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Dateline Disneyland

Disneyland turns 56, California Adventure's new entrance, Bye-bye Golden Gate, +MORE

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by , 07-17-2011 at 10:25 PM
Disneyland celebrated its 56th Anniversary this weekend, marking the occasion with a small ceremony on Sunday featuring numerous classic Disney characters and a broadcast of Walt Disney's historic dedication speech. Meanwhile, Disney California Adventure pushed onward, firmly looking into the future as it unveiled its new main entrance gates, which mark a major milestone in the park's re-theming project. The new streamline-moderne turnstiles, modeled after the famed Pan-Pacific Auditorium; will help create a Disney-quality and theme-appropriate entrance to Buena Vista Street, the 1930s-era Los Angeles streetscape that will welcome guests in 2012. Nearby the new Pan-Pacific gates, the Golden Gate Bridge replica that decorates the Monorail beam in the park's entrance will soon be coming down to make way for a recreation of Los Angeles' famous Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. Yet, these changes at the park's entrance are only a taste of what is soon to come. As Paradise Pier enjoys the completion of its major construction projects, work on the park's hyper-themed Buena Vista Street area is only beginning.

Big thanks to MiceChat's Fishbulb today for help with photos of Disneyland's anniversary celebration.

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.

Ready? Let's get started!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

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Our partners at Touring Plans have a forecast for this week's Resort-wide crowd levels:
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. 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 to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!

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Crowd Calendar Prediction
Crowd Tips
Mon., July 18
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 day will be on Tuesday with an 8.4 out of 10.
  • There will be 9s across the resort until Friday, where it'll be 10s through the weekend.
  • There will be full AP blockouts on Saturday.
Tue., July 19
Wed., July 20
Thu., July 21
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.
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Disneyland celebrated its 56th anniversary on Sunday. The park hosted a small re-dedication ceremony in Town Square at 2:30 Sunday afternoon. The short and sweet event included a broadcasting of Walt Disney's original opening-day speech over the park speaker system and a cavalcade of numerous Disney characters that positioned themselves around Town Square, led the crowd in a round of "Happy Birthday" and then handed balloons to children in the crowd before disappearing again backstage. A nice little tribute to the park on its special day.

Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip emerge from backstage

Characters line up around Town Square

Happy Birthday, Disneyland!

Handing out balloons to park guests

This year's Cast Member birthday button.

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

Contact [email protected] or [email protected]!

On Friday, Disney unveiled the new main entrance turnstiles at Disney California Adventure. The new entrance is modeled after the streamline-moderne facade at Los Angeles' historic Pan-Pacific Auditorium and marks a major milestone in the park's remodel.

The Disney Parks Blog shared some history on the Pan-Pacific venue and its Disney connection as the park's new entrance opened on Friday.

New Turnstiles Open at Disney California Adventure Park
Inspired by the iconic Pan Pacific Auditorium, the turnstiles will set the stage for the new Disney California Adventure park entrance. Buena Vista Street will transport guests to Los Angeles as Walt Disney found it when he first arrived in California, with buildings inspired by structures that existed during the 1920s and ‘30s – including the Pan Pacific Auditorium. A landmark structure in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, the auditorium was the premiere location for indoor public events until it closed after almost 40 years in 1972.

Designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm Wurdeman and Becket, the auditorium itself was a modest wooden structure with seating for only 6,000 people; however, the building’s façade was hailed as one of the finest examples of Streamline Moderne architecture in the United States. The four stylized towers and flagpoles were meant to evoke upswept aircraft fins.

One of the principal architects on the Pan Pacific Auditorium, Welton Becket, was a neighbor of Walt Disney’s and went on to become very influential in future Disney projects. It was Becket who suggested to Walt that he use his own artists – not an architectural firm – to design, plan and build Disneyland, and it was this advice that led to the creation of WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering). Later, Welton Becket Associates (formed in 1949 after Walter Wurdeman’s death) designed Disney’s Contemporary Hotel at the Walt Disney World Resort, though Becket himself did not live to see it completed.

On May 1, 1989, a nearly full-size replica of the Pan Pacific Auditorium façade opened as the main entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Sadly, little more than three weeks later on May 24, the original building was destroyed in a fire.

As Buena Vista Street continues to take shape at Disney California Adventure park, there are more exciting transformations that will be taking place. On Sunday, the Golden Gate Bridge, which guests now pass underneath when entering the park, will begin to make way for a re-creation of the historic Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. [ FULL STORY ]

The new entrance is a breath of fresh air after years of entering through the park's original stripmall-and-tile-mural entryway. The structure is fresh and new and feels like a proper entrance to a Disney theme park. While the Pan-Pacific theme has been criticized by fans as being a simple copy of the Disney's Hollywood Studios entrance in Florida, the architecture well in the Main Entrance Plaza and will fit the theme of Buena Vista Street. It might have been nice (or even better) to have an original idea for the park's entrance as California Adventure works to create a unique identity of its own; but the Pan-Pacific gates are still a very big step above their predecessor and a job well done.

New gates

Signage continues the Pan-Pacific theme.

On the eastern side of the gates, the old Guest Relations area is back out from behind construction walls (for now).

We showed you the re-located Guest Relations services at Ticket Booth 8 in last week's column. A sign directs guests to the new location at the Resort.

When entering the park, guests will emerge into what's left of Sunshine Plaza. The previous turnstiles are now gone, but their shade structures remain for now.

Walls surround the area where the western side of the old turnstiles were previously located. Soon, upon entering the park, guests will make a hard right turn and pass behind the Soarin' Over California attraction and emerge between Condor Flats and the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area. The re-routing of traffic through these backstage areas is to accommodate the heavy Buena Vista Street construction as the project races toward its summer 2012 completion.

Also leaving is the Golden Gate Bridge; which will be replaced by a recreation of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, which will properly suit the Los Angeles theme of Buena Vista Street. The Disney Parks Blog noted that the Golden Gate would start coming down Sunday, July 17. It's likely we'll see progress here happen quickly over this week.


At the end of the future Buena Vista Street, the new Carthay Circle Theatre continues to take shape.

Nearby the on-going Carthay Circle construction, the shops and dining on Sunshine Plaza's west side are set to close August 1st. Now is your last chance to build a custom Mr. Potato Head in Engine Ears Toys, grab a delicious Malibu Mocha Frappe in Baker's Field Bakery or cool off with an ice cream cone at Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream.


A last look at the toy train depot theme of the store

A look at Baker's Field Bakery, located in the train car next to Engine Ears Toys

The train these shops are located in is a replica of the historic California Zephyr. Zephyr photos and memorabilia line the walls.

At the head of the train is the Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream shop.

Sunshine Plaza's ice cream queue — a DCA opening-day attraction!

The ice cream counter.

The train leaves the station August 1st!

On the east side of Sunshine Plaza, the huge Greetings! from California gift shop and the Candy Shoppe are also set to close in August.

We'll take a closer look at these shops next week.

Heading out of Sunshine Plaza, the Condor Flats marquee is now behind scaffolding and tarps. Hopefully this is more than a re-paint and this sign will come down or at least be re-themed.

A look at Carthay Circle-area construction from the Bug's Land area:

The new Carthay Circle fountain pumphouse looks great

Cars Land construction continues...

Work on Mater's Junkyard Jamboree presses on with a new structure rising up above the construction walls.

The Cozy Cone Motel:

The view from the Golden Vine Winery terrace:

Radiator Springs Curios

Luigi's Flying Tires

At the end of the street, the Courthouse has started taking shape

This building will mark the entrance to the Radiator Springs Racers queue

Work at the Disneyland Hotel continues. The Fantasy Tower remodel seems to be getting closer and closer to completion every day.

E-Ticket pool and surrounding area construction

Back inside Disneyland, the Matterhorn Bobsleds are now closed for a refurbishment that will keep the bobsleds out of commission until the beginning of September.

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by our good friends at the
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Weekly Theme Park Hours
July 18 — July 24, 2011

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Daily: 8 am - 12 midnight
Daily: 10 am - 10 pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Theme Park Calendar

Expected Crowd Levels presented by
Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
HIGH 8.4—9.8 out of 10
HIGH 8.7—9.7 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

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed for refurbishment July 11—September 1.
  • Space Mountain: Varied operating hours July 11—26: Opens late at 10am Mondays and Wednesdays, Closes early at 10pm 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.

Ok! That wraps up today's Dateline Disneyland. Be sure to check out our sponsors over at and the HoJo Anaheim!

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See you at the parks!
- Andy

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Promotional consideration for the July 11, 2011 edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by | Do More. Wait Less. and Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel — Anaheim Resort.

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Updated 07-18-2011 at 11:04 AM by Dateline Disneyland (Corrected Prince Phillip's name)

Disneyland Resort , Disney's California Adventure Remodel/Expansion , Disneyland Hotel


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  1. BassBone's Avatar
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    Beautiful photos as always! A small correction, though, Sleeping Beauty's prince is Philip, not Charming. Charming belongs to Cinderella.
  2. Fishbulb's Avatar
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    Spectacular work Andy! Loved the article.
  3. jcruise86's Avatar
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    Have you seen photos of the Glendale-Hyperion bridge? It's not one of the most photogenic bridges in L.A. I hope DCA's recreation isn't too bland to blend in.

    Thanks for the update!
  4. StevenW's Avatar
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    Time for Karmageddon with Monorailgeddon. The bridges keep tumbling down.
  5. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    Ugh! I just realized Pirates and HM will be closed at the same time between 8-29-11 to 9-15-11. That brings up bad memories of a trip I took to DL when this was also the case. So much of NOS was missing just by these two attractions being closed.

    LOVING the new gates to DCA!!
  6. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Great update!
  7. Qnity's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!

    Does anybody know if the beige walls of the Disneyland hotels are going to be painted to match the blue windows they have installed?
  8. Asylim's Avatar
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    Excellent update as always. Nice to see the hotel getting closer and closer to completion.
  9. jpg391's Avatar
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    The new entrance to DCA looks great. I wish I could have been their for Disneyland's 56th, but since I live in New Mexico that was impossible.
  10. Golden Goofy's Avatar
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    Great update! Yeah, like someone said above, Aurora's hubby is Prince Phillip, not Charming.
  11. DisneylandFan1989's Avatar
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    Great Update! I am sad that I missed Disneyland's Birthday. I was there last year and it was a blast. Hope that it was a great weekend. Do you know when the new bobsleds will be installed? I have seen 2 different photos of bobsleds, but I am not sure which one will be installed. Anyways, Thanks Again! I really appreciate all the photos!
  12. ExCandyMaker's Avatar
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    I see they aren't shy about putting a bunch of Guest Research CMs at the new turnstiles.
  13. aurora1954's Avatar
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    Wonder what is going to happen to the cat who lives by the California Zephyr engine when they remove the train. He's always either sleeping in the shade beside the engine or in his little house.
  14. KENfromOC's Avatar
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    Like to know what will be happening to the Calif. Zephyr train. Some lucky collector or train museum would love to have it. I hope they don't chop it up!

    I was never sure if the engine and cars were actually from the Zephyr (kind of doubt it), but when I was a kid we took that train twice from Oakland out to Chicago - Wonderful.

    FYI: The Western Pacific museum up in Portola, CA is fantastic. My in-laws live there (a small mountain town) and you can arrange to actually drive one of the engines along a mile track - fun!
  15. Agreach2's Avatar
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    Dang! Pirates AND Mansion are going to be closed on my trip this September
    O well - I guess I have other stuff like world of color and TLM to look forward to...still that is most unfortunate timing
  16. Tigger_Twin89's Avatar
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    I still want to to know why Indy is only going down two days and POTC so much longer. Indy REALLY needs a long refurb!
  17. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    The Radiator Springs Rockwork is so exspansive, I was wondering if they were utillizing it's interiors for facility or maintenace use as with other Disney Rockwork Icons? PD
  18. MasterGracey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BassBone
    Beautiful photos as always! A small correction, though, Sleeping Beauty's prince is Philip, not Charming. Charming belongs to Cinderella.
    Whoops! Thanks for the correction, it's been fixed.

    - Andy
    Dateline Disneyland
  19. Princess Victoria's Avatar
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    Great update. It surely was a nice weekend at the parks. I don't think the new DCA entrance is a direct copy of the one at DHS. DCA's is laid out a bit differently and is a more faithful replication of the original structure.
  20. Tinkbelle's Avatar
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    Thanks for another fantastic update, Andy!

    I like how you showed in detail the shops that are about to have a great transformation. I still wish Micechat did more side by side before and after comparisons. Also, I really liked the "Everything Under the Sun" picture with the sun right above - great shot!

    I think I am the only member on Micechat who really does NOT like the new DCA entrance. It is so bland to me. It could be the entrance to a parking garage for all the charm it has. (And, YES, I know that it was modeled after the Pan Pacific Auditorium) I wish they had come up with a grand entrance matching the style and architecture of the new Buena Vista Street! Perhaps something with masonry and arches etc. They could have done something grand and beautiful. The new pump house has more charm. This was a major fail in my opinion. I hope in another couple decades they will redo it with something more befitting.

    Those guest surveyors at the entrance really annoy me. If they just want your zip code, that isn't so bad... but the ones that want to ask a bunch of questions and eat up your time - they should give fastpasses to your party.
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