continue: Opens June 3, 2011.

Disney California Adventure

  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure: Official Cast previews set for mid-May. Opens to public June 3, 2011.
  • Seaside Souvenirs: Remodeled store opens June 3.
  • Goofy's Sky School: Opens July 1
  • Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta: Opens July 1
  • Paradise Garden Grill: Opens July 1
  • Corn Dog Castle: Refurbished dining location reopens July 1.
  • Red Car Trolley: Attraction set to open spring 2012.

Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Tangaroa Terrace – Casual Island Dining: New restaurant opens May 25.
  • Trader Sam's – Enchanted Tiki Bar: New bar opens May 25.
  • Monorail water play area: Opens May 25.

D23 celebrates Walt Disney World's 40th at Destination D!

I had the immense pleasure of flying out to Walt Disney World in Florida this weekend to help our sister column, MiceChat's Orlando Parkhopper, cover D23's fantastic Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th event. I took numerous photos of the two-day event at Disney's Contemporary Resort that included panel discussions with Walt Disney Imagineers, historical presentations by Disney historian Paul F. Anderson, and an incredible concert featuring Disney Legend Richard Sherman.

If you were unable to attend this spectacular event (or even if you did) be sure to check out today's Orlando Parkhopper here on MiceChat for complete coverage of the event including photos by myself and commentary from the wonderful SummerInFL.

Read Orlando Parkhopper: Destination D — Walt Disney World 40th

Okay! That's all for this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland. Please be sure to check out our sponsors at and see what they've got to offer.

Thanks again to Fishbulb and 2DieFR for their extra help this week. Be sure to read today's Orlando Parkhopper for complete coverage of Walt Disney World's Destination D event, which we here at Dateline Disneyland helped cover!

Thanks, of course, to all of you for reading. Be sure to share Dateline Disneyland with your friends and family and don't forget to join in the discussion below!

For even more photos, check out the Dateline Disneyland Smugmug photo albums. All of our unedited photos taken for our weekly updates are available here to view in high resolution:

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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 the parks!
- Andy

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  1. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!
  2. LittleSquirt's Avatar
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    great update! thanks for giving a great end to my week! so much going on around the resort!
  3. Petchaurus's Avatar
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    I love all of the new additions. I cannot wait to ride the Little Mermaid attraction. Everything is coming together so nicely at DCA. I love it.

    Thanks for your updates. Always a great start to my week.
  4. Notoriousdan562's Avatar
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    Nice update!!! I just love all of Mary Blair's work! Really hope I get a chance to see it in person.
  5. Hildy's Avatar
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    Great update! Very excited about the walls coming down around LM. Wish that they would now put something in those buildings across from that portion of LM. That blue color on the new entrance turnstiles at DCA, is it the same light blue on the rotunda entrance at LM?

    Love the Small World art by Mary Blair. (Still one of my favorite rides). Always makes you feel like the first time you went to Disneyland.
  6. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Excellent update!
  7. Concieved@DL's Avatar
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    Thank you for a really great update. I am really looking forward to my DLR vacation next week. I do hope that Main street is done with all of the refurbs by then. It would be a shame if I counld not get my picture fix in. Thanks again.
  8. D.E.1955's Avatar
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    Wow the Mary Blair loving the Mary Blair art!!!! Glad to see more important Disney Legends being recognized! =)
  9. jcruise86's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!

    It was good to see Glen Keane previewing the Little Mermaid--he is one of the greatest animators of all-time. "Of all-time" seems a bit over-the-top for such a young art form, so here is a more specific compliment form a more reputable source: Chuck Jones spoke at USC around 1998, and when he was asked to name animators he admired today, he said, "John Lasseter and Glen Keane."
  10. Sleepy505's Avatar
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    Geat Update as always, my family and I will be there June 3 and count down starts right now!
  11. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    Wish they could have saved Mary Blair's Disneyland Tomorrowland tiles on the architectural facades. Great to see her being honored in the Gallery. Her work is Timeless. PD
  12. ooolarge disneyfan's Avatar
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    Great update. i just go my ticket for one of the annual pass holders previews for star tours, so exicted!
  13. JADP's Avatar
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    Wow, its amazing how fast things change at Disneyland! I just left Thursday night and some places where construction walls were are not and some are new.
    Thanks for showing pics of the Disney Gallery. I was bummed becuase we left the day before the change over.
    When we were there all 4 days we saw Cast Members going on Ariel and I struck up a conversation with one Cast Member who let me know that on the Grand Opening each Cast Member has a special pass to ride before the public that also includes a companion pass and Park Hopper, (that would be nice). She also said that "some Cast Members were kind of giving the ride mixed reviews because alot of them thought it was going to be a roller coaster,or more like the Hanuted Mansion", what??? Just because it uses the same ride system as the HM does not mean its going to be the same! She said she loved it and that it was "like a classic Fantasy Land style dark ride". Hmmmm...
  14. disneymademoiselle's Avatar
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    Great update! I'll be snatching up those Mary Blair goodies in June
  15. Jacob Griffin's Avatar
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    Got to go to the Cast Member Previews of Star Tours! IT...WAS...AMAZING!!
  16. SummerInFL's Avatar
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    Andy - It was an absolute pleasure working with you at the D23 event, we made a great team!

    How you managed to squeeze out a Dateline Disneyland update while the entire event was going on just shows how much of a rock star you truly are.

    Stay awesome.

    - Summer
  17. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Great Update!

  18. cablubber's Avatar
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    Very nice update! Thanks!
  19. jpg391's Avatar
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    Great update again.