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Dateline Disneyland

Little Mermaid sets sail, Soundsational steps off, Trader Sam sets up shop,+MUCH MORE

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by , 05-30-2011 at 03:54 AM
The Disneyland Resort is abuzz with activity as it gets closer to the June 3rd launch of its big Soundsational Summer promotion. The ad campaign neatly packages all of the new offerings the Resort is launching this summer including the new Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure attraction that quietly opened its doors to the public last week for soft openings. Over at Disneyland, the new Star Tours—The Adventures Continue thrill ride continued soft openings and Annual Passholder previews as the new Mickey's Soundsational Parade took to Main Street, U.S.A. offering a fantastic new entertainment offering to park guests. Outside the parks, the excellent new tiki-themed dining complex opened at the Disneyland Hotel along with the unveiling of the hotel's new Monorail water slides as well as the completion of the Frontier Tower's re-designed lobby.

Thanks to MiceChat's Fishbulb and Twitter's @DLtoday for extra help with photos today.

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.

It's was a big week at the Disneyland Resort and there's lots to see! Let's get started.

Inside Dateline Disneyland

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With two major attractions officially opening to the public on Friday, a new parade now performing daily, new dining at the Disneyland Hotel open for business and new attractions and dining coming to Disney California Adventure at the beginning of July, this summer will prove Disneyland to be a hugely popular Southern California destination. This week will be the calm before the storm and likely your final chance to sneak in a visit to the parks with lighter crowds until Labor Day. Our friends at Touring Plans have a recap of crowd levels over the last week, which will help you get an idea of what to expect this week before Disneyland's summer season gets started this weekend.

Wait times were slightly higher than predicted coming into the weekend, but otherwise predictions were extremely accurate. The forecast for the coming week looks similarly lower for the weekdays, so take a trip to the parks during the week to hit the Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure and Star Tours—The Adventures Continue soft openings and beat the summer crowds. The Crowd Calendar rankings are based on wait times for all days on record. When a day is predicated as a 1 out of 10, it doesn’t mean that the parks are empty, just that when compared to other days these wait times are in the bottom 10%.

Thank you 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 22
Mon. May 23
Tue. May 24
Wed. May 25
Thu. May 26
Fri. May 27
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.

Disney recently teased all of its new summer offerings in a video sneak-peek

Photos and video of the new parade in its entirety are featured below.
Please click here if you'd like to avoid the spoilers.

On Friday, Disneyland officially launched its first real parade since the 50th anniversary's Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams. The Parade of Dreams was followed by the tacky and obnoxious "Celebrate! A Street Party" which was launched as part of Disney Parks' corporate "Celebrate Today" ad campaign. Mickey's Soundsational, thankfully, was not designed with a cold corporate marketing message in mind, and the end result is a very solid new entertainment offering. There are no gimmicks here—the parade runs non-stop from Main Street to "it's a small world" with no show stops or faux-interactivity, it features original Disney music instead of "hip" modern pop songs and is full of characters that are actually in-character (Mary Poppins does not dance to the Macarena here). The parade, designed by artists Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, is delightfully whimsical in design and offers a timeless Disney appeal without feeling like the show is a tired rehash of previous processionals. This parade is a great fit for the park and fantastic addition to Disneyland entertainment line-up.

A crab from the Little Mermaid section zips around, reminiscent of an Electrical Parade lightning bug.

Brady MacDonald from the Los Angeles Times has a great review of the new parade:

Review: 'Soundsational' parade combines whimsy with whacky at Disneyland
Blending elements from "Drumline," "Stomp" and "Glee," the new music-centric "Mickey's Soundsational Parade" opening at Disneyland on Friday delivers on its fun and energetic party premise without feeling forced or contrived.

There are no show stops with false interactivity, no overtly clever design features that feel more manufactured than creative and no painful attempts to appear hip by playing on fleeting contemporary cliches.

Instead, "Soundsational" manages to be whimsical and imaginative, with moments that are at times quirky, weird and flat-out crazy. "Soundsational" is everything a Disney parade always sets out to be but rarely achieves -- an effortless and spontaneous street party that makes visitors smile and dance.

The idea for "Soundsational" started two years ago during the "blue sky" creative stage of development, said Steve Davison, vice president and director of parades and spectaculars at Walt Disney Imagineering, the company’s creative arm.

"I think I did six parade designs of different themes," Davison said during a backstage interview near the Disneyland parade-staging area. "At one point we were looking at doing a full 'Princess and the Frog' parade because the music was strong. I was sitting at my computer one day and I said, 'Why don’t we look at a music parade?'"

"Soundsational" combines musical styles -- Caribbean, Latin, Bollywood, jazz and gospel -- with arrangements by "Glee" vocal director Tim Davis to create a multi-layered soundtrack featuring a quicker tempo than most Disneyland parades.

The parade kicks off with six trick-stick drummers recruited from the "Drumline" touring show who set the pace and energy level for the upbeat procession that follows. Throughout the parade, a 2 1/2-minute soundtrack loop is supplemented by live music, including a seven-piece horn section and Mickey Mouse ably playing a full drum kit.

"It has a very youthful sound to it," Davison said. "It’s current, but its classic, which is tricky. I like doing old and new together."

The nine floats represent super-sized musical instruments with a pop-up book motif made to look like intricate paper cut designs. My favorite floats included the "Princess and the Frog" riverboat with flute-like smokestacks and the "Mary Poppins" carousel with spooling player piano reels.

The modular configuration of the parade will allow show producers to swap out elements when a new movie debuts, Davison said.

"Over time you’re going to see the parade morph and change," he said. [ FULL REVIEW ]

The Three Caballeros make an appearance in the new show

Rapunzel's tower rises above the princess float

Rapunzel takes center stage

Chimney sweeps lead a rousing rendition of "Step in Time" as the finale Mary Poppins float follows

Mary and Bert ride carousel horses

The full parade can be seen below in our video below.

Over in Tomorrowland, Star Tours FASTPASS machines have been unveiled. We previously showed you a glimpse of these droid-themed machines from a crack in the construction walls, but now with the walls down and covers off of the machines, we can get a clearer look.

In Frontierland, walls are down around the new structure next to the Mark Twain dock revealing a large new outdoor vending location.

The new structure is a hybrid outdoor vending location, combining a hot food (turkey leg) cart with a drink-and-fruit stand along with a frozen lemonade stand. The three-in-one vending location is not only a strange (and ugly) thematic mix between Frontierland's Mark Twain dock and New Orleans Square's Pirates of the Caribbean, but it is also poorly placed across from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad queue entrance and FASTPASS distribution area. Anyone familiar with this area is likely aware that this area can become frustratingly bottlenecked when the park is busy, so the placement of the bulky new outdoor vending location seems like a bad choice and already seemed to create additional congestion in the area during this last off-season weekend.

Nearby, the Golden Horseshoe is still behind tarps as its facade refurbishment continues, however the inside of the restaurant/theatre has reopened.

Around the corner, the Stage Door Cafe has also reopened.

A short walk along the Rivers of America at the Pirates of the Caribbean, the ride's Davy Jones waterfall has been changed to feature Blackbeard from the lastest Pirates film. This change went into effect last weekend, but we missed it in our last update. The update is nothing special, but its interesting to see Disneyland make this sort of small change to help promote current films. We have video of the Blackbeard waterfall below.

Davy Jones is expected to return later this year.

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

Work continues on the new main entrance to Disney California Adventure

Construction at the new Carthay Circle fountain pump house

Photos and video of the new attraction are featured below.
Please click here if you'd like to avoid the spoilers.

Last week the new Little Mermaid attraction opened its doors for public soft openings. The new ride isn't officially set to open until June 3, but if you were at the park last week you may have lucked out and been able to hop aboard a clamshell with wait times at 15 minutes or less. If you're an Annual Passholder and have missed out on soft openings, Disney has scheduled two days of special Passholder previews Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1. All you do is show your pass to get on the ride.

The load area

Scuttle introduces you to the story of Ariel at the beginning of the ride

Ariel in her grotto

Sebastian leads the band in the big "Under the Sea" scene

Ursula plots against Ariel

Kiss the Girl

A complete ride-through of the new attraction can be seen on video below:


Progress on the new Paradise Garden dining area and re-themed Goofy's Sky School roller coaster is moving along nicely. Last week, Disney Imagineer Larry Nikolai gave a video sneak peek behind the construction walls at the construction in this area

What the area should look like when it's finished

New signage installed at Goofy's Sky School

A large gap in the construction wall offered a sneak peek behind the walls

The new Bayside Brews beer stand

A look at Cars Land construction...

Over at the Disneyland Hotel, work has wrapped up on the new Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam's dining complex and Monorail water slide pool area. Overall, the new offerings are a great change for the hotel. While the loss of the hotel's waterfalls are unforgivable, the removal of the tired Lost Bar, crystal shop and arcade for the expanded pool area and outdoor fireplace was a smart move. Re-working the former Hook's Pointe and Wine Cellar complex into the new Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam's bar was an excellent decision. The new dining location feels like classic Adventureland with a Walt Disney World Polynesian Resort influence and the food here continues the recent trend of interesting, high-quality menus at quick service restaurants. The new Trader Sam's bar overflows with nostalgic nods to vintage Adventureland while offering a unique experience in and of itself. Overall, the new dining offerings are wonderfully retro with a clean, modern flare; serving up 1950s-style Disneyland charm without feeling kitschy or forced. As a standalone fixture, the new Monorail pool may seem cold or cheap, but it works well with the 50s-era vibe the Hotel is aiming for. Unfortunately, plans for the Never Land Pool call for a complete removal of thematic elements, which is a shame. Hopefully additional Tomorrowland-themed elements can be incorporated in the pool area to offer a more thoroughly themed experience.

A new outdoor fireplace

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar

The new bar is small, but packed with details, jokes, and clever animated props borrowed from Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room and the former Adventurer's Club at Walt Disney World.

When a certain drink is ordered, this ship-in-a-bottle weathers a great storm and then sinks into the sea.

On the other side of the Trader Sam's building, the new Tangaroa Terrace quick-service restaurant opened with a delicious selection of burgers, chicken sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and salads

The open kitchen is visible from the touch-screen ordering kiosks

The indoor dining area is small; but has a lot of large windows and high ceilings, making the space feel larger and more welcoming.

Historical photos of Walt and the Enchanted Tiki Room are featured on the walls

Outside, a spacious patio has plenty of chairs and booths for diners and bar patrons

Tiki torches surround the dining terrace

Themed lighting

Nearby, the new pedestrian bridge over the pool area and the Monorail water slide pool area is now open. Currently the bridge leads to nowhere as work continues on the other side, but it offers great views of the surrounding areas, including the new Monorail pool

The entrance gate to the new pool area

Over at the Frontier Tower, work has wrapped up on the remodeled lobby area and is now open to guests

The wonderful Horseshoe Waterfalls that used to create a grand entrance to this tower are now history and all that's left is a wedding lawn. What a shame.

Inside the lobby a scale model of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is now on display. It's really a treat to examine.

At night, the new hotel grounds light up with tiki torches and color-changing waterfalls at the new pool area

Below is a video clip of the color-changing water fall at the new Monorail pool

An overview of the Disneyland Hotel grounds from the top of the Adventure Tower

Can you spot the new Minnie Mouse-themed spa?

Walls have gone up around the Never Land Pool, but the pool remains open

Last week, the Disney Parks Blog posted an overview of the Hotel changes, including a video that talks about all of the new changes:

New Pool Area Opening This Weekend at the Disneyland Hotel
The enhancements at the Disneyland Hotel continue to take shape, and on Sunday, May 29, a new, immersive water play area will join Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s – Enchanted Tiki Bar, which opened earlier this week.

As we first told you about last year, the centerpiece of the new pool area will call to mind past Disneyland park iconography. Classic Disneyland block signage will combine with replica Monorail trains to create an experience that is both fun and nostalgic.

Also coming to the Disneyland Hotel pool area will be a new D-Ticket themed pool. Guests will have fun finding the subtle D-Tickets in the pool, which are reminiscent of the ticket books that were used in the early days of Disneyland. This will be followed in late 2011 by an E-Ticket themed pool, in the area which previously featured the Never Land pool.

The new pool space will also include Mickey and Minnie themed spas located at opposite ends of the pool area. Also, when the pool area is completed, six new cabanas will be available, featuring flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, safes, phones and ceiling fans.

Of course, these are just some of the changes happening at the Disneyland Hotel. Check out the video below to find out more from Tony Bruno, Vice President, Resorts & Downtown Disney, about the pool area, dining locations, and of course the new Fairy Tale and Big Thunder suites, which recently joined the Mickey Mouse Penthouse and Pirates of the Caribbean suites. [ FULL STORY ]

In Downtown Disney, the new Apricot Lane Boutique and Sanuk footwear store have opened

Inside Disneyland, Splash Mountain has reopened after its lengthy refurbishment

The load area has been reworked, allowing for speedier guest loading

The on-ride photo viewing area at the exit has gotten some new photography-related theming

New frames around the screens that preview the on-ride photos

New Cars 2 and theme-park related Cars merchandise has hit store shelves as the new movie gets ready to hit theaters

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by our good friends at the
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Weekly Theme Park Hours
May 30 — June 5, 2011

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday: 8am - 12midnight
Tuesday-Wednesday: 9am - 12 midnight
Thursday: 8am-9pm
Friday: 9pm-12midnight
Saturday-Sunday: 8am - 12midnight
Monday-Wednesday: 10am - 10pm
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
MEDIUM/HIGH 2.1—6.4 out of 10
MEDIUM/HIGH 2.7—8.1 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 Tours — The Adventures Continue: Officially opens June 3, 2011.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Closed May 31—June 9 for refurbishment.
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed the following periods for refurbishment: June 13—17, June 20—24, and July 11—September 1.

Disney California Adventure

  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure: Officially opens June 3, 2011.
  • Goofy's Sky School: Opens July 1
  • Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta: Opens July 1
  • Paradise Garden Grill: Opens July 1
  • Red Car Trolley: Attraction set to open spring 2012.

Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Never Land Pool: Area set for remodel. Dates to be announced.

Disney imposes new work conditions, pay raises on hotel union
From the OC Register's Around Disney blog:
Disney forces pay raises on hotel union
Disney plans to impose new work conditions, which include pay raises, on hotel employees after about three and a half years of contentious negotiations, a Disney official said Monday.

About 2,100 union members have been working without a contract since Jan. 31, 2008. The fierce dispute has included a one-day strike, walkouts, a one-week hunger strike and dozens of protests. The parties mostly disagree about health-care costs.

Disney officials decided to “implement” new work conditions after leaders of the union, Unite Here Local 11, failed to respond to its last contract offer in February. See a story about Disney’s last contract offer.

“We’re very disappointed that Disney decided to implement its contract proposal without negotiating with us,” said Leigh Shelton, a union spokeswoman.

Union members had promised to give a counter-offer to the company, but Disney never received one, said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman. Disney recently gave union leaders a deadline of last Wednesday, but the company did not get a response.

“We believe our hotel cast members (employees) have waited too long for well-deserved wage increases,” Brown said in a statement. “Local 11 union leadership has been unwilling to meet and engage in a meaningful dialogue with us — even after we presented an offer that was a significant step forward by the company and advised them that this was our final offer.”

Disney leaders told hotel employees about the new work conditions on Monday.

Under Disney’s new offer, the company immediately plans to give raises averaging about 3 percent annually over the next five years, Brown said.

Also, hotel-room cleaners will get a decrease in workload — a maximum of 13 rooms per day, instead of 14 rooms. The workers had complained that the high workload was contributing to injuries. See a previous story about Disneyland hotel workload.

Workers should see those changes over the next few weeks, Brown said.
Full story: Around Disney: Disney forces pay raises on hotel union

Whew! Alright, that finishes this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland! Please check out our sponsors at!

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  1. Athlonacon's Avatar
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    The new ODV next to the Mark Twain is hideous! I thought maybe it was a pile of left-over construction garbage until I read the caption and found out that WAS the new ODV. I couldn't believe that they'd add such a horrid looking thing to one of the best corners of the park.

    Tear it down, don't start over, just tear it down.
  2. ismith21's Avatar
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    I rode TLM 5 times this past weekend. Did anyone else notice the tribute to The Incredible Mr Limpett to the right side of the "Under the Sea" number?
  3. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athlonacon
    The new ODV next to the Mark Twain is hideous! I thought maybe it was a pile of left-over construction garbage until I read the caption and found out that WAS the new ODV. I couldn't believe that they'd add such a horrid looking thing to one of the best corners of the park.

    Tear it down, don't start over, just tear it down.
    It certainly isn't pretty to look at and blocks the river view. Worse, they placed it in a bottleneck area between the Mark Twain dock and Big Thunder Fastpass. It doesn't really make much sense.
  4. DisneyTrains's Avatar
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    Nice update!
    Updated 05-31-2011 at 09:31 PM by DisneyTrains
  5. D23Divinity's Avatar
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    I'm really disappointed that they didn't make the new Disneyland Hotel restaurant more like an actual Luau themed experience, especially one's like they had in the 50's and 60's. There's so many places they could have gone with that, and I don't understand why only Disney World gets those kinds of super fun things!

    Can't wait to see the parade in a few weeks!, and especially can't wait for Cars Land!!
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