Pan Pacific gates, Carmageddon strikes, Phineas and Ferb, Garden lights, +MORE
by, 07-11-2011 at 03:49 AM
Planning on visiting Disneyland this weekend? If you're traveling by car, you may want to reschedule your visit to the Happiest Place on Earth or you may find yourself in some of the most intense Los Angeles traffic the region has ever expected. If your route avoids the Los Angeles area, then you'll be in for a treat. Disneyland celebrates its 56th anniversary on Sunday as both parks tout their new Soundsational Summer offerings including the new Star Tours and Little Mermaid attractions. Also new at Disney California Adventure, Phineas and Ferb take to the streets with a new dance party and the Paradise Garden dining area lights up the night on Paradise Pier. Meanwhile, construction continues throughout the park, including putting the finishing touches on the new Pan-Pacific Auditorium-inspired main entrance gates.
Thanks to MiceChat's Fishbulb for some additional help with photos this week.
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
- Welcome to Disneyland!
TouringPlans.com crowd level recap, Emporium refurbishment
Visiting Disneyland this weekend? Beware 'Carmageddon'
- California Construction
A look at the on-going construction at Disney California Adventure...
- Rockin & Rollin'
Phineas and Ferb join the California Adventure cast.
- Disneyland Hotel Remodel
Disneyland Hotel remodel continues
- This & That
Self-serve Best Buy kiosk opens in Downtown Disney, DCA merch carts, more
- Weekly News and Information Round-Up
Weekly theme park hours, closures and refurbishments, Meg Crofton promoted, Disneyland rolls out aid for visually impaired
Sponsored by TouringPlans.com | Do More. Wait Less.[/color]
WELCOME TO DISNEYLAND!
Our partners at Touring Plans have something a bit different this week: overall crowd predictions at Disneyland Resort for this week.
Expect moderately high crowd levels all week long as we continue during the summer season. Note that the two lowest levels of Annual Passholders will be blocked out everyday, so these numbers are greatest impacted by vacationers descending upon Disneyland. TouringPlans.com can help you avoid falling into the typical tourist pitfalls with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines - Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now more than ever, it's a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!
Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.
Fred Hazelton Statistician, TouringPlans.com
Crowd Calendar Prediction Crowd Tips DISNEYLAND RESORT Mon., July 11 8/10 Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you'll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
- Disneyland park's least busy days will be Tuesday and Thursday, when it's a 7.9 on the Crowd Calendar.
- Expect 8s and 9s on the Crowd Calendar.
- There will be full AP blockouts on Saturday.
Tue., July 12 8/10 Wed., July 13 9/10 Thu., July 14 8/10 Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
The Matterhorn Bobsleds are closed, starting today (Monday, July 11), for an extended refurbishment. The attraction is set to reopen at the beginning of September with new lap bar-equipped bobsleds on the tracks.CORRECTION 7/11, 12 PM PT: We're now hearing that the current Matterhorn refurbishment will consist of track replacement. New bobsleds will come at a later date. Andy.
Southern California residents have been receiving non-stop reminders of the impending 405 highway closure, but for those traveling from other areas to Disneyland for its 56th Anniversary or the annual Disneyana fan convention, you may be in for a bit of a surprise when you reach Los Angeles-area highways this weekend. Local media has dubbed the event "Carmageddon" and are expecting the Los Angeles highways and nearby city streets to become completely gridlocked. The highway closure affecting a 10-mile stretch of the 405 freeway between the 10 and the 101 is expected to last 53 hours, starting Friday night and ending early Monday morning. The closure is due to demolition on the Mullholland Drive Bridge.
If your plans to visit this weekend aren't set in stone, it might be a good idea to reschedule. However, if you must visit Disneyland this weekend and your route passes through area affected by the highway closure, then plan ahead. If possible, arrive before the highway closure and leave after it reopens. Below is more information on the closure from the Los Angeles Times.
Motorists warned about 'nightmare' of 405 closure
Los Angeles city and county leaders did their best Monday to eliminate any ambiguity in their quest to warn motorists about the impending traffic "nightmare" over a weekend in mid-July, when construction crews plan to shut down several miles of the 405 Freeway for more than two days.
"There's gridlock on the 405 virtually any time of the day, but particularly during the rush hour, and if you think it's bad now, let me just make something absolutely clear: On July 16 and 17, it will be an absolute nightmare," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was one of nearly a dozen speakers at a news conference outside Skirball Cultural Center in Brentwood.
"And that's why we're asking the public to plan ahead," Villaraigosa said. "To avoid the area, to not go on the 405 or anywhere close during that period of time."
He suggested: "Go on vacation."
The 405 will be closed for 53 hours beginning the evening of July 15 and ending early the morning of July 18 mostly for demolition work on the Mulholland Drive Bridge.
The northbound 405 will be closed for 10 miles between the 10 and 101 freeways, and the southbound 405 will be closed for four miles between the 101 Freeway and the Getty Center Drive exit. The work is part of a larger $1-billion freeway improvement project that includes constructing a 10-mile northbound carpool lane to complete what officials say is a network between Orange County and the San Fernando Valley.
The closure in July will allow crews to demolish the south side of Mulholland Bridge and then spend about 11 months doing bridge reconstruction on the south side. After that, crews will demolish the north side of the bridge, which will require another extended freeway closure.
Officials say that closing those segments of the freeway is unavoidable. But they predict that the repairs and the new carpool lane will slash commute time and have other benefits.
"Stay the heck out of here," L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. He said he knows every shortcut in the area and that "not one of them is going to work." [ FULL STORY ]
Work continues on the remainder of California Adventure's $1 billion-dollar remodel and expansion...
BUENA VISTA STREET
Half of Ticket Booth #8 in the Main Entrance Plaza, between La Brea Bakery and California Adventure's main entrance, has now become dedicated Guest Relations windows. With the old Guest Relations windows next to the park's main entrance closed and the in-park Guest Relations lobby closing soon for Buena Vista Street construction, the new service at Ticket Booth #8 will help over the next year as construction continues.
Meanwhile, the new Pan-Pacific Auditorium-inspired main entrance gates are nearing completion. Last week flags were added and the new park marquee installed.
Gates and turnstiles have been installed.
Inside, work continues on the new Carthay Circle Theater
The new pump house:
PARADISE GARDEN DINING AREA
The excellent new Paradise Garden dining area is open for business, but the project is still adding finishing touches that it was unable to complete before barely making its July 1st opening deadline.
Plenty of additional popcorn lights were installed throughout the Garden last week, bringing even more nighttime appeal to the area.
Still, not all of the additional decorative lighting was functional over the weekend and work crews will continue to finish the work this week.
The former P.T. Flea Market pin store, which has been converted into dining space is still not open to guests.
The work done over the last week included getting the Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta marquee lit, as it was throughout the day on Saturday.
Yet, technical difficulties Saturday night resulted in nearly the entire restaurant going dark.
The majority of the interior lighting went dark as well. The restaurant appeared closed, but it was open and Cast Members remained friendly and helpful to guests despite the situation.
Outside, not all of the installed lighting was functional yet.
But what was working really looked fantastic.
During the day, a table near the Paradise Garden Bandstand is a great place to enjoy your lunch at. Disney has booked fantastic live musicians throughout the summer to perform here.
Bands like Turkflamenco make up the summer music line-up at the bandstand.
Take a listen with the video below:
Cars Land construction continues in the former Timon parking lot.
The ride system for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is going in...
Brick facade going up at the Luigi's Flying Tires building
ROCKIN' & ROLLIN'
On Saturday, Disney debuted a new street show featuring Disney Channel animated stars, Phineas and Ferb.
The new show follows the same formula as the recent "Pixar Pop-Up" shows that run through the park's Hollywood Pictures Backlot. However, instead of Pixar characters, Phineas and Ferb take center stage on a colorful truck that parks at the entrance to Paradise Pier, adjacent to the Little Mermaid attraction.
Interactive dance-alongs, sing-alongs and activities including the limbo are incorporated into the show.
The entire show plays rather nonsensically to those who aren't familiar with the characters which means the show will be most enjoyed by young kids and their parents. There isn't much here of any value to anyone over the age of 10 unless you're a parent of a child who wants to play along with Phineas and Ferb.
Below is a short clip from the new show.
DISNEYLAND HOTEL REMODEL
Remodel work continues at the Disneyland Hotel
Work is just about done on the exterior of the Fantasy Tower
Inside, guests looking to access the other Towers must exit from the lobby's main entrance and walk completely around the Fantasy Tower as the remodel work around the former Never Land Pool has expanded.
Work walls now push up against Mickey's sorcerer hat
Work progresses at the pool area
A look at Hotel entrance from the Downtown Disney district, now behind walls as it gets re-Imagineered.
The Adventure Tower entrance
THIS & THAT
In Downtown Disney, another vendor cart has opened. This time it's a self-service Best Buy electronics kiosk, where you can buy a new iPod, earphones, or a selection of other gadgets.
Back inside California Adventure, merchandise carts between Corn Dog Castle and Goofy's Sky School now sell a selection of Phineas and Ferb merchandise to tie into the new street show as well as toy airplanes and aviator goggles for the nearby Goofy roller coaster.
This is a new-to-me item, but something that caught my eye. Several outdoor vending carts are now being parked around the Paradise Pier lighthouse sculpture, across from the Little Mermaid ride every evening at dusk. These carts selling light-up cotton candy, drinks, popcorn and light-up novelty items are here for guests queueing for World of Color. While I'm sure there is a certain level of convenience having carts like this available for guests waiting for the show, the Cast Members tasked with walking around to sell items like popcorn and cotton candy seems a bit over-the-top. The extra and cluttery outdoor vending comes off as an obvious money-grab and makes the event feel like a common carnival presentation and not a classy Disney production.
If this sort of thing must go on, does it really need to be set up three full hours before the first World of Color show even starts? There has got to be a better solution here.
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WEEKLY NEWS AND INFORMATION ROUND-UP Weekly Theme Park HoursJuly 11 July 17, 2011
Disneyland Park Disney California Adventure Monday-Sunday: 8am - 12midnight Monday-Sunday: 10am - 10pm For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
Expected Crowd Levels presented by TouringPlans.com Disneyland Park Disney California Adventure HIGH 7.88.9 out of 10 HIGH 8.09.2 out of 10 Closures and Refurbishment Schedule Disneyland Park
- Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed for refurbishment July 11September 1.
- Space Mountain: Varied operating hours July 1126: Opens late Mondays and Wednesdays, Closes early Sundays and Tuesdays.
- Haunted Mansion: Closed to install Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay August 29 September 15.
- Indiana Jones Adventure: Closed September 6 7 for refurbishment.
- Pirates of the Caribbean and Blue Bayou Restaurant: Closed September 7 November 23 for refurbishment.
Space Mountain: Closed to install Ghost Galaxy seasonal overlay September 9 15.
Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed September 26 28 for refurbishment.
Disney California Adventure
- Engine Ears Toys, Baker's Field Bakery and Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream: Retail and dining locations close permanently August 1. Space will reopen as new offerings in 2012 as part of Buena Vista Street.
- California Screamin': Closed September 6 October 14 for refurbishment.
- Red Car Trolley: Attraction set to open spring 2012.
Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort
- Never Land Pool: Area closed for remodel and re-theming.
Disney promotes Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton
Some potentially worrisome news: Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton has been promoted to a position that oversees all Disney Parks and Resorts in the United States and France. Crofton has widely been criticized for the long and constant decline in quality and upkeep at Walt Disney World. Let's hope her policies don't affect more Disney parks with her new position.
Disney World President Meg Crofton promoted
The head of the Walt Disney Co.'s global theme-park division promoted a pair of Central Florida executives Tuesday in a management shakeup triggered by the departure of another senior official.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs appointed Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton to the new post of president of operations in the U.S. and France. Crofton will maintain her current responsibilities as president of Disney's Orlando resort a position she has held since 2006 but she will also assume oversight of Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and Disneyland Paris.
"Meg's strong leadership abilities and broad experience make her the perfect person to lead resort operations in our established markets in the United States and Europe," Staggs wrote in a memo to employees.
The move is an extension of the company's "One Disney" initiative, in which it has been merging functions and responsibilities between its various resorts. Staggs also added Crofton to his executive committee, the inner circle of executives reporting directly to Staggs in a move he said is designed "to continue the great work of sharing best practices and leveraging our operational expertise across our properties."
At the same time, Staggs tapped Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line and the Adventures By Disney tour business, to take on oversight of Disney Vacation Club, the company's time-share business. Holz will also join Staggs' executive committee.
"Karl will be responsible for creating consistent and engaging guest experiences as they expand to new markets and destinations outside the berms of our theme parks," Staggs wrote in his memo. "These operations are an important driver of growth in our segment and a critical part of our efforts to build upon and broaden Disney's reputation for delivering magical experiences to our guests, both inside and outside the berm."
Both Crofton and Holz had previously reported to Al Weiss, president of worldwide operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Disney announced last month that Weiss, 57, was retiring after 39 years with the company. Weiss gave up his leadership position immediately, though he will remain in an informal role until the fall.
Staggs eliminated Weiss' position.
Full story: Orlando Sentinel: Disney World President Meg Crofton promoted
Disney unveils audio description device for guests with visual disabilities
From the Disney Parks Blog:
New Audio Description Technology Describes Outdoor Locations for Disneyland Park Guests with Visual Disabilities
Since November 2009, Disneyland Resort guests with visual disabilities have had access to an audio description service available on Disneys Handheld Device that describes visual elements of more than 20 attractions at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks more fully immersing them into our attractions and storytelling.
Today, we are pleased to announce that we are now enhancing that service to include descriptions of outdoor locations in Disneyland park. (Due to our ongoing expansion, the enhanced service will be available at Disney California Adventure park beginning in 2012).
The 7.2-ounce device, which was created by Disney engineers, utilizes wireless technology to pinpoint its location and features an interactive audio menu that allows guests to choose the type and amount of information they would like to receive from a list of options, ranging from a description of their surroundings to details about nearby attractions, restaurants and entertainment.
In addition to the enhanced audio description service, the device continues to offer services to guests with hearing disabilities including Handheld Captioning, which displays text in specific attractions and areas, and Assisted Listening, which provides amplified audio at several attractions.
If you would like to take advantage of these services, visit Guest Relations at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure park. There is no cost (a fully refundable $25 daily deposit is required) and it is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Full story: Disney Parks Blog: New Audio Description Technology Describes Outdoor Locations for Disneyland Park Guests with Visual Disabilities
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